Our family was absolutely ecstatic and blessed to be a part of the 2023 Build It Up Program. As this was our first year, we have thoroughly enjoyed every facet of this most educational program. Although I am a newly retired teacher, having taught for forty-three years, my love for education continues on, through being in the great outdoors, and learning new gardening, as well as new cooking, and food preservation techniques. It is with great gratitude to Rosie, Lexy, and Rachel Slaughter, for EVERY ASPECT of this BIU educational program. Additionally, many thanks to Rachel Dean, Director, Carter County UT Extension Office, whose cooking and food preservation classes were so educationally informative, as well as professionally taught.

As a life-long “recipe-aholic”, I am always on the hunt for new and delicious recipes, utilizing our homegrown produce. I get this “addictive passion” honestly, from my very long line of Master Home Cooks…that, being all of my maternal Italian, and my paternal Pennsylvania Dutch, ancestors.

And…where did I get my passion for the outdoors and gardening? Well, that comes mostly from my Italian Grandfather, who at the age of fifteen, came over to the USA by himself, from Italy, through Ellis Island in New York City. He crossed the Atlantic Ocean, with only his one suitcase, and his Italian grape vines. “Poppie”, as we lovingly called him, would’ve been the very first Master Gardener I would’ve ever known. To this day, I’m still in awe of all his gardening know-how, and his high, annual yields of scrumptious vegetables and fruits. Every square inch of my Grandparents property, of which he dug up by foot, was planted in edible food for his large, sweet family of eight. As children, we used to love getting lost in his bountiful garden “forest” rows of plants. I remember so well, eating juicy, ripe figs, from right off his fig trees, while sitting under the canopy shade of his beautiful huge grape arbors, with a cool summer breeze blowing up the valley, off the wide Susquehanna River. Oh, how this is forever belovedly etched, in the fondest of my precious family memories!

I want to share a delicious, long-time family favorite recipe, utilizing some of our yummy, bountiful zucchini. No…it’s not zucchini bread, although that is a seasonal favorite of us all. This tasty recipe is “Stuffed Garden Zucchini Boats”. In the recipe, you can also use some of your luscious red-ripe tomatoes, as well. Enjoy !



3-4 medium garden fresh zucchini, washed and dried

1/2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 tsp. olive oil

1 pound roll of mild sausage (we love Swaggerty’s) * You can also substitute 1 pound of Italian sausage, casing removed

1/2 cup onion, finely chopped

1 tsp. minced fresh garlic

2 cups homemade seasoned tomato sauce, or a jar of store-bought marinara sauce

3/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

3-4 T. chopped fresh parsley

Cooking spray


1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a large rectangular baking dish with non-stick aluminum foil, and spray the foil with cooking spray.

2.) Cut the washed and dried zucchini in half, lengthwise, and trim off the ends. Using a tablespoon, carefully scoop out the flesh of each of the zucchini “boat” shells. * Do not scoop out so much zucchini flesh that you put a hole in the shell. Save the scooped out zucchini flesh, and set aside.

3.) Sprinkle the Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, over the 6-8 zucchini “boat” shells. Arrange the zucchini “boat” shells in the baking dish.

4.) Heat the olive oil in a large pan, over medium heat. Add the sausage, and cook, breaking up the roll of sausage with a spatula. Cook thoroughly, and set aside on a paper-towel lined plate, to drain. Clean out most of the sausage fat in the large pan, with another paper towel.

5.) To that same large pan, now add the onion, and cook until softened. Then, add the garlic, and the saved zucchini flesh, cooking until just warmed through. Add the cooked, crumbled sausage, back into the pan now, with the vegetable mixture.

6.) Add the homemade seasoned tomato sauce. Add salt, if needed, and pepper.

7.) Bring the entire mixture to a simmer, cooking about 5 minutes.

8.) Spoon the meat and tomato sauce mixture evenly into the zucchini “boat” shells.

9.) Top each one with the shredded mozzarella cheese. Cover the entire pan with aluminum foil. * I spray the side of the aluminum foil that will be touching the zucchini “boat” shells, so that the mozzarella cheese will not stick to the aluminum foil, when removing it.

10.) Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil, and continue baking uncovered for another 10-15 minutes more, until the zucchini “boat” shells are tender, and the cheese is melted and slightly browned.

11.) Remove from the oven. Let sit for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the fresh, chopped parsley.

12.) Serve, and enjoy!