Pesto Stuffed Zucchini
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Ginormous zucchini in your garden? Try this recipe, hollowed out zucchini, stuffed with basil pesto, fresh croutons, Mozzarella, pine nuts and cherry tomatoes.
Photography Credit:Elise Bauer
You know what happens when you go on vacation, even for a few days, and you have zucchini growing in your garden? Even when it’s only for four days and you’ve picked every visible zucchini you can right before you leave?
Bats, that’s what. Baseball bats.
Humongous baseball bat-sized zucchini that you can’t imagine could have grown in just four days. Let alone three of them.
What the heck? Where did these come from? Obviously you’re blind, you tell yourself, they must have been hiding under a leaf. Lots of leaves. Whatever.
Now you have them, so what to do? Zucchini bread and zucchini cake are obvious choices, and you can also scoop out some of the insides of these mongo zucchinis, stuff the zucchini shells, and bake them.
Which is exactly what we’ve done here.
This stuffed zucchini recipe is somewhat of a gardener’s paradise. If you are growing zucchini, you are also likely growing tomatoes and basil.
We make pesto with our excess of basil, and we pick cherry tomatoes from our plants all summer long.
The stuffing for this recipe is just freshly made croutons and Mozzarella cheese, tossed with basil pesto, some grated Parmesan, a few chopped cherry tomatoes, and toasted pine nuts.
A perfect summer garden meal. Enjoy!
Pesto Stuffed Zucchini Recipe
- 2 cups of day old cubed bread*
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 1 very large zucchini (about 2 pounds), otherwise known as a baseball bat zucchini
- 1/4 cup prepared basil pesto
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes
- A handful of cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
*The bread should be a little dry, this way it will toast better. If you don't have day old or slightly dry bread, cut up fresh bread and lay out on a baking sheet. Heat in a 200°F oven for 10 minutes.
1 Toast croutons: In a medium skillet, melt butter on medium to medium high heat. Add the slightly dry cubed bread, toss to coat at least some of the sides in a little butter.
Lay out in a single layer cook, without moving the croutons, until one side is lightly browned, then toss and let cook a little more so a few more sides get a little brown. Remove from pan and let cool to touch.
2 Toast pine nuts: While the croutons are browning, heat a small skillet on high. Add the pine nuts and cook until they begin to brown (do not walk away, once they start browning they can easily go from brown to burnt!).
When they start to brown, remove them from the pan into a small bowl.
3 Combine croutons, Mozzarella, pesto, Parmesan, tomatoes, pine nuts: Place the croutons and Mozzarella in a medium bowl. Toss with the pesto. Add the grated Parmesan, chopped cherry tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, and toss some more.
4 Stuff the zucchini boats: Heat the oven to 375°F. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out the inner flesh with a metal spoon, leaving 1/4 to a 1/2-inch thickness in the zucchini boats.**
5 Bake in oven: Place the zucchini boats in a roasting pan. Sprinkle the inside of the boats with salt. Fill the boats with the stuffing mixture.
Pour a cup or so of water into the bottom of the roasting pan (so that zucchini doesn't dry out on the outside), to about 1/4 inch depth.
Bake for 45 minutes at 375°F.
**In this recipe we are not using the zucchini flesh that we have scooped out. You can easily freeze it for later use with zucchini recipes such as zucchini bread, zucchini muffins, or zucchini cake. Or you can chop some of it up and mix it in with the stuffing mixture.
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Stuffed Zucchini Boats
Make these stuffed zucchini boats for an easy summer dinner! Lemon, thyme & Parmesan make the simple, delicious filling zesty, fresh & bright.
Zucchini season is upon us! For me, this time of year is always a race to enjoy summer squash in as many ways as possible. I bake it into cake, blend it into soup, toss it into pasta, layer it into lasagna, and eat it right off the grill. This year, I’m adding a new recipe to my usual rotation: stuffed zucchini! I first made these a few weeks ago for my family and even my little 2-year old nephew, who is going through a no-zucchini phase, gobbled his up.
These easy stuffed zucchini boats are a simple, fresh, and delicious showcase for peak-season summer squash. I don’t let any of the zucchini go to waste here, as I load up the zucchini shells with a bright, lemony filling that includes the scooped zucchini flesh. This recipe works best with medium-large zucchini (larger squash = more space for filling), so it’s one that you can continue to make as the season progresses and the squash get bigger. I hope you love it as much as we do!
Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini Recipe Ingredients
This stuffed zucchini recipe requires just a few every day ingredients and comes together in under 30 minutes. Here’s all you need:
- Zucchini, of course! I use it 2 ways, stuffing the shells with a zucchini-loaded filling.
- Egg binds the filling together.
- Coarse breadcrumbs create a delicious body for the filling – the top gets toasty, while the inside stays moist.
- Parmesan adds melty, cheesy texture and umami flavor.
- Garlic punches it up.
- Cherry tomatoes dot the filling with sweet, juicy bites.
- Pine nuts add crunch and richness.
- Lemon zest and thyme give it a bright, fresh finish.
How to Make Stuffed Zucchini
Stuffed vegetables may seem fussy, but they’re deceptively simple. As with my stuffed bell peppers and stuffed poblanos, these come together in just a few steps. Here’s all you need to do:
- Cut the zucchini! Halve them lengthwise and hollow out the flesh, leaving a 1/4-inch-thick rim around each half.
- Make the filling. Chop any large pieces of scooped flesh and transfer it all to a kitchen strainer. Press out any excess moisture, and then add the zucchini flesh to a bowl with the egg, breadcrumbs, cherry tomatoes, thyme, lemon zest, Parmesan, garlic, pine nuts, and salt. Mix until everything’s well combined.
- Load up the zucchini. Drizzle the zucchini shells with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and spoon in the filling.
- Bake! Transfer the stuffed squash to a 475-degree oven and bake until the filling is set & nicely golden brown, 16-18 minutes.
Stuffed Zucchini Recipe Tips
We made this stuffed zucchini recipe (originally inspired by the stuffed zucchini in the Ottolenghi Simple cookbook) a few times this summer. Following these tips yielded the best results every time:
- Squeeze out as much water as you can from the zucchini flesh before stirring it into the filling. You don’t want it to be watery! Chop any bigger zucchini chunks into small pieces before adding them to the seedy, pulpy innards and pressing them over a kitchen strainer.
- Don’t scoop too much. Make sure you leave a sturdy border of zucchini flesh to support the yummy filling. If you scoop too much, your stuffed zucchini boats will be flimsy.
- Make your own breadcrumbs. Better bread = better bread crumbs, so find a good baguette or loaf of crusty bread for this recipe. Tear it into chunks and pulse them in a food processor to create coarse crumbs for the filling. Enjoy the remaining bread on the side!
- Top them with pesto. These stuffed zucchini boats are great on their own, but a drizzle of pesto really takes them over the top. Make your own or use store-bought pesto in a pinch.
What to Serve with Stuffed Zucchini Boats
We like these stuffed zucchini boats as a main or side dish. If you make this recipe with 3 medium zucchini, it serves 6 as a side, if you make it with 2 large zucchini, it serves 4 as a main course along with a side dish. They’d be delicious served with refreshing gazpacho or watermelon gazpacho, this easy summer pasta salad, pesto pasta, or any of these yummy summer salads:
Wash the rice add the water or vegetable stock and the salt. Bring to the boil, cover with a well- fitting lid and simmer for about 25 minutes until the rice is cooked. Pre heat the oven to 425'F. Meanwhile, cut the zucchinis in half lengthwise and scoop out the inner flesh, leaving a boat about half an inch thick. Coarsely chop the zucchini flesh and the mushroom and tomato. In a wok or sauté pan, heat the olive oil add the chopped ingredients and sauté until tender. If the zucchini boats are from very large, very hard zucchinis, parboil the boats. (You don't need to parboil if they are fairly tender.) Chop the fresh herbs. Mix together the sautéed veggies, rice, chopped herbs and fresh ground pepper. Stuff the zucchini boats with this mixture. Grate pecorino on the top. Place the stuffed zucchinis on trays and add a quarter inch of water in the bottom of the tray. Cover with foil. Place in a preheated oven and bake for 20 min at 425'. Then turn down to 375' and cook for another 30-40 min until the zucchini boats are tender. Serve with home-made basil pesto.
Spicy Pesto and Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Involtini Recipe
Hello hello and happy Thursday! You’re almost to the weekend yippee!! For the first weekend in truly months, we are totally free and I am SOOOO excited to get some stuff done around the house and CLEAN and run errands and COOK. Life has been crazy. Good crazy, but crazy nonetheless. I shared this dish from Half Baked Harvest (they also have a new book coming out in October) on my Instagram yesterday and over 20 people DMed me for the recipe!! So I figured I will just share it on here for you all to read!
I found this recipe a week ago and have literally already made it twice. It is super yummy, super flavorful, super healthy, and makes super good leftovers. I go home for lunch every day and it takes 2 minutes to heat these up and they taste as good as the day I made them.
This recipe is literally directly from Half Baked Harvest so I have to give the proper creds here but let me share a couple things that I did different with mine:
- I grated some gouda cheese on top instead of torn mozzarella because that’s just what I had and it tasted just fine.
- I also only used ricotta and pesto in the filling because the fontina at Albertson’s was way too expensive.
- The first time I made it, I used fresh oregano and thyme and the second time, I just used dried oregano and tbh I couldn’t tell that much of a difference.
- I also used double the amount of crushed tomatoes because I couldn’t find a 14 oz can of crushed tomatoes.
- Lastly, in the pictures, they show the dish in a cast iron pan and it looks so pretty but this recipe makes a lot of rolls so I just followed the instructions and used a glass 9吉 baking dish.
- There is also a vegetarian option at the bottom!
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 pound ground spicy Italian chicken sausage
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 can (14 ounce) crushed San Marzano tomatoes (or 2 cups tomato sauce)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (or 2 teaspoons dried)
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or 2 teaspoons dried)
- 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- kosher salt and black pepper
- 2 large zucchini or yellow summer squash
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 cup shredded fontina cheese
- 3/4 cup basil pesto, homemade or store-bought
- 4 ounces mozzarella, torn
- fresh basil, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9吉 inch baking dish or dish of similar size.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the chicken sausage and brown all over, about 5 to 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the bell pepper, tomatoes, oregano, thyme, crushed red pepper flakes, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
- Meanwhile, using a mandolin or vegetable peeler, peel the zucchini into 1/4 inch wide strips and lay them flat on a paper towel lined counter. You should have around 30 strips. Sprinkle the zucchini with salt.
- In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, fontina, and 1/2 cup pesto.
- To assemble, spoon 3/4 of the tomato sauce into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Grab 2 zucchini ribbons and lay them side by side lengthwise. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of filling onto the center of the zucchini. Roll into a coil and place each seam-side down in the dish as you go. Repeat with remaining zucchini. Spoon the remaining tomato sauce over top of the zucchini and then drizzle the remaining 1/4 cup pesto evenly over everything. Add the mozzarella.
- Transfer the baking dish to the oven and bake 15-20 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is lightly browned on top. Cool 5 minutes before serving. Serve with fresh basil and thyme. Enjoy!
Vegetarian Option:If you’d like to make this vegetarian, no problem, just omit the chicken sausage and use a little more crushed red pepper flakes for heat, if you’d like.
To Make Ahead:Do everything up until the final baking. Cool, and store in the fridge for up to 12 hours. Bake as directed. If there is any excess water on the surface of the sauce, drain this off or blot with a paper towel before baking.
Grilled Wedge Salad with Spicy Ranch Dressing
In the salad world wedge salads deliver the most payoff for the least amount of effort. There are few things simpler. Cut a head of iceberg lettuce into quarters, top with a favorite dressing, and flare it out with a few toppings. Done. It rides high on any plate and always brings the drama. And as much as I love a wedge salad, I love a grilled wedge salad even more. Add a minute or so on the grill before dressing and you have a gorgeous grilled wedge that you can serve alongside whatever else is coming off your grill, for example tofu burgers, or grilled versions of your favorite tartine. My version features a not-shy spicy ranch dressing along with pine nuts, and lots of chives.
47 Best Zucchini Recipes to Make for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
If we're talking about versatile ingredients, zucchini might be at the top of the list. This summer squash lends itself to so many different zucchini recipes, including desserts and main courses. If you&rsquore looking for side dishes to complement your grilling recipes or are curious about making a dessert with this green veggie front and center, then you'll find so much inspiration ahead for baking or cooking zucchini.
There's no shortage of quick 30-minute meals as well as more elaborate dinners depending on what you're in the mood for. To use up your fresh veggies, test out summer recipes like grilled zucchini or stuffed zucchini boats. For a bite that will impress guests, try the spicy pesto and cheese zucchini roll-ups that are made with a basil and pesto ricotta filling and baked to perfection. Of course, there are also plenty of dishes that use zucchini noodles as a delicious pasta alternative. Ree Drummond makes them herself using a vegetable peeler instead of a spiralizer, so anyone can try it at home!
Whether you&rsquore looking for tasty appetizers, quick family meals, or hearty desserts with an extra boost of nutrition, you'll want to try one of these creative zucchini recipes right away!
Tex-Mex Stuffed Zucchini
This Tex-Mex Stuffed Zucchini is a fun twist to taco night!
- 2 - Zucchini
- 2 tbsp - Butter
- 1 lb - Ground Beef
- 1 tbsp - Chili Powder
- 2 tsp - Oregano, ground
- 1 tsp - Cumin, ground
- Garlic Powder tsp - Garlic Powder
- 5 oz - Cheddar Cheese
- 1/4 cup - Marinara/Tomato Sauce, low sugar
- 4 tbsp - Parsley, fresh
- to taste - Salt and Pepper
The directions to make Tex-Mex Stuffed Zucchini are in the section below, but first, please take a moment to learn about our personalized Keto plans.
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This recipe, "Tex-Mex Stuffed Zucchini," was taken from our private library of recipes. So you can see the food you'll be eating is keto-friendly and delicious.
We're all about making Keto easy for you. That means no guesswork or stress about if you’re "doing it right." All you have to do is follow along.
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Why Stuffing Zucchini Is the Most Brilliant Way to Eat It
Every summer I fall in love again with zucchini&mdashbut it takes a minute. I forget how versatile the summer squash is: You can slice it thinly and toss the raw rounds into a grain salad for some crunch. Or turn it into "noodles" (though maybe not with a cheese grater). Or grill it and layer it in a quesadilla (which you should probably do, like, tonight). And you can transform it into a zucchini boat, which is one of the best ways to showcase the vegetable's MVP status.
To make a zucchini boat, all you do is halve the zuke longways, then spoon out the seeds and flesh, stuff it, and bake it for 20 minutes. And don't think too hard about what goes inside the boat. I brainstormed six combos that all take about 10 minutes or less to mix together, from tossing pesto with cooked orzo to combining breadcrumbs with tomatoes and feta. For each of these stuffed zucchini ideas, bake at 425 degrees F until tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
CORN, BACON, AND WHITE CHEDDAR-STUFFED ZUCCHINI
In a bowl, combine raw corn kernels, chopped cooked bacon, and shredded white cheddar. Spoon mixture into zucchini and bake at 425 degrees F until tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
TOMATO, FETA, AND BREADCRUMBS-STUFFED ZUCCHINI
In a bowl, combine chopped cherry tomatoes, crumbled feta, and breadcrumbs. Spoon mixture into zucchini and drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 425 degrees F until tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
Spoon tomato or pizza sauce into zucchini boat. Top with shredded mozzarella, pepperoni, and sliced olives. Bake at 425 degrees F until tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
PESTO, PARMESAN, AND ORZO-STUFFED ZUCCHINI
Toss cooked orzo with pesto. Spoon mixture into zucchini and top with grated Parmesan. Bake at 425 degrees F until tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
BLACK BEAN, PEPPERJACK, RED PEPPER STUFFED ZUCCHINI
In a bowl, combine black beans, shredded pepperjack, and chopped bell peppers. Spoon mixture into zucchini and bake at 425 degrees F until tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
ITALIAN SAUSAGE, SPINACH, AND SUNDRIED TOMATO STUFFED ZUCCHINI
In a bowl, combined just-cooked crumbled Italian sausage, torn baby spinach, and chopped sundried tomatoes. Spoon mixture into zucchini and bake at 425 degrees F until tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
3 Stuffed Zucchini Recipes: Zucchini Fans, Zucchini Ravioli, And Zucchini Boats
Zucchini is the blank canvas of vegetables. It's there to let your imagination run wild, let your creative side shine, and still get something delicious out of your artistic frenzy at the end of the day. Best of both worlds, right? Exactly. And because we love this particular vegetable so much, we're going to show you 3 super creative stuffed zucchini recipes. On the menu today: zucchini fans with feta cheese and cherry tomatoes for a Greek vibe, zucchini ravioli stuffed with pesto and cheese for all the keto fans, and zucchini boats stuffed with ground beef for all the meat lovers out there. Are you salivating as much as we are?!
1. Zucchini Fans
- 2 zucchinis
- 1 tbsp honey
- 8 oz crumbled feta
- ⅔ cup cream cheese
- salt & pepper to taste
- olive oil
- cherry tomatoes, sliced
- grated parmesan
- 1 tbsp chopped rosemary
- 1½ cups panko bread crumbs
1.1 First preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut one of the zucchinis into a fan. Cut the second zucchini lengthwise into thin strips and place one strip each in the gaps between the zucchini fan. Season the zucchini with salt and pepper. Transfer the zucchini fan to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
1.2 Mix the feta, honey, salt, pepper, cream cheese, and panko bread crumbs and spread the mixture in the gaps between the strips.
1.3 Slice the cherry tomatoes, stick them between the gaps, and then drizzle olive oil over everything. Sprinkle the chopped rosemary and shredded cheese on top and then put the baking sheet in the oven for 25 minutes. Serve this zucchini fan with tomato sauce.
2. Zucchini Ravioli
- 3 zucchinis
- tomato sauce
- shredded cheese
- 8 oz crumbled feta cheese
- salt & pepper to taste
- ¾ cup panko bread crumbs (optional)
- 2-3 tbsp basil pesto
- ⅓ cup + 2 tbsp cream cheese
- olive oil
2.1 Preheat the oven to 400°F and use a peeler to cut the zucchinis lengthwise into thin strips.
2.2 Mix the cream cheese and crumbled feta and add the bread crumbs, pesto, salt, and pepper.
2.3 Place 3-4 zucchini strips each crosswise and salt and pepper each one.
2.4 Add a spoonful of the cream cheese mixture to the center of the zucchini cross and wrap it up like ravioli.
2.5 Briefly fry the zucchini ravioli in olive oil and add the tomato sauce to the skillet. Add the shredded cheese and then put the skillet in the preheated oven for 12 minutes.
3. Zucchini Boats
- 1 large zucchini
- salt & pepper to taste
- 6 oz ground beef
- 5 cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley
- 6 eggs
- shredded cheese
3.1 Preheat the oven to 275°F. Cut the zucchini in half, scrape out the flesh on the inside, and season with salt and pepper.
3.2 Mix the ground beef with the cherry tomatoes, feta, parsley, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and fill the zucchini halves with it.
3.3 Crack 3 eggs each on top of the ground beef mixture in the zucchini halves. Spread some more shredded cheese on top and put the zucchini boats in the oven for 35 minutes.
No joke: these are the 3 most epic stuffed zucchini recipes ever! You can easily take this vegetable to the next level with some really simple techniques and ingredients, and you'll get a delicious meal out of it every time!
Get the recipe for the Stuffed Zucchini Bites featured in the bonus video.
This Grilled Stuffed Zucchini Is a Game-Changer
As soon as summer hits, my parents’ backyard garden becomes our very own farmers market. Their most prolific crop is zucchini — and they grow so much of it that I barely have to hit up the grocery produce section.
A few summers ago, we neglected to pick one sneaky squash hiding behind a big leaf and didn’t realize until it was the size of a Louisville Slugger. Needless to say, our family ate a lot of zucchini that week.
It’s easy to get in a recipe rut, especially when you have more zucchini than you know what to do with, but the possibilities with this veggie are virtually endless. The first step to making mind-blowing zucchini is acknowledging that it’s a blank canvas with a lot of potential.
Take this grilled stuffed zucchini recipe from Half Baked Harvest, for example. In her creative take, blogger Tieghan Gerard stuffs grilled zucchini halves brushed with pesto with a flavorful filling of orzo pasta, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, feta cheese, fresh herbs, and tomatoes. While pasta salad isn’t your run-of-the-mill stuffed zucchini filling, it totally works here. “Let’s be real, carbs make everything better,” Tieghan says. And it’s hard to argue with that!
Tieghan recommends serving these zucchini boats warm, right off the grill, but they’re also great at room temperature if you’re feeding a crowd at an outdoor picnic. “Either way you serve it up, it’s going to be a favorite,” she says. Operation Jazz Up Zucchini Repertoire is a go.
Get the Recipe: Grilled Stuffed Zucchini from Half Baked Harvest
Bolognese Stuffed Zucchini with Pesto
How is summer treating you so far? Here in Chattanooga it’s been nice and hot (just the way I like it!) and we’ve been getting in a lot of swimming. I’ve also been working on my tan while doing my farm share work, and loving the first rounds of summer produce showing up, like zucchini, basil, and even a few tomatoes.
I used my early squash to make these bolognese stuffed zucchini with pesto, which combine seasonal vegetables and a few pantry staples to make an easy but hearty paleo dinner.
And no, I’m not suggesting you make a true bolognese sauce that needs to simmer away for hours in this heat. This is a bit of a cheater’s bolognese, because we’re letting Uncle Steve’s do the hard work for us. Their organic tomato basil sauce is so flavorful that all we have to do is brown the ground beef with a little onion, and stir in the sauce. The resulting filling will fool all your lucky dinner companions into thinking you worked all day to handcraft an authentic Italian sauce.
If you haven’t made stuffed zucchini before, don’t worry because it’s super easy. You just use a regular old spoon to scoop out the filling, then roast the squash boats on their own for a few minutes while you prepare the bolognese filling. If your zucchini or summer squash are tiny, early-season ones like mine, be a little careful–I broke a couple of squash halves getting a bit too aggressive with the spoon! (Don’t worry, we still ate them. They just didn’t make it into the photos!)
Once the bolognese filling is ready, just spoon it into the zucchini boats and roast one more time for about 15 minutes. Then, right before serving, drizzle a bunch of pesto on top. The double whammy of basil in the sauce and the pesto makes these boats super flavorful and delicious! You can use any pesto you like (make sure there’s no cheese in it for Whole30–I’ve linked to a couple of my favorites below in the notes).
I absolutely love having Uncle Steve’s sauces on hand to add quick flavor to everyday meals, and am thrilled to have a tomato sauce option that’s organic, paleo, and vegan with no added sugar. In case you missed it, last month I shared an amazing Whole30 breakfast using their spicy arrabiata sauce. When you get a chance to try their sauces, I want to hear if you love them as much as I do!
Happy summer, and happy zucchini stuffing!
This post is sponsored by Uncle Steve’s Italian Specialties. Thank you so much for supporting the sponsors that keep A Calculated Whisk up and running!