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Roasted Vegetable Stuffed Potato
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I don’t know about you guys but to me there is nothing I love about leftover vegetables.  In fact, just last night for dinner we had leftover roast chicken with its original sides of roasted potatoes and brussels sprouts…and a side of mac and cheeseSomething needed to make up for the fact that I was eating day-old brussels sprouts.

So that’s where these twice baked roasted veggie stuffed potatoes come in.  I made one for myself for lunch a few weeks ago after Josie posted her recipe and I couldn’t have been more satisfied with the result.  I did actually use up some leftover roasted brussels sprouts and carrots and I also roasted some butternut squash (homegrown!!) while the potatoes (I make a bunch at a time) were baking.

But feel free to switch up the veggies and use up whatever you may have…like whatever you’ve got in the fridge come this Friday.  I’m quite sure leftover broccoli and cheese casserole would have quite the reinvented life in these potatoes.  And if don’t have smoked or aged gouda or Gruyere but you do have a block of sharp cheddar or Swiss or havarti or…whatever… left from your cheese board on Thanksgiving (or rumbling around in the bottom of your cheese drawer), use what you’d like.  It’s an adaptable recipe and however you go about it, I’m sure you’ll love it!

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Looking for other Thanksgiving leftover makeover ideas?
Turkey Cranchiladas
Turkey Noodle Soup
Roast Chicken (or Turkey) Soft Tacos with Cilantro Cream
Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Pizza
Chicken (or Turkey) and Biscuits Pot Pie
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Take Out Fake Out: Shrimp Lo Mein
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It’s no surprise to me that when we tried this recipe for the first time about 6 months ago, we loved everything about it…well, except the noodles.  I had been searching for probably a year and half for real lo mein noodles for this recipe and finally just bit the bullet and made the recipe with spaghetti.  It just wasn’t right, people.  Thin spaghetti may have worked better but I wasn’t going to chance it.

So when I was perusing Whole Foods with Josie, Courtney, and Annie back in February while stocking up to cook dinner that night, Annie found lo mein noodles for me.  I had searched high and low (no pun intended) in my Whole Foods and local grocery stores to no avail.  I snagged the package and now I wished I had grabbed a few extra because I still can’t find them here!

Noodles issue aside, this shrimp lo mein was a perfect departure from heavy and oftentimes greasy Chinese take out lo mein.  The flavors perfectly mimic what we know take out lo mein to be but there’s just something about controlling all of the ingredients of a dish that make it so satisfying.  We went with a vegetarian version, swapping out the original chicken broth and chicken breast for vegetable broth and shrimp, respectively, and I love the fact that the list of vegetables in the recipe is versatile enough to use up whatever you have hanging around in the fridge.  After some minimal prep work, the whole recipe comes together rather quickly, so make sure you’ve got everything washed, chopped, and ready to go before you start.  I saved the other half of the package of noodles for a “rainy day” which may come sooner rather than later because now I’m craving these noodles again!

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Pizza
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In 1988, my parents bought a boat.  Overall, the boat served us well (in spite of all the money they sunk into it, no pun intended – you know how having a boat goes) and we spent many a weekend for the better part of 10 or 12 summers crammed into my parents’ 25-footer at our favorite little beach on Fire Island.  Like camping, feeding a family on a small boat requires a good bit of planning; refrigeration is limited (think dorm-size fridge) or sometimes non-existent except for ice in coolers and if the beach/marina you’re staying at even has water available, your hook-up is done through a garden-like marine hose plugged into the side of the boat.  Our showers were made possible by a sun shower that we’d let heat up on the dock all day then hang up on a nail in one of the stalls of the public bathroom to wash away the sand, salt, and sunscreen.

In a semi-distant but totally comforting way, this bacon, egg, and cheese pizza reminds me of Sunday mornings at the beach.  For the most part, my mom packed food for breakfast – our electric griddle was king – but on a rare Sunday, after giving in to our pleading and whiny voices (dad included), she would allow my dad (as we were always on a budget) to hit up the snack bar for freshly made-to-order egg sandwiches.  He practically floated down the dock on the smell of cooking bacon and sausage wafting over the marina like a cartoon character drawn to his favorite food.  Those sandwiches were rare, special, and so satisfying.

This breakfast pizza, being all of those sentiments, admittedly was Kyle’s idea.  He gets me.  He knows that I find it virtually impossible to find a decent freshly made egg sandwich sandwich (i.e., not microwaved – gross) anywhere near our home.  This pizza idea is the brainchild of observing my frustrations all these years and it encompasses all that I [we] love in an excellent egg sandwich.  Plus?  It’s pizza.  So yeah, two of my favorite foods wrapped up in one little package.  Like I said, he gets me.

As with any pizza or egg sandwich, feel free to add whatever toppings you want.  We went for bacon, Monterey Jack, sautéed onions and peppers, and a whole bunch of fresh herbs.  The key to this pizza is to make sure you push the pizza dough up the sides of a baking sheet so that the beaten eggs have a place to stay.  It’s almost like making a quiche in that you don’t want the eggs leaking under the crust, else they will make it soft and difficult to remove from the baking sheet.  Use a well-seasoned baking sheet if you have one and sprinkle on a little cornmeal before you put the dough down – don’t skip this step.  The end result is a something magical: fluffy eggs, salty bacon, tons of freshness from the herbs, crispy pizza crust.  It’s pretty much the perfect breakfast pizza and because we made a whole sheet pan of it, we had plenty of leftovers for breakfasts later in the week.  I can see this being a great Mother’s Day breakfast project with a kitchen full of kids or even a quick through-together breakfast-for-dinner kind of meal during the week.  Either way, this breakfast pizza is a big winner here: it evokes great memories for me and fills our bellies at the same time.

The Ultimate Veggie Burger
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The Ultimate Veggie Burger

Sometime around 1999, I tried a veggie burger for the first time.  It was frozen, from the grocery store, and not as horrific as my little brother proclaimed it was.  Actually, I kind of liked it but then proceeded not to eat another one ever again.  And for no specific reason, just that beef [or chicken or turkey] burgers made more sense to me.  Flash forward to 2012 where about 50% of our meals each week are vegetarian.  This time, I have specific reasons: increasing the number of [oftentimes] lower caloric and nutrient-rich veggie-packed meals we eat, lowering our carbon footprint, saving a few bucks on meat that seems to be ever-so expensive these days, and do I even have to mention pink slime?  (Whole Foods in Danbury, CT, please hurry up and get built!!!)

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For at least a year now, I’ve been wanting to make veggie burgers at home and I’m so, so glad I finally did because I totally fell in love with them.  Earthy and deeply, almost roasted flavored from sautéed vegetables and mushrooms, these burgers are a meal by themselves.  Primarily held together by a mixture of lentils, black beans, bulger, and panko breadcrumbs, the texture is decent – definitely not cardboard-esque like those which hail from the freezer section but more like that of a crab cake: light, soft, and a little messy (though not messy to cook, just a little messy to eat).  Grilled or pan-fried, served atop some homemade buns with your choice of toppings and a little garlic aioli, and you’ve got yourself a hearty and completely satisfying meatless burger.  The only downfall to this recipe is that it isn’t a quick one.  I felt like I used every pan and bowl in my kitchen that night last week and from start to finish, these burgers took me about an hour to make.  The good thing is that the recipe yields 12 large burgers (there’s no harm in even making them a little smaller) and you can freeze the uncooked remaining veggie burger patties.  For this I’m ecstatic because now I’ve got an instant and fabulous dinner ready for when we’re ready to fire up our new grill!

Baked Corned Beef and Sauteed Cabbage
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Apparently, I grew up as a picky eater.  These days, I’m doing a lot of apologizing to my parents.  Until I met Kyle, I was conscious of only truly not liking one food: green beans.   And only after he pinned me as a picky eater, I realized there were so many other things…asparagus, cauliflower, pickles, mustard, nuts, spicy foods in any form, and two of the biggest offenders: corned beef and cabbage.  I used to dread St. Paddy’s Day and I always felt so bad being invited to friends’ houses to celebrate as a teenager because I just couldn’t stomach the boiled meal.

But somewhere along the way in the past few years, my tastes have changed drastically (see: jalapeño popper grilled cheese and buffalo chicken pizza) and on a complete whim early last year, I agreed to swap half of my roast beef sandwich for half of Kyle’s corned beef Reuben.  And I was hooked.  So after 8 years of Kyle unsuccessfully begging me to make corned beef for St. Paddy’s Day, I found this baked corned beef recipe last year and truly discovered a new food love.  Baked with cloves and covered with brown sugar and hot and sweet honey mustard, this corned beef is other-worldly good.  The cloves subtly seep into the beef roast and the brown sugar and honey mustard create a slight crust on top, adding both ample flavor and a nice texture.  Let’s also quickly talk about the cabbage because what else would really round out this Irish-American meal (aside from soda or rye bread)?  You’ll thinly slice the cabbage and saute it with onion, garlic, and olive oil, much like you’ll do for this colcannon, another Irish staple.  And let me tell you, sauteed cabbage is nothing like boiled cabbage.  Slightly crisp and fully awesome, you’ll want this cabbage as a side dish for more than just corned beef.  Served alongside potatoes and carrots, this baked corned beef and sauteed cabbage is the perfect American celebration of St. Paddy’s Day and when made this past weekend for my visiting family in only 2 hours (as opposed to the hours needed to boil corned beef), it was a huge hit.  If you think you can’t get your family to eat corned beef, test this recipe on them – I’m positive they’ll think differently after eating it.

Vegetarian Lentil and Black Bean Soup
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Is your pantry as neurotically stocked as mine is?  I’ll bet some (most?) of you always have some type of canned tomato, canned or dried bean (which may or may not be stored with the popcorn), 3 or 4 different types of vinegar (I compulsively keep 7), and too much dried pasta to feel like you’ll ever use.  However, when it really comes down to it, you know that pulling together a meal directly from the pantry isn’t ridiculously out of the question.

For us, these past few weeks have been about our household economy.  We’ve been scrimping and saving during the past 4 years and especially in the past few months to put the finishing touches on our new house…so we can install things like this in our kitchen:

And so to keep our grocery bills way down, most of our meals have been planned around what’s in the freezer and pantry.  This lentil and black bean soup is the perfect example of one of said meals.  While you could certainly use chicken broth or stock, I opted for veggie broth.  At $2 per quart, I figured I’d splurge at little :), considering I already had all of the other ingredients in the house already.  I am always looking for new lentil soup recipes and this one, with the addition of black beans, hit the nail on the head.  We truly adored this soup and with its thick and almost chili-like consistency, it’s a filling and healthy meal that will continue to stick around on our menu long after we move in (and you know, rebuild our savings account).

Restaurant Style Spinach and Artichoke Dip
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Restaurant Style Spinach and Artichoke Dip

If there’s one recipe that I’ve been meaning to share with you guys over the past 3 years, it’s this one.   And for the most part, it’s because as many bloggers know, the problem with blogging certain recipes is that sometimes the dish needs to be served hot, before there’s any time to snap a few photos.  Take into account the time needed to adjust camera settings, fiddle with the light source, ensure all props are in place (none of these things are ever right even after test shots are taken when the food is still cooking), and essentially the dish starts getting cold by the time the photos are finished…every one of us is all too familiar with eating luke warm dinners.  But this doesn’t fly when you’ve got a room full of hungry people eying the steaming and bubbly spinach and artichoke dip that’s just emerged from the oven – we all know that.

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So in honor of the Northeast dominated Super Bowl next weekend, I decided to make the sacrifice (ha!) to remake this dip and blog about it for you because you NEED this dip at your party.  Now, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve actually watched the Superbowl (for the record, I just don’t get football), but I’m definitely all about understanding the snacks that go with it.  This old-standby dip is kicked up a few notches with a secret ingredient: alfredo sauce.  I almost couldn’t believe it the first time my friend Andrea brought this to a party and revealed her secret but it’s true!  The alfredo sauce adds to the creaminess of the dip without having to use mayonnaise and with few other ingredients and minimal effort, I can assure you that this dip will be gone in less time than a Super Bowl commercial break.

Need more Super Bowl snack ideas?  Check out the sidebar for a bunch of winning snack ideas!

Broccoli Cheddar Soup
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In the midst of holiday preparation craziness, there was this soup.  Broccoli cheddar soup.  A knock-off of the famed and beloved Panera version, this version is a lighter homemade version where you control the ingredients – I love soups like this one!  I’ve made this recipe a handful of times over the past few years and I seem to make it a little differently each time, mostly just varying the milk ratio (i.e. sometimes adding a little cream in place of some of the skim milk), but it turns out fabulous each and every time.  The consistency isn’t as thick as Panera’s version but like I said, it’s on the lighter side, so if you want to thicken it up, just increase the cream-milk ratio.  The most recent time this soup appeared in our kitchen, I was in the middle of packaging up my Christmas treats over the course of a few days and because the recipe left us a fair amount of leftovers, it was so nice to be able to quickly heat up a bit for lunch.  And aside from a regular weeknight meal, in the past I’ve also made a double batch of the soup, kept it warm in the crock pot, and served it in coffee mugs as a warm appetizer during fall and winter parties.  This broccoli cheddar soup is always a big hit here and is definitely one of our favorites!

Skillet Penne with Chicken Sausage and Spinach
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This is the time of year when I’m constantly searching for quick meals to make at night when more important things trump a long-winded weeknight dinner…like cookie baking, tree decorating, vanilla eggnog drinking, and old-school Christmas carol singing.  And this year, add organizing my house for a big move to that list.  Yep, that’s right…our house is almost finished and we expect to be moved in during the week between Christmas and New Year’s!  It’s been quite an insane time of my life and much to my excitement (and relief?), I’ve recently discovered a gold mine of quick meals with my new Cook’s Illustrated online subscription.  (Don’t have one?  Want to win one??)

Skillet Penne with Chicken Sausage and Spinach

This recipe is one of those.  It’s a one pot meal that I had on the table in under 30 minutes from prep to finish and after running to UPS.bank.lunch.Barnes&Noble.kitchenplace.bathplace.graniteplace.gasstation.grocerystore between noon and 5 yesterday, the last thing I wanted to do was make dinner.  But you know what?  This meal practically got itself on the table and I couldn’t have been happier with how it turned out.  I tweaked the recipe a little, adding some white wine in place of the chicken broth and finishing off the sauce with some cream (it needed a little boost) and I’ve reflected my changes below.  It’s a killer meal and I can tell you that it will be on my table again in the next couple of crazy weeks, for sure.

Butternut Squash Pureé
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When it comes to side dishes for weeknight dinners, I feel like I deserve a C-.  It’s sort of reminiscent of my freshman microeconomics grade whereas I do put quite a bit of effort into the work in spite of the fact that I just don’t get it.  And yes, my micro- grade was a C-, not a great way to start off a college career.  In any event, I do plan side dishes for all of my meals, buy the ingredients when necessary, but I have such a hard time pulling the trigger to get them prepared.  Usually there are pans flying around my kitchen, a cookbook stacked on top of the coffee pot since space is so limited, and maybe a few choice words shouted at the burner that will never stay hot enough (thank you glass-top stove) when I’m cooking dinner.  It’s not a pretty scene so last week when I had some leftover butternut squash from the curried butternut soup that I made, I decided to use it up right away rather than stashing it in the fridge for another time that may never arrive.

I’d like to say that I put more effort into this pureé other than boiling the squash in a sauce pan until tender but I’d be lying.  Actually, photographing the squash took longer than it did for me to prepare it once it was cooked.  I drained the squash, added a few staple ingredients, mashed it, and it was ready – ridiculously simple, really.  I love a hefty amount of freshly cracked pepper in butternut squash when it’s prepared this way, something I never lost since childhood (what kid loads up their food with pepper?), but if it doesn’t suit your tastes, cut back on it.  The way I prepared the squash here is my favorite version however, you can definitely play around with some warm spices of fall – cinnamon, cumin, curry powder – and easily make this side dish your own.  And if you want to cheat and buy the squash pre-cut from the grocery store, go for it – I did and it cut down on the painful prep of peeling a slippery squash.  It’s tough to turn my back on side dish that take 15 inactive minutes to make and I don’t think any busy person on a weeknight would either.

Eggplant Caponata
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Eggplant Caponata

The eggplant harvest continues here.  We picked a couple more before the hurricane/tropical storm hit last weekend and the plants with smaller eggplant survived the storm, thankfully.  Today, I’m highlighting this eggplant caponata and I truly believe it’s a dish that every cook should have in his/her repertoire.  If you’re unfamiliar with it, caponata is a traditional Sicilian stew (entrée, side, or appetizer/antipasti) usually made with eggplant, celery, capers, and a tomato-based sauce but [according to Wikipedia] other add-ins such as red peppers, pine nuts, raisins, olives, carrots, octopus, and lobster are also widely accepted.

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In this recipe, the eggplant is sautéed down to a soft and almost spreadable texture which makes the caponata a gorgeous addition to some crusty bread (which we had for dinner twice this past week).  I also considered serving this over pasta and also on it’s own with a small salad on the side, and I think it would make an excellent complement to a meaty fish like halibut or swordfish.  For lunch this week, I put the caponata on a toasted hard roll with some provolone (also twice this week – the recipe makes a lot of caponata!) and it made for a terrific sandwich.  All in all, Kyle and I both fell in love with this recipe and I’m contemplating if I should make it again for an upcoming party next weekend.  The caponata is warm and earthy with a deep flavor of fresh tomato sauce and it’s these simple flavors that make it so easy to fall in love with.  It’s a recipe that I’ll be able to make all year round (wouldn’t this be great by a fire in the middle of winter?), since eggplants are always available in the grocery stores these days, but will most definitely look forward to each August when my garden is overloaded with eggplants.

Eggplant Caponata

Ingredients

    For the simple tomato sauce:
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 (28oz) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained (reserve all of the juice) and chopped
  • Large pinch (about 1/2 tsp) Kosher salt
  • For the caponata:
  • 2 medium eggplants, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cups simple tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 tsp anchovy paste
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar

Instructions

  1. To make the sauce: In a medium sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add in the garlic and when it starts to sizzle, immediately stir in the tomatoes, all of the reserved juice, and the salt.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 15-20 minutes.
  3. To make the caponata: Place eggplant in two large colanders and sprinkle about 2 tbsp salt over all of the eggplant. Toss to evenly distribute the salt. Allow the eggplant to drain for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Once the eggplant has drained, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add enough eggplant to cover the bottom of the pot in one layer and sauté until golden on all sides. Continue cooking the eggplant in batches until all of it has browned, adding more olive oil with each batch or as needed. Once all of the eggplant has cooked, remove it from the pot and keep warm on the side.
  5. In the same pot, warm 1 tbsp olive oil and sauté celery for 5 minutes. Add in the onions and cook the onions and celery until they are translucent and soft, about 7-10 minutes, adding a little more oil if needed. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the tomato sauce; cook for 7 minutes. Stir in the eggplant and celery and add the capers, anchovy paste, vinegar, and sugar. Cook for 10-15 more minutes until the mixture is a thick stew-like consistency. Check for flavor, adding more salt, vinegar, or sugar as needed. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Source

source: adapted from Alice Waters, The Art of Simple Food

http://www.smells-like-home.com/2011/09/eggplant-caponata/

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (Salsa Verde)
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I would venture a bet that you’re reading this post as I sit here post-Irene.  No electricity, no water in spite of the deluge of rain we’ve received during the first hurricane the Northeast has experienced in 20 years.  My potted herbs and stringy cherry tomato plants have taken over my kitchen floor.  The patio table stands awkwardly in my living room.  I can only hope that as you read this, that no major damage to our home [that technically isn’t even our home anymore] has been sustained, that we are safe, that my family on the south shore of Long Island have weathered this storm in a similar fashion.  That you and your families are safe.  Mother Nature works in such mystifying ways, doesn’t she?  An earthquake and a hurricane in one week.  A winter that us New Englanders will never forget.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa [Salsa Verde]

And through all this, we hunker down and we cook.  We cook to prepare, we cook to pass the time.  Isn’t it in our nature to turn to food and family in times of trouble?  Or is that just the Italian in me?  Either way, I made a big batch of this salsa verde before the hurricane hit this weekend after having made it (and fell in love with it) for the first time for a Tex-Mex-inspired dinner with friends last weekend.  If you’re unfamiliar with salsa verde as I was, put simply, it’s roasted tomatillos and roasted garlic whirred up in the food processor with a bit of heat from the hot pepper of your choice (either a jalapeño or a serrano) added in.  For this recipe, you’ll dry roast the tomatillos and garlic in a hot pan, similar to the method for this rustic roasted salsa.  I can’t say enough about how much we adore this salsa.  Unlike tomato-based salsa which leans towards the acidic side, the roasted tomatillos yield a sweet undertone that blends with a perfect amount of heat from a jalapeño and the addictive flavor of fresh cilantro.  Along with a bag of blue corn tortilla chips on the hurricane preparedness list, this salsa will go a long way to helping you forget about the 80 mile per hour winds howling outside.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (Salsa Verde)

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4-5 medium tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and halved (about 8 ounces)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1-2 jalapeño, seeded and ribs removed, roughly chopped
  • about 1/3 cup loosely packed, roughly chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 small white onion, chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • Kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Lay the garlic and tomatillos (cut-side down) in the skillet. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the tomatillos are well-browned. Turn everything over and brown the other side (the tomatillos should be very soft). Remove the tomatillos and garlic and add to a food processor or blender. Allow the mixture to cool for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the jalapeño, 1/4 cup of water, onions, cilantro, and lime juice to the food processor, and blend to a coarse purée. Add Kosher salt to taste. Pour into a dish and add more water if necessary, to give the salsa an easily spoonable consistency.

Source

source: Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless, as seen on Pink Parsley

http://www.smells-like-home.com/2011/08/roasted-tomatillo-salsa-salsa-verde/

Baked Eggplant Parmesan
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We are in eggplant overload!  In the past 2 weeks, our little garden has yielded 7 gorgeous eggplant and by this weekend, we should have another 3 or 4 ready to harvest.  It’s insane and I hope you’re ready for some fantastic eggplant recipes in the next couple of weeks!  I think the Epsom salt we used this year has been working its magic.

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In all honesty, I’ve been wanting to share this recipe with you since last summer after having made it numerous times in the past year, but I could never get my photography world to align with the eggplant parm gods (basically, all of my earlier photos of this recipe have sucked).  In short, this is the perfect eggplant parmesan recipe where crispy edges of the baked eggplant peak through light layers of a simple homemade tomato sauce and irresistible melted mozzarella cheese.  The breaded eggplant is baked in similar fashion to these baked oven fries and while we all know that making eggplant parm tends to be a little labor-intensive on the front end, how could you go wrong with the oven doing all the hard work instead of your standing over a pan of hot oil in an already too-hot kitchen in the middle of summer?

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The last time we made this recipe, we ended up baking way too many eggplant rounds so we froze the extra cooled rounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet then tossed them in a freezer bag for the next time a craving arises.  Alternatively, I feel like the baked rounds by themselves could lend themselves to a myriad of other eggplant dishes like sandwiches or panini with fresh veggies and garlic aioli, eggplant stacks with roasted red peppers and goat cheese, eggplant slices topped with a poached egg for breakfast or a light lunch…you get the idea.

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Baked Eggplant Parmesan

Total Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings

This is not a quick eggplant parmesan recipe but it is worth the wait and work in every way possible. You can absolutely use your own sauce, either homemade or jarred, but if you're up for it, try this 15-minute recipe - it's truly excellent.

Ingredients

    For the Eggplant:
  • 2 medium eggplant (about 2 lbs) cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
  • 1 tbsp Kosher salt
  • 4 cups Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan (about 2 oz)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 6 tbsp vegetable oil
  • For the Tomato Sauce:
  • 2 cans (14 ½ oz each) diced tomatoes (or pureed or crushed tomatoes)
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tbsp)
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • Salt and ground pepper
  • For Baking:
  • 8 oz whole or part-skim mozzarella, shredded (2 cups)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 oz)
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Instructions

  1. To make the eggplant: In a large bowl, toss half of the eggplant slices and 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt; transfer salted eggplant to colander set over bowl. Repeat with remaining eggplant and salt. Let stand until eggplant releases about 2 tablespoons liquid, 30 to 45 minutes. Arrange eggplant slices on a triple layer of paper towels; cover with a triple layer of paper towels. Firmly press each slice to remove as much liquid as possible, then wipe off excess salt.
  2. While eggplant is draining, adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-thirds of the oven, place rimmed baking sheets on both racks, and heat oven to 425° F.
  3. In a pie plate or shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  4. Combine flour and 1 teaspoon pepper in large zipper-lock bag; shake to combine. Beat eggs in second pie plate. Place 8 to 10 eggplant slices in bag with flour, dip in eggs, let excess egg run off, then coat evenly with breadcrumb mixture. Set breaded slices on wire rack set over baking sheet. Repeat with remaining eggplant.
  5. Remove preheated baking sheets from oven; add 3 tablespoons oil to each sheet, tilting to coat evenly with oil. Place half of breaded eggplant on each sheet in single layer; bake until eggplant is well browned and crisp, about 30 minutes, switching and rotating baking sheets after 10 minutes, and flipping eggplant slices with wide spatula after 20 minutes. Do not turn off oven.
  6. To make the sauce: While eggplant bakes, process the diced tomatoes in a food processor or blender until almost smooth (if using pureed or crushed tomatoes, skip this step).
  7. Heat olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes in large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is light golden, about 3 minutes; stir in processed and remaining can of tomatoes. Bring sauce to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until slightly thickened and reduced, about 15 minutes. Stir in basil and season to taste.
  8. To assemble and bake: Spread 1 cup tomato sauce in bottom of 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Layer in half of eggplant slices, overlapping slices to fit; distribute 1 cup sauce over eggplant; sprinkle with half of mozzarella. Layer in remaining eggplant and dot with 1 cup sauce, leaving majority of eggplant exposed so it will remain crisp. Sprinkle with ½ cup Parmesan and remaining mozzarella.
  9. Bake until bubbling and cheese is browned, 13 to 15 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, scatter basil over top, and serve, passing remaining tomato sauce separately.

Source

source: adapted from The New Best Recipe by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated, as seen on Ezra Pound Cake

http://www.smells-like-home.com/2011/08/baked-eggplant-parmesan/

Spinoccoli Pizza
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Spinoccoli Pizza

It’s no surprise to me that, when faced with a new pizza recipe, we wouldn’t be all over it.  It’s also no surprise that my friend Annie has dreamed up another fabulous pizza recipe being that I know one of her favorite foods, like my own, is pizza.  Annie’s Spinoccoli pizza lends a silly name to a drop dead amazing pizza, combining fresh baby spinach and itty pieces of broccoli with a luscious white sauce.  All baked together, the pizza reminds me of a vegetable lasagna and that’s probably why I love it so much.  I’ve actually got an unforgettable spinach lasagna recipe to share with you soon but in the meantime, you must try this pizza.  The greatest thing about this spinach broccoli pizza, aside from how it tastes of course, is that you can use up all those leftover bits of vegetables in your fridge.  I know I’m not the only one who chronically has half a bag of baby spinach in my fridge with nothing to do with it except to throw it in a salad – so bust it out for this pizza!  The white sauce takes all of 10 minutes to make while you’re waiting for the oven to preheat and in 30 minutes (if you go with premade dough rather than homemade), Friday pizza night is done.  It’s the perfect way to end the week, don’t ya think?

 

today's broccoli harvest from our garden!

So just a little aside about the funky photo I took above…have you heard of Instagr.am?  It’s a cool little [FREE!] app for iPhone used to snap photos, add some flair to them with different filters, and it gives you the ability to instantly upload them to Twitter, flickr, and even Facebook.  It’s a ton of fun and after I picked this broccoli from our garden one morning earlier this week, I took a quick shot.  You can also link your mobile Instagr.am app to Web.stagram where you can easily connect with friends and view and comment on all of their photos (and yours too) in a running feed.  It’s not so much of “another social media thing to handle” as it is a digital photo book – check it out if you have a minute.  And if you’re wondering about the broccoli…I’m insanely excited that this fresh bundle is going on my Spinoccoli pizza tonight!

Fresh Tomato Mozzarella Tart with Basil Garlic Crust
20

Fresh Tomato Mozzarella Tart with Basil Garlic Crust

Sometimes choosing new recipes to make in the summer is a completely overbearing experience.  Hundreds of thousands of recipes using the freshest of ingredients – what’s a blogger to do?  In the case of this Fresh Tomato Mozzarella Tart with Basil Garlic Crust, it was a no-brainer.  I’ve been hanging onto the recipe for 2 years and made it as the local tomatoes were on their way out last Summer with the full intention of sharing it with you…and it totally flopped.  Gummy crust, watery filling, and generally a turn-off of a meal.

But I vowed to avenge myself this summer.  I knew it wasn’t the recipe.  I knew it had partly to do with the fresh mozzarella that I foolishly used – obvious note to you: don’t use fresh mozzarella in this tart.  So I made a special stop this weekend at a local farm stand and picked up a few gorgeous ripe local tomatoes, plucked some basil from my pots on the deck, and pulled this tart together in virtually no time.  Now that I was actually able to eat this tart, I fell head over heels for the ever simple tomato-basil-mozzarella combination all over again.  The basil garlic crust was crispy and amazing, the perfect complement to the fresh [now] roasted, sweet, and earthy tomatoes, and gooey mozzarella.  A sprinkle of basil over the top of the baked tart is the last piece of this puzzle that no longer confounds me.  We served this tart alongside some grilled shrimp but a small salad or some grilled chicken would be great options as well.  I don’t know about you, but I’m itching to make this again as the summer rolls on and the tomatoes really come into their own later this month.

Fresh Tomato Mozzarella Tart with Basil Garlic Crust

Prep Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

    For the tart dough:
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 medium garlic clove
  • 1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 8 to 10 pieces
  • 4-5 tablespoons ice water
  • For the filling:
  • 8 ounces sliced mozzarella
  • 1-2 large, ripe tomatoes (about 1 pound), cored and cut crosswise into thin slices
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. To make the tart dough: Place the basil and garlic in the work bowl of a food processor. Process, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until finely chopped. Add flour and salt; pulse to combine.
  2. Add butter. Pulse about 10 times, or until the mixture resembles pea-sized crumbs.
  3. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing several times after each addition. After 4 tablespoons water have been added, process the dough for several seconds to see if the mixture forms a ball. If not, add remaining water. Process until dough forms into a ball. Remove dough from processor.
  4. Flatten the dough into a 5-inch disk. Wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (The dough can be placed in a zipper-lock plastic bag and refrigerated for several days or frozen for 1 month. If frozen, defrost the dough in the refrigerator.)
  5. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch circle. Lay the dough over the tart pan, and press it into the pan. Trim the dough, and proceed with the recipe as directed.
  6. To make the filling and assemble:
  7. Prepare the dough, and press it into a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. A 9-inch pan works as well - you'll just have some leftover dough which you could use to make a small galette with any leftover ingredients.
  8. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Line the bottom of the tart shell with mozzarella. Arrange the tomatoes over the cheese in a ring around the edge of the tart and a second ring in the center. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil.
  9. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the cheese has started to brown in spots, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on a rack for at least 5 minutes before slicing. (The tart may be covered and kept at room temperature for 6 hours.)

Source

http://www.smells-like-home.com/2011/08/fresh-tomato-mozzarella-tart-with-basil-garlic-crust/