Sunday, March 21, 2010

Eggplant Parm

PhotobucketDid you know that eggplant is a fruit, not a vegetable?

I was completely planning to make my typical baked Eggplant Parm, and also planned to double and freeze it for lunch club. None of these plans happened.

Instead, I found this recipe on Start Cooking and decided to give it a whirl. I made a few minor modifications, and it turned out really well! At his first bite, M said, "This is REALLY good," and commented that this is a keeper and better than the baked. Even The Boy ate it, and asked for seconds...and finished those too!!

Here's the recipe, with my modifications:
  • 1 eggplant (8 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 cups of dry bread crumbs (Italian flavor) I used panko, as suggested
  • 1 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1 egg
  • 6 tablespoons of oil I used olive
  • 1 1/2 cups of spaghetti sauce
  • 8 ounces of mozzarella cheese - shredded
  • 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese - grated

Slice the eggplant into slightly larger than 1/4 inch thick slices. Sprinkle with salt and set in colander for 30-40 minutes. Press a paper towel into each slice to absorb all the liquid drawn from the eggplant.

Put the flour, egg, and crumbs into three separate flat, rimmed dishes. Add 1 teaspoon of water to the egg and with a fork, beat the egg.

Dredge each slice of eggplant into the flour, then dip into the egg, and finally press the bread crumbs into each slice of eggplant.

Preheat your frying pan on medium high heat. Add 3 Tablespoons of vegetable or olive oil to the pan and let it get hot. Add some garlic and let it "speak," as Rachael Ray says. Fry the eggplant until golden brown on each side – flip them only once.

Place the eggplant on a plate that has been lined with a paper towel.

Before frying the second batch, clean the pan out with a paper towel and a pair of tongs.

Add the remaining 3 Tablespoons of oil to the pan and fry the remaining eggplant.

Spread the sauce in a baking dish large enough to hold the eggplant in a single layer. (A little bit of overlapping is fine.)

Sprinkle on the mozzarella cheese and the parmesan cheese.

Bake the Eggplant Parmesan in a preheated 425º F ( = 220º C = gas mark 7- hot) oven for 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden and the sauce is bubbly.

I felt that this was way too much mozzarella before baking, and not enough sauce, but it turned out to be just right on both accounts. Very yummy dish! This wasn't what I would call easy, simply because there were many steps and many dishes... there were no steps that were difficult or unlike anything I'd done before.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Chicken Stew

PhotobucketOne of the many things on M's "do not like" list is beef. As a result, we don't eat a whole lot around here, but there are lots of beef based foods I really really miss. Beef stew is one of them. I mentioned the troubles with planning meals for a "picky" eater to a coworker, who suggested I try chicken stew. Well, I'd never even thought about that!

I found this one on the food tv website, and it looked really promising. It's Giada, it's highly rated on the website, and it looked really yum! It also has beans, which are also on the "do not like" list. He complained about having to pick so many beans out of his bowl, but nonetheless said he really liked this! YAY! I really liked this one too; it has all the things I love about beef stew (errr, except the beef) and great flavor.

It was really easy too, with the hardest part being the vegetable chopping and the chicken shredding.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 carrot, peeled, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 (14-ounce) can low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 2 chicken breast with ribs (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can organic kidney beans, drained (rinsed if not organic)
  • Serving suggestion: crusty bread


Heat the oil in a heavy 5 1/2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the celery, carrot, and onion I added a heap of garlic here too. Saute the vegetables until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in the tomatoes with their juices, chicken broth, basil, tomato paste, bay leaf, and thyme. Add the chicken breasts; press to submerge.

Bring the cooking liquid to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently uncovered until the chicken is almost cooked through, turning the chicken breasts over and stirring the mixture occasionally, about 25 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the chicken breasts to a work surface and cool for 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Add the kidney beans to the pot and simmer until the liquid has reduced into a stew consistency, about 10 minutes.

Discard the skin and bones from the chicken breasts. Shred or cut the chicken into bite- size pieces. Return the chicken meat to the stew. Bring the stew just to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Ladle the stew into serving bowls and serve with the bread.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pretzel Chicken with Honey Mustard

PhotobucketThis one showed up in my Reader via Cooking with LT. She grabbed it from What's Cookin' Chicago? It looked yummy, so I made it.

BAJ commented that this was really good; score! The Boy wouldn't even put it in his mouth, but he may have just been being stubborn.

I love pretzels, but don't usually keep them in the house. I especially love those little Snyder's niblets with the mustard and honey and what have you. I should have used those in this; that would've been awesome!

I made this recipe with extras in hopes of bringing it in successfully for lunch club. I'm never sure how fried stuff will reheat, but I have high hopes for this one.

I especially liked how the honey mustard turned it; pretty tasty and HOMEMADE! SCORE!

You will need:
*1 egg
*1/4 cup all purpose flour
*1 cup crushed or processed pretzels of any variety
*olive oil for sauteing
*4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves I pounded these thin and even
*salt and ground pepper to taste
*garlic powder to taste

1. You will need 3 shallow dishes. In one, whisk the egg with 1 tablespoon of water. In the second, place the flour. And in the final dish, place the crushed/processed pretzels.

2. Heat a skillet over medium low heat with 1/4c olive oil. While the oil is heating, season both sides of the chicken breasts with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste. Dredge the seasoned chicken breast in flour and shake off excess. Dip the chicken breast in the egg wash and then press it into the crushed pretzels to cover both sides.

3. When oil is hot, carefully place the crusted chicken breasts in the hot oil and fry until browned on both sides. This should take about 5 -7 minutes, but will vary depending on the thickness of your chicken.

4. Serve warm with the honey mustard sauce below.

Honey Mustard Sauce
recipe taken from Joelen who adapted it from Alton Brown

You will need:
*5 tablespoons honey
*3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
*2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Serve over the pretzel chicken or on the side.

This reheated very well, and the ladies in my lunch club were raving about it!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Brown Sugar Blueberry Blondies

We had a really bad Nor'easter yesterday, which really put me in the mood for cooking and baking. As far as cooking, though, I wasn't able to get to the grocery store yesterday, so dinner ended up being homemade pizza. But, I could still bake.

I went back and forth between cupcakes (A had just been to a birthday party where he had them... problem was, I DIDN'T and I WANTED one). When I asked him if he wanted to make cupcakes, he said he wanted to make muffins. Then he didn't. Oh, two year olds. Then I found this recipe on Anne Strawberry's blog for Brown Sugar Raspberry Blondies. And I knew I had frozen raspberries!!

Alas, those raspberries were terribly freezer burned, so into the trash with them. I also had some beautiful frozen blueberries, so with those I went.

As happens so often in this house, BAJ or A started talking to me as I was measuring. So, I wasn't sure if I had put in 1c of brown sugar or 1-1/3c, so went ahead and added another 1/3 c. Maybe I shouldn't have.

It's a fact that our oven doesn't like to bake brownies. They always take way longer than the suggested time, and when the center is done, the edges are hard. After about 45 minutes of baking, a toothpick test proved them to look done (although it came out a little moist, the moisture was blue, so I took that to be blueberry juices). It wasn't done. When I took the pan out, and flipped it over, the bottom stuck to the pan and the center was very moist. Ew.

So, whatever caused all these problems, I do not know. I really need to start using the convection setting when I bake brownies; maybe that will help get a more even temperature.

I did eat the edges, and they were very tasty, so I will post this recipe in hopes of trying it again. I won't bother taking any reference pictures because, well, the pan looks gross.

Original recipe from Anne Strawberry
1 1/3 Cups Flour
1 1/3 Cups Brown Sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup frozen raspberries I used blueberries
½ cup chopped pecans Omitted

Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour small rectangular baking dish (line the pan with foil for easy removal and cutting later. If you want these gooier use a small square pan, but next time I'll keep them a little thinner for even baking).

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, oil, eggs and vanilla; mix on low speed of electric mixer until blended. Mix 1 minute on medium speed. Batter will be thick. Spread half of batter in pan. Toss raspberries in small amount of flour. Scatter berries over batter; spread remaining batter on top (gently!). Sprinkle with pecans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Cool on rack and cut into 16 pieces. Chocolate Chip Variation: Sprinkle ½ cup chocolate chips over batter with pecans.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Chicken and Wild Mushroom Quesadilla

I am enamored with Robin Miller. Her recipes are easy, but more importantly, she always encourages you to make extra of the main meal and gives you ideas for the leftovers. I've already used the base recipe of Roasted Chicken with Smokey Apricot Sauce as well as one of the leftovers with success, so the other night, decided to make her Quesadilla. You can find all of these recipes online here, as well as in her cookbook, Quick Fix Meals.

For this recipe, I used sliced white mushrooms. We also had a package of shredded cheddar, so BAJ suggested we use that instead of shredding our block of Monterey Jack.

The cheddar really didn't add too much in the flavor department, so next time we will be sure to use the MJ. Otherwise, these were delicious and SO. STINKING. EASY. The hardest part was shredding the chicken, but at least I was able to sit down for that part.

On the website I linked, Robin suggests making your quesadillas in half moon shape, but we made them whole and topped them with another tortilla. Doesn't make much difference, I suppose, other than the prettiness of your presentation.

TOTAL TIME: 16 minutes
Prep time: 10 minutes
Active cooking time: 6 minutes
Cooking spray
2 roasted chicken breast halves
4 (8-inch) flour tortillas
2 cups sliced wild mushrooms (any combination of shiitake, cremini, oyster, porcini, Portobello, etc.)
1 cup thinly sliced oil-packed sundried tomatoes
1 1/3 cups shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese
Coat a large skillet or griddle with cooking spray and set pan over medium heat to preheat.
Using a fork, pull chicken meat from bone in shreds.
Arrange tortillas on a flat surface. Top one side of each tortilla with an equal amount of chicken, mushrooms and tomatoes. Top filling with shredded cheese (1/3 cup per tortilla). Fold over tortillas to cover filling, making half-moon shapes. Place quesadillas in (or on) prepared pan and cook 3 minutes per side, until tortillas are golden brown and cheese melts.

Maple Glazed Ham Steak

I've made and blogged about this one before.

This time, I made my own Dijon mustard, which I found on the Taste of Home community board. I've done this a few times, with good success:
Dijon Mustard

1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar -- (or 1/2 white wine, 1/2 white vinegar
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
pinch sugar

Mix all ingredients.
Yield: "2 tablespoons"

This time, however, I goofed and used 1T of water. Oops. I didn't want to just throw it away, so I went ahead with it. I then used the entire product in my ham steak glaze. Otherwise, I made it the same way:

1/4c brown sugar
1/4c maple syrup
1T Dijon mustard

Heat to boiling in a medium saucepan. Simmer for a few minutes to reduce. Brush this over one side of a ham steak. Broil ham steak four minutes, turn over, brush again, and place pineapple slices over the ham. Broil four more minutes.

Instead of pineapple slices, though, I used crushed pineapple because that's what I had. It worked great, although maybe the presentation wasn't as pretty. Again, A ate it, which is a relief since I'm really getting sick and tired of making him his own meals.

I never know what to do when a recipe says to "preheat the broiler," because my oven has a hi and lo setting for this. This time, I used it on low, but put the ham on the middle rack. This was not enough, so I turned it up to hi AND raised the ham closer... too much. Probably in this case, low and 4" from the broiler would have been good.

I served with twice baked potatoes and corn.

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