Thursday, September 29, 2011

Easy Healthy Eggplant Parmigiana

Did you know eggplants are technically berries?

I found an adorable little eggplant at the local farm market last week when I was out getting fruits and veggies, and it just cried out, "Turn me into eggplant parmigiana!" in its little purple eggplant voice.

Okay, maybe I was just wiped out from a busy day with 24 second graders....

But I did make this into a small batch of eggplant parmigiana.  Normally this is a recipe I serve up as a side dish, but with some rolls and a side salad, this was a perfect meal for my husband and me.

Now, if you've done any research into the making of eggplant parmigiana, you'll find that the instructions call for breading the eggplant, frying it in hot oil, then baking it.  Well, that's all fine and good and very traditional, but it's also a lot more time consuming than I think is necessary, especially for a weeknight meal. And all that frying can't be good for you.

And honestly, my mother has never fried her eggplant parmigiana.  So I don't either.  My way is a lot easier, a lot quicker, and, I think, a lot healthier overall.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Chicken Marbella

I recently tried out a slow cooker recipe I snagged out of Woman's Day for chicken marbella.  It was really easy and an interesting combination of flavors.  I followed the recipe pretty closely, though I did make a couple minor adjustments and discovered a couple things I'd do the next time I make it.

I apologize for some of the lower quality photos.  The light in my kitchen was a little off the day I made this.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Garden Vegetable Minestrone

I'm a little bit of a quest to create a recipe for minestrone that matches up to the minestrone served at Olive Garden.  I've gotten close, but still no definitive success.

Still, I have discovered that the best time to make minestrone is in late summer when garden vegetables are at their peak.  It helps to make it on a day that's rather cool, and I recently had such a day with time to get some soup on.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Small Request

Pearl Harbor.  JFK.  Martin Luther King, Jr.  The Challenger.  The space shuttle Columbia.  The 2009 tsunami.

September 11, 2001.

There are certain dates in our history, days "that will live in infamy", that we will never forget.  Those who witnessed these events, who lived through them, will always be able to recall where they were, what they were doing, and who they were with, when they first heard the news or saw it happen first hand.

Ten years ago, our nation witnessed a tragedy, an act of pure aggression and hatred against innocent people.

We were afraid.  We were confused.  Nothing was certain anymore.

From it, a new sense of unity and what it means to be an American rose from the destruction.  People came together to help each other, comfort each other, to pray, and then to rebuild.

In the ensuing years, I think we've forgotten a little bit of what we felt that morning.  We've reverted to our old ways, our old prejudices.  We've forgotten some of the sacrifices made that day, and we've forgotten many of the heroes.  And many people, I think, have forgotten to be thankful for the small blessings we have, to take pleasure and pride in our little victories and the beautiful things in the world.

While I don't want to turn this blog into anything too overtly personal, and certainly not something preachy, I hope all Americans will take a few moments today to do some or all of the following:

  • consider your blessings and say a prayer for those who've forgotten theirs
  • remember the wonderful things in life, big and small
  • hug your mom, dad, brother, sister, husband, wife, child, best friend
  • admire a blue sky, a blooming flower
  • eat chocolate without feeling guilty
  • listen to a child laugh
  • tell someone you love how much they mean to you
  • be proud, be strong, be kind
  • remember those who are gone, celebrate those who remain
  • think about what our country was founded on, and what being an American means to you today
Thanks for your time.

I've also written my memories of September 11, 2001, on Acts of Literature, Acts of Life.  Where were you, and what were you doing that morning?  What do you remember?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Tart Cherry Pie

I've been on a search for a totally awesome tart cherry pie filling recipe for several years now. Once upon a time, I attempted the recipe found in the Betty Crocker cookbook.  It was delicious, but all the sugar separated from the cherries and formed a sugar-sludge on the bottom of the pie.

Since then, I've sadly opened can after can of cherry pie filling, searching and hoping for a homemade filling recipe that would be as gooey and thick as the canned stuff.

Now, success!

My friend Holly, who is also an amazing amateur baker and cook, sent me a recipe she tried out from Food Network.  It was perfect and simple. All I needed to do was procure the tart cherries.

Which I had done the weekend before I went to Florida.  I froze the cherries, since I didn't have time to bake the pie right then and there (and tart cherries really only keep well under refrigeration for a couple days).  I steadfastly pitted two quarts of tart cherries, dumped them in a giant Ziploc container, and mixed in 1 and 1/2 cups of sugar (3/4 of a cup for each quart).  Then I popped the whole container in the freezer.

These darling, beautiful cherries were "pied" this past Sunday while my in-laws were up visiting.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Bruschetta, or, My Favorite Thing to Do With Tomatoes

My husband and I went to Italy for a week in April of 2007, and one of our "goals" was to find the best tasting bruschetta.  I'm not sure if we succeeded or not, but our search did spark our lingering love for the dish.

According to Wikipedia, bruschetta (pronounced "broos-ketta", not "broo-shetta" as is common in the US), is an antipasto dish from central Italy.  There are several variations of it, but its most common incarnation in the United States involves four very simple ingredients:

It amazes me, stupefies me even, that "bruschetta" is sold in jars at the supermarket.  It's such a ridiculously easy thing to make, and is so much better when prepared with fresh ingredients.  Really, if you've been buying jarred "bruschetta" at the grocery store all these years, I'm going to convert you right now.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Peach Jam That Wasn't

Remember how I bought eight quarts of peaches a couple weeks ago?

Yeah, these peaches.

I made jam out of one quart's worth.  Or at least, I tried.  It didn't work so well.  It ended up being more like super sweet peach chunks in syrup.