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Eggplant Parmesan Recipe

29 Aug

Okay so I know all I’ve talked about this week is food- but it’s just so good! My inner fat-child-think-I-can-eat-anything-I-want has come out and she won’t go away. Next week I’ll broaden my horizons, but for now- let’s talk eggplant parmesan!

The story begins last week when we visited some family friends and they sent us home with lots of veggies from their garden, including two large eggplants. Wanting to get creative, my mom and I sat out on the deck with a stack of cookbooks, a cup of coffee with “creamer” (we’re on a Rum Chata kick- don’t try it because you won’t be able to stop, but you should try it) and looked for a fun recipe!

We ended up with eggplant parmesan. Does not sound very unique- but we made it our own. We took the original recipe from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites and then altered it so that it would feed both the girls and the boys in the house, who aren’t big on having “just veggies” for dinner.

Step 1: We poured some wine in preparation. This recipe takes about 2 hours from start to finish, so we needed some strong motivation.

Step 2: We followed the exact recipe for making the Tomato Wine Sauce which was amazingly delicious. It doesn’t look like the recipe is posted on the site, or I’m crazy and can’t find it- but I took a picture of the book instead of typing it all out for you.

Make sure you taste it while it’s simmering! How amazing is that color by the way?

Step 3: We followed the recipe for the Eggplant Parmesan with the following adjustments:

  • Used the whole egg instead of just egg whites
  • Used italian bread crumbs instead of whole wheat for more flavor
  • Made layers into more of a sandwich shape rather than a lasagna
  • Added chicken that after using a meat tenderizer was about 1/2 inch thick, used the same egg mixture and breading as the eggplant and cooked it in a pan with oil while the eggplant was baking. When we were combining all of the layers for the final 25-30 minute baking instructions we snuck the cooked chicken in between the layers of eggplant!
  • Used the remainder of the egg mixture and cooked it as an edible garnish for the tops of the servings- waste not, want not!

And ta-da! Here is our finished product- it looks good and tasted even better! Cheers : )

The end!

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Homemade Salsa

28 Aug

On the cooking trend this week (a huge part of living at home since my mom loves playing in the kitchen), I’ll share a quick homemade salsa recipe that is another great option for an appetizer over Labor Day! We made this as a topping to chicken and used jalapeños because we like it spicccyyyy (SNL reference- love Stefon), but you can make it smoother to use with chips as well. If you have the opportunity to use fresh ingredients then that’s always best but since we were making this recipe in a short timeframe we used store bought and it still turned out great! Enjoy : )

You will need:

3 tbsp onion

1 large clove of garlic

3-4 large tomatoes

peppers of your choice

3 tbsp cilantro

1/2 lime

1tbsp vinegar (not pictured)

salt and pepper to taste (not pictured)

Prep work: Remove the seeds from your tomatoes and chop them, along with your onion into small pieces. Mince your garlic, cilantro, and peppers (quantity and type determined by your preference for mild/medium/hot!).

1. Place onion and garlic in strainer and pour about 4 cups of boiling water over them, let sit for 5-10 minutes to cool.

2. For chunky salsa that’s great for use on chicken or sandwiches, mix all of the ingredients in a bowl and squeeze the lime over the top. For a smoother salsa for chips or other snacks, mix all of the ingredients including the lime juice and separate into two bowls. Using a food processor, mix the ingredients from one of the bowls together until they reach your desired consistency. Then, add the two portions together and you’re done!

Store your finished salsa in your refrigerator in an air tight container for a few hours in order to blend the flavors, and serve!

Farmers Market

27 Aug

Living in the boonies of Michigan, we’re lucky enough to have a farmers market nearby our home that I got to check out with my mom a week ago! The veggies are absolutely unbeatable, store bought cannot even compare, and there’s homemade crafts and jewelry for sale that got us into trouble as well : )

These sunflowers were so cheerful that I had to take a picture to share.

Then of course there were tons of veggies, including a load of sweet corn out of the back of a pickup truck with an attractive farmer sitting in the bed watching over his spot. Hot-dang. So, I bought some… Well played cowboy, well played.

We also found a veggie we didn’t even know existed- purple peppers that are in the picture above! They were sweeter and softer than ordinary peppers, but were great on a fresh salad!

There was also a booth for Michigan cactus? I didn’t know Michigan was known for their cacti, but we thought it was entertaining and snapped a picture as well.

One of the booths sold organic meats and eggs as well as honey. I thought these honey sticks that were available in all sorts of flavors for your tea were fun!

 

We spent about half of the time looking through all of the fruits and veggies, and the other half of the time sucked in at a jewelry booth. She had the cutest displays and little magnets with sayings on them! I bought a few things as gifts for certain peoples birthdays that are coming up : )

At the end of the day, we ended up with quite a few purchases! We’ve been enjoying them all week and I’m definitely excited to make a few more visits before the summer is over.

 

Next year I’m going to convince my mom to start a little garden of our own. We have the land and the sunshine, now we just need to get my step dad to make us a raised bed! I do have to give her mad props though- she’s tried planting herbs for years. And. Always. Fails. They just die on her. She’s tried what seems like everything and then gave up the past few years. But, drumroll please, check out her basil this year! I think it deserves a trophy after her years of struggles. Cheers to the mama, her basil and summer farmers markets!

 

 

Homemade Coleslaw

26 Aug

With Labor Day Weekend coming around the corner I thought it might be fun to share an easy yet staple dish that you can easily make and bring to a cook-out! Coleslaw is very easy to make and I even learned a little secret from my grandma while making it : ) This is traditionally my sisters recipe but since I took a stab at it I got to take some pictures to share!

First, start off by collecting your ingredients. You will need:

1 medium sized cabbage finely shredded

5-6 baby carrots finely shredded

1/2 apple diced into small pieces

1 tbsp honey

5-6 tbsp vinegar

1 cup mayo (not pictured)

1 tsp celery seed

1/2 tsp salt and pepper

Simply prepare all of your veggies, then mix all of the ingredients together! These measurements are approximate, so if you like your coleslaw sweeter or more vinegary than add more or less of that ingredient.

Now for the secret-grandma-recipe: prepare your coleslaw in a wood bowl that has been rubbed with a fresh clove of garlic!

Let the coleslaw sit in the wood bowl for an hour or two before serving to pick up the garlic taste, then serve! Cheers : )

 

 

Roughin’ It

18 Jul

I recently came across this posting thanks to the ever lovely Pinterest, and I absolutely love it! Everyone should take the time to enjoy traveling and amazing food. Make some memories!

I love traveling and although my budget and schedule does not allow me to go on big fancy trips to amazing places right now, that doesn’t mean I can’t get out there! I recently went “camping” with my family in Onstead Michigan and had an amazing time! Camping is in quotations and this post is titled roughin’ it because what we did was the furthest thing from that, while still being on an actual campground. Growing up we’ve always experienced staying in a tent in a sleeping bag, rain or shine, and making food and coffee over a fire that you had to start yourself (or maybe with a little help from my friend the lighter fluid) with a stick you found in the woods. That eventually evolved into an air mattress and a grill, which has now turned into a full on RV with TV, shower, internet, a fridge, beds and the whole shebang. I’m still not 100% sure how all of the girls on the gypsie shows raise a family in them, but oh my goodness they are nice.

I only was able to stay for 2 days because I had to get back to Chicago, but the first night I was there we all set up…

… then rewarded ourselves by sitting around a big ol’ campfire. This picture makes me so happy. Typical boys, not wanting a picture and drinking, and then my sisters, looking fab and posing. The little things : )

If you noticed, the fire wasn’t exactly booming at this point. So, thanks to a nifty blow torch (was not kidding about having everything) we got it roaring. Our philosophy- if it burns, if it looks like it burns, or if it looks like it might do something cool when it burns, throw it in.

After we got that bad boy going we started dinner! The CORN?!? (we love Austin Powers, sorry for that visual) experts got to shucking, and the girl master dad grilled up some amazing chicken! Add some of grandma’s pasta salad and now we’re camping! It was dark by the time we started eating, but it tasted amazing.

Following the buy local trend my family is on, we tried out two wines that were recommended that are made in Michigan! I’ve always liked red more, but they were both great! With names like Nice and Virtue I almost felt better about myself after drinking it. Separate from the alcohol confidence.

After dinner we just sat and stared aimlessly at the fire which is oddly therapeutic, and played a few games of euchre. Night number one- complete!

The next morning I got woken up at 7am by a certain little brother who just couldn’t wait any longer and had to go fishing. Right. Then. To my surprise, with strong coffee’s in hand, we walked down this tree-lined path to discover this amazing little pond and dock! It almost made me forget it was 7am.

The little man fished for two hours and complained that wasn’t enough. Kids.

I think my favorite part was his intense cast. I swear, his stance and the way he whips that thing makes it look like it’s going to fly, yet with only one worm and one sinker on the line, the furthest he got was 25 feet. To him that was far enough though to “catch a 3 footer” so all was good.

10 minutes was spent with this huge worm. Boys. He was fascinated at it’s size and could not stop cracking up. So of course, sister took yet another picture.

If you noticed as well, he is all boy- Does not even stop to change his clothes from the night before. Got to love him. Anddddd after an hour of waiting, he got one! Not quite his 3-footer, but we ended up with four of these little guys that got thrown back and I’m happy to report- they all swam away once put back in the water.

While the bro was fishing I sat back and enjoyed the view! The pond and the sunrise was so beautiful, and one side was covered in these pretty little lily pads.

The rest of the day we spent in the woods and on the beach. The view from our campsite was amazing and such a refreshing shade of green after being in the city.

 

I’m not sure what it is about the woods and making little boys turn wild and run around like they’re an animal themselves, but it sure is cute. I’ve also observed a common trend with sticks. If it’s little, walk past it, if it’s huge, pick it up and run around with it, if it’s absolutely un-pick-up-able, repeatedly jump over it. Here he is with the wind up eying down that log.

 

Next the girls got to pick the adventure and we headed to the beach to catch some rays. A great way to end our mini vacation on a relaxing note! After this we packed up our little happy camper selves and made our way home : )

 

Almost forgot- our mascot for the weekend! The happiest camper there ever could be. Our main girl Ruby looking like a pro. And yes, that is a rug that you put over dirt and her food bowl does match. We are so stylish.

 

The end! Hope you’re enjoying little summer vacations as well! Whether you rough it hardcore with corn or sip champagne on a plane to somewhere fantastic, I think there’s definitely truth in the Eat Well Travel Often mantra that everyone can make a part of their lives : )

Festive Dessert-Kabobs

5 Jul

Hope everyone had a great 4th of July! Here’s a fun little recipe for the holiday that’s easy to make and very delicious! You will need some red white and blue dessert items, I used strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and marshmallows. Grab some skewers and chocolate and you’re ready.
First, take a skewer and start adding your fruit until the entire skewer is full. Repeat!
Next, line the skewers up on a piece of tin foil. Melt chocolate of your choice and drizzle it on top! I used milk chocolate and poured the melted chocolate in a plastic sandwich bag with one of the corners clipped so I could control where the chocolate went.
Lastly, wait for the chocolate to dry, then serve! A great little dessert that is fun to eat : )
Enjoy!

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Patriotic Flag Toothpicks

3 Jul

Happy Tuesday, happy last day of work for the week for me, happy my best friend is coming to town today and happy tomorrow I get to see fireworks with friends and family day! All good things : )

With all of the excitement and visitors, that means I have to cook and clean. So, of course I’ve put off both so far, and in order to make some simple finger foods I have in mind look fancy and festive, I’ve put together some flag toothpicks for the holiday!

This is a very easy project that uses simple materials that you may already have on hand! Gather up some toothpicks, festive scrap paper, clear packing tape, glue and scissors.

Start off by folding one side of your scrapbook page over, and cutting small triangles making sure one of the 3 sides of the triangle is the folded edge (if you were to open the triangle it would make a diamond). This will make it easier to attach to your toothpicks.

Next, attach your folded triangles to your toothpick using your choice of glue. In order to make the pieces a little more durable I’ve used clear packing tape as a makeshift laminator. Simply lay your flag on the tape with the bottom of the flag lined up with the  edge of the tape, and roll it over so that the tape covers both sides of the flag.

Cut the taped flag off of the roll and you will be left with flags that look like this.

Lastly, cut off the excess tape and you’re done! You have cute little flags at a low to zero cost that add a little decorative touch to your appetizers or snack foods. Enjoy and go America!