The Best Meal I’ve Ever Made

This eggplant parmesan was quite possibly one of the best meals I’ve ever made. It was a few more steps and a few more ingredients than I usually like to cook with (I like fast and easy recipes), but it was so worth it. I have only had eggplant parmesan maybe twice in my life because I can no longer eat dairy. I learned how to make it when I was living in Italy and it was delicious, but so loaded with cheese that I’ve never tried to re-create it at home. For some reason unknown to me, goat cheese has no impact on how I’m feeling, so I decided to look for a recipe that called for goat cheese and no other dairy products. I found one recipe that was eggplant, red sauce, goat cheese, and parmesan and I tweaked it a little to make this delicious meal.

What you’ll need:

  •  1 large purple eggplant
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt to weep eggplant slices
  • 1-2 cups flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil for frying
  • 1 jar tomato basil spaghetti sauce (I used an organic brand with few ingredients)
  • 1 small block of goat cheese broken into pieces (crumbled would work too)
  • 1-2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 red onion
  • 4-5 fresh tomatoes, sliced
  • fresh basil leaves

What you’ll do:

  1. Peel skin off eggplant, and slice length-wise so you have thin slices for layering (like lasagna).
  2. Cover the slices with sea salt to remove moisture. Let sit 10-15 minutes and drain water.
  3. Combine the sea salt and flour and blend together with a fork.
  4. Pat dry the eggplant slices with a paper towel.
  5. Warm oil in a large frying pan.
  6. Dip the eggplant in the egg and then in the flour/salt mixture, and place in pan.
  7. Fry on each side until they start to brown (few minutes), and then lay on paper towel.
  8. Saute onions, mushrooms, spinach, and basil in a frying pan and set aside.
  9. In a baking dish, place a layer of tomato sauce, then a layer of eggplant slices, then the sliced tomatoes, spinach mixture, and a few pieces of goat cheese. Repeat this process until you’ve used up all the eggplant.Top with sauce, spinach mixture, sliced tomatoes, lots of fresh basil and goat cheese chunks (or crumbles).
  10. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 10 minutes.
  11. Cool and cut. Enjoy!What’s the best meal you’ve ever made?

Homemade Goat Cheese and Jalapeño Pizza

I know I’ve told you all this before, but I am really not much of a baker. I try, and sometimes I’m successful, but usually, I’m not. Last weekend my husband and I decided to make our own homemade pizza from scratch and I would say we were about 80% successful. The finished product tasted delicious with all of these yummy toppings (artichoke hearts, jalapeños, tomatoes, onions, fresh basil, spinach, bell peppers and mushrooms, how could it not taste great, right?). BUT, the dough left something to be desired. The outside was a little too crunchy (maybe I overcooked it?) and the inside was a little undercooked. Needless to say, I think my pizza dough could use a little practice and refining before I serve it for a dinner party.

I just Googled “easy pizza dough” and found this recipe here. It was VERY easy and I’m not quite sure what went wrong, but I think I’ll try this same recipe again and see where I made my mistake. Or maybe it is supposed to taste the way it did and my expectations were a little too high?

After I rolled out the dough we coated it with jalapeño olive oil that we bought in Cambria while we were there celebrating our 1st wedding anniversary. Then we covered them with all the yummy veggies and put it in the oven for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees (although we probably should have taken them out at 15 minutes)We took them out, added the crumbled goat cheese, and sliced them up! Despite the not-so-perfect dough, they actually tasted amazingly good. The dough was a little more crunchy than I’d like, but the veggies were so good with the jalapeños, goat cheese and the spicy olive oil. I will definitely try this again! Does anyone have a favorite pizza dough recipe they love? Is there a trick I’m missing?

Banana Oat Muffins

I recently stumbled upon the Dashing Dish blog and learned how to make muffins with oats instead of flour and I’m hooked. These muffins were so delicious and much healthier than the average muffin made with flour. They turned out tasting just like banana bread. You can find the original recipe here but I made a few slight changes to mine.

What you’ll need: (my changes were taking out the protein powder, using real sugar instead of sweetener and adding unsweetened coconut)

  • 1 small banana
  • 3/4 cup egg whites
  • 1/2 cup plain low fat Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup oats
  • 1/2 sugar (I don’t like using fake sweetener in my baking)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut (because coconut makes everything better)

What you’ll do:

My favorite part about this recipe was how easy it was! You just combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and pour into baking cups (use silicone so it doesn’t stick). Then I added a pinch of coconut to the batter in each muffin tin before baking. Bake for 15-18 minutes.

Thanks for the idea Katie!

Meyer Lemon Muffins

Recently a co-worker gave me a huge bag of Meyer lemons and I have been trying to figure out what to use them for. I usually put them in my ice water and tea and add them to chicken and vegetable dishes when I’m cooking, but I wanted to start baking with them. The day after I got them, I found the recipe for Meyer Lemon Muffins on Freshly Pressed and decided I had to try it! You can find the recipe on the Darla Cooks blog. They were absolutely delicious. Next time I’d add more lemon in the batter and would maybe even make a sweet lemon/vanilla glaze to drizzle over the top.

One of my favorite parts of making these muffins was photographing them! The lemon slice on top really made them look fun (they tasted great too)!

Broiled Grapefruit with Brown Sugar

I recently was given some delicious grapefruit straight from my co-worker’s backyard and I have been enjoying them for breakfast for the last week. Another friend at work suggested this delicious idea of broiling the grapefruit with a little brown sugar. After I made these I googled the recipe to see how other people made them and I found so many different ways! Some use ginger and brown sugar, some use butter and brown sugar…I think next time I’ll add butter. Everything tastes better with butter, right? But this time I just did it plain and simple. Fruit, brown sugar, and fire. Mmmmm. They turned out delish. A great low-calorie winter dessert that I will definitely be making again soon.

Ingredients:


Brown sugar (about 1-2 tbsp per grapefruit half)

2 grapefruits (one for me, one for my hubby)

That’s it!

What to do:

Cut the grapefruits in half and cut out the seeds. Sprinkle brown sugar on the top of each half and broil for 7-10 minutes until top is golden brown and bubbly. I like to cut through the wedges to make them easier to eat, but you can eat them however you usually prefer to eat grapefruits.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Bran Muffins

Years ago when I was on weight watchers, I used to make these muffins all the time. They are extremely fast and easy and they have very few ingredients. They end up being low in calories and high in fiber and taste just like a chocolate brownie. J They are best heated up with a little whip cream on top and this time I added a little shredded coconut to the top to make them prettier.

  •  One box low-fat brownie mix (I used Betty Crocker)
  • 3 cups bran cereal (I used an organic bran cereal)
  • 2 ½ cups warm water
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Coconut (optional)

First you soak the bran in the water for a few minutes. Then add the brownie mix and baking soda and mix. The batter will be very thick.

Bake in cupcake tins for about 20-25 minutes at 350. See how easy!

Disclaimer- I wouldn’t recommend eating these muffins all the time as a part of a healthy diet. They are tasty, and full of fiber but the brownie mix is of course full of sugar and other unhealthy ingredients. Another option would be to use the No Pudge brownie mix from Trader Joes. No pudge is made with what I like to call “real ingredients” (I used Betty Crocker because I don’t live near a Trader Joes, but I would definitely prefer the healthier route). But, as a once-in-a-while treat, these are great! I froze half of the batch to thaw out another time. That way I don’t have to eat them every day in a row for a month before they go bad.

Glazed Pear Muffins

I just found this recipe for glazed pear muffins on the Weight Watchers website and had to share. I really like Weight Watcher recipes because they are usually twists on traditional recipes with fewer calories and less fat. Win-win! For this recipe I substituted the sour cream with dairy free sour cream, and the milk with coconut milk because it was what I had in the fridge and I think they turned out great. I plan on bringing these to work for an afternoon snack before going to my half marathon trainings. I think they’d make a great brunch or breakfast too because they have just the right amount of sweetness from the pears and the ginger vanilla glaze, but they aren’t overly sweet. Enjoy!

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Last night I made stuffed bell peppers with chicken sausage, brown rice, and some veggies. It was an easy, delicious dish that you could also make vegetarian by taking out the sausage.

Here is what you’ll need:

– 1 cup cooked brown rice

– 1/2 red onion, chopped

– 2 stalks of celery, chopped

– 1 clove garlic, minced

– 1 large tomato, chopped (or 1/2 cup chopped cherry tomatoes, which is what I used)

– 2 large bell peppers (I used one yellow and one red)

– 2 tbsp. olive oil

– 2 chicken sausage links, chopped (I used Adele’s mango and jalapeno sausage)

– 1 jalapeno, diced (you can leave this out if you don’t like spicy food)

– 1 glass of red wine (for drinking, not for cooking)

Directions:

Pre-heat your over to 350 degrees. Saute onions, garlic, jalapeno, and celery in olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes. Add in chopped sausage until warm (this sausage is pre-cooked, and just needs to be heated through). Once sausage is warm, add chopped tomatoes and cooked brown rice. Cut off the tops of the bell peppers and clean out insides. Add rice and sausage mixture to bell peppers and place in oven on a baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes or until peppers are soft. Sprinkle with a little paprika and serve warm.

Warm Apple Crisp

A friend of mine at work brought me a bunch of apples from her parent’s apple tree last week and I have been dying to make something with them. I haven’t had a lot of time to cook or bake so I thought a warm apple crisp would be easy and delicious.  It only takes a few ingredients and is so easy to throw together.  If you remember from Triumphs of a Terrible Baker, I cannot bake. But this was so easy even I couldn’t screw it up. I started with about 9 apples. Then I peeled, cored, and sliced them.

Then combine 2 tbsp. of flour, 2 tsp. of cinnamon, and a 1/2 cup of white sugar and pour them over your apples until they are coated.

Combine  1 cup raw oats, 1/2 cup brown sugar (I used dark because it’s all I had), and 2 tsp. cinnamon. Slowly add small chunks of butter or margarine and mix until oat mixture is crumbly. Then place apples in a large baking dish and cover with oat mixture.

Bake for 55 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve warm and top with cool whip, whip cream, ice cream, or eat by itself!

Modified Bruschetta

If you don’t remember from my older post, Bru-ske-tta, I love Bruschetta and I try to make it all different ways. In Italy, all I did was rub tomatoes and garlic on a piece of toasted bread and add olive oil and basil. Sometimes I use sautéed onions and mushrooms, and sometimes I do it like this..

I started with fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, and fresh green onions from the yard.

Next I thinly sliced the tomatoes and onions and tore apart the basil. I always tear basil, and never cut it with a knife.

Next I poured some olive oil on my sliced baguette, and placed the basil down first, followed by the tomato and the green onion on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

I drizzled a little olive oil over the top and popped them in the oven!

And this is how they turned out– toasted and delicious!

It is the end of tomato season for us in Northern California and I am sad to see them go. This is the last fresh tomato dish I will be making for a while, so I had to savor it!