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Grilled Cheese & Guacamole

1 Jul

My aunt/godmother tells me this story of the first time I met her now-husband, my uncle John. I was 5, and we were out to dinner somewhere. I ordered a grilled cheese, which was always my favorite. He asked me if I liked it, and apparently I responded, with complete sincerity and gravity, “I love grilled cheese so much, if I didn’t have it at least once a week, I would die.”

Let me tell you, ain’t nobody better get between me and some cheese. I don’t play around. As a tween, the first thing I learned how to make on my own was Kraft macaroni and cheese, and the second was a perfect grilled cheese. I don’t think you can expand much on a perfect grilled cheese — Bunny bread, Kraft singles, and Country Crock — but you can have other perfect grilled cheeses.

See, to me, fancy grilled cheese — like the $10 ones you can get at locavore foodie restaurants — are really good, but they’re pretty much a different food altogether. I will very much enjoy a fancy grilled cheese, but if I’m craving a perfect classic grilled cheese, a fancy one just won’t fill that craving. I feel the same way about delivery pizza versus gourmet pizza. That’s why it’s perfectly acceptable to go out to Pizzeria Toro for gourmet pizza and to order from Papa John’s for delivery pizza all in the span of a couple days — they’re totally different meals.

I didn’t have much in the fridge last week, and I was super hungry for dinner. We had had this delicious Country loaf from Bread & Butter with butter and raspberry jam for breakfast:

Good morning!

Mmm… it was so delicious and still warm! So with the second half of the loaf, I decided to make a grilled cheese for dinner. And then I remembered that I had seen this on Pinterest. Seemed like a no-brainer.

The major difference between my Grilled Cheese & Guacamole and the one on Cooking Stoned is that mine is not as pretty. This is not surprising to me. The other thing I did was dice my tomatoes and mix them into my guacamole instead of having slices of tomato. I just don’t like raw tomatoes all that much. It would be good either way. An important part of the process that I learned from Cooking Stoned, is to broil or toast the bread with cheese first so that the cheese gets all melty.

Cheesy Melt!

(I don’t know why there’s only one piece of bread in that picture. I cooked both slices that way. Whatever.) Ooey gooey deliciousness:

Gooey deliciousness

Talk about a grown-up grilled cheese. OMG YOU SHOULD ADD BACON. I’m going to do that next time.

Here’s a recipe. I didn’t really use amounts because sandwiches are one of those things where you should just put however much you want to on the bread.

Guacamole Grilled Cheese Sandwich adapted from Cooking Stoned

2 slices of bread
handful of grape tomatoes or a few slices of a regular tomato
cheddar slices
(onion and/or cilantro might be a good idea, but I didn’t use those)

Prepare the guacamole. (I use an avocado, lime juice, and Wildtree guacamole seasoning. You could also purchase prepared guac.) Dice the tomato and stir into the guacamole. Set aside.

Arrange slices of cheddar cheese on the surface of both slices of bread. Broil or toast until the cheese is melted and the bread is slightly crispy.

Melt 1/2 tablespoon butter in a pan over medium heat. Transfer a slice of cheesy bread to the pan, spread on a whole bunch of guacamole, and then sandwich the other slice of cheesy bread on top. Flip the sandwich when the bread is golden brown, only a couple minutes on each side.


Linking Up With:

Funday Monday from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Anything and Everything Blog Hop from My Thrifty Chic
Time to Sparkle from Love Grows WildInside BruCrew LifeThe Recipe Critic, and The Gunny Sack
Link Party Wednesday from Lil’ Luna
Create It Thursday from Lamberts Lately
All Things Pretty from Sparkles and a Stove and My Fashion Forward Blog
Link Party Thursday from Somewhat Simple

Summer Pasta Salad

24 Jun

It’s officially summer time! And with the summer solstice, it certainly got dang hot in North Carolina. And muggy. And gross. I’m sweaty all the time. But just for the record, this is NOT a complaint. I most certainly prefer this weather to anything below 60 degrees. Though we’ll see if I’m willing to negotiate that number come July. It’s maxed out at 90 so far, so I may change my mind once it gets into the triple digits.

I went to my nephew’s 6th birthday party on Saturday, which meant hot dogs and pasta salad and cake and ice cream. Yum. That night, I was heading to a potluck for a friend’s housewarming party, and I hadn’t any ideas. But the pasta salad was good inspiration, and I decided to make my own.


My mom and sister make a very simple, classic pasta salad: noodles, olives, and feta cheese, all held together with Italian salad dressing. I expanded on the idea by adding a bunch of veggies I had in the fridge from our CSA delivery. I left out the olives though: disgusting.

When you make this, there are only two basic things to know:


1) Use Girard’s Italian dressing. For reals, it’s the best. And don’t put it on until within an hour or so of serving it. If you put it on too far in advance, the pasta will soak up the dressing, and you’ll have to add more to get more flavor, which is just wasteful, both of the delicious dressing and of calories. If you need to make it in advance, just put everything together except the dressing, and add that when you’re ready. Easy peasy.

2) My family’s basic ratio is a pound of pasta to a bottle of dressing. I cut it to about 3/4 of the bottle, but go with what works for you. As long as you keep that ratio, you can then add whatever fresh, raw veggies you want.

Oh, here’s another tip! Let the pasta air-dry a little bit before you mix everything together. If there’s too much water, the oil-based dressing won’t stick. (But if the pasta is too dry, it will absorb all the oil and flavor.)

The cool thing about this dish is its versatility. You can add whatever veggies you and your family like, so it’s completely and easily customizable. And it can easily serve as a side to hot dogs and burgers OR as a cold main dish, perfect for a hot summer night. Add some beans — edamame would be awesome! — and it would be an even better main course.


Summer Pasta Salad

1 lb pasta, preferably rotini or bowtie (farfalle)
1 bottle Girard’s Italian dressing
feta cheese, crumbled
1 zucchini, diced and quartered
1 yellow squash, diced and quartered
2 carrots, sliced into rounds
1 handful grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

Boil the pasta to al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

Chop the vegetables. Place pasta and veggies in a large bowl. Pour in the dressing. Add crumbled feta cheese, to taste.

Toss and serve.

Note: For a vegan dish, omit the feta. For gluten-free, substitute rice-based or other gluten-free pasta for the rotini.

Linking Up With:

Funday Monday from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Anything and Everything Blog Hop from My Thrifty Chic
Time to Sparkle from Love Grows WildInside BruCrew LifeThe Recipe Critic, and The Gunny Sack
Link Party Wednesday from Lil’ Luna
Create It Thursday from Lamberts Lately
All Things Pretty from Sparkles and a Stove and My Fashion Forward Blog
Link Party Thursday from Somewhat Simple

Curry Coconut Vegetable Stew

17 Jun

Oh my goodness, y’all, so I finally got around to finishing this last season of Revolution, and let me just say, after those last 10 minutes, my mind = blown. I almost gave up on that show because I thought the middle part of the season was getting kind of lame, but it really picked up there at the end. And that last scene? Whaaat? I don’t even know what to think.

Okay, Revolution is not at all related to this recipe, but I just had to get that out of my system. I don’t know anyone who watches that show, so I never get to talk about it. Onto the stew!

I had a ton of veggies in my fridge, and not much else. And I was looking for something easy, so what better than a soup? The thing I love about soups is that they’re easy to customize based on preference and available resources. Don’t like greens? Leave ’em out. Got zucchini but no squash? Whatever, that’s fine.  If you stick to similar weights/amounts, and then just use whatever suits you, you’ll be fine. And actually, I used chicken stock instead of vegetable stock, just ’cause that’s what I had.

Mmm... Stew

This is a really hearty stew. The rice and beans definitely fill you up. But the coconut curry flavor keeps it light enough to eat year-round. And it’s super healthy too. The coconut and curry flavors are delicious and definitely noticeable, but not so strong that you don’t still taste the vegetables themselves. You definitely want to stick with fresh vegetables, for that reason. Don’t bother with canned or frozen — just use whatever’s fresh in season.

You can’t really see it in the picture, but there’s definitely some liquid down in the bottom there. It’s soup-y the first go-round, and thickens up to more of a stew texture when eaten as leftovers. Both are equally delicious. As you’re cooking, try to keep the lid on the pot as much as possible so you don’t lose too much liquid. That way, at the end, if it’s too runny, you can simmer with the cover off for a little while to reduce it. But it’s hard to go the other direction.

Don’t forget that when it’s ready, you have to shout, “Soup’s on!” :)

So many veggies!

Curry Coconut Vegetable Stew

1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 Tablespoons garlic, minced
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
3/4 cup white basmati rice
3/4 lb potatoes, diced
1/4 lb carrots, sliced
1 Tablespoon curry powder
salt and pepper
1 tomato, diced
1/2 lb squash, sliced
1/2 lb zucchini, sliced
1/2 lb green beans, ends removed and cut into 1″ pieces
1/4 lb greens (chard and kale)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can light coconut milk

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a simmer.

Add the rice. Cover and cook for 8 minutes.

Add the potatoes and carrots. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

Stir in the curry powder, salt, and pepper. Add the tomato, squash, zucchini, and green beans. Cover and cook for 8 minutes.

Add in the greens. Cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted.

Stir in the black beans and coconut milk. Cook until heated through. Serve hot.

Soup's On!

Linking Up With:

Funday Monday Link-Up from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Anything and Everything Blog Hop from My Thrifty Chic
Time to Sparkle from Love Grows WildInside BruCrew LifeThe Recipe Critic, and The Gunny Sack
Create It Thursday from Lamberts Lately
All Things Pretty from Sparkles and a Stove and My Fashion Forward Blog

Homemade Pesto

1 Apr

I love pesto, and I love pasta. I really prefer creamy pesto, but in recent years I’ve found that a regular pesto is also pretty delicious.

Last summer I had a basil plant growing in a little pot on our balcony. It was really cute and awesome to have around. Problem was, I kept forgetting it was out there. I’d forget to water it for a week or two, then remember and bring it back to life with huge cupfuls of water. I actually did revive it a few times this way, but not without ill effects. The stalks became really woody and tough, and the leaves became less flavorful and a little bitter. After a few near-death experiences, it just wasn’t working out anymore, and I put the poor thing out of its misery.

But before it met its end, I got quite a few good leaves out of that basil, and with it, I made my own pesto. This project was actually my original reason for buying a food processor, if I remember correctly. I whipped up this pesto, which I used as a sandwich spread and as a base for a pasta sauce. I subbed inexpensive walnuts for harder-to-find, pricey pine nuts.

Basil, pre-haircut


Basil, post-haircut


Overall, I remember thinking that it just needed more. More garlic, more parmesan, more flavor. This recipe is pretty good — good enough that I’ll return to it again. But if you have a hit-it-out-of-the-park, homerun of a pesto recipe, please share! I’m thinking of getting a new basil plant this spring.

Homemade Pesto

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup walnuts
3 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper, to taste

Place the walnuts in a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped. Add the basil and garlic, and pulse a few times until mixed.

While the processor is on, pour in the olive oil in a steady stream. Stop and scrape the sides of the food processor bowl with a spatula. Add the grated cheese and a dash of salt and pepper. Pulse until blended.


Serving Suggestions:

  • Crostini: Serve as a spread with toasted baguette slices.
  • Panini: Use as a spread for sandwiches.
  • Pasta: Toss with pasta, vegetables, etc. I made one with whole wheat pasta, broccoli, asparagus, pesto, and parmesan.

Mmm... tastes like spring!


Linking Up With:

YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Monday Meet Ups from Covered in Grace
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Your Great Idea Link Party from Or So She Says
Time for a Party from Fine Craft Guild
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou

Rosemary Turnip & Rice Soup

24 Mar

“This was surprisingly good for something that was probably a staple for medieval peasants.” So says the BF.

I needed some way to use up more CSA veggies. We received yet more root vegetables, and really, I was running out of ideas. I dug up my Cooking in the Moment cookbook, Andrea Reusing’s excellent book of recipes focused on cooking seasonally. The recipes are divided into spring, summer, fall, and winter, and considering I have a winter CSA, I thought I might have some luck there.

Turnip Soup

I found her recipe for Turnip Soup with Rosemary and Black Pepper. I adapted it a bit and gave it a shot.

Considering I didn’t think I liked turnips, I thought this was very delicious. And as the BF says, as turnips are often considered a somewhat lowly vegetable, it really turned out great.  I used my own homemade vegetable stock that I had also made with rosemary, so that was really the strongest prevailing flavor, which I love. I topped mine with black pepper, parmesan, and rosemary. If you want to go vegan, leave the parmesan off, no problem. If you want a slightly different flavor, use chicken stock instead of vegetable stock.


Rosemary Turnip & Rice Soup adapted from Cooking in the Moment by Andrea Reusing

3 green onion bulbs, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt
1/2 cup white wine
6 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup long-grain white basmati rice
black pepper
3-4 medium turnips, cut into small bite-size cubes
3 small branches fresh rosemary – 2 whole and 1 chopped
grated parmesan cheese

Add the olive oil to a heavy stockpot and warm over medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic until slightly brown, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in the wine and stock, and bring to a simmer.

Add the rice, and simmer for 10 minutes over medium-low. Add the turnips and two whole rosemary branches. Cook about 15 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Season with more salt, if necessary. Discard the rosemary branches, and serve the soup into bowls. Top with grated parmesan, fresh-ground black pepper, and chopped rosemary.


Linking Up With:

Monday Meet Ups from Covered in Grace
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Your Great Idea Link Party from Or So She Says
Time for a Party from Fine Craft Guild
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou

Beef Empanadas and Black Bean & Corn Empanadas

4 Mar

My BFF Lauren came over to help me with this project. Because I was certain it would turn out to be a project. My goal was to make empanadas from scratch to share with my book club on the evening we discussed Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende. These Chilean empanadas — along with delicious alfajores — seemed to fit the theme of the book perfectly.

I put a few different recipes together to come up with scratch-made dough, a beef-based filling, and a black bean filling. The beef version is the traditional Chilean version, but I also wanted a vegetarian option.

Pretty easy concept here, just a lot of work. Mix up the fillings and set them aside. Make up the dough and roll it out, then cut circles.

Roll out the dough

Fill with the beef filling…

Beef filling

Or the bean filling.

Black bean & corn filling

Seal up the empanadas. We used a ravioli kit, and it worked really well.

Sealed empanadas

Place them on the baking tray and coat with an egg wash.

Egg wash

Bake to golden perfection.

Golden empanadas

Overall, I thought these were decent, but not necessarily my fave. The dough is a little thick and hard. I would have preferred a softer dough, more like biscuit or pie dough — I should maybe have used shortening or the traditional option: lard. As for the fillings, the beef is too onion-y — though from what I’ve read, that’s probably more a Chilean thing than the fault of this recipe. And I can’t really put my finger on it, but the bean filling was a little weird. I left out cheese from the fillings, thinking it would be better to offer dairy-free options to guests. But I served them with some queso, salsa, and guacamole, so that worked out well in the end.

So I’m aware I’m not really selling this too well. You should try this though! I do think that my opinion of this is mostly just an issue of personal preference. The recipes themselves aren’t bad. I froze the leftovers. Thawing one or two at a time to have with a bowl of soup made for a great lunch.

Chilean Empanadas


Here’s the thing — I can’t find the recipe I used. But maybe that’s not the end of the world, considering I didn’t like it all that much. I’d recommend Martha Stewart’s empanada dough recipe, just because I usually have good luck with her stuff, or do what one site suggested and just use refrigerated biscuit dough.

If you make you own dough, divide it into two sections and refrigerate it so it’s not too soft for rolling.

Beef Filling

1 onion, diced
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
½ lb ground meat
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon oregano
Salt to taste
½ teaspoon black pepper

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook 2-3 minutes until onion is translucent. Add meat and blend together.

Add salt, pepper, and spices, and continue mixing over heat until meat is browned. Remove from heat and let cool.

Black Bean & Corn Filling

1 small onion, diced
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon sugar
1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, drained
2 cups frozen corn kernels
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 cup raisins

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the chopped onions, cumin, and garlic salt, and sauté until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5-8 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes, black beans, and sugar. Saute, stirring, for about 5 minutes more, or until excess liquid has cooked away and tomatoes are beginning to stick to the pan.

Add the corn, raisins, and lime juice, and cook for five minutes more.

Remove mixture from heat and scrape into a heat proof bowl. Let cool to room temperature, then chill for at least one hour.


raisins (optional)
olives, diced (optional)
hard-boiled eggs, sliced (optional)
1 raw egg, scrambled

Roll your dough out to about 1/4″ thickness. Cut into circles.

Fill your circles with a spoonful or two of the filling. If desired, add a few raisins and/or olive slices on top of the filling.

Fold in half and press the edges shut. If necessary, wet your finger and run it along the sides to seal the edges shut.

(I used a ravioli kit to cut the circles and then press the edges shut. You can easily do this on your own without a kit.)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place each empanada on a baking sheet and use a fork to poke a few holes in the top to prevent oven explosions. (I poked the bean & cheese ones horizontally and the beef ones vertically so they would be distinguishable when served.)

Scramble the egg in a bowl. Brush a light egg wash coating on each empanada.

Bake for 20-30 minutes or until empanadas are a golden brown color.


Linking up with:

YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Monday Meet Ups from Covered in Grace
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Your Great Idea Link Party from Or So She Says
Time for a Party from Fine Craft Guild
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou

Garlic Mashed Rutabagas

25 Feb

We got rutabagas in our CSA this week. Having never seen one before, I had to do a bit of research. Here’s what I found:


  • It’s a cross between a turnip and a cabbage. In English-speaking countries outside of North America, it’s more commonly referred to as a “Swedish turnip.”
  • It’s in the brassica family, so it’s related to turnips, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, etc. Rutabagas have loads of nutritional value.
  • You can eat any part of the rutabaga! Some ideas: The root/bulb and stems can be sliced and diced and added to a stir fry. The bulb can be mashed like mashed potatoes. The leaves can be cooked like any greens, sauteed and added to pastas or soups, or used raw in green smoothies.
  • Pretty much anything you’d do to a potato or sweet potato, you can do to the rutabaga bulb. It’s like a healthier, more nutrient-rich, less-starchy, delicious version of potato.

For dinner, we decided to try garlic mashed rutabagas. The BF and I spent a considerable amount of time shouting “rutabaga!” while cooking. It just is a necessary part of cooking a veggie with such a weird name.

Mash 'em up

I thought it was delicious. It tastes so much like the butter and garlic I added, I really didn’t think it was all that different from mashed potatoes. Give this a try! Even if you still include the unhealthy dairy mixed into it, rutabagas are still way healthier than potatoes. They have about 36 calories and 8 grams of carbs, compared 77 calories and 18 grams of carbs in a white potato. I added some plain Greek yogurt to make it a little creamier. That allowed me to reduce the amount of milk and butter.


They’re a little more yellow than potatoes. I like ’em smashed, not mashed. Or shmashed. Whichever. We had garlic mashed rutabagas with barbecue pork chops and a green salad. Yum-o! (And just for the record, I did eat more salad than what’s pictured here. Gotta get your veggies!)

Dinner's ready!

Garlic Mashed Rutabagas, with inspiration from Paula Deen

My sincere apologies that this isn’t a real recipe. I didn’t measure anything! Here’s my recommendation: take your favorite mashed potato recipe, and follow that, subbing rutabagas for the white potatoes. It’s that simple.

2 rutabagas, peeled and cut into 1-2″ chunks
2 cloves garlic, minced
plain Greek yogurt
salt & pepper

Peel the rutabagas and cut them into small chunks. Place in a large pot and cover completely with water. Add a few dashes of salt. Bring to a rapid boil, and then simmer 35-40 minutes until tender.

Drain the rutabagas. While they’re draining, add the garlic and a little butter to the pot. Heat over medium or medium-low until you can smell the garlic, 3-4 minutes. Reduce heat to low.

Return rutabagas to the pot and smash with a fork or potato masher. Add a spoonful of plain Greek yogurt and a splash of milk. Mix well. Add butter to taste, and/or serve with a pat of butter on top.

Linking up with:

YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Monday Meet Ups from Covered in Grace
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Your Great Idea Link Party from Or So She Says
Time for a Party from Fine Craft Guild
Make Something Monday from Sarahndipities
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou

Kale & White Bean Soup

18 Feb

I was a little skeptical about a kale soup. It sounded just a little too… healthy. But I ended up loving this.

Each week when we receive our CSA, the nonprofit who provides it highlights an ingredient and a recipe for that ingredient. This week was kale, which I found out is rich in antioxidants and vitamins K, A, and C.

Since I had a ton of greens (it’s that time of year!), I decided to go ahead and try out the kale and white bean soup recipe that the CSA people shared with us. I followed the instructions but halved the amount.

Kale & Bean Soup

I thought it was a very delicious soup, especially when I dipped a hunk of baguette in it. It has a vegetable Italian -ish flavor, maybe kind of like a minestrone. And it didn’t occur to me until after I made it, but this dish is both vegan and gluten-free, so if you have dietary restrictions, this is a great option. Though if you want to substitute chicken broth for the vegetable broth, you certainly could.

I added in a tablespoon of flax seed, which adds fiber and serves as a thickener. It’s not necessary though, so if you’re not into it, just leave it out.

The recipe called for white beans, and had I planned on making a trip to the grocery store, I probably would have used white beans, Great Northern, cannelini, or something like that. But since I had everything else and didn’t want to go out, I just substituted garbanzo beans (chickpeas). You can use whatever variety of beans you prefer.

I had a big bowl of it for dinner, and there’s probably enough left for 2 or 3 more bowls.

Buon appetito!

Buon appetito!

Kale & White Bean Soup from Community Nutrition Partnership

1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cups kale, chopped
2 cups vegetable stock
1 can white beans
2 tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 Tablespoon flax seed (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat oil in a large stock pot. Add garlic and onion; saute until fragrant. Add kale and stir frequently until wilted.

Add about half the broth and half the beans. Also add all of the tomatoes, seasoning, salt and pepper. Simmer 5 minutes.

Meanwhile,  use a blender, food processor, or fork to mix the remaining broth and beans until smooth. Stir into soup to thicken. Simmer 15 minutes. Serve hot.

Linking up with:

YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Monday Meet Ups from Covered in Grace
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Your Great Idea Link Party from Or So She Says

Eggplant “Meat”balls

10 Dec

I love eggplant, and I love meatballs, so this whole thing seemed like a great idea. And it was! My friend Emily suggested it after profiling it on her blog.

I generally have found cooking with eggplant to be somewhat difficult, so I was skeptical at first. And though this was a bit more work than I generally like to commit to dinner, it was worth it. Plus, the eggplant meatballs freeze really well, so this is an excellent recipe to make over the weekend and save for a busy weeknight.

Roasting some eggplant

We had our eggplant balls over spaghetti with jar sauce. (Honestly, after the hassle of scratch-made eggplant balls, I wasn’t in the mood to make my own tomato sauce.) For snack or for lunch, these are great on their own, maybe with some marinara dipping sauce and some garlic bread. I haven’t tried it, but I imagine it would also make a fantastic sub sandwich. Hmm… I might have to try that soon.

Eggplant "Meat"balls

Don’t wait! Go pick yourself up an eggplant and get crackin’ on this recipe.

Eggplant “Meat”balls (Polpette di Melanzane) adapted from Dinner Du Jour

2 large eggplants, cut in half
extra virgin olive oil
black pepper
4 cloves minced garlic
2 cups breadcrumbs
1 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon chopped basil
a pinch of nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Rub the halved eggplants with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place them on a baking tray and roast for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly. (If you want a slightly fancier way to roast your eggplant, try this recipe.)

Scoop out the flesh of the eggplants, place in a sieve, and press gently to squeeze out the excess liquid. In a mixing bowl, mash the garlic and eggplant together, then stir in the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, egg yolks, basil and nutmeg. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Shape the eggplant mixture into golf ball-sized ‘meatballs’. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Serve over spaghetti with tomato sauce.

Linking up for:

YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Monday Meet Ups from Covered in Grace
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Linky Party with Fine Craft Guild
Make Something Monday from Sarahndipities

Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal

3 Dec

Whew! I am exhausted. Last night was our huge annual fundraiser at work — our Holiday Auction. As the fundraising person, I’m in charge of planning and executing the whole thing. With 250 people, 250 items, dinner, and more, it’s quite a task. With mostly 10- and 12-hour workdays for the past couple weeks, let’s just say that things at home have been a little… neglected.

My closet is about two feet deep in clothes and random detritus right now. (I wish I were exaggerating.) The dirty clothes basket has been re-appropriated to serve as a second clean clothes basket, with those and another load in the dryer waiting to be folded and put away. The kitchen and fridge are full of take-out boxes that need to be thrown away and the trash taken out. And I think the BF misses me, since I’ve mostly been working or sleeping.

So… hello, December! The month for me to get back into the swing of things. I’m planning on doing a little less working, which will leave a more time for other verbs, like celebrating, relaxing, cooking, cleaning, and yoga-ing. And with the holidays coming up, I’m of course looking forward to baking. I’m already brainstorming what I can make!

One thing I’ve decided: I’m definitely making this apple cinnamon baked oatmeal for Christmas morning. In hindsight, since I’ve eaten take-out and fast food at my desk for the majority of my meals the past two weeks, I really wish I had made up a batch of this last weekend to munch throughout the week.

Baked Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

This baked oatmeal is amazing. I’m not a big fan of goopy, thick oatmeal — the texture grosses me out. So instant, microwaveable oatmeal really isn’t for me. But this bakes into a more cake-like texture, a little more solid. Much more my speed. And the apples are the best part — cooked in cinnamon sugar before baking, they are so sweet and delicious. But the oatmeal is pretty healthy, so overall, is comes out to a pretty balanced breakfast.

The best part? It’s just as delicious re-heated. So you can bake some up on the weekend and then have breakfast ready for those busy work mornings. Or… I can bake some up a couple days early, and then warm it in the oven on Christmas morning. Mmm… I’m already looking forward to it.

Mmm... Breakfast!

Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal
adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod and Annie’s Eats

For the cooked apples:
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
5 small or 3 large apples, peeled and diced into small 1/4″ pieces
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons brown sugar

For the oatmeal:
2 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk*
1/2 cup skim milk*
1/2 cup cinnamon applesauce
1 tablespoon melted butter
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat an 8 by 8 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

In a skillet over medium heat, cook the apples with 2 tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons brown sugar for about 15 min or until soft. Layer in bottom of greased pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, applesauce, butter, egg whites, and vanilla. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and stir until combined. Pour oatmeal mixture over top apples.

Bake for 20 minutes or until oatmeal is golden brown and set. Remove from oven and serve warm. Add additional toppings to baked oatmeal, if desired.

* You can use any milk you want to reach 1 1/2 cups total. I used a mix of the two since that’s what I had in the fridge. You could use skim, 1%, 2%, whole, or any mix of those. I’d imagine soy or rice alternatives would also be successful, but I don’t know for sure. If you try those, let me know how it goes!

Linking up for:
YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Monday Meet Ups from Covered in Grace
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Linky Party with Fine Craft Guild