New house, new kitchen, new post: Eggplant Parmesan

I must say, I am a little impressed that I remembered the password to the editor for the blog. I am also saddened that it has taken me seven months to post! I have recently moved into a house with my boyfriend Josh, and while it is no longer upstairs from Publix, I am within a half mile of my original apartment and in love with the new place!

One of the perks of co-habituating is that all of the groceries, produce, cooking gadgets, and utensils are all in one kitchen. This makes both of our lives exceedingly easier. In an effort to also cut down on costs, we now can meal plan and buy food accordingly. Win-Win!

Tonight’s recipe was spawned from a particularly lovely eggplant I found at the Farmers Market (miraculously still walking distance). Having made a large vat of tomato sauce over the weekend (we are both half Italian!), it only seemed right to make Eggplant-Parmesan. Ok, Josh had Eggplant-Parmesan, I had Eggplant-Fake-Vegan-Cheese-That-Kinda-Tastes-And-Looks-Similar-To-Parmesan. While the recipe took a while, the end result was worth it.

I used the recipe from Bon Appetit but cut down the portions from four pounds of eggplant to my very large one eggplant. Because of this, I also cut down on the amount of oil, breadcrumbs, and cheese. Oh, and I used my fake cheese. I also already had my homemade sauce. But the concept is pretty much the same.

Eggplant Parmesan

Isn’t it pretty?

Ingredients

  • Eggplant
  • 6 sprigs of Oregano
  • 6 whole cloves of Garlic (peeled)
  • 3/4 cup of breadcrumbs (I used Panko and seasoned to taste)
  • 2 tbs olive oil + enough to lightly coat the eggplant
  • Enough tomato sauce to cover the two cut halves of the eggplant
  • Enough mozzarella (or substitute) to cover two cut halves
  • Freshly grated parmesan to dust the top of the cut halves

While the oven is preheating to 400, cut the eggplant(s) in half, and remove all but an inch of skin around the diameter of the cut. According to Bon Appetit, this allows for the flavors to meld together while keeping the shape of the eggplant.  I have found this to be completely correct!  

Next, coat the eggplant in olive oil (lightly coat, do not drench) and season with salt and pepper. 

On a tinfoil lined baking sheet, place the eggplant cut side down, surround with the sprigs of Oregano and whole cloves of garlic. Cover the entire baking sheet with more tinfoil and place in the oven for 40 minutes. The house has a gas over, and it is rather intense. Mine was probably done at 35 minutes (I did not check until 40), the original recipe states that you can go as long as 45 minutes.  The end goal is that the eggplant is really really soft.

Once the proper amount of time has passed, remove from oven, and transfer the eggplant (cut side up this time!), oregano, and garlic into a baking dish. I used two different ones to separate the cheese, but if all household members are of similar diary persuasion, feel free to use a large baking dish instead.

On top of the eggplant, add a generous serving of tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese of choice. Top with breadcrumbs and grate parmesan cheese over the top. Place back in the oven and cook for 25 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and the breadcrumbs are golden brown.

Remove and enjoy!

I paired this with sautéed asparagus in butter (another recipe for another time, and yes, vegan butter), and a side salad. 

Josh gave this recipe two thumbs up…my vegan dish was also quite stellar!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honey Mango Balsamic Pizza? A tale of two pizzas…

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So this recipe was all Kristina’s idea! We were going out later in the evening, and decided to cook a meal together before going out. Since she hadn’t cooked on here in a while, I asked her to choose a fun recipe, and one that I could convert to fit my vegan lifestyle!

She chose a recipe from pinterest Nectarine pizza with fresh basil and reduced balsamic. She seems to have a knack for finding fancy sounding recipes.

While Kristina chose to use goat cheese and parmesan, I was eager to try out my new Go Veggie Vegan Mozzarella Cheese. (A quick note on Go Veggie…sometimes, it still has milk products in it!) Now, the mozzarella was a little more, potent, then I recall real mozzarella to be, but I decided to try it out on this recipe.

We also couldn’t find reasonably priced nectarines or peaches…but honey mangoes were on sale! Why not try honey mangoes! So after completely altering the list of ingredients, we set off to cook.

I made my specialized pizza dough, as posted several times on my blog, recently in the post Pesto and Cream Cheese Based Green pizza. Seriously, if you have not tried this recipe yet, you need to try it…15 minutes to an amazing pizza crust!

Once the pizza crust is laid out, add the toppings. For this you will need

2 honey mangoes (cut into slivers and tiny pieces)
1 cup of fresh chopped basil
cheese of your choice
1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar (save until after baking the pizza!)

First cover your dough with cheese. Kristina placed goat cheese on first, and the her parmesan. I generously sprinkled my cheese over my crust. Then add a healthy helping of sliced and diced mango. Finish the dish with half of the basil (the other half will be used after the dish is cooked). Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes on 500 degrees. Make sure your pizza does not burn!

While cooking the pizza, heat the balsamic vinegar on the stove, stirring continuously, allowing it to ‘reduce’. You know it is ready when it becomes thick, do not let it boil and waste!

When the pizza comes out of the oven, sprinkle the remaining basil on top, and lightly drizzle the balsamic vinegar. Slice and enjoy!

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The white plate is vegan, the black plate is not.

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Kristina enjoyed her non-vegan pizza!

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But she also conceded that mine was pretty good too! I was really pleased that the Go Veggie Cheese completely melted! While it did not taste completely like mozzarella, it worked perfectly with the other flavors!

Fried Eggplant

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On Sunday I had gotten a very beautiful eggplant from the lovely lake Eola farmers market in downtown Orlando. I hadn’t gotten a chance to use it yet, but I had been promising Keely I would make her eggplant for the first time, and I delivered. I did a very simple fried eggplant.

You’ll need:

1 1/2 cups flour
4 eggs
Garlic powder
Salt & pepper to taste

Mix the flour, a pinch of salt and pepper and a tsp of garlic powder in a dish suitable for dipping the eggplant. Crack the eggs scramble and put in a bowl. I like to double dip my batter so it gets a nice thick crust because who likes soggy eggplant.

Once they were done to a nice crisp I lightly salted them because I wasn’t using cheese or sauce and just eating them plain. They were a hit amongst the family well except for my significant other Chas who isn’t a fan of the texture of eggplant. More eggplant for me! and Keely of course.

Mushroom Garlic Butter Sauce over Pasta- another Keely&Kristina Adventure

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I return to again with another garlic and mushroom fueled recipe. I had the rest of my mushrooms from the farmers market, I wanted to go again today but I got stuck working, so Keely mentioned mushrooms with butter. I was curious about the idea and she googled a recipe that sounded good and turned the mushrooms and garlic into a sauce.

For this recipe you will need,

1/4 c butter
4 gloves garlic
1 cup mushrooms
Salt&pepper

Place half the butter in a pan at medium and melt the butter when it is melted add the garlic until lightly browned. While this is happening chop your mushrooms to desired size, and then toss in with the garlic and butter cook down until soft and add the other portion of butter. We added a little bit of olive oil to make a big more sauce.

Place over pasta and ta-da.

Enjoy!

Late night mushroom omelette with Keely!

Hello long lost land of WordPress and all my lovely food blog lovers out there. 🙂 It has been quite sometime since I have graced the WordPress stratosphere with my sarcastic food loving presence. It has been a whirlwind of activity since I last spoke to you all. I went home for thanksgiving, shortly after I had finals and then Christmas break, as soon as that was over I went to Pennsylvania with my boyfriend Chas for New Years. Where I had every intention of blogging some of the fantastic things we made with his brother Patrick and sister in law Beth, but time just got away with us.

So I am here to tell you about the mushroom omelette we made on Thursday night. I had gone to the farmers market with Jenni on Sunday and gotten some lovely fresh fruit and veggies but, I didn’t know what I was going to do with them. I’ve been staying at my boyfriend families house quite frequently and his sister keely (who is an insomniac like me) has quickly become my night time hang out awesome friend and sous chef. She shares my love of mushrooms so we decided to make an omelette.

So for this you will need 4 eggs, minced garlic, a hand full of mushrooms, half an onion.

Set the heat for medium, mixed up eggs with a fork and put in a small/medium pan depending on the size of the omelette you want and the amount of insides you are putting. Let it whiten a bit and then add the ingredients to one side. Push the side of the eggs that doesn’t have the veggies and drain the excess liquid off to the side, no one likes soggy eggs. Once all the liquid is drained flip the one side over the other and serve.

I’ll have another late night creation for you guys tomorrow. Stay tuned.

I’m back!! 🙂

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Thanksgiving leftovers? Amazing!

For the Thanksgiving break, my school gets the entire week off. Being that I was on vacation mode, I completely neglected the blog. Kristina has a similar excuse. While I feel that it is my history teacher duty to tell of the real story of Thanksgiving, this is a food blog and not a history blog and I will spare you the details.

Thanksgiving is my mother’s favorite holiday. She loves cooking and feeding people and is quite phenomenal at both. Because of this, I did not really cook the week I was home in Tallahassee. I also declared vegan amnesty during the week. I had once watched an interview with Bill Clinton (who is a vegan!), and he stated that he does eat a little bit of meat and some dairy during this holiday. I consider this close to a presidential pardon, and although I ate with caution, I did eat non-vegan food. I am really lucky and grateful to have such a supportive family during this dietary change, they altered some of the meals to help me! My mom cooked many of the dishes with EarthBalance vegan butter, and there were plenty of veggie based options throughout the weekend!

One of the things I did cook during the week was a post Thanksgiving dinner lunch. Inspired by the Mama Ling Ling’s Thanksgiving sandwich at the Orlando sandwich shop PomPoms (if you are reading from Orlando, I highly recommend them!) I created a Thanksgiving Sandwich

Ingredients:

2 pieces of bread (I used sourdough because that was what was in the house)
stuffing
cranberry sauce
collards (my new FAVORITE leafy green veggie)

Place the leftovers on the sandwich.

Place delicately into the george forman and press down…cook until the top is crunchy!

Enjoy and bask in the awesomeness of a Thanksgiving left over sandwich. *Please do not feel limited by the ingredient list…the original sandwich has stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry chutney, turkey, and cream cheese…be creative!*

Guest Post: Collin’s Strawberry ice cream with honey-balsamic swirl

Dan “Collin” Miranda is one of my lovely friends from High school, over the summer I kept seeing his posts and pictures of all these amazing looking icecream creations. I knew that I had to ask him to guest blog, I hope you all enjoy this post. Thanks again Collin 😀 -Kristina

I’m not much of a dessert guy. I’d take savory over sweet, hands down, any day. Ice cream is my exception to this. I’m of the firm belief that any dessert worth its salt — pie, cake, muffin, waffle, doughnut, whatever — is only complete with a scoop of ice cream.

Despite a life of love, I only started making ice cream two summers ago. My girlfriend and I, on a night nearing the end of my senior year, were having a discussion about our greatest common interest: making and eating food. Ice cream inevitably entered the conversation, and we started naming any crazy flavor that entered our imagination. We came up with 102 flavors, our imaginations ending on peanut butter curry.

I requested an ice cream machine for my graduation present, and my mom, fellow ice cream enthusiast, obliged. After several unimpressive or outright failed attempts, I got the hang of making it. I began taking custom birthday requests from friends and co-workers; the experience from doing this has been invaluable and has led to such awesome creations as avocado ice cream with bits of candied bacon, and the following recipe.

The strawberry ice cream base itself is a modified adaptation of a Jeni Bauer recipe. She has an understanding behind the chemistry of ice cream that rivals Walter White’s understanding behind the chemistry of meth, and much of what I know I’ve learned through her recipes.

Yield: ≈1 quart

1 ½ pints sliced strawberries (and a few extra as a garnish or if you enjoy frozen strawberry chunks)
1 ⅓ cups sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 ½ cups whole milk
2 tablespoons & 1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 ¼ ounces softened cream cheese
⅛ teaspoon sea salt
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
¼ cup buttermilk
2 cups balsamic vinegar
honey (I used orange blossom, but your favorite kind of honey should work just fine)

1) Put strawberries in a glass baking dish and stir in ⅔ cup of sugar. Allow to macerate for 15-30 minutes while preheating the oven to 375°F. Roast strawberries until soft — about 10 minutes. Allow to cool.

2) Blend strawberries with the lemon juice until pureed. Set aside.

3) Using a fork, mix the cream cheese and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

4) Also with a fork, mix the cornstarch with about 2 tablespoons of milk in a tiny bowl or ramekin. It’ll be a bit tough and gummy at first, but should become totally liquid in no time. Set aside.

5) Put milk, cream, sugar and corn syrup in a pot. You’ll want a rather large pot to prevent the mixture from boiling over. Using a rubber spatula, stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves completely. Stir occasionally until the mixture reaches a rolling boil. Immediately set a timer for four minutes and continue stirring.

6) Take the pot off the burner. Stir your cornstarch mix with a fork a bit more, then pour it into your milk mixture while stirring vigorously with a whisk. You don’t want the cornstarch to settle at the bottom of the pot; it will burn.

7) Put the pot back on the burner at medium-high heat and continue stirring using a wooden spatula. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pot as you stir to dislodge any settled cornstarch. Return the mixture to a boil.

8) Every 30 seconds or so, use your finger to swipe a line horizontally on the back of your wooden spatula. If the line stays clear, your mixture is thick enough. Take the pot off the burner.

9) Slowly pour a little bit of the milk into the cream cheese. Whisk until you’ve gotten as many lumps out as possible. Repeat this step until you’ve poured all the milk into the cream cheese and the mixture is lump-free.

10) Whisk in the buttermilk and ½ cup of the strawberry puree. Taste. Continue whisking in strawberry puree in ½ cup increments until desired taste is reached, but be careful! If the ice cream base gets too watery, you’ll get an icier texture in the end; find a balance that works for you.

11) Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic makes contact with top of the mixture — this prevents the milk from forming a film. Store in the refrigerator overnight, until chilled.

12) Pour the balsamic vinegar into a saucepan and cook over medium/medium-low heat. You’ll want to turn on your kitchen vents and open a window for this part; the fumes can get pretty harsh. Stir occasionally until the vinegar has been reduced to about ½-¼ of the original volume. Be patient; this could take a good while. Allow vinegar reduction to cool. It should become syrupy.

13) Mix small amounts of honey into the balsamic until desired taste is achieved. I personally enjoy mine more on the tart side; it contrasts nicely with the sweet strawberry ice cream.

14) Once your strawberry ice cream base is well-chilled, pour it into your ice cream maker and churn it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you like frozen chunks of strawberry in your ice cream, you should throw them in about 5 minutes before you’re done churning.

15) Now it’s time to pack your ice cream! Alternate between putting a few spoonsful of the honey-balsamic and a few scoops of the ice cream into your container, creating the swirl as you go. Garnish with a sliced strawberry and a drizzle of honey-balsamic. Cover with parchment paper, then the lid. Pop it in the freezer for a few hours, and it’s ready to serve!

Dan “Collin” Miranda plays video games, writes and makes food (especially ice cream). He often tries to combine these three interests with varying success. He is the founder of Sidequester.com, which he swears he’ll actually start updating again one day, OK?

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twist on a egg sandwich

so lovely followers I apologize for mine and Jenni’s lack of posting. Yesterday I got distracted my napping before I saw a 12:40am showing on Wreck it Ralph (which was awesome by the way), to apologize I will be posting twice tonight 😀 

I’ve always loved a good egg sandwich, but I found that any place I can buy it from just doesn’t do it the way I like it and after making this sandwich, I shun all fast food egg sandwiches, cast away the greasy croissants and exile the fake egg patties. 

What you’ll meed for this recipe:

Toasted Bread of your choice, I like some sort of thick crusty bread. 

1-2 eggs fried, I like my eggs a little runny. 

Thinly sliced red potatoes 

1-2 asparagus stalks cut into pieces about bread length, and if you don’t like asparagus you can replace it with some other green, peppers, spinach your choice. 

a slice of cheddar cheese. 

 

First heat some oil in a pan and toss in your asparagus, and thinly sliced potatoes. Let them cook up with some salt, pepper and paprika if you have it on hand. When you can pierce through the potatoes and asparagus take them off and assembled all of the items on the bread.  Put the sandwich back on the heat to soften up the cheese and toast the bread a bit more. 

 

Simple Sauces

I am a big fan of a really good sauce, red sauce for pasta, gravy for potatoes, buerre blanc and many others. They are a simple addition to a meal that can make it all the better, but not everyone knows how to make or master these simple little devils. To me there is nothing worse than a bad red sauce or any sauce for that matter. So hopefully with this post and my advice you to can be on your way to sauce mastery. 

Now, for the all important question at least for people like my lovely co-blogger, can you make it vegan? Well yes you can and I will explain as we go along the substitutions you can make to do so. 

Let’s start with the red sauce: 

a red sauce is one of the most simple and most versatile sauces.  To me the best part of a red sauce is how quickly you can make one and have it taste so amazing.  Since I usually just make it for one night, even though red sauce freezes quite well, you don’t need a lot of ingredients. 

3-4 big leaves of Basil, cut up

3 garlic gloves, chopped

1 smallish onion, I keep them in rings so that people like Jenni who don’t like onions can easily remove them and give them to me the onion lover. 

1 16 oz can of Tomato Sauce

1 small can of tomato paste

1 8oz can of diced tomatoes 

red pepper flakes.

combine all the ingredients into a pot and let it simmer.  The longer you let the sauce simmer the more it will absorb the flavors. 

 

On to the gravy:

I like to think that one of my specialities is gravy, and I get deeply agitated and angry by really shitty jarred gravy. Now with Thanksgiving quickly approaching I’ll tell you guys about the gravy I made last year.  The way that I am going to explain this isn’t going to be vegan at all but I’ll explain at the end a vegan version. 

When you get a turkey it usually has the gizzard and stuff in a bag inside that you can use for cooking with so my mother and I took those and kept them bundled together and placed them in a pot of chicken broth along with rosemary, thyme, onions, salt and pepper.  It stayed simmering on the stove for the 8ish hours we cooked the turkey so that it fully absorbed the flavors. 

To make a gravy you first need to make a rue, which is essentially flour and a type of fat (usually butter, and for you vegans out there vegan butter will do.) So, first melt the butter and add a little bit of flour at a time, so that it thickens but not so much that it is nasty and floury.  Slowly add the broth that has been simmering to this mixture little by little so that it thickens if it isn’t thickening add a little bit more flour be careful not to add too much or it will taste absolutely horrible.  A whisk really helps with breaking up the flour and thickening the sauce.  You’ll be able to tell when it is nice and thick, and feel free to taste it during the cooking process.  It was amazing last year.  

For the Vegans out there you can make a gravy that is just as good with vegetable stock, a rue and some adobo seasoning. 

 

I’ll have to explain the buerre blanc another day through an actual recipe because I fear this post of far too long and no one will read it if I keep going.  

 

Happy saucing 😀

Guest Blog: Nikki’s Pumpkin Spice Cookies


She is so going to have to teach me how to make awesome photos like that!

Today’s contribution comes from my sister Nikki. Nikki is a first year higher education graduate student at the University of Central Florida, and works as a Residential Graduate Assistant at Rollins College. In between her classwork, her GA duties, training for marathons (she has one coming up!), and obsessing over corgis, she manages to bake for her residents and friends.

A few weeks ago, I attempted baking, and realized that it was not a failed adventure! Nikki somehow managed to obtain the baking gene from our Mom, and is able to make even simple recipes amazing. Someday I will post about our ‘bunny cake’ fiasco. (cakes that look like bunnies…no, I have not cheated on being a vegan to consume a rabbit). The following is Nikki’s post…in her own words!

Ingredients:

organic pumpkin filling
chocolate chips
spice cake mix

“hi i am nikki! i cook these for my residents! Cook in the oven at 365 for 10 minutes. Dont add eggs or oil from cake mix, just use the powder. cookies will be soft and cakey!”

She would probably write more…but is responsible and is finishing her homework before going to a staff meeting!