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Send me an email to Niki at HoldingOntoTheMagic dot com!

Monday, July 9, 2012

[Baked (Not Fried) Eggplant "Parmesan"]

All right now, I just made the most fabulous tray of eggplant Parmesan ever. Or close, anyway. Now, I will admit, for this trial run, I did use real cheese, but only because I haven't been as sensitive lately, though I may eat my words (and my meal again) tonight, and I never manage to eat my cheese substitutes before they mold. However, there's no reason that it wouldn't be just as (or nearly just as) delish using the cheese substitutes referenced in earlier blog posts--it'll just have a slightly different texture. But the rest of the ingredients will more than make up the diff.

This recipe is adapted from the Whole Foods Market  recipe, but changed to be a little healthier and a little more flavorful.

You will need:
1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/4"-1/3" medallions
2-3 farm fresh eggs (I have an allergy to eggs from chickens fed "special" feed, so I buy mine directly from a farmer friend of my family), beaten
Panko bread crumbs (amount depends on how "large" your eggplant is--I got away with less than 1 cup, but barely)
2-4 tomatoes (ripe make the recipe sweet, green makes it tangy--I had both, and both tasted awesome)
Italian seasoning
Olive oil to coat the pan and drizzle to taste on the eggplant

Preheat your oven to 375--you might put the pan in while it's preheating to warm up before the next step. Slice your eggplant, and coat the pan with extra virgin olive oil. Then coat each slice with egg, then with Panko crumbs (optional: add garlic powder to the crumbs if you love garlic), and place them on the tray, no more than one layer thick (some overlapping doesn't hurt, but even baking is the goal here). Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, flip the eggplant medallions over, then cook another 10 minutes. During that last round, you might want to slice your tomatoes thinly, or do what I did and add each slice to the top of an eggplant medallion as you slice them. I did it later to use as much of the juices as possible. Either way, at the end that 10 minutes on the second side, remove the tray from the oven, and increase the heat to 475. For each medallion, place one slice of tomato on top. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and any other seasoning you like in your marinara sauces. Sprinkle generously with "mozzarella" cheez and vegan "Parmesan." Return the tray to the oven and bake for 5-15 minutes, until the "cheez" is melted and beginning to lightly brown. The WFM recipe called for 15 minutes, but as you can see in the photo below, 10 minutes was more than enough.

Take it out and enjoy it! What I found was so great about this version is how fresh the recipe tastes without the eggplant being fried and by using fresh tomato slices in the place of tomato sauce. Lots of flavor, and very satisfying.

I honestly had to restrain myself from scarfing down the other half of my tray. I think my distended stomach would've resented it, though. :) Oh, dear... and I think I'm already regretting using real cheese. Oh, well...

Yes, I know my pan is hideous. Unfortunately, it's also the only one that actually fits in my little oven.

So nummy! I'm definitely looking forward to eating the other half when I get home from work tonight!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

[Skillet Dinner]

One thing I love about summer is the ability to get fresh produce from local farmers and even our own gardens. I don't have a veggie garden myself (I'm testing myself for a couple years with flowers first), but my parents do. As a result, for a couple of months, I get as much zucchini and summer squash as I want. There are others in their garden, but these are my personal favorites.

Recently, I started to play around with these veggies to figure out a meal that's fast, easy, healthy, and filling, as well as tasty. I did have the additional challenge of suspecting that I might be allergic to tofu, so I had to go back to eggs to get my protein (I'm not vegan or vegetarian, but I do try to keep from overeating meat). Eventually, I worked out one skillet dinner that's good enough that I'm eating it almost every day. It's fast (important when I'm in and out of class for twelve hours four days per week), flexible, and healthier than some other dinners I've encountered.

You'll need:

  • Whole grain tortillas
  • Red or russet potatoes, diced
  • Red or white onions, diced/chopped
  • Zucchini or squash or both, diced
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh garlic
  • Eggs 
  • Sea salt
One thing I like to do is chop up all my vegetables all at once, maybe once every one-to-two weeks, and place them in labeled bags or containers. It takes a couple to a few hours, but then the rest of the week is easier, and I'm more likely to cook dinner than to heat a frozen meal. This also allows me to make this recipe for either one meal or several days' worth. The recipe I'm going to describe here fits in a 7-inch skillet and covers my one tortilla completely. My goal is to not have to snack for awhile, so I can get more accomplished with my time. :)

Before beginning, drizzle olive oil in your skillet so that the entire bottom is coated (you can use more if you want--I'm usually just trying to keep my food from burning if I get momentarily distracted). Then, depending on your preferences, mince one or two garlic cloves and spread the garlic evenly in your skillet. Turn the burner to medium to medium high heat, and toss in a handful of chopped onions before the skillet gets hot. Let it cook for about 15-30 seconds before tossing in your diced potatoes (again, about a handful, depending on your appetite). When the onions begin to become transparent, toss in the zucchini/squash (a handful or two--it's the healthiest part, so you can be a little more generous). You don't want to throw the squash/zucchini in too soon, because it gets soft much faster than anything else in the skillet, and while you do want to cook it more than stir-fry "crisp," letting it get soggy creates a greasy feel. Then again, go with your gut. When you notice the z/squash beginning to turn translucent (cooked, but not to the point where you want it to be when you eat it yet), crack an egg or two into the skillet. 

Sprinkle with sea salt, then toss until the eggs are cooked and scrambled. Add additional salt to taste and serve on an open tortilla (it's not exactly the most burrito- or taco-folded friend meal--it's a bit messy, but delish!). Enjoy!