Friday, July 25, 2014

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant:  do you love it as much as I do?  Or, are you a little skeptical?  Well, this recipe is a sure winner for you skeptics out there.  You slice up the eggplant, bread it and then bake it.  From there, you can serve as is or you can layer it with some red sauce and mozzarella (much like Eggplant Parmesan).  Give it a try . . .tender eggplant, crispy coating . . .mmmmmm.  This recipe is my take on Eggplant Parmesan . . .which is a little different than the traditional version.  I like my eggplant to have a crispy coating; so I assemble the eggplant and bake it first and then top with creamy mozzarella and marinara sauce.

Eggplant Parmesan
Serves 3-4 as a Side Dish or
2 as a Main Dish

1 Large Purple Eggplant
1 Cup Breadcrumbs
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese
1 TB Italian Seasoning
2 Eggs
1 Cup Flour
2 TB Corn Starch
1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella or Sliced Mozzarella
1 Cup Marinara Sauce
Olive Oil

Step 1:  Slice off the ends of the eggplant and then slice into 1/2 inch - 3/4 inch pieces.  Peel and place in colander.

Step 2:  Sprinkle the eggplant with salt and place the colander in the sink or into a bowl.  The salt will help release the excess moisture.  Let stand for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Step 3:  Rinse the eggplant and pat dry.  Set aside.

Step 4:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a large baking by spraying it with nonstick spray.

Step 5:  Gather three shallow dishes.  In the first dish, add the flour and cornstarch.  Blend well with a fork.  In the second dish, place your eggs slightly beat.  In the third dish, place the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning;  mix together.

Step 6:  Dip an eggplant slice first into flour mix, then the egg and then dredge it in the breadcrumb mixture.  Place on the baking sheet.  Repeat this until all eggplant slices are coated.

Step 7:  Drizzle the coated eggplant slices with olive oil.

Step 8:  Bake in oven for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven, flip all slices and return the pan to the oven and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until golden brown on the outside and soft on the inside.

To Serve:  Top each eggplant piece with mozzarella and marinara sauce.  Basil and parsley garnishes are optional.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Butter Brickle Cake with Brown Butter Frosting

I was struggling with what kind of birthday cake to bake for myself this year.  Usually, chocolate is the winner (or some variation).  However, I kept thinking about how when I was a kid . . .the big treat was that we got to pick out what kind of ice cream we had with our birthday cake.  And I always picked Butter Brickle.  That flavor seems to be pretty elusive these days, so I tried to tackle it in the form of a cake.  And the the flavor of the cake was right on.  The density of the cake is much like a pound cake - a little heavy.  But it baked up beautifully and the browned butter frosting is to-die-for (the frosting recipe is a Southern Living recipe).

Butter Brickle Cake with Browned Butter Frosting

Cake Ingredients:

1 and 1/4 Cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature
2 Cups Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
5 Eggs, room temperature
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup White Sugar
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
2 Cups Toffee pieces (I used Heath Bits without the chocolate, which can be found by the baking chips in our grocery store)

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 325 degree Fahrenheit.  Prepare two 8 inch round pans (grease and flour).  Set aside.
Step 2:  Cream the butter and sugar together until well blended.  
Step 3:  Continue to beat and add the eggs one at a time, making sure each is incorporated before adding the next.  Be sure to scrape down your mixer bowl every now and then.
Step 4:  Add the vanilla.
Step 4:  In a separate bowl, measure out your flour and add the baking powder.  Stir to combine.
Step 5:  Slowly combine the flour mixture to the sugar/egg mixture.  Stir until just combined.  Do not over mix.
Step 6:  Add the toffee bits to the batter and stir in.
Step 7:  Divide the batter between the baking pans.  The batter will be thick - you may need to spread it out with a spatula.
Step 8:  Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, tops will be golden brown and a toothpick inserted will come out clean.
Step 9:  Let cool completely before frosting.

Browned Butter Frosting Ingredients:

1 Cup Butter
16 oz Powdered Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 Cup Milk

Step 1:  Place the butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, 8 to 10 minutes or until butter begins to turn golden brown. Remove pan immediately from heat, and pour butter into a small bowl. Cover and chill 1 hour or until butter is cool and begins to solidify.
Step 2:  Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add sugar alternately with milk, beginning and ending with sugar. Beat at low speed until well blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Creamy Cucumber Salad

Cucumbers . .. however you slice them, they are perfect for summer salads and snacking!  The crisp texture and light flavor can be amazing when complimented with the right seasonings.  My favorite way to eat cukes is to have them bathed in a creamy dressing with onions and dill.  Enjoy the recipe!

Creamy Cucumber Salad
Serves 4 - 6

3-4 Cucumbers, medium to large in size
1/4 Cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons White Vinegar
1/2 Cup Mayo
1/4 Cup Milk
1 Teaspoon Dill
1 Small White or Red Onion, sliced thin
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Step 1:  Peel and slice the cucumbers and place into a large bowl.
Step 2:  Peel and slice the onion and add to the cucumbers.
Step 3:  In a small bowl, combine the mayo, sugar, vinegar, dill  and milk.  Stir until well combined.  
Step 4:  Pour the dressing over the cukes/onions.  Cover the bowl and place in fridge for at least 1 hour.  
Step 5:  Before serving,  add salt and pepper to taste.


Friday, July 4, 2014

Creamy Mashed Cauliflower

Let me start by saying:  I do not like cauliflower.  Here is a conversation from our house yesterday:
Me:  What do you want with the meatloaf tonight?
Hubby:  mmmmm.  I don't care.
Me:  I was thinking baked potatoes..?
Hubby gives me a discerning look. And then says:  Cauliflower?
Me:  Eww.
And then I decide to make myself a baked potato and him cauliflower.  But then I forgot to grab a potato from downstairs and I didn't feel like walking back downstairs.  So, cauliflower it was!  And boy, oh boy, it turned out fab.u.lous!  I've made mashed cauliflower before and I wasn't impressed.  However, I went with the clean-out-the-fridge route and mixed in a little Parmesan and cream cheese when I mashed it.  Swooooooon!  All that was left was one big spoonful . . .so I know it well received :)

Mashed Cauliflower
Serves 4

1 lb Frozen Cauliflower
1 TB Cream Cheese
1 TB Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon Garlic
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Step 1:  Cook the cauliflower per the instructions on the container.  I microwaved mine.  Drain well.
Step 2:  In a food processor, add the cauliflower + the remaining ingredients.  Pulse until smooth.  Taste, adjust salt and pepper as needed.  Serve immediately.  Nobody likes cold cauliflower puree.