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Mediterranean Eggplant Bake

This casserole is one of my favorite weeknight dinners. If you prepare the baked eggplant ahead of time, it’s very quick and easy to put together. The spices are what really make the Mediterranean flavors come out- a nice twist on eggplant if you want to try something besides eggplant parmasan and don’t mind going non-vegetarian. Eat it as a stand-alone entree or with rice (or cauliflower rice if you are on a keto or other low-carb diet). It’s so delicious you will find it hard to believe it isn’t packed with carbs!

 

Original Source: The Low Carb Cookbook: The Complete Guide to the Healthy Low-Carbohydrate Lifestyle- with over 250 Delicious Recipes, by Fran McCullough

Preparation Time (not including pre-roasting the eggplant): 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Ready in: 1 hour
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:Mediterranean Eggplant Bake

  • 1 medium eggplant, oven-roasted (see Baked Eggplant recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 3/4 pound ground lamb
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can Muir Glen diced tomatoes, including juice
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmasan cheese

Instructions:

  • Prepare the eggplant and set aside. Preheat the oven to 375F. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and when it’s hot, add the onion. Saute the onion until it’s soft, then add the garlic and saute another minute. Remove the onion mixture to a bowl and return the skillet to the heat.
  • Crumble the lamb into the hot pan and saute until it’s beginning to brown. Pour off any fat that’s accumulated and add the spices and salt and pepper. Stir and saute until the lamb is completely brown. Return the onion mixture to the skillet and add the tomatoes. Let simmer until most of the juices have evaporated.
  • In a large gratin dish, make a layer of eggplant slices. Cover with half the lamb mixture and crumble feta cheese on top. Add another layer of eggplant slices and the remaining lamb mixture. Sprinkle the top with the Parmasan.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and golden brown.

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2020 in Casseroles, Pork

 

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Baked Eggplant

This baked eggplant is great as a stand alone side side dish or as part of the Mediterranean Eggplant Bake recipe (also from Fran McCullough). If you like Italian food, nothing is more satisfying! This is a healthier way to prepare eggplant than frying and breading it it as is done in Eggplant Parmasan.

 

Original Source: The Low Carb Cookbook: The Complete Guide to the Healthy Low-Carbohydrate Lifestyle- with over 250 Delicious Recipes, by Fran McCullough

Preparation Time: Up to 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Ready in: Up to 50 minutes
Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds eggplant, in 1/2 inch slices
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • Pepper to taste

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 450F. To make the first batch of eggplant: Pour half the oil into a 15×12 inch roasting pan and spread it around the bottom. Dip half the eggplant slices in the oil to coat both sides and arrange them in the pan in one layer. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn the slices and bake another 10 minutes, or until the eggplant is golden brown. Remove the eggplant to a serving platter and sprinkle with half the lemon juice. Crumble half the oregano on top and add pepper to taste.
  • Repeat the procedure with the remaining eggplant slices. The eggplant tastes best at room temperature; if it’s been refrigerated, let it come to room temperature before serving. The flavor just improves day to day, up to about 3 days.

Chef’s Tip: The author suggests peeling and salting the eggplant for 30 minutes prior to cooking if it’s store bought. She says that garden-fresh eggplant does not require salting.

 
 

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Layered Eggplant and Zucchini Casserole

I came across this recipe online while searching for a no-fuss week night meal that is easy to throw together and will not expand my waistline. This casserole is so delicious you would never guess that it is low-fat, low-carb and vegan or that the ingredients can be compiled in the amount of time it takes to pre-heat the oven. The bean spread in the middle is what gives the vegetables their flavor. The best part is that this stand-alone entree is quite filling. You don’t need to prepare a side dish to accompany the casserole unless you are inspired to.

Original Source: OhSheGlows.com

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes
Ready in: 1 hour and 40 minutes
Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients:Eggplant and Zucchini Casserole

  • 2 medium eggplants
  • 1.5 medium zucchini, thinly sliced (The original recipe calls for 1.5 zucchini, but I use 2))
  • 2 cups leftover homemade chili OR pasta sauce
  • One 15-ounce can navy (great northern) beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup spinach (optional)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2-3/4 teaspoon sea salt, to taste
  • Vegan parmesan cheese, for garnish

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 450F. Peel the eggplants and cut into 1/4-inch slices. Lay on a lined baking sheet and pre-cook eggplant only for about 15 minutes, or until shrivelled. Remove from oven and cool.  While the eggplant is cooking, slice the zucchini and set aside. Now prepare your bean filling, by processing the drained beans, herbs, salt, garlic, olive oil, and nutritional yeast (optional) in a food processor until smooth. Gather the eggplant, zucchini, sauce, and bean filling and get ready to layer your casserole.
  • Preheat oven to 425. Grease a mid-sized rectangular casserole dish with oil. Put a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of the dish. Arrange 1/3 of the eggplant slices over the sauce. Spread 1/2 of the bean filling over the eggplant, and put half of the zucchini on top. Add a layer of the sauce. Repeat eggplant, bean filling, zucchini, and sauce. Place the final layer of eggplant over the top and pour the remaining sauce evenly over top, spreading with a spoon.
  • Bake for about 40 minutes at 425F. Once zucchini is cooked, remove from oven and allow to cool for about 5-10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle on some vegan parmesan cheese if desired.
 
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Posted by on December 21, 2019 in Casseroles, Lasagna, Uncategorized

 

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Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Oatmeal raisin are my favorite, as well as my boyfriend Jason’s favorite, kind of cookies. They are a solid choice if you have to bring a dessert to an event where anyone can’t eat (or for some strange reason doesn’t like) chocolate. There are thousands of recipes for oatmeal raisin cookies, but I like this one in particular because the cookies come out chewy on the inside and slightly crunchy on the outside. They are sweet, but not overbearingly so. In addition, they are quick to make and most of the ingredients are things you probably already have in you cupboard.

Original Source: Allrecipes.com

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes per cookie sheet
Ready in: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup light-packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 3/4 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup raisins

Instructions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
  • In large bowl, cream together butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until fluffy. Stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Gradually beat into butter mixture. Stir in oats and raisins. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  • Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown. Cool slightly, remove from sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

Chef’s Tips:

  • Use a silicone mat as pictured above to make clean-up easy and prevent the cookies from sticking to the baking sheet.
 
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Posted by on August 5, 2017 in Cookies, Desserts

 

Eggplant Parmasan

A traditional Italian entree, eggplant parmasan is one of my favorite meals. I was inspired to learn how to cook it when I first started dating my boyfriend Jason who is part-Italian and may like eggplant even more than I do. We often order eggplant parmasan when we go out to eat as well, so this dish has become a culinary theme in our relationship. 🙂 My BFF and former roommate Michelle taught me how to make it and her version beats many I have tasted in fancy restaurants.

The proportions below are for a casserole. If preparing one or two servings, I recommend using a small serving dish for each and cutting the ingredients in half. While this does take a long time and is very messy, it’s totally worth it! Serve with pasta and/or a green salad. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggplants
  • 16 oz. (2 large packages) shredded mozzarella cheese (I like Sargento brand the best)
  • Freshly shaved parmasan cheese (enough to cover the top of the casserole)
  • 2 large bottles of marinara sauce (you may make your own sauce from scratch or if short on time, buy a high quality one-I like Newman’s Own)
  • Extra virgin olive oil for frying
  • Salt (enough to sprinkle on eggplant)
  • 6-8 eggs
  • Flour (enough to coat eggplant)
  • Large box of breadcrumbs since you will run out of these faster than you expect (I like Italian breadcrumbs the best- do not use Panko breadcrumbs- although they are healthier, they do not fry well)

Instructions:

Preparing eggplant before cooking:

  • Remove skin from eggplants (optional)
  • Slice eggplants horizontally into very thin slices and lay the slices side-by-side on a cutting board.
  • Sprinkle salt on both sides of each slice and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes. Remove salt with paper towels. (The salt soaks the water out of the eggplant so that it doesn’t get soggy when you fry it later).
  • In 3 separate bowls, place flour, beaten eggs (start with 3) and breadcrumbs. You will coat each slice of eggplant with these ingredients in turn.

Frying eggplant:

  • Coat the first slice of eggplant in flour, then egg, and then breadcrumbs. Make sure you completely cover every corner of the eggplant. Place in a pan with olive oil and fry until each side is golden brown. (About 3-4 minutes per side). Repeat for each slice of eggplant. Depending on the size of your pan, you can probably fry up to 4 slices at once. Leave at least 1/2 inch between slices and move them toward the center of the pan so that they cook evenly.

Layering eggplant, sauce and cheese in casserole dish:

  • As you finish frying the first few slices, begin layering them with marinara sauce and cheese in a casserole size (9×13 inch) baking pan. Begin by coating the bottom of the pan with marinara sauce, then place a layer of eggplant slices and cover with cheese. Repeat until the pan is full. Your top layer should be marinara sauce covered with cheese.
  • Cover the top layer of mozarella with freshly shaved parmasan cheese.

Cooking time:

  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly and the top layer is golden brown.
  • Allow to cool before slicing and serving. (Otherwise it will be runny).

Did You Know?

The name of this recipe is deceptive because many eggplant parmasan recipes do not actually contain parmasan cheese, only mozzarella. My recipe is unique because I add freshly shaved paramsan on top of the casserole before baking it.

 

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Blueberry Pie

Blueberry is my boyfriend Jason’s favorite pie, so I dedicate this recipe to him. The lattice crust adds an attractive flair and the lemon juice complements the fruit so that the pie is slightly tart and not too sweet. I also add lemon zest to enhance the citrus flavor. I suggest making this pie in July through early September when blueberries are in season. Be sure to use fresh blueberries. (Maine blueberries are best if you can find them).

(Original Source: Food Network.com)

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 45-60 minutes


Ingredients:

  • 2 store-bought frozen pie crusts (you can make your own from scratch, but store-bought is much easier)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 5 Tbsp. flour
  • Salt

Instructions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Unfold first pie crust and press into pie dish.
  • Place blueberries in strainer and rinse.
  • Drain berries and add to large bowl.
  • Add flour and toss to coat.
  • Add sugar, lemon juice, zest and salt.
  • Pour berries into pie shell.
  • Cut other pie crust into 1 ” strips. Place strips on top of crust in criss-cross pattern to form a lattice.
  • Bake for 45 – 60 minutes or until bubbly. Serve.

Chef’s Tips:

  • Place the pie on a foil-lined cookie sheet to catch any drippings from the pie while it cooks.
  • Place strips of aluminum foil around the edges of the pie crust while baking to prevent it from burning.
  • When checking the doneness of the filling, insert a knife into the center of the pie. If there is little or no resistance, the pie is done.
  • If the pie comes out runny, pop it in the refrigerator overnight or in the freezer for about 15 minutes to allow the ingredients to solidify.
 
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Posted by on August 5, 2017 in Desserts, Pies, Summer Pies

 

Mixed Berry Pie

I typically bring Strawberry Rhubarb Pie to summer gatherings, so when I couldn’t find rhubarb in my local supermarket I was in a bind. My friend Cecilia had requested a fruit pie for her picnic, so I googled “berry pie” and found this five star recipe from the Food Network. I ended up with enough filling for two pies, so I’ve cut the ingredients in half below. I also added the zest of half a lemon, which contributes a pleasant tangy flavor to counteract the sweetness of the berries and sugar. This may be my new favorite summer pie!

(Original Source: Food Network.com: “Cafe Hon’s Mixed Berry Pie”)

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes


Ingredients:

  • 1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 cup blackberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 Tbsp. butter
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 unbaked pie crusts (use your own recipe or the one in the original)

Instructions:

  • Combine sugar, flour and cinnamon. Stir with a fork.
  • Place 1 crust into the pie pan. Spread 1/3 of the sugar mixture on the bottom and add fruit.
  • Sprinkle lemon zest evenly on top of fruit mixture.
  • Top the mixed berries with the rest of the sugar mixture.
  • Place the top crust on the pie and gently press the top crust to the bottom. Trim with a knife and roll under. Press together with your thumb and forefinger to make a scalloped edge. With the knife, place 8 1/2 slits on the top of the pie.
    • Alternately, you may make a lattice crust as pictured to the right, by flattening the top crust with a rolling pin and slicing it into strips which you criss-cross over each other on top of the fruit filling.
  • Bake for 45 minutes. When checking the doneness of the filling, insert a knife into the center of the pie. If there is little or no resistance, the pie is done.

Chef’s Tips:

  • Place the pie on a foil-lined cookie sheet to catch any drippings from the pie while it cooks.
  • If the pie comes out runny, pop it in the refrigerator overnight or in the freezer for about 15 minutes to allow the ingredients to solidify.
 
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Posted by on June 14, 2015 in Desserts, Pies, Summer Pies