Zucchini Roll-ups ~ Lasagna-style!

If you liked my Chicken Alfredo Zucchini Roll-ups, you will love these zucchini lasagna roll-ups!

Whenever I make meatballs, I always seem to make enough sauce for an army of people. Since it’s just Charlie and I (and I hate left-overs), that’s not a great thing. Because I loved the Chicken Alfredo Zucchini Roll-ups  I made a few weeks ago, I decided to make up some zucchini lasagna roll-ups using the additional sauce. I did look around Pinterest for recipes but in the end, I made up my own.

These little things are really tasty and you will not miss the pasta. However, be warned, they are a little bit of a pain in the butt to put together. This time I ended up doing them “assembly line style”, which meant I figured out how many I would need to fill a row (four for my little dish). I then laid my zucchini out across the counter top so I would be making four roll-ups at a time. It shaved off some time and made it easier to get them into the baking dish. Try it.

First make the zoodles and yes, if you follow my blog you’ve seen this photo before. I didn’t feel like taking a new one since a zoodle is a zoodle is a zoodle. They always look like this.

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Here are two of them before I spread the mixture out across the zoodles. I did four of these at a time.

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Here is what they looked like in the pan. The red flecks you see are sauteed red peppers I had leftover in the refrigerator. They were an after thought because I wanted the dish to look prettier. I did NOT include the peppers in the recipe below, but if you want to, feel free.

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At this point, I just filled in the empty spots with more sauce.

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Then the last step is the cheese. What you see here is just a thin layer. I wasn’t sure how much cheese I wanted at this point, so I baked it with a little bit, then I took it out and added more. (You don’t have to do what I did. I am a freak. I own this.)

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Poof. When it comes out of the oven, it smells spectacular and it looks like this:

And THEN, it looks like this:

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Ingredients:
5-6 medium zucchini
1 (15 oz.) can artichoke quarters, drained and chopped
10 oz. fresh spinach, sautéed. (Frozen works well too. Thaw and drain it.)
3-4 cups prepared marinara sauce
3 cups ricotta cheese
1 ½ cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. Italian Seasoning
1 Teaspoon pepper (or to your taste)
½ Teaspoon salt (or to your taste)

Directions:
Preheat Oven to 375
Using a vegetable peeler, create the zucchini ribbons. (You can use a mandolin set on “thin”, but the peeler really works best for me.)

Drain and chop the artichokes and the sautéed spinach. Place both into a clean dish towel, twist tightly and smash out as much liquid as is humanly possible.

Mix together the ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan, 2 cups Mozzarella, 1 ½ cups of marinara sauce, eggs, and seasonings. Add the artichokes and spinach to the bowl and mix again. IF it is too wet, add a little bit more Parmesan & Mozzarella.

Spread about ¼” of sauce into your baking dish. Keep in mind that you will need this much sauce to support the roll ups vertically.

On a clean surface, lay 2-3 pieces of zucchini down slightly overlapping each other. I made mine to be about 2 & ½ inches across, so depending on the size of the zoodle, I either used two or three slices. Spoon & spread a thin layer of the ricotta mixture over the slices. Roll up tightly and place vertically in the prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining zucchini.

Top with the remaining sauce and cheese.

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is brown and bubbly.

NOTE: I had leftover sauteed red peppers and onions in my fridge, so I cut up some of the peppers and stuffed them into the tops of the rolls to make them look pretty. You do not have to be as crazy as I am OR you can make these rolls your own and add whatever else you like to them. They are very forgiving!

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Crustless Quiche Cups to the Rescue!

Here is a fool-proof recipe for crustless quiche cups. These are great to have on hand for grab and go breakfasts or snacks.

This is such a simple recipe, I’m almost embarrassed to talk about it. Besides this, all one has to do is google, “Basic Quiche Recipe” to find something similar. I am sharing this here because if you are like me, you’re a fan of the following three things:

  1. Easy recipes
  2. Re-purposing leftovers.
  3. Healthy & Delicious grab & go food

I started making these every other Sunday because Charlie, my husband, is a body-builder and a sugar addict. Before and after the gym, he needs healthy snacks to feed his body. These are packed full of protein and vitamins and the bonus for me is that he loves them. Typically I make a dozen regular sized muffins and six extra large ones. Out of the dozen, I usually take four or five to my father. I’m trying to get him OFF those horrible, processed protein milkshakes and onto something better for him.

The basic recipe for a dozen cups is simply six eggs and a half a cup of heavy cream whisked together and poured over anything your heart desires! The possibilities are endless. Seriously. The photo below is from four weeks ago. These were filled with leftover rotisserie chicken that I shredded, broccoli, bacon, red bell pepper & onion, plus one can (drained) of Mexican style diced tomatoes and some cheddar cheese. I seasoned them with cilantro lime seasoning, some fresh cilantro, salt, pepper and a little bit of cumin. They came out smokey with just a hint of spice and they received rave reviews.

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As you can see in the photo above, I am very generous when I fill the cups. This last time, I added even more filling than you see. In order not to make a huge mess, I always pour my egg/cream mixture into a measuring cup or other vessel with a spout. If your vegetable/meat/cheese combo seems too dense, just poke the backside of a knife around a bit and pour in little batches. Once the cups are full, wrap the pan on the counter gently to be sure the mixture gets to the bottom. Often, I use a fork to poke around to make sure I’ve gotten the egg evenly incorporated. I do not mix the eggs and cream with the veggies and then pour because it would come out in plops. I don’t like plops. Plops are messy. However, I do like to say the word, “PLOP”. Say it with me…

Plop! (you’re smiling, I can see it.”)

When they come out of the oven, I let them sit in the pan for about five minutes; then I cover them with a cooling rack and flip it upside down so the quiche fall out. They’re upside down at that point, so I turn them over and let them cool to room temperature. These were the Mexi-style ones I made weeks ago.

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Below are the muffins I made this past Sunday. These were filled with freshly sauteed onions & red peppers and freshly fried bacon crumbles. (We like onions & peppers, so I usually have to make them fresh for my quiches because we never have left-overs of them.) I always have broccoli on hand, so I also added chopped cooked broccoli, cheddar cheese & chives. Per usual, once the cups were filled, I added more cheese, bacon and chives to the tops. (I like pretty food!)

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Crustless Quiche Cups

Ingredients: (Makes 12 regular-sized cups)

For the Egg Mixture:
6 eggs scrambled
½ c. cream
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Optional: Dash of hot sauce

For the filling:
2 ½ cups cooked chopped broccoli florets
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
5 strips of bacon, fried (reserve the bacon fat)
1 tablespoon butter (USE REAL BUTTER)
2 cups shredded cheese (whatever you like, I used cheddar)
1 bunch chives, chopped (you can use the dry variety if you need to)
½ teaspoon Lawry’s Seasoned salt
½ teaspoon fresh cracked pepper.

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Whisk together all of the ingredients for the egg mixture. Set aside while you work on the filling.

Fry the bacon until crisp, then remove it to a paper towel. Do not drain the skillet.

Sauté the onion and red bell pepper in the bacon grease. IF you are scared of bacon fat, you can clean out the pan and use 2 Tablespoons of olive oil or butter instead. I added 1 Tablespoon of butter to my bacon fat because I’m craaaaaazy about butter! Once the onions and peppers are just barely translucent, turn off the heat and set the pan aside to cool.

Once cooled, crumble the bacon (reserve 1/4th of it for topping) and add it to the pan along with the cheddar cheese (reserve a little for topping), broccoli, chives (reserve a little for topping), and seasonings. Combine gently using a spatula.

Spoon the mixture evenly into prepared non-stick muffin tins. (I spray mine even though they are non-stick.)

Pour the egg/cream mixture evenly into each cup.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.

Note: Ovens vary, so start checking at 20 minutes.

Once they have cooled, I put them in pairs inside sandwich-sized zip-locked bags. From here they go into the refrigerator. If I am going to freeze them, I wrap each one in plastic wrap and then put them all in a large zip lock bag or container.

When we serve these, we usually heat them in the microwave about 30 -40 seconds, then top with hot sauce or sour cream, salsa, and/or fresh herbs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken Alfredo Zucchini Roll-ups. Um. YES!

This recipe is one of my favorites of all time. Check it out.

By now most people have caught on to the health benefits of the occasional switch from pasta to zucchini noodles. I saw a version of this recipe floating around on Facebook and decided it was so pretty, I had to try it. (I love pretty food!)

My husband and I are on a strict low-carb diet, so I made my own Alfredo sauce without using flour, but if you are not under any dietary restrictions, feel free to buy your favorite bottled or frozen variety and use that. Also, if you are going to go that route, buy more than you think you will need. One of the best parts of this recipe for me was that I had enough sauce to use inside the rolls and also to pour over the top before baking. Plus, if you reheat this the next day for lunch (I do that all the time), it’s nice to have leftover sauce to drizzle over the top for more flavor.

To make it extra special easy peasy, pick up a couple containers of of shedded rotisserie chicken from your local market! That’s what I did. I did not buy enough though, so ended up boiling about three chicken tenders and shredding them by hand. Be smarter than me!

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This is what my rolls looked like after I got them all in the pan. It’s a little tricky at first, which is why you want to have more than just a tiny layer of sauce in your dish. Mine was about 1/4″ deep, so the rolls had something to hold onto. I sprinkled a little bit of the crumbled bacon on top first.

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Afterward, I drizzled on some more Alfredo sauce, Parmesan cheese and more bacon! Then it went into the oven!

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Thirty minutes later, it came out smelling and looking beautiful!

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Chicken Alfredo Zucchini Roll-Ups

(Serves 6)

Ingredients
4 tbsp. butter
3 cloves garlic, minced (I love garlic so used 6 cloves.)
2 1/4 c. cream
1 1/2 c. freshly grated parmesan, plus more for sprinkling
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley, plus more for garnish (Chopped scallions or basil would work as great garnishes as well.)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4-5 large-ish zucchinis, peeled into long strips
3 c. shredded mozzarella (may not use all of it)
3 c. shredded cooked chicken (I used a pre-shredded rotisserie chicken plus a couple of my own shredded chicken tenders.)
4-5 pieces of cooked bacon, crumbled

Directions
Preheat oven to 375°. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Whisk cream into the butter and garlic and stir until simmering gently. Gradually stir in the Parmesan, whisking constantly. Let simmer until the sauce thickens, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add lemon juice and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon a layer of Alfredo sauce on the bottom of a baking dish (This will help the rolls to stand vertically, so make sure it’s not too thin.) On a clean surface, lay 2-3 pieces of zucchini down slightly overlapping each other. I made mine to be about 2 & ½ inches across, so depending on the size of the zoodle, I either used two or three slices. Spoon & spread a little Alfredo sauce on top, then the shredded chicken and a sprinkle of mozzarella. Roll up tightly and place vertically in the prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining zucchini.

Top with remaining Alfredo Sauce, Parmesan and crumbled bacon. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden on top and baked through. Garnish with fresh parsley and MORE BACON!

Seriously, Spaghetti alle Vongole!

This dish was so fun to make and turned out so beautifully, I can’t stop smiling about it. This would be great to serve fora dinner party! Don’t forget the bread!

I seriously cannot believe I made this dish! To me, there is something so beautiful about simple food. Basically this dish is clams in a white sauce with tomatoes over pasta. It doesn’t get more basic. I adore the way seafood looks, especially clams and mussels, and this dish is a wizz-bang-show-stopper! I mean, just look at the colors! I loved every part of making this meal and I certainly plan on doing it again!

We started at the fish market. I am a clam virgin so I relied on the fish monger to explain them to me. Turns out, clams are not cheap, so he suggested we buy just the meat to get more bang for our money. I wanted the real deal, so we bought both. I can’t imagine making this dish without the clams in their shells; it’s half the fun!

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As soon as we got home, I put them in a bowl of cold water, sprinkled in some semolina, and let them sit in the refrigerator until dinner. Supposedly, the semolina makes the clams open up and spit out any sand they might be holding onto. (Black pepper works as well.)

Step one of this dish was to prepare my ingredients. I sliced half of my tomatoes and left the other half whole; chopped my parsley; then I smashed my garlic and prepared my pasta and set it aside. (They say to wait until the last minute to chop the parsley so it is as fresh as possible. I’ll do that next time. I was nervous about making this dish so I wanted everything prepared ahead.)

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When I was ready, I heated my olive oil to medium, and then added in the garlic and red pepper flakes. This cooked until fragrant (oh and it was a beautiful aroma!) about two minutes.

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Then came the tomatoes. (Isn’t this pretty? I loved the colors!) The point here is to blister them in the oil. It takes about five minutes.

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Here is a silly video of the tomatoes blistering:

Next comes the wine! I used a Sauvignon Blanc. They say to only cook with a wine you would drink so I followed the rules to the letter. This was left to come up to a boil. (Took about a minute.)

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The clams go in next! Then the pot gets covered for two minutes in order to steam them. (I swear to you, I’m feeling giddy typing this out. I had some much fun doing this!)

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I was a little bit uncertain about when to add the extra clam meat, so I opted to wait until I could see the clams starting to open. I was really afraid of over-cooking them. No one wants to bite into a rubber clam!

Here they have started to open up, so this is the point where I dropped in the other clam meat.

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This is another silly video that captures my giddiness!

Finally, it’s time to add in the pasta. We used angel hair pasta, which is our favorite. The recipe calls for spaghetti or linguine, but I ignored that part. The important part was not to cook the pasta all the way through because it continues to cook in the sauce. Thankfully, I managed to get it right.

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Lastly, the fresh parsley goes in, the heat goes off and then the cheese goes on.

Voila! How gorgeous is this!!!

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Ingredients:
Kosher salt
12 ounces spaghetti or linguine (we used angel hair pasta)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing
8 cloves garlic, smashed
1/4 teaspoon crushed hot pepper flakes
8 ounces very small cherry tomatoes, roughly crushed with your hands, or regular cherry tomatoes, halved (I sliced half of the tomatoes in half and left the other whole & I didn’t crush them.)
1 cup dry white wine (I used Kendall Jackson Sauvignon Blanc)
48 tiny clams such as cockles or vongole (We used 24 clams & a pound of frozen clam meat, thawed)
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley, plus more for serving
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a generous amount of salt (salty like the sea!) and the pasta and stir to separate. Cook until a few minutes shy of al dente, then drain.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and sizzling, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the pepper flakes and tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes are slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Add the clams and cover for 2 to 3 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring, until the clams open. Discard unopened clams.

Add the pasta to the skillet along with the parsley, cheese and butter. Cook, tossing and stirring and drizzling with olive oil, until the pasta is cooked through and the sauce is silky and thickened. Serve drizzled with oil and sprinkled with cheese and parsley.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: If you don’t serve this with a loaf of crusty bread, you will seriously regret it!

How do I know this? We forgot and seriously regretted it! The sauce is divine and crusty bread would have been perfect for sopping it up!

Naked Zucchini Pie, Oh My!

This recipe is perfect for a brunch!

This recipe was born out of an extreme case of the “I don’t want to’s”.  Once a week, my husband and I cater the Fellowship meal for my workplace. Last week I knew I wanted to serve soups, because the weather has been so cold. When I think about serving soup, my thoughts go to one of two things: sandwiches or quiche. I didn’t feel like making 100 sandwiches, so I opted for quiche.

Usually when I am going to serve quiche for church, I prepare twenty to twenty five regular-sized quiches and then scurry around cutting them to serving sizes and transferring them to steam trays for easy service. I didn’t feel like doing that this time, so I decided to experiment with a crust-less (naked) variety. Thankfully, it was a winner!

I knew I wanted to make something with zucchini and tomatoes because lately, these are my favorite things. Any time this is my choice, the first step is to slice the vegetables, lay them out on paper towels and sprinkle them with salt. Let them sit for thirty minutes in order to release their liquid. (See how they are glistening in the photo below?) Then prior to use, we pat them dry. This keeps the quiche from getting soggy. (NOT pictured is the other table full of zucchini spirals that are also sprinkled with salt & sitting on paper towels.) Close your eyes. Picture it. I know you can.

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This is what it looks like when it’s all put together and ready to be baked. We use the zucchini spirals inside and the slices on the outside.

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And poof. Here is is fresh out of the oven.

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I prayed a few Hail Mary’s to be certain it would slice and serve properly. Prayers were heard and answered. It was yummy and it was pretty! I had to rely on Charlie to tell me that it tasted good because I gave up meat for Lent and this had yummy chopped bacon in it!

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Here is the recipe converted for use with a 9 x 13″ pan (serves 12):

Naked Zucchini Pie, Oh My!

Ingredients:
12-13 large eggs
2-3 green onions, thinly sliced
3 zucchini’s spiral cut
1 zucchini thinly sliced
3-4 Roma tomatoes thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. full fat REAL butter (anything else is POISON!)
1 onion chopped
1/3 c. cream (you can use milk or half & half if you like, but I prefer cream)
2 Tbsp. sour cream
½ c. shredded cheddar cheese
¼ c. chopped bacon
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Spray a 9 X 13 pan with cooking spray.
3. Prepare the zucchini and tomatoes by slicing and spiralizing. Lay out on a paper towel, sprinkle with salt and let sit for at least 30 minutes prior to using them. (This draws liquid out). After 30 minutes, pat them dry with more paper towels.
4. Dice the onion and sauté (in butter) over medium heat until translucent. Remove to a paper towel and cool.
5. Whisk the eggs, cream, sour cream, cheese and seasonings together.
6. Add green onions and bacon, mix well.
7. Pat the zucchini and tomatoes dry and then add the spiralized zucchini & sautéed onions to the baking dish and then pour liquid mixture into it.
8. Arrange the thinly sliced zucchini and tomatoes over the top. Sprinkle more bacon & cheese, if you like.
9. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes until center is springy to the touch.

Tricked Out Eggplant Parmesan Towers!

Oh my GOODNESS, look at THIS!

Lately I have been trying to make friends with egg plant. Try as I may, I have never liked it. Conversely, my husband loves it and is often disappointed when he suggests it for dinner and I poo-poo the idea. A few days ago I decided to try my hand at making faux bacon using slices of eggplant. It was a hit and I actually loved it. I will make it again.

The recipe was so simple, it’s almost ridiculous. I posted it the other day.  Click here. Also did you notice flat “Groot” in the last piece? Yeah, that wasn’t planned.

Because I liked this so much, I decided to buy some more eggplant and see what else I could possibly love about it. Enter, “Tricked Out Eggplant Parmesan”. I like just about anything fried, so why not! I have to give credit to Trisha Yearwood because I saw her show on the Food Network and she made Eggplant Parmesan stacks. I thought they looked really pretty, so this was the inspiration for my dish.

This recipe starts by slicing the eggplant into rounds. I salted them on both sides and set them up on a wire rack for thirty minutes. Then they get towel dried and dredged in the traditional, seasoned flour, egg and Italian breadcrumb mixture.

I made a quick, cheater version of marinara sauce (and I do mean quick AND cheater cheater pumpkin eater!) I cut up an onion into a medium large dice and sautéed it in some olive oil and fresh garlic; then I added 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, Italian seasoning, one large can of Italian seasoned diced tomatoes and shhhhh!…a jar of prepared Marinara. (My favorite brand is by Chef Emeril Lagasse. I love his tomato basil sauce!) I threw in the rind of my last Parmesan wedge and also two basil stems with the leaves and all-then it simmered for about half an hour. I was shocked at how good it was. I was even more shocked that Charlie raved over it. (He is an Italian gravy snob from Chicago.)

Then comes the frying of the eggplant. I heated the oil in my cast iron skillet to 350 degrees, which is the optimal temperature for deep frying. (I never deep fry without a thermometer.) The eggplant cooks very quickly; about a minute on each side. After this, it’s just a matter of salting them while they are still hot and dabbing them with paper towels to get rid of the excess oil.

Now comes the really fun part: stacking them! First a slice of eggplant, then sauce, then grated cheese (I used a combination of Mozzarella, Fontina and fresh Parmesan), then a big fat basil leaf! Repeat twice but leave off the basil leaf from the top or it will burn. Then bake these beautiful creatures!

I made a side dish of fettuccine, but it was too much. One of these stacks is a meal in itself, so next time we’ll just have a nice salad and call it a day.

Well, did I like it or not? Resoundingly I say, “Yes! Yes! Yes! This recipe is a keeper and I really loved my cheater sauce. It was yummy and so easy.

It looks like a lot of work but truly, it’s all easy stuff. Give it a try!


Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. Italian Seasoning.
1 small Parmesan rind
1 15-ounce can Italian-style diced tomatoes
1 jar prepared marinara (your favorite)
1 bunch fresh basil
2 quarts vegetable oil, for frying
3 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
4 large eggs
4 cups Italian breadcrumbs
One 1-pound eggplant, sliced into 1/8-inch rounds (about 24 slices)
1 cup shredded Fontina cheese. 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese.
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan

 

 

Directions:

To make a “cheater cheater pumpkin eater” marinara sauce, place a sauce pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened , about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and the tomato paste and cook for 30 seconds more. Add the diced tomatoes, including their juice, to the pot. Stir to combine. Add 1 whole stem of fresh basil leaves, plus the Italian Seasonings. Throw in the Parmesan rind. (If you don’t have one, you can sprinkle in some grated Parmesan cheese.) Bring the sauce to a simmer and reduce the heat to medium low. Allow the sauce to cook and reduce while you work on everything else.

Pour the vegetable oil into a Dutch oven  and attach a deep-frying thermometer. Heat the oil over medium heat to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and top with a cooling rack.

Assemble a three dish dredging station: To the first dish, add the flour, Italian seasoning and garlic powder. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and stir to combine. In the second dish, beat the eggs. To the third dish, add the breadcrumbs (I add extra seasoning here. You can even add some grated Parmesan here and it would be delicious.)

Dredge both sides of the eggplant slices in the seasoned flour. Then, dip the eggplant slices into the egg. Then, coat the eggplant in the breadcrumbs evenly on both sides.

Working in batches, carefully place the breaded eggplant into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown and crispy, about 40-50 seconds per side. Transfer to the cooling rack on the baking sheet. Sprinkle each slice generously with salt. Continue until all the eggplant has been fried.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Remove the basil stem from the marinara sauce.

Remove the paper towels from the baking sheet. Build towers on the cooling rack: Top a slice of eggplant with 1 tablespoon of marinara sauce, 1 tablespoon mozzarella, 1 tablespoon Parmesan and 1 basil leaf. Place a second piece of eggplant on top and repeat this process. Top the tower with a third piece of eggplant and repeat only with sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan (no basil). Repeat this process to create 8 towers on the cooling rack.

Bake until the cheese is melted and slightly browned on top, about 20 minutes. Transfer the towers to a serving platter. Garnish each eggplant tower with a fresh basil leaf and serve immediately.

I made four of these towers. We ate two of them and refrigerated the others for the next day’s lunch. They were just as delicious re-heated.

 

Smokey Potato Leek Soup ala Sickly Baba!

Ever since I started making my own soups, I have a hard time with any type of canned soup. (This is mainly because the stuff in the cans is so full of sodium and fat and yet it still tastes bland to me.)Today I made a Smokey potato-leek soup that turned out really well. Here is the recipe.

I am on my second go around with sickness. Thankfully, it’s just a virus, and I’m feeling better today, yet I am still not really into eating anything but mild food. That being said, after having not eaten a thing but saltines yesterday, this morning I woke up feeling hungry for chicken noodle soup. Ordinarily, I would have made my own, but I’m sick, remember? Charlie pulled out a can of chunky chicken noodle and lovingly made it for me. (He takes such good care of me even when I’m not sick. I am Blessed!) I was happy to eat it (and that it stayed down), but it reminded me of why I like to make my own soups. It was borderline tasteless, brimming with sodium and fat and the noodles tasted like rubber.

Now I don’t know what to think of myself. Have I become a food snob? I used to love chunky chicken noodle soup!

This afternoon while Charlie was at the gym, I reached that stage of illness where you are really still too sick and weak to do much; yet you are so bored, your brain tells you it’s okay to get up and go make a pot of homemade soup. (After all, it’s not that hard.) I have a butternut squash sitting on the counter waiting to be cut up and roasted and turned into a beautiful, creamy soup, but instead I focused my attention on the ever present leeks in my fridge. I pulled them out, cut them up and threw them into a bowl of cold water to be certain there was no sand. Meanwhile, I peeled and chopped about two and a half pounds of russet potatoes. (Why? Because if I didn’t, they were bound to start sprouting any day. We don’t eat a ton of russets.) It bears reporting that I prefer to use Yukon gold potatoes in soups, but this is what I had on hand. Use what you have on hand, people!

Next, the leeks got drained, dried; then sautéed in some olive oil and butter for just a short time. Afterward, I added the potatoes, seasonings, and then six cups of chicken stock. The top went on and I let it boil for about thirty minutes-until everything was soft enough to blend.

At this point I was feeling accomplished and it dawned on me that we had a pound of bacon that also needed to be used before it was wasted. What better thing to do then to make some bacon as a garnish, right? I always make my bacon on a sheet pan with a rack, so this too, is really easy to do. I was just about to lay the stuff out in strips when I remembered having seen one of those Facebook videos that showed bacon being weaved together so it would form a perfect square for bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches. OMG! Genius! I just happened to have a big juicy tomato on the counter and some lettuce in the fridge. Poof! Done! I weaved that bacon like a professional bacon weaver and into the oven it went.

I was so proud when it came out looking pretty! (Seriously, I was envisioning the Instagram praise-fest about to happen! I am a sick girl and not in a good way.) I decided to take some of the smaller pieces of cooked bacon and drop them into the the soup for a little more Smokey flavor. See them?

Truth to be told: I did all of this today…but I made frequent trips to the couch to pass out, drink ice water, take my temperature, cough, etc. See that last soup photo? It’s not even hot. I just forgot to take the money shot so I fudged it. Now I am back, dying on the couch, but this blog is scheduled to go. LOL! (I really did love this soup, however.)

This photo below; now that’s actually hot soup! LOL!


Ingredients:

2.5 pounds potatoes peeled and cut (I used russets but Yukon golds are better.)

3 large leaks sliced into rounds

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter (REAL butter)

6 cups low sodium chicken broth (that’s two 32 oz cartons)

1.5 teaspoons red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon raw honey

2 pieces of cooked bacon crumbled

1/4 cup cream

3 tablespoons full fat sour cream

Juice of half a lemon

Salt & fresh ground pepper

Directions:

1) Clean and slice leeks

2) Peel and cut potatoes (If you use Yukon Gold, skip peeling. It isn’t necessary.)

3) Heat olive oil and butter in a Dutch oven (medium high heat) Sauté leeks for about five minutes. Salt & pepper.

4) Add potatoes, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, hot sauce, Italian seasoning, more cracked pepper. Stir.

5) Add chicken broth and bacon pieces. Turn up heat, bring to boil, reduce to simmer and put the lid on. Simmer 20-30 minutes until vegetables are tender enough to be blended.

6) When the vegetables are tender, turn off heat, remove bay leaves, stir in honey and allow to cool with the lid on about 30 minutes.

7) Pull out and mash (or rough chop) about a cup of the potatoes. Set aside.

8) Add cream and sour cream. Stir. Then blend with an immersion blender (This is what I use.) Add the reserved potatoes back in with the juice of half a lemon.

9) Taste. We like our soup spicy, so I usually add more cracked pepper and red pepper flakes.

10) Stir and cover. Turn the heat back onto low. Let the flavors marry for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Note: The best garnish in the world for this soup are caramelized onions! Also great: crumbled bacon, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped scallions


PS- I ended up making a grilled cheese sandwich with the bacon lattice for Charlie. (By the time he came home from the gym, I was way too tired and over-extended to make TWO. I didn’t need a sandwich. I needed to be in bed.)

I present the Cha-Cha approved bacon, tomato, caramelized onion, Fontina cheese on Sourdough bread grilled cheese: