Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Seared Shrimp and Scallops with Green Veggie Puree

So pretty, tasty, and healthy!

I got the idea for this from Bon Appetit's recipe for Pea Puree with Shrimp and Scallops.  I hate following directions though, so I made up my own vegetable puree.  This puree is jam-packed with flavor from roasted vegetables, fresh herbs, and spicy arugula.  If you wanted to make a slightly richer puree, I think green olives or walnuts would make an awesome addition.

I served this with roasted asparagus and a Sriracha dipping sauce (see below).

What you need for the Green Veggie Puree (which can be made ahead of time):

4 cups fresh Broccoli florets
1 Zucchini
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
1/4 cup fat-free Cream Cheese
2 Garlic Cloves
2-3 tablespoons EACH fresh Cilantro and Mint
1/2 cup (packed) fresh Arugula
1-2 teaspoons Lemon juice

Start by roasting the veggies: Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spread broccoli and zucchini across a baking sheet.  Lightly drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Toss with a spatula to evenly coat.  Roast for 30-45 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked through and slightly browned.  Let cool.

Puree roasted vegetables and remaining ingredients using a food processor or immersion blender.  Add a bit more olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste.  Refrigerate until ready for use.

What you need for the Shrimp and Scallops:

1/2 pound jumbo Scallops, rinsed and patted dry
1/2 pound large Shrimp, peeled and patted dry
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil

Heat a splash of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat.  Season the scallops and shrimp lightly with salt and pepper.  When the oil is hot, sear the scallops and shrimp for 2-3 minutes per side, or until golden brown and opaque in the center.  

Serve with the vegetable puree and Sriracha sauce. Enjoy!

Sriracha Sauce:

1/4 cup plain low fat Yogurt (or fat free Greek yogurt)
2 tablespoons light Mayonnaise
Sriracha to taste
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder

Mix all ingredients.   (You could also just use mayonnaise instead of the yogurt and mayo mix, but this version cuts some calories)  This is tasty with pretty much everything.  So you might want to make some extra.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

"Broccomole" (Creamy Broccoli Dip)

I saw a recipe for this on Pinterest and immediately went to boil some broccoli (which I conveniently had on hand and wanted to use up)  You can look at the original recipe here.  What a great idea! I changed it up a little to make it imitate my regular guacamole recipe a bit more.  It was quite tasty and I'll definitely be making more broccoli dips in the future- I'm thinking Italian-themed might be next.

What you need:

4 cups fresh Broccoli, cut into chunks
2 teaspoons Olive Oil
6 ounces fat-free Cream Cheese (or Greek yogurt)
2 teaspoons Lemon Juice
1-2 Garlic cloves
1-2 tablespoons Onion, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh Cilantro
1-2 teaspoons Chili Powder

Boil the broccoli in a large pot of lightly salted water until very tender (think the overcooked mush that is a bit appealing at the dinner table).  Drain and place in blender or food processor.  Add the rest of the ingredients and puree.  Enjoy with dippers of choice.

*After eating a good bit of this, I had the idea to stir in a bit of store bought salsa (mine was mango habanero) to add a little kick... delicious!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Seafood Curry

A super flavorful curry loaded with veggies, seafood, and spice.  Serve over rice, or in a bowl with a spoon.  I used a Panang Curry Paste by Taste of Thai, but you could definitely substitute in some other pre-made curry paste.  This makes a big pot of curry that can feed a crowd, or just leave you with plenty of tasty leftovers.

What you need:

1-2 teaspoons Chili Oil or Olive Oil
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh Ginger
1 medium/small Onion, chopped
5-6 cloves of Garlic, peeled and chopped
1-2 hot peppers (optional- I'm not sure what kind I used because I got them from the farm here and wasn't even a name, but I think that jalapeno or thai chilis would be good)
1 packet Panang Curry Paste (1.75 ounces) or another type of curry paste- just be sure to get paste, not sauce
1-2 teaspoons Thai Fish Sauce
1-2 teaspoons Rice Vinegar
2-3 teaspoons Curry Powder (optional, but I like to have a lot of spice and thought it needed this)
1-2 teaspoons Coriander 
1 medium Carrot, sliced thinly
3 large leaves of Chard, stalks and leaves sliced and separated
8 ounces Cremini Mushrooms, sliced
1 can Coconut milk
1-2 cups broth (you can use seafood, chicken, or vegetable)
3/4 pound peeled shrimp
3/4 pound fish, cut into bite size pieces (I used one piece of Swai and one piece of Grouper, because I had them in my freezer and wanted to use them up.  You can use whatever type of white fish that you like- tilapia, red snapper, cod, etc)
2-3 fresh tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 can diced tomatoes (mine were fire roasted with garlic)
2-3 teaspoons cornstarch, mixed with a little water
3-4 green onions, thinly sliced

Heat the chili oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, garlic, and ginger.  Stir and let cook for 1-2 minutes, then add: the hot peppers, curry paste, fish sauce, vinegar, other spices, carrot, and sliced chard stalk.  Saute for a couple minutes and add the mushrooms and chard leaves.  Stir and add the coconut milk and broth.  Bring to a boil and add the fish and shrimp and tomatoes (fresh and canned). Bring back to a boil and reduce heat to medium low.  Let simmer until fish and shrimp are cooked through.  The fish should be falling apart and both should be opaque.  Add the cornstarch and cook for another minute, until the sauce thickens.  Stir in the green onion.

Serve over rice or with some bread for sopping up the sauce.  Enjoy!

Pizza Hummus

After making my Pizza Dip for the first time a few weeks ago, I'm been on a major pizza-y dip kick. And now that there is no more cottage cheese to buy here for the time being (oh, the woes of Saba), I tried using chickpeas to make a pizza-y dip instead.  And then I made it again, and again. Yep, it worked well.

Every time I've made these dips (both the cottage cheese one and this hummus version here), I change things up a bit depending on my mood, my time commitment, and what ingredients I have on hand.  Below is a basic recipe with various add-in options listed.

You could even make a pizza using this dip as the sauce- it would work wonderfully for a vegan pizza as long you left out the cheese and pepperoni, of course.  I've also spread it on a baked portobello mushroom (similar to this here) for a light lunch.  Or just dip with veggies or crackers or chips or whatever you like.  Or make a "pizza" out of the dip: make a basic version of this, spread it in your serving dish and top with layers of other pizza-y ingredients (olives, chopped tomato, artichoke, pesto, cheese, etc).  However you decide to use this stuff, I'm sure it'll be a hit.

What You Definitely Need:
1 can of Chickpeas (14-19 ounces, doesn't really matter)
2-4 fresh Garlic Cloves (or a head of roasted garlic)
1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
1-2 teaspoons Red Wine Vinegar
Olive Oil/Broth/Water
1/2 cup Pizza sauce/ Marinara sauce/ Pasta sauce (some sort of tomato sauce that is pre-spiced- if you use plain canned tomatoes, you'll need to make sure to add extra spice)
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Italian Seasoning, to taste

And What Would be Great to Add:

1/2 cup roasted Eggplant, skin removed
1/2 cup canned Artichoke in brine, drained
2-3 tablespoons good quality Parmesan Cheese
1/4 cup "Broiled Pepperoni" slices (or regular, but if you broil it for a few minutes first, you can drain out the grease and it also becomes a little crispy)
1/4 cup Sun-dried Tomatoes
handful of Arugula 
Red Pepper Flakes

Just blend everything in the blender, adding your olive oil and other liquids as needed.  I start with a little olive oil and then add either water or broth to cut down a bit on the calories.  Just olive oil would be fine, of course.

Experiment and Enjoy!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Baba Ghanoush with Artichoke

This isn't the most authentic baba ghanoush recipe, but it is pretty darn good.  In fact, I think it is the best baba ghanoush I've ever made (good enough that after making it the first time, I made it again two days later).  The boyfriend gave his stamp of approval as well.  

The main differences from traditional baba ghanoush are the addition of artichokes and omission of tahini.  Both changes were circumstantial- I wanted to add a little more bulk to it and happened to have an open can of artichokes, and there is no more tahini in the grocery stores on Saba for the time being- and I'm glad that circumstances were what they were.  This is delicious! 

What you need:

1 medium/large Eggplant
1 head of Garlic
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup artichoke hearts, canned in brine
Olive oil

Start by roasting the eggplant and garlic:  You can either roast the eggplant whole or cut it in half.  If whole, poke a few holes in it with a fork.  If cut in half, spray with olive oil and roast cut side down on a baking sheet.  Roast at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes to an hour, depending on size of eggplant and whether or not you cut it in half.  The flesh should be VERY soft and smushy.  You can roast the garlic right along with the eggplant: cut off the top of the head to expose the tips of the cloves.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Roast for 30 minutes.  

Allow the eggplant and garlic to cool.  Scrape the flesh (including the seeds) away from the skin.  Discard skin.  Remove garlic cloves from their papery covering.  Add eggplant, garlic, lemon juice, and artichoke to a blender or food processor.  Add a little water (or the brine from the artichoke) and a drizzle of olive oil.  Pulse to begin blending it.  Add more oil and water (or just oil, but I like to add some water to cut calories) until it can be fully blended.  Season with salt.

Bacon-Wrapped Scallops

Clearly, this isn't a terribly original recipe.  Google "bacon wrapped scallop recipe" and you'll find tons of the same recipe that all basically say the same thing.  However, I wanted to post this in case others of you out there have the same initial impression of these tasty treats that I did.  I always kind of think of bacon-wrapped scallops as one of those really fancy seeming things that I never think to do, maybe because they just seem too fancy, and therefore must be some sort of ordeal.

In reality, these are both simple and quick to make.  And delicious.  I served them as dinner for the two of us, but it would also be a really nice appetizer if you cut the larger scallops in half or used smaller ones.

I also made a spicy "mayo" sauce and a pesto-avocado cream to complement them.  Two dips/sauces were not really necessary, but both were tasty and went well (and I had an avocado I needed to use up and also still really wanted to make a spicy mayonnaise-y thing).

What you need:

6 Jumbo Scallops, rinsed and patted dry (or 12 smaller ones, and just cut the bacon in half)
6 slices of Thick-cut Bacon (if you do not have thick cut, that's fine, I actually didn't either.  But it would have been easier if I had.  If you have really thin slices, use 9-12 slices instead)

Heat oven to broil on low.  Lay bacon strips out on a baking sheet with edges.  Place pan in oven and broil bacon until it is just barely cooked and still plenty flexible.  Remove from oven and drain pan.  Sprinkle scallops lightly with salt.  Wrap one piece of bacon around each scallop, securing with a toothpick.  If you are using a thinner cut of bacon and the one piece seems too skimpy  add another half or whole piece.  Place scallops on baking sheet.  Broil for 4-6 minutes (depending on scallop size), flip over, and broil for an additional 4-6 minutes.  The scallops should be opaque and the bacon should be fully cooked.  If you want the bacon a little crispier, leave them another couple minutes.

Serve with sauce(s) and enjoy!

For the Spicy Mayonnaise:

Mix together equal parts fat-free plain yogurt (Greek or regular) and light mayonnaise.  Or just use all mayo, but I think the blend keeps a nice balance between flavor and healthiness.  Add Sriracha hot sauce to taste.

For the Pesto Avocado Cream:

Blend the following ingredients using a food processor or immersion blender:

1 Avocado, cut into chunks
Pinch of Salt
Splash of Lemon Juice
2 tablespoons chopped Onion
1-2 tablespoons pre-made Pesto

Monday, February 11, 2013

Garlicky Mashed Cauliflower

Clearly, my cauliflower was purple.  But you can use a normal one, of course. The only cauliflower they had this week were purple ones and I figured the color would be fun.  This makes a much lighter substitute to the mashed potatoes one might normally serve with a steak.  And, personally, I think it tastes better too!   I made this a little too garlicky (not really sure that is possible, but I guess Rob thought so), but I you can just add as many or few garlic cloves as you like.  Or, for a milder garlic flavor, you could roast a head first and just add that.

What you need:

1 medium/small head of cauliflower, cut into large florets
Garlic- for an intense garlic flavor, use raw cloves (I used 5-6, and that was garlicky to the point of spicy, yum! But probably too intense for anyone but the serious garlic fan).  You can also sub in jarred minced garlic, garlic powder, or roasted garlic
2-3 tablespoons fat-free cream cheese (or regular/light, or sour cream)
Salt and Pepper

Bring an inch of water to boil in a large pot.  Add a pinch of salt and the cauliflower florets.  Cover and boil until cauliflower is very tender.  Drain, squeezing out any extra liquid.  Add garlic and cream cheese.  Puree using an immersion blender, regular blender, or food processor.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Done!

I'll definitely be making this again- maybe try out a Parmesan cheese and herb version.  Yum!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Spaghetti Squash "Lasagna"

Sorry to anyone on Saba reading this- I think I took the only spaghetti squash on the island and it was only there by mistake in the first place.

I love spaghetti squash.  It really doesn't have much flavor at all, but is a great base for a flavorful sauce, much like its namesake.  In contrast to actual spaghetti though, it is super low in calories, with only about 40 per cup, cooked.  And, honestly, I think it is better than real pasta (then again, I don't like pasta, like a weirdo).  

What you need:

1 small spaghetti squash (1-2 pounds) or 4-5 cups cooked squash
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese, blended until nearly smooth (or ricotta, but the cottage cheese is lower in calories)
5-6 cups chunky homemade pasta sauce, with or without meat (see recipe I used below for a chunky and meaty version)
1/4 cup EACH mozzarella and Parmesan

*If you haven't already cooked your squash, all you need to do is poke a few holes in it with a fork and then cook it a) in the oven at 375 Fahrenheit for about an hour, or b) in the microwave for 15 minutes or so.  The squash should be soft when done.  Cut in half and scoop out the seeds.  Shred the flesh with a fork and place in a bowl.  You can also cut your squash in half before baking and scoop out the seeds as well.  Just bake/ microwave face-down and reduce the time accordingly.

To prepare  the "Lasagna":

Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spoon about a cup of sauce into the bottom of an 8 x 8 inch pan.  top with about two cups cooked spaghetti squash.  Spread all of the cottage cheese over this.  Top with more sauce (about two cups), then the rest of the squash.  Top with another couple cups of sauce.  Bake for 25 minutes, then remove from oven and sprinkle with cheese.  Bake from another 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly.   Serve and enjoy!

Chunky Vegetable and Meat Sauce:

Is you are vegetarian, the meat can easily be omitted, of course.

What you need:

1 pound ground beef, browned and drained (optional)
2 teaspoons olive oil
pinch of salt
1/2 large onion, chopped
1/2 leek, chopped (or just use a bit more onion- I just needed to get rid of this!)
1 celery stalk, sliced thinly
1 head of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 eggplant, sliced and cut into quarters (about 2 cups chopped)
1/2 zucchini, sliced and cut into quarters
1/2 cup of mushrooms, chopped OR 1/4 reconstituted dried mushrooms, chopped
1 cup dry red wine
1 28 ounce can crushed tomato
1 14 ounce can diced tomato
1-2 cups water, chicken broth, or liquid from reconstituting the dried mushrooms
2 bay leaves
Spices: Oregano, basil, black pepper, sage, thyme, etc.
Splash of red wine vinegar

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add onion, garlic, celery, and the salt.  Saute until starting to brown and slightly softened.  Add the eggplant, zucchini, and mushrooms.  Continue to saute, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have begun to brown.  Add the wine and de-glaze the pan.  Add the canned tomatoes, the liquid of your choice, and the bay leaves.  Add the cooked ground beef, if using.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover.  Simmer for about 2 hours (give it a stir every once and a while), or until vegetables are all cooked through and the sauce has thickened.  Add the spices to taste, as well as a splash of red wine vinegar.  Remove bay leaves.  Done!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Brie, Peach, and Prosciutto Pizza

Pizza is great because it so strongly appeals to my creative side.  There are endless possibilities and combinations of pizza toppings.  Even the crust presents all sorts of opportunities for some brainstorming and experimentation.

One of my all time favorite combinations is this one.  This fusion of salty, cheesy, sweet, and spicy is just amazing (And makes great melted brie for dipping if you don't feel like making a pizza).  Depending on how heavily you adorn your pizza with toppings, it can make either a great main dish or a nice appetizer pizza.  I used my own pizza crust recipe, which I'll post in a bit, but you can use your own favorite recipe or store-bought dough, or even some flat bread that's been crisped up a bit.

I didn't measure at all when making this, so I'm just writing in a range of amounts below.  And, like I said, you may really want to vary the amount anyway depending on your purpose for this pizza.

What you need:

Crust to make one medium pizza (10-12 inch round)

Soft Brie Cheese, rind removed and cut into small chunks (2-4 ounces)
Prosciutto, cut into small pieces (2-4 ounces
Peach or Nectarine, cut into thin slices (2 small or 1 large)
Handful of Arugula
Red Pepper Flakes

Heat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  If using dough, roll it out as thin as possible and bake it for 5-10 minutes, depending on how crispy you want it to be in the end.  Remove from oven and top with the brie, prosciutto, peach slices, and arugula.  Lightly drizzle honey over the whole thing and sprinkle with the red pepper flakes.  Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until it has reached the desired amount of bubbly-/crispiness. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Crispy Parmesan Shrimp with Cauliflower-Beet Puree

This might be a bit of a weird mix, but I promise it was delicious together.  And the beet puree was just lovely.  I think it would also make a great accompaniment for steak or some other seafood.  Or just by itself.  Or maybe as a dip if you added a bit more spice to it... That may just be what happens with the leftovers.

The shrimp turned out pretty great- crunchy on the outside and still nice and juicy on the inside.  They would be nice on a salad as well.  

Let's start with the Cauliflower-Beet Puree.

What you need:

1 small cauliflower, cut into florets
3 medium beets, scrubbed, ends removed, and chopped into 1 inch pieces
Olive oil spray
Salt and pepper
1-2 cups almond milk (or regular milk)
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
1/2 artichoke hearts
2 whole heads roasted garlic
Lemon juice
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon onion powder

Start by roasting the vegetables: Spread beet and cauliflower pieces out on a olive-oil sprayed baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper.  Roast at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour, stirring once.

Now, place your roasted vegetables in a saucepan and add one cup of almond milk.  Bring to a boil and then simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes (this helps tenderize the beets so that they will blend a little better.  You could simmer them for longer if you want it to be really smooth, but I like a little texture to my puree).  Take off heat, add the remaining ingredients, and puree with an immersion blender.  Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Now, for the Crispy Parmesan Shrimp:

What you need:

3/4 pound shrimp, peeled and tails removed (mine with medium)
1/3 cup flour
1/4-1/3 cup shredded Parmesan
1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs (or plain, but then add a bit of an Italian seasoning blend in with the crumbs)
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
1-2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup Egg Beaters (or just use a couple of whole eggs or some egg whites, beaten)

Place your flour in one bowl and your Egg Beaters in another.  Mix the Parmesan, both breadcrumbs, the lemon-pepper seasoning, the garlic powder, and the black pepper in another bowl.  Heat your oven to broil on high.  Spray a baking sheet with olive oil.  Dip each shrimp first into the flour, then the Egg Beaters, and finally into the bread crumb mixture.  Place on baking sheet.  When all of the shrimp have been breaded, broil for 6-8 minutes, flipping halfway through.  The shrimp should be browned and cooked through (I cut through one with a knife to make sure).

Serve with Cauliflower-Beet Puree and Creamy Pesto Sauce (see below). Enjoy!

Creamy Pesto Sauce:

Mix the following together:
  • 2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • splash of lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons store-bought pesto

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Portabella Pizza

You won't miss the carbs, trust me.  

This personal pizza is healthy, filling, and delicious.  And you can play around with the toppings to keep it interesting.  The pictures here are the version with the Pizza Dip, but I've also made these differently before, so I added some variations down at the bottom of the post.

What you need (per pizza):
1 large portabella mushroom, washed and stem removed 
Olive oil spray
Seasoned-All (or just a bit of salt)

2 tablespoons Pizza Dip
1 teaspoon Pesto (I just used a little from a jar of store-bought)
2 thin slices of a large tomato
3-4 green olives, chopped
1-2 tablespoons Marinara Sauce 
1 teaspoon crumbled Feta Cheese
2 anchovies
Pepper, Oregano, Garlic Powder, Red Pepper Flakes

Heat oven (or toaster oven) to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray baking sheet with a little olive oil, place mushroom on sheet, and spray mushroom with a bit of olive oil too.  Season lightly with Season-All or just salt and pepper.  Bake for 30-45 minutes (I baked mine for about 45, and it was deliciously well-done.  30 minutes would also do the trick, it just won't get quite as "meaty").  The mushroom should be tender and have shrunk a good deal.

Spread the Pizza Dip and Pesto over the gills of the mushroom.  Layer the tomato, green olives, marinara sauce, feta cheese, and anchovies over this.  Season with the spices that you desire.  Return pan to oven for another 5-10 minutes, or until everything is heated and melty.  

Grab your knife and fork (or don't, but I'll let you know it's gonna be messy), and dig in!

Some Other Topping Ideas:
  • Replace Pizza Dip with fat-free cream cheese, add more Marinara sauce 
  • Add some pepperoni
  • Add some other/ extra cheese: Goat, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Blue Cheese
  • Add fresh basil
  • Make it a "burger" instead of pizza: lettuce, tomato, pickles, mustard, and ketchup (I've done this one and it was pretty darn tasty)
  • Add whatever you like!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Healthy Pizza Dip

Dip is awesome.  There are endless possibilities of types to make and types of things to dip.

It's always fun to eat (finger food = awesome.  In fact, I like to make many non-finger foods into finger foods as well).

And it can be super healthy or super indulgent, depending on your mood/ lifestyle/ how many drinks you've had.

This particular dip (while not super-photogenic) is really pretty healthy, especially if you use vegetable dippers.  (Though I did just try it with a bagel chip and that might have to triumph over veggies at the moment)  I also made some roasted baby carrots as another dipping option.

What you need:

1 cup low fat cottage cheese (I used 1 %)
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
15 thin slices of "de-fatted" pepperoni (see below)
2 whole heads roasted garlic
3-4 tablespoons fat-free Greek yogurt
1/3 cup canned artichokes (if using oil packed, omit that olive oil above)
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (again, if using oil packed, omit that olive oil above)
2-3 anchovies
Splash of red wine vinegar
2-3 tablespoons grated good-quality Parmesan cheese
Spices: Season-All, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, and black pepper, to taste (this is what I had, Italian seasoning would be a good substitute for the Season-All if you have it)

To "de-fat" your pepperoni (this step also makes it crispy and probably better for the dip):

Place pepperoni slices in a single layer across a baking sheet or toaster oven pan.  Broil on high for 5-10 minutes, or until pieces have shrunk substantially but not burnt.  Drain fat and sop up the rest from the slices with a paper towel.

For the rest of the dip:
Blend everything in food processor or blender.  Let sit for half an hour or so in the frig.  Serve with dippers of choice, such as:
  • Cucumber slices
  • Red bell pepper slices
  • Roasted cauliflower or broccoli florets
  • Baby carrots, raw or roasted
  • Bagel or pita chips
  • Toasted baguette slices

Deconstructed Eggplant Parmesan

I was all set to make actual Eggplant Parmesan (albeit a healthy version).  But then my eggplant rounds came out of the oven looking all crispy and delicious and I couldn't bear the risk of them becoming too soggy as part of the casserole.

And besides, why knife and fork a dinner when you dip it or pick it up like pizza?

I can see this going in a lot of different directions in the future... laying out an array of different dipping sauces as a fun party/game food, trying out an Asian-inspired version, or simply enhancing the Italian dip I made this time.

What you need:

For the Eggplant:
2 medium Eggplants, peeled and cut into 1/2 rounds (or try making stick shapes, which is what I would have done if I wasn't still planning on a casserole at this point)
Olive oil spray
1/2 cup Egg beaters (or egg whites, or a few beaten eggs)
1-2 cups Bread crumbs (I used a mixture of regular and panko- would've tried whole wheat if they were easily available here)
1-2 teaspoons Garlic powder
1 teaspoon Black pepper
2-3 teaspoons Season-all (or just a bit of salt)

For the Dipping Sauce: (Also see other suggestions below)
1 24 ounce jar of your favorite Marinara/ Pasta Sauce (or use 3 cups homemade, that'd be tastier, but I was lazy)
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4-1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
Chopped fresh Thyme, Basil, Oregano

Start by heating the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place egg beaters in one bowl.  Mix both bread crumbs, the garlic powder, black pepper, and Season-all on a plate.  Spray a large baking sheet with olive oil.  One by one, dip the eggplant pieces into first the egg beaters and then the bread crumbs, coating all sides.  Place pieces, just barely touching, on the baking sheet.  Continue until you have used all of the eggplant (you may need additional eggs/ bread crumbs- I didn't actually measure mine, and I added a bit at some point, but then didn't finish it all).

Bake for 50 minutes to an hour, flipping once (this is for rounds, reduce time if you cut into sticks).  The pieces should be browned and completely cooked through.  You can slice into one to check- it should be all soft inside.

About 20 minutes before the eggplant is supposed to finish cooking, make the dipping sauce:  Pour the sauce into small-medium casserole dish and top with cheeses and herbs (and any additional seasonings you like- maybe some garlic, black pepper, or red pepper flakes).  Place in the with the eggplant and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until nice and bubbly.

Serve with a spoon in the dipping sauce for slopping over the rounds (and then eat like pizza).  Or cut rounds into slices and dip.  Enjoy!

And some ideas for future dipping:

  • Amped Up Italian Dipping Sauce: Same idea as above, but better.  Roast some garlic cloves and mix the roasted cloves into some ricotta cheese.  Spoon ricotta cheese in the bottom of the pan.  Cover with a homemade meat and veggie pasta sauce.  Sprinkle with the mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake. 
  • Put out an Italian-themed dipping assortment:  A tomato-based sauce, such as above, some pesto,  some dipping oil 
  • Try something a little Asian: a spicy mayo (wasabi or sriracha mixed with light mayonnaise, or light mayonnaise and greek yogurt, to make it healthier), a soy sauce based dip: maybe some soy sauce, rice vinegar, minced garlic and ginger, and honey.
  • Or a White Pizza Dip, like this one on How Sweet It Is.  I haven't actually tried it yet, but have eyed it before and it came to mind when I was thinking of other ideas for this eggplant.
Happy Creating!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Another "Borscht" Recipe

I'm not sure I know what authentic borscht tastes like- I've only had the kind my mom makes (from a recipe she found somewhere) and the kind I make (made up new each time, often based on what ingredients I have at the time).

But this is tasty and the beet is the predominant flavor, so I figure it is close enough to the real thing to call it borscht, for lack of a better title.

The other borscht recipe I have posted here is a little different and the directions are for making it in the CrockPot.  This time, I did it on the stove, but this recipe could be made in the CrockPot as well.

What you need:

2 teaspoons olive oil
large pinch of salt
1 medium onion, chopped into rough pieces
1/2 of a head of garlic, peeled and chopped
3 stalks of celery, sliced
1 small leek, sliced
4 beets (mine were about 2.5 inches in diameter, scrubbed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
6 cups beef broth
1-2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Tahini (optional, but I think it really enhanced the flavor)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add onions, garlic, and celery, along with the pinch of salt.  Saute until slightly softened.  Add the leek and beets and continue sauteing until the leeks are also softened and everything is starting to brown a bit.  Add the broth and Worcestershire sauce.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until beets are cooked, but not mushy.  Turn off heat, add the Tahini and apple cider vinegar, and blend with an immersion blender. If you want, you can only blend it halfway, so that there are a few chunks left.

Drizzle with Tahini for garnish, if you want.  Enjoy!