Eggplant Bolognese

Well hello again, my friends.  It’s almost been a year since my last post!  I have been extremely busy with life and my good old little food blog got away from me.  New job, got married, bought a house, you know, the basic things that keep you away from a computer once you’re finally home!

I can promise you though, that I have been spending that last year building up a repertoire of tons of fun new and exciting recipes to share.  As life is starting to settle down for the moment, I made it my goal to bring those recipes to you and start writing again.  So, here we are!

I wanted to start us off with a really solid, versatile recipe that you can really do a lot with.  Take out the beef and make this meatless for your Monday, or for your favorite vegetarian!  Don’t like eggplant?  Swap it out with Zucchini or Squash!  That really is the best thing about cooking, you can do WHATEVER YOU WANT!  BUT, if you do like eggplant, and you are a carnivore like myself… please do yourself a favor and try this one out, you won’t be disappointed!

Eggplant Bolognese
Recipe Adapted from:  Cooking Light 

Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Large Sweet Onions, chopped
3/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt, divided + 1 Tablespoon
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper, divided
1/2 lb Ground Beef, I used 85%
1.5 lbs Eggplant, chopped
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
1/2 cup Red Wine- I used Pinot Noir so I could drink some while I cooked 🙂
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, undrained
1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
10oz Whole-Wheat Fettuccine
1/4 cup small fresh basil leaves

Directions:
1. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and beef; cook 10 minutes or until beef is browned, stirring to crumble beef. Add eggplant, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook 20 minutes or until eggplant is very tender, stirring occasionally. Add tomato paste; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add wine; cook 1 minute, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking up the tomatoes too. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and red wine vinegar.
2. Cook pasta according to package directions, adding 1 tablespoon kosher salt to cooking water. Drain.
3. Toss pasta with sauce; sprinkle with basil leaves.

IMG_0800

Well, that’s all for today, goal of posting in October ACCOMPLISHED!  Huzzah!  Now, go comment, like, share… do it!

Enchilada Stuffed Peppers

stuffedpeppers

As it turns out, getting a new job, getting married, planning and going on an 18 day honeymoon in Hawaii all while trying to maintain a social life is JUST ENOUGH to prohibit me from blogging like I used to!  Sheesh!  Imagine that.

I’m more than happy to be back to share the first of many awesome recipes I’ve been busy with in my kitchen for you today.  This recipe is my first attempt at Stuffed Peppers- something Dave and I first tried on our trip to Israel  and that I have promised to make for him since.  It’s only taken 3.5 years.  No big deal.

I will be the first to admit that bell peppers are not my favorite ingredient.  I know they’re so basic and in everything, I just am not their biggest fan, so I guess I wasn’t super excited to try these out.  I think it was my trust in one of my favorite bloggers, Nikki from Chef in Training that gave me the courage to try this new recipe out (she’s fabulous, check out her blog!).  Her recipe for Enchilada Stuffed Bell Peppers caught my attention, especially because I already had most of the ingredients in my pantry.  Score!

Enchilada Stuffed Peppers
Recipe slighly adapted from: Chef in Training

Ingredients:

6 Red Bell Peppers  

1lb Ground Turkey, lean

2 Zucchinis, chopped small

1 – 15oz can Black Beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup Corn

1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese (plus a little extra for topping)

10oz can Enchilada Sauce

1 teaspoon Cumin

1 teaspoon Salt & 1 teaspoon Pepper

Fat Free Sour Cream for topping (optional)

Directions:

1.  Cut just the tops off the bell peppers and hollow out the insides.  Place in a large baking pan or pyrex dish and set aside.  

2.   In a large skillet, brown and chop ground turkey and the zucchini until cooked through and juices run clear and the zucchini is starting to soften.  

3.  Place turkey/zucc mixture in a large mixing bowl and add the black beans, corn, cheese, enchilada sauce, cumin and salt and stir until everything is combined.  

4.  Stuff each bell pepper to the top.  Cover the pan with foil.

5.  Bake in the oven at 350 for 1 hour.  Remove pan and foil and sprinkle a little extra cheese on the top and bake uncovered for another 5 minutes or so until the cheese is melted.  ENJOY!

 

Peppers ready to be stuffed

IMG_0678

IMG_0680

IMG_0682

The original recipe calls for a little more ground turkey, which I didn’t have handy, so I used the chopped zucchini, which worked just fabulously.  You could really use whatever vegetables you wanted!  If you chop them into nice, small pieces, it will work perfectly.

My new job requires me to work one “late day” each week, so this stuffed pepper recipe was perfect for that type of day.  I did all the cooking in the morning, which didn’t take long… then I stuffed the peppers and prepared them in the dish and stuck them in the fridge.  When I left work for my 45 min commute home, Dave popped them in the oven and dinner was ready when I got home!  It was perfect.

We ate the peppers for lunches the rest of the week- they are absolutely delicious.  The enchilada sauce makes the dish so flavorful and spicy, and I just love hot lunches in the wintertime.  I can’t wait to try new versions of this!  Who knows, maybe this will be the start of me finally liking bell peppers?

IMG_0683

 

Green Olive Pesto Pasta

Green Olive Pesto Pasta

I absolutely love PESTO.  I think the best thing about pesto is that there’s practically a million ways you can use it and even make it.  That’s the thing that gets me… there are so many different combinations to try, how will I ever feel like I’ve found the best?!  A few months ago, I was reading my cooking magazines and found this awesome guide for mixing and matching your own pesto.  I have to share it with you… it’s crazy how many different types you could try and also get super creative with it!  (Mix-Match Pesto!)

Let me break it down for you… here’s what you need to make your own perfect pesto:

1.  Nut or Seed (almonds in this case)

2.  Add your base (olives and parsley)

3.  Choose your seasoning(s) (garlic and pepper)

4.  Pick a cheese (Asiago!)

5.  Finish that pesto! (more cheese!!)

I can’t wait to try a few others… I have already made another one with this gorgeous heirloom tomato and fresh mozz pizza the other night… whoa!

IMG_9545

IMG_9550

YUM!  I’m hungry for that again…

Okay but really I have to share this crazy pesto recipe with you.  It was so easy to make and it was creamy, delicious, and just all around awesome.  Enjoy!

Green Olive Pesto Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Campanelle Pasta (or other pretty shape!)
  • 1 1/4 cups (6 oz) Pitted Manzanilla Olives
  • 1/2 cup Sliced Raw Almonds, toasted
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Flat-leaf Parsley Leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper 
  • 1 large Garlic Clove
  • 2 tablespoons Water
  • 1 teaspoon White Wine Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz) Grated Asiago Cheese

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to the directions on the box.  Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid.  
  2. Put the olives, almonds, parsley, pepper, and garlic in a food processor.  Pulse until coarsely chopped.  With the processor on, add 2 tablespoons of water and 1 teaspoon of vinegar through the chute, processing until the mixture is finely chopped.  
  3. Combine pasta, 1/4 cup olives, sliced almonds, flat-leaf parsley leaves, black pepper, and garlic in a food processor; pulse 3 times or until coarsely chopped. With processor on, add 2 tablespoons water and 1 teaspoon vinegar through the food chute, processing until mixture is finely chopped.
  4. Combine pasta, the reserved liquid, and the olive mixture in a large bowl and toss well.  Sprinkle with extra cheese and serve immediately.

Recipe slightly adapted from:  Cooking Light

IMG_7884

IMG_7883

Greek Stuffed Tomatoes, SRC September

Greek Stuffed Tomatoes

So.. excuse me but I’m a little busy getting MARRIED RIGHT NOW! Like, not even kidding, as this is posting at midnight on 9/1, my wedding will be just wrapping up (and the after party will be starting of course). Isn’t that crazy?!  I SOMEHOW still found time this week to not only cook a fun recipe but to blog about it for you for the Secret Recipe Club!  Don’t worry, I’ll post pictures on facebook and instagram this coming week 🙂

For those of you who are new to the blog (shoutout to the new work friends!), The Secret Recipe Club is an awesome program I’m in where every month, I’m assigned a new blogger in the program.  I get to visit their site and check out some new recipes.  Then, I have to make one of their recipes and blog about it!  We all do the same thing and post on the same day.  It is awesome to try new things and read about everyone else’s experiences!

This month, I was assigned to check out Francesca’s blog, Della Cucina Povera.  She is amazing!  I could not decide what to make because all of her recipes sounded so yummy and also her photography is GORGEOUS.  Francesca has such an interesting background which I’m sure attributes to her creative recipes… she is an Italian-Iranian-American living in Amsterdam.  WOW.  I’m also super jealous of all of her travels!  Due to my serious decision making issues… I also tried her Carmelized Onions & Blue Cheese Pasta… holy cow it was so good!   I’m also making these Lamb Meatballs next… omg.

just AWESOME blue cheese pasta recipe.  So simple but so good.

just AWESOME caramelized onions & blue cheese pasta recipe. So simple but so good.

For now though, let me share with you these crazy good Greek Stuffed Tomatoes!

Greek Stuffed Tomatoes

Ingredients

4-6 Large Tomatoes

1 Tablespoon + 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 Large Onion, grated

bunch of Fresh Mint, chopped

1/2 cup Brown Jasmine or Basmati Rice (cook it ahead of time if you can!)

Salt & Pepper

a few Red Potatoes, chopped

1/2lb Ground Turkey (I would so use lamb but I didn’t have any!)

Directions:

1.  Rinse tomatoes and cut off the tops.  Using a spoon, take the insides out making sure not to scoop all the way to the skin.  Place the tomato pulp into a foodprocessor or blender and pulse.  Place hollowed-out tomatoes in a baking dish and surround with potatoes.

2.  Saute the grated onion in the first Tablespoon of EVOO.   Add the ground meat (whatever you use) and saute, chopping.  Continue until the meat is almost cooked through.  Add the tomato pulp, mint, and cooked rice to the pan.  Stir and cook for a few minutes until the meat is done. 

3.  Turn the oven on to 400 degrees.  Fill each tomato and replace the “lid”.  Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the tomatoes and add salt and pepper to the potatoes.

4.  Bake for about 45 min – 60 min, or until the “lids” start to brown.

Recipe from:  Della Cucina Povera, Greek Stuffed Tomatoes

Stuffin' ingredients ready to do work!

Stuffin’ ingredients ready to do work!

Tom's surrounded by Po's... not too bad!

Tom’s surrounded by Po’s… not too bad!

The crispy, crunchy, delicious finished product!

The crispy, crunchy, delicious finished product!

Even the potatoes were outrageous

Even the potatoes were outrageous

Crockpot Coconut Curry – SRC July

Crockpot Coconut Curry w/ Eggplant & Zucchini – for the SRC July

curry.jpg

I know that typically people whip out their good ol’ slow cookers in the dead of winter, but I am super happy I decided to try this out despite the fact that it’s (OMG… already?!?) July!  There’s absolutely something to be said about a recipe that takes zero effort to prepare and no time standing over a hot grill, oven, or stovetop.  And I just love having a “Meatless Monday” to start my week of right.

What I love so much about cooking -and blogging- is that I can find so many different recipes from different places.  This recipe happened because of a really awesome blogging club that I participate in, called The Secret Recipe Club.  Forget what my Secret Recipe Club is?  Every month, we are assigned a new blogger.  We get to pick ANY recipe that blogger has written about and cook it up ourselves.  We can make adjustments according to our tastes too.  All of the bloggers post their results on the same day and we all get to see who had who and more importantly, what delicious dishes were made!

Secret Recipe Club

This month, I was paired with the adorable vegetarian blogger, Amanda and her blog Dancing Veggies.  Despite being the opposite of a vegetarian, I totally fell in foodie-love with Amanda’s blog.  Her veggie dishes are super flavorful and complex, it was so hard to pick just one.  Amanda loves spicy food, like us, so this Crockpot Coconut Curry won out.  It was amazing!

Crockpot Coconut Curry – Eggplant & Zucchini

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Sweet Onion, large
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, seeded and quartered
  • 2 Thai Chilies, minced
  • 4 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 6oz can Tomato Paste
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) Light Coconut Milk
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Madras Curry Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Garam Marsala
  • 1lb Zucchini, cubed
  • 1lb Eggplant, cubed
  • 1/2 cup Fat Free Plain Greek Yogurt
  • Fresh Parsley, chopped

Directions:

  1. Place the onion, bell pepper, and thai chilies into a food processor.  Pulse until finely chopped.  Add garlic, tomato paste, coconut milk and spices and process until smooth. 
  2. Place the veggies and sauce into the slow cooker.  Cook on LOW for 4 hours.  Serve over rice with delicious naan bread.  Top with a dollop of yogurt and some fresh parsley if desired.

Recipe slightly adapted from:  Slow Cooker Coconut Curry

Ready to whirl!

Ready to whirl!

Sauce is complete and ready to go.

Sauce is complete and ready to go.

Veggies chopped... so good!

Veggies chopped… so good!

The finished product!  yummy vegetarian curry over brown basmati rice

The finished product! yummy vegetarian curry over brown basmati rice

Dave and I were just dying over this curry!  The veggies become completely melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and the curry sauce is thick and packed with spice and flavor.  I served the curry over some brown basmati rice from Trader Joe’s and skipped the Naan this time.  This healthy dish should definitely make it into your weeknight repertoire!  ENJOY, and don’t forget to check out the other posts written below by the fabulous bloggers in the SRC!

Miso Glazed Salmon

miso glazed salmon.jpg

BAM!  And just like that, I’m back for the second day in a row.

Was actually really shocked that I have not yet written a post for you about this salmon.  It’s like… my new favorite recipe.  I think I’ve made this three or four times so far- which is a lot for someone who rarely repeats one recipe twice.

This salmon recipe obviously uses Miso- which sounded a little intense for me at first… until I went to Whole Foods and bought a container of it and realized how silly it was for me to think that.  It’s kept in the refrigerated section and lasts forever.  Just go buy a container and leave it in your fridge for a great dressing recipe (such as this one… ) or to make the salmon again like I did.

Miso Glazed Salmon

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup packed Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Hot Water
  • 2 Tablespoons White Miso Paste
  • 4 (6-ounce) Salmon Fillets (about 1 inch thick) 
  • Cooking spray 
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped Fresh Chives

Preparation

  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Combine first 4 ingredients, stirring with a whisk. Arrange fish in a shallow baking dish coated with foil & cooking spray. Spoon miso mixture evenly over fish.
  3. Broil 8-10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, basting twice with miso mixture. Sprinkle with chives.

Recipe from:  Cooking Light, 2002

So so so so good.  For some reason, every single time I’ve baked salmon this way, it has been SUPER moist and so delicious.  Keep your eye on the salmon in the oven because you don’t want to dry it out.  It does not need that much time so don’t forget about it!

photo 1 (3)

I like to make 4 fillets so Dave and I can each eat one for dinner and eat one for lunch the following day over a salad.  YUM.  This time, I served the salmon with a small Baked Potato & Sauteed Spinach w/ Garlic & Grape Tomatoes.  You could serve this salmon with any green and it would be great with rice too!

What’s your favorite salmon recipe?  Try one of mine…

Maple-Teryiaki Salmon

Maple-Teryiaki Salmon

Basic Salmon Cakes/Burgers

Basic Salmon Cakes/Burgers

Wasabi Salmon

Wasabi Salmon

 

Lamb Chili

This week called for a crockpot meal.  I have been exhausted with everything going on right now, and HELLO… has anyone been outside in the last two months?!  This kind of miserable cold, snowy, icy, rainy weather practically begs for a nice hearty chili that smells up the whole house… mmmmmmmm.

Dave and I went to the market this weekend with Chili in mind.  Dave walked up to the meat area and turned around with something in his hand and a huge smile on his face.  “What if we make our chili… but with LAMB?!??”  I shrugged my shoulders and said “Why not?!”.  As we walked away with two pounds of Organic Ground Lamb, we couldn’t help but laugh that Dave’s comment was 100% something our friend Donny would say (or probably has said before).

Although there are probably some pretty awesome lamb chili recipes out there, we really were just in the mood for “our” chili, so we didn’t change the flavor too much, except we did add some extra cumin.  And as always (and as in most of the recipes I cook) you can change the ingredients and spices to fit your own preferences.  Do whatever you want… but I will tell you… this chili is bangin!

Lamb Chili

Ingredients:

10 Servings

2lb (2 pkg) Organic Ground Lamb (we found ours at Wegmans, but whole foods should have it)

1 medium Sweet Onion, diced

3 cloves Garlic, minced

4 large Carrots, peeled and sliced

1 Green Bell Pepper- diced

2 Fresh Jalapenos, diced- remove seeds to lower heat

1 can Dark Red Kidney Beans, drained

28oz Tomato Sauce (can)

2 cans Diced Tomatoes, undrained

1 can Stewed Tomatoes

¼ cup Dark (or light) Brown Sugar

1 packet Chili Spice (hot)

1 Tablespoon Cumin

1 Tablespoon Teriyaki Sauce

2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce

Extra Seasoning:  Garlic Powder, Cayenne Pepper, Ground Mustard, Chili Powder, Crushed Jalapeño Chili (whole foods carries it… omg. It’s like crushed red pepper but from jalapeños.  WOW)

Directions:

1.  Cook the lamb over medium-high heat in a large pan, chopping into small pieces.  When the lamb is cooked through- drain and place in the bowl of a crockpot, leaving about a Tablespoon of grease in the pan.  Cook the onion, garlic, carrots, and peppers for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are soft.  Add to the crock.

2.  Add the rest of the ingredients into the crock.  The extra seasonings are what I suggest to add, but you can really do whatever you’d like!  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  mmmm!

Do yourself a favor and serve with this cornbread.  So. Good.

photo 3

photo 4

 

 

Some of our other favorite crockpot meals…

Chickpea & Veggie Curry

Chickpea & Veggie Curry

Asian Beef

Asian Beef

Sweet & Sour Brisket

Sweet & Sour Brisket

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala