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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Stuffed Eggplant (Eggplant Sopa)

This recipe comes from my parents experimenting with different recipes when they were my age. I like it because it's basically a big vegetable, it tastes really good, and its a crowd pleaser (right amber?). I made this for 2, but you can expand to make it for more.

3 big eggplants
1/3 pack of bacon with as much fat cut off as possible, cut into pieces (or ham if you prefer)
1/2 onion minced
swiss cheese
salt/pepper to taste
Eggplant volume reduces once cooked, so for 2 people, I needed 3 eggplants. Always get 1 or 2 more eggplants than you need.
1. Sautee bacon and onions together. Don't add any oil or butter. The bacon has enough of that.
2. cut eggplants lengthwise so one side is bigger than the other

3. cut criss crossed squares into the big half to be able to easily scoop out eggplants in square chunks . If it gets a little brown, its ok. It just oxidizing.

4. scoop out all the eggplant (from the smaller halves too) and throw into the pan (but keep the eggplant shells)
5. cook on medium heat until tender (15 minutes?). It cooks faster if you cover, but make sure you stir so it doesn't burn. Salt/pepper to taste. If you use bacon, you don't really need salt. During this step, preheat your oven to 400 F.
6. Scoop your "sopa" back into your eggplant shells, sprinkle swiss on top, and put in the oven for around 15 minutes or until your cheese starts bubbling.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Chicken Roll Ups

This is the same recipe as the Cheese and Pepper Stuffed Chicken... with a slightly different application. (I had to make it for Russ, so I wanted to share my revision :))

4 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 jar roasted red peppers, chop and drain
Herb cheese spread (I used Laughing Cow Light Herb and Garlic Spread)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 eggs (not shown)
2/3 dry bread crumbs

1. Heat oven to 375°. Line 13x9x2-inch baking dish with aluminum foil. Coat with nonstick spray.
2. Pound out the chicken so that it is as flat as possible (Turkey cutlets would work well for this too)
3. Spread the herb cheese on top of each chicken. Then spread the roasted red peppers on the herb cheese.
4. Roll each chicken up as tight as possible from one end and secure with multiple tooth picks.
5. On wax paper, combine flour, salt, black pepper. Beat eggs lightly on a pie plate (or similar). Dip chicken into flour mixture, dip in egg, coat with bread crumbs. Place in baking dish. Coat chicken tops with nonstick cooking spray.
6. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes.
7. Remove chicken and slice shortways. (Beware of toothpicks)

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Papa's Indian Lentils

This is something I grew up eating. I was blessed with 2 parents that each cook extraordinarily from 2 different cultures. Lucky me!
This seems like a lot of effort, but it really isn't! If your spice rack is full, you probably have most of these ingredients on hand. I always keep a piece of ginger root in my freezer too. As well as being a crowd pleaser, its cheap (if you already have the spices) because a bag of lentils is usually around $1, and this makes 6 hearty servings that are heart healthy, and have plenty of protien.


2- cups Green Moong beans (I used yellow split peas.. you can use any lentil)
½ inch Fresh Ginger (use a cheese grater and grate 1/2 inch off your root directly over pot)
2 teaspoons Cumin seeds
2 teaspoons Mustard seeds
2 – 3 tablespoons EVOO
1 teaspoon or more Chili powder
1 teaspoon Turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground Cinammon
1 cup Natural Yogurt (you can use non fat)
5 cloves minced Garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons Salt or to taste
2 Limes cut into pieces
Hot pepper flakes if you like it spicy
Green onions and Cilantro to garnish
1 1/4 cup BASMATI rice, cooked ( I don't ever use any other rice)

1. Soak the lentils overnight in 6 cups of water (I always skip this step because I'm lazy and I haven't found it useful)
2. Drain/rinse lentils. Place them in a slow cooker (crock pot) add 6 cups of water or half the pot. Set the cooking temperature to low and let it cook all day or 8 hours.
Cook your split peas or lentils in 6 cups water on stove bringing to a boil and then simmering on low heat until tender (about 20 minutes)
3. Add yogurt, ginger, salt and stir it thoroughly.
4. In a separate small pan high heat oil and add cumin and mustard seeds and wait until it crackles. You know when the oil is hot enough if you throw 1 cumin seed and it cracks. This is the tricky step, because if the oil is too hot, your mustard seeds will start popping like popcorn, so wear an apron, or have a lid for a shield.. and tell your kids to leave the kitchen.
5. Add garlic, chili powder, cinammon, and turmeric, wait for 30 seconds on high heat and then pour everything on lentils.
6. Stir it thoroughly, serve over rice, garnish with green onions, cilantro and lime.

Eric likes his on a plate. I like mine in a bowl.. kind of like chili =)

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Greek Stuffed Peppers

This is really fun to make. It is Giada's Greek Stuffed Peppers recipe. It is timely, so make sure to give yourself at least a couple hours to work on this... or else you will be eating at 10:30pm (i learned the hard way). You can prep the stuffing the night before if necessary too!

1 (28 oz) can of Italian tomatoes (Giada likes to break up canned tomatoes with fork and knife. I just used diced tomatoes.)
2 zucchinis grated (with cheese grater) (funny story... i swear to God that i bought zucchinis in the zucchini section, but when i got home- they were actually cucumbers. I had 1 zucchini on hand, so i used 1 zucchini and 1 cucumber (grated both). I think it was actually a very refreshing summer twist to this recipe.)
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves Giada says that mint leaves to the Greek are like basil leaves to the Italians. That said, Basil would be a great substitution. I, however, only had Cilantro... so I used that. I thought it would add to my Summer Bell Pepper Twist.
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano (Parmesan would be a good substitution if need be.)
1/4 cup EVOO
3 garlic cloves minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
4 cups chicken broth
(or vege broth for vegetarians)
1 1/2 cup Orzo (I had only 1 cup Orzo, so i combined that with 1 cup Rice Pilaf, which was a great combination) You can use Cous Cous too! (I am the substitution queen)
6 bell peppers

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (please do this now - or else after the 1hr+ preparation, you will have to wait for the oven to heat)

2.Pour the tomatoes into a large bowl. Add the zucchini (and cucumber), mint (cilantro), cheese, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.

3.Meanwhile, bring the chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. (2 separate pans of broth if you are combining two+ rice/pasta) Add the orzo and cook for 4 minutes. (I also half cooked the rice pilaf in a separate pan for about 9 minutes). The orzo (and rice) should be only partially cooked. Use a fine mesh sieve to transfer the orzo (and rice) to the large bowl with the other vegetables (leaving the leftover broth in the pot). Stir the orzo (and rice) into the vegetable mix to combine. Transfer the warm chicken broth to a 3-quart baking dish.

4. Slice the tops off the peppers and remove all ribs and seeds. Cut a Very thin slice from the base to help the peppers stand up.

5.Place the peppers in the baking dish with the warm chicken broth. Spoon the orzo mixture into the peppers. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle the top of each pepper with cheese and continue baking until the cheese is golden, about 15 minutes.

**The remaining orzo mixture that goes un-used is awesome for lunch the next day!! The peppers themselves also make for good leftovers.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Stuffed Tomatoes (Tomates Farcies)

Want to WOW some company?
This is something I learned to make while I lived in France. My aunt sent me a postcard recently with this dish on it, and I drooled on it, so I decided to adapt my recipe to American ingredients. I will probaby change it 3 or 4 times before it becomes a staple, though. It's not the same, but I was quite happy with the results. So happy, in fact, that I completely forgot to take a cooked picture.
Serves around 6
5 mild Italian Sausages, skinned and made into balls
(I'm going to expirement with seasoned ground turkey and pork in the future)
4-6 Cored Tomatoes (I use a zucchini too)
1 Onion
Parmesan or Swiss to top (or both)
That's it?
Use a sharp knife to cut lengthwise along the sausages to be able to remove the skin.
When you core the tomatoes, keep the insides! Just throw them into the oven dish.. it makes it juicy.
Stuff the tomatoes (or Zucchini, or Bell Pepper...)
Cut an onion into pieces and lay randomly in the dish
If your tomatoes aren't very juicy, add a dash of water to the oven dish
Put into oven at 400 F for 1 hour
Top with shredded cheese and serve with white rice and cooking juice on top or home fries!

Voila, now you're a French cook!

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Linguine al Vongole (White clam sauce)

I couldn't wait a whole week to post another recipe... sorry!
I started making this when i realized how easy it is, and it's what I ordered when I ate at an Italian restaurant anyway, so why not make it at home! Of course, I always add things and change things around to make it mine.

Serves 4-6
2 6.5 oz cans chopped clams in juice
3 cloves minced garlic
1 handful of baby shrimp (not pictured)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup pasta water
fresh ground pepper
grated parmesan cheese

The longest part of this recipe is cooking the linguine. So put that on first and do the rest while its cooking.

Cook garlic in oil until tender.
Add shrimp, basil, parsley, and some pepper
open the cans of clams and separate the juice
add the juice and let simmer 5 minutes
Add clams and heat thoroughly.
Pour in the 1/2 cup of pasta water for creaminess
I have a habit of putting heavy whipping cream into everything just to make it creamier, so go ahead and pour a little in, too.

Serve over hot linguine with parmesan and fresh ground pepper


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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Homie Fries :)

The little homies can help with this too! :)
Look at that stirring hand, she is Giada in the making!

4-6 potatoes
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. paprika (I also used Rosemary)

(You can really just make these with whatever spices you want! :)
Sometimes i use parm cheese too! )

Leave skin on potatoes, scrub. Cut potatoes lengthwise into 1/2 inch strips. In small bowl combine other ingredients. Toss potatoes in seasoned oil. Place in foil lined baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes or until tender, turning once during baking time or wrap seasoned potatoes in foil and seal edges. Grill on indirect heat. Turn packet once. Grill until tender about 20 minutes. 4-6 servings.

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Pepper and Cheese Stuffed Chicken

This recipe is really quick and easy, and the best part... Yummie!!
It would go great with a pasta dish; however, I was feeling the HomieFries!

4 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 jar roasted red peppers, chop and drain
Herb cheese spread (I used Laughing Cow Light Herb and Garlic Spread
1/2 cup all purpose flour
tsp black pepper
2 eggs
dry bread crumbs

1. Heat oven to 375°. Line 13x9x2-inch baking dish with aluminum foil. Coat with nonstick spray.

2. Insert sharp knife into thickest side of chicken breast and cut a pocket into the chicken lengthwise.

3. Divide roasted red peppers into 4 portions; spoon one portion into each pocket. Spread 1 tbls herb cheese on top of the roasted red peppers in each pocket. NOTE: You are really supposed to seal the chicken opening back together and secure with toothpicks, but i did not have toothpicks so i just left it open. (it probably would have looked better closed-nobody wants to see Chicken inards!)

4. On wax paper, combine flour, salt, black pepper. Beat eggs lightly on a pie plate (or similar). Dip chicken into flour mixture, dip in egg, coat with bread crumbs. Place in baking dish. Coat chicken tops with nonstick cooking spray.

5. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes. Serve with noodles, garnish with parsley.

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Monday, June 8, 2009

Home Made Traditional Lasagna

This recipe is the "French" way of making home made Lasagna... and it comes out excellent every time. It's actually my husband's recipe, I usually just cut the onion for him and then watch him do the rest.
hmm maybe that's why I like it so much

Serves 4-5


-1 onion, chopped
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 can crushed tomatoes (800g)
-1 Tbsp EVOO
-1 punch oregano (that's punch, not pinch)
-1 lb ground beef (I like the lean 93/7)
-Lasagna noodles (I like the flat ones by Barilla)
-Shredded Swiss/Parmesan
-approx 2 cups Bechamel (no you can't buy it, you have to make it)
*1/2 cup all purpose flour
*3 large Tbsp butter
*2 cups milk
-Salt/Pepper to taste


In a big pot (oh where has my english gone?) sautee the onion and garlic in the EVOO, then add the crushed tomatoes, salt/pepper, and oregano and let simmer while you do the rest.

In a separate fying pan, cook the ground beef. You don't really need to add any oil, it will cook in its juices. Then add to the sauce and keep it simmering.

To make the Bechamel:
In a separate sauce pan, melt the butter on medium heat and wisk in the flour.
Take off heat, and pour in the milk, a little bit at a time while wisking.
Once all the milk is in, put back on heat and wisk until it thickens a bit. It should not be watery, but it should not be as thick as mashed potatoes. It should be like a thick sauce. Watch it, though, because you don't want it to burn. Once it is at its desired thickness, take it off the heat. Some people add a dash of nutmeg.

Preheat oven to 375 F

We layer in this order, and only this order in an 8 1/2" by 11 1/2" baking dish.
Lasagna Noodles
Tomato Sauce
Shredded Swiss
and Repeat
The last layer, we put shredded parmesan so it gets nice and crispy.

Put in oven for 40-45 minutes

Let cool down! Do this, or you will burn the inside of your mouth, and that hurts!
Serve with a side salad, or just stuff your face!
Attn certain people: this is very good as a leftover too! Don't be afraid of leftovers!

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