Monday, August 3, 2015

Eggplant Parmesan sandwiches with tomato, olive, mushroom paste.

Forgive me, foodies, for I have sinned. It's been a while since my last post...

I've been pinching pennies like mad lately. This recipe comes from partially internet scavenged recipes and stuff I figured out whilst digging in the sad back corners of the pantry.

I picked up some eggplant when it was on sale $1 each. The tomato paste was 89 cents, the mushrooms cost another $1, as did the can of pitted black olives. Pick your own sliced cheese, I've tried both sharp cheddar and provolone and prefer the cheddar. Do what grooves you. If'n you dig mozzarella or pepper jack, go ahead. The rest of the ingredients are all things that I keep on hand.

I made this with the specific intent of freezing it and was able to get three meals and a lunch for 3 people. Only two of the meals had the sauce, but that's the way it goes sometimes. Personally, I prefer to keep the skin on my veg. The skins on the eggplant did NOT freeze well, so bye bye skins.

"Special sauce"

1 can Tomato paste with Basil and Oregano
1 c white mushrooms
1 can pitted black olives

Chop the olives and mushrooms in your handy dandy food chopper until they are minced finely but not ground into a paste. Mix with the tomato paste. Add a sprinkle of italian herbs and 1tsp sugar to cut the acid. Cook on low/medium until the paste goes from red to brownish. Stir and remove from heat.

Eggplant Parmesan

2 medium/large eggplant
2 eggs
2.5 cups breadcrumbs
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Adobo criollo
Olive oil

Skin and slice the eggplant into 1/4" to 1/2" thick rounds. Try not to go thicker than 1/2". Beat the eggs. Mix dry ingredients.

Put some olive oil in a non stick pan and let it get good and hot.
Dip eggplant in egg, dredge in the breadcrumb mixture, fry in the lightly oiled pan until it's a lovely deep golden brown and flip em to get the other side. Place on a plate to let them rest. Keep going until you're done with all the eggplant.If you notice the pan getting dry, hit it with another drizzle of oil and keep rocking and rolling.

Two slices per person, bag tag and chuck em in the freezer - except what you'll be eating tonight and maybe lunch tomorrow. Divide the sauce in half and freeze that for later.


Lightly spread butter on sliced bread, add italian herbs and garlic powder. Toast em in the oven until nice and crisp. Spread special sauce on top, add a round of the eggplant, add slice of cheese, spread with more special sauce, top with a light sprinkle of parmesan. You can toss it back in the oven for a couple of minutes to get the cheese nice and melty if'n you want to. The eggplant should still be warm enough to melt the cheese. Yummy, open faced, veggie wonderfulness!


Once the eggplant is defrosted, you can refry the rounds on a hot non stick pan. You won't need to oil the pan this time. Once that is complete, assemble as you would normally.

Ok, but now I'm out of that tomato stuff...

You can always make more, Grasshopper. Or you can make some veg pasta and toss a can of sauce on it, throw the refried rounds on top with cheese and herbs, bake it and grub out on the normal version.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Creamy crazy cock a leekie soup

Cock a leekie is a traditional Scottish soup of leeks and chicken. Winter is coming. That's soup time over here. I'm dusting off some fridge cleaning soup recipes. This is one of my favourites to do after I've made Chicken Soup because I usually have a few leeks left over. This is not a THE traditional way to do the soup. I do most of this in the crock pot, but you can do it stovetop.

Let's get into trouble!

2 lg Boxes Reduced Sodium Chicken Stock
3 Reduced Sodium Telma Chicken Consumme Cubes
1 med Red Onion - Minced
1 Tbsp Worchestershire Sauce
2 large Leeks - Diced
1 stalk Celery - Minced
2 sm Yellow Squash - Diced
1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning Blend

Toss into the crock, put it on low and come back in 5- 8 hours.

1.5# Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
2 Tbsp Ceasar Dressing
1 Tbsp Honey
1 tsp Lemon Pepper Seasoning

Trim Chicken breast. Place foil on a cookie sheet or baking pan. Place chicken on foil and cover with Dressing, honey and lemon pepper. Close foil to keep the juices inside. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, use a stick blender to puree the soup in the crock pot.

When the chicken is finished, let it rest for 5 minutes before dicing. Pour the juice from the cooked
chicken that is reserved nicely in your foil packet into the soup and give it a bit of the stick.

Toss the diced chicken in a bowl with 2 Tbsp of cornstarch before putting them into the soup. Stir. The cornstarch will thicken the soup slightly. Turn off the crock pot. Serve.

If you want to get super crazy with the creamy aspect, before you add the chicken - throw in half a bar of reduced fat cream cheese and blend that sucker good with your immersion blender stick.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Nothing on tv? Time to whip out some YouTube channels!

When we cut the cable and started streaming, it took a little while to get into a good swing. Currently, I find that television programs worth watching are becoming more and more rare. Worse, the really good ones are getting cancelled or have fewer episodes than the cake-for-the-masses horrific pablum clogging our airwaves. 

Between seasons, I go on a hunt of YouTube for stuff to watch usually while I'm folding laundry, mopping or cooking. Must keep the brain active, so I won't go full tilt Stepford Betty Crocker.

Before I start with the list of my favorite super nifty You Tube Channels to check out, ask yourself 3 questions.
1. Do I know the difference between Star Wars & Star Trek?
2. Do I know the proper name of 6 different named weapons from books or film?
3. Can I name 10 different fictional alien species?
bonus question : Hodor?

If you could answer all three questions, come take a look at the list. If not... um, how did you find this page, anyhow? The answer to the bonus question is Hodor. (But, I'm sure you knew that already...)

Click on the name of the channel to go to the channel. (See, I made it easy!)

I like movie reviews and news about upcoming releases. That lead me to these sites:

Gamer news, movie news, geekity fun good times. Their daily Nerdist News is worth a gander.

The same kind of stuff as with Nerdist, but with more manliness. Or 12 year old boy humor. Whatever you wanna call it...

Black Nerd Comedy
Hands down my favorite movie reviewer. Love this dude, so so much. Unapologetically goofy.

Screen Junkies
These are the guys that do "Honest Movie Trailers". Fun stuff!

Geek & Sundry
Their low budget program The Guild is what brought me over. It's a fun show for anyone who has played or knows people who do play online RPG games like WoW. I'm a Wil Wheaton fan, too. He does a show called Tabletop where he and his buddies play tabletop games like Munchkin or Settlers of Catan. It's nice to see different games being played - lets me know which ones to put on the list to buy or the list to avoid. 

Emergency Awesome
This dude is a supernerd. He seems happily obsessed with all the minutiae of certain tv shows and movies. And guy is serious about it. Seriously. He does breakdowns of Game of Thrones, Doctor Who, Marvel & DC anything and Walking Dead. Plus other shows as well. He digs out the literature and 'splains to all us lazy bastards who don't read the pulp. It's kind of like Vlog form Nerdy Cliff Notes. Respect and thanks!

He's top dog on YouTube atm and I do enjoy some of his videos. Watching his playthrough of Deadpool is what sold me on the game. TBH, I only eyeball about 1 out of 8 episodes that he posts.  Are you a bro, yet? Tee hee.

And then there's Music....

Epic Rap Battles. Some rock, some suck but they're all pretty darned creative. If you haven't heard of these folks yet, climb out from under your rock, man.

Oh the musicality. Oh the nerdy joy. While not every one is a hit, the orchestration and lyric work is fricking a-ma-zing. Luna found them because of their Doctor Who musical numbers.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Tempura Batter for Meat or Veg

I try to keep from deep frying anything. Yeah, I live in the South. I'm sure this fried food avoidance puts me on some kind of old school cookery hit list. :) Maybe I'll fry something once a week, usually it's more like once a month.

A single recipe of this is supposed to coat 4 cups of Veg or 1 pound of meat. I'll probably have to double it for what I'm testing tonight. I used an amber lager rather than water for my test batch and was singularly unimpressed.

This batter comes out like Chinese Takeaway Sweet & Sour Chicken/Pork. Kind of bready, kind of crunchy and ready to sop up whatever delicious sauce you've got ready on the side.

Tempura Batter

3/4c Cornstarch
1/4 c Flour (I'll prolly use Whole Wheat)
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Adobo (Spanish Garlic Salt with herbs)
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1 slightly beaten egg
1 c Very Cold Water

Mix the dry ingredients together. Take 1/4c out and put in a separate dredge bowl.
Add the wet to the larger amount of dry and beat it well. The batter should be a little thick like waffle batter. A bit thicker than pancake batter but nowhere near as thick as brownie mix. If you need to add a bit more water, don't be scared - just mix it on in there.

Get your oil ready to fry. I prefer to use peanut oil, but I'm broooOooke right now so we're using canola. I'll edit this later with a temperature, but for now - the oil should spit if you throw a couple of drops of water into it. 

Dredge your whatever into the dry mix, shake it off and dip it into the liquid batter. To avoid club hand - use one hand for dredging and the other for dipping. The liquid batter will run off your item. That's ok, just try to keep it in the bowl, Beavis.  You will have some batter that drips into your oil. Yay, crunchies!

Fry your goody until it's a nice golden brown, flip it when you think it's ready. When it's finished, place it on paper towels or a handy brown bag to drain off the excess oil.

Keep the meat chunks to the small side, you want them to cook all the way through without burning the crap out of your batter. Chicken chunks are 1/2" cubes or fingers, Zucchini is 1/4" or 1/2" strips, Fish is 1/4th of a filet. Use your common sense. If you don't have any on hand, maybe you shouldn't be frying stuff anyway...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Pita Summer

The summers here in Florida are beastly hot. I'm not the one to be sweating my na-na's off cooking hot food from after June till about October. This summer, I'm leaning towards flatbread sammies and pitas. Stuff as much veg as you can into a flat breadish food holder, add meat + cheese and top with some handy variant of Ken's Salad Dressing. (The Buttermilk Ranch and Sweet Vidalia Onion are our favourites!)

Whole Wheat Pita Recipe
1 packet Yeast
2/3cup Warm Water
1 Tbsp Molasses or Honey

Mix the molasses, water and yeast in a bowl and let it proof for 10 minutes or so.

2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup White Flour
1 Tbsp Vital Wheat Gluten
1 tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Mix dry ingredients together and add to the foamy yeast. Drizzle olive oil on top and let the mixer do it's job. Once the dough is holding together nicely, turn it onto a floured board and knead until you have a smooth, elastic, happy dough ball. Put it in a greased bowl, covered with a damp towel in a warm room. Let the dough rise for about an hour, till it's doubled. Cut into 6 chunks and hand roll them into balls. Put those on a cookie sheet, covered with wet paper towels until you're ready to roll them into discs.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Roll out the dough balls one at a time to a thickness of between 1/4 and 1/8 inch on a lightly floured board. You don't want the dough to stick to your pin or board, but you don't want them all sandy and floury either. Just a touch of moderation, Grasshopper.

My discs end up about the length of my hand, maybe a little shy of it.

See how many you can fit on one cookie sheet. I'm working with a toaster oven, so I can only do em one at a time. Bake disks for 2-3 minutes. The high heat will steam the dough as it cooks and create the big bubble that becomes your pita pocket when you slice em in half. If you have rolled the dough too thin, they won't inflate properly. See? Nice and puffy!

When you have finished baking your pitas, cover with a damp towel for about 5 minutes, letting them rest.

Slice, stuff and Nom!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Johnnybread, Johnnycakes & Johnnywaffles, oh my!

Coming from the south, my parents taught me all sorts of odd recipes that aren't common yankee fare. Dad loved his johnnycakes. Just simple Jiffy cornbread mix pancakes cooked on the griddle. Johnnybread is the same as Johnnycakes, regional differences cause the name change, I suppose.

A Johnnywaffle is what you get when your stove AND oven are broken or gone, but you do have a waffle iron. :)  Truth enough, I prefer the waffle variant to the cake one. Those little squares hold gravy and/or butter mighty nice!

Just make your standard cornbread recipe or use good ol' Jiffy mix and add a little extra milk to it. You don't want it quite as thin as pancake batter but thinner than the cornbread batter.

Cook em like you cook your standard pancakes or waffles and enjoy!

Make em Gluten free if that's what works for you.
Add chopped onions, jalapenos or kernel corn to make em funky.
Cheese tends to overcook and may be hard to get off your waffle iron or griddle... go ahead if you want to, you were warned. :)

Another Banana Bread Recipe

Banana bread. We've all got a recipe somewhere for it. Everybody swears theirs is moist and wonderful...blah, banana, blah blah. Here's mine to throw into the ring. Special points : no oil plus whole wheat flour, flax and honey peanut butter.

It go like this here it go:

Banana Bread with Peanut Butter

3-4 Elderly Bananas
3/4 c Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Molasses
1/2 c Honey Peanut Butter
1/4 tsp Salt
1.5 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 c Ground Flax Seed
2/3 c White Flour
1 c Whole Wheat Flour
1 tsp Almond or Walnut Extract

Mash bananas, add sugar & mix. Beat 2 eggs & mix them in as well. Add salt, baking soda, molasses and flax beating after each addition. Add flour and stir until it's well combined. Not too much, but do get the floury lumps out.

Spray grease loaf pan then pour batter in. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour or so. Check with a toothpick - nothing is worse than half baked gloppy banana bread. Let it rest 10-15 mins then turn it out onto a plate.

A loaf rarely makes it past three days over here. Hehehe.

Note: Why no vanilla? Cheap vanilla might contain the juice of a beaver butt gland. I'll be making my own vanilla here in the not so distant future - without the butt goo.
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