One Heck Of A Meal

If you are free, try to checkout this awesome fundraising bake sale! Cupcakes can reduce body temps! It's a fact;)

If you are free, try to check out this awesome fundraising bake sale! Cupcakes can reduce body temps! It’s a fact:)

 

How often do you cook dinner? I usually cook dinner 5 nights a week. That’s a lot of meals. As much as enjoy trying new recipes and making some up, I have those dishes that I always revisit throughout the year. As a kid, my mom’s favorite go-to meals were meatloaf, perch, spaghetti with jarred Ragu, and liver and onions. There was always a half-gallon of milk on the table, and it always had this orange plastic holder with a handle. Why? I’m not sure. Where did my Mom even get that thing? And where did it go?

My go-to meals are salmon (either seared or in cake form), big salads with a ton of stuff in it, good old pasta with a tomato sauce (and I admit, often it is Barilla), and some kind of grain salad, like wheat berry or Farro, with roasted veggies and chicken. But because I cook a lot of meals, I don’t want to get too repetitive, so I look everywhere for new ideas.

I made a meal the other night from an article in the San Diego Union Tribune (http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/Apr/08/Armenian-cookbook-vegan-eggplant-casserole/), and Franz claimed it is one of his favorites. It is so simple to make, it smells awesome, and it is delicious. This will be added to my “go-to” meals without a doubt. The creator of the recipe, Dikranouhi Kirazian, is a local San Diegan who just published Armenian Vegan: A Pure Vegan Cookbook with 200+Recipes Using No Animal Products. I might have come up with a sexier title, but if this recipe is a good example of the rest of her work, I will have to buy this one!

Eggplant Casserole (Any notes in parenthesis, highlighted and in italics are my notes or additions.)

Serves 2 to 4

2 large eggplants

Olive oil (for brushing eggplant)

Salt, pepper and garlic powder, to taste (or any herbs you prefer that can withstand being broiled)

For the sauce

2 medium onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped  (I added more because I love garlic.)

1⁄4 cup olive oil

2 cups sliced mushrooms (I added more because I love mushrooms.)

2 bay leaves

1⁄2 teaspoon oregano

1⁄2 teaspoon dried basil

15-ounce can diced tomatoes

8-ounce can tomato sauce (I had a 15 oz jar of tomato sauce from Trader Joe’s, so I added the whole thing. I like it a little saucy!)

Wash eggplant and cut into 1⁄2-inch-thick round slices. Place slices on a large tray, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder ( I had some Santa Maria seasoning that I wanted to use, so I sprinkled that on them.). Turn slices over and repeat on other side. Put under a broiler preheated to between 350 and 400 degrees (I put my oven to 425 degrees to achieve the necessary browning), and broil both sides until a light golden brown. When done, remove from oven and set aside.(I opted to slice each round in half after broiling. I figured it would be a little easier to eat.)

Prepare the sauce while eggplant is cooking: Chop onions and garlic and sauté for several minutes in small amount of olive oil; then add the rest of the olive oil, mushrooms and all other spices. Add diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, and stir frequently. Cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes, then turn off heat.

Prepare for baking: Pour several spoons of sauce on the bottom of an 11-by-7-inch or 9-by-9-inch casserole dish. Layer the bottom of casserole dish with eggplant slices. Spoon some of the sauce on this layer; then add new layers, spooning sauce over each. Be sure to keep some sauce to pour over top layer.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and bake casserole dish for 30 to 40 minutes. Serve hot, as a main dish with rice or any pasta, and with a crunchy baguette. Can also be served cold as an appetizer. (I served this with Barilla’s Linguine.)

Sorry there are no photos.  I didn’t take a picture because I didn’t realize how much I would love it, and the leftovers didn’t look very pretty.  However, if you go to the UT link noted in the beginning, there is a beautiful photo!

I couldn’t leave you without one image.  I found my childhood milk holder!

This is it!!!!

This is it!!!!

Take Care and Happy Eating!

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Bake Sale Success?

Another year, another great bake sale for the San Diego Food Bloggers. I participated last year, but I wasn’t there to see all of the action. This year I was able to watch it transpire. It was fun to see so many friends and random people filling grocery bags full of desserts. Awesome job!! I’m still waiting for the final amount raised for Share Our Strength‘s No Kid Hunger campaign.  However, the sale isn’t officially over.  You can still make a donation on-line.  If we raise the most money, Duncan Hines will donate an additional $10,000 to our total!  Atlanta has been winning this bake sale every year, and we, the San Diego Food Bloggers, would love to put an end to that streak!  If you can, please go to http://join.strength.org/goto/SDFBBakeSale2013 and make a donation. Thank you so much for all of your help!!!

This year I opted to make Chocolate-Banana Whoopie Pies. Choosing what to make is a daunting challenge. I wanted to make something that would appeal to the most people, and something that can be consumed on the spot or in a couple of hours. Chocolate is always a big hit, and once I saw a preliminary menu of what other bakers were planning to bring, I made the decision to make Whoopie Pies. Sadly, I’d never made them before. I looked over various recipes, and decided upon one from Good Housekeeping, February 2012.

Whoopie Pie 2013

Here’s the recipe (any changes are noted with **):

Chocolate-Banana Whoopie Pies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 6 Tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg

(** The recipe states to fill the sandwiches with marshmallow crème.  You could do that, but that didn’t sound exciting to me.  I found a recipe that I liked better which is below.  Also, I made another batch of these that I didn’t sell.  I added cinnamon to the batter, and I wish I had done that to the bake sale batches.  I love cinnamon!)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In medium bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.  From bananas, mash enough for 1/2 cup; finely chop remaining, and reserve.  (**I mashed 1 banana, and I chopped 1 to add to the filling.)  In another medium bowl, mix mashed banana, sour cream, and vanilla.
  3. In a large bowl, with mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until well combined.  Beat in egg until well blended, scraping bowl occasionally.  Reduce speed to low.  Add flour mixture alternately with sour cream mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat just until batter is smooth, scraping bowl occasionally. (**Don’t over mix! That’s probably the biggest mistake when baking.)
  4. Drop 1 rounded measuring teaspoon batter onto prepared sheets. Repeat with remaining batter, spacing 2 inches apart.  With wet fingertips, flatten tops of balls to form rounds. (**I tried making rounds with a 1/4 measuring cup, and I baked for about 10 minutes.  I got about 7.5 cookies (sandwiches) out of it.  They were really large, especially when you consider it is 2 cookies and filling.  It made my belly kind of hurt after eating one.  The next batch I used a tablespoon of batter, and I cooked them for about 8 minutes.  I was able to get 15 sandwiches out of the batter.  It was a much more reasonable size, and it is that size I sold at the bake sale.)

Banana Crème Filling

  • 1 cup solid vegetable shortening (**I used Spectrum Organic All Vegetable Shortening Non-hydrogenated.)
  • 1.5 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups marshmallow crème
  • 1.5 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 chopped banana
  1. Whip first 4 ingredients together.  Fold chopped banana into filling. Fill sandwiches with as little or as much as you like, or just eat by the spoonful.  It’s all good.  I preferred the pies after they had been refrigerated.  In general, I would suggest to keep the pies refrigerated.

Whoopie Pie 2013(2)

On another note, it was my brother’s birthday on Monday.  Brian turned 50 on Monday.  A HUGE “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!’ goes out to him.  Even though a few miles are between us, I’m thinking of you!!  I hope this is a great year for you, Brian.  The photo below is from my dad’s 80th birthday last year.  I picked the photo below for 2 reasons: 1) Brian was looking quite dapper and 2) for all of the special people present in the photo.  The best birthday wish is to be surrounded by people you love.

Family

Take Care and Happy Eating (and Please Consider Making a Donation)!

Fabulous Fridays!

Happy Friday! I’ve decided to dedicate Fridays to a particular thing (food related, of course) that I have just loved throughout the week.  I feel like Oprah!  Unfortunately I will not be giving away my favorite things to my readers.  I wish.  Sorry.

Winfrey on the first national broadcast of The...

My favorite and fabulous thing this week is: Cooking Light Magazine!  You get a subscription!! And you get a subscription!!!!!! And you – wait.  I’m not Oprah.  Again, I apologize.

Cooking Light

Cooking Light (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After Thanksgiving, Franz and I were still craving something sweet.  I know, I know.  We had left over pumpkin pie and a cranberry/rhubarb cobbler, so we should have stopped at that.  We couldn’t let the craving go.  I had the latest copy of Cooking Light staring at me. Sir even used it as a head rest. I usually cook dinner Monday through Thursday.  And of those dinners, about 80% or more come from Cooking Light.  I even own The Annual Recipes 2009 and 2010 Cookbooks.  The recipes are almost always tasty and relatively healthy.  Occasionally I may tweak a recipe, but it usually isn’t necessary.

CL and Sir

The November cover photo is a slice of Baked Chocolate Mousse Cake.  I ran to Trader Joe’s to purchase 2 items I needed to make this devilish dessert: instant coffee and some whipped topping (Cooking light suggested a reduced-calorie whipped topping, but I opted for regular.).  I had everything else on hand.  Word of advice: always have ingredients on hand to make at least a simple cake or a batch of cookies.  It’s the only way to live.

Once again, CL did me proud!  It was easy to make, and it was delicious!  Here’s the recipe . . .

Baked Chocolate Mousse from Cooking Light

Baked Chocolate Mousse from Cooking Light

Baked Chocolate Mousse Cooking Light, November 2012

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup Dutch process cocoa

1 teaspoon instant espresso granules

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

1 tablespoon brandy (**I used Apricot Brandy.  Only kind I had on hand.)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2 large egg whites

1/3 cup sugar

Dash of salt

1 1/2 cups frozen reduced-calorie whipped topping, thawed

Baking spray with flour (such as Baker’s Joy) (**I used butter and flour since I didn’t have the specified spray.)

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Bring 1/2 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add cocoa and espresso, stirring until smooth. Remove pan from heat. Add chocolates; gently stir until mixture is smooth. Stir in brandy and vanilla. Pour chocolate mixture into a large bowl. Let stand 10 minutes; stir occasionally. (**I didn’t stir occasionally and it was fine.)

3. Combine eggs, egg whites, sugar, and salt in the top of a double boiler, stirring with a whisk. Cook over simmering water until a thermometer reaches 115° (about 2 minutes), stirring constantly with a whisk. Place egg mixture in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until ribbony, soft peaks form (about 5 minutes). (**It took my egg mixture about 4 minutes to reach 115 degrees.  To attain the ribbony, soft peaks, it took about 7 minutes.)

4. Gently stir one-third of egg mixture into chocolate mixture; gently fold in remaining egg mixture. Gently fold in whipped topping. Spoon batter into an 8-inch springform pan coated with baking spray, spreading evenly. Bake at 350° for 27 minutes or until almost set (center will not be firm but will set as it chills). Cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Cover and chill at least 8 hours or overnight. (**I buttered and dusted with flour a 9-inch spring form pan.  In my pan, it took about 21-22 minutes for it to cook.  Franz couldn’t wait the recommended chill time.  We cut into it after it was in the refrigerator for about 4 hours. It was fine.  But it was even better the next night!)

OR USE WHIPPED CREAM: If you substitute an equal amount of whipped cream for the whipped topping, you’ll add 62 calories, 6.7g fat, and 4.2g sat fat to each serving. You will also need to bake the mousse about 5 minutes longer.

Take Care and Happy Eating! (And have a fabulous weekend!!)