Lighter Eggplant Parmesan
Menu Anxiety. Not sure what that means? Allow me to describe what it means to live with menu anxiety. 😅 It means ALWAYS googling a restaurant menu, prior to arriving at any eating establishment. (This includes Waffle House. 😂) Downloading restaurant menu pdf's so that you can study it's contents. And if you've ever poured over menu options until you're completely confident that you've selected the perfect meal - you might just have menu anxiety too. 🤣
Living with menu anxiety means always doing my menu homework and preselecting my meal. 🤦🏻♀️ And even though I walk into a restaurant fully prepared and with all the confidence of an olympic athlete headed to the starting line, I rarely end up ordering what I had planned. 😅 Let's just say I'm a sucker for a great daily special. I mean, can I really turn down a crab topped grouper with remoulade sauce? 🐟
So, why do I continue to scrutinize restaurant menus even though I know that I will probably not end up eating the meal that I choose in advance? 🤷🏻♀️ Your guess is as good as mine. Chalk it up to menu anxiety. 😅 Part of my anxiety stems from the fact that I'm nervous that I'm going to order the wrong thing. And by "wrong" I mean, something that I could make for myself - even better - at home. I'm not trying to say that I'm some sort of super chef but I know what I like to eat and I have a more experience cooking for myself than anyone else. 🤣
Eggplant parmesan is one of the meals that I LOVE but I almost never order at a restaurant. Traditionally eggplant in eggplant parmesan is breaded and fried and and smothered in cheese and sauce before baking. There's nothing inherently wrong with that process other than the fact that it comes with a heaping side dish of guilt because of the sky-high calorie count. My homemade eggplant parmesan is just as flavorful and delicious... and it's guilt free. 🙌🏻
Lighter Eggplant Parmesan
2 pounds eggplant, slices 1/4" thick
8 slices white bread, torn into quarters
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup flour
6 Tablespoons oil
3 (14.5) ounce cans diced tomatoes
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
Bake 15 minutes at 425.
There's no question that making eggplant parmesan is a labor of love. It does take a commitment of time and let's just say - this is NOT a one pot meal. BUT - if you've ever tasted great eggplant parmesan - you know that it's totally worth the effort.
I knew that this day was coming. It was inevitable and yet, I was still somehow surprised that it happened. I'm a girl who takes no prescription medication. Zip - zero - nada - not even vitamins. And a few days ago, I got handed my first daily prescription 😬 --- and it was toothpaste!! 🦷 🤣
A week ago, I never even knew that prescription toothpaste existed. 🤷🏻♀️ What kind of world to we live in that marajuana is legal in many places and fluoride rich toothpaste is a controlled substance? 😅 As crazy as it sounds - I am now a prescription toothpaste user. Do you think I need to list toothpaste on the my medical records that ask what prescriptions I take? 😂
Two trips to the dentist in one week is too much. I mean, I like my dentist a lot but, I don't still don't want to hang out in his chair any more than once every 6 months. 😬 So after a few hours too many at the dentist - I am the proud owner of a shiny new filling and a tube of prescription toothpaste. Not bad really, considering my past dental experiences. #implantlife 😅
That was way too much detail about my dental health so I will move onto a much more appetizing subject - french omelets. (Which are very soft, and perfect for anyone with new filling. Okay - I'm done now.😁 ) These rolled omelets are easier than you might think AND they're crazy good. I filled mine very simply but you can certainly dress them up with your favorite meats and veggies to make them even more decadent.
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons shredded gruyere cheese
4 teaspoons chives, minced
Roll into a tight cylinder.
Now I need your favorite omelet filling ideas. Meats, cheeses, veggies, spices ... how do you fill your eggs? Inquiring minds want to know.
He can't handle the heat! 🌶 😂 I like spicy chicken tacos, seafood fra diavola and spicy black bean burgers - anything with just a hint of spice. Plot twist - my better half doesn't share my affection for "well seasoned" dishes. 😂 I've actually sat across the table from him and witnessed as his nose started to run and beads of sweat formed on his forehead while he consumed an overly "peppery" slice of pizza. 🥵
Arguably, one of the most important skills that I've acquired over the last 30 years as the wife of a heat-sensitive eater is how to "de-spice" any dish. 😅 I don't want to toot my own horn but I'm pretty much an expert at removing every last spicy rib and seed from a jalapeno in an attempt to render them more mild. 🌶🤣 I've also mastered the art of pepper replacement. FYI: Cubanelles, poblanos and bell peppers make great substitutes for cayenne and habaneros.
Some like it hot... but some do not. 😬 The great thing about making meals at home is that you can customize them to your own level of spiciness. Turn up the heat on these Chicken Enchiladas with extra peppers or a dash of hot sauce or make them more mellow by substituting bell pepper for the jalapeño or leaving out the peppers completely.
As for me - I like my enchiladas somewhere in the middle of fiery and bland. Poblanos and serranos are my favorite for a nice kick but not so much that I feel like my tongue is on fire. 🔥 Pick your level of heat and make some of these Chicken Enchiladas with Red Chili Sauce for yourself.
Chicken Enchiladas with Red Chili Sauce
Sauce and Filling
1 1/2 Tablespoons oil
1 onion, chopped fine
3 Tablespoons chili powder
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons coriander
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/4" wide strips
16 ounces tomato sauce
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 jalapeño, diced (or bell pepper)
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Tortillas and Toppings
10 (6 inch) corn tortillas
3/4 cup cheddar cheese shredded
3/4 cup sour cream
1 avocado, cut into 1/2" pieces
5 romaine lettuce leaves
Sprinkle cheese over enchiladas. Cover pan with foil. Bake 20-25 minutes at 400.
Uncover and top with sour cream, avocado, lettuce and lime wedges.
I'm an Italian girl from Ohio and for a long time, I really didn't feel qualified to cook Latin or Asian or even Southern cuisine. It's taken me some time (and a whole lot of practice) to build up enough confidence to tackle meals like curry or enchiladas. I'm not sure if these are traditional Mexican enchiladas but I think they're pretty great.
Last weekend, I traded in my trusty wheels for a new set of wheels. 🚘 I'm crazy excited about my new ride but in all honestly, it's going to take me some time to learn all the new buttons, gadgets and features on this new vehicle. I apologize in advance to all other drivers that I will inevitably flash my brights at while I look for my windshield wipers. 🤣🌧🤦🏻♀️ I'm a 50 year old with a catering business - safe to say, automotive technology isn't second nature to me. 😅
Thank goodness I have very knowledgeable (and patient) people in my life who teach me everything I need to know about my new car. (Several times in some cases.) 😂 It's not that I'm opposed to learning new things, I'm actually teaching myself a second language this year. 🤷🏻♀️ I may never figure out how to use the app to start my car remotely but I am determined to learn how to turn the air conditioner off when it's 30 degrees outside. 🥶
I feel like when I teach myself new things it exercises my brain muscle. And trying out a new recipe is one of my favorite ways to get in a mental workout. 💪🏻 Why not try out a delicious new cookie recipe to work my brain and give my mouth and my stomach some benefits as well? 🍪
If you're a chocolate and peanut butter lover - you need Chocolate Peanut Butter Stuffed Cookies in your life. 🍫🥜 I would describe myself as a girl who's passionate about chocolate and I really enjoy creamy, smooth peanut butter but I've never been a big fan of the chocolate peanut butter fusion. #sorryreeses I was apprehensive about this recipe and it sat in my cue for quite a while but I hung onto it because I live with people who really enjoy that chocolate peanut butter combination. And when I finally pulled out this chocolate peanut butter stuffed cookie recipe, I was pleasantly surprised. They were perfect little pillows of peanut butter goodness dusted with powdery sweetness. Maybe I actually am a chocolate and peanut butter person after all. 😅
Chocolate Peanut Butter Stuffed Cookies
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 Tablespoons canola oil
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Bake cookies 22 minutes at 300. Let cool 30 minutes on baking sheet.
These cookies were amazing and I know for a fact that I alone, could have eaten the entire batch in just a few days. 😬 They were THAT good. Fortunately, I froze half the dough before it was baked which stopped me from eating them ALL.😂
No Knead Bread
There's no question that adulting is hard. Bills, jobs and responsibilities that simply cannot be avoided. 😩 Remember when you were a kid and you couldn't WAIT to grow up and become an adult? And then you reached adulthood and had the stunning realization that you had to pay taxes and buy insurance? 🤷🏻♀️ And don't even get me started on the worsening eye sight and you the fact that the older you get, the more everything hurts... for a little longer. 😅 #ifyouknowyouknow
No one is arguing about the fact that growing old is hard - and in my case, NOT graceful. 🤣 It's not all bad though. I have been blessed beyond measure and I'm grateful for my health, my friends, my family, my job, etc. etc, etc. which helps me navigate through this thing called middle age.
I've learned that an afternoon of exploring and adventuring outside in the fresh air is therapy when I get overwhelmed by adulting. I can't explain why, but for some reason, spending time in nature is my de-stresser and it makes me feel like a kid again.
Ben and I spent last weekend "playing" at Banning Mills. It was the best little mini vacation and exactly what we needed. We tromped through the woods on a 3 hour hike with no clear direction or preparation - very unlike the adult me. 😂
We also got behind the wheel of these swincars last weekend. Speeding 30 miles an hour, through the woods while dodging trees and traversing suspension bridges is enough to make anyone feel like a kid. 🏎 I definitely didn't possess the mental or physical dexterity that should be required to keep oneself safe while operating this vehicle but somehow I managed - and it was amazing.
Our day of hiking, driving and general adventuring was so much fun but it had an irrefutable effect on my appetite. 😬 Unfortunately, I didn't anticipate this when I made our, later than usual, dinner reservations for later that evening. Let's just say, that by the time we sat down at the table, I was ravished and maybe even a little hangry. 😅
Most days, I try and limit my consumption of white bread. But on 3 hour hike days - I make an exception. 🚶🏻♀️Bring me all of your rolls, baguettes and flatbreads with extra pats of butter and bowls of richly flavored olive oil. 😂🥖 I figure, if I'm going to eat carbohydrates in the form of bread - I might as well enjoy them to the fullest.
True bread fanatics know that value of a freshly made loaf of homemade bread. In the world of me - there's very few other foods that tempt me more than a thick slice of bread - fresh out of the oven. There's just something so warm and comforting about crispy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside - homemade bread.
If you're as passionate about bread as I am - I recommend this no knead bread recipe. It relies less on yeast and kneading than a traditional yeast loaf but it's equally delicious. Follow my super easy step-by-step instructions to make this yummy bread for yourself.
No Knead Bread
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon yeast
3/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons water
6 Tablespoons lager beer
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
Remove lid and bake 20-30 more minutes or until loaf registers 210 degrees.
Cool 2 hours in pan before removing.
I'm throwing it back to the early days of this pandemic when everyone was baking their own bread at home, with this recipe. (At least I think that's what everyone was doing with all the flour they were buying. 😅🤷🏻♀️) If you happened to miss bread baking bandwagon of 2020 - or if you just want a new and easy bread recipe - this loaf is for you. 🍞
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