Tag Archives: recipes

Eggplant Parmesan

My daddy was always a wonderful cook growing up, and one of his best dishes was eggplant parmesan. I stole his recipe and made a couple of tweaks, but the essence is the same – and delicious. This dish is very involved, so make sure you have a couple hours to do it right. Your tastebuds will thank you for the effort.

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggplants, thinly sliced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 1 cup of Italian bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 2 tsp. ground thyme, plus 1 tsp.
  • 1 Tbs. dried oregano, plus 2 Tbs.
  • 2 Tbs. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper, plus 1 tsp.
  • 1 lb. spaghetti
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (14.5 oz each)
  • 1 small can of tomato sauce
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 1/2 cup button or crimini mushrooms, chopped
  • 7-8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs.+ canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp. fennel seed
  • 1 tsp. anise seed
  • 2 tsp. fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 cup shredded mozzerella
  • 1 lb. thin spaghetti

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a shallow bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. In a separate bowl, stir together bread crumbs, flour, and seasonings. Coat thin slices of eggplant in egg, then dust with bread crumb mixture. Let sit on a wire rack for 15 minutes. This well help the breading stick to it.
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Heat large skillet over medium heat. Saute onions and mushrooms for about 5 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add garlic and saute for an additional 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.
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Add diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Season with salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, oregano, thyme, basil, anise seed, fennel seed, and sugar. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat and cover.
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Meanwhile, in a separate skillet over medium-high heat, heat canola oil. Lightly fry the eggplant in batches until golden brown on both sides, then drain on paper towels.
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Now it’s time to assemble the casserole. In a 3 quart casserole dish, ladle 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom. Cover this with fried eggplant, then ladle another 1/3 of sauce on top. Sprinkle with both cheeses. Top this layer with more eggplant, more sauce, and then top with with the rest of the cheese.
IMG_4273Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Broil for 2-5 minutes until cheese is bubbly.
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Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain pasta. Serve eggplant parmesan with the spaghetti. Enjoy!
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Chicken Pesto Pizza with Pine Nuts, Feta, and Spinach

I grew up in a small town in Louisiana, and while we didn’t ride gators to school, there are several rumors about the South that are generally true. The people are warm and hospitable, and bless your heart if you are frightened by physical contact, because the hugs are bountiful. You haven’t known humidity until you’ve spent a July in Baton Rouge, when you virtually swim through the air – or when you actually swim through the air, if a Category 5 packs the right-hand-punch. Above all, the rumors spread far and wide about southern food are as true as a heavy heart in the confessional. Nothing compares.

There weren’t many restaurants in my small town, but the ones that did exist made up for this deficiency – quality reigned over quantity. My favorite place was a restaurant built in an old gas station in St. Francisville: The Magnolia Cafe. I begged my dad every weekend to take me there so I could devour one dish in particular: a pizza, made with pesto, feta, pine nuts, spinach, and chicken. One of the saddest days of my life was when The Magnolia Cafe burned down, and you can bet one of the happiest was when it was rebuilt right next door. I have created a recipe that mimics it as best as I know how, and the results are quite similar to the real thing. Try a slice of this pie and imagine that you’re sitting at The Magnolia Cafe, listening to a blues band and slapping the blood-sucking mosquitoes from your shins.

Ingredients:

  • 2 packets active dry yeast
  • 4-6 cups flour
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of pine nuts, plus 2 Tbs.
  • 3.5 oz crumbled feta
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 12-16 oz mozzerella cheese
  • 6 oz parmesan
  • 1-2 chicken breasts
  • 1 cups basil
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1/2 of olive oil, plus 2 Tbs.
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

The dough is very simple. It makes about 6 personal size pizzas, or 3 pizzas to share. Stir two packets of yeast with 2 cups of warm water in the bowl of a standing mixer with a dough hook attached. Let sit for about 5 minutes until slightly frothy. Add 1 tsp. salt.

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Slowly begin stirring the dough on low speed, and add 1 cup of flour at a time until dough forms a ball and isn’t too sticky. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, until elastic. Form into a ball and place in a well oiled boil.

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Cover and let sit in a warm place, free from drafts. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. While the dough rises, prepare the rest of the ingredients.

To make the pesto, put basil, 2 Tbs. pine nuts, garlic, 2 oz parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste in a blender. Pulse and drizzle in 1/2 cup olive oil, more as needed, until smooth.

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Cut chicken into bite size pieces. Heat 1 Tbs. olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saute chicken. Season with salt, pepper, and oregano. Remove from heat.

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By now, your dough may be doubled in size. Punch it down so it deflates. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

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Drizzle enough olive oil to lightly cover the bottom of a pan. I use both a cast iron skillet and a 9 inch round pan. Take a handful of dough and stretch it in your hands.  Put it in the pan and continue stretching until it reaches the edges. This will require some time, and don’t worry if there are some holes in the process – you can fill them in at the end. This will make a very thin, crispy crust.

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The first layer of the pizza consists of pesto, topped with pine nuts and feta. Evenly distribute the toppings, leaving a 1-inch crust on the outside.

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Top with spinach leaves. I used regular spinach, but you can also use baby spinach. It will become nice and wilted in the oven.

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Top this with mozzarella, chicken, parmesan, salt, and pepper.

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Place on the top rack of your oven for 15 minutes. Then move it to the bottom rack for 7-10 minutes. This will help the bottom crisp up.

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Mmmm mmmm good! Whoever said Louisiana folk can only cook Creole was a damn fool!

Gnocchi with Wild Mushrooms, Bacon, and Thyme

Gnocchi is the potato equivalent of pasta. They’re little round mashed potato ovals that boil in less than five minutes. They’re soft, gooey, and buttery, and mix well with a large palette of flavors. For this dish, I combined crimini and button mushrooms, but you can use any variety of mushrooms (portobello and chanterelle would be delectable). A healthy serving of melted butter, thyme, garlic, grated parmesan, and crumbled bacon, make this dish a mouth watering alternative to weekday pasta.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package potato gnocchi
  • 2 cups chopped mushrooms of your choice
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 3 strips of bacon
  • 1/2 cup of beef broth
  • 1/2 tsp. of red pepper flakes
  • Parmesan cheese, to garnish
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook bacon over medium heat until crispy. Drain on paper towels and let cool.

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Meanwhile, chop vegetables.

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In the same pan you cooked the bacon in, reduce heat to low and melt half a stick of butter. Saute mushrooms in melted butter for 5-7 minutes, until tender. Add garlic and thyme and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.

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Add beef broth and the rest of the butter. Season with salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes.

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Meanwhile, while all of this is happening, bring salted water to a boil in a separate pot. Pour in gnocchi, and cook until it floats to the surface.

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Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the pan with the mushrooms. Remove from heat and toss until well coated.

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Serve gnocchi immediately. Top with grated parmesan and crumbled bacon.

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Other substitutions you can make: you can use pancetta instead of bacon, for a slightly fancier take. You can also use fresh sage instead of OR in addition to the fresh thyme. You can brown the butter to add a nuttier flavor to the dish, but be careful – browning butter is not as easy as it sounds, and it can quickly go from subtly nutty to bitterly burnt.

Enjoy!

 

Fried Chicken and Waffles

A true Southern classic: crispy fried chicken served atop fresh buttermilk waffles, drizzled with homemade honey mustard and syrup. Sweet and savory is one of my favorite flavor combinations, and this dish hits the nail on the head. My fried chicken is adapted from one of my favorite Emeril recipes; you can find the original here. I also used a traditional waffle recipe from AllRecipes, which you can find here. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup of bread crumbs
  • 2 Tbs. garlic powder
  • 1 Tbs. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. red pepper
  • 1 tsp. rosemary
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce
  • 1 quart vegetable oil

Whisk together buttermilk and hot sauce. Submerge chicken in the mixture, cover with plastic wrap, and marinate in fridge for 1-4 hours.

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After it marinates for a few hours, mix together flour, bread crumbs, herbs, and spices.

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Remove the thighs from the buttermilk mixture and place in a large plastic bag. Add flour mixture to the bag. Seal the bag tight and shake it up until chicken is thoroughly coated.

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Remove thighs and place on a wire rack. Let sit for 15 minutes. While it rests, heat up vegetable oil over medium-high heat.

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Flick some water droplets into the oil. Once they start to bubble, the oil is hot enough. Place half of the chicken in the oil, and cook until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes, or until juices run clear.

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Drain on paper towels.

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Use any waffle recipe of your choice, or my favorite, this one:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbs. sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/3 melted butter
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl until evenly combined. Whisk buttermilk and butter together in a separate bowl; add eggs. Stir buttermilk mixture into flour mixture until just combined and batter is slightly lumpy; add vanilla extract. Preheat a waffle iron according to manufacturer’s instructions. Pour enough batter into the preheated waffle iron to reach 1/2 inch from the edge. Cook according to manufacturer’s instructions.

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I made a few adjustments to this recipe: I added 1 tsp. of salt instead of 1/2 tsp. Also, I added the buttermilk to the flour mixture first, stirred it up, then slowly stirred in the butter, and then whisked in the eggs. It’s also best if the eggs are room temperature. I found that pouring the hot butter directly into the buttermilk made it curdle, and of course, if you pour cold eggs into hot liquid, it will scramble.

To make the honey mustard, simply combine equal parts Dijon mustard with honey.

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To assemble, place four waffles on a plate, top with fried chicken, and drizzle with honey mustard and syrup. Yummm!

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Fried Cod Tacos

Here in San Diego, fish tacos are a rite of passage. You can’t truly call yourself a San Diegan until you celebrate a Taco Tuesday with wahoo tacos (or yellowtail, shark, mahi mahi… and so on) and margaritas. I prefer mine fried instead of grilled. It’s also traditional to top it with cabbage slaw. So, here’s a slightly lighter recipe for panko-crusted, pan fried cod tacos. I topped it with a cabbage slaw and sour cream. Feel free to add salsa or pica de gallo. Pour up the margarita (or, in my case, Crabbie’s Ginger Beer), and dig in.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cod filets
  • Corn tortillas
  • Sour cream
  • Half a head of green cabbage, chopped
  • Half a red bell pepper, diced
  • Half a yellow onion, diced
  • 2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2-3 eggs, beaten
  • 2-3 Tbs. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 vegetable oil
  • 1-2 limes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

First, prepare the cabbage slaw. Chop up the cabbage, red pepper, and onions. Add vinegar, mayonnaise, and salt and pepper, to taste. Stir and let marinate in the fridge.

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Prepare your fish. Cut cod filets into strips (like the size of small fish sticks). In a shallow dish, mix 1 cup flour, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 1 tsp. cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. In another dish, whisk 2 eggs with some salt. Finally, in a third dish, mix together panko, the remaining flour, 2 tablespoons garlic powder, paprika, 1 tsp. cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. It’s important to season every layer. Dredge fish pieces in flour, then dip in eggs, then toss in the panko mixture. Let sit in the panko mixture for a couple of minutes.

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Set large saucepan over medium-high heat, and drizzle with vegetable oil. Gingerly place the first batch of fish into the oil (I made three batches).

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Cook on each side for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

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If you have a gas stovetop, I toast my tortillas over the open flame. Otherwise, you can lightly fry them in a pan with vegetable oil. Top the tortillas with fish, cabbage slaw, sour cream (and salsa or pica de gallo, if you please), and finish it off with the juice of a lime.

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Mmmmm mmmm good! Happy Taco Tuesday!

Chicken Burrito Bowl

One of my favorite things to get from Chipotle is a bowl with rice and chicken. I thought, why not make it myself, with all my favorite ingredients? I used a combination of my preferred toppings (salsa, sour cream, and guac), but you can add all sorts of goodies – pica de gallo, black beans, pinto beans, salsa verde, and all sorts of meat or tofu. I made my own version of their cilantro-lime rice, and whipped up a quick corn-onion-cilantro salsa.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups rice
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1-2 limes
  • Half a bunch of cilantro
  • Half a red onion, diced
  • 1 can golden corn (or you can use frozen)
  • 2 avocados
  • Salsa
  • Sour cream
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • Salt and pepper, to taste.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season chicken with cumin, chili powder, red pepper, paprika, salt, pepper, and 1 tsp. of the garlic powder. Bake for 20-40 minutes, until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

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Meanwhile, combine the rice and chicken broth. Season with salt. Once it’s finished cooking, add a few teaspoons of chopped cilantro, as well as the juice of half a lime.

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To make the guacamole, I scoop two very ripe avocados out of their skin. Add the juice of half a lime, salt, and 1 tsp. of garlic powder. Mash with a fork until smooth.

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For the corn salsa, drain and rinse a can of corn. Add chopped red onions, a few teaspons of chopped cilantro, and the juice of half a lime. Mix well.

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Now assemble everything together! Top rice with chicken, salsa, sour cream, guac, and corn, and mix it all together. Enjoy!

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Mediterranean Pasta Salad

So sorry for my hiatus from the blog – sometimes life just gets in the way. And by life, I mean grad school applications – yeesh! All my applications are submitted (*fingers crossed*) so now it’s time to get back to the kitchen.

This recipe is a cinch to make. It’s the perfect dish to bring to a potluck or party, or you can munch on it all week long. I use a mix of fresh and marinated veggies, plus plenty of lemon juice and lots of feta. Enjoy!

 

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. bowtie pasta (or pasta of your choice)
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • Half a red onion, sliced
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 jar sundried tomatoes, with oil
  • 1/4 cup of sliced kalamata olives
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 6 oz crumbled feta
  • Juice of 1-2 lemons 
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil

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While pasta is boiling, chop veggies. For the cucumber, I peeled the skin of in strips to maintain some of the green color. Spoon out the seeds with a spoon, then chop.

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Cut the marinated veggies into bite size pieces.

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Drain the pasta, and rinse under cold water. Mix with vegetables, and add feta, lemon juice, and olive oil. I also used some of the oil that the sundried tomatoes were marinated in. Season with oregano, salt, and pepper. Serve cold or room temperature.

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Stuffed Bell Peppers

This is a yummy meal that synthesizes all your food groups into one. Pick out 3-6 ripe red bell peppers (or you can mix in orange and yellow – just not green) and carve off the tops to fill it with our healthy and delicious turkey stuffing. You can also substitute brown rice for white rice to make it even lighter. Top it off with bread crumbs and shards of parmesan, and when you take it out of the oven, you’ll have a full meal inside of a pepper, with ooey-gooey cheese on top to make your mouth water.
Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground turkey (or beef)
  • 3-6 red bell peppers
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 8 button mushrooms, sliced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce 
  • 1/4 cup of chicken stock
  • 2 Tbs. hot sauce (we use Crystal)
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 cup of bread crumbs, plus 1 Tbs. per bell pepper
  • 3 Tbs. Parmesan cheese shards
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
    Makes 4-6 servings.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Carve the top out of the bell peppers. Clean out the insides.

Then, chop up the rest of the vegetables. In a large skillet, sauté in olive oil over medium-high heat until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. At the same time, cook rice in a separate pot.

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Add ground turkey to pan, and break up with a wooden spoon. Cook until browned.

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Add rest of ingredients up to (and including) the 1/4 cup of bread crumbs. Stir, uncovered, and let simmer for 5-10 minutes, until most of the chicken stock has evaporated. Spoon the filling into the bell peppers, and stand upright in a deep pan. You’ll want to pack them in tight so they don’t fall over. Top with extra bread crumbs and shards of parmesan.

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Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil, and bake for another 15 minutes. You can broil it for the last 2-5 minutes to make the cheese bubbly.

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Enjoy!