Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Stuffed Eggplant

My husband is an Italian so buying Prego or Ragu isn't an option for sauce. Plus, after learning this super easy marinara sauce recipe and tasting the difference, I would never go back!

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pot. Once hot, add 1 diced onion to pot. Once the onion is translucent, add diced garlic. Again, my husband is Italian, so I added 4 cloves but add what you like.

While the onion and garlic cook, get your cans ready and opened.
Add 1 large can of tomato sauce, 1 can diced tomatoes, and i added 2 cans tomato paste as I only had the small ones.
Mix all together. The tomato paste is going to make you sauce thick, which I like because I like to add wine to my sauce. If you don't want to add wine, add less tomato paste. I add about 1/4 cup wine to my sauce. It gives it a nice bite. 
Now come the spices. Add a dash of salt. About a tablespoon of oregano, basil, and parsley. Stir, stir, stir. 
Now comes the secret. I add about 1/8 cup fresh Parmesan cheese. The cheese has the right amount or bite and salt that will help bring out amazing flavors.
That's it! You have amazing homemade marinara sauce! The longer you let simmer on low the better the flavors will melt together. For this dish, I let it simmer on low for about 45 min. 

Now comes the egg plant. Cut both ends of the eggplant. Your going to cut the eggplant 1/4 inch think. I used a mandolin to get even cuts. You should get 10-12 slices.
Lay all the slices of eggplant out and lightly salt both sides. From here, place in a colander and let sit for 30min-60 mins. The salt will help pull all the moisture out of the eggplant. For me, I was impatient and only let rest for 40 mins and it turned out ok. 

While your eggplant is resting, we can make the filling. Mix 1/4 cup panko or bread crumbs, 1/2 cup ricotta cheese, and 1 large lemon zest to a bowl. Then take half the lemon and add juice to the bowl. Mix. Couldn't be easier! The lemon in this really makes the dish. It adds the nicest, refreshing taste to the dish. 
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Heat 1 inch of olive oil in skillet. You have to make sure the oil is HOT so wait till it starts to pop or sizzle a little. Take your eggplant, dab with paper towel to remove any excess liquid then add to skillet. 

You only need to let cook for 1-2 minutes per side. Once the eggplant gets a little color or starts to soften, remove from oil and lay flat on paper towel to remove excess oil. Repeat till all eggplant is cooked. 

Get a baking dish and pour half your sauce into baking dish till fully coded. Take 1 cooked eggplant and lay flat. Take 1 spoonful of filling and place on widest end. Roll. Lay in baking dish with the opening side down. 

Repeat till all slices of eggplant are done. 
Then you are going to spoon heavy cream over each eggplant. This will help keep the eggplant soft and caramelize. 
Place in oven and cook about 20 minutes. The sauce should start bubbling and the eggplant should caramelize a little. I serve over a bed of pasta and with the other half of the sauce remaining in my pot. You can garnish with some fresh Parmesan cheese. 

Everyone at my house really enjoyed this and looks relatively impressive. 

Bon Appetit! Let me know your thoughts. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Not your Mom's Meatloaf

I am married to a meat and potatoes kind of guy so I like to play with traditional dishes and make them a little more fun and dressed up. Here is my spin on meatloaf. As I recommend with all my recipes, have fun and alter to your specific tastes.

I like big chunks of bread in my meatloaf while others may not. I cut 2 slices of bread (whatever you have on hand, I have used everything from white bread to whole wheat to country potato) into cubes. Again, I like bigger squares and I do a rough cut as I feel it makes it a little more rustic feeling.

Add your bread into a big mixing bowl. Add 1 large egg. Add 2-4 minced garlic gloves (WE LOVE GARLIC). Add a few dashes of salt and pepper to taste. Then add 2 heaping tablespoons of parsley.

Then add a few dashes of Worchestire Sauce and half an onion to the bowl.

Now the magic begins! Add your ground beef. I prefer to use lean meat as it can get a big greasing when baking. For this recipe I used just under a pound and a half. I love leftovers and meatloaf makes great sandwiches for lunch the next day. 

Time to get dirty! I love this part because you get to get hands on; nothing works as good as what God gave us...our hands. Mix together until all the ingredients are fully combined. Then you make individual loafs, 1 serving sizes per person. I make mine a little big bigger than my palm into a nice rectangle shape. The great part about this is you can make them any size you want depending on who is coming to dinner. 

Place each loaf on a little greased baking pan. I top my loaves with a nice squeeze of ketchup.

Place in a heated 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes until done. 

I served this dish with an easy zucchini dish. Take your zucchini, slice length-wise in half. Place on cooking sheet. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Then add a handful of fresh parmesan cheese. Bake in 400 degree oven along with your meatloaf for about 15-20 minutes until soft and lightly browned. 

Once everything is cooked serve and enjoy~ I served with garlic mash potatoes to complete the meat and potato meal. Light some candles, set the table, and have a great date night with your man.

I hope you enjoy this dressed up meatloaf. Let me know your thoughts and what you tried to change or personalize it. Bon Appetite! 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Makhani Chicken

Makhani means "with butter" and this chicken recipe is also sometimes called Butter Chicken. I love this Indian dish and you can alter the amount of spices to personalize it to your tastes.

You need boneless skinless chicken breasts, for me when I did this, I used 6 ( I love leftovers for lunch the next day).

Put your chicken into a bowl and juice 1 lime, add a pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper, approximately a tablespoon of cardamom, a tablespoon of coriander, and a generous amount of cayenne. My husband and I like heat, but for those who don't, don't be scared but add a little cayenne for flavor. Dice a few cloves of garlic and add to bowl as well. Mix all the seasoning and lime juice over the chicken and put in the fridge for at least 20 minutes to let all the flavors make love and mix together.

Dice an entire onion (I used a white onion). Add 1/4 cup butter to a frying pan till melted. Add the onion and cook till the onion is translucent and browning. 

Add marinated chicken to pan to brown. When you lay the chicken breast down, the pan should be sizzling, if it doesn't, your pan isn't hot enough so take chicken out and let pan heat up more. If you add chicken to a pan and it doesn't sizzle, you aren't going to get the beautiful browning you want. 
Once you get a pretty browning on the chicken (approx 5 min) flip the chicken over and let the other side brown and cook. Once both sides are brown (and this should be smelling FABULOUS at this point) add 16oz of tomato sauce. 
Next add 1 can of diced tomatoes. 
Make sure you stir all around and let everything mix together nicely. Simmer for approximate 20 minutes to allow all the flavors to combine. Make sure you are cooking on low/medium and stirring regularly so the sauce doesn't burn. 

Once you are ready to serve, add in heavy whipping cream to sauce. Make sure you incorporate fully and get all the edges and below and above chicken. I used almost an entire small container of cream and got this beautiful rich color sauce shown below. 
At this point taste the sauce and make sure it has enough heat and flavor you like...if not add some more seasoning and incorporate fully. Make sure sauce warms up after you added the cream. Serve over a bed of rice...I choose brown rice for some whole grains.

Top with some cilantro and Bon Appetite! Let me know what you think or what you did differently to personalize this.