Easy no-fry Eggplant Parm & Garden Salsa

OK so you are probably wondering when she is going to stop writing about her damn garden; but this year was a super year and I need to use up or give away what I pick; plus the season is winding down. It is Labor day weekend, there are school buses everywhere and we are supposedly not supposed to wear white anymore – pfff I wear what I want!
IMG_3103.JPGSo this week was another one of those busy weeks but I had a plan to use up what I have for tomatoes and peppers. I came home from work on Wednesday and started chopping. Halfway through we lost power so I finished chopping by candlelight. I made a pretty large bowl of salsa with my tomatoes, green peppers, onions and jalapenos. It was pretty cool since I haven’t been able to make it in a couple of years; it was a terrible year for green peppers last year and the year before I didn’t get any tomatoes. Yeah I know I could have gone out and bought some of what I needed  but that just doesn’t appeal to me for making “homemade salsa” I have issues I know!
IMG_3094Tonight (Thursday) I wanted to use up all the eggplant that was in the fridge. This is only the second year of growing eggplant and who knew there were SO many kinds out there. I had only seen the large oblong ones from the store but mine are long and thin. Which is great for slicing up and adding them into things. I know I have shared this recipe before but it is worth repeating since it comes together fast and tastes excellent with probably the fewest iIMG_3095
I add Sweet Italian sausage basically because I love it, and I think it brings a lot to the dish and my husband won’t ask why there is no meat. I very rarely keep the sausage link as a full link. For this recipe I sliced a couple of the links into coins or minim meatballs. I do this for spaghetti sauce sometimes; or I’ll remove the casing and smash the sausage up and brown it. Either way I am all in.
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I deglazed the pan with a little leftover red wine – totally optional

 

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I put this a baggie for another use – fridge or freeze it for another day!


Mock Eggplant Parmesan

1 large or several small Eggplant(s) diced
Marinara sauce – your favorite jar
1 small Onion diced
1 package Mozzarella
2 links Sausage (optional)

Saute the onions until they sweat, add the sausage if you are using it. Cook the sausage till it is done. Add the marinara sauce, stir and then add the mozzarella. Cover and let it simmer for about 30 – 40 minutes.

Serve with a side salad and some bread

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I posted this recipe way back in 2013 wow I have been doing this a long time!


Homemade Garden Salsa

6 tomatoes (roma)- seeded diced
1 Green bell pepper – seeded diced
1 Onion – diced
2 Jalapeno peppers – seeded chopped
5-6 cloves of garlic – pressed
1 Lime, squeezed
Fresh cilantro – chopped
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
dash Balsamic vinegar
1-2 packets of sweet and low

Dice and seed the tomatoes and set aside to drain while you dice the peppers and onions, press the garlic, and chop the cilantro. Mix everything together add a dash of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and a packet or two of sweet and low.

Hint 1: you can make it hotter by leaving the pith and seeds in the jalapenos or milder by removing them before chopping.

Hint 2: By seeding the tomatoes your salsa will be less watery

Braised Eggplant – Greek Style

There were a couple of reasons I was drawn to this recipe. One is I had to use up some of my eggplant, tomatoes and green peppers from my garden, the other is it said it was “Greek style” and my husband and I will be visiting Greece in a few weeks. I figured we maybe we should try to get a glimpse of some of the flavors.
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I honestly had to look up what made this “Greek” as I wasn’t entirely sure. If you did know; bear with me for a few minutes. The spices widely used in Greek food are Oregano yeah that one surprised me too, Cinnamon I am a little nervous about this one as I have never been a fan of it in savory dishes; probably so used to it with sugar and butter I guess I miss the sweet aspect of the cinnamon. Parsley, Mint and black pepper. I am a fan of parsley and pepper; mint not so much. This will be an interesting culinary experience for us. My husband feels the same way about cinnamon and mint so at least we have that!
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I am thinking of writing my blog while I am there but since I won’t be cooking I would only be able to share what I am eating along with pictures instead of sharing a recipe.  If you wouldn’t mind I am game! 

IMG_3072Let’s discuss eggplant just a little. I just started eating it a few years ago and now I grow it in my garden. My first introduction to eggplant was when I worked at our local pizza barn. Lets just say it didn’t look or feel appealing to the teenage me.  I changed my mind when I made eggplant parmesan. The very next year I tried growing it. Oh how I have evolved wink wink!

Braised Eggplant – Greek Style
Directions – preheat oven to 400’F

1 large or a couple small Eggplant
Kosher salt
Olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 carrot, peeled and diced
6 large cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 28 ounce can chopped tomatoes – I used my own tomatoes and added a small can of tomato sauce
2 15 ounce cans chickpeas – I didn’t have any so I used great northern beans  
Fresh parsley or mint for garnish

Dice the eggplant into cubes and place in a colander, sprinkle with some salt and let it sit and drain out some of the bitterness while you chop the rest of the veggies.
IMG_3070In a dutch oven add a little olive oil with the onion, pepper and carrots. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, cook another minute. Add the spices and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, eggplants and beans. Bring to a boil 8-10 minutes and then transfer to the oven for about 40-50 minutes.
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Keep an eye on the liquid so set a timer for 20 minutes to make sure it isn’t too dry. 
If it is add ½ cup of water – or a little of the red wine you are drinking.
IMG_3079.JPGServe alongside some warmed up pita bread if you have some on hand.


Adapted recipe  – the Mediterranean dish

Chicken Zucchini Meatballs

I hope you will forgive me for yet another recipe with zucchini in it. I will try to not have zucchini in next weeks blog – but I make no promises 🙂 you can blame it on my garden!

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I just made this a few minutes ago (8am) just for you – you’re welcome! Breakfast of champions!

A couple of weeks ago one of my girlfriends came over and we did a little food prep for the week. We made a couple of frittatas, oven roasted some peppers and tomatoes. Made up some cauliflower rice along with some turkey cutlets for lunches.  We also made up some meatballs. I found a chicken meatball recipe that uses yup so guessed it – shredded zucchini, sounded perfect to me.

While I was working on the frittatas she was making the meatballs. Which is why I don’t have any pictures to share with you.  Sorry about that! Though today is a a good day to have a pot of sauce cooking on the stove; I pulled the chicken meatballs out of the freezer and added them to the sauce.

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these are what they look like fresh from the freezer!

It’s pretty funny that my family tends to make meatball grinders with all the meatballs I make  versus having your typical spaghetti and meatballs. I can’t even remember the last time we had a meatball sauce. We tend to just add Italian sausage to our marinara sauce instead of meatballs when making spaghetti.

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look and smell delicious!

The meatballs are moist with the help from the zucchini, they have a little bite from the crushed red pepper and they are a little better for you from using ground chicken instead ground beef.

Chicken Zucchini Meatballs
Ingredients

1 cup shredded zucchini
1 lb ground chicken
1 egg lightly beaten
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp dried basic
¼ tsp crushed red pepper
¼ tsp kosher salt

I encourage you to make a test ball or pattie and fry it up so you can taste and adjust the flavor to your liking.

Directions – preheat oven to 350’F

You need to get as much of the moisture out of your zucchini as possible. You can line a colander with paper towels; add the zucchini sprinkle a little salt and let it sit for about 20-30 minutes applying a little pressure every now and then. Or you can use a clean dish towel and squeeze the liquid out over the sink.

In a large bowl combine all the ingredients, try not to over mix. Make your test ball/pattie and fry it up in a small saute pan. Adjust if needed.

Use a cookie scoop or a tablespoon to make the balls all around the same size. Place on a prepared sheet tray. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until cooked through.  Makes around 20 meatballs.

Use now or sometime during the week or freeze individually on a sheet tray and place in a ziplock bag.

Per meatball:
Macros
103 Calories – 5 Fat – 3 Carbs – 10 Protein


Recipe from BH&G magazine

Ground Turkey Asian Stir Fry

Dice, slice, swirl, chop, shred, scoop, steam, saute, grill, bake, fry – I am pretty sure I have exhausted the ways to use a zucchini. I honestly never really gave it much thought of how versatile this little green squash actually is. It is quite impressive the different forms it can take and still add a lot to the party.  I would love to hear your favorite ways to use up the abundance of your summer zucchini!
img_3026.jpgBecause my gardens are rewarding us with plenty of veggies this year. I have been in search of ways to utilize as many of them as I can. I have also been sharing them with family and friends but they can only eat so many too.
IMG_3011One of the easiest ways to clean out your fridge is a stir fry. Last weekend I made this quick stir fry with what I had on hand and I will be adding it as one of my food prep lunch ideas as it was sooooo good. There were 2 containers of leftovers in the fridge and I initially grabbed one for lunch and went back for the other to bring both to work so I could have them both. Leftovers in my fridge are free range. Meaning whoever gets to them first, it’s theirs. If you want something there the next time you open the door, you better hide it – that’s all I’m saying!
IMG_3012This is how I made mine, you can substitute how you wish

Ground Turkey Asian Stir Fry – makes 4 servings

1 package of ground turkey
1 medium onion, diced
2 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoon minced ginger
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 medium summer squash, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
handful of pea pod’s sliced
Handful of broccoli florets
Handful of shredded carrots
1 tablespoon Sesame Oil
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
¼ cup Soy sauce
2 tablespoons Rice wine vinegar
Scallions diced for the sprinkling on top before serving

Add the oils to the pan, non stick might be better unless you have cast iron like I used.
Brown the turkey, add the onion about halfway through and at the end add the ginger and garlic. Remove from the pan and set aside.
IMG_3016If needed add a little more oil, I threw all the veggies in the pan at once and let them cook up. If you are using say diced carrots instead of shredded one, they tend to take longer so start with those and then add the rest, constantly stirring so they don’t stick, cook till tender but not mushy.
IMG_3018Add the turkey back in and the soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. Stir to combine and cook for another 3-4 minute until everything is cooked and combined.
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Crockpot Cauliflower Bolognese

Harvest season is upon us and I WISH I had a time elapsed camera set up near my squash because for the life of me I cannot figure out how on Monday they are almost but just not the right size and come Tuesday and they are like DAMN what the heck!

1st harvest 2018

1 cup measuring cup for scale


IMG_2964This morning (Saturday) I was sitting at the island enjoying my tea planning my day, making my grocery shopping list and trying to figure out what we might we eating this week. I figured I would head out to the garden and see what needed to be pulled.  I have already gotten way more radishes that any one human could eat luckily they are my Dad’s favorite and my daughter went into work (my favorite restaurant in town) tonight and asked if they might be interested in some; thankfully they said yes.
IMG_2954Veggie season gets me thinking of inventive ways to serve them. Right now it is only the squash and radishes but I see a head of Broccoli forming an the tomatoes are a few sunny days away. I tried a new recipe today using my slow cooker, which actually is not just a winter tool in my world. It doesn’t heat up the house and we get a nice meal with not a lot of effort.
IMG_2956I am going to call it a mock bolognese only because it doesn’t have any meat in it. Though I fried up some sweet italian sausage to serve along side it for us. You could make this totally vegetarian if you so wish to.
IMG_2958Crockpot cauliflower bolognese

Head of cauliflower cut into flowerettes
28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes
1 medium diced onion
3-4 cloves of garlic
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1-2 cup chicken broth – or veggie broth
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
IMG_2962Put everything in the crockpot, stir and place on high for 3 ½ hours.  Once everything is cooked down take a potato masher and break up the cauliflower taste for salt and pepper. Leave it a little chunky and ladle over zoodles or spaghetti.
IMG_2971I had planned on making zoodles since I have so many in the house not but I was running late and my husband worked on a roof all day so he needed the pasta, some bread and even a cocktail.

Enjoy!

Turkey Lettuce Wraps – give them a try

Why I love lettuce wraps – I believe my first taste was about 5 or 6 years ago and our waiter said it was his favorite app at PF Changs. If we are trying a new place we tend to ask our waiter/waitress what their favorite is and maybe not every time but majority of the time we will take their recommendation. We all really loved their chicken lettuce wraps so much so I actually made a recipe I found online that someone came up with that said they were the ones from PF Changs. They too were delicious but a little time consuming so I have only made them a couple of times.
IMG_2883.JPGThere is an added bonus to lettuce wraps; if you are watching your carb intake you can eat 2 or 3 lettuce wraps without any guilt. Not that I have anything against carbs I mean if you saw me you would be like “oh yeah she eats carbs” but it is nice to know there are other ways to have a tasty filling without having a bun of some sort to hold it together.
IMG_2866This comes together very quickly and would be a great weeknight meal on some hot summer night when you want something quick, light and delicious!
IMG_2873.JPGTurkey Lettuce Wraps

1 package of ground turkey
Olive oil for the pan
Package of white mushrooms – cleaned and chopped
3-4 scallions, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 can water chestnuts, chopped
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
Boston or Bibb lettuce, romaine and iceberg work too
Shredded carrots
Bean Sprouts
IMG_2878.JPGSauce
3 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ tablespoon sriracha sauce
½ teaspoon sesame oil
¼ cup water

Thai chili sauce works awesome too
IMG_2867IMG_2868IMG_2870Brown the turkey in a large saute pan until cooked through. Add the mushrooms, scallions, garlic and water chestnuts cook until the mushrooms are soften. In a small bowl mix the soy sauce, brown sugar and rice wine vinegar and then add to the turkey mixture. Cook for about a minute or so. Remove from the heat.
IMG_2879.JPGCreate the sauce by whisking all of the ingredients together. Once you make your lettuce wrap drizzle a little over the top of the turkey and veggies. Add a little thai chili sauce if you like a little more love.
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Recipe adapted from Melissa d’Arabian Food Network

Pesto Turkey Pasta

I need to start by saying I try to keep my online media presence pretty low key, well actually I do the same in my day to day “real” life as well. I think I share just enough information about me and also about my family. I try to not “offend” or “overshare” too much and I don’t normally talk about the 3 hot topics; money, religion and politics. At least that was the top three while I was growing up.  Today it seems there is nothing off limits; more and more things are coming out of the shadows everyday.

I was very saddened to hear about the tragedy of Kate Spade and now Anthony Bourdain. I initially wrote the word suicides but I took it out and replaced it with tragedy because it sounded too harsh to me. I was brought up to not talk about anything too personal and I really don’t. Thankfully my daughter does not follow the same rules as I do. She needs help she asks, maybe someday I’ll be more like her.
IMG_2852.JPGI am a firm believer and have said it many many times that no one knows what goes on behind closed doors. My heart breaks for their families and I hope that something positive can come out of these tragic losses. I felt I needed to say this as I have been thinking about it constantly. Depression is real if you need help please ask
US National suicide prevention line: 1-800-273-8255.

IMG_2848I don’t really know how to lead into the recipe I want to share with you so here it goes. My daughter made some delicious Basil Pistachio Pesto last weekend and what we didn’t eat with crackers I thought about using the rest for dinner. I also had some turkey cutlets that I needed to cook up and so it screamed pasta night. This would also be great if you had any leftover turkey though most people I know only eat turkey around Thanksgiving which is kind of a shame.  Who knows maybe you’ll want to try this and make a turkey leg or breast.
IMG_2849Pesto Turkey Pasta

2 large eggs
½ cup pesto – make fresh or buy your favorite brand (my “norm” recipe below) 
Box of pasta – farfalle, egg noodles, gemelli or similar
1 Tbs olive oil
1 lemon zested
1 medium onion diced
2 cloves garlic minced
2 cups chopped cooked turkey meat (cutlets or leftovers)
Kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

Boil water for the pasta and cook according to the package, drain reserving some of the liquid.
IMG_2851.JPGIn a medium bowl add the pesto along with the eggs and the lemon zest.

Saute the onions along with the garlic, add the chopped turkey cook through, or add the already cooked turkey.  
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Add the pasta to the onions and turkey. Pour the egg pesto mixture over the pasta turkey. The heat will cook the egg – similar to carbonara.  


Season with salt and pepper to taste.  If needed add some of the reserved pasta water to lighten up if needed.

Basil Pesto
6 Ounces of washed and dried basil leaves, stems removed
4 Ounces of pine nut
6-8 Cloves of Garlic
2 Ounces of grated parmesan cheese
Olive oil – Salt and Pepper
Combine first 3 ingredients in a food processor or blender, pulse to combine. Add olive oil until you get the consistency you like, finish by adding the Parmesan cheese a little salt and pepper pulsing until combined.  Enjoy with and/or on just about anything.