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

Sunday Family Dinner

Last Sunday the weather was perfect for cooking out on the patio. To combine my favorite Sunday meal – roasted chicken – I mentioned to my husband lets do a beer can chicken out on the grill for dinner. We both had different things on our “to do” list for the day but will end it out on the patio, one of our favorite places to be.
spatchock chicken on grillWe went our separate ways to get some of our “to do” lists things done and my phone went off he said our son was coming for dinner, then a couple of hours later it goes off again, his parents were coming for dinner. Some people might get annoyed their initial dinner plans change but I actually take it as a compliment that he wants to share our favorite food and our favorite place with people we love.
Potatoes on grillWe all sat around the table sharing good food and wine along with some great stories. My  mother-in-law mentioned she was cleaning out a cupboard and didn’t know what to do with her Ebelskiver pan. Firstly all but my daughter had no idea what she was talking about, secondly why in 34+ years I have known her had she never mentioned this special pan or made me any of the Danish pancakes her pan makes? The next day the pan found its way into my kitchen. I had planned on making them and sharing the recipe today but I need to make a batch or two before I share it with you. Stay tuned!
broccoli on grillSunday dinner was one of the only meals I made this week so I don’t have a “new” recipe for you today except it’s another beautiful Sunday and you should try to spend some of it in your happy place with some of your favorite people.

I can’t leave you with nothing so last Sunday’s dinner is worth sharing – I cut the backbone out of two chickens aka spatchcock. Seasoned with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, lemon and rosemary.
In my cast iron pan I sliced up some baby potatoes along with an onion and again olive oil, salt and pepper.
I had some broccoli from the garden and wasn’t sure how I should deal with it on the grill so I did the same olive oil, salt and pepper and put the whole head on the grill, turning it a couple of times till it was cooked through and threw a loaf of bread on the top rack to heat up. Pretty perfect way to end the day if I do say so myself.

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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Healthier Banana Zucchini Bread

We have had some wacky weather here in NH – well all over the country but I can only speak to here in my minuscule part of it; pretty much all summer. Hot and humid and either a pop up shower or a thunderstorm. It has been hard trying to time when to harvest not only my garlic but everything out there.  I feel bad for my husband and his crew that generally work outside, how to plan a days worth of work when half of it or at least a portion of it you’re going to get soaked. When I got home from work on Friday I quickly harvested the rest of my garlic before the thunderstorms started up since the soil needs to be dry to harvest.
IMG_2988The problem with not doing a drive by of at least the squashes; they seem to grow overnight and go from cute to shit how did I not see that one! So this morning (Saturday) I had 3 way to overripe bananas, too many ginormous zucchini’s so I grated one up and made a couple of loaves of banana zucchini bread.
IMG_3006.JPGMy daughter thought I was making banana bread and zucchini bread – I’ll refrain from what she actually said but it was kind of like “wow running with scissors Mom” I actually found a healthy low fat recipe that I tweaked a bit to what I had on hand. I have mentioned before that just because someone dubs it healthy doesn’t mean its healthy for your diet. But if having to eat healthy means I can’t have any baked goods I don’t want to play. Which is probably why – oh never mind!
IMG_2994.JPGHealthier Banana Zucchini Bread – makes 2 loaves
Preheat oven to 350’ – get out 2 9×5 loaf pans and spray with non-stick

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
¼ ground nutmeg
4 eggs – thinking of using egg beaters next time
1 cup sugar
1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
3 overripe bananas
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups shredded and drained zucchini

Whisk the first 8 ingredients to the nutmeg in a small bowl.

In a stand mixer or not mix the eggs, sugar, yogurt, bananas and vanilla.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix till combined, add the zucchini and mix again till combined.

Additions if you choose – nuts, seeds, dried fruit, chocolate chips etc. you do you!

Split batter between pans and cook for about 45-55 minutes or until cooked through, test by inserting a toothpick and it comes out clean.

The bread(s) came out very moist and I can taste all the spices and the banana’s; the oats add a little texture – plus it smells awesome!  it’s a keeper!

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My daughter tried it before I took pictures – oops!


Macros 1 piece
174 calories  9 g protein  4 g fat  29 g carbs

Easy Sweet and Sour Chicken

I brought out my slow cooker again –  we were going to busy and dinner was either going to be late and out or I could make it beforehand. OK so I also wanted to try a new recipe I found. It all works right?
IMG_2986I actually used my slow cooker for the sweet and sour chicken that I will confess was ridiculously easy to just throw everything in the crockpot before I went to work and put it on low and go. But when I got home I used the rice cooker so dinner was literally all set when we were done with our meeting. So easy and very tasty plus it was a huge time saver and way cheaper than going out.
IMG_2979I don’t always plan ahead; or at least not as much as I wish I did but having a nicely stocked pantry and freezer plus having plenty of homemade chicken stock on hand I can whip up some of the recipes I come across. This one I did have to pick up a red pepper and a pineapple; well I didn’t need an actual pineapple but I have another recipe in mind for the rest of the pineapple.

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My chicken stock was still frozen – it will melt!

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 red bell pepper – chopped
1 ½ cups chicken stock
1 medium yellow onion diced
3 medium carrots thinly sliced
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp ground chili paste
½ cup ketchup + 1/4 cup 

Take all the above and put it in your slow cooker and turn it on low for about 7-8 hours.
Remove the chicken and set it aside.

Whisk the next 2 ingredients together
¼ cup pineapple juice
2 tbsp cornstarch
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Turn it on high and slowly add the pineapple/starch mixture. And the other ¼ cup of ketchup. Cook this uncovered until the sauce is thick.  Shred the chicken and add it back into the pot to re-heat.

Serve over rice.  Slice some scallions on top and if you have any sesame seeds on hand sprinkle some on top
(I didn’t search for mine – I said well stocked pantry not organized 🙂 )
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