Eggplant Lasagna

Since I am about to go into full on anti-social mode – aka season as a coach, I decided to really branch out of my crock pot zone and create an eggplant parmesan. In all honesty, my experiences with eggplant is very limited. In fact, I have never made it before today. So I went to my favorite resource, Pintrest and researched how to make eggplant – after I had already made the Eggplant Lasagna

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 eggplant, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 container of kale
  • 3 tbsp of balsamic vinaigrette
  • 5 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 piece of vegan mozzarella cheese
  • garlic powder

 

Preheat the oven to 425, and put the sliced eggplant covered with olive oil and garlic powder into the oven for 15 minutes. (I did not do this, and I very much regret it. My eggplant was very tough and needed more time to cook. So next time I will precook the eggplant).

While the eggplant is in the oven, slice the tomatoes, and rinse the kale. Once out of the oven, in a pan about 9″ x 9″, layer your sliced eggplant, then tomato and then kale and repeat. Once you have reached the top part of your pan, evenly pour on your balsamic vinaigrette across the towers. Then put on your mozzarella and cover with tin foil. Let the whole dish sit for a few hours in the fridge. (This is not necessary, but what I had to do because I had to go to work that day. Otherwise you can pop it straight into the oven).

Put the dish in the oven at 425 for 15 minutes with the tin foil on. Then remove the tin foil, and broil the dish for 2 – 5 minutes so the cheese melts and get a bit brown. Serve hot.

Review:

Since I straight up had no idea how to make eggplant, I would say my dish was a bit al dente. My friends disagreed and said it was great. But I think they say that so I keep making them food. I want to make this dish again, but with having the eggplant actually cooked through.

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Cost: $10.00
  • Total Time: 50 minutes, 10 minutes prep, 40 minutes cooking. Longer if you let the dish chill in the fridge
  • Serving Size: 6 – 8 pieces

Salsa Chicken in a Sweet Potato

imageMy roommate deserves full credit for this post. She taught me an amazing trick for this crockpot dish, and the main reason for me posting such an easy recipe, is I really like my food photo I took to go a long with the post. (Thanks Instagram!)

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 package, ~ 3 lbs of chicken thighs
  • 1 jar of mild salsa, 12 oz. (whatever spice level you want works here)

That’s it. Literally, put the chicken in the crockpot, add your jar of salsa. Put the crockpot on low for 5 hours, and you are done.

Once the chicken was done, I added black beans, red onions, and cut up cherry tomatoes to my chicken and put it on a baked sweet potato with some melted cheese. The chicken is a great base for any dish you need to make. Could work for tacos, quesadillas, or just on top of a salad! Thanks roommate!

Review:

Delicious! This will become me week go to!

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Cost: $12.00 – chicken and the jar
  • Total Time: 5 hours
  • Serving Size: 6 meals

Christmas Dinner Part 3: Chicken Korma 

This dish proved to be the most difficult dish to cook, with way more time than I allowed per usual. I really thought that this time I had read the recipe enough to know how much time was needed. But nope. Per usual, that did not happen. Instead, I made it work. (Thanks Tom Gunn).

Recipe: 

Ingredients:

For chicken:

  • 3 lbs. chicken thighs and breast
  • 2 tsp. Olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. Garam  masala 
  • 2 tbsp. Curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp. of salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Black pepper

For sauce

  • 2 white onions
  • 6 cloves of garlic minced
  • 4 tsp. Curry powder
  • 2 tsp. Turmeric
  • 2 tsp. Garam masala
  • 1 tsp. Ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. Cumin
  • 3 tbsp. Olive oil 
  • 3 large tomatoes diced
  • 2 tbsp. Fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 1 cup unsweetened canned coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt 
  • 1/2 small chile
  • 1 tbsp. Brown sugar

To prep for this dish I again had all of the spices ore made before the trip to the mountains, which was a huge time saver and great for blending everything together. As instructed, this time I actually put the chicken in the fridge with the spices over night to really let the chicken soak up the flavor. I would love to use these spices again on chicken in general. Actually, the only spice I think that I really like is Garam Masala. I think I just want that spice on everything!

After the chicken marinated, I cooked the chicken in a skillet and olive oil for about 10 minutes, just until cooked. I removed the chicken off of skillet pan, and reduce the heat to medium, where I sautéed the onion, tomatoes and garlic. Once those had browned a little bit, I added the spices, and everything else. I let that all simmer for 15 minutes (it was suppose to be 30, but I did not have that kind of time). I then put in my bite size pieces of chicken into the sauce, almost  causing for the whole pan to overflow. Well it kind of did while I let the whole thing simmer for about 5 minutes before I served the whole dish with Nann (1/2 cup gluten free flower, 1/2 cup ground almonds, 1 cup coconut milk and cooked like a pancake). 

  

Review:

The better of the two dishes, and much better the next day. In fact, I really wish I had let it simmer the full time to get the full flavor! It was good, not as creamy as the restaurant style, but good none the less. The chicken tiki masala from last year was better, but I am glad I made this dish and I’d try it again!

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Cost: ??? Thanks Mom and Dad
  • Total Time: 15 prep, 45 cooking – 1 hour
  • Serving size: 6 – 12 dishes 

Christmas Dinner Part 2: Vegetable Vindaloo

So the story of making Christmas Dinner continues, and most of this I did without the help of my Sous Chef. I decided to take a meat recipe – this Chicken Vindaloo Recipe and make it vegetarian style by only cooking veggies. However, I learned along the way that I definitely need to do a few things differently.

Recipe:

Ingredients: 

  • 1 head of broccoli cut up
  • 1 head of cauliflower cut up
  • 1 potato
  • 1 onion
  • 1 container of mushrooms
  • 1 cup of frozen peas
  • 3 tbsp. vinegar
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. fresh ginger grated
  • 3/4 tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground hot pepper
  • 1 tbsp. mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup tomato sauce (I ended up adding closer to 2 cups)
  • 1 cinnamon stick

The major Uh-oh of this recipe was when I read for how long the crock pot was suppose to be on with the chicken, I needed 5 hours at low and I only had 3 hours before I wanted dinner on the table. So I quickly put all of my veggies (I had them pre-cut) into the crock pot with all of the spices, olive oil and tomato sauce. I had pre-measured out the spices, which turned out to be a blessing, because there were so many spices, and the grocery store in the mountain town I was staying in had a limited selection. Also, having the meal pre-blended helped in even distributing the spices.

As the crock pot went to work on my veggies, I realized I was going to need to put the crock pot on high for the 3 hours. However, I was worried if the vegetables would cook enough to be almost steamed and edible. What I learned, is no. That also may have been due to the part that 1.5 hours in, I turned the crock pot to low and added 1 extra cup of tomato sauce. I’m not sure. Maybe I really did need the 5 hours on low to cook it all. Next time, so my vegetable vindaloo is not so crunchy, I plan on steaming my vegetables before and actually cooking the dish for the whole time the recipe recommended. Whoopsies.

Review:

I liked this dish, but again the vegetables were very crunchy. However, I really like the pairing of the vegetables with the spices. Also, I think I need more time with the crock pot. People liked the dish, and the spices made it better the next day. The longer the vegetables sit in the sauce the better.

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Cost: No idea – Thanks Mom and Dad!
  • Total Time: 45 minutes to prep, 3 hours to cook. 3.75 hours.
  • Serving Size: 6 – 12 people

Christmas Dinner! Part 1: Samosas

The newest tradition of the Daly Family for Christmas includes an Indian feast for Dinner. Last year I made Chicken Tiki Masala, this year I expanded my horizons and made Chicken Korma, Veggie Vindaloo, Samosas and Naan. Due to the intensive nature of the cooking process (and how much I screwed up). This post will be broken up into 3 posts: Chicken Korma, Veggie Vindaloo, and Samosas and Naan.

First up: the Appetizers: Samosas

This post will feature a guest post from my brother. Should be comical .

Samosas 

Recipe:

Ingredients:

Filling:

  • 2 Idaho potatoes – peeled, steamed and cubed
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 tbsp. Curry Powder

Dough:

  • 2 1/4 cup gluten free flour mix (this mix included brown rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, and quinoa flour)
  •  1 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup coconut milk

Creating the filling and the dough was very easy. In fact, I made the filling in one bowl and the dough in the other. That is when my sou chef for Christmas Dinner stepped in and took over the rest.

Sous chef and little brother extraordinaire, Patrick, at the ready.

Building the samosas was easy as well. Ball up the dough and roll it out extra thin on a piece of parchment paper, so that it almost looks transparent against the board underneath it. Then placed the filling inside of the dough and fold it up into the nice, familiar samosa shape we all know and love. There should be around 10 samosas in total, all of them decently sized.

Once the samosas are formed, fry them inside of a pan filled half an inch with olive oil. Keep them in the oil for 4-5 minutes (closer to 5) before flipping; both sides needs to be fried to keep the filling inside. 

  
Then once fried, set the samosas aside and let them cool off. Some pay fall apart, but that is okay. Just keep frying them and hope for the best. They are now ready to serve at your discretion. I would suggest some sort of sauce along with it, but to each their own.

  

Review:

Huge hit! There was way too much filling, but overall a very good dish. And a great started to the main dish. (More about how my timing was so off for that later). Requests were made for a repeat, and I would for sure make these again.

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Cost: $15.00
  • Total Time: 30 minutes prep, 10 minutes frying – 40 minutes total
  • Serving Size: 10 or more samosas, no more than 12.

Chocolate Covered Cookie Dough Bites

 

This dessert was a combination of two recipes: paleo cookie dough (aka you can eat it without the risk of getting salmonella as my mother has taught me so much about when it comes to eating raw eggs. My biggest rebuttal and question comes those from poaches eggs or eggs over easy. If the yolk isn’t cooked, can you get salmonella? Moving on.) and melted chocolate. Melting chocolate is a skill i have acquired through making fudge, so I have no recipe to link to that, just my skills.

Recipe:

Ingredients: 

  • 1 bag Dark Chocolate Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (I use dairy free ones)
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 5 tablespoons ghee
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 3/4 tsp. vanilla
  • pinch of salt

The recipe is as simple as making normal chocolate chip cookies – mix all of the ingredients. Only catch, hold 1/2 of the bag of chocolate chips. Use this half to melt chocolate in the microwave. Using a microwaveable safe bowl, put the chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds, then stir. Repeat until melted.

Once you have the cookie dough mixed and the chocolate melted, make small cookie dough balls (bite size) and roll them in the chocolate. When the bites have been completely covered put them on parchment paper or in cupcake wrappers. Repeat until out of cookie dough. If the chocolate becomes too hard, microwave again. With all of the bites created, put them in the fridge until serving time. If need be, put them in the freezer for a quick turnaround.

  

Review:

Loved and requested for again, except many wanted the flour to not be almond. They wanted gluten (a common complaint among my guinea pigs, but I cannot eat gluten, so that will not be happening). A great party snack and a very delicious dessert.

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Cost: $8.00 – just the chocolate chips
  • Total Time: 15 minutes prep, 2 hrs in the fridge, so 2.25 hrs
  • Serving Size: 10 – 14 depending on how big one’s “bite”

Egg and Veggie Bacon Baskets

When I was left alone for a weekend, I got to cooking. And by cooking, I mean making way to much food for just one person. My biggest accomplishment of the weekend were inspired by these bacon baskets. Truthfully, I found making these challenging and time consuming, but I was also crafting away working on my Christmas gifts for my family, so the breaks helped to keep me on track with my other project of the weekend.

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of bacon
  • 1 carton of small or medium eggs (Large will not work for this dish)
  • 4 mushrooms
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 cup of spinach

With few ingredients, one would think little challenge. False. The first coming in cooking the bacon so that it is halfway cooked so you can bend it around the inside of a cupcake pan, but not so raw that it will not cook through later nor burn. This seems like a very detailed explanation, I still found the idea very vague, probably because until this year I had never made bacon. However, once I had successfully fried my bacon on a skillet and let it cool on a paper towel, then came the process of making a basket.

I used some coconut oil, and sprayed the heck out of the muffin pan, because I really did not want to have a broken yolk on me when it came to getting these baskets out of the case. When it came to making the bacon baskets, I found one strip could be the outside, where as about two small pieces of bacon made the bottom. I put the bottoms on first, and then the bacon around the edge.

With the baskets made, I put in my sauteed mushrooms, onions and spinach in the bottom of the basket. I topped the basket with an egg. The most difficult part of putting the eggs in was ensuring that it did not cause an overflow. Stopping the eggs whites from overflowing became a really fun game for myself. Just use your eyes.

Then I put the cupcake pan in the oven at 375 for 12 minutes.

  
Review:

Since I ate a majority of them, in fact all of them. I will say – very good indeed! I would love to make these again for a brunch (since it was relatively painless and I now know how to make bacon halfway cooked). Also, I would love to try this made with scrambled eggs instead of the eggs baked.

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Cost: $20.00 – for all fresh produce, eggs and bacon
  • Total time: 30 minutes prep, 12 minutes cooking. 45 minutes total
  • Serving Size: 12 Bacon Baskets

 

Scottish Eggs

This recipe was beyond my abilities. Seriously, it was the hardest thing I have made in the kitchen, yet every recipe I read about it was that this way of making eggs is oh so easy. Malarkey. First of all, a soft boiled egg is impossible to make without breaking the yoke or having extremely soft hands. That’s just the beginning. I followed the easiest recipe I could find, yet still struggled to do all required since I realized I switched recipes about halfway through – more on that later.

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 8 soft boiled eggs – peeled
  • 2 lbs. ground pork
  • whatever season you like: 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
    • 1 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • Almond flour to roll the eggs in
  • 2 extra eggs to roll the meat in before rolling in almond flour and “frying”

As I stated earlier, soft boiling eggs. Now this was a whole other google search. Before this post, I did not know there was any other kind of way to boil eggs besides making them hard boil eggs. Not true. In fact, I found a very helpful table that clarified to me how long to boil the eggs for: Soft Boil – 3 – 4 Minutes,  Medium Boil – 5 – 7 minutes, Hard Boil – 8 + minutes. Now you start counting the minutes once the water starts to boil. Most would believe that to be common sense, but to me it was not. I lost a few eggs to trying to peel seriously undercooked whites and yolks.

Then came the peeling of the eggs. Let’s all be honest with our selves. Peeling hard boiled eggs is hard enough with a yolk that is fully cooked. Somehow, part of the white always end up on the shell of the egg – which in of itself is broken into many tiny pieces that you can barley grab with your fingers, so you rely on the flick it with your finger nail trick. Now, attempt to do this with a yolk that is very much in a liquid state and wants to escape out of it’s circular form. One pull wrong on the white of the egg and you have a yolk explosion down the side of your arm.

After about 20 minutes of removing the shell of the eggs, I took a break. I needed a brief moment of relaxation before attempting move to the next step, wrapping the fragile eggs in meat. Since I stepped away from my Pinterest, this is when the switching of recipes happened. I returned to find my recipe had disappeared (aka I had forgotten to pin it), so I found one that I thought was the same. However, this recipe was only more difficult that the first, because it required the wrapping of the eggs in meat, then rolling the meat in egg, and then almond flower, and frying the whole thing.

Let’s all take a second and re-read the statement above.

I could barley peel eggs successfully, the next steps seemed even more of a stretch, but I attempted. (Attempted being the key word). Putting meat around a soft object is very hard. Each egg took about 4 minutes. My patience was more than tested. After the 4th eggs, I said screw it. I rolled the four I had completed in the egg, then the almond flour and then “fried” them.  I call it “fried” because in order to really fry something, the object must be fully covered by oil. These Scottish eggs were so large, they could not be covered in oil. So I “fried” them by just flipping the eggs multiple times. Again cursing myself over getting splash with oil, constantly. I realized after this dish, no more frying for me.

The other four went into a cupcake pan that had the meat as the outside of the cupcake, and the egg in the center, with the meat kind of closing on top (aka the eggs was totally exposed, but I want to pretend that the egg was fully covered). This seemed easier, and it was, but not Scottish eggs. Not one bit.

Review:

Not an easy dish to make. But good. I don’t think I will make these again, but it was very filling and a great addition to a salad or with fries. Good for breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, too hard to make. Next time I will have them when at a restaurant.

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Costs: $20.00
  • Total time: 55 minutes (this does not include my break)
  • Serving Size: 8 eggs so 4 – 8 people
IMG_4894
Again, Instagram – the reason my food looks so good. 

Apple Turnovers (Or Pancake Dessert Like things with Apples)

During the fall, we (as in my friends and I, not me, myself and I) made a trip to an apple orchard. Living in the midwest, this adventure had been a goal of mine for about 8 years – which was finally completed! Afterwards, my apartment had more apples than we knew what to do with, so my roommate and I turned to Pinterest – the greatest, most addictive website ever – to find creative ways to solve the problem of having way more than an apple a day in the apartment.

Also, during the fall, the tradition of Girl’s Nights was re-instated – and my roommate had taken on and mastered the creation of main dishes – so I went to work on desserts. That is when I found this dessert of Apple Turnovers Paleo Style. (I am not Paleo because it is a fad. I am Paleo because it is gluten free and dairy free which has become my diet – stating that now so when the haters hate, they feel guilty.)

IMG_4997
Instagram: Making everyone look like a professional photographer.
Recipe:

Ingredients:

Pancake part:

  • ½ cup almond flour
  • ¾ cup arrow root (I have no idea what this is – but my roommate had it, so it was used)
  • 1 cup fat-free, unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 egg whites
  • ½ cup water
  • pinch salt

 

Filling:

  • 2 apples, skinned and chopped fine (any type will do!)
  • 3 TBSP coconut oil
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 tsp pure maple syrup
  • dash salt

Let’s just start with the list of ingredients – I have no idea what arrow root is, but we had that and not tapioca flour – so it was used. Also, when I was at the store/looking at making this recipe, I saw coconut milk. We always have some in the fridge, so I didn’t even think twice about it. The recipe calls for full fat coconut milk. I have nonfat coconut milk. That happened. And this does affect the consistency of the pancakes – so I skimmed on the water, only adding 1/4 of cup.

Creating the batter for the pancake was very simple, mix it all together. Then you make the pancakes like you make a crepe. Fun facts – make sure that you can get a spatula – or whatever kitchen utensil you want to use- under neath the pancake to flip it. You only need a little bit of batter, less than 1/4 of a cup to make a crepe, otherwise it is way to thick and is in fact a pancake. Spray the pan well and repeatedly. (Please all – learn from my mistakes. I lost two pancakes to both of these issues). I sprayed my pan with coconut oil only for one pancake. By the time the second one was on the pan, the sticking of the pancake made it a fail. Let’s just say the phrase “Pancake down!” was used multiple times throughout this process of making the dessert. The pancakes only need about 1 – 2 minutes per a side on the pans at med-high heat.

Once the pancakes are out, put the filling in it right away and fold over. If the pancakes get cold, they loose their stickiness that holds the edges together. So as one pancake is completed, fill and fold over and pinch edges together, creating something like a hot pocket. The filling should be made previous to making pancakes, so it is ready to be spooned into the pancakes.

Once you have created your turnovers, comes the “fun part” of frying them. I say “fun” because the reality is you will get burned with oil. Fill up your pan with enough coconut oil to fry in it. Then “gently” place the turnover into the oil, and keep it there for about 2 minutes, flip and repeat. DO NOT THROW THE TURNOVER IN AND TRY TO JUMP OUT OF THE WAY OF THE OIL. You will only hurt yourself more/this is very dangerous. Then take the turnover out, place on a paper owl and let dry. Try to serve within a few minutes.

I topped my turnovers with a little bit of cinnamon (my apartment is obsessed with this spice) and a drizzle of maple syrup (I have a sweet tooth – #nojudgmentsplease).

Review:

Huge success! Everyone loved them. I did not enjoy making them, only because I made a very large mess and I kept burning myself. But I would attempt to make these again, and hopefully “learn” from my mistakes.

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Cost: $10.00 – we had most items at home
  • Total Time: 40 minutes – getting the skillet to the right heat, not burning myself and burning myself took some time – actual cooking time: 20 minutes
  • Serving Size: 10 turnovers

Back on Track – Not Just Crockpotting Any More Folks

IMG_5469Even with my long hiatus – 6 months to be exact, do not worry all – I have been cooking. Actually, my amount of time in the kitchen has increased exponentially. (Not sure if that is because I enjoy cooking more, or if I am just trying recipes way out of my league. Also after almost two years of blogging – I still cannot spell recipe the first time I try. I have to use spell check every time – #typical). I no longer use just one instrument, but I have graduated into some baking, and other cooking realms. Truthfully, I have not gotten any better at reading recipes, but I am constantly working at that. Aka. Reading.

Due to my free time around the Holiday season, with a break from grad school and a self break from work (aka procrastination), I will be updating this blog over the next week as much as possible to show you all how much I have improved over the past 6 months. In fact, I hope to post about 6 posts – 1 per a month I was gone!

Facebook feed to become flooded with me! Merry Christmas to all!