Baked Eggplant & Tomatoes

This is a delicious dish that looks gorgeous, but is very easy and really ticks all the boxes for me! The eggplant gets all creamy and the cheese gets all melty, and the pesto gets all… pesto-ey. Well, you get the point.

Ingredients
1 large eggplant, stem end removed and sliced lengthwise in 1/2″ slices (save end pieces for another use)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
2 Tbsp Pesto
4-5 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/2″ slices (Any tomato is actually fine.)
1/2 cup grated Mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper the sliced eggplants and place in a bowl, leaning on the edge so the water can run off a bit from the eggplant. Let drain for at least 15 minutes.

Lay the first slice of eggplant in a 9×12 baking dish. Spread about 2 tsp of Pesto on the first slice. Top with a layer of tomatoes, and sprinkle on a spoonful each of Mozzarella and grated Romano. Slide the layer over until it is at an angle leaning on the side of the dish.

Repeat for the second layer, sliding eggplant over to partially overlap the first layer.

Continue with all remaining slices of eggplant. Sprinkle any remaining cheese on top.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Remove foil, and bake another 20 minutes.

Serve hot – it’s so good!

French Toast with Sautéed Blueberries

I love French Toast. Don’t know why I don’t make it more often. Probably because Kumy is such a pancake guy. French Toast is honestly so easy that I’ve never written it down until now.

I also like using fruit with just a bit of of sugar, maple syrup or honey for sweetening. If the berries are really sweet, you may not need to add all the sugar. You can also substitute eggnog for the milk – it’s delicious – or you could just as easily use Oatmilk if you like.

Ingredients:

French Toast
3 1″ slices of bread (mine was a flatter loaf)
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/8 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Vanilla
Pinch of salt

Berries
1 Tbsp butter
2 tsp brown sugar or 1 tsp honey
1/2 cup blueberries or any other fresh berries

Mix eggs, milk, cinnamon and vanilla in a flat bowl or pie pan. Lay bread slices in the mixture, and flip them over. Let soak in for a few minutes, pushing down on them once in a while to make sure they soak up as much of the milk mixture as possible.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. You can add a little butter to the pan, but you really don’t need it with nonstick.

Place soaked bread in skillet, drizzling any leftover milk mix over. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until it’s starting to get a bit golden underneath. Flip over and cook another 2 minutes, until it’s golden on the bottom and starting to get a little brown.

Remove French Toast to a serving plate.

Quickly add the butter and let it melt. Toss brown sugar over and stir for 10-15 seconds. Add blueberries and sauté blueberries in the sugar butter mixture for a minute. Pour berries and everything over the French Toast.

Delish!

Roasted Eggplant

Eggplants by Rens on Unsplash

Here’s another glorious roasted Eggplant recipe, where the addition of one secret ingredient (okay, it’s dried onion flakes) truly takes it to the next level. It’s delicious fresh out of the oven, but honestly even better warmed up the next day. We like it on pasta, or steamed rice.

Ingredients

2 medium eggplants, cut into 1/2″ squares
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 heaping Tbsp dried onion flakes
2 Tbsp olive oil
grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425.

Mix seasonings, onion flakes and oil in a medium bowl, Add eggplant and toss well to coat. Pour onto a baking sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove and flip eggplant over. Bake 5 more minutes. Remove and serve over rice or pasta, with some fresh, grated Romano cheese.

Would also be amazing in a wrap!

Kale, Lemon & Chicken Casserole

Lovely image of kale by Christina Rumpf on Unsplash.

I’d picked up kale planning to make soup or a lovely massaged kale salad, but somehow it just didn’t feel like a soup or salad night. Instead, I tweaked a Martha Stewart casserole recipe. We loved it – it was fast, easy and perfect for a weeknight supper. Next time – I’ll probably double the kale.

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. shells or other pasta (bowtie or rotini)
2 Tbsp butter
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced or one heaping teaspoon garlic powder
1 package chopped kale (5-7 oz – but you could easily double it!)
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 cup sour cream
Zest and juice of half a large lemon
3/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (or Parmesan)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly-grated black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. Add pasta to a large pot of boiling salted water, and cook until al dente. Drain and return to the pot off heat.

Meanwhile, in a large frying pan melt butter over medium high heat, add onion and cook 4-5 minutes until onion is softened. Add garlic and cook another minute, stirring frequently.

Add kale, reduce heat and stir to combine. Cover and cook about five minutes, stirring occasionally until kale is tender. Add to pot with pasta.

Then add chicken, sour cream, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper and 1/2 cup of Romano cheese, and blend together gently.

Check seasoning and place in a 9 x 13 baking dish, and top with remaining cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes. Serve with slices of fresh lemon for squeezing over.

Delish!

Salmon with Creamy Spinach and Tomatoes

Another delicious salmon recipe – and this one has plenty of veggies, with a delicious, creamy sauce – so it’s just the kind of recipe we love.

I made it last night, and we finished the whole thing – leaving not so much as a drop. It’s even possible that someone went after the skillet with a rubber spatula. So truly, not a drop was left, and yes it was me! Yum!

Ingredients

2 Tbsp olive oil
4 4-oz piece of salmon fillet, skin removed
2 Tbsp butter
1 chopped onion
1 Tbsp flour
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, or other tomatoes, cut into roughly 1″ chunks
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup half & half
1 tsp lemon zest
4-5 cups baby spinach

Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet on medium-high heat. Cook salmon for 7-8 minutes, gently flipping half way through. Remove salmon from skillet, and keep on a plate.

Add butter, and sauté onion for several minutes until softened. Stir in the flour and spices and stir for another minute or two. Add tomatoes, and cook 3-4 minutes or until softened a bit. Add wine and Dijon mustard. turn heat to low, and cook five minutes, stirring occasionally.

Slowly stir in the half & half and lemon zest, and continue cooking another minute until it starts to thicken. Add spinach and stir until spinach is mostly wilted.

Return salmon fillets to the skillet, and cook two minutes or so until the salmon is heated through. So good!

Roasted Cauliflower with Gremolata Breadcrumbs

Feeling absolutely starved this afternoon and I remembered I had a big bag of Cauliflower Florets in the fridge. I’ve been wanting to roast Cauliflower and found a truly wonderful recipe on Food52.com.

Cauliflower in all it’s glory by Jennifer Schmidt on Unsplash

Ingredients:

2 large heads cauliflower. broken into florets or 1 large bag cauliflower florets
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 tsp Kosher salt, divided
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
Zest of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh parsley

Set oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl mix ¼ cup olive oil, ¼ tsp salt and ¼ tsp black pepper. Add cauliflower and stir well to coat. Pour into a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until cauliflower is starting to get nice brown bits.

Meanwhile in a frying pan, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil and add panko and ¼ tsp salt. Gently sauté for several minutes until breadcrumbs begin to brown. Reduce heat and add lemon and garlic. Gently sauté a couple more minutes and remove from heat.

Put cauliflower in a serving dish and top with the breadcrumb mixture. Sprinkle parsley over and serve. So good!

Oven-roasted Asparagus

Beautiful image from Oklahoma Academy Country Store on Unsplash

I planted Asparagus in a back corner of my garden several years ago and always kind of forgot about it, until it was a giant mass of ferns. Yesterday, I checked and there were 7-8 beautiful little stems coming up! So I harvested them and we had them for supper last night, using a recipe from Allrecipes.com. Really fresh asparagus is such a treat!

Ingredients

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1½ Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 bunch thin asparagus spears, trimmed into bite-sized pieces.

Preheat oven to 425. Mix everything in a bowl, and add asparagus. Pour out onto a baking sheet and bake 12-15 minutes (longer if the stems are thicker). Remove from oven, and splash with just a bit more lemon juice.

Mustafa’s Daal (Lentils)

After visiting Kumy’s Mom at the beginning of last year, we were reminded how incredibly delicious Pakistani food is!  We were also lucky enough to learn how to make Daal from Mummy’s cook, Mustafa, who is an amazing cook.

It’s a fairly easy recipe, and uses a “bagaar” to add flavor.  It was one of the first things we made when we got back.  I’m happy to say it was just about as good as Mustafa’s and a welcome reminder of our visit back “home”.

Ingredients:

1 cup Masoor Daal (small, round, split red lentils)
1/2 cup Moong Daal (small, oval split yellow lentils)

4 cups water
2 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper (add more if you dare – it was originally 1 1/4 tsp – but that was too hot!)
1/4 tsp turmeric
3/4 cup diced onions
3/4 cup diced tomato  (Can also substitute 1 can of Rotel Tomatoes for the tomato and jalapeno.)
1/2 jalapeno, diced, optional
1/4 cup cilantro, rough-chopped, optional

Bagaar:
2 Tbsp oil
1 1/2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 1/4 tsp whole cumin
3 dry red chilis/peppers (small, round ones, but you can use two long red ones instead.)

Wash both daals well, swirling and rinsing until the water is mostly clear. Add to a large pot. Then add water, garlic, salt, cayenne, turmeric, onions and tomatoes. Cook 30-40 minutes.

Whisk well and add water to get a thick gravy consistency, as needed. You can also use an immersion blender to puree the daal, but be careful not to over do it. Add Jalapeno and Cilantro, and cook 10 minutes more.

In a small frying pan, heat the oil and add the rough-chopped garlic, cook for a minute and then add the dry red chilis/peppers and cumin seeds. Cook 30 seconds more and pour oil mixture right into the daal. Stir to combine and serve with basmati rice or Naan. Can also add a squeeze of lemon when serving if you wish.

Pan Seared Salmon with Lemon Garlic Cream Sauce

My dear friend Tammy came over yesterday and we made dinner together. Fresh asparagus from the garden, roasted butternut squash salad, and this amazing salmon dish, cooked in a cast iron skillet. We ate in the backyard as the sun slowly set and it was truly magical.

Tammy actually made the salmon dish and it was just incredible! Kumy said, “this is it – we don’t need to try any other salmon recipes” and I have to say I agree! We got the recipe from Katerina on Diethood.com, with a few modifications.

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp olive oil
4 (6 oz. each) skin-on salmon fillets
salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

For the Lemon Garlic Cream Sauce

1 Tbsp butter
1 cup half & half
1/2 Tbsp all purpose flour (or 3/4 tsp cornstarch for a gluten-free version)
1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano (or Parmesan) cheese
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3 big cloves garlic, roughly minced
1 tsp dried dill
3/4 tsp dried thyme
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Heat a cast iron skillet on medium high heat and add the olive oil. Season the salmon on both sides with salt and pepper and add the salmon fillets, skin side down. Let cook for 6 minutes without moving or lifting the fish.

Gently flip the fish over and let it cook 2 more minutes, then remove to a plate.

While fish is cooking, whisk together the half & half, flour, cheese, lemon juice, garlic, dill and thyme in a small bowl. Add ½ tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp black pepper to start. (You can always add more salt and pepper at the end.)

Remove any skin that has stuck to the skillet, and reduce the temperature to medium. Add the butter, let it melt and then pour in the sauce. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, whisking constantly for a minute or so until the sauce starts to thicken. Add the fish carefully into the sauce, skin side down, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Leave the tops of the salmon uncovered so it looks pretty.

So good!

Fresh Mint & Lemon Iced Tea

The mint in my garden is already 10″ tall and of course spreading with reckless abandon. I love mint and have decided to let it “own” a patch of ground by the porch, since it’s worth it to step outside and grab some whenever I need it. After all, what other herb grows by the square foot? (If you want to corral it – it also grows well in a low flat pot.)

Mojitos, anyone?

Another great way mint can be the star of the show is with Fresh Mint & Lemon Iced Tea, which is only lightly sweetened, but incredibly refreshing – especially on a hot day. Plus it’s caffeine free.

Ingredients:

4 cups water
2 peppermint tea bags (we like Celestial Seasonings)
1-2 cups of fresh peppermint sprigs (stems and leaves are fine – no need to remove leaves)
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice

Directions:

Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the teabags, sugar and fresh mint and remove from heat. Cover and let steep 10 minutes or so. Stir and then strain into a pitcher. Add 2 Tbsp lemon juice and fill the pitcher with ice.

Stir again, then check the taste – adding more sugar or lemon to taste. Pour into glasses half-filled with ice and garnish with a slice of lemon and a sprig of mint if desired.