Monday, June 29, 2009

Eggplant Parmesan

On Saturday I went to the St. Pete Market with my mom. I picked up some gourmet pastas and fresh produce including a nice looking eggplant and decided to make eggplant parmesan for dinner. When picking out an eggplant it should be firm to the touch with a smooth exterior, no blemishes. I used my spinach and garlic fettuccine that I got at the market, but you could use any pasta with this. I kind of just threw this together, so I apologize for not providing any exact measurements. I served this with a quick Caesar salad.

Ingredients:
1 eggplant, sliced about a half an inch thick, figure two round slices per person (a small one will feed two and a large one will feed four)
kosher salt
2-3 eggs, beaten
Italian breadcrumbs
olive oil
Your favorite marinara sauce (half a jar to a full jar)
shredded mozzarella (a spoonful for each slice)
grated parmesan cheese (a spoonful for each slice)
pasta of your choice (1/2 lb. or 1/2 a box for 2 people, a full pound for 4 people)

After you slice the eggplant, lay out on a plate or in a dish and sprinkle some kosher salt on each slice. Set aside for at least 15 minutes. This brings the moisture out of the eggplant. It's actually pretty fascinating, you'll see beads of water form on the eggplant. After you let sit for 15 minutes, rinse off the salt and pat dry.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs. Lay out the breadcrumbs onto a plate. Run the eggplant slices through the egg and then coat both sides with the breadcrumbs.

In a large, oven safe skillet heat a couple of tablepsoons of oil over medium to medium-high heat. Add the eggplant and cook on both sides until golden brown, just a couple minutes per side. You may need to add more oil as you go. And depending on the size of your eggplant and how many slices it yields, you may to cook it all in two batches. Once the eggplant is cooked, top each slice with a little sauce and cheese. Put a little extra sauce around the pan as well. Place in the oven for 10 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese has melted.

(You can either use the same skillet to bake the eggplant or if you need more room, place the eggplant in a larger baking dish.)

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the pasta and cook according to the package directions, most likely 8-10 minutes. Drain the pasta, divide among the plates. Top with two slices of eggplant per person and spoon the extra sauce over the pasta. This is so filling you'll forget you not eating any meat.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Steve Madden Bedding...what?

I just got an email from Bed, Bath and Beyond telling me my shoe lovah makes bedding now! And it is exclusive to BBB. Check it out here. This is so freakin' exciting!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Betty Crocker Newsletters

I have a bunch of blueberries I need to use before they go bad, so I decided I will make quick blueberry muffins using Bisquick. Well, I looked on the back of the box for the recipe and it wasn't there, so I got my little butt online to find it. While I was on the site I ran across a sign up feature for newsletters, so I of course signed up. Now I receive e-newsletters for quick and easy recipes from the almighty Betty Crocker, Bisquick and some easy dinner recipes. If you're interested check out www.bettycrocker.com.

GM Tampa Bay Hosts Sneak Preview of Transformers 2

I was so excited Tuesday night to be invited to a sneak preview of Transformers 2 sponsored by GM Tampa Bay. It was my first blogger perk and I brought my husband along for the ride. GM Tampa Bay is promoting the new movie along with the new Camaro, which is featured in the movie quite a bit (along with other GM models), since the lovable Bumble Bee is a Camaro.

In addition to screening the movie, they invited local bloggers to a meet and greet with the designer, Jeff Perkins, and they were giving people a chance to test drive a new Camaro. We didn't partake in the test drive, but the meet and greet was interesting. You could tell the designer loves his job and is very passionate about what he does and the GM brand. He has spent pretty much his entire career at GM.


The new Camaro is gorgeous and I was surprised by the great gas mileage you get. I believe they said 29 miles per gallon on the highway. That is better or on par with my little Beetle! Jeff also talked about the Volt, an electric car that GM is working on.

Now to the movie. It might not be the usual fare a modern housewife would go for, but the modern house-husbands out there will love it. The movie was actually very good, a little long, but packed with more action than the first. It still has romance mixed in and the parents in the movie totally crack me up.

Thanks GM Tampa Bay for the invite. I think all the community events you are hosting are wonderful and a great gesture of goodwill.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Peach and Blueberry Crisp

This was the most amazing fruit crisp I have ever had. I made it yesterday for Father's Day. I love the peach, but you could use any fruit that is in season at the time. Plums would be great, all blueberry, strawberry, apple, mixed berry, etc. The crumble on the top is the best, too. I was inspired by a Barefoot Contessa recipe. Serve with vanilla ice cream of course.

Ingredients:
5-6 peaches
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus an 1/8 of a cup
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed, divided in half
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus 1 tablespoon
1/4 - 1/2 pint of blueberries
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1 stick of cold butter, diced (very important that it is cold, NOT room temperature)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the inside of a 1 and 1/2 quart oval baking dish. (Corningware) Immerse the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds, then place in cold water to shock. This makes peeling the peaches easier and gets the juices flowing. Peel the peaches and cut into thick wedges. Place in a large bowl, add the 1/8 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of the brown sugar and 1 Tbsp of flour. Toss well. Gently mix in the blueberries. Pour the mixture into the baking dish and gently smooth the top.

Now in the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar, the other 1/4 cup brown sugar, salt, oats and cold, diced butter. Mix on low with a paddle attachment. It will take a couple of minutes but the mixture will be crumbly with the butter turned pea-sized. You'll know when you see it. There is a visible change. Sprinkle evenly on top of peaches and blueberries. Bake for 1 hour until the top is golden brown and the juices are bubbly.

* The other great thing about this crisp is if you have a couple of peaches that aren't quite ripe, they'll soften when they bake.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Cali Burgers

Tonight we decided to stay in and make some burgers. Avocado is one of my favorite foods. It really is the most perfect food. So we topped the burgers with an avocado mixture.

Ingredients:
1.25 pounds of ground round or sirloin (it has a little less fat than ground chuck)
2 garlic cloves, minced or passed through a garlic press
a couple splashes of worcestershire sauce
a couple splashes of beer
salt and pepper
4 slices of cheddar cheese
slices of cooked turkey or regular bacon
1 Haas avocado
1-2 Tbsp diced red onion
sprinkle of garlic powder
juice of half a lemon
dollop of sour cream
lettuce and tomato (optional)
4 hamburger buns

In a mixing bowl, add the ground beef, garlic, worcestershire sauce, beer and salt and pepper. Mix well and form into four patties. Grill the burgers on a hot grill or in a grill pan over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes per side. When the burgers are almost done, top with cheese and let melt.

Meanwhile, cut the avocadoes in half and scoop out the insides into a bowl. Mash with a fork. Add the red onion, garlic powder and lemon juice. Mix well. Add a dollop of sour cream and mix well. Making the avocado mixture is better than just slicing the avocado because experience has proven that it will just fall out.

Place the burgers on the bottom buns, top with bacon and the avocado mixture, lettuce and tomato. Place with the top bun. Enjoy!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Julie and Julia: The Book and The Movie

In addition to being a fan of cookbooks, I also enjoy chick lit. There is a new movie coming out in August, Julie and Julia, based on the book of the same name. I bought the book a couple of weeks ago and going to start it tomorrow while I lie by the pool. It is about a woman, Julie Powell, the author, who is working as a secretary and decides to cook every one of the recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking over a span of a year. That is 524 recipes in 365 days. The movie stars the wonderful Meryl Streep as Julia Child and Amy Adams as Julie Powell. The movie looks so freakin' cute and both Meryl and Amy are extremely talented actresses. I'll let you know how I enjoy the book.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Rodeo Turkey Burgers

This is a great cowboy inspired burger made with ground turkey and topped with cheddar cheese, bbq sauce and onion rings. I love barbecue sauce on my burgers.

Ingredients:
1 package ground turkey
1-2 Tbsp Montreal grill seasoning
Sprinkle of garlic powder
favorite barbecue sauce
cheddar cheese
onion rings (either frozen kind or make them yourself, I did the former)
Hamburger buns

In a large bowl mix the ground turkey, grill seasoning, garlic powder and a little barbecue sauce together. Adding a little barbecue sauce keeps the turkey burgers moist. Be careful not to overmix. Form the mixture into four patties. Place on a preheated grill pan. Cook on each side for about 6 minutes. When they are almost done, add a couple slices of cheese. Cover with loosely tinted foil to melt the cheese.

Toast your buns. Place the burgers on the bottom bun, top with some sauce and then a few onion rings. Enjoy with a few napkins nearby, you'll need 'em.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Antipasto Tilapia

I just got back from a 4-day trip to Vegas where I ate total crap and drank too many beers and ciders, so I am back on my healthy kick yet again. And of course, while I was gone, my husband was left home to bachelor devices, so he didn't do too much better.

On my way home from work today I stopped at my happy place, The Fresh Market, on a mission to find fruits and vegetables. My husband was in a "fishy" mood, so I picked up tilapia and stopped at the antipasto bar (or is it antipasti) for some marinated artichoke hearts, feta cheese and olives. I also picked up grape tomatoes to toss with the antipasto ingredients to make a little topping, a salsa so to speak.

I seasoned the tilapia and sauteed it for about 3-4 minutes per side until cooked through and starts to flake. Then simply top it with the antipasto ingredients. It was delicious.

I served it with roasted zucchini. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the zucchini in half, then cut each half in half again, this time lengthwise. Then cut each quarter into thirds. This creates a wedge shape. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss and lay on a baking sheet. Cook in the oven for about 10-12 minutes.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Wines for Summer

At least once a week you can find my husband and/or me at this family Italian restaurant, Gino's that is about a mile from our house on North Armenia Ave. in Tampa. It has been around forever and offers great, homemade Italian favorites and they boast a great beer and wine menu. Actually, they opened a great wine shoppe not too long ago.

Last night we attended a wine tasting event there that featured wines for the summer, all white wines of course, which didn't bother me in the least. A lot of Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and sparkling (my personal favorite). I of course had my husband purchase a few of the ones we sampled and I will definitely be going by there throughout the summer to pick up the others.

The ones we brought home were a Prosecco, a nice Italian sparkling that I had never tried; a lovely German Riesling from Fountain Blue winery, sweet and refreshing during the hot summer months and Twin Vines Vihno Verde, a white wine from Portugal. All reasonably priced.

Gino's has a lot of other events planned for the summer including a beer and food pairing dinner and a beer tasting. I definitely suggest everyone check out this Tampa jewel. They even have a Facebook page now.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Ham and Brie Panini

This is essentially a fancy ham and cheese sandwich, a totally delicious one. The combination of ingredients may sound bizarre, but trust me they totally work together. The saltiness of the blue cheese is a great complement to the creamy brie and sweet apricot preserves.

Ingredients:
4 slices sourdough bread
ham steak, sliced thin
slices of brie
blue cheese crumbles, just a little bit
apricot preserves
olive oil, for drizzling on the bread before grilling

If the ham steak is a little thick, slice it in half lengthwise. Then place the ham steaks on a grill pan or in a skillet to warm through. On two of the slices of bread, drizzle with a little bit of olive oil. Flip the bread over. Place an even layer of sliced brie on the bread. On the other two slices of bread, spread an even layer of apricot preserves on each and the blue cheese crumbles. Remove the ham from the pan and place on top of the brie. Now take the slices of bread with the blue cheese and apricot preserves and place on top of the ham, face down of course. Drizzle the outside with olive oil and place on a preheated panini press or grill pan until golden brown on both sides.

Take my word for it, this is heaven on a plate.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Crispy Tilapia with Artichoke Puree

Ingredients:
3 large egg whites
2 tilapia fillets, about 1 pound total
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 Tbsp salt-free lemon and herb seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 (12 ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
reserve 1 Tbsp of the oil from the artichoke hearts jar
1/2 cup canned white beans, drained
1/3 cup sour cream
zest of half a lemon
2 Tbsp fresh Italian parsley, chopped
juice of 1 lemon

Place egg whites in a shallow dish.

On a paper plate, combine cornmeal, herb seasoning and salt. Add tilapia to egg whites and coat on both sides. Add to cornmeal mixture and coat on both sides. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add the tilapia and cook about 4 minutes per side or until golden brown and cooked through, but not dried out. Once you flip the tilapia, take half the lemon and squeeze the juice over the browned side. Check if the tilapia is done by testing the thickest part of the fillet and if it starts to flake and is white it is done.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine artichoke hearts, reserved oil from the jar, white beans, sour cream and lemon zest. Process until smooth. Fold in parsley.

Serve the tilapia with the artichoke puree. Squeeze the juice from the other half of the lemon over the tilapia.