No Meat Fridays, Week 7: Eggplant Parmesan

The last in my No-Meat Friday series, I give you my best recipe yet – baked eggplant parmesan!

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This takes a while to cook, about 45 minutes, so plan for it, but other than that, this recipe is really easy and tastes like it’s from a restaurant.

Ingredients:
about 2 cups of pasta sauce (doesn’t have to be precise), from a can or homemade
1 log fresh mozzarella (not the balls)
1 eggplant
2 eggs
1.5 cups bread crumbs
salt (for the eggplant)
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
parsley, basil, oregano, to taste, I used about 1 teaspoon of each

The day you know you’re going to be making this, cut the mozzarella into slices, wrap them in a dish towel, put them in some tupperware, and put them back in the fridge. A couple hours before preparing this meal, take the cheese out and let it sit out on your counter.

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This is all to reduce the amount of liquid in the mozzarella. If you skip this step, your dish will be waaaaay too watery.

When you’re ready to start cooking, pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the eggplant into round slices, about 1/4 inch thick each. Lay them flat on a cutting board and sprinkle a good amount of salt on each slice. Let the slices sit for 10-15 minutes. Take a paper towel and push down on each slice, removing excess water and as much of the salt as you can get.

Next, mix the two eggs in a small bowl. In another shallow bowl, mix the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, parsley, basil, and oregano. Dip an eggplant slice in the egg mixture, then dredge it in the bread crumb bowl. Try to make sure each slice is covered.

Put the slices on a foil-lines and cooking sprayed baking sheet.

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Cook the eggplant for 15 minutes, turn the slices over, then cook for another 15 minutes. Note that you can fry the eggplant slices, but the frying and the oil drives up the calories. Baking the slices cuts calories, but still gives you the breaded taste. It’s up to you.

In the mean time, spread the pasta sauce on the bottom of a baking dish. When the eggplant are ready, make the stacks. Put a piece of eggplant on the bottom, then layer a slice of mozzarella on top, followed by some sauce.

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I made 4 stacks of 4. You can add extra seasonings on top if you want.

Put the baking pan in the oven with the lid on for about 5 minutes. Take the lid off and continue cooking another 10 minutes or so, until the cheese is melty and the sauce is warm.

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I found this dish to be very filling. In fact, I was only able to finish half of a stack for dinner, meaning I only ate 2 of the eggplant slices. Dan did manage to eat a whole stack. This recipe gave us a dinner and a lunch a piece in leftovers.

And so ends my No-Meat Fridays series. I hope you enjoyed it!

No-Meat Fridays, Week 6: Melt with You

Another Lenten Friday, another meat-free dish – open face tuna melts with a side of waffle fries.

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I’ll start with the fries. I bought them. They were leftover from a party when we made some delicious Irish nachos. Yum.

As for the tuna salad, you’ll need:

1 can tuna (in water, not oil)
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
1/4 cup mayo (or Miracle Whip), or mayo to taste
1 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
4 pieces of whole wheat bread, toasted

Mix all the ingredients (except the cheese and bread) together in a bowl. Add the mayo last and slowly. Dan likes way less mayo in his than I do, so I take some tuna out and then proceed to add more mayo to my taste.

Spoon the tuna salad onto the bread. Add the cheese to the top.

If you’re going for a super fast meal, broil the bread, so the cheese gets bubbly.

If you want to take the time for the tuna itself to get warm (my preferred method), heat the over to about 350 and let the bread bake for about 5-7 minutes, checking on it to make sure the cheese doesn’t burn.

Enjoy!

Stay tuned for the last post in the No-Meat Friday series next week!

 

No-Meat Fridays, Week 5: Spice-Rubbed Salmon with Garlic Sauteed Spinach

Here’s my fifth dinner in the no-meat series – salmon and spinach.

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Dan actually proposed this meal, and I was a bit skeptical. I tried salmon a few different ways without success before I finally found the pepper jelly recipe as my go to. I don’t know what it is, but I’m really picky about my salmon.

This meal was quick and easy. The part that takes the longest is measuring out spices and chopping the garlic.

As we took the recipes for the salmon

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and spinach

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straight from recipes we found online, I won’t re-type them here.

I did make one edit to the spinach though. No lemon juice (we didn’t have any) and no butter (to keep it healthier). I don’t think those ingredients were missed, as the spinach was still packed full of flavor from the garlic. I was really surprised at how much the spinach wilted down though. When I put the spinach in the pot, I could barely fit it all. By the time it was ready to eat, the spinach didn’t even cover the entire bottom of the pot.

I was equally surprised at how well the spice rub stayed on the salmon. I thought a lot of the spices would be lost in the pan while searing, but that was not the case.

Total cooking time – about 20 minutes for a healthy and tasty meal.

Orange Rosemary Cornmeal Cake

Over the weekend, I went to my parents’ house for dinner.

Offering to bring dessert, I thought I’d go for something spring-y in the hopes that maybe spring will arrive in Chicago sometime soon. Yeah right.

I also wanted something with a bit of an Italian element to it, as we’d be eating a Sunday night staple growing up – Dad’s homemade pizza.

I decided to try out this cake.

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Though I followed the directions perfectly, and my baking powder was new, I was sad to see that the cake didn’t rise nearly as much as I thought it would.

Even with its general flat-ness, the cake was a hit. The combination of the orange and rosemary was delicious. And chopping the rosemary into the sugar made the kitchen smell amazing.

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The batter was very thick, so I thought the cake would come out heavy. Not at all – it was super light.

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I definitely recommend making this. I’ll be giving it another try to see if my second attempt rises more. If not, I’d still make this cake to use as a part of some other dessert, like perhaps an ice cream or yogurt parfait drizzled with limoncello. Hmmm…maybe I’ll make that parfait anyways!

No-Meat Fridays, Week 4: Rosemary and Garlic Potato Flatbread Pizza

Week 4 of no meat on Fridays. This is really cutting into our date night options, as if we go out, I usually tend to pick a meat dish. I didn’t really notice that until I realized I couldn’t have 3/4 of the items on a menu. I don’t know how vegetarians do it!

As such, we’ve taken to cooking in on Fridays, so I’ll be able to enjoy a delicious meat-free dish each week.

This dish is definitely a keeper. Yes, it would seem like this is carb overload, but it really didn’t feel that way as I ate it. Plus, the flatbread seemed like it was a kind of a fancy meal. Definitely restaurant-level quality. Pair with a good wine and you have yourself a great stay-in date night.

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Ingredients:
1 lb pizza dough
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
1 thinly sliced red potato
1-2 tablespoons of rosemary
Grated Parmesan cheese – to taste
Sea salt and pepper- to taste

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

I started with store bought dough from Trader Joe’s.

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I went with a kind I hadn’t tried before – garlic and herb. I highly recommend it. You can make your favorite dough recipe – just up the amount of garlic and rosemary you add. Let it sit out for about 20 minutes, then roll it out to a 12 inch square.

Put the olive oil, pepper, and garlic in a small bowl,

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and brush it onto the dough.

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Spread the thing potato slices out onto the dough. Try not to stack the potatoes.

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Top everything off with the sea salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until the crust turns a little brown and the potatoes are soft and fully cooked.

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I thought this was a great quick and easy Friday dinner.

No-Meat Fridays, Week 3: Whole Wheat Banana Honey Pancakes

Week 3 of Fridays during Lent is here.

It’s cold, a little snowy, and cloudy all the time. To me, this is perfect breakfast for dinner weather. Heck, you can even wear your PJs when cooking and eating this meal for extra comfort (and warmth!).

These pancakes are healthy and hearty.

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Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
1 cup skim milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 mashed banana

Start by sifting together the flour and baking powder into a small bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix the egg, milk, salt, sugar, honey, and extract together.

Mash up the banana and then add it to the liquid mixture. Slowly beat in the flour mixture.

Then, just make pancakes on your griddle as usual.

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Another great meat-less alternative for dinner.