Eggplant Parmesan

My mom injured her arm and is taking it easy, so I decided to take on dinner tonight. She had already picked out recipes and bought ingredients. All I had to do was cook everything. On the menu was eggplant parmesan, green been bundles, and baked potato casserole. I'll cover the two side dishes in future posts, but for now I'm going to focus on the eggplant parmesan. We got the recipe from Whole Foods' website

First, I sliced up 2 large eggplants

After that I dipped each slice in a beaten egg, then in panko bread crumbs and laid them on a baking sheet. They went in the oven for 15 minutes at 375 degrees, then were flipped and baked for another 15 minutes.

Once my eggplant slices were cooked, I removed them from the oven and laid them in a single layer in a 9x13 baking dish. I topped that with a layer of tomato sauce (about half a jar), then a layer of mozzerella & parmesan cheeses (about 1/3 cup each). 

After two layers of each ingredient and ending with cheese, I popped the dish back in the oven for 20  minutes (until the cheese was well-browned on top). 
PS, that corner with no cheese on it was not a mistake. I think I'm lactose intolerant, so I'm trying to cut it out of my diet. Lame. :/

This is definitely a good comfort food for vegetarians and meat-lovers alike. Way back near the beginning of this blog I made chicken parmesan, but you can substitute chicken in this recipe as well if you're not a fan of eggplant. My mom always insists on having plenty of food, so I doubled the recipe she gave me. The original amount would be great for 4 people, though.



The other night, we made pizza at our house. yummmm. Nothing special, just refrigerated dough rolled out into our big cookie sheets and baked for about 10 minutes while we prepared toppings such as pepperoni, onion, and green bell peppers. Then we removed the barely-cooked pizza dough, added our toppings, and baked for another 10 minutes.

Voila! Pizza.


Many apologies

I must apologize for jetting off without a word to y'all, and not posting for an entire week! I went up to Fort Worth to be a counselor for freshman camp at TCU and didn't have time to post (or even cook for that matter). I did, however, eat some delicious food over the last week. One of the places we went was Joe T's for dinner. If you're ever in Fort Worth I'd recommend it for some good Tex-Mex. Yummmm.

Now that I've had an entire week to recover, I'm ready to whip up some recipes and share them with y'all. Be on the lookout! :)

In the meantime, I got a piece of chicken the other night that was shaped like a seahorse...Am I the only one who sees this?


Toad-in-the Hole

One of the blogs I follow pretty regularly is CollegePrep. I was going through my list of blogs to read the other day and spotted this post from her about making a Toad-in-the-Hole.

A Toad in the Hole (or Egg in a Basket or Hole in One) is simply a piece of thick toast with an egg in the middle. It's definitely something everyone should try at least once in their lives. I decided to make two this morning: one for me and one for the little girl I babysit during the week. Recently I've been trying to cut out dairy from my diet because I think I have a lactose intolerance/sensitivity, and as CollegePrep mentioned, this has no dairy in it. Just pair it with some fresh fruit and it's the perfect breakfast for me!

Here's how to make this simple breakfast dish:

Get a piece of thick bread (I used 2 healthy thins from nature's own...only 100 calories!)

Then I greased a small skillet and set it on the stove. You can use butter or margarine or even olive oil, but I'm trying to keep this low-calorie so I used a couple of sprays of Pam.

I grabbed a heart cookie cutter and cut a heart out of the middle, set it aside, and placed the outside of the bread in the skillet.

After cracking and separating an egg, I poured the white into the heart-shaped hole and let it cook for a few minutes. You can use the whole egg if you want, but I prefer whites only.

Once the egg looked solid, I carefully slid the spatula under it and flipped the whole thing, letting it cook on the other side.

After about 5 minutes I removed it and plated it with some grilled cherry tomatoes and white onions. 

The little girl I babysit, to my dismay, wanted her eggs scrambled and her toast jellied, so I didn't fancy hers up like mine. I will make her into a culinary snob yet. Or at least get her to try something new next time. ;)


Green Sauce

One of my greatest food weaknesses is chips and salsa. I'm not talking about grocery store salsa and a bag of Tostitos. I mean warm chips and fresh salsa from a legit Tex-Mex restaurant (which are abounding in Southeast Texas).

But you can't just go to a Mexican restaurant and eat chips and salsa, which creates a problem for people like me. My dilemma was solved when a woman from church brought the creamiest, yummiest green sauce to a home bible study a while back. We got the recipe for her, but never made it for ourselves. While flipping through our home recipe book a few days ago, the recipe caught my eye and suddenly my salsa cravings were back. I made it promptly.

You will need:
*1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
*1/3 jar green salsa (she specified Herdez, so use that if you can find it)
*1 tsp minced garlic
*1 jalapeno pepper, de-seeded and finely diced
*16 oz. container sour cream (I used fat free to cut down on calories)
*1 package dry ranch dressing mix (not ranch dip mix!)
*4 slices of fried bacon, crumbled

The process for this is pretty simple...Just mix all of the ingredients together in a mixing bowl with a spatula, then transfer to a blender and pulse until you reach the desired consistency.

Serve with corn chips, or vegetables if you're trying to eat healthier.


Fantastic Finds Friday

My mom is an amazing cook, but something she rarely bakes from scratch are cupcakes. That's usually because she's having to make them for some school event or bible study in large quantities, and it's easier (not to mention cheaper!) to use a box mix. I'd rather not start the debate of which is better, and how boxed mixes have "so many horrible chemicals that I can't imagine putting in my body!". One little cuppycake won't kill ya. And if it does, at least you died happy right? ;)

This week's Fantastic Finds Friday is all about cupcakes, including these white chocolate cupcakes with blackberry buttercream that my wonderful mother made this week. 

Here are hers:

And here are some other interesting/unique/yummy cuppycakes I found:

From Top Left: Oreo cookies n cream cupcakes, Girl Scout samoas cupcakes, Coconut raspberry cupcakes, caramel cream cupcakes, Chocolate orange cupcakes, Cookie Monster cupcakes (including a mini cookie), and Red velvet cupcakes. 

Has anyone seen the new trend in cupcakes? It's "cupcake in a jar", and is used for birthdays, parties, and even as wedding favors. I think it's a precious (not to mention WAY less messy) way to give and receive cupcakes.

Lastly, let me just say that I would LOVE to be proposed to with one of these! Listening bf? Just kidding. ;) But these are elegant and gorgeous, and I would have a hard time eating one (the cupcake, not the ring haha)

Speaking of engagement rings, I have a wedding to go to tonight. I can't wait...I love any excuse to dress up. Have a lovely weekend!



My mom finally broke down and bought a Babycakes cake pop maker from Kohls. It was regularly like $35 but she got it for under $20. Yay for sales and coupons!

Here's the cake pop maker...adorable huh?

You can do anything with these: any flavor of cake, brownies, donut holes, even hushpuppies!
We decided to use our new machine for the first time today 

I mixed up a box of white cake mix just like it says to on the box (3 eggs, 1 1/4 cups water, 1/3 cup vegetable oil).

Then I poured a big teaspoon of mix into each section of the mold, closed the machine, and let them bake for the specified 4-6 minutes.

When I lifted the lid this is what we had:

12 lovely little cake balls! (minus the one I ate before I took this photo)

One box of cake mix made about 6 dozen or so yummy little cake balls. I left the sticks out because I didn't have any available, and because they were just for the family. The only "downside" to the machine is that the bottom half of the cake ball is darker than the top half, and if you don't fill the sections enough they won't be perfect spheres. But other than that, this machine is great.

I would definitely suggest getting the BabyCakes cake pop maker. But good luck finding one. The company doesn't produce very many, so each store only receives about 3 or 4 at a time. Add in a sale, and these babies go pretty quickly. If you can snag one though, you won't be disappointed. They're lots of fun. 


Crafty Cook

I've never been a particularly neat cook (as you can tell from the mess in my "during" photos). I usually end up with some of whatever I've been concocting on my clothes. But after getting chocolate pudding on my floaty, cream-colored, favorite skirt, I decided that enough is enough. I went to the fabric stash in my closet, and with a pair of old ripped jeans and fruit fabric scraps from a sundress my mom made me when I was 6 years old, I created myself a nifty little apron. See?

It has ruffles and everything! (plus cute front pockets to hold my kitchen utensils)

It's definitely not my neatest sewing project to date, but with hand-ruffled ruffles (no ruffle foot, sad day) and an uncooperative sewing machine, I think I did a decent job. Just one more thing to add to my ever-growing collection of kitchen stuff. Now I can cook and look stylish at the same time!


Fantastic Finds Friday

One time I made brownies for my family, and not wanting to make "normal" brownies, I added a little something special. Noooo, not thaaaaat. Man what kind of person do you think I am? ;)

I added a bit of cinnamon to the chocolatey batter, and when they came out they had just a hint of flavor from the spice. So I tried adding it to other things to see if it would taste good in them as well. Of course, my mom (who is a traditionalist when it comes to following recipes exactly) wasn't a fan. Even today she teases me about adding cinnamon to "everything" I bake. This Fantastic Finds Friday is dedicated to that story, with the theme being "sweets including cinnamon".

From Top Left: Cinnabun butter cake in jars, cinnamon pull-apart bread, cinnamon bun pancakes, cinnamon cocoa, cinnamon sugar apples, and monkey bread (which we all know contains a ton of cinnamon)

This is seriously one of my favorite spices. It's so versatile. Have you ever used cinnamon in a non-conventional recipe?


Pancake Breakfast

Whenever we have a holiday (or one of those rare days when I'm home from school, my dad is off of work, and my sister has no school), my family likes to sleep in and then let me make them pancakes for breakfast. And I oblige, because breakfast is an awesome meal to cook. Time intensive, yes. Delicious, of course.

For Memorial Day, I made pancakes for breakfast while my 3 other family members played Wii. We're kind of a gaming family. Louie (my adorable puppy/"little brother") was with me in the kitchen. He just hopes that I'll drop him a scrap of food in the process of cooking, whether accidentally or "accidentally".

I don't quite remember where I found this recipe, but made these pancakes for the first time on Memorial Day of 2008. After eating them, we declared them to be "Yum-O Pancakes" (I had watched a little bit too much Rachel Ray the day before).

You'll need:
*3 cups flour
*2 tablespoons & 1 teaspoon baking powder
*2 teaspoons salt
*2 tablespoons sugar
*2 1/2 cups milk
*2 eggs
*1/4 cup & 2 tablespoons butter, melted (sometimes I use butter and sometimes margarine, whichever I have available at the time...I prefer butter though)

1. Combine the dry ingredients
2. Make a hole in the middle, and add the last 3 ingredients
3. Whisk together just until combined (It's ok to have lumps in the batter...just be sure you don't overbeat it!)

Then heat up your griddle to 300 degrees and pour the batter on. I use a non-stick one so I don't have to use Pam or butter to grease it up. However, you may have to if your griddle gives you trouble. When the pancake has air bubbles covering the top and few of them begin to pop, it's time to flip the pancake over.

Cook until nice and golden on both sides, then transfer to your plate. Cover your pancakes in butter or margarine, maple syrup, honey, fruit, or whatever else your heart desires! My sister likes me to mix in chocolate chips. My mom likes diced strawberries in hers. The great thing about this recipe is that it's a great base for any add-in you wish. Personally, I like bananas.

*Makes about 20 medium pancakes