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Monthly Archives: December 2010

Eggplant Marinara Flatbread

This is a scrumptious appetizer!  I used a short cut and substituted frozen ciabatta garlic bread.  It turned out pretty well, but if I make this recipe again, I will definitely use a fresh loaf.

Recipe from “Bon Appetit” magazine, October issue.

4 Tbsp olive oil, divided

6 1/3 – 1/2 inch thick eggplant rounds

1 loaf ciabatta or plain rustique

1 1/4 cups purchased fresh marina sauce

2 ounces soft fresh goat cheese

1/3 cup chopped basil

1 cup coarsely grated mozzarella

Preheat over to 400.  Heat 2 Tbsps olive oil over medium-high heat.    Sprinkle eggplant with salt and pepper.  Place in skillet.  Cover.  Cook until tender, turning, about 10 minutes.  Transfer to plate.  Brush cut side of bottom half of bread with rest of oil.  Cook in skillet, cut side down, until golden, 1 minute.

Place bread, cut side up on baking sheet.  Spread with 3/4 cup sauce.  Crumble goat cheese over; sprinkle with chopped basil.  Top with eggplant.  Mound mozzarella on eggplant; spoon remaining sauce over.

Bake bread until topping is hot and crust is crisp, about 12 minutes.  Cut into 6 pieces.  Garnish with basil leaves.


(sorry for the lack of pics on this one!  I was busy preparing a few things at once).

Baked Penne

This is a very simple meal to throw together quickly!  And more than likely, it’s stuff you will normally have on hand!  You will just need to vary the ingredients for how many you are serving.  Add a salad and some garlic bread and you’re all set 🙂

Pasta (I used penne, but lots of shapes will work just as well)

Tomato Sauce (I used Market District’s Tomato Basil)

Fresh Basil (if you have it, if not you can substitute dried)

Ricotta Cheese (Spend the time making it home made, you will notice a huge difference!)

Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Cook the pasta according to the package directions in salted water.  While the pasta is draining, I heated up the sauce just a little bit with a handful of basil to give it great fresh flavor.  Layer the pasta into a large pan or individual dishes and add dollops of the ricotta cheese.  Layer that to the top of your cheese.  Sprinkle the top with shredded or grated mozzarella cheese and bake at 350 until the cheese is nice and bubbly.  The length of time will vary on how big your dish is.

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

When my mum first told me that she had made homemade ricotta cheese, I thought she was a bit nuts.  She kept going on about how delicious and easy it was.  So, I decided to listen to the old adage about “mother knowing best” and gave it a try myself.  I can’t believe I had ever doubted her.  It is 3 simple ingredients and took about 10 or 15 minutes.  I like the taste of ricotta cheese in things like lasagna and what not, but would never consider sitting down with a store bought container and a spoon.  But, with my fresh curds, I had to stop myself from indulging in little finger fulls.  Believe me, it is WELL WORTH the minimal effort!!

So, here it is friends.  I did a double batch, so if you want a single “serving” just cut the amounts in half!

*1/2 gallon 2% milk

1/2 gallon whole milk

2 teaspoon salt

6 Tablespoons lemon juice

All you do is combine the milk with the salt and get very hot.  Bring it to a light boil, but be very careful not to scald it!  Remove the hot milk from the heat and add the lemon juice and just let it sit and watch the magic happen!  The curds will start to form from the acid and will separate from the whey.  It will be about 3/4 liquid whey still and the top 1/4 of the pan will be the ricotta cheese!  Scoop the cheese from the pot with a slotted spoon and put into a cheese cloth lined colander.

* You can use all whole milk if you would like, but doing half with 2% saves on the calories and you don’t miss one bit of flavor!

Chocolate Chip Cake

This recipe is from my home church’s cook book and is from my neighbor, Cherie, from where I grow up.  It’s one of my favorite cakes to make; it is very simple to make and very delicious!

1 package yellow cake mix

1 package vanilla instant pudding

4 eggs

3/4 c. water

2 T. sour cream

1/2 c. oil

1 (12 oz) package chocolate chips

Blend first 6 ingredients together for 5 minutes on medium speed.  Mix in the chocolate chips (coat with flour to help avoid the chips all sinking to the bottom of the cake).  Pour batter into greased and floured tube or bundt pan.  Bake at 350 for about 50 minutes (be sure to test the cake for doneness, the recipe says 50 minutes but it actually take about 1 hour 15 minutes in my oven).  Be sure to really prepare the pan, I sometimes have problems with the cake all coming out in one piece (as the pictures will prove!).

Oven Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

Adding potatoes right into the crock pot is a great option, but I decided I wanted to add more texture to the meal.  So, I opted to oven roast potatoes separately.  I used 2 pounds of potatoes and diced them in bite size pieces.  (To save time, I diced them the night before and  stored them in the fridge covered and in water)  After draining the water, I drizzled the tots with extra virgin olive oil and tossed them with crushed garlic cloves and fresh minced rosemary.  They went into a 400 degree over for about 45 minutes.  It’s important to toss them a few times throughout cooking to make sure that they brown evenly and don’t stick.  If they seem to be drying out or sticking to the pay, add a bit more olive oil.


There are few things easier or more comforting than getting home from work and being welcomed inside with the smell of a roast.  Last week for dinner with the girls, I made a roast with carrots and onions with a seasoning packet.  I used about a 5 pound oven roast, and mix two seasoning packets with 4 cups of water.  Set the temperature on low and was out the door!  I used a little bit over 1 pound of baby carrots and 2 large white onions that I cut in thick sections.  The deliciousness cooked in the crock pot for about 8 hours.  Using the “Crockery Gourmet” seasoning packets makes a wonderful gravy to serve with everything.