We had friends over for dinner the other night, and I made a bean salad adapted from a recipe that my friend Katie had shared with me (from here). With the leftovers, I created lunch the next day. The combination of beans and quinoa made for a light, yet satisfying, healthy meal, and the mangos (picked from our own tree!) added a delicious, yet not overpowering, sweetness. I definitely make this again (intentionally, as a complete dish).
Tropical 3 Bean Quinoa Salad
- 1 can kidney beans
- 1 can garbanzo beans
- 1 can cannellini beans
- 2 cups cooked and cooled quinoa
- 1/4 cup green bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 medium red onion, diced
- 1/2 jalapeño, seeded and minced
- 2-3 mangoes, chopped
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
- 2-3 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp honey
- In a medium bowl, mix salad ingredients.
- In a shaker/blender bottle, combine dressing ingredients and shake well to blend. If you don’t have a blender bottle, whisk in a bowl to combine, streaming the oil in to the other ingredients. Taste dressing and adjust ingredients to taste.
- Pour over salad and stir to coat. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving.
Surprisingly enough, I am still keeping up with cooking my way through the Giada cookbook (I’ll post on that sometime soon … probably). However, when we found beautiful tiny eggplants at our favorite fruit and veg stand, we couldn’t resist picking them up. This is a little strange, because up until recently, I have hated eggplant. I’m coming around to it slowly, and I think Nick was a little shocked when I suggested eggplant parm for dinner. Having never made the dish before, I did some Pinteresting to find a good starting point, but went completely off the script of anything that I found.
Eggplant Parm Bake
Makes 3-4 servings, depending on the hungriness of the hubby.
- 2 Grenada-sized eggplants (ours here are smaller and skinny, this would probably be 1 regular eggplant at home), peeled and sliced into 1/2″ thick medallions.
- Salt and pepper
- 1 egg
- 1/4 c cornmeal
- 1/4 c parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 2 tbsp evoo
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large can crushed tomatoes
- 1 – 2 tsp dried basil
- 2 tsp white balsamic vinegar
- Pinch brown sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 lb linguini, cooked to al dente
- 1/4 c parmesan
- 1 c mozzarella
- In a colander, toss the eggplant with a teaspoon of salt and let sit for an hour. This will help reduce the slimy mouth feel of the eggplant, and reduce some bitterness. When finished, rinse well under cold running water and pat dry.
- Pre-heat the oven to 375. Prepare a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk an egg with a tablespoon of cold water. In another medium bowl, mix 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, cornmeal, parmesan, and basil.
- Working in batches (of about a handful), toss the eggplant first in the egg mixture, then in the breading mixture, tossing to coat. Spread the breaded medallions out on the baking sheet as you go.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes (depending on the size of the eggplant), flipping halfway through. Be careful not to overcook; they go from good to incinerated on the inside in a matter of minutes.
- While the eggplant is baking, prepare the pasta and sauce.
- In a deep saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Add the onions and cook until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and cook one minute more.
- Add the tomatoes, basil, balsamic, and brown sugar. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat, and allow to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- In a deep baking dish mix the cooked pasta and 1/3 of the prepared sauce (I used a round one that we have. It’s about the size of an 8×8 pan (but round, obvi), but about double the depth).
- Top pasta with a layer of sauce (1/3). Sprinkle with parmesan.
- Top sauce layer with eggplant. Sprinkle with parmesan. Top with remaining sauce, mozzarella, and parmesan.
- Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, or until cheese is melty and golden.
I refused to go to the grocery store this week. We have enough food in our fridge, freezer, and pantry to get us through the week, and after a long weekend of grading and I just didn’t have the desire to go shop. We’ve been fine so far, but it has necessitated some creative cooking. Today for lunch I made a Thai-inspired fried rice, which Nick declared to be in his top 3 fried rice dishes ever. I’ll take it.
- 1 1/2 cups leftover coconut rice (white rice cooked in coconut milk instead of water)
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 egg
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp ginger, minced
- 2 hot peppers (I use dried red chilis), minced
- Optional: 1/4-1/2 lb pork (I used 1 pork chop), sliced thin. Shrimp or chicken would also be good, and it would be great meatless, too
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1/2 ear worth of corn kernels (we had half-ears of frozen corn on the cob, so I just sliced it off)
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 1 tsp + 2 tsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp + 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp + 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 green onions, thinly chopped
- Re-heat the rice in the microwave and set aside. Using cold rice will cool your pan and will not produce as nice of a fried rice.
- Heat the oil over high heat in a large frying pan or wok. I’m sure a wok would work best, but I don’t have one here and it worked fine in my large Calphalon pan. You want the oil very hot.
- Fry one egg in the oil until the yolk is set (as you can probably tell from the picture above, I kinda didn’t get quite there, but we love yolky eggs on rice, so that was ok for us). Remove from the pan, slice into thin strips, and set aside.
- Add the ginger, garlic, and hot peppers to the pan, stirring. Cook for 30 seconds, or until fragrant.
- Add the pork to the pan and toss. Cook for 3 minutes or until browned on all sides, stirring occasionally.
- Add the vegetables to the pan, stirring. Cook 3-5 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften (again, stir occasionally).
- Add 1 tsp fish sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil, and 1 tbsp soy sauce to pan, stirring to combine. Cook 3 minutes more to allow flavors to develop (again, stir occasionally).
- Push the pork and vegetables to the side of the pan.
- Add the remaining fish sauce, sesame oil, and soy sauce the cleared portion of the pan. Top with the rice, and stir to coat.
- Once the rice is coated with sauce, stir the veggie and pork mixture into the rice. Cook 2-3 minute more, or until it starts to crisp (stir some, but be careful not to over stir/handle the rice, or it will loose its fluffiness and become dense).
- Move the fried rice to serving dish and top with the egg and scallions.
- If desired, serve with additional soy sauce (not really necessary, though).
I ended up getting a little behind in posting, and in cooking. But …
On Tuesday we had recipe #4: Chicken Adobo. Nick was nervous at first because he doesn’t love adobo sauce (the kind that comes in the can with chipotle peppers), but once I explained that in this case it just means “marinade”, and that this version is a Fillipino style, he warmed up to it. The recipe in the book differs slightly from the one online; in the book version, the chicken isn’t marinated. You simply brown the chicken and then pour the sauce to soak in while it cooks. Once I browned the chicken (about 4 minutes per side) I poured the sauce in the skillet and flipped the chicken in it to coat, then put it in a 400F oven for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through. Once finished, I removed the chicken from the pan, put the pan over medium heat, added about a tablespoon of cornstarch (accidentally directly to the pan rather than mixing with water first, but vigorous whisking kept it from getting lumpy) and stirred until thickened. With the sauce poured over the chicken and accompanying yellow rice, the meal was delicious. Nick named it his favorite from the cookbook so far!
I forgot when meal planning that Wednesday night we were having McDonalds. This may not seem like a big deal to most of you, but there are no McDonalds on the island, and it was being imported in for us by a friend that had just been home. So instead of having the Spiced Pork Chops, we had cheeseburgers, fries, and nuggets. Don’t judge. We’ll be having the pork chops for dinner on Saturday.
I did manage to make recipe #5 (Peanut Butter Cookies with Blackberry Jam) on Wednesday, though. I made my own butter substitute by refrigerating coconut oil until it hardened. Of course this basically just made coconut oil margarine, so the cookies spread a bit more during baking than I would like. They also went from under-baked to burnt around the edges in 30 seconds, so that was a little weird. Even so, they are pretty good, especially with the homemade mango jelly I substituted in for the blackberry jam. I think next time I may play with substituting honey for sugar and putting mashed banana on top, since a peanut butter, honey, and banana sandwich is my favorite.
Last night I got to recipe #6: Caramelized Onion, Chicken, and Grapefruit Salad. It was amazing; there were so many strong, unique flavors that worked well together. For a milder flavor in the dressing I did a 50/50 split of grapeseed oil to olive oil (instead of straight olive oil), and used lime juice instead of lemon. I’m not sure where to find a rotisserie chicken, so I roasted two chicken breasts in the oven (coated in EVOO, salt, and pepper) at 350F for about 30 minutes, flipping halfway through. To quote Nick, “With most meals you have a very artful way of blending and mixing flavors in a way to make me the most culinarily satisfied husbands in the world. Tonight you transcended that with your masterful meal. There was no blending, no mixing of flavors. Every bite brought new layers of intrigue that accented each previous bite in a new way. Brava, my dear. You are and forever will be unsurpassed.” Big ups to Giada for making my husband think I’m a genius, yo.
Last night marked the first meal of many from Weeknights with Giada. With the soup and the cornbread I managed to knock out two recipes; so, boom.
First, the cornbread. Make. This. Now. I’ll probably start using this as a regular side dish when I make soup; it’s easy and quick, with a great, unique flavor. As I halved the recipe, it only needed to cook for fifteen minutes. In addition to the alterations I already planned on making, I chose to substitute coconut oil in for the melted butter. With the current butter shortage the island is experiencing, I’ve decided to conserve my butter and substitute whenever possible. I can happily report that, at least for cornbread, coconut oil is a fine 1-for-1 swap-out for melted butter. Another tip: chop and use “real”/ball mozzarella as opposed to bagged. The ball melts really nicely and holds the cornbread together, and I read that people who used bagged mozzarella ended up with crumbly cornbread.
The soup was really nice as well. On the nights that I do yoga or run I like to have dinner prepped before I go. That way I can either just reheat it when I get home, or Nick can stick it in the oven at the right time as he studies. Soup works really great for that purpose. The soup came together really quickly, in about 30 minutes, so I just shut it off as I was heading out the door and Nick turned it back on about ten minutes before I got home (at which point he also put the cornbread in the oven. He’s a good helper). It was just coming to a boil as I walked through the door, so I was able to throw in the pasta and let it cook in the broth for ten minutes. When I tasted the soup it was a little bit sweet and one-note for me, so I added in a good couple glugs of balsamic to the broth as it was finishing.
I’m not going to lie. One of my favorite desserts is Rice Krispie Treats. I know it’s totally a kiddy thing to love, but there’s just something so comforting about them. One of our favorite restaurants from home (Mutts Amazing Hot Dogs) makes a Rice Krispies treat that is to die for. Chocolate and peanut butter, they’re ooey gooey and fantastic. Nick and I are a both kind of stress eaters, and with finals week at hand, we needed this special treat to get us through. Of course, we’re about a million miles from home, so it was up to me to try and fake the recipe. They turned out amazing enough to share.