Fried Eggplant Sandwich with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Standard
Fried Eggplant Sandwich with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

About a year and a half ago, I bought my house. Now, I wish it had been as easy as pack up my crap, throw some paint on the walls and settle in, but it wasn’t. I bought the house dirt cheap but then literally tore it down to the studs. Luckily, I had my apartment until February of this year, but when I moved in things were still rough. Rough like I didn’t have hot water or a shower for a couple weeks. Rough like I didn’t have a kitchen until May. (Mind you, I did have a grill and now I’m really good at grilling too.)

So the point of all this is to say that the other day I was cleaning up the kitchen, you know the usual washing dishes and wiping down counters when I realized EVERYTHING was filthy. I noticed a smudge on one of my cabinet fronts, probably from opening/closing a drawer while my hands were dirty from cooking. Then I noticed drips down the front of the sink cabinet. Have you ever had the snowball effect take over your cleaning? About an hour later I realized that I had scrubbed every surface in the kitchen. Really though, how did it get so dirty in so little time? Probably from the the amount of meals I’ve cooked drunk, and the herd of animals I call pets.

IMG_2483.JPG
Mostly this guy

In my newly cleaned kitchen I prepped myself a delicious lunch of fried eggplant sandwiches. Usually when I make this, my dad’s around to spilt the bounty with me, but this time I had it all to myself, so instead of closing it up and having chips or a salad on the side, I ate it open-face style… With lots of cheese.

I’m a fatty, I know. But if you want to enjoy this decadence yourself, here’s how:

Fried Eggplant Sandwich with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

IMG_2749.JPG

Ingredients:

  • 1 small eggplant
  • Italian seasoned panko breadcrumbs
  • Cajun seasoning
  • 2 eggs, whisked for dredging.
  • Ciabatta bread
  • Sliced mozzarella
  • Half a container of cherry tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  1. Fill a shallow frying pan with about a 1/2 inch of vegetable oil and heat on high.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. (I used my toaster oven to preserve some time and energy)
  3. On a small baking pan toss cherry tomatoes with a little olive oil and salt and pepper, roast in oven for about 15 minutes, until soft and a few begin to burst.IMG_2746.JPG
  4. Slice eggplant into quarter inch rounds.
  5. Set up your breading station. I like to pour my breadcrumbs into a pie pan so I have plenty of room to bread my eggplant slices.IMG_2742.JPG
  6. Dip each piece of eggplant into the egg then into the breadcrumbs seasoned with a little Cajun seasoning.
  7. Once they’re all breaded, start frying in small batches. Usually it takes 2-3 minutes per side.
  8. Meanwhile, toast your ciabatta.
  9. Once everything’s all cooked, assemble your sandwiches. I like to layer eggplant, tomatoes, cheese, more tomatoes. Maybe repeat… Depending on how fat I’m feeling.

Dig in!

IMG_2752.JPG

Advertisements

Honey Sriracha Shrimp and Bacon and Grits

Standard
Honey Sriracha Shrimp and Bacon and Grits

Yummm!  This is one of my favorite dishes!  And it´s pretty easy, too–yum yum yum.  Before I married Michael, I never ate or cooked with sriracha at all.  I´m kind of a disgrace to my Mexican/New Orleanian family because I don´t really like very spicy food.  Because of this, I had avoided sriracha most of my life.  I had only ever having seen it at pho restaurants, anyway, and I know exactly how I like my pho–no use messing with a good thing.

Well!  As it turns out, sriracha is delicious.  It´s not just generic spicy like Tabasco is, it´s got a wonderful flavor.  It´s peppery and garlicky and vinegary and very rich.  A few months ago there was a rumor that the sriracha factory outside of Los Angeles might shut down.  Apparently the residents in the community were complaining about the fumes, but then the sriracha people reworked their ventilation system, and all was well.  Apparently the factory has even become a bit of a tourist attraction now.  Anyway, during that intermediate period, people were afraid that there would be no more sriracha, and in fact, Walmart ran out of it briefly.  Our household (that is, my husband) was in a panic.  And then one day, I received an email that seemed to be heaven-sent!  World Market had sriracha!  I rushed over there on my lunch break and got several extra large bottles for us to keep.  I also discovered this lovely sriracha mayo they carry.  (This became Michael´s favorite sandwich condiment.)

This is the email I got from World Market

And so, due to the abundance of this fine sauce in our tiny house, I´ve started becoming creative with its usage.  I remembered seeing this Martha Stewart recipe, and decided to modify it a bit and give those flavors a spin.  I came up with Honey Sriracha Shrimp and Bacon and Grits–and it´s become a household favorite.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb shrimp
  • 6 strips of bacon*
  • pinch of garlic
  • 5 tbsp sriracha
  • 6 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup + 1/8 cup cream cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • cilantro
  • 2 servings grits
  • 1 tbsp butter

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Peel your shrimp.  If you´ve got some extra time on your hands, butterfly them.  They look prettier this way.
  2. Cut bacon into little pieces.  I use scissors and cut them into tiny strips, about 1/2 inch long.
  3. Heat skillet over medium high heat, spread bacon pieces evenly on skillet to ensure even cooking.  Cook bacon til pretty crispy, about two minutes per side.
  4. Move bacon to the edge of the skillet, add shrimp.  Let the shrimp soak in the bacon flavor.  They cook pretty quickly, so keep a good eye on them.
  5. After about two minutes of sautéing the shrimp in the bacon grease, use a slotted spoon to get the shrimp and the bacon out of there.  I let it all drain on a paper-towel lined plate.
  6. Pour out most of the excess bacon grease, leaving just a little to coat the skillet.
  7. Sautee garlic until fragrant.  Add sriracha and honey and stir.  Add 1/4 cup cream cheese to thicken consistency of sauce.
  8. Add salt, pepper, cilantro to taste.
  9. Lower stove heat to medium.  Add shrimp and bacon back in to sauce, stir to coat.

IMAG0938 IMAG0939

ABOUT THE GRITS:

Make them however you like.  I used to use instant grits until Michael found out, now he makes me make real “old-fashioned” grits the slow way, swearing he can taste the difference.  Whatever.  I think they taste the same.  However you make your grits, though, add salt, pepper and butter, for sure–but (this is my super secretI always add a little cream cheese here, too.  It makes them creamier and generally more delicious.  For two servings of grits, I add 1 tbsp of butter and 1/8 cup cream cheese.

Serve saucy shrimp and bacon over grits and enjoy!

I made some GREEN BEANS on the side.  I drain a can of green beans and heat them in a little melted bacon fat.  Add Tony´s and some hummus (I feel like this is another of my super secrets), mix it all around, and flavorful, easy green beans result!

IMAG0942

*About the bacon:  Before I got married, I never really ate bacon, either.  But then Michael talked me into buying some normal bacon, and then our friend from high school started his own gourmet bacon delivery company, and well, I´m hooked.  The real story is that he was a lawyer and hated it, so he quit his job and road-tripped across the country, buying local butchers´ bacon and mailing it to his subscribers.  It´s been great.  He´s on hiatus now, but will be accepting new orders soon–I highly recommend this.

So Much Squash

Standard
So Much Squash

A few weeks ago I discovered Good Eggs. They’re this great company that provides grocery delivery in New Orleans and select other cities, but what’s special about them is that all they sell are locally grown and produced foods. I like to describe it as having the farmers market delivered to my door. Amazing for me because of my unpredictable work hours, which makes it almost impossible to go to a farmers market regularly.

The most interesting thing I’ve tried from Good Eggs is getting a produce bundle. Basically, this means I give them a set fee ($20 or $30) and they deliver me a variety of seasonal fruits and veggies. I don’t have any ability to choose what I want so sometimes I get weird things. Like in my last box I got muscadine grapes. Now I know those are actually super common in Louisiana but I had no idea they could be used for anything other than wine. (But FYI, roast them with a little balsamic vinegar and eat with Gorgonzola, yum).

IMG_2694-1.JPG

Yesterday I received my second produce bundle from Good Eggs and this one was full of goodies from Stoney Point Farm, a family owned farm in Washington Parish. I got some lovely bell peppers, purple hull peas, sweet potatoes, assorted greens, some preserved pears and a shit load of squash. (All for $20! Amazing!)

Now, I’ll be honest with you, I’m not a huge fan of squash. I actually didn’t know what varieties I had and I had to do quite a bit of research to find out what to do with all these squash. So after about half an hour of Pinterest research, I found out I’ve got an acorn, a couple butternut, a spaghetti squash and some summer squash. Today I’ll show you how I used the acorn squash.

Considering I had no idea how this dish would turn out, I’m pretty happy with the results. The squash itself was super tender and slightly sweet, which played nicely with the spicy sausage. I definitely think you could use an acorn squash as a mashed potato replacement.

Sausage & Rice Stuffed Squash

IMG_2728.JPG

Ingredients:

  • 1 acorn squash
  • 1/4 lb ground hot sausage
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 oz sliced mushrooms (I used baby portabellas)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1/4 shredded cheese (I used an Italian blend)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Cut squash in half, remove seeds.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on baking sheet then cover tightly with foil.
  4. Roast in preheated oven until tender, about 35 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, brown sausage. Once browned, drain fat and set aside.
  6. Melt butter and sauté minced shallot until translucent. Then add mushrooms and saute until soft.
  7. Add a cup of cooked rice and browned sausage. Stir and heat through.
  8. Stir in 1/4 cup italian shredded cheese.
  9. Once squash is tender, remove from oven and flip over so the whole you removed seeds from is facing up.
  10. Spoon rice mixture into whole, sprinkle with a little more cheese.
  11. Place back into oven for 5 min, just to melt cheese on top.

Serve with roasted veggies (mine are some of Stoney Point’s sweet potatoes and butternut squash) and a light citrus-dressed salad.

Crawfish Cornbread

Standard
Crawfish Cornbread

Okay, so I make this delicious crawfish cornbread, usually only when I´m attending a dinner party or gathering of some sort.  It´s always a big hit!  It´s too good to make at home just because.  ¿Do you have any food like that–that it feels too indulgent to make without a special occassion?  Anyway, Michael´s grandmother recently invited the family over for a Sunday potluck lunch and I made this crawfish cornbread that I love.  But I had a lot of the ingredients left over–enough to make a second batch, so about a week later I made it again, just for us.  I felt like I had an excuse to make it because I was going to feature it on SmashTable.  Special occasion enough.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onions
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 box (8.5oz) Jiffy yellow corn muffin mix
  • 1 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped canned jalapeños
  • 1/2 cup cream style corn
  • 1 lb chopped crawfish tails

Y´all, this recipe is really, really simple.

HERE´S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat oven to 375º.
  2. Dump everything together into a bowl, stir by hand.  Sift the cornmeal to avoid lumpiness.
  3. Lightly grease 9×13 baking dish.  Pour mixture evenly into said dish.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes.

IMAG0879 IMAG0880 IMAG0881

IMAG0882 IMAG0883

Let cool before cutting.  The slices might be a bit jagged because of the crawfish.  Don´t stress.

Enjoy!

IMAG0884

Glittered Pumpkins!

Standard
Glittered Pumpkins!

For Mother’s Day, I got my mom tickets to see Paul McCartney here in New Orleans. It was one of her lifelong dreams to see him perform and she was super excited. Then the concert date in June approached, and Sir McCartney cancelled the show due to laryngitis or something. Mom was devastated–and I can´t help but say, I was too. He rescheduled for October, which seemed to be years away. Anyway, fast forward to last week, and excitement started building for the concert again. We decided to make a whole day of it and celebrate Mother’s Day in October.

I requested off from work and told her we could do whatever she liked. She told me she wanted to paint pumpkins…?! “Okay,” I said. “Whatever you want.”

Well we started browsing Pinterest for painted pumpkin ideas and became inspired. We had plenty of spray paint at home. We decided we needed to buy pumpkins and glitter. The rest would take care of itself.

Initially we were looking for fake pumpkins, thinking they’d be easier to work with. We bought several little styrofoam ones at The Dollar Store but ended up buying a real one at Walmart, too, because we wanted at least one big one.

We did find some really lovely pumpkins at Big Lots but they were already decorated and beautiful and buying those would have been no fun.

IMAG0798
Then we went to Michael’s for glitter and found some super cute stick on jewel letters on sale for 68¢! Couldn’t pass it up.

Back at home we got to work. To recreate these pumpkins here’s what you need:

  • White spray paint
  • Clear spray paint
  • Glitter
  • Elmer’s glue
  • Painter’s tape or masking tape
  • Foamy brushes

Here’s what you do:

  1. Wash all the dirt off your pumpkin and dry thoroughly.
  2. Go outside to spray paint your pumpkins. Use long and smooth motions so the paint is even.
  3. Add a second coat if your orange is still really visible.
  4. The real pumpkin we did in the grass. For the Styrofoam pumpkins, we used skewers to hold them and rotate them.
  5. We put the jewel letter on the big pumpkin. Stuck it right in the middle and then lightly spray painted over it. It was the self-adhering kind.
  6. Let them dry. We set up a fan outside to speed this up, and they dried pretty quickly. Maybe 20 minutes.

IMAG0800 IMAG0803

IMAG0805 IMAG0806

Inside, protect your workplace by spreading out newspaper. This will help you clean up and will hopefully keep glitter from going everywhere. We actually used pages out of the White Pages hahaha because we were out of newspaper. We probably should have done all this outside, too, but it was just so hot!

  1. Dilute your Elmer’s glue in water (2 parts glue 1 part water)
  2. For the pumpkin that’s only glitter on the top half, we put painter’s tape around the middle. For the other two, we freestyled it. Go cray with your designs!
  3. Spread your glue with the foamy brush carefully and thinly. You don’t want thick globs of glue. Do this in small sections to have better control of the situation.
  4. Sprinkle your glitter. Tap off any excess.
  5. I applied glue very carefully just on the jewel letter and glittered.
  6. Carefully remove any painter’s tape.

IMAG0807 IMAG0809

We put them back outside to dry and went to the concert. Paul McCartney was amazing! He totally rocked out!

IMG_20141011_195149 IMAG0839

When we got home we applied a quick coat of clear spray paint.

  1. Go easy with the clear because too much will dull the shine of your glitter.
  2. Let it dry overnight.

IMG_20141012_122435

We left the skewers in the little ones and arranged them on a bail of hay next to the big one. So far they’ve been fine outside. I’ve gotten tons of compliments on them! I can’t wait to see yours!

Delicious Spaghetti and Meatballs

Standard
Delicious Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs is one of my favorite comfort meals.  When I was a kid and I had been out with my mom all day, and she´d be pressed for time to make dinner, she´d make spaghetti and meatballs because it was fast and easy and delicious and I loved it.  Later in life I learned the reason it was fast and easy for her was because she´d buy the meatballs frozen at Sam´s and she´d have them ready to go at a moment´s notice.  *whomp whomp*  I didn´t learn the truth here until I got married and demanded she tell me her secret.

I thought I had fond memories of us making meatballs together.  Nope.  It was hamburger patties I was remembering.  Oh well.  The result is that I make hamburgers the same way I make meatballs, just about.  I used to love making hamburgers with her because I loved sticking my hands in the meat and squishing it all around.  I thought it was brains and how cool was that?!  To be fair, being Mexican, I grew up unafraid of eating all kinds of things like tongue and blood sausage, so why not brains?!  It seemed logical to me at the time.

Anyway, I still love squishing my hands around in ground beef.

My sauce isn´t from scratch, really, it´s modified tomato sauce and Prego.  Don´t judge.  It turns out really well.  A note I’ll mention: all my meals are made for two people, but we usually have some leftovers.

MEATBALL INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp Tony´s
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp basil
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded mozarella cheese

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil.
  3. Put everything in a bowl and mix it up with your hands.  If mixture seems too moist, add more breadcrumbs.  But not too much with the breadcrumbs because then the meatballs will be dense and terrible.  If you accidentally overdo it with the breadcrumbs, add more ketchup and worchestershire to even it out.  But don´t go crazy. IMAG0861 IMAG0862
  4. Make little meatballs with your hands and place on lined cookie sheet.  I make mine about 1.5in in diameter, but you can make them bigger if you like.  They do turn out smaller after you cook them, so don´t make them too small.  I get about 16-18 meatballs.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes.

While that´s in the oven, start your pasta.  I prefer angel hair–always–instead of spaghetti.  Salt and butter in the boiling water, don´t forget!  About 1 tsp salt, 1 tbsp butter.

Sauce time!  I like to use a lot of the same seasonings in the sauce to echo the flavors in the meatballs.  Whatever.  I kind of use the same seasonings for everything over and over.

SAUCE INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 cup Prego sauce, “Flavored with Meat”
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp Tony´s
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup half and half (or milk)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat saucepan over medium high heat.  Once hot, add olive oil.
  2. Once olive oil is hot, add garlic.  Stir til fragrant.  These guys tend to burn quickly so keep an eye out.
  3. Add Prego sauce.  Stir continuously.
  4. Season with chili powder, basil, oregano, parsley, Tony´s and paprika.  Keep stirring.
  5. Lower heat to medium low.
  6. Add tomato sauce, keep stirring.
  7. Add half and half.  You can substitute milk.  Tonight I used skim milk because that´s all I had.  I prefer half and half because it makes the sauce creamier, but work with what you´ve got.  Stir stir stir.
  8. Lower to low heat while you wait on everything else.

Around this time, your pasta should be about done.  Drain it and set aside.  Meatballs should be ready, too.  Put ´em on a cooling rack.  Some people dump the meatballs into the sauce, but I don´t like doing that.

ASSEMBLE IN LAYERS

IMAG0868

  1. Pasta
  2. Meatballs
  3. Sauce
  4. Mozarella cheese

Enjoy!

IMAG0871