Hassleback Eggplant AKA Lazy Woman’s Eggplant Parmesan

My favorite way to eat eggplant is sliced, dipped, battered, and fried, but who has time, right? Besides all the racket the smoke alarms make and the way the smoke boils through the sun streaking in the window and the smell…that stays in the house almost as long as all those calories stay on your thighs.

So, my daughter was telling me about a recipe her mother-in-law shared with her that she makes all the time. She TOLD me about it. She didn’t make it for me or write it down or anything, so I don’t remember exactly how she did it, but she’s a gourmet cook, so I know it was “involved.”  I’m not all that into “involved.”

But, it sounded like a cheffed-up version of Eggplant Parmesan. And I do love me some Eggplant Parmesan. But, once again, we get into that aforementioned frying scene, so I decided to put my own lazy spin to this and see how it came out.

I didn’t exactly take step by step photos like a tutorial; heck, I usually skip those and scroll straight down to the recipe, anyway, don’t you? But this doesn’t have an exact recipe, either. That’s part of the Lazy.

I began with a large eggplant that I washed and trimmed off the ends. Next, I sliced it Hassleback style. (Place it in a salad plate so you don’t slice all the way through, just slit.)  I placed the eggplant in a casserole dish, sprinkled it with Italian Seasoning, garlic salt, salt, and pepper, covered it with foil, and baked it at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. When I took it out, the eggplant was soft. In all the little pockets between the slices, I poured Ragu Spaghetti Sauce. (I used about half the jar at this stage.) Then I sprinkled in Mozzarella (4 oz.) and about a cup of Panko Bread Crumbs. Here’s the picture I took, and in hindsight, I would have made my slices thinner.

DSC00120I poured the remainder of the jar of sauce over the top, sprinkled more bread crumbs over the whole thing, and dusted it with 1/2 cup of Parmesan. I returned it to the oven, uncovered, and raised the temp to 375. I cooked it about 20 mins. more before taking it out to rest.

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All rested.

I served it to Saint with some fresh green beans from our garden  and some sliced cucumbers from the neighbor’s. Last year I was posting about what to do with all those cucumbers. Not a problem this year. I think our vines are going to die before we get a single one.

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What rating would I give this? Maybe 4 stars out of 5. I’d still prefer fried, but this was tasty, easy, and probably a bit healthier. If you like eggplant, I’d give it a go!

The Easiest Healthy Muffin You’ll Ever Find!

When your perfectly healthy body begins experiencing serious ailments like sagging skin belly fat  …no, I’m talking serious stuff like bone fractures from OSTEOPOROSIS, and you can’t or prefer not to take the risks of side effects from pharmaceuticals, you start looking for ways to strengthen your bones. My research led me past the Vitamin D3 to a lesser known Vitamin K2. Note to self: don’t ever use K2 in a sentence without prefacing it with the word Vitamin.

Vitamin K2 is not found in abundance naturally, and the source I found was not so palatable in its primary form. Scraping and eating the white pith of orange peel…not so “a-peel-ing” to most of us. This recipe for Sunshine Muffins calls for an entire orange. You heard me right, the whole thing…orange segments, peel, and Vitamin K2 rich pith. (Try saying that three times fast.) And it’s about the easiest muffin you’ll ever make. And it tastes good!

I found it years ago in this Cookbook, which I doubt is still in print. If you find it, buy it, because it’s one of my favorites; I keep it out on my cabinet, it’s that good.

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To make these muffins, here’s what you will need:

1 orange

1/2 cup orange juice (I used fresh, but you could use frozen or from a carton)

1 egg

1/4 cup oil

1 and 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup sugar or substitute (I used Xylatol)

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp salt (I use a pinch)

1/2 cup raisins (I prefer cranberries or dried cherries.)

1/2 cup chopped nuts

And here are the EASY instructions:

Cut the clean orange into eight pieces and remove any seeds, if you like, otherwise, throw the whole thing into the blender or food processor. Add orange juice, egg, and oil and blend until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and blend until just mixed. Pour into greased muffin tins and bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.

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This made 12 average muffins for me. If you want to make them gluten free, just use almond flour and adjust accordingly.

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Fast, easy, minimal clean up, healthy and delicious! What more could you want in a muffin? And if you say meatloaf, mashed potatoes, or scrambled eggs, I’m not sure we can be friends. If you serve me a muffin, it had better be sweet…just sayin’.

 

 

Please Be Seated

I’m dreaming of a beautiful tablescape for Christmas brunch. I lust spend hours looking at and pinning gorgeous settings on my Pinterest boards. When I try to create them, I fall short. When I try to capture even that shortness on camera, I completely fail. That never stops me from trying.

Remember those wooden discs I left from last post? No? Well, let me refresh your memory.

DSC00040I couldn’t let them go to waste after Saint so carefully cut them, and I sanded and clear-coated them. But when I went back to look at my inspiration picture at this blog:http://redheadcandecorate.com/4/post/2014/11/mini-tree-stump-christmas-place-card-holders.html

I realized my wooden circles were much larger than the ones I wanted to recreate. I also knew I wanted to use what I had on hand rather than adding to my chaos stash of Christmas decor. I loved the small jewel toned ornaments that The Red Head used, but I had only clear, burgundy, and gold. And, what I did have was crinoline. I love that stuff! There’s just something so romantic and feminine about it, agree?

DSC00062I also had a whole woods full of nature. So, I went gathering the naturals: boxwood, cedar, bark, twigs and sticks. Then I got my supplies and trusty hot glue gun. Just when I thought I had all that iridescent snow cleaned up, I grabbed it and started sticking it onto those wooden discs.

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I started with the clear ornaments which I wrapped in crinoline and tied with shiny pink or white ribbon. I used a bit of the naturals plus odds and ends I had in my craft bag. When I had hot glued the ornament to the disc and added greenery, etc, I cut some black tag board rectangles for the names. My intent was to use a chalk pen so it would be erasable. Silly me. The chalk pen didn’t show up well enough, besides, who wants to store and reuse black paper rectangles? A metallic pen worked much better.

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I had six clear ornaments, which I wrapped in crinoline. One table will only seat six people. The other six mixed ornaments needed to be cohesive in some way. I’m not into the matchy-matchy, but I did want them to look like they belonged together…like family, you know. The naturals I had gathered worked in doing just that. Here are a few of them.

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And here’s what they look like all set up and ready for breakfast.

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I know what you’re thinking…this girl really needs a new camera, and it’s probably true. But then I would need a tutor. You know, If You Give a Girl a Camera, she’s gonna want to take some pictures. And when she turns on the camera, she’s gonna need someone to show her how to use it. I’m thinking a photography class might be a good first step.

So what I lack in photography skills, I make up for in cre I still lack in photography skills. Never let it be said that I am not persistent, though. Or conservative. Just look at the Christmas tags I made from the leftover sticks and twigs.

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I’m not giving up on making the cute ones I linked you to…just not this year.

A Project and a Plan

It started as a quiet walk in the woods as Saint and I went looking for a log suitable for cutting wooden discs to turn into place cards for Christmas Breakfast.

DSC00040And it ended in this.

DSC00041As we passed the junk scrap wood pile, I noticed the legs I’d kept from a piece of furniture that we dismantled for another project. It’s hard to throw away good bones. I dragged it to the house where it sat under the deck for a few days, just long enough for it to call out to the weathered pallet propped against the wood pile. Saint and his saw soon merged the two into the “canvas.”

DSC00034This is the back side where he cut and attached the pallet wood to the frame.

I downloaded a deer silhouette from Pinterest.

DSC00033I positioned it on the “canvas” and set about using a stipple brush and some old jar of off white paint and water to whitewash the boards around the stencil.

DSC00038 DSC00037So then it was just a matter of deciding how to adorn it. I had already decided what to do with it. It looked like something our daughter-in-law would like. But then I wasn’t sure. She was coming over soon, so I told Saint we would put it on our porch; if she noticed it and liked it, it would be hers. If not, it looked pretty good right on our front porch.

DSC00042It went home with her! And she left something much better…but just for the weekend. And that’s the PLAN part of this post.

The Polar Express has long been one of my favorite Christmas read-alouds, probably beginning with the year that actress Tess Harper came to our classroom and read it to the kids. She cried. I cried. We were neither one sure the kids enjoyed it half as much as we did. Anyway, the plan was to create our little Polar Express tour of area Christmas lights with our granddaughter and her adorable friend.

I made tickets and bells. They wore their pajamas and hats…

DSC00044And we boarded the train Avalanche with blankets, snack mix, and hot chocolate.

DSC00045Saint “engineered” us to the lights.

DSC00047 DSC00048After seeing the lights in rural Rogersville and a trip by the turn of the century home where we lived for several years, the girls voted to skip Springfield in favor of the horse drawn carriage ride through the Ozark City Park light display.

20141213_183944-1And even though it was a mild 50 degree evening, we thought we needed snow. We tried to create our own using a combination of corn starch, shaving cream, and iridescent snow flakes.

DSC00051 DSC00052You can’t fool Mother Nature! It was too warm for snow. The iridescent flakes hurt the girls’ hands. The mixture wouldn’t stick together enough to make a snowman, but did manage to stick in every crack and crevice in the kitchen floor. That project was filed in…you guessed it…13.

We did successfully complete a couple of others.

DSC00055And have a fun breakfast with these DEER young ladies before our adventure ended.

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The wooden discs are still waiting in the work room. We’ll see what happens. I believe! Maybe the next post.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Thanksgivmas!

I tried. I really did. But it snowed, people! And it got chilly record-breakingly cold! And so what’s a body to do other than turn up the heat and put up the Christmas tree, right?  And besides, I lost might have misplaced my wedding rings, and I needed to move all the furniture, remove all the sofa cushions, and vacuum up all that popcorn chips dust that gathers in everyone’s house, of course. And so, when I rearranged everything, the only thing I found was a big empty space on one side of the room! No rings. Not even pocket change. Just a big empty corner that kept screaming, “CHRISTMAS TREE.”

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 I know I said last year was the last year for this tree, but here it is, more than a week before Thanksgiving and that tree is here. And I stayed with the same earthy tones. Rust just seems to fit in with our life style. The one thing I did differently this year was the garland. I left it off completely and went with ribbon. It was a much simpler process that I learned about here:

http://apopofpretty.com/tree-decorating-tips-ribbon/

 

how to add ribbon to a Christmas tree

If you are tired of winding twisting wadding messing with garland, give this a try. I mostly used ribbon I already had. I had planned to replace all my old lights with LED fancy ones and do the rag treatment that I used last year to make the swag for my dining room:

https://thymelesssageandrandomrants.wordpress.com/2013/11/28/let-the-fa-la-la-ing-begin/

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but I was just too lazy exhausted from all that wedding ring hunting.

Now, I have all the boxes strung all over pulled out of their highly organized space, but I am trying…really trying not to do any more Christmas decorating until AFTER Thanksgiving. And, no, I will not be shopping on Black Friday. I’ll be heading to Columbia for the big Rivalry Line game. Let the MIZ-sooie-ing begin!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in the Day…

I’ve been a little AWOL in posting on either Camping Capers or Thymeless Sage and Random Rants lately. We’ve been busy purchasing lake property but doing some camping and fishing along the way. This weekend we were privileged  to have Elle and her friend Kelsey for an overnight visit. I’m so very glad we did because it not only gave us a chance to craft a little, it also restored my hope for the younger generation. You’ll see what I mean.

DSC00267Here we are doing a water color relief painting. The girls water colored fall shades onto their dampened canvases. I love how they have their own styles of doing things and are encouraging to each other in the process. After the painted canvas dries a bit, they will take some leaf stamps, press them into the fabric, and it should…I say should remove some of the color. It did, but then the white space slowly disappeared as the color was still bleeding. Maybe we got our surfaces a bit too wet. At any rate, we decided to use some acrylics and paint over the topography of the stamp and press that into the color. That worked a bit better.

DSC00273 DSC00272Pretty, right?

So are the fun Halloweenish fingernails.

DSC00271 DSC00270But after it was too dark to do anymore outside projects, then the REAL creativity began. These two friends have always had a flair for the dramatic, and Saint and I have laughed at their Carol Burnett like character skits, especially the old man and old woman scenes. This time, they changed it up a bit. When they asked if I wanted to play doctor, I was taken aback, unsure if their parents would approve, and also wondering just what my role would be in all this. Turns out, this is what I was talking about…restoring my hope in the younger generation. As they went to the junk drawer and brought out a note pad, pens, peppermints, balloons, etc., one volunteered to be the doctor, the other the patient, and I was assigned the role of nurse. Pre admission forms were made and filled out, and the free play-comedy began. I can’t remember when I’ve laughed so much. Such talent! From inserting pins into a shoulder of an 81 year old man diagnosed with Politis (This after Saint taught them the ropes of playing pool) to massaging “moldy feet” of another patient, and restricting certain movement to a patient named Miley, the hospital staff was busy and entertained.

The next morning, we went back to the craft table to work with alcohol ink. We were going to make coaster sets for their parents, but I could only find 2×4 tiles instead of the 4×4 we needed. We decided to do paperweights instead. I got this idea from this site: http://www.collegegloss.com/2013/05/diy-alcohol-ink-dyed-coasters.htm

It was a fun and simple project involving covering a tile with alcohol, dropping the alcohol inks on, and watching the colors combine. Sometimes, we went back and dropped more on just to see what would happen. After it dried, we chose one to sign with a Sharpie, and I sprayed them all with a clear finish.

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And then they asked if we had a tent. I replied that we had one but it went on back of the truck. Now, here’s some more of that hope restoration I was talking about. They said they wanted to play Indians. I strung up the clothesline on the covered deck, put a sheet over it, and they were ready to play as soon as we gathered up some bowls, sticks, and other primitive cooking utensils. They went to the garden on a hunting/gathering mission and returned with a variety of leaves, berries, nuts, and flowers for their “concoctions.”

DSC00278And here are the lovely Indian maidens playing just like my cousins and I used to play all summer long. Ah, the memories of mud pies and water fights! And the best part…

DSC00277They left these outside the tent and I never saw them check them even once!

I was able to convince them to dabble in the paint one last time before we went inside. I thought this project totally fitting for the Drama Queens of the Good Sort.

DSC00275DSC00276A few board games later, the girls went upstairs. I saw them gather their doctor equipment and they soon had their hospital set up. When it was time for them to leave, I asked if they wanted me to go up and get the sheets off the bed and look around to see if they had left anything out of their overnight bags. They informed me they had already made the bed and picked up all their stuff.

Sure enough, when I went up this morning to get the sheets, the bed was made, well, just like a hospital bed. Everything was picked up, and the only reminder of their visit was on the door of the next room.

DSC00280And Miley’s chart.

DSC00279Who says kids don’t play like we did back on the good old days?

 

What to Do With All Those Cucumbers!

Yesterday was National Zucchini Day…or National Hide Your Zucchini in Your Neighbor’s Car Day. I’m not sure of the correct title, but that’s just not my problem this year. Those nasty squash beetles have taken care of that. CUCUMBERS! That’s my problem. They’re everywhere! So, I’m trying to see just what I can do with those wonderfully prolific little fellows.

The obvious choice, other than slicing them and eating them with salt or dicing them in a salad, is pickles. But who wants to go to all that mess trouble. I did find a recipe for refrigerator pickles that was, well, not a piece of cake, but fairly easy.

DSC00244I found the recipe at smittenkitchen.com.blog and tried to link to it, but I personally hate going to one site thinking I’m going to get a recipe only to have to click and wait on three others. Here’s the recipe:

4 or 5 large cucumbers, sliced

1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Kosher salt

1/2 to 3/4 cups sugar (I used 1/2 and wish I’d used 3/4)
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon celery seed

In a medium bowl, combine the cucumbers, onion and salt. Mix well. Cover the mixture with ice. Let stand at room temperature for two hours. In a pot, bring sugar, vinegar and spices to a boil. Drain cucumbers and onions. Add to vinegar mixture and bring almost back to a boil. Remove from heat and pack into two pint-sized jars. You can store the pickles in an airtight container for up to three weeks in the fridge. They will begin tasting pickled in just a couple hours.

I just tasted mine. They are good, but I’d recommend reducing the salt to 1/8 cup and adding sugar to equal 3/4 cup. Just my personal taste.

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SO, that got rid of a few, but what’s next? I made a cucumber salad. I found the recipe in several places so I don’t have an original source, but mostly used the Taste of Home recipe.

Ingredients

  • 4 cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups (12 ounces) sour cream
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/4 cup snipped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
It was okay. I would recommend more cucumbers because…well, that’s what you’re trying to get rid of, and because this made a little more “dressing” than I thought it needed. Unless you are taking this to a pot luck dinner, I’d suggest halving the recipe. It is not great left over. The dressing gets runny after sitting overnight in the fridge. It is kind of cute to serve in a little sherbet glass or a tea cup, though.
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The last recipe I made is one I tried last year, and it is still my favorite. It is also extremely versatile; you can make it as plain or fancy as you like. I got this recipe here: kitchenjoyblog.com.

Ingredients:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely diced

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped

sliced white sandwich bread, about 16 slices

sprigs of dill for garnish

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Directions:

  • In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese and mayonnaise until completely incorporated. Add garlic powder, salt, pepper, chopped dill, and diced cucumber. Spread on 8 slices of sandwich bread. Top with sprigs of dill, then close sandwiches with remaining bread slices.
 I tried to link you up, but couldn’t. Her pictures are so much prettier than mine. I adapted this in several ways. First of all, I used an extra cucumber and reduced the mayo a bit. If you are making the roll up that I’m going to show you, I suggest leaving out the mayo completely. It doesn’t hurt the flavor and makes the mixture more spreadable.
First, I rolled out my bread slices with a rolling pin, and don’t tell my grown up kids because we tried to convince them the crusts were the best part of the bread, but I removed them for these little sandwiches and rolled that bread out FLAT! I spread the filling between two slices and cut each sandwich into 4 squares and then halved the squares to make bite-sized tea sandwiches.
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To make a gluten free appetizer, simply slice cucumbers and top with a dollop of the spread. I topped one slice with a sprig of fresh rosemary (I would have used dill, but I forgot to grow it this year) and another with paprika and yet another with curry powder. All were delicious.
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Finally, you can reduce or eliminate the mayo and make a low carb tortilla roll up. In the picture, I used the standard recipe, and you can see that it’s a bit runny for finger food and doesn’t hold together as well as I’d like. I did refrigerate the roll for an hour before cutting, but it was still a little messy. Tasted wonderful, though.
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I think the best option would be an assortment platter.
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There you have it! Great ideas for using those cucumbers, but I’m telling you…we still have cucumbers.
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So, if you live in my neighborhood, be sure you lock your car doors!