Spiced Mashed Eggplant


Why, oh why, is there never an eggplant around when I need it?  Seriously, every eggplant in Fargo, North Dakota has up and disappeared simply because I want to make spiced mashed eggplant for dinner tonight.

When I was on vacation I picked up a new Indian cookbook, called Recipes From An Indian Kitchen.  The recipes used spices I already had on hand and the ingredients easily found in local grocery store, except, apparently, that eggplant.  If finding an eggplant is an issue for you, just do what I did and substitute 1 pound of white mushrooms for it.  This recipe  would also be a great place to use the Coriander Scented Untoasted Spice Blend or The English Style Madras Curry Powder I posted last week.

Spiced Mashed Eggplant


2 large eggplants or 1 pound of mushrooms

2 TBS butter

1 onion, finely chopped

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 fresh green chili, finely sliced

2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground tumeric

1/2 tsp garam masala

2 1/2 TBS finely chopped fresh cilantro

Prick the eggplant all over with a fork and roast them under a medium – hot broiler, turning occasionally, for 20 – 25 minutes, until the skin blackens and chars.  The eggplants are cooked when a knife is easily pushed into the center like it is going through soft butter.  Let cool until cool enough to handle.  Remove the skins and coarsely mash the pulp.  Set aside.  Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet.  Add the onions and saute 5 -6 minutes, until softened.  Add the ginger, garlic and chilies.  Saute for 1-2 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes and salt.  Cook for 12 – 15 minutes.  Add the chili powder, paprika, coriander, cumin and tumeric.  Stir in the reserved eggplant flesh and cook 3 – 4 minutes.  Stir in the garam masala and chopped cilantro. 




Chicken Thighs, 4 Ways

WIN_20140825_194037 (2)My foodie love for Mark Bittman is well known. My friends will clip his recipes for me and I always get a phone call or two to let me know when he is going to be on the Today Show. A meal with Mark Bittman is on my bucket list.

I love Mark Bittman for a lot of reasons but the biggest reason is he is the first cookbook author whose food philosophy is the same as mine, which is fancy food is great but food doesn’t have to be fancy to be great.

I like that I can open his cookbooks to just about any page and find a recipe that uses things I have in my pantry right now. If for some reason I am missing an ingredient from the initial recipe, chances are I have every ingredient for one of the variations.

Mark Bittman is the one who turned me onto chicken thighs, a seriously underrated part of the chicken. Chicken thighs are cheaper than chicken breasts. Chicken thighs are dark meat so they are moister than chicken breasts so they are much more forgiving if they are overcooked, they don’t dry out as fast as chicken breasts.

If you have never tried chicken thighs before this recipe is a good place to start. The sauces are easy and result in a tasty chicken dinner.

Chicken Thighs, 4 Ways

salt and ground black pepper
2 bone-in chicken thighs

Honey Mustard Sauce
1 TBS melted butter or canola oil
1 TBS Dijon mustard
1 ½ tsp honey

Ginger Soy
1 ½ tsp minced fresh ginger
1 TBS plus 1 ½ tsp soy sauce
1 TBS dark sesame oil

Chili Lime
1 TBS plus 1 ½ tsp olive oil
1 TBS fresh lime juice
1 ½ tsp chili powder
¾ tsp smoked paprika

Thai Sauce
1 TBS coconut milk
1 TBS smooth peanutbutter
¼ tsp curry powder

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Move the oven rack to the middle, if it isn’t already there. Mix the sauce ingredients together in a small  bowl. Put the chicken in the roasting pan, skin side up, sprinkle with salt and pepper and brush with your sauce.  After the chicken has cooked for 10 minutes, baste again with the sauce and turn the pieces; brush the other side and roast for another 10 minutes. Turn the chicken over, brush again with the sauce, and roast for another 5 minutes or until the chicken is done.

Adapted from How to Cook Everything

Onion Chopped Steak with Easy Gravy

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My cooking has been rather uninspiring lately. I have tried several new recipes that have just been okay, certainly nothing to blog about. So instead of adapting new recipes, I find myself turning to my big, white binder of recipes I have already adapted.

I am amazed at the number of recipes I have kind of forgotten about. I have a lot of good recipes that deserve a place in my meal rotation, but some how haven’t made it there in a while. In some cases, a very long while.

This recipe was one of my very favorite recipes before I eliminated most processed ingredients from my diet. I thought I would have to stop making it because it contained a packet of onion soup mix and a packet of gravy mix. However, with a little research and a little experimenting, I found I could make it without processed ingredients and without adding time to the making of the dish.

Some people I have served this dish to find it a bit salty. Feel free to reduce the amount of beef bouillon and eliminate the celery salt, if you like.

Onion Chopped Steak with Easy Gravy

½ lb ground beef
¼ cup bread crumbs
2 TBS milk
4 tsp dried onion flakes
2 tsp beef bouillon
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp celery salt
1 cup beef or vegetable broth
2 TBS flour

Combine the beef, bread crumbs, milk and spices in a bowl, mix well with your hands. Form into 2 patties about 3 ½ inches around and ½ inch thick. Place patties in an 8 inch skillet over medium heat and cook, uncovered for 5 minutes. Adjust the heat if the meat browns too quickly. Flip the burgers, cover the skillet and cook 5 minutes more. Meanwhile, place the broth in a bowl and whisk in the flour. Uncover the pan and drain the fat if necessary. Reduce the heat to low. Whisk the broth and flour mixture again and add it to the pan. Cook and stir until the gravy reaches the desired consistency and the patties are no longer pink in the center.

Adapted from Cheap, Fast, Good

Bean and Cheese Burritos– What to Cook When You Don’t Feel Like Cooking #4

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I wish I could tell you every part of every meal I make is completely homemade but it’s not. You know what? I don’t even feel guilty about it. Contrary to what some blogs and cookbooks would have you believe the very occasional use of processed food isn’t going to kill you. Its a steady diet of processed food that’s going to kill you.

This isn’t really a recipe. The brand of beans, salsa, tortillas and cheddar cheese are up to you. The amount of stuff you put in your burrito is up to you. The following is how I have always done it but it’s up to you.

Bean and Cheese Burritos

1 can refried beans
1 jar salsa
Cheddar cheese
Tortillas, soft taco size
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lay one or two tortillas on a flat surface. On the bottom third of the tortilla place 4 tablespoons refried beans, 2 tablespoons salsa and as much cheese as you like. Fold the sides over the filling then starting from the bottom roll the tortilla over the filling. At this point, the beans should be completely coved by the tortilla. Place the burrito, seam side down, on a baking sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Serve with salsa and more cheese.

Note: These burritos freeze very well. So make a bunch of burritos with the left over ingredients, wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze. When frozen toss into a freezer proof bag. When ready to use: preheat oven to 425 degrees. Unwrap burrito and place on a baking sheet, sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Increase baking time to 30-40 minutes.

Adapted from I have had this recipe so long I have no idea

Italian Tomato Sauce What to Cook When You Don’t Feel Like Cooking #3

The most common excuse I hear for Not cooking from scratch is I don’t have the time. What if I told you, in the time it takes to boil noodles and heat a store bought spaghetti sauce, you could have a homemade spaghetti sauce? Would you try it?

I prefer this as a meatless sauce as Mollie Katzen wrote it but if you want to, you can brown 8 oz of ground beef with the onion and spices, make sure you drain the fat from the ground beef before you add the tomatoes and other remaining ingredients. Use the sauce on top of pasta or anywhere a tomato sauce is called for.

Italian Tomato Sauce

1 TBS olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
½ medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp basil
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp thyme
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 ½ TBS honey, use an equal amount of white or brown sugar to make the sauce vegan
3 TBS Tomato paste
Salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a small sauce pan or skillet. Add onion, bell pepper, herbs and salt. Sauté over medium heat until the onion is very soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, honey and black pepper. Use a spoon to break up the tomatoes into bite sized pieces. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes.

Adapted from Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook