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Archive for November, 2009

Thanksgiving – the gathering of loved ones, the expressing of gratitude, the stuffing of food!

Did you, like me, abandon your calorie count and gorge yourselves at your spectacular Thanksgiving Feast? Are you as tired of leftovers as I am?  Does your stomach groan when it hears the words “Gravy”, “Gratin”, and “Casserole”?

If so, I thought I’d spare you all the recipes of the fluffy sweet potato souffle and the cheesy eggplant zucchini gratin and post a dish that is still related to this holiday, but may not have been on your Thanksgiving table.

Chinese Sticky Rice (also known as Nuo Mi Fan) has been a tradition in my family since well as long as I can remember. Instead of the traditional bread cubes or cornbread, we make our stuffing with good old rice!  What’s not to love? It’s a dish that’s aromatically fragrant, infused with ingredients that trigger your “umami” tastebuds, and a refreshingly healthy choice next to all the bubbling cheese and sugary pies. I’ll admit, it’s a time consuming recipe, but worth every minute. AND it’s not just for Thanksgiving, which means you can enjoy it…right now (or more accurately in 3 hours)!

Our Thanksgiving Feast (Chinese Minestrone Soup, Eggplant Zucchini Gratin, Sweet Potato Souffle, Stuffed Mushrooms, Sticky Rice, and Sesame Peanut Noodles (surprisingly the most popular dish of the night!)

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 cups short grained sticky rice
  • 2 cups veggie broth
  • 1 handful chinese black mushrooms (soaked in water until soft), sliced
  • 3-4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp chili sauce
  • 1 cup Morningstar veggie sausage crumbles
  • 1 cup of frozen mixed corn/peas/carrots (or you can use fresh ones)
  • 1 handful cilantro, chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • canola oil (to cook with)

Sticking Together:

  1. Soak the sticky rice in cold water for 2 hours (make sure water completely covers the rice by at least 1 inch in excess).
  2. Indulge yourself and catch up on some blog reading or tv shows while rice is soaking 🙂
  3. In a frying pan or wok, heat up some canola oil and throw in the sliced mushrooms and Morningstar crumbles adding in just a tad bit of soy sauce and salt & pepper. Stir fry until you can smell the aroma of the black mushrooms.
  4. Add in the corn/peas/carrots/veggie mix and continue to stir fry for a couple minutes
  5. Drain the sticky rice and add to the pan/wok.
  6. Stir in the remaining soy sauce, sesame oil, chili sauce, and half of the cilantro until rice is well coated and mixed
  7. Now, add the veggie broth, making sure rice is mostly covered. Turn the heat to medium low, cover with a lid, and let simmer for 30 minutes.
  8. When the rice is done, all liquid should be absorbed and it should have a soft, sticky consistency.
  9. Next, mix everything up again, add in any last minute flavoring, garnish with the rest of cilantro, and…Bon Appetit!

Variations:

  • Like fried rice, you can add in any of your favorite ingredients. I’d advise that the black mushroom remain a staple because it adds so much flavor but here are some other suggestions: Water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, snow peas, cabbage, spinach, hard tofu cubes, leeks.
  • Feel free to add in other spices and flavors that strike your fancy, like curry, five spice, oyster sauce, or sweet chili sauce.
  • Take some seaweed wrappers and wrap them inside like sushi for a twist
  • Wrap them in some spring roll wrappers and you’ll have yourself a Chinese burrito!
  • If you’re in the mood for something sweet instead, simply swap the soy sauce and savory ingredients for agave infused water and raisins, dates, and red bean paste.

And if you’ve made it this far down, I’d like to express my deepest Thanksgiving thanks to all of you! The support I’ve gotten and the friendships I’ve made through this blog has added so much flavor and excitement to my life. So I’m passing on this 09 blog appreciation award to all of you before 2009 ends! Thanks to Kristy for passing this along to me.  Kristy’s enthusiasm in the kitchen and her effervescent personality is just infectious. She has been such an inspiration and her blog is full of delights and surprises, so give it a visit if you haven’t yet!

I also received this awesome Peas Love Carrots award from Mathea. Mae is a truly original artist and total trendsetter, even though she emphasizes that she is not “hip”. Her ideas are astonishing, her writing is whimsical, and her creations are imaginatively exceptional. I’m hoping she won’t get mad at me for not 100% following the rules and posting 7 odd facts about me. I’ve already done that and I’m afraid posting 7 more will really make all of you wonder if I’m quite right in the head. However, I will pass on the blog love to people I haven’t had a chance to pass on an award yet.

  1. Kristy @ My Little Space – I think the above says it all!
  2. Sanjana @ Ko Rasoi This is a girl who knows how to make extraordinary food and has a warm personality to match
  3. Noelle @ A Singer In the Kitchen Someone who shares my predicament/adventure of having a carnivorous man in the house
  4. Rochelle @ Acquired Flavor Delicious and original recipes, complemented with mouthwatering drool-inducing photos 
  5. Divina @ Sense and Serendipity Stumble upon some serendipitous posts on nutritious dishes – you’ll be happy you did!
  6. Penny @ Jeroxie Her posts will make you feel like you are right there living through all her adventures
  7. Joy @ joylicious Make some discoveries in the joy of food!

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Twas the day of the Chocolate Experiment
And all through the Bell House
Chefs busily prepped their stations
With hopes of obtaining some “wow’s”
 

Savory creations led the way
Their aromatic flavors filling the air
Succulent, tasty, and umami
They fearlessly challenged and dared

Yours Truly

Bonnie Suarez's Umami Chocolate Black Beans with Roasted Cauliflower & Pork Belly (My personal favorite)

Jill Strominger’s Ole! Mole, (And the sweetest "neighbor" I could ask for!)

The sweet and scrumptious treats
Each more decadent and sinfully rich
They lured you with their siren song
And your tastebuds they bewitched
 

Roopa Marcello's Winning Thai Chili-Lime Chocolate Ice Cream (Sadly, I didn't get to sample this!)

Jordon Goldstein's Mango Sticky Rice Lolipops (sweet and slightly tangy, and delicious filling)

Pervaiz Shallwani and Rebecca Marx’s Chocolate Hush Puppies (My personal sweet favorite – just the right amount of sweetness with a satisfying crunch!)
Lily Olive’s PB & Hot Chocolate Truffles (A nice dude brought these over in exchange for samples of my dish. The cayenne really gets you at the end and I found that to be a pleasant surprise)
Attic Sugar Bakery’s Hazelnut Brownies (Again didn’t get to taste this, but who am I to contest Andrew Knowlton & judge’s 3rd place pick?)
The voracious chocoholics came streaming in
Seeking the holy chocolate grail
The chefs didn’t disappoint
The chocolate poured in without fail
 

 
With a beer in one hand and plate in other
The crowd casted votes on a chocolate high
The judges sniffed, tasted, savored and licked
All the chilis, cookies, cakes, and pies
 

My plate of goodies brought over by one of my gracious helpers. Too bad it was knocked over before I could finish it all 😦

The judges deep in deliberation

The vivacious hosts Nick and Theo
Charmed the crowd with banter and cheer
The winners were announced
And congratulated with prizes and beer
 
 
An afterparty followed
Of which the Experimental Chef missed
Tired from the long long day
And a sick sous chef at home to kiss
 
So ends another Experiment
Hope you had your fill of cocoa craze
“Oh chocolate, how do I love thee
Let me count the ways”
 
Winners:

Judges Award
3rd – Attic Sugar Bakery – Hazelnut Brownies
2nd – Bonnie Suarez – Chocolate Black beans with cauliflower and pork belly
1st – Roopa Marcello – Thai Chocolate Ice Cream

Honorable Mention Sweet – Alyssa Lees – Deconstructed Truffles
Honorable Mention Savory – Lei Takahashi – “Pig in Drag”

Nick and Theo Prize – Pervaiz Shallwani + Rebecca Marx – Chocolate
Hush Puppies

Audience Award
3rd –  Team Peanut – Chocolate Chipotle Chili
2nd – Lei Takahashi – “Pig in Drag”
1st  – Roopa Marcello – Thai Chocolate Ice Cream

*Photo credits: The Lovely Irene, and The Effervescent Aurelia

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Serendipity ~ luck, or good fortune, in finding something good accidentally

For someone who likes to be creative and experimental, I am actually quite the control freak. That is, I don’t deal well with things that “don’t go as planned”. I pack for trips 3-4 days in advance; I factor in Plans B and C for my vacation itineraries; heck, I even write down notes before I type my blog posts!

So you can only imagine my chagrin when I came home from Trader Joe’s before the chocolate cookoff to discover that the 10 cans of whole pinto beans I meant to buy were actually refried pinto beans. What was I to do with mushy beans in a chili dish? I was also too lazy to make that trek back downtown to return the refried beans, so in my pantry they sat.

Then yesterday, I tuned in to an old episode of Top Chef and watched Lorraine Bracco make this amazing Panko-Crusted Portabella Bun, and thought: That’s IT! I’m going to make this with a Pinto Bean Burger! So there it was – my serendipitous revelation turned my useless cans of refried beans into a tasty, hearty meal!

Earthy, slightly sweet PINTO BEAN BURGER
paired with
Citrusy AVOCADO TOMATO RELISH
sandwiched between
Two blissfully crispy & meaty PANKO PORTABELLA BUNS

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (15oz) pinto refried beans
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs, seasoned with herbs of your choice (salt & pepper, basil, parsley, etc)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 4 large portabella mushrooms, stems removed
  • a couple cups flour, seasoned with salt & pepper
  • a couple cups of panko bread crumbs, seasoned with salt & pepper
  • 3 Tbsp dried basil
  • 1-2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar

Stumbling Upon Serendipity:

  1. Saute onions in a pan with some light butter until carmelized. Add in the chopped bell peppers and cook for another couple minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the refried beans, bread crumbs, 1 egg, chopped cilantro, and the onion/bell pepper mixture. Cover and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
    *While burger mixture is chilling, make the mushroom buns:
  3. Thoroughly brush the portabella mushrooms with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and dried basil.
  4. Dip the portabella mushrooms in this order until well covered: a) flour b) 2 eggs, beaten c) panko bread crumbs
  5. Stick the panko-crusted mushrooms into the oven and bake at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes
    *Now make the avocado-tomato relish
  6. Combine the chopped tomatoes, avocado, and some cilantro. Squeeze in lime and add the agave nectar until desired sweet-sour balance is achieved
  7. Take the pinto bean burger mixture out of the refridgerator, form into golf-sized balls, dip them into flour, flatten them, and fry in a pan, flipping constantly until they are crispy and golden brown.
  8. Remove the portabella buns from the oven and assemble this delicious burger.

Variations:

  • Don’t have pinto beans? Try using black beans for a more traditional black bean burger. Garbanzo beans would also work beautifully (almost like falafel burgers!)
  • Substitute the relish with your favorite salsa – maybe a pineapple salsa or maybe even marinara sauce!
  • If you’re not in the mood for citrus flavors, try some leafy steamed spinach or kale instead of the relish
  • I almost didn’t want to suggest this, because that panko-portabella is absolutely divine, but it can be more filling than the usual buns, so if you’re not looking for a filling meal, you can replace with 2 pieces of whole wheat toast, or 2 sesame buns.

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If you recall the previous prelude in Chocolate Confessions, I took my experimental culinary pursuits to the Brooklyn Chocolate Experiment this weekend! And what an experience it was – 24 talented amateur teams showcasing their best culinary chops, 6 impressive & intimidating big-name judges, and 1 experimental chef (that’s me!) tasting the experience of cooking for 300 for the very 1st time!

My sous chef and I were fired up for this challenge for weeks, but alas at the 11th hour, Brian was hit with a nasty cold and banned from getting anywhere near my food. But as they say, “The show must go on”, so I chopped, diced, sauteed, simmered, baked…and called in for reinforcements! My awesome baby brother, along with 3 lovely ladies, came through on my last minute request,  driving in from New Jersey to carry my dishes to Brooklyn, then working furiously behind the counter as I fed 300 hungry chocoholics and presented my creation (with a very shaky hand) to the judges.

So to cut all the suspense…dum dum DUM…I did not end up winning (insert your “awwws” here).  But to be 85% honest, win/loss does not matter 😉 I saw this mainly as a fun opportunity to push my limits with a challenge. I was actually more upset that my partner/sous chef was not there to lose (I mean “experience”) with me!  Nonetheless, I had tons of great friends who came to cheer me on, and many wonderful strangers stopping by for 2nds (and 3rds!) and telling me how much they enjoy my dish.  I think I had some executional issues with the dish, but I’m just getting warmed up here; you can be sure that I’ll be back with my newly acquired experience and pearls of wisdom!

I promise you a full recap with pics of all the delicious decadent dishes, but to tide you over I present you the recipe for my entry: “Cornfed Chocolate Chili Casserole“!!

Me basking in all the chocolate excitement. PS that "vegetarian" text was added last minute when people were passing me by mistaking this dish for a meat one!

Ingredients:
For the Chili:

  • 2 tomatoes, diced (or 14oz can of diced tomatos) – with all the juices
  • 1 can of pinto beans, not drained
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1-2 bell peppers, finely chopped
  • 1/2 pkg of portabella mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 1-2 cups of corn
  • 6 oz of shredded cheese (cheddar, monterey jack, or pepperjack)
  • 2 oz/half a bar of Decadent Dark Chocolate (I used a 83% cacao)
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced
  • chili pepper flakes
  • cayenne pepper
  • paprika
  • cumin
  • salt & pepper to taste

For the Cornbread:

  • 1 stick of light butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar, or if you must, 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 heaping tbsp of 100% bittersweet cocoa powder
  • Get ready for Chocolatey Savory + Sweet

    1. In a pan, saute the onions in a little butter + a little salt & pepper until cooked. Add the bell peppers and saute for a couple more minutes.
    2. Transfer the onions and pepper into a pot. Add in mushrooms, tomatoes, beans, corn, jalapenos and bring to a boil.
    3. Bring back to a simmer and slowly add in chili powder, cayenne, paprika, cumin, salt & pepper to taste. Consistency should be pretty thick.
    4. Slowly stir in the dark chocolate until melted in.
    5. In a separate frying pan, melt the stick of butter for the cornbread. Slowly whisk in milk, eggs, agave nectar. Remove from heat.
    6. In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, cornmeal, salt, baking soda, cocoa powder. Add the wet ingredients into the mixing bowl and mix well.
    7. In a 9X13 pan, layer in the Chili on the bottom, cheese in the middle, and pour the cornbread mixture on top.
    8. Bake at 375 for around 30-45 minutes until cornbread is fully cooked

    My experiment with the yellow (non cocoa) cornbread

    The delicious cocoa cornbread I ended up going with!

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    Breakfast – the most divine past-time anyone can partake in. There is nothing more exhilarating than replenishing an empty tummy that has gone all night without nourishment. Yes, I will admit, Breakfast and I are engaged in a passionate love affair. I dream in creamy Benedicts, crispy Hash Browns, decadent French Toasts, and fiery Bloody Marys.

    So there is no worse torture than to wake up with a sharp jolt of realization that it is a Tuesday, you are late to your 7:30 meeting, and you will be having a Special K cereal bar for breakfast (that is, if you are lucky enough to make it to your desk by 7:25 to scarf it down).

    On a typical weekday, that is my life. But oh, on the weekends, I indulge. I wake up to the warm sunlight peeking in from my windows, plop down on my couch with my latest page-turner book, and wait as my amazing Sous Chef makes me all the wondrously hearty breakfast items a girl could ever wish for.

    So this past weekend, I decided to put my weekend laziness on hiatus and make something special for him too. I wanted to try something I’ve never done before, something light and healthy, but also elegant and delectable. I remember that my friend Viviane from Food and Style had posted a mouth-watering Poached Pear Sundae. So I took inspiration from her, made a couple of tweaks, and came up with this Maple-Riesling Poached Pears with Vanilla Yogurt & Maple Granola. Sounds like a mouthful doesn’t it? Well, at least it is a tasty mouthful!

    The buttery pears were simply out of this world. The maple syrup and Riesling wine infusion lent richness to the naturally sweet pears, while bringing out its fragrant aroma.  The creamy vanilla yogurt complemented the juicy fruit, and the maple granola added that satisfying crunch.  This elegant dish is not only visually exquisite, it’s extremely versatile and can be easily transformed into a delectable dessert.

    DSCN0958 photoshop

    Ingredients:

    • 2 Pears, cut in half and cored
    • 3 cups Water
    • 1/2 cup Maple Syrup
    • 1/2 cup Riesling wine
    • 1/4 cup Apple Juice
    • 2-3 Tbsp Orange Juice
    • A Handful of Granola (I found these amazing maple flavored ones to complement the maple syrup)
    • 2-3 cups Vanilla Yogurt

    Now, Patiently Poach

    1. Pour all the liquids (water, maple syrup, apple juice, wine, orange juice) into a pot on high heat.
    2. When it is gently boiling, put in the pears, flat side down and turn to a low-medium heat. Check to make sure the liquid infusion fully covers the pear. (If it doesn’t, add more of whatever you think is missing)
    3. Poaching will take approximately an hour. Be sure to turn the pears over every 20 minutes so they can cook evenly.
    4. When you see the mixture starting to bubble, you’re almost done! *Note: It is very important  to remove the pears soon, because once the liquid evaporates, the pears will stick to the bottom and you’ll end up with burnt pears. One of mine charred on the edges!
    5. Let the pears cool, or if you like them hot, scoop the yogurt to cover the core, sprinkle with granola, and…Bon Appetit!

    DSCN0961 photoshop

    There are so many exciting variations for this:

    • To transform this into a dessert, ditch the yogurt and go for the ICE CREAM! Mmmm
    • Instead of granola, try golden raisins, crushed almonds, cranberries, or a mixture of all of them!
    • Why not experiment with different flavors of yogurt – peach, blueberry, lime, or what about chocolate?
    • Speaking of chocolate, I wonder how this would taste with Nutella!?
    • Grab some of your amazing home-made pumpkin or apple bread, chop up the pears, and make this into a Pear Trifle with layers of wine-soaked bread, yogurt, and pears.
    • Satisfy the low-brow in you with a heap of whipped cream, or dare I say…Cool Whip!
    • Finally, you’ll notice that most fall fruit recipes have 2 spices – Cinnamon and Nutmeg. I didn’t use these because I was already using so many ingredients, but in hindsight, a little bit would’ve given some additional warm spice to the dish.

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    A few weeks ago, my friend Jill, a wonderful (non-blogging!) cheerleader of my food experiments, sent me an message raving about a lovely beet appetizer she had. She described the dish in detail, recalling the flavors she detected, and challenged me to recreate it.

    Since I am not one to turn down a challenge, I marched out to buy myself some beets.  I’ve tasted them before, but had never seen them in their uncooked state until that encounter at the grocery store.  And what a monstrosity they were! Unnaturally bright green & red leaves, tentrils-like wisps, and excuse me, are those tails I see? I was a bit freaked out. To make matters worse, the lovely* employees of Food Emporium placed them all the way at the top, and as I reached up to grab a bunch, I was attacked by parade of falling vegetation and an unpleasant wet spray of condensation! Let’s just say I was not off to a good start.

    The beets then proceeded to stain my shirt, fingers, knife, and cutting board a stage-blood red. I ran around screaming to Brian “Look…bloooooood” (Ok, so that part was kind of fun). And they took FOREVER to cook! For someone with my impatience, “boiling for one hour” is not something that’s considered fun. But in the end…I conquered the beets. I mean, I BEAT the BEETS! They turned from beast to beauty – and a delicious beauty it is.  Best of all, I stand here alive to chronicle the adventure and recipe.

    DSCN0951 photoshopped

    Ingredients:

    • 3-4 medium sized beets
    • Agave Nectar (or sugar)
    • Honey
    • Dried Basil (optional)
    • Arugula
    • Balsamic Vinegar
    • Herbed Cheese (*I had a master plan to make my own from cream cheese, sour cream, chives, and parsley, but the Alouette Garlic & Herbs Spread caught my eye, and upon finding out that it had LESS fat and calories than the light cream cheese, I gave in to my laziness and picked it up. It didn’t disappoint, but I would like to try making it from scratch next time though)

    Beet It!

    1. Wash the beets, remove the leafy greens, peel them, and slice them into around 1/4 inch.
    2. Divide the beets in 2 piles.
    3. Boil half of the beets in water sweetened with Agave Nectar for 30-40 min (shh…I microwaved for 15 min instead to save some time – it worked!). They should be tender when forked and slightly sweet.
    4. Toss the other half in a vinaigrette of balsamic vinegar, honey, olive oil, salt & pepper, and basil. Roast in the oven at 350 for about 40 min, turning it over once halfway through.
    5. Toss the Arugula in a the same vinaigrette until well dispersed. Set aside.
    6. After the beets are cooked comes the fun part – Assembly! Prepare a bed of Arugula. Layer on boiled beets, leaving some greens peeping out. With a cake piper (or you can make one by cutting a small hole in a ziploc bag!), pipe the herbed cheese on top of the beets. Now, take the roasted, slightly crispy beet chips and wedge them around the cheese.
    7. And there you have it! A beautiful beet flower that I present to you, my wonderful readers!

    DSCN0954 photoshop

    Now for the possible variations:

    • Instead of the cream cheese, try feta, goat, or another creamy cheese with bite. Or use mascarpone or ricotta for the texture, but season well with some salty herby flavor.
    • I suspect this can also be made with sweet potatoes or taro.
    • I was pleasantly surprised when some of my roasted beets came out tasting like terra chips! Had I known, I would’ve used a mandoline to slice them even thinner for more crisp.
    • Adding some crushed walnuts, pecans, or hazelnuts will add another layer of nutty satisfaction.
    • Instead of honey, try maple syrup (also rich in nutrients).

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    When I was a child, I loved to listen to my grandmother tell me magical stories of historical Taiwan.  As she cooked my favorite breakfast meal – sweet potato congee – she would recall the days during the Japanese Occupation, when food was scarce and they had to survive on a diet of sweet potatoes and rice.  Though times were tough, the picture she conjured was full of warmth, families roasting these orange wonders by the bonfire while children ran around chasing fireflies.  While the sweet potato congee simmered, she would make the little side dishes to complete that heavenly breakfast – sauteed spinach with black mushrooms, asian eggplant with basil, and egg omelette with soy sauce, brown sugar, and pickled radish.

    With the craziness of work and life, I haven’t been able to see my grandparents in almost 2 years and I miss them dearly. So I made this sweet potato dish in my moment of nostalgia, taking inspiration from all the yummy Taiwanese dishes that nourished my little tummy, but putting a westernized spin by layering it into a sweet potato lasagne, and infusing with culturally diverse flavors. 

    The eggplant was marinated in a blend of olive oil and Italian herbs, the spinach and portabello mushrooms tossed with heavy cream and  Mexican cheeses, and the sweet potatoes dipped in dry curry powder.  You may think with the mish-mosh of herbs and flavors that it’s a totally crazy dish. And indeed, Brian gave me a funny look when I described my vision, but trust me, it worked! The result was a burst of complementary flavors that tasted as familiar as my grandma’s love, but with an exotic twist that ventured into a new territory.  I just wish I could cook this for her someday soon!

    DSCN0939

    The Vegetarian Version

    DSCN0942

    For the Carnivorous Food Tester

    Ingredients: 

    • Sweet potatoes – sliced 1/2 inch thick and dipped in a dry curry powder/olive oil mixture
    • 1 large eggplant – sliced into 1 inch thick pieces and marinated in olive oil and Italian seasonings (basil, oregano, thyme)
    • Chopped Spinach
    • Mushrooms (portabello, shitake, or black)
    • Half & Half or Heavy Cream
    • Mexican Cheeses (Queso Blanco, Monterey Jack, Cheddar)
    • Green chili peppers or jalapenos
    • Marinara Sauce (I made it with tomato paste, tomato sauce, fire-roasted tomatoes, basil, red wine, garlic)
    • Ground Beef (for the carnivore in my household)

    Making It:

    1. Marinate Eggplants and Sweet Potatos according to ingredients above (or whatever you fancy)
    2. Saute spinach and mushrooms until cooked, add in green chili peppers or jalapenos for some spice.
    3. Turn the heat down and add in some heavy cream and mexican cheeses until mixture is creamy, but not watery
    4. Start layering the lasagne. This was my order: Sweet Potatos, Spinach/Mushroom Mix, Eggplants, Marinara Sauce, Sweet Potatoes, Spinach/Mushrom Mix, Eggplants, Then finally the remaining Mexican Cheese Blend on top.
    5. *For Brian, I substituted the second layer of Spinach/Mushroom mix with ground beef
    6. Cook at 350-375 for about 30-45 min. **Note: every recipe I read gave instructions to bake the sweet potato first, and I skipped the step, all the while paranoid that I would end up with burnt cheese and uncooked potatoes. So I second guessed myself and cranked the oven to 425. Well turns out, after the 15 min oven check, I did get burnt cheese (as you can see in the pictures) but the sweet potatoes already cooked beautifully. No need to pre-cook or bake at unnecessarily high temperature at all!
    7. Devour with Passion

    Variations You Can Play With:

    • When summer comes, I want to substitute sweet potato with zucchini for a more refreshing zing
    • If you adore sweet flavors, marinate the sweet potatoes in some brown sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon instead
    • Feel free to experiment with flavors and cuisines – why not try some Chinese 5 spice on the sweet potato, or substitute the spinach with some All-American hearty kale?
    • If you MUST have your carbs, you can layer the lasagne noodles in for a more traditional veggie lasagne
    • Using fresh mozzarella or a ricotta cheese blend will make the flavors more mild, using fontina or gouda cheese will give it a more smokey twist
    • Veggies like carrots, celery, butternut squash, bell peppers would all work beautifully here; it’s just a matter of what you’re craving (or what you can find in your fridge!)
    • Finally, I really really wanted to try incorporating that egg omelette layer, but was afraid that would just be a bit TOO much – even for me. Thinking back, I think the baked egg layer would’ve acted as nice structural support for the dish, and wouldn’t overpower the flavors, so if you are adventurous enough to try it, let me know how it turns out for ya!

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