Thursday, July 31, 2014

Summer Eggplant

Oh Eggplant, where have you been all my life?

I don't know what's more embarrassing to admit; that I'm 30 years old, or that I'm 30 years old and have never had eggplant!

My mom never made eggplant when I was growing up.  Probably because her Mom Super Powers told her that her picky eaters wouldn't even want to try eggplant (she was probably right).  Then I married the biggest eggplant hater on the planet.  He hates eggplant for the opposite reason: his mom made it all the time.  And he never liked it.  But he had to eat it.  So that's how I ended up 30 years old and an eggplant virgin. But no more!

Angela grabbed a bunch of Jersey fresh eggplant at the local farmer's market last weekend.  What's a girl to do with an abundance of eggplant? Make sauce! She made the most delicious red sauce with was heavenly!  Joe was out of town and my mom came over for dinner, so the eggplant coast was clear. I took a bag of sauce out of the freezer, thawed it and tossed it with pasta.  We inhaled it! It was a quick, delicious and healthy dinner. Can't beat that!

If you're growing your own garden, you probably have a TON of eggplant by now and this is a great recipe to make in bulk and use them up.  If not, head on over to your local farmer's market and get some locally grown eggplant and whip up this sauce.  You'll be so glad you did!

Here's a note from Angela about our fresh Jersey produce and some great ways to use it up in your kitchen!

I am a Jersey girl all the way! I hate to pump my own gas, I spend my summers at the Jersey Shore and sitting in traffic is my normal! And even though some day I would like to leave this over populated state, I would hate to leave the freshness of summer fruit and veggies that come along with it! Jersey is known as the Garden State and it is for good reason. We have an amazing selection of fruits and vegetables in the summer. Even though I cannot wait until pumpkin season, enjoy summer a bit longer and try some of my summer sauces and drinks! They showcase some of our Jersey gems; tomatoes, eggplants and blueberries! Make up a few batches, freeze them, share them and get the taste of summer all year long.  And while you're busy in the kitchen, sip on my Jersey Berry Infused Water!

What's growing in your garden?

Summer Red Sauce
1/2 lb of pasta
6 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of good olive oil
Fresh basil diced (about 12 leaves)
Cherry tomatoes (1 1/2 lbs)
Salt and pepper to tastes
1 tsp sugar
1/8 cup Parmesan cheese

Cooking instructions:
Boil water and cook pasta as instructed. Set aside. Mince all your garlic and set half of the amount aside. Saute the remaining amount on medium low with about 4 Tbsp of olive oil until you start to smell it. Be sure not to burn it. After about 3 mins add your tomatoes, whole, to the pan. Cook until your tomatoes start to burst open, this will take about 10-12 mins. Add your remaining ingredients,  salt pepper to taste, sugar, cheese and the remaining minced garlic and olive oil. Add to your pasta,  enjoy! !!!

Let cool. Add to freezer bags. Label and date. Keep in the freezer for up to six months.
Thaw in the fridge overnight.  Add to a sauce pan. Reheat on med until warmed and add to your fresh cooked pasta.

Roasted Eggplant Pasta
1lb patsa
2 large eggplants
2Tbsp good olive oil
*freezer friendly summer pasta sauce

Cooking instructions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Boil water and cook pasta as instructed. Wash and slice your eggplant into strips. Drizzle the eggplant with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 25 min. Cut into cubes and add to the summer pasta sauce. Add to your cooked pasta and enjoy.

Let cool. Add to freezer bags. Label and date. Keep in the freezer for up to six months.
Thaw in the fridge overnight.  Add to a sauce pan. Reheat on med until warmed and add to your fresh cooked pasta.

Blueberry Strawberry and Raspberry Infused Water
1 cup of blueberries
1 cup of strawberries
1 cup of raspberries
4-5 mint leaves
1 gallon of water
Wash fruit. Cut the stems off of the strawberries. Take half of the amount of fruit and with a mortar and pestle crush the fruit. Add the crushed and whole fruit and mint to the water. Set in the fridge overnight. Drink the next day. Enjoy. 
~Freezing institutions.
Wash your fruit. Separate into freezer bags. Label, date and freeze fruit up to six months.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Stocking Back Up

And we’re back.

It’s been a very busy end of (school) year here! But the year is over and we've just returned from a wonderful vacation in Key Largo so it’s back in the kitchen we go!

I want to share a little secret with you…I hate packing lunches.  I don’t know why exactly, because I love to cook and in be in the kitchen.  But during the school year packing three lunches before bed was just the worst chore.  I think it’s because after a long day and dinner is cooked and cleaned up the last thing I want to do is dirty the kitchen again and add to my pile of dishes.  Now it’s summer time and I’m home with my little one so I am only packing my husband’s lunch….but I still hate the chore. 

Since I’m home for the summer, I have more time to be able to get dinner ready and on the table at a reasonable time.  I can do a little prep and clean up while Harper naps, which is nice.  Since I’m not as worried about having dinner in the freezer now, I wanted to stock up on packing lunches for Joe.  I ran through my recipes in some of my favorite cook books and some new ones to try from Pinterest.  Here is the menu I came up with:

Apple Pie Oatmeal

Potato Soup
Burrito Bowls
Chicken Flautas

Potato Soup
Chicken Flautas
Marinated Chicken
Pork Chop Casserole (2)
Stuffed Pork Chops

For breakfast, I doubled a batch of oatmeal and scooped it into Tupperware so I can just grab it and put it in Joe’s lunch box each morning.  He leaves super early for work and I like for him to have something healthy to eat.  He also got a nutribullet for Father’s Day and we have been putting it to good use!  I made smoothie packets in the freezer so he can get up and just add almond milk and blend!  It’s been great to get in extra veggies and fruit.

Who doesn't love Chipotle? I could eat it every day.  I made a large batch of cilantro lime rice for the base of the bowls, and then whipped up my favorite toppings: grilled chicken, sautéd veggies, black beans and salsa.  To be honest, I don’t know if these will even make it into Joe’s lunch…I might eat them all!

burrito bowl salsa chicken lunch

I am on a pork chop kick recently and they were on sale so I stocked up!  I wanted to try a pork chop casserole recipe I found.  It looks delish and I can’t wait to try it out.  After I made 2 casseroles I had 4 chops left over, so I made a meal for 4 so if we have company I can always whip this dish out of the freezer.  Meg Loc’s Pork Chops with Stuffing and Apples was my inspiration for this dish.  I didn't have the exact ingredients on hand, so I improvised and made my own stuffing with apples.  I stuffed the chops with this and then layered them right on top of it.  Yummy!

stuffed pork chop apples stuffing

The chicken flautas recipe is from Fav Family Recipes and I have yet to be disappointed from any of their recipes!  I added some left over ingredients from my burrito bowls to my flautas.  I had enough to make a dinner portion and a lunch portion, score!

And while I was cooking away on the stove, I had our Loaded Potato Soup going in the crock pot.  It makes so much…enough for dinner on Monday (Meatless Monday!) plus 2 more dinner servings and 2 lunch servings that will find their way into Joe’s lunch. 

I actually did this cooking all in one morning/afternoon.  I was done and cleaned up and had time to relax before Harper woke up from her nap around 3.  I did a lot of similar recipes, which helped.  The pork chops were all similar and used potatoes, like the soup.  The flautas and burrito bowls and similar seasonings and ingredients so I used the same pans/bowls which was great for clean up!

I’m very glad to be back…blogging and in the kitchen!  Can’t wait for our Cooking Club meeting at the end of this month!

What is your least favorite chore around the house?

Stay full, 


Apple Oatmeal
Serves 4

1 cup steel cut oats
4 cups water
1 or 2 chopped apples (depending on size)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp fresh nutmeg
2 tbsp brown sugar

1.       Combine ingredients, bring to a boil and simmer until oats are cooked. 
2.       Allow to cool completely, then divide out into Tupperware, label and either store in fridge for week or freezer. 
3.       If frozen, thaw in refrigerator then microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring until warmed through. 

Smoothie Packs
Freezer Friendly Original

Frozen Pineapple
Frozen Mango
Frozen sliced Strawberries
Fresh Banana
Fresh Blueberries
Greens of your choice ( Spinach and/or Kale)
Chia Seeds
Goji Berries
Almond Milk

Add a bit of what you like and place in a ziplock baggie.  Place in the freezer.  When you’re ready pour contents into blender, add about a cup of almond milk and blend!

Chicken Flautas
Makes 12

1 to 2 cups of chopped chicken breast
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup Monterey Jack Cheese
½ can of black beans, drained and rinsed
¾ cup of cilantro lime rice
1/3 cup of salsa (I used homemade)
½ tsp cumin, plus pinch for chicken
½ tsp chili powder, plus pinch for chicken
Tortillas, smaller size

To Eat:
1.       Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.       Season chicken breast with salt, pepper and a pinch of cumin and chili powder. Sauté in pan until cooked through.  Allow to cool and chop finely.
3.       While the chicken is cooking and cooling, combine the cream cheese, cheese, black beans, rice, salsa and seasonings.  (If you don’t have rice already made, start the rice before beginning recipe.)
4.       Combine chicken with cheese mixture.
5.       Place about 2 tablespoons of the mixture down the middle of a tortilla and roll tightly.
6.       Place filled tortillas seam side down in a foil lined pan, sprayed with cooking spray.
7.       Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.  Enjoy!

To Freeze:
1.       Follow steps 2-6.  Cover tightly and label.  Freeze.
2.       Thaw overnight in fridge and bake according to directions.  Enjoy!

Burrito Bowls
Serves 4-6
Freezer Friendly Original (Although it’s Chipotle’s idea)

2 chicken breasts
1 ½ cups salsa (recipe to follow)
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 bell pepper
1 small red onion
½ tsp oregano, plus dash for chicken
¼ tsp cumin, plus dash for chicken
Cilantro lime rice (recipe to follow)

To Eat:
1.       Begin making rice and then salsa (recipes below)
2.       Season chicken breasts with a dash of oregano and cumin (or sazon or any of your favorite bold flavors). Sauté until cooked through. Set aside to cool.
3.       While the chicken is cooking, slice the bell pepper and onion.  When chicken is done, sauté the veggies in the same pan. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, cumin and oregano.  Remove to cook when done. (5-10 minutes)
4.       Once rice is done, scoop out into individual portions containers.  (And set some aside if you are making chicken fluatas!)
5.       Divide out sauted veggies into bowls, then top with beans and rice. 
6.       Lastly, thinly slice chicken and divide out among bowls.
These can be enjoyed warm or cold!

To Freeze:
1.       Follow steps 1-6.
2.       Place lids on containers, label and freeze.
3.       Thaw in fridge over night. 
4.       Enjoy chilled or microwave for a hot burrito bowl! Enjoy!

Marinated Chicken
Serves 2

2 chicken breasts
½ cup of Dijon mustard
¼ cup Maple syrup
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
Fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper

To Eat:
1.       Place chicken on a foil lined pan (or a foil pan to toss is even better!). Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2.       Mix together mustard, syrup and vinegar.  Pour over chicken. Turn chicken to coat.
3.       Cook at 375 for about 40 minutes, checking for doneness.  Turn chicken half way through.
4.       Sprinkle with rosemary and enjoy. Goes very well with a baked sweet potato and roasted asparagus!

To Freeze:
1.       Follow directions 1 & 2.
2.       Tightly cover chicken, label and freeze.
3.       Thaw over night in refrigerator and cook as directed.  Enjoy!

Pork Chop Casserole
Serves 2
Adapted from

2 pork chops
1 large potato
1/3 cup of milk
Pinch of pepper
½ can of cream of mushroom soup
Half an onion, sliced
½ tsp salt
½ tsp poultry seasoning

To Eat:
1.       Season pork chops with salt and pepper.  Brown on each side.
2.       Wash and dry a large potato.  Slice thinly.
3.       Layer pan (lined with foil!) with potato slices and place pork chops on top.
4.       Brown onions in pan.
5.       In a bowl, mix together milk, soup and poultry seasoning.  Add onions.
6.       Once combined, pour on top of chops and potatoes.
7.       Bake , covered, at 350 for an hour.
8.       Remove lid and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

To freeze:
1.       Follow steps 1-6.
2.       Cover tightly and label.
3.       Thaw over night in refrigerator and bake as directed.

Stuffed Pork Chops
Serves 4
Freezer Friendly Original

4 pork chops (I used boneless)
4 pieces of white bread, cubed
1 small apple, cored and diced
1 small onion, diced
1 large rib of celery, diced
2 tablespoons of butter, melted
1 tsp poultry seasoning
Salt and pepper

To Eat:
1.       Using a very sharp knife, cut a pocket into the pork chop. Set chops aside.
2.       In a bowl, combine bread, onion, apple, celery and seasonings.  Add melted butter and mix.
3.       Scoop stuffing into the pockets of the pork chops.  Really smoosh it in there!
4.       Create a layer on the bottom of your pan with any remaining stuffing.  Nestle the stuffed pork chops on top.
5.       Bake at 400 covered for an hour. (Begin checking for doneness at 45 minutes.) Enjoy!

To Freeze:
1.       Follow directions 1-3.
2.       Cover, label and freeze.
3.       Thaw overnight in refrigerator and cook according to directions.  Enjoy!

Additional Recipes:

Cilantro Lime Rice
Adapted from

2 cups long grain rice
4 cups of water
1 tbsp evoo
1 tsp sugar
Zest and juice of one lime
A handful of cilantro, chopped

1.       Add water, oil, sugar, cilantro and rice to pot.  Stir gently with a metal spoon.
2.       Cook rice according to package.
3.       When rice is done, zest and juice the lime on top.  Fluffy lightly with a fork.

Allow to cool and place in ziplock bags, it freezes well.


2 cans of rotel tomatoes, drained
1 large can of whole peeled tomatoes, drained
¼ of an onion
3 cloves of garlic
Jalapeño to taste
1 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper
½ tsp Sugar

1.       In a food processor, pulse jalapeno, onion and garlic.
2.       Add drained tomatoes and pulse.
3.       Add sugar, cumin and cilantro and pulse to desired consistency.
4.       Taste and add salt and pepper and adjust seasonings as needed.

5.       ENJOY!