Baked Eggplant Sandwich

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21 days. In 21 days, exactly 3 weeks, I will be finished with my first day of bar exam testing. That makes me sick. And after I take the horrid test, I’ll be in limbo until November.

I’ve started secret shopping and haven’t been eating in as much. I can’t really turn down free food.

This sandwich is based heavily on this recipe. Mine is a little different, in that my tomato sauce is actually tomato paste and cherry tomatoes. And I used Asian eggplant instead of globe eggplant. It was super easy, but packed with flavors.

Baked Eggplant Sandwich

Ingredients
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 Asian eggplant
1/4 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
olive oil, as needed
2 hamburger buns
1/2 cup Arugula
2 tbsp tomato paste
10 cherry tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Directions

1. First, let’s make the cheese spread. In a dry skillet, add the garlic cloves with the skins still on, over high heat. Toast them, flipping frequently for about 15 minutes. The garlic skins will become blackened. Once done, remove from the skillet. Unwrap them. You should essentially have roasted garlic.

2.Mash the garlic in a small bowl. Mix together the ricotta and Parmesan. Set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 375. In a shallow bowl mix together the bread crumbs and Italian seasoning. Set aside.

4. Slice the eggplant into 1/2-inch thick rounds.

5. Take two more shallow bowls out. Fill the flour in one. In the other add the egg. Dredge each piece of eggplant in flour. Dip in the egg. Then coat with the breadcrumbs. Place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes at 375. Then flip the eggplant and bake for another 15 minutes.

6. While the eggplant in cooking, heat a skillet. Add a glug of olive oil. Add the tomato paste and mix around. Add the cherry tomatoes. Mix around until hot.

7. Once the eggplant is done, put together your sandwiches. Place a handful of arugula leaves on the bottom bun. Cover with several slices of eggplant. Spoon hot tomato sauce on top of the eggplant. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Spread the ricotta cheese on the top bun. Put the top bun on top of your sandwich. Take a bite!

* serves 2
* shared with Kahaki Kitchen‘s Souper Sundays & Cast Party Wednesday

Baked Lasagna Sandwich

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I had no idea studying for the bar exam would be such a soul sucking feat. On days when I have the review class I’m there for at least 4 hours, to come home to 4 hours of homework (at least). The weekends provide me no break. For instance, today, I woke up and did an hour and a half of work, went out for an hour with my mom, did another hour and a half of work, drove from San Francisco to Sacramento with traffic for a total of 2 1/2 hours, and then worked from 6-11. I had no idea studying would be this awful. It’s not that this information was unknown to me, but I think not knowing made it more bearable to graduate. I mean, knowing that I was graduating just to study nearly eight hours a day would have been kind of devastating.

Anyway, bar prep isn’t taking away from my cooking (thought it will from my updating.)

I got this recipe through a swap. It was easy, filling, and kind of reminded me of being a little kid (though I never got these when I was little.)

Baked Lasagna Sandwich

Ingredients
4 hoagie buns
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 cup spaghetti sauce
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp dried basil
1/2 cup ricotta
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup cheddar, shredded
1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350. Make a wide V-shaped cut in the center of each of the buns, cutting down 1-inch from the bottom. Remove the cut out portions and save for another use. Set aside.

2. In a large skillet cook the beef over medium heat, until no longer pink. Drain off any fat. Add the spaghetti sauce, garlic powder, and basil. Cook for  minutes.

3. In a bowl combine the ricotta, Parmesan, half of the cheddar, and half of the mozzarella. Spoon the meat mixture into the buns. Top with the cheese mixture. Place on a baking sheet. Cover loosely with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.

4. Uncover. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Return to the oven for 3 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.

* serves 4
* shared with Weekend Cooking

weekend cooking

Spaghetti Squash Casserole

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I’ve never participated in the Alphabakes Challenge before, but there’s always a time to start new things! Alphabakes, hosted by Ros and Caroline, where each month bloggers are challenged to make a dish that features an ingredient made with the random recipe of the month. This month’s random letter is S. You can find more information about this month’s Alphabakes here.

The cold weather has made an increase in squash consumption in my house. Since squash starts with an S (and so does Spaghetti Squash!) this seemed to be the perfect dish to share with Alphabakes.

I wish I could claim this recipe. It is however not mine. Everyday Maven posted this recipe and I was intrigued, for good reason. I should have roasted the squash the day before and if you do make this recipe, you should also roast your squash earlier than I did. By roasting the squash, prepping the dish, and then baking the casserole all back to back made this a pretty time consuming meal. But it really was worth it.

Spaghetti Squash Casserole
(source)

Ingredients
1 large spaghetti squash (you can prep the spaghetti squash in advance, but the directions to roast it are below)
1 egg
15-oz ricotta cheese
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp Italian seasoning
3 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, diced
1/2 lb ground beef
1 head kale, sliced into thin ribbons
15-oz crushed tomatoes (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup bread crumbs

Directions

1. First prepare the squash. Preheat your oven to 350. Slice the top end of the squash. Cut the squash longwise so that you have two halves. Remove the seeds from the inside of the squash, scraping clean.

2. Place the squash halves cut side down on the baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes.

3. Once the squash is cooked, remove and let cool. Once the squash is cool enough to touch (but not cold) take a fork and scrape the inside of the squash, to remove the strands of the spaghetti squash. Place them into a bowl.

4. Now you can prepare the rest of the casserole. Combine the egg, ricotta, 1 tsp salt, ground black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and Italian seasoning in a small bowl.

5. In another small bowl combine the Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, and 2 tbsp olive oil. Set aside.

6. Turn the heat on the oven up to 425. Spray a 9×13 casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside. Place a large skillet (or a big pot) over medium-high heat. Once hot add 1 tbsp olive oil. Then add the garlic and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until tender.

7. Add the ground beef and break up with a wooden spoon. Cook until almost all the pink is gone.

8. Add the kale and crushed tomatoes. Stir to combine. Place the lid on the skillet and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the kale is wilted.

9. Remove the lid and add the spaghetti squash. Mix until well combined. Remove the dish from the heat and stir in the ricotta cheese mixture.

10. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish and use a spoon to even out the top. Bake for 40 minutes.

11. Remove from heat and top with the breading. Spray with cooking spray and bake for 10 more minutes.

12. Let the dish sit for 10 minutes before cutting into it.

* serves 8
* besides Alphabakes, I have shared this recipe with Weekend Cooking

By the way, entries for Pantry Party should be entered during this next week!

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Foodie Penpal Reveal: July

For the second month in a row I participated in the most fun event on the web: Foodie Penpals. What is foodie penpals you ask? Here’s a breakdown:

  • On the 5th of the month you receive an email pairing you with information about who you’re paired with. You email that person to get information pertaining to allergies and dietary restriction.
  • By the 15th you put together a box of treats and mail them to your partner.
  • On the last day of the month you post a blog post about your box of treats.

  This month I received a box of goodies from Erika at You Just Did What?! Erika is also from California, just from a different part of the state than I’m from. She’s a runner and a good treat box packer! Erika sent me a variety of treats, all of which I’ve tried/eaten at this point! Well, except for the Power Bar, but I’m going to eat that tomorrow as a snack at work. First things first. Erika sent me a jar of Trader Joe’s Fat Free Spicy Black Bean Dip. I ate some of it spread on a sandwich. I also ate some off of my finger. I need to get some chips to eat the rest of this with, because it’s so good. The flavor is slightly spicy, but not overwhelming at all. I really like the texture of the dip. It might be fun to make into a seven-layer dip also… Oh man, or on nachos with melted cheese and guacamole. In the box there were also these two bars, a Luna Bar and a Power Bar. Like I mentioned above, I haven’t had the Power Bar yet. But I did have the Luna Bar at work the other day. It really just tasted like candy. For 180 calories for this size bar of what essentially is candy (with a lot more health benefits than just having a chocolate bar), I need to buy myself some of these. I get hungry at work at random times, so it’s nice having a snack in my drawer to grab and munch on. The Luna Bar did the job and I’m sure the Power Bar will as well. Erika also threw in two Crystal Light Margarita mixes. The first pack I used to make a pitcher with just water and the mix. The flavor was really great, especially when my boyfriend pureed some strawberries to add to it. The next packet will be used to make an alcoholic version of the drink (as suggested by Erika!)

Erika also sent me a loaf of lemon bread which she got at a bakery in Rancho Cucamonga. I was mainly surprised at how moist the bread was, even after being in a box and shipped across the state. Seriously, it tasted as if I had gone to the bakery myself and ate the bread the same day it was baked and sold. I had some of the bread for breakfast the day after I got my box of goodies. It made a great breakfast paired with a cup of coffee. While I loved everything in the box, this was my favorite part. It caught me the most off guard (a whole loaf of bread!) and I couldn’t get over how moist and tasty it was.

In my box I also got a container of trail mix, which has also been a great work treat. Now here’s a story for you. My boyfriend is allergic to almonds. I still eat almonds (and everything else he is allergic to), I just make sure to not mix it into his food. He’s not incredibly sensitive to anything he’s allergic to (which includes almonds and some other nuts, avocados, peaches, mangoes, and basically every fruit with seeds in the middle.) I told him when I first got it not to eat the trail mix, it had almonds in it and it was for me. Now, Matt just sometimes can’t resist things that look good to him even if he’s allergic. I mean, he’s even gone to the grocery store for the sole purpose of buying a peach just to complain for hours about how his tongue itched. Matt decided that if he picked the almonds and other nuts he’s allergic to out of the trail mix he’d be okay. I don’t know what he was thinking, but he complained for hours about his itchy mouth. He’s lucky his allergies are so minor because otherwise he couldn’t just decide to put things in his mouth that he knew he was allergic to. Crazy. With that being said, I have no food allergies to nuts or otherwise and I have eaten almost this entire tub of mix. The flavors are so good and I love it!

Last but definitely not least, Erika sent me a jar of strawberry jam from the same farm she got the trail mix from. This jam is soo good. Unlike the Smuckers I buy, this tastes a lot less processed and less sugary. The flavors of the strawberries are so strong and good. Rather than just spread it on toast, I decided my first use of the jam should be fun! I like to pick something from the box to make a recipe with to share here, since this is my food blog where I share recipes I’ve made and all.

This jam made its way into Strawberry Ricotta Stuffed French Toast. This hands down was the best french toast I’ve made. I credit the jam.

What are your favorite things to do with strawberry jam?

Strawberry Ricotta Stuffed French Toast

Ingredients
4 slices white bread
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
3 tbsp strawberry jam
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of salt
4 tbsp unsalted butter

Directions

1. Spread 2 slices of bread with ricotta. On the other 2 slices spread with strawberry jam. Place a jam slice on top of a ricotta slice. Press gently.

2. In a shallow bowl, whisk the milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Dip both sides of each sandwich into the egg mixture until well coated.

3. In a large skillet, melt 1 tbsp of butter. Cook one sandwich at a time, 4 minutes per side or until golden. Repeat with the other sandwich. Let cool enough to cut in half.

* serves 2
* 397 calories per serving

Baker’s Edge Lasagna

For Christmas my boyfriend bought me a Baker’s Edge lasagna pan. I’ve been entirely intimidated to use it, so up until this lasagna dish it’s been sitting collecting dust. I shouldn’t have been so nervous about using it, because I’ve now decided it actually makes making lasagna a lot easier. Doing the layers was easier, serving it was easier . . . It really simplified the lasagna process. I’m glad I finally got over my baker’s edge anxiety and I will definitely be using this lasagna pan here on out!

I decreased the amount of beef in this recipe significantly, because I didn’t want to have to buy more so I just used all I had. But I don’t think that hurt the dish and actually may have helped it more.

Baker’s Edge Lasagna
(source)

Ingredients
15 oz ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
4 cups pasta sauce
1/4 lb ground beef
12 lasagna noodles, uncooked
6 cups shredded mozzarella

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 375.

2. In a bowl combine the ricotta, Parmesan, eggs, oregano, and basil. Mix together well. In another bowl mix together the ground beef and the pasta sauce.

3. Spray the baker’s edge lasagna pan with cooking spray. Spread 1/4 of the meat mixture on the bottom of the pan. Layer one noodle in each section of the pan. Top with 1/2 ricotta, 1/4 meat sauce, and 1/3 of mozzarella. Repeat the process again, beginning with the noodles.  Top with the last four noodles, the sauce, and the mozzarella cheese.

4. Cover the lasagna with aluminum foil. Bake for 55 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additionally 10 to 15 minutes.

* serves about 8
* 569 calories per serving
* Shared with Presto Pasta Nights hosted this week at Bricole, Food of the Month Club, and What’s Cooking Wednesday

Spinach Ricotta Quiche

I should be studying. 

Spinach Ricotta Quiche

Ingredients
1 refrigerated pie crust
2 cups spinach, cut up and cooked in a skillet
1 cup heavy cream
4 eggs
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Directions

 1. Preheat the oven to 375. Spray a pie plate with cooking spray. Gently pat down the pie crust in the plate and poke holes across the bottom of the crust.

2. In a bowl mix together the spinach, cream, eggs, ricotta, cheddar, salt, and pepper. Pour into the crust.

3. Bake for 40-45 minutes and let cool for 5-10 minutes before eating.

* 452 calories per serving
* serves 6

Baked Cheesy Ravioli

Sometimes I wish I had a little rat to help me around the kitchen. There are days when I feel so uninspired, when everything I make just turns out wrong. There are other times when I get home from work and my feet hurt so badly, my head feels like it’s full of bricks, and I just want to lay down. On those nights I usually order pizza, or get some other carry in. But what if I had my own little rat to cook for me?

This month the Food ‘n Flix movie is Ratatouille, hosted by The Seventh Level of Boredom.

When I was deciding what to make this month, I knew I could make ratatouille. While I’ve never made the dish before and it would have been an opportune time, to make the dish that the movie is named after, I just felt like it was too predictable. My motivation in determining what food I should make this month required me to think like a rat.

Now, Remy is a pretty high-class little rat. He knows what’s good and he likes it to be perfect. However, if I was a rat, I think I would have more simplistic tastes. I mean, that’s not different from now. I like my food simple, to the point, and quick to make. I have no reason to believe that the rat version of myself would want anything different.

I always think that mice and rats like cheese. Who knows if this is actually true, but this is how I decided what to make. This cheesy baked ravioli was incredibly easy to make. It kind of tasted like lasagna, but was a lot easier to make.

Baked Cheesy Ravioli

Ingredients
2 cups baby spinach
2 1/2 cups cheese ravioli
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups pasta sauce
1 tomato, sliced
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
handful of shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray. Layer the bottom of the dish with 3/4 of the baby spinach.

3. In a large bowl combine the ravioli, ricotta,  and pasta sauce. Toss with your hands and make sure it’s mixed well.

4. Pour the ravioli into the casserole dish and top with the remaining baby spinach. Top with both the shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheeses. Place the slices of tomatoes on top and then sprinkle with basil, oregano, and Parmesan cheese.

5. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 1 hour. After the hour is up put the casserole dish under the broiler, until brown and bubbly.

* serves 2 hearty sized servings