Cooking Up Some Love

A few things first...

I never follow a recipe as it is written. (That's just no fun.)
I never measure anything out exactly. (Also no fun.)

but most importantly


That being said I always try to make what I like healthy... and still taste as good as the original thing. That, of course, is not always possible, but I come pretty darn close sometimes.

Friday, March 8

Vegetarian Eggplant Lasagna Roll-Ups

So it's been awhile... Work has gotten crazy. For those who don't know, I work in a bakery full time mixing dough for breads and making little sweets to be sold. Three people have recently quit... So I am currently working 6 days a week and trying to find time to cook something new for my wonderful husband which means no experimenting in a long while. :\

So what has finally spurred me now? We LOVE cheese, especially feta cheese. (If you have never happened to try it, go buy some now. ;]) We accidentally bought a lot of fat free feta cheese... Now I don't know if you've ever had fat-free cheese, but it's worse than cardboard by itself. Feta doubly so. Seriously. The luscious creaminess gone. The pungent taste, soured. In things, it is tolerable  So I had to come up with something, anything to use up this cheese. Waste not, want not. Right?

I was Pinteresting it up one day, because that's my jam, and happened upon a recipe for eggplant cannelloni. This sounded amazing, but I wasn't to into the actual recipe. We like more pungent food flavors in my house so I decided to create something similar. This became trickier because it's Lent, and I've given up certain foods. So this is my vegetarian and grain free twist on lasagna. It makes enough for about 6 people or two full 8x8 pans.


  • 2 large eggplant
  • 6 (or less) green onions
  • 5 (or less) garlic
  • 7 cremini mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas or 1, 16 oz, can well drained
  • 10-12 oz package of frozen kale or spinach, perferably thawed and pressed dry
  • 3/4 cup feta
    • 1/2 tablespoon butter to make up for the fat-free-ness
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese plus more for topping
  • 1/2 cup egg whites or 2 eggs
  • 3 cups pasta sauce
  • some herbs for topping
  • A chef's knife
  • A mandolin slicer (can substitute the chef's knife if you're that awesome)
  • A griddle or a pan on a stove top
  • A food processor or a REALLY good arm
  • An oven preheated to 350 F
  • 2 oiled 8x8 baking dish
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Wash all produce.
  3. Chop off the ends of the eggplant and slice into nice even steaks between 1/8 and 1/4 an inch thick.
  4. Grill on a griddle or stove top.
    1. Remove stems from mushrooms and slice caps.
    2. Remove chive (the dark green grassy part) and root end from green onions and peel garlic.
  5. Saute mushroom slices.
  6. Add green onion, garlic, mushroom stems, chickpeas, kale, egg, butter, and both cheeses to the food processor.
    1. Note: I processed all but the cheese first then added the cheese and processed some more because it wouldn't all fit the first go.
  7. Cover the eggplant steak with filling, roll up long-ways, and place in baking dish.
  8. Once all steaks have been filled, top with mushrooms and sauce.
  9. Optional: Top with more cheese and herbs.
  10. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
  11. Pull out and let cool for 10-15... (yes this is necessary or you will seriously burn yourself.)
  12. ENJOY! :D

Cut off both ends of the eggplant.
Slice into nice even steak strips.
(about 1/4 inch thick)

Now cook on the griddle
or on the stove top with a pan.
They will be done with you can bend them without trouble.
Note: You will be rolling them up. The skin will be chewy. You can remove the skin if you dislike the idea.
While waiting on the eggplant slice to cook, remove the stems from the mushrooms, slice your mushrooms, cut the green onions (reserving the onion, not chive parts), and peel your garlic.
After the eggplant is done, saute the mushrooms just until they let go of their water for more flavor.
You should end up with about 3/4 of cooked mushrooms.
Gather all ingredients for sauce.
Dump everything into the food processor, and let it go!
I had to do this step twice. The cheese wouldn't fit with everything else at first.
Get ready to assemble.
Add some of the filling with a spoon, enough to cover about eighty percent of it works the best.

Roll it up and place it in the (OILED!) pan.
I managed to get 11 in there. If you have extra eggplant, just eat it. It's amazing by itself. :]
Add your awesome mushrooms or any extra veggies on top.
Top with about 3 cups of pasta sauce.
Now of course my husband had to have more cheese...
So I added more herbs... (dried rosemary, basil, and parsley to be exact.)
Popped it in the oven covered in foil for 45 minutes.
Ta-Da! Pulled it out to cool for 10-15 minutes.
It was completely and totally yummy and satisfying although a little wet so I would most definitely squeeze as much of the water out of the chickpeas and kale as humanly possible. On the definite plus side, you couldn't tell there was ever fat-free cheese in there anyway. Haha. :] I only used half of my filling concoction. The other is the freezer. I'll update later to see if that was smart idea or not. Anyway, I must be on my way to work to bake cupcakes, tarts, and biscotti. Thanks for the read! :]

Monday, November 19

Family Traditions: Homemade Noodles Style

It's that time of year. You know, to break out all the old family traditions. My family doesn't have many, but the ones that we do have all involve... Any guesses??? FOOD!! :D So every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas my grandpa would get down this old Better Homes and Gardens "New" Cook Book, the Souvenir Edition. It is ancient despite being the "New" Cook Book. It is gold. Yes as in metallic shiny gold. It is falling apart.

Hideous yet awesome. I can't get rid of it, despite the fact that in it is only one very short recipe my family, I'm pretty sure, ever kept it for... bookmarked by another recipe card.

As you can see, I could easily write that down and save it to the computer, but it kinda takes away from the memory of making it...

So back to my grandpa taking this down every Thanksgiving and Christmas and once in awhile Easter. Well my grandpa was a sit on the recliner and watch football/read westerns kind of old man so when he was doing something in the kitchen, I was pretty intrigued. Grandma got me into cakes and cookies. You know, the normal things. He got me into homemade pasta, dinner pancakes, and fudge. Kinda eccentric things. I mean come on. Who makes their own pasta? My family. So to pay homage to my family past and present (it's like my mom's favorite part of holiday dinners), I'm going to do it yet again this year. :) The following is instructions for the whole thing including cooking. I'm just making the noodles today so the pictures will only show up until I put the noodles in the fridge.

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
    • We use less because we use chicken stock... it gets really salty really fast if you don't lower and use reduced sodium stock.
  • a dash of baking powder
    • NOTE: This is not called for in the recipe. My grandpa just did this. So as tradition stands, so will I. My grandfather was the first one who taught me that your own cooking creation is always better than the recipe... Even if no one else thinks so. ;)
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • 1 cup flour, NO LUMPS
    • I now use whole wheat flour, but it specifically calls for sifted white flour. Just an FYI.
  • (If cooking immediately) Some large amount of boiling liquid
    • We use chicken stock.
  • Meat, veggies of choice (optional)
    • We add sliced/shredded/cubed turkey/chicken.
  1. Combine everything but the flour.
  2. Add flour and make a stiff dough. (Start off incorporating a little at a time. If for whatever reason your dough is still wet after you have added all your flour, add more.) Form into a ball and let relax for about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Squish ball into a disk.
  4. Roll out very thin on a flat surface.
    1. I do this twice. Once and then let it sit for 5-10 minutes to relax again. I then roll it out more. It will get paper thin if you do this right.
  5. Let stand for 20 minutes. Yes you must do this step. Like the rest of the dough relaxing time. I know it's frustrating, but do it anyway.
  6. Roll up loosely.
  7. Slice 1/4 inch wide. Or more or less. I personally do a little less.
  8. Unroll, spread out, and let dry for 2 hours. Yes the full two hours. Or more. In case you forget... Like I always do. I put mine in the oven. Our pilot light in there is so hot that our oven is almost always at 90-100` F. When we lived at our other house, I would stick them in the bathroom with the gas heater going. You know, the dangerous ones they can't put in houses anymore. You can put them anywhere just make sure the dog or cat can't get to them because for some reason animals think they're mighty tasty.
  9. (If cooking immediately, skip this step) Bag and label and put in fridge/freezer if not cooking immediately.
    1. Thaw night before if put in freezer.
  10. Drop into boiling liquid of some kind with optionals added. Make sure noodles are completed submerged.
  11. Cook uncovered for about 10 minutes.

My ball.
Squish it out.
Roll out thin. Paper thin.

Roll it up.

Cut it up.

Spread and dry it out.

Feeds approximately a family of 4-6 as a side dish.

Now I usually double this recipe and do it early. I do it about a week in advance and put it in the fridge. It freezes wonderfully for about a month or two also. So feel free to try it out early and freeze. My first few times on my own were not successful. It made me wish that I wasn't such a teenager at the end of grandpa's life and would have paid more attention. But alas I was a typical teen and then went on to blunder up noodles for the first few years. :) I'm sure grampa laughed pretty hysterically at my attempts from heaven. ;)