Eggplant Parmesan


Eggplant Parmesan is hands down my favorite meal of all time. I love everything about it. I’m always hesitant to order it at a restaurant because it takes a lot of time and effort and you can definitely tell when people take shortcuts. For me it’s all about consistency. This recipe is a lot of work, about two hours in the kitchen, but the result is mouthwatering and totally worth it. I’ve seen recipes where people just bake it and skip the frying part, but I promise you it’s worth it to take the extra time to make this dish the right way. Eggplant is a very watery vegetable so it’s essential to get some of the water out, otherwise you end up with a yucky texture. I cut the eggplant and then dust it with ground sea salt, as you’ll see in the picture below the salt sucks the water out of the eggplant. imageAnother way to make your life easier while making this recipe is to set up a nice prep station. Get all of your ingredients out and ready to go and make sure you clean up after yourself as you go, otherwise it can be overwhelming. You will be multitasking, so establishing a clean functional prep space is clutch. I was thoroughly ecstatic about the way that this eggplant parm turned out and if you’re in the mood to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty (with breadcrumbs) I promise you it will be so worth it!

Ingredients:

Steps:

1.) Start by cutting the eggplant, lay the pieces out on and dust with sea salt- let them sit for at least 30 minutes or until you see the water come out.image2.) If you’re going to make homemade marinara follow this step, if not please skip to step 3. Drizzle some olive oil on a large skillet and turn the heat to medium. Add the halved onion, celery, bay leaves and garlic, fresh basil and parsley, dried Italian herbs and let cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes and simmer for at least an hour and half. When pouring the sauce on the eggplant just use the red sauce, avoid the onion, garlic, celery and bay leaves.image3.) Once the eggplant has been sitting for at least 30 minutes pat eggplant with paper towels to absorb the water. Set yourself up with a nice work area, take 5-6 eggs and whisk in a bowl. Take the Italian breadcrumbs, Italian panko breadcrumbs and flour all equal parts and mix together (you can use just breadcrumbs- I just find this mixture to result in the perfect consistency.) image4.) Dip the eggplant in the eggs and then coat in breadcrumbs (*Tip- after a while the breadcrumbs can get clumpy- I dump them out and make a new mixture about halfway through to ensure a nice even coat. It’s also helpful to do this right near the sink so you can rinse your hands off when you need to.) Spray the breaded eggplant with a light coat of olive oil spray on both sides.

5.) Get two skillets out and coat with vegetable over medium to high heat. Once the oil is warm add the eggplant. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until the eggplant is golden brown and then flip and cook on the other side. Set the fried eggplant off to the side and repeat this step until all the eggplant has been fried. (*Tip- you will have to reuse the skillets since there will be a lot of eggplant. Run some water in on the skillet in between rounds and add new oil to keep the oil fresh.)imageimage6.) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Take your favorite pan and spray with olive oil, take the fried eggplant and put on the bottom of the pan. Add sauce (just enough on each layer to cover the eggplant,)  cheese (desired amount,) fresh basil and repeat until you get to the top of the pan! I had about 4-5 extra fried eggplants that I just set aside. imageimage7.) Cover the eggplant with aluminum foil and place in the lower rack and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Uncover let rest for about 5 minutes and ENJOY the fruits of your labor.image image

Angel Hair Pesto Pasta with Sauteed Vegetables


I was craving a yummy pesto and started flipping through some of my favorite cookbooks. I was inspired by Vitamix kale and basil pesto recipe and the Oh She Glow’s avocado creamy pasta. I handed a bowl of this to my husband while he was on work phonecall and he blurted out “oh my god this is outstanding,” haha so I think it’s safe to say this dish was a home run! If you wanted to simplify this dish you could leave out the sauteed onions, squash and tomatoes, but I just love the color they add. Either way it will be delicious!

Ingredients:image

  • For the pesto: 1 avocado, 2 cups of spinach, 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, 1 lemon squeezed, 1 tsp. sea salt, 3 cloves of fresh garlic, 3/4 cup of organic extra virgin olive oil, 2 cups of fresh basil, 3 tablespoons of pine nuts.
  • 1 small red onion diced
  • 1 cup of organic grape tomatoes diced (sun-dried tomatoes would be a great alternative)
  • 1 organic medium yellow squash
  • 1 box of your favorite angel hair pasta (I tried this kind for the first time and absolutely LOVED it!)

Steps:

1.) Start by adding all of the ingredients for the pesto into a Vitamix or food processor. Blend for 30 seconds or until you’ve achieved desired consistency.

2.) Cook the pasta according to the package directions. It’s best to cook it al dente since you will be mixing it back into warm ingredients.

3.) Add a little bit of olive oil to a medium pan and turn on medium to high heat-add the diced onions and let caramelize for 5 minutes or so. Add the squash and tomatoes and a pinch of sea salt and cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently.

image

4.) Add the pasta (do not rinse with cold water, just strain) to the pan with the sauteed veggies. Add the pesto…you will not need all of it just pour and mix until achieve desired amount and save the rest for leftovers!imageimage

Breakfast Smoothie- Trader Joe’s Fan


So if you haven’t already noticed by now I am a BIG FAN of Trader Joe’s. All of the ingredients (except the protein powder) in this smoothie are from Trader Joe’s.  I have been making this for a little over a week now and I am seriously obsessed!! I have never been a big eater in the morning, but I know how important it is to eat a nourishing breakfast so that’s why I love this smoothie.  After playing around with some different ingredients I came up with this recipe, it taste delicious and it’s really good for your digestive system. It’s jam packed with fiber and nutrients and keeps you full well into lunch time! Sometimes I struggle drinking it all and have to take breaks. I have a Vitamix blender- you’ll need a strong blender for the oats and the apple to avoid getting a gritty taste.

Serving Size: This could easily be 2 smaller easily, I just make a large amount and sip on it to keep full for a late lunch.21

Ingredients:

**Place it all in a blender and turn on, pour into your favorite cup and enjoy!!

Veggie Garden Salad


On Saturday I went to a local farmer’s market to get my weekly produce. Farmer’s markets are just starting to come back  after taking a break during the hot summer months in Florida. I absolutely love starting my Saturday with a coffee in my hand and the sun shining while looking at beautiful food.  There are so many beneficial reasons to go to your local farmers markets; support your local farmers, know where your food comes from, connect with your community, save $$ (my total bill was $29 for A LOT of fresh fruit and veggies) and to protect the environment (just to name a few.) If you live in a colder climate most states have indoor farmer’s markets, you just have to do your research! Stocking up on local produce help make weeknight dinners easier. I never really plan my meals out ahead of time, but I always have certain ingredients in my kitchen so that I can whip together a yummy recipe. Besides having fresh produce in my home at all times I always make sure to have organic brown rice, organic quinoa, protein plus pasta and tons of beans and lentils.  I also love fresh herbs, but they go bad so easily so I keep these pastes in my fridge. This salad was refreshing and yummy, and remember to really scrub your fruits and veggies before eating!5 4 6 7 8

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium cucumbers diced- I like to keep the skin on
  • 2 red peppers diced
  • 5 radishes diced
  • 1 cup of chopped tomatoes (about 15 small tomatoes)
  • 1 can of rinsed organic great northern beans
  • 1/2 white diced onion
  • 2 heaping tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette
  • 2 heaping tablespoons white balsamic vinaigrette (I like to use both but you could do 1/4 cup of either)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4  cup Parmesan cheese (if you aren’t going to eat in one sitting then sprinkle cheese on each individual bowl)
  • 1/2 of a fresh lemon squeezed
  • 3 celery stalks

Steps:

  1. Dice all the vegetables up and place into a large bowl.
  2. Take the balsamic vinaigrette, cheese, salt and pepper, garlic powder, lemon and olive oil and whisk in a separate bowl.
  3. Pour over the vegetables and mix well. Place in refrigerator and let chill for 30 minutes or so. 23

Martini Monday- Strawbery Basil Vodka Martini


On Saturday night we decided to stay in and make homemade martinis. I wanted something refreshing and these were delicious, highly recommend trying these out!

Ingredients (serving size- 1 martini)

  • 2 strawberries
  • 1 sprig of mint
  • 3/4 ounce light agave nectar
  • 3/4 ounce lemon juice
  • 1 3/4 vodka

Steps:

  1. In a shaker, muddle together mint and strawberries.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and shake vigorously with ice for 20 seconds.
  3. Pour entire contents of shaker into a tall glass, garish with strawberry and lemon.

Easy Sweet Potato Dinner


After a gorgeous run on the beach and a quick dip in the water I was  famished. During the week I typically  don’t like my dinner to take more than 20-25 minutes to prepare. This meal has become a go to for my hubby and I. It’s so filling and nutritious, but you don’t feel like you’re depriving yourself…which I am big on (otherwise I’ve been known to go off the deep end  and eat a large pizza to my face, but that’s another story.) The avocados are so delicious right now in Florida so I have been taking advantage of that! I took some shortcuts as you will notice below, in the interest of saving time. I also think this meal looks kind of festive for Halloween!0520

  • Four small ripe avocados
  • Four small sweet potatoes or two large (I made more for leftovers)
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt-and-pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro paste (you can use fresh if you’d like)
  • 1 small lime
  • About a cup of light Mexican blend cheese
  • One can of organic black beans (rinsed)
  • One and a half cup fresh pico de gallo (fresh store bought or you can make your own)

Step one: Place the sweet potatoes in the microwave for 7 to 9 minutes depending on size (you can also cook them in the oven at 425 degrees until fork tender.)

Step two : Cut the avocado in half (dicing it makes it easier if it’s not completely ripe…see picture below), spoon into a bowl and mash, add the olive oil, cilantro paste, garlic powder, pepper  salt and lime juice. Mix well!

lime

avocado

Step three: Take the rinsed black beans and pico de gallo and place in a microwave safe bowl and heat in the microwave for 2 minutes.

Step four: Turn your oven on broil. Take the sweet potatoes out of the microwave and cut them in half (see picture below) drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle cheese and place in the oven on broil until the cheese has melted.

sweet potatoStep five: Take the potatoes out of the oven and mash a little with spoon. Add beans and guacamole and enjoy!

mash sweet

final food

 🍴

xo,

               Taylor

P.S. -pictures from my run tonight!

unnamed unnamed1 unnamed2