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Blaugust 9: Sometimes I Cook


For longer than I could say, I haven’t been cooking much. So the fact that I made something quite delicious for dinner this evening feels like an achievement.

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And it tasted better than it looked! I used Ronzoni Garden Delight pasta, which has vegetables in it as well as the usual grains. I made a tasty but not particularly noteworthy tomato sauce. I put a little more balsamic vinegar in it than I should have for that amount of sauce. The red pepper flakes gave it a nice kick.

The chicken was cooked simply, coated in breadcrumbs and then pan fried in oil. I bought chicken thighs this time because it was a better deal. I prefer breast meat in general, but this was pretty good. The golden-brown rule: the thinner the piece of meat, the easier it will be to cook. The result was cooked perfectly with a delicious crunch.

To drink, I had some of this Italian margarita (premade) that I found the other day. I have to admit it’s not my favorite, but I’ve discovered that the flavor goes very nicely with ginger beer, so I mixed some in.

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That’s it for now. I know it isn’t too exciting to read, but when you’re trying to build up certain habits, a moment of victory feels like it’s worth documenting. Tomorrow I’ll be eating the leftovers, probably with some sauteed asparagus.

Baked Breaded Eggplant Cutlets


One of my best non-recipe experiments in the past year or so was my eggplant parmesan-inspired dish. The title of this post is the closest I could come to an appropriate name for them. I think it fits pretty well.

As the story goes, I had an eggplant, and I was thinking of just roasting it, but then I decided I really wanted to bread something, and eggplant would work perfectly! I sliced the eggplant into slices of fairly even thickness, although they were not exact, because if I don’t like going to the effort of using recipes, you can bet that I don’t usually bother to chop or slice things exactly evenly. Once sliced, I put the pieces through a typical dredging (flour, egg, breadcrumbs) and laid them on a foil-lined baking sheet.

The breadcrumbs I used were seasoned, and I believe they also contained cheese. I then mixed in some parmesan cheese (the crumbly kind) to make it even cheesier. I drizzled olive oil on top of each piece, trying to be liberal with it without drowning them. The point was to make them nice and brown on top, not to make them soggy.

Side note: I think it would certainly be possible to eliminate the cheese and egg from this recipe and make it vegan! (Is there a vegan egg substitute?) It should still be pretty tasty.

The whole baking sheet when into the oven, somewhere around 400 degrees, for 20-30 minutes (I honestly can’t remember now), until they were nice and browned on top. If you decide to try this, they’re done when they look done. Eggplant doesn’t take that long to cook.

In plating, I decided to top them with a little of tomato sauce from what I think was the best batch I’ve ever made (it seems the secret is adding more salt). Overall, I’d say they came out perfect. The one complaint is that they cool pretty quickly. Luckily, they still taste good that way.

Some of the larger slices were cut in half only because they fit better that way in the dredging bowls. It is not a necessary step.

Some of the larger slices were cut in half only because they fit better that way in the dredging bowls. It is not a necessary step.

Forgive the photo quality. I’d love it if there was a really clear picture of this, but it’s pretty hard to to that with my phone’s camera. In any case, this should give you an idea of the resulting product. I ate it for dinner, as well as some quickly pan-fried slices of the same eggplant that wouldn’t fit on the baking sheet, but I think it could also be a great appetizer for a dinner party. Whenever you decide to eat it, just remember to try to get it crisp! It just adds a little extra something.

Food Evening


Like “Good evening.” but with food.

Dinner tonight was a delicious bowl of leftover chili, made yesterday. I’ll do a full post about making it–that was a true no-recipe experiment! And it worked so well. Most delicious outcome possible. Probably. Anyway. I really wanted some good bread to go with it, so I stopped at Whole Foods on the way home, as it’s the most convenient store on my evening commute that actually carries good bread. They were having a sale on split chicken breasts, so I decided to buy them while they were cheap. They’ve found a nice home in my freezer with the mixed berries, chicken lime burgers, and shrimp. (And ice.) I decided on the durum rolls. I find them delicious. And one of them can make a great breakfast sandwich tomorrow, assuming I can wake myself up early enough to make one. I’m feeling pretty good about my chances, for once…

This past weekend I had a nice little North End experience with my mom. We went full Italian. (She’s half Italian… I’m 1/4.) I had a groupon for Piccola Venezia, where we had been once before. Of course we wanted to go to Little Venice! We were in Venice once about five years ago, and we both felt all nostalgic about it. Piccola Venezia has a great ambience, quite an authentic Italian family feeling. But also like a restaurant. You know what I mean… I had chicken and eggplant parmesan. SO GOOD.

Afterward we stopped at Mike’s for cannoli, although we had them boxed up to take home, as we were extremely full. Then, for the last stop, we stepped into a little cafe called Thinking Cup. It was a little dark but with cool decor, and they were playing a silent movie in the background. Pretty lattes there. I am thinking I will go back there sometime when I can squeeze it in (and have the spending money) and do a more in-depth experience for you. For now I can definitely say that I recommend it, although I don’t know what the crowds are like in general. Might be more crowded during the day.

I would like to close by saying that I’ve been getting SO sleepy by the end of the day lately… even during the afternoon sometimes. My desk chair at work is uncomfortable and it’s hard to feel awake when I can barely manage to sit up straight. What do you think–do I just need a protein-rich snack?

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