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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.

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Look Around, Try Something New


Ever been to Clover? They’re a vegetarian,  fresh-fast food joint with a few locations and a food truck or two.  I’m not vegetarian myself, but I’ve enjoyed their offerings every time I’ve been there so far.  This morning makes number 3, and it was definitely delicious. [Click the link in this paragraph to go to their website if you’re interested in finding out stuff about the business. You should, they’re cool.]

Circumstances collided this morning to make me desperate to buy a breakfast sandwich. I was on my way to Starbucks and happened to look up as I walked, for once, and notice Clover across the street. As I was thinking to myself, “They’re so good,” I saw their breakfast menu written on the window. For some reason I had been under the impression that they only did lunch, so I was surprised and immediately thought to hell with Starbucks, I’m going to Clover!

I got the breakfast sandwich, which is a freshly cooked egg, tomato, and cheese on pita. It’s not the typical egg sandwich–the bread is unusual and the egg I think was soft-boiled (that’s the only method I’m aware of that would result in the eggy end product on my breakfast…)–and that’s ok. It was delicious. Of course, if you feel like you need bacon on your sandwiches, you’re going to have to go elsewhere,  but you’ll be passing up something great!

I also got a coffee, even though I’d already had coffee that morning, because I have a hard time resisting coffee. They use the pour-over method, which essentially guarantees you a good cup of coffee. I’m not a pour-over snob, I promise. I drink as much regular drip coffee as the next person who likes things that are simple and easy to prepare (but not instant–never instant! yuck!), but I like pour over places because it means that your coffee is freshly brewed, every time. It takes only a few minutes longer than the standard Starbucks coffee.

What it all boils down to is freshness. They use local ingredients, actually fresh ingredients (not frozen), and everything is made to order. I know some people don’t think that really matters, but believe me, you can taste the difference. However, they don’t jack the prices up like some places would–in fact, I find them very affordable. I am sure I’ll be going back there for breakfast in the future.

And they have popovers! I don’t always like popovers, but sometimes I’m in the mood for them. Maybe I’ll try the popover sandwich next time.

Simple Veggie Cheese Bake–Success!


Does this happen to you? Tell me, please:

After a certain point, your kitchen sponge just smells, no matter how hard you try. Not really notably. Just enough that you can’t really notice it until you use it, and then your hands smell like sponge. Fucking. Gross. But how often should I reasonably expect to throw away these sponges? I’m not made of sponge-money, you know.

Today I threw together dinner with half of a medium-sized eggplant and a summer squash that was starting to go squishy. I chopped them up and threw them in a baking  dish with some grape tomatoes, drizzled (or, more likely, wading) in olive oil and sprinkled liberally with thyme and smoked paprika. After baking for 5-10 minutes I smothered it with shredded mozzarella and then baked it another 5-10 minutes. I don’t know how long it really was. If you do this, just keep an eye on it so you don’t burn the cheese.

When I took it out, the cheese was nice and brown, but not burned. I let it cool a while before trying to serve it, because I’m tired of getting minor burns. When I scooped out a nice big serving, I saw how much oil had pooled at the bottom… could have used a little less. But that’s not really my style.

It wasn’t a fancy or special meal, and it probably would actually be better as a side dish. Still, it was yummy and a low-maintenance alternative to sauteing or stir-frying, my most frequent vegetable modes, which require more attention. I would definitely make this, or rather, some variation of it, again.

Unrelatedly, I still do want to throw away that sponge.

Lonely (Relaxing) Dining: Life Alive, Central Sq.


This morning I scheduled a massage to use my living social coupon. It was at 10am, which is usually a time when I’ve just gotten up and am introducing myself to the weekend, on Saturday mornings. I rarely leave the house that early on a weekend day. Only if I have a specific reason.

Since I was so close I decided to go to Life Alive afterward, which is an organic vegetarian eatery with AMAZING smoothies. I had a “Sufi Poet” salad (I have no idea why they call it that), which was light but substantial enough for me, with really good flavors, and reminded me how much I enjoy dried cranberries on salads. I also got a Coconut Alive smoothie, and it was just perfect.

I know this picture is dark. The lighting is very dim in the cozy corner where I was sitting for this meal.

I know this picture is dark. The lighting is very dim in the cozy corner where I was sitting for this meal.

So, I sat on one of their little loveseat benches and read my book while consuming this delicious food. I ordered a demi salad, and it was still a pretty good size. I don’t even think I could finish a full sized one. I’ve been wanting to try their other, cooked dishes. I really want to get The Fool. Anyone ever had it? Did you like it?

It was rainy today, and a little colder than I was prepared for (I didn’t have any socks on–oops), but not too bad, since the rain was that misty drizzle type that gets you a little damp at the most. Not like Friday, when it was pouring down all evening. Glad I wore boots then. So as I was walking between the massage place and central square, I was in a really good mood, despite being kind of cold. After my nice lunch I was still in a pretty good mood, although it was starting to rain a bit more. Shoe shopping was really the only thing to do before heading back home.

I went to DSW with a $10 coupon. I was looking for shoes I can wear to work, something fairly comfortable but nice and pretty, maybe a little different. The ones I found are bright green, so I think I succeeded there. I also got some stuff for play, because it was drastically reduced. There was a red leopard wallet the tag on which said “compare at $40.” I looked at it and thought, I would never pay $40 for this. You know how much I actually paid for it, according to my receipt? $7. So. Yeah.

Look for the red, 70% off tags in clearance, because DAMN.

Look for the red, 70% off tags in clearance, because DAMN.

 

If you think I saved that much and still paid a lot, think again…

As for cooking adventures, I haven’t been having them much lately. Nothing worth posting about anyway. I have a brief post to write about a stir-fry I made the other day, which was pretty good, but otherwise all I’ve been making is things like eggs, bagel sandwiches, salads, etc. No one wants to read about that. If you think you do, you’re wrong.

I’ve actually been feeling quite unenthusiastic about food lately. Not sure why. Every time I think I really want a particular thing, I usually decide not to because the more I consider it, the less sure I am that I want it. Most of my food choices lately have been solely based on money, and occasionally on going out to hang out with someone. The  only thing I’ve really been excited about, in general, is smoothies. I was really happy about going to Life Alive today, though, so that was something.

I got beans the last time I went shopping, intending to make chili before it got too hot to enjoy it, but then I lost interest. I think I’ll get more chicken and make tikka masala instead.

 

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