Tag Archives: eggplant

Cheesy, Buttery Eggplant & Clam Casserole

Oh a late night last night at work it was… but at least it’s Friday now!!!

After I got home wayyy later than the norm, I still didn’t have a definitive dinner plan… busy day = no time to think about food = sad Steph 😦

I did, however, have a few ingredients that I knew I wanted to use up in the kitchen so it was time to get creative!

Like I said before, I must think I live during the Great Depression or something with the way I make sure nothing goes to waste 😉

Remember Sunday’s Eggplant Moussaka?  Well there happened to be an overabundance of eggplant that needed using ASAP. 

But I just wasn’t in the mood for your classic combo of eggplant and tomato…

Enter:  canned clams.

Ahhh, I remember when I used to be a bit scared petrified? terrified? of these lil’ suckers… that was until I made this recipe and my whole was life turned upside down.

So here’s the dish I came up with after doing some online research… I’d call it a medley of many recipes all turned into a CookinFanatic style dish!

I’d also call it a tastebud surprise, because I must admit, my expectations were low.  But this dish really came through and surprised me as a total winner! 🙂

Cheesy, Buttery Eggplant & Clam Casserole

If you’re looking for a deliciously different way to use eggplant, seriously consider trying this ya’ll.  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the wonderful combination of flavors.

And don’t worry – even though the recipe name uses “buttery”, there is only 2 tblsp in this whole dish and the flavor permeates throughout!

  • 1 eggplant, peeled & cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 onions, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic,chopped
  • 1 can clams, partially drained
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups cubed bread (got an old loaf?)
  • 1/3 block mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 tblsp butter
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

Start with chopping up your eggplant and boiling (in salted water) for about 8 minutes, or until tender.  Drain and set aside.

Next saute the onions in 1 tblsp butter for about 7 minutes, or until tender.  Add the garlic during the last minute or so.  Don’t forget some black pepper too!

Next in go your partially drained clams plus the other 1 tblsp butter.  Cook for another 5 minutes over medium.

At this point get all the other ingredients ready, including chopping the bread and shredding the cheese.

Spread a thin layer of butter in a baking dish (use the stick and rub a thin amount) and layer in the bread cubes.

Then add the cooked eggplant on top.

Next it’s time to assemble the clam “sauce.” 

Stir in the flour and let soak into the clam, onion, garlic, butter mixture.  Then stir in the milk until a thick and gorgeous sauce forms. 

Turn down to medium low if things get too bubbly.

Now the luscious clam sauce gets draped over the bread and eggplant layer, partyyyyy time.

All finished off with a layer of shredded cheese!

Let this sit for 5 minutes so that the sauce will soak through to the bread cubes, then place into a 375F oven for 30 minutes or until the edges start to brown and bubble.

Oh the smell of butter and onions and garlic baking away in your kitchen will just make your mouth water!  Or maybe that’s just me?

Let it cool for a few minutes and then dig in 😛

The bread soaks up all of the wonderful clam juice and luscious creamy sauce while also getting a lovely crisp against the buttered baking dish edges… oh this was such a warm and delicious treat!

Imagine:  the texture of stuffing meets the flavor of these clam stuffed mushrooms then all draped with cheese.  I mean, what’s not to like?

Like I said, expectations on this dish were low… but man oh man, did it excite those tastebuds!

Made this side of sugar snap peas seem a lil’ less exciting if you know what I’m sayin’ 😉

But definitely didn’t make this morning snack of another new Chobani flavor any less exciting!


Surprisingly not my favorite fruit ever, but I really enjoyed both the flavor and texture of this new Cho flavor.

There were sweet, soft pieces of mango throughout without too much sweetness.

It wasn’t anything like I expected but I really liked it, more than I thought I would considering my feelings about mango! (feelings about mango? who says that?)

I’d go back for more… of both the eggplant casserole and the mango Chobani… that is all 🙂



Moussaka My Way

After celebrating the big 2-9 at a Whole Foods beer dinner followed by a night out on the town with my favorites, this birthday week (obviously?) finished up with an early evening dinner with The Man’s parents last night!

I had the following choices (1) go out to dinner (2) have dinner cooked for me or (3) cook dinner for everyone. 

Obviously my choice was completely not normal but so totally “me” 😛

An old recipe for moussaka unassumingly crossed my path Saturday morning and I just knew that I had to try out my own version of this Greek specialty!

In doing some reading I learned that Greek moussaka (at least the modern version) consists of (1) a layer of eggplant (2) a layer of cooked meat – usually lamb – w/ onion and tomatoes all topped with (3) a creamy béchamel sauce layer.

Triple threat? 😀

Start by slicing the eggplant and sprinkling with a bit of sea salt.  Allow these to sit for about 20 minutes to draw out the moisture before cooking.

Then cook in a very hot pan using olive oil until browned a bit.  I had to do this in batches.

Once the eggplant are done, saute the diced onion in 1 tblsp olive oil for about 5 minutes.  Then add your ground beef and cook until done.  I opted for ground beef vs. lamb, I’m not a big fan of the latter.

The drained tomatoes and garlic go in followed by tomato paste, a few spoonfuls of the reserved tomato liquid (about 4 large spoonfuls), dried oregano, dried thyme, sugar and black pepper.

Then turn down to medium low and let do its thing for about 20 minutes.

At this point you’re ready to make the béchamel – which also has cheese mixed in.  I’m sure there is some technical culinary term for this?

Simply whisk 1/4 cup of the milk plus the flour (over medium heat) until smooth.   Then in goes the rest of the milk followed by the shredded cheese, a little at a time until smooth.  Last add the ricotta, nutmeg and cayanne – whisking until smooth.

Then you’re ready to assemble the moussaka!

Eggplant layer – half of the cooked eggplant.

Meat layer – half of the cooked meat mixture.

Then repeat.

Last layer – cheese sauce aka heaven.

Then baked at 350F for about 45-55 minutes, or until browned on top.

Served up!

With a fresh side salad.

And a warm loaf of fresh bread.

Sunday night dinner at its best!

The moussaka had great flavor, all the spices blended so nicely and the flavors were spot on.  I think The Man’s parents really enjoyed it too – especially after his mom told me she didn’t really like eggplant usually (ooops!) but really enjoyed it in this dish 🙂

Definitely glad that worked out!

Speaking of The Man’s mom, check out this amazing cake she brought over for the birthday dinner.

Per request by moi.

This cake rockssssss!

It has a pineapple layer, a banana pudding layer, a whipped cream layer and the cake portion is super dense and moist.

So. Full. So. Good.

Guess it’s time to snap back into reality and stop eating cake after every meal now that birthday week is over – but wow, was it a good one!! 🙂

Moussaka – CookinFanatic Style

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced 1/2″ thick
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes, drained & liquid reserved
  • 3 tblsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • 3-4 tblsp olive oil, divided

For the cheese sauce:

  • 1 1/4 cup milk (I used 2 percent)
  • 2 tblsp flour
  • 1/2 block mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 container ricotta cheese
  • pinch cayanne pepper
  • pinch fresh nutmeg

Step 1:  Cook eggplant

Salt the sliced eggplant and let sit for 20 minutes.  Then cook in a large pan over medium-high (in batches if necessary) using 1/2 tblsp olive oil, until browned a bit.  Set aside.

Step 2:  Cook meat mixture

Saute onions in 1 tblsp olive oil for about 5 minutes, add ground beef and cook until browned.  Drain any grease if necessary.  Add garlic and drained tomatoes followed by the tomato paste, oregano, thyme, sugar, black pepper and a few spoonfuls of the reserved tomato liquid to make the mixture nice and moist.  Cook over medium low for 20 minutes.

Step 3:  Make cream sauce.

Start by whisking 1/4 cup milk in a hot pan with the flour, until smooth.  Then add the rest of the milk, whisking.  Follow with the shredded cheese, a bit at a time, until melted and smooth.  Lastly, add the nutmeg and cayanne plus the ricotta cheese, stirring until smooth.

Step 4:  Assemble and bake!

Layer half the eggplant on the bottom of a baking dish, top with half of the meat mixture.  Repeat. Top the moussaka with the creamy cheese sauce, pouring over the top.  Bake at 350F for 45-55 minutes, or until browned on the top and set.


A Situation?!

We have “a situation” on our hands here friends!

And no, not this “Situation” LOL…

But instead, a kitchen “situation”!

What’s a person to do when they stumble across a situation such as this?!  (how many times can I say that word??)

Full crisper drawers.  Only 2 more dinners left to make this week.  Uh ohhhhhhh!

I’ll tell you the perfect solution, a lil’ recipe I got from my momma 😛

Stovetop Ratatouille!

Seriously one of the most deliciously easy & healthy ways to use up a ton of fresh produce that needs using.

I’m pretty sure a classic ratatouille requires that each vegetable be cooked seperately before being combined… but it’s a “school night” and we’re gonna short cut here in CookinFanatic land, mmmkay? 😉

Check out my last ratatouille adventure where I followed this a little more stictly!

I’m also pretty sure that the classic ratatouille contains tomatoes, onions, peppers, zucchini and eggplant… but don’t quote me on it, I’m no classically trained chef, just a girl who loves her kitchen!  I say use what ya want/have on hand – go for it 😀

Round up your veggies – tonight we have green pepper, summer squash, zucchini and eggplant.

Plus garlic, onion, tomatoes and olive oil.

Too bad I bought strained tomatoes instead of chopped tomatoes, darn you Whole Foods for rearranging your shelves and throwing me off haha! 😛

Oh well, you gotta roll with the punches, right?

Chop your veggies into larger chunks, nothing too crazy, but definitely not a dice.  This will give the ratatouille some heartiness.

Into the pot first goes the olive oil, onions, peppers and garlic (seasoned with salt & pepper).  These need about 5 minutes to soften before getting crowded with their other vegetable friends 🙂

Then just start piling in the zucchini, squash and eggplant…

Get ready to add in the tomatoes and herbs/spices.  More salt & pepper plus dried oregano and fresh basil!

And of course who could forget the wine?!  Not I 😉

Wine just makes food better, whether it’s cooked into a dish or sipped alongside!  Of course you could leave this out too if you so desire, who am I to judge 😛

Bring the ratatouille to a slow boil and then turn down to medium-low and cover. 

Now here’s where you have to have some patience.  Because let’s face it, sometimes good food just takes time!  I let this simmer for about 2 hours which was really much easier than you think…

You see, once I stepped in the door from work, I immediately threw the dish together.  Then, while it got it’s happy on for 2 hours, I managed to do a yoga session and some laundry! 

2 hours later – a fully cooked dinner waiting for me on the stove – yes please 🙂

Served up – see how beautifully thick the chunky veggies are?!

We prefer to top ours with some cheese, this being shredded monterey jack.

And serve with some freshly buttered bread for dipping!

All I can say about this dish is it’s like a veggie party for your mouth.  The ratatouille takes on the most fabulous flavor as it simmers over time and with the cheese on top almost has a pasta/pizza-like quality.

I will tell you that this is also one of the few ways that I can get The Man to eat a meat-free meal that is centered around veggies too… 

We both love this dish and I hope that you will too! 🙂

Stovetop Ratatouille

  • 1.5 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped into large pieces
  • 1 large green pepper, deseeded and chopped into large pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large zucchini, chopped into large pieces
  • 2 summer squash, chopped into large pieces
  • 1 eggplant, peeled and chopped into large pieces
  • 1 box Pomi tomatoes (strained or chopped)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • fresh basil
  • dried oregano
  • sea salt & black pepper to taste

Prep your veggies.  Cook the onion, green pepper and garlic in olive oil for about 5 minutes until softened – season with salt and pepper.  Add in the zucchini, squash, eggplant, tomatoes and wine plus the dried oregano, fresh basil, more salt & pepper to taste.  Bring to a slow boil then reduce to medium-low.  Cover and let simmer for an hour or two, stirring occasionally.

Serve with cheese to top and bread & butter for dipping if you like!

Leftover Transformation

Happy Friday everyone 🙂

Sorry for going totally MIA last night but we had some things going on in the Fanatic Family that needed urgent tending too… let’s just say it’s been an exhausting past 24 hours but I know we’ll all get through it with the support of each other…

So anywho, after work today I was beyond exhausted, squeezed out an invigorating Solar Flow and then all I wanted was something fairly easy for dinner that didn’t take a stop off at the grocery store.

That’s where this leftover transformation comes into play!

Remember those delicious grass-fed burgers from the other night?  Well according to stilltasty.com (love love love this site, gives you the “life” of any food you could imagine!) they were still good for eating and I knew just what to do with them for a little “revival” 😀

I present:  Spicy Stuffed Poblanos

Thanks to my good friend Kristine (who hooked us UP last weekend w/ fresh garden goodies) I had a few poblanos that needed using.

So I decided to make an open face casserole with the following ingredients, all which we already had on hand 🙂

Totally also meant to add frozen corn, ooops! Hey, it’s Friday, gotta let some things go 😉

First I layered down the sliced poblanos

Then I got to the rice, which I cooked a large batch of to use for both tonight and then to freeze & save for later (such a great go-to on a busy weekday night!)

I mixed about half of this 2 cup pot o’rice with 2 leftover crumbled hamburgers and some cubed monterey jack cheese.  Then layered that atop the poblanos.

Into a 375F for about 30 minutes and a casserole was born…!

To go with this I decided that the eggplant in our fridge also needed to be eaten, gotta use up all the veggies before the farmer’s market tomorrow!

I sliced it up, gave it a salt & pepper and then a bath in almond milk & bread crumb.

Baked at 375F/425F until browned on the outside (about 20 minutes at each temp).

And served with a quick homemade chunky tomato sauce

  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • Frank’s hot sauce
  • dried basil – about 1 tsp
  • dried oregano – about 1 tsp
  • S&P – to taste

Dinner is served 😛

Poblano Casserole:

Baked Eggplant w/ Fresh Tomato Sauce:

Delicious.  Healthy.  Economical.

Win. Win. Win.

I really enjoyed this quick tomato sauce too — I can’t wait for some leftovers tomorrow 😉

We have a pretty low key weekend on tap, which I’m really looking forward to I must say.  Perhaps a lil’ pool time is on the agenda tomorrow after the market, I’ll take it!

Night friends 😀

Not your traditional eggplant dinner

Remember that ol’ recipe binder I mentioned yesterday… ?

Which I also happened to write about way back when last year!

Ummm so I can’t believe I’ve been inadvertently hiding it from myself (??) for the past who knows how long hahaha?!

Anywho, upon a flip through this treasure I came across a few recipes that I had set aside to try.

One being:  Southeast Asian Style Eggplant

As much as I love Italian-based eggplant dishes (read: tomatoes & cheese) sometimes it’s fun to venture outside the box and try something new!

Plus with the recent farmer’s market eggplant purchase, I just knew that this was going to be the one…

They say when you know, you know, right? 😉

Inspired by this recipe from the Vegetable Genius, here were the ingredients I used:

  • 1 eggplant, sliced into 1/2″ thick, 2″ long (about) pieces
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 tbslp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 poblano pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tblsp soy sauce
  • 2 spoonfuls brown sugar
  • juice of 1 lime
  • S&P

Start with a saute of the onion & eggplant in olive oil.  Add some S&P too, of course 😉

After about 10 minutes over medium heat (and once the onion & eggplant start to get tender & cooked) add in the garlic and poblano for another 2-3 minutes or so.

While this cooks, mix together the water, rice vinegar, brown sugar and lime juice.  Once the sugar dissolves, add the sauce to the veg and turn the heat down to med-low while you go about your business… or wait for your man to come home, whatev 😉

Add in the fresh mint at the very end, giving it another 5 minutes or so to cook.

If you want, serve over some sort of rice or pasta.

I chose angel hair pasta because I didn’t have the time or patience to cook brown rice tonight to be honest 😛

And guess what, the pasta was legit with this dish, no lie.

A side salad rounded out the meal, our favorite!

I absolutely adored this eggplant dish, the sauce had the perfect blend of sweetness & sourness and the fresh mint added such a dimension to the meal.

Add some more hot peppers (poblano, jalapeno, etc) if you want some more heat & aren’t a wuss like me 😉

I just wrote to mini-Fanatic that I would be making this dish for her asap, she’s a fellow veggie lovah as well.  So good!

And I must say that I was a lil’ apprehensive on how this vegetarian dinner with a mix of different flavors was going to go over with The Man…

Guess what?  He had serving round 1 AND round 2!  He loved it.

And we both agreed that it paired beautifully w/ the thin & simple angel hair pasta 😀

This recipe is a keeper!

I need to visit my recipe binder more often, take that internet.

Do you have a recipe book/binder where you keep track of your favorite recipes, your notes and/or recipes you want to try?

And p.s. while you’re at it, try out The Vegetable Genius’ Portabello Parmesan if you want some seriously great flavor… I made this for The Man ‘way back when’ and it was a hit… guess I see another summer dish coming soon! 😛

Have a happy Tuesday!

Step Over Pasta, There’s a New Kid in Town!

Hello Friday Eve, nice to meet you 😛

So after seeing this recipe for Cheesy Marinara Veggie Stacks on Courtney’s blog I knew I had to make some sort of version of this delicious dish this week in our dinner rotation!

Thanks for the fabulous recipe idea Courtney 🙂

What I came up with was a vegetable-take on a classic noodle lasagna, and what better use for those fresh veggies from the Farm to Family bus than this?!

  • 1 eggplant, sliced into 1/2″ slices
  • 1 summer squash, sliced into 1/2″ slices
  • 1 green pepper, chopped large
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 28oz. can crushed tomatoes (mine were seasoned w/ basil)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • freshly grated Parm
  • fresh basil
  • dried oregano
  • S&P
  • cooking spray/olive oil

This recipe had a few steps, but nothing too crazy that couldn’t get done while finishing up some post-work stuff around the house!

First up, bake the sliced eggplant at 350F for about 20-25 minutes.  Before placing it in the oven spray a foil lined baking sheet with cooking spray, then sprinkle the eggplant with dried oregano, S&P and another quick spray of cooking spray.

While this is baking, go water your garden and admire the 2 more red juicy tomatoes almost ready for pickin’ 😉 *so excited!*

Next, add the sliced summer squash to a pan w/ cooking spray over medium heat, season with S&P and dried oregano.  Cook until browned up a bit on both sides.

Also saute the onion & green pepper in 1 tsp olive oil until tender, adding the garlic towards the very end.

Lastly, prepare your cheesy filling by mixing 1 cup ricotta cheese, few sprinkles freshly grated Parm and a handful of roughly chopped fresh basil (plus some fresh black pepper!).

Now you are ready to assemble!

Get your can of delicious basil crushed tomatoes opened up and start layering…

Crushed tomatoes then eggplant slices (half of them).

Summer squashies.

Green pepper/onion/garlic mixture.

Ricotta/Parm blend.

Another layer of eggplant and more tomatoes to finish and a sprinkle of Parm for good measure 😉

Then into a 375F oven for 30 minutes or until bubbly and hot!

All served up 🙂

Step over pasta, there’s a new kid in town!

This dish was bursting with freshness & flavor, not to mention the richness that a small amount of ricotta adds to this dish… The Man even loved it (vegetarian, no pasta and he’s Italian… ’nuff said!) and requested leftovers for lunch tomorrow before even halfway done with the meal 😀

Sooooooooo good!

Ahhh and to top it all off it’s Thursday night, which means Fridayyyyy is just around the corner.  I’ll take it!

Have a great night everyone 🙂

Eggplant Bruschetta Bake

Hey everyone!  Well I’m currently enjoying some delicious treats at the Whole Foods cooking demo with a few of my favorite people 😀 …

However, I just had to share with you a wonderful ad-hoc recipe that I whipped up on Sunday for us to have a quick heat n’ serve dinner Monday night…

Eggplant Bruschetta Bake

  • 1 eggplant, cut into 1/2” slices
  • 1 jar TJ’s bruschetta topping
  • ½ lb local grass fed ground beef
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1 tblsp tomato paste
  • Dried oregano
  • S&P
  • Jarlsberg cheese, sliced
  • Grated Parmesan

Easy as pie casserole, just slice up the eggplant and layer into a casserole dish coated with cooking spray.  You’ll need enough slices for 2 layers.

Sprinkle with S&P and dried oregano while you get moving on the rest of the recipe.

Sauté the onion & ground beef in 1 tsp EVOO until cooked through.  Add the oregano, S&P during this process to taste. 

Once the beef is done add in the tomato paste and a few spoonfuls of water to thin out “sauce” so that the beef has a nice sweet tomato coating.

Then let the layering begin!

Layer of bruschetta (half jar) on the previously seasoned eggplant.

Layer of ground beef mixture (all of it) to cover.

Another layer of sliced eggplant (this should use the rest up).

Another layer of bruschetta topping (this will use up rest of the jar) then on goes the cheese!

At this point I placed into a 375F oven for 30 minutes, then let cool for 30 minutes before popping in the fridge to forget about (if you can 😉 ) until Monday!

Last night, after getting home from work, all I had to do was crank the oven up to 350F and cook this for another 30 minutes (and add a sprinkle of Parm too 😛 ) and dinner was served!

I will say that I loved having such an easy, yet homecooked, meal waiting for us to start the week off right. 

The Man also added that he really liked the unexpected cheese choice (vs. typical mozzarella) on this dish… his exact words “better than anything you could order at a restaurant”!!!

I had planned on an exercise night, hence the easy dinner prep, however if you follow me on Twitter you’ll know that I had a sore throat all day/night yesterday so that just wasn’t in the cards 😦

Thankfully I’m feeling better today though! 

Ugh but no chance for a workout again until Thursday unfortunately, this week post-work time is just too busy?!  Oh well, guess I’ll just have to deal with it 😛

Enjoy your night everyone and I’ll be back for a recap of the Whole Foods cooking demo tomorrow!