Roasted Eggplant

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I’ve enjoyed eggplant slices roasted on the grill, as the “meat” of a vegetarian sandwich, pureed into a silky, smooth dip and as the main course in Eggplant Parmesan. Admittedly, I’ve only been served these dishes.

However, much like my recent love affair with avocados, I never actually prepared eggplants for myself or my family—I was completely intimidated and merely courted them in the aisles of the supermarket. It was finally time for me to take this egg-shaped glossy purple fruit into my own hands.

So, last night I [Read more…]

Banana Honey Bran Bread

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For years I automatically (naively) assumed that because of its syrupy consistency and supreme sweetness, that honey was not nutritious and had no real benefits.  In fact, I’d default to sugar whenever and wherever I could.  However, the more time I’ve spent in the kitchen, working through various recipes and educating myself on their ingredients, the wiser I’ve become.

First and foremost, honey is a natural sweetener that contains minerals and vitamins. It has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties that aren’t present in sugar and has a lower Glycemic Index (GI) than sugar.  In layman’s terms, the lower the GI, the more gradual and healthier the digestion process. In addition, milk and honey are often served together as both these ingredients help in getting a smooth soothing skin.  And, honey contains nutraceuticals, which are effective in removing free radicals from our body. As a result, our body immunity is improved.  I was amazed.

Since Mom’s Banana Chocolate Chip Loaf is one of her most-celebrated desserts, I was a bit skeptical that her Banana Honey Bran Bread could even measure up. But, I was willing to give it a try.  And, at the very least, I knew the combination of honey with the bran – a probiotic food (meaning it has natural antibacterial fighting properties)- would be a winning nutritious combination.

But, what about its taste?  Any time I’ve ever eaten bran, I’ve found the foods taste dried out.

I was curious to see how the bread would turn out after its hour in the oven.

It is obviously grainier and certainly not as sweet and moist as the banana chocolate chip loaf.

Its consistency is dense due to the bran but, it as a nice subtle flavoring of bananas and nuts and honey.

When polled, my kids definitely opted for the Banana Chocolate Chip Load simply because they said it was sweeter and tasted more like a dessert bread.

However, the bran bread is the perfect side to any breakfast meal.

Next time I would definitely add in 1 cup of dried fruits (probably cranberries or raisins).  I would increase the amount of honey from ½ cup to a full cup.  Additionally, there’s no harm in adding in more mashed bananas for a fruitier taste.

But, mentally, just being aware of the amounts of fiber and healthy honey sweetness in the loaf allowed me to appreciate the bread even more.

Korean-Style Short Ribs

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My slow cooker has been on over-drive the past two weeks and I’m not ashamed.  I’m actually impressed that each night (and sometimes in the mornings) I’ve managed to churn out a meals that still pique my kids’ interest while hearty and flavorful to boot!

It’s hard to imagine that three years ago I was intimidated by slow cooking and now, I can’t stop.  Slow cooking is like the most wonderful science experiment that’s so easy. How often can you dump ingredients into an appliance, leave that appliance, and then come back hours later only to have a cooked meal waiting to be served?

Last night’s meal was a HOME RUN, and possibly one of the BEST dishes I’ve made in the slow cooker since the Chicken Chili and Beef Chili which we eat at least twice a month.

If you adore sweet meats, like brisket, then this dish will literally make you weep over your plate.

The Korean-Style Short Ribs recipe is sweet and succulent.  After only a few hours of slow cooking, the meat is so tender, it shreds at the mere touch of a fork.  And, the sauce, OH MY!  The powerful combination of soy, and brown sugar, and vinegar transports you to the best restaurants in Korea-town.

I was lucky to have found and bought boneless short ribs (although they are a lot more expensive).

IMG_3820wholly meat…..

But, don’t fret.  If you have bone-in ribs, you’ll get the same results and your tender meat will fall off the bone after hours of slow cooking. Or, if you’re looking for the most inexpensive option, you can also use stew meat.  Once the meat has been cooking for a few hours, you’ll be greeted by this when you open your slow cooker:

 

I served this dish with roasted red potatoes and they were dwarfed by the meat’s intensity. This dish is best-served with a heaping side of rice to help absorb the rich flavors.  However, one friend raves about enjoying the meat in soft corn tacos.  One thing’s for sure, any way you decide to prepare this meat, you won’t be disappointed.

Enjoy!

Italian Baked Flounder

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When it comes to fish, my family’s palates run the gamut.

My husband only eats certain fish.

My son will try most and my daughter won’t try any.

So, usually, I’m never serving fish at home for dinner.

Until last night…

I had a rare opening with one kid home for dinner!  Of course I took advantage.

I’ve always been reluctant to cook fish at home for many reasons, the main one being a smelly in the kitchen that lingers for days.  However, I began using pleasing pungent whole spices like cinnamon sticks, cloves and citrus peels to combat the odor.  Simply let them simmer in water on the stove so they act as  all-natural air freshener*.

Once you’ve selected your fish, cooking it is the easy part.  My son and I like light and flaky versus meaty fish so I decided to go with a very simple recipe for  flounder fillets.

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Simply take the fillets and bake them in the oven with some spices, tomatoes, olive oil, lemon and butter, salt and pepper (the amounts can be manipulated to your liking).  That’s all I needed to create a wonderfully flavorful, healthy dish!

Enjoy.

 

* Another successful method to reduce fish odor is to leave a bowl of vinegar, baking soda or coffee grounds on the counter overnight.

 

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