Crispy Eggplant + Orange Salad

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Shopping is an activity I detest.

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Unless I’m with my mother and she’s paying, of course.

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But honestly moms just have this innate skill that the Lord infuses in them the moment they conceive. They can choose clothes for their daughter that said daughter would never pick out herself and they turn out to be the daughter’s very favorite clothes.

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I’m simply lost without her shopping guidance. I spent three hours shopping for a dress this weekend. Three hours of my life I could have spent doing 1.8 million other things like bingeing a show, reading a book, exploring a new hobby, learning a new language, working on my excel spreadsheet of America’s top airports, etc. I went to NO JOKE 11 stores. Everything was either a frumpy sack on me or $300. I needed Susan there to dig through the sale bins & pull out the gem among the rocks. And isn’t it the MOST typical that I was shopping v specifically for a dress, so the world conspired against me to put nothing but adorable sweaters in my path? It’s cruel and unusual!

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So, the next best thing – I made her online shop for me & ordered a dress she picked out. Boom.

 

 

Time: 1 hour (prep + cooking) | Serves: 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 cups of arugula
  • 1 eggplant, peeled + cut into cubes
  • 1 cup of panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp. of flax meal
  • 1 cup of spinach
  • 1/4 cup of basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tbsp. of nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp. of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of quinoa, cooked
  • 1 orange, cut into lil pieces
  • 1/2 cup of kalamata olives, cut in half
  • 1 shallot, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp. of olive oil
  • 1 tsp. of crushed red pepper
  • S+P, to taste

How to:

  • Place eggplant cubes in a colander + sprinkle with some S, coating on the lil cubes – let water release + drain for about 30 minutes
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • In a food processor, combine spinach + 1 cup of aurugla + basil + pumpkin seeds + nutritional yeast + garlic + S+P, process on low + slowly add in 1/2 cup of olive oil until well combined, refrigerate until ready to serve
  • Add flax meal + 1/2 cup of warm water to a bowl, set aside for a few minutes + add breadcrumbs to another bowl, add red pepper + some S+P to it
  • Pat dry the eggplant cubes, then a few cubes at a time, dip into flax egg bowl + then breadcrumbs, place on a lined baking sheet
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes, tossing once in the middle of cooking
  • Meanwhile, heat remaining olive oil in a lil skillet over medium heat
  • Add shallot + S+P, cook for 4-5 minutes
  • To serve, arrange some arugula on a plate + top with eggplant + quinoa + orange + olives + shallots + pesto
  • Get a bite of every lil component on your fork + do the same for your sweetie + wrap your arms around each other like you would with champagne + then feed each other until your arms fall asleep

Eggplant Parm Pizza

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I am a zombie.

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I am walking around with glazed over eyeballs, ragged breaths and outstretched arms looking for my next victim.

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By victim, I mean plush object to cuddle and nap with for 23 hours.

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I just returned home from a long work conference where I had, on average, 4 hours of sleep each night. I am fully grown adult who needs at LEAST eight hours of beauty rest to even look and act like a human being. Nine is preferable – I find the extra hour adds just the faintest glow to my complexion. By the end of the week, I was struggling to form sentences and conceal the bags under my eyes. At one point, I was going down an escalator and saw some folks I needed to connect with coming up & I proceeded to practically bark at them….but also stutter?? Like, I tried to get my point across, but the combination of no sleep and the moving staircase I was on made it tricky. Another time, I found myself riding the escalator up, only to ride it back down immediately because I forgot something, and then do it all over again. The passersby found it amusing at least. I came home and fell asleep during yoga, so really doing well on fitness goals, too.

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Now why did I think it was a good idea to plan a vacation immediately after this requiring me to get up at 3:00am for a flight????

 

 

Time: 1 hour (prep + cooking) | Serves: 2 pizzas

Ingredients:

  • 2 cauliflower crusts
  • 1 eggplant, peeled + sliced in 1/4 inch thick discs
  • 1 cup of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup of raw cashews, soaked overnight
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp. of unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 of a block of firm tofu, water drained
  • 1 tbsp. of ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp. of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of panko
  • 1 tsp. of italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp. of oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. of crushed red pepper
  • S+P, to taste
  • Olive oil spray
  • Basil, for serving

How to:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Place eggplant rounds in a colander + sprinkle with salt, let drain for 20-30 minutes
  • Meanwhile, pulse cashews in food processor
  • Add lemon juice + tofu + S+P, process on high + slowly add in milk until smooth
  • Adjust seasoning to taste and place in fridge until ready to use
  • Meanwhile, combine flax seeds + 1/3 cup of water in a bowl, set aside for 10 minutes
  • Add panko + Italian seasoning + oregano + crushed red pepper + S+P to another bowl
  • Dredge eggplant disc in flax egg, then panko, place on a sprayed lined baking sheet, repeat with remaining dics
  • Bake 30 minutes, flipping once in the middle of cooking
  • Spread the crusts with tomato sauce + top with eggplant slices + tofu ricotta
  • Bake another 10 minutes
  • Serve warm with basil
  • Fold a slice like a lil pizza boat + swim it right down your cavernous gullet

 

Adapted from here!

Open-Faced Pitas with Roasted Eggplant + Red Pepper Spread

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I think it’s time I get a little real with y’all.

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And that’s not even a sarcastic opening this time!!! I realized I’ve never really shared why I started cooking.

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Let us venture back to pre-teen Rachel. Or as I like to refer to her, she who must not be named. Growing up, I was ALWAYS the smallest kid in class. Like, got the kids menu and looked like an 8-year-old boy until I was 17. I don’t recommend this if you’re interested in having self esteem. Puberty rolled around my junior year and I became an average height, but was still skinny and could eat WHATEVER I wanted. I’ve told y’all about how I used to leave school, eat 12 nuggets, fries and a milkshake and THEN eat dinner. Those were the TIMES, man.

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Sophomore year of college came around and I gained the weight we all do at that pivotal time. Nothing crazy, but it looked odd on my small frame. I honestly would have been blissfully ignorant except this was during the rise of social media when it became the vortex of self-pity and comparison we now know and love. I saw pictures of myself and just hated what I saw. I had never felt pretty (have you seen this schnoz?!), but I had always counted on being small. My first world, middle class, not enough problem-having world was rocked! Chicken nugget girl had no idea how to eat healthy, so I started restricting myself. I lost 20 pounds eating a bagel for breakfast, a granola bar for lunch and a little something for dinner. Or as I like to call it, the diet of an idiotic college girl who cared far too much what peeps thought of her. While I eventually began eating more, I continued the unhealthy restrictive habits. It wasn’t until I called my mom crying one afternoon after treating myself to Zaxby’s (wow, what a treat!) and feeling SO guilty, that I realized it was time to make a change. She took me to the grocery store, bought me food and taught me how to bake some chicken breasts. From there, I turned on Food Network and haven’t turned it off in over six years. I watched every single show and tried to learn as much as I could. I would spend my free time searching for recipes and reading about food. I started this blog to document some of the recipes I liked, and here we are. Almost 5 years later and this little space of the Internet is still one of my favorites.

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Thank you for reading along and allowing me to be a lunatic and share some food and look at your food and I promise I eat quadruple the calories I used to – for example, I ate both of these pitas immediately after taking these photos.

 

Time: 1 hour (prep + cooking) | Serves: 4 pitas

Ingredients:

  • 1 eggplant, peeled + sliced into 1/2 inch discs
  • 2 red peppers
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained .+ rinsed
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 a small red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 zucchini, zoodled
  • 2 tbsp. of garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp. of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. of tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. of crushed red pepper
  • S+P, to taste
  • Pitas, toasted
  • Cilantro, for serving

How to:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Arrange eggplant discs on a lined baking sheet, using 1 tbsp. of olive oil, brush each side + sprinkle with S+P
  • Arrange red peppers on another lined baking sheet
  • Arrange chickpeas on a third lined baking sheet, drizzle with 1 tbsp. of olive oil + some S+P
  • Place all in the oven (peppers + eggplant on the same rack if possible), bake chickpeas for 25 minutes, turning once, eggplant for 30 minutes, turning once, red peppers for 45 minutes, turning once
  • Once cooled, remove the charred skins from the peppers + cut the tops off + remove any seeds
  • In a food processor combine eggplant + red peppers + garlic + remaining olive oil + tomato paste + crushed red pepper + S+P, process until smooth
  • To serve, spread your eggplant + pepper goodness on a pita + top with zoodles + tomatoes + chickpeas + onion + cilantro
  • Fold pita up like a boat + swim it right into the giant hole in your face

 

Spread adapted from my girl, Ina!