Tag Archives: vegetarian recipes

Eggplant Parmesan Deconstructed

I’m a girl with Italian in her blood.  I am from Chicago, after all.  And as any true Italian Chicago girl knows, there’s nothing better than eggplant Parmesan on a cold fall or winter day.  It’s warm and delicious in every way, but despite the fact that the main ingredient is a hard core veggie, the way eggplant parm is traditionally prepared turns this delicious dish into a heart attack on a plate.  Not to mention that it can take an entire day to make!

So I began thinking of other ways to enjoy eggplant Parmesan without having to work out extra hard the next day…and the day after that.  So here I give you my deconstructed eggplant parm recipe.  This eggplant is baked in the oven, rather than fried in oil…and dare I say the baked version is much better!  If you’re craving a traditional eggplant parm dish, you can also throw these bad boys onto the stove in a splash of extra virgin olive oil.  Cook them for about 5 minutes per side and you’re good to go.

I also omitted the pasta and turned this into more of an open-faced sandwich.  You can easily omit the bread, too and enjoy the baked eggplant as is.  It’s a hearty dish that takes a quarter of the cooking time of traditional eggplant Parmesan so it’s great for a weeknight meal.  We served ours with a quinoa mushroom risotto (yum!) and some delicious Three Floyd’s Broo-Doo beer!  This was a Chicago meal if there ever was one!

Eggplant Parm Deconstructed


  • 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan
  • Pepper to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. milk
  • 1 eggplant, sliced crosswise on an angle, about ¼ inch thick
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 2 12-inch sub loaves
  • 1 lb. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced


  1. In a shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and pepper.  In another shallow dish, whisk eggs and milk.
  2. Dip eggplant in egg mixture, then crumb mixture.  Transfer to a greased baking sheet.
  3. Once all your eggplant is done, bake it in a 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.   Flip eggplant half way through so it browns on both sides.
  4. Lay your bread out open faced on the plate.  Top bread with cheese slices and top cheese with warm marinara sauce (we made our own sauce from tomatoes and seasoning, but any ol’ sauce will do).  The warm sauce will help melt the cheese.
  5. Top sauce with cooked eggplant.  You could top your eggplant with more sauce, if desired.

Every Monday is a “Reci-bee” post, where I share my favorite recipes, recipe collections, and cooking and baking hints and tips. 

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Homemade Deep Dish Pizza

Any true Chicagoan will tell you…there’s nothing like diving into a deep dish pizza.  It’s jam packed with carby, cheesy, goodness that’s just as good as healing the soul as chicken soup.

As if cleaning my apartment wasn’t enough of a task this weekend, I decided to make my very first deep dish pizza…we’re talking hand made crust, too.  It was actually much easier than I thought it would be…and was the perfect end to an exhausting weekend!

deep dish!



1 package active dry yeast

1 cup warm water

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1 1/2 teaspooons salt

1 egg

4-4 1/2 cups all purpose flour

In the bowl of your standard mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm water.  Add oil, sugar, salt, and 1 cup of flour.  Mix until combined.  Add egg and 1 cup of flour.  Mix until combined.  Add remaining flour until dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Dump dough out on a clean floured surface and knead the dough until smooth, about 8-10 minutes (place the heal of your hand in the middle of the dough ball and push out and away from you.  Turn the dough and repeat).

Place dough in a clean bowl and cover with a light towel.  Allow to sit for at least 1 1/2 hours, or until dough has doubled in size.

Dream about your delicious pizza.



1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes

1 tiny can of tomato paste (I think it’s a 6 oz can)

Mix together and set aside.  Add oregano to taste if you’d like.


1-2 8 oz. blocks of white mozzarella cheese

Slice cheese into small squares.  Use as much or as little cheese as you’d like.  To keep it traditional, use enough to cover the entire pie…and then some 😉


I used 1 lb. ground Italian sausage…but you can use whatever you’d like.  I precooked the sausage before adding it to the pizza…a step I recommend.


Spray deep dish pan or 2 9″ round pans with non stick cooking spray.  Once your dough is ready, roll it out to fit either a deep dish pie pan or 2 9″ round pans.  Make sure dough goes up the sides of the pan as well.  Add toppings, followed by cheese, and then the sauce.  Bake in a 425 degree oven until crust is brown, about 30-40 minutes.

Let the pizza rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.



Every Monday is a “Reci-bee” post, where I share my favorite recipes, recipe collections, and cooking and baking hints and tips. 

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Pasta with Baked Cherry Tomatoes

Spaghetti with marinara sauce is a go-to staple for thousands of families.  It’s cheap, easy, and almost always satisfying.  But if you’re looking for something a little more “grown up”, consider pasta con pomodori al forno, or pasta with baked cherry tomatoes.  The tomatoes still give you the taste of sauce without the mess.

pasta with baked cherry tomatoes


3 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
⅓ cup fine dry bread crumbs
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the pasta pot
¼ teaspoon peperoncino flakes, or to taste
1 pound spaghetti, gemelli, or penne
10 plump garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
½ cup pecorino, freshly grated, plus more for passing
4 ounces ricotta, or ricotta salata

Arrange a rack in the center of the oven, and heat to 350 degrees.

Toss the cherry-tomato halves in a large bowl with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Sprinkle over tomatoes the bread crumbs, salt, and peperoncino; toss well to coat the tomatoes evenly. Pour the tomatoes onto the parchment-lined sheet, and spread them apart in a single layer. Bake until the tomatoes are shriveled and lightly caramelized (but not dried out), about 25 minutes in all.

Meanwhile, fill the large pot with salted water, and heat to a rolling boil. When the tomatoes are nearly done, drop the pasta into the pot, stir, and return the water to a boil.

As soon as the pasta is cooking, pour the remaining olive oil into the big skillet, set it over medium- high heat, and scatter in the sliced garlic. Cook for a minute or two, until it is sizzling and lightly colored, then ladle in about 2 cups of the pasta cooking water, and bring to a vigorous boil, stirring up the garlic. Let half the water evaporate, then lower the heat, stir in the chopped parsley, and keep the sauce barely simmering.
As soon as the tomatoes are done, remove them from the oven.

When the pasta is al dente, lift it from the water, drain for a moment, and drop it into the skillet, still over low heat. Toss pasta quickly with the garlic-and- parsley sauce in the pan, then slide the baked tomatoes on top of the pasta. Scatter the basil shreds all over, and toss everything together well, until the pasta is evenly dressed and the tomatoes are distributed throughout. Turn off the heat, sprinkle on the grated cheese, and toss once more.

Mound the pasta in a warmed serving bowl. Shred the ricotta all over the top of the pasta, and serve immediately.

Courtesy of http://www.lidiasitaly.com/.

Every Monday is a “Reci-bee” post, where I share my favorite recipes, recipe collections, and cooking and baking hints and tips. 

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4 Tasty Corn on the Cob Recipes

No summer BBQ is complete without corn on the cob.  It’s fun to eat, easy to cook, and can be the perfect compliment to almost any summer menu.

However, no one should have to settle for corn with butter and salt (even though that’s perfect in my book!).  Here are some creative ways to add some volume to your corn ears!  Wow.  Sorry.  🙂

Lime, Black Pepper, Southwest, and Basil

Basil Mint Pesto

Puree 2 garlic cloves and ¾ cup olive oil in blender.  With machine running, add 1 cup packed fresh mint and ¼ cup packed fresh basil; puree for 1 minute.  Brush corn with pesto; season with coarse salt.

Southwest Spice

Combine 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon ground toasted cumin and 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, and ½ teaspoon coarse salt.  Brush corn with olive oil; sprinkle with spices.

Black Pepper and Thyme

Brush corn with olive oil.  Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon fresh thyme; season with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper.

Lime Zest

Combine 1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest (from 2 limes) and 2 teaspoons coarse salt.  Brush corn with olive oil; sprinkle with zest mixture.

Every Monday is a “Reci-bee” post, where I share my favorite recipes, recipe collections, and cooking and baking hints and tips. 

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Panzanella Salad

This is a delicious and refreshing summer salad.  Make it a day ahead for even more flavor!  It probably won’t last much longer after that…so be sure to keep that in mind.  If you need it to last a bit longer, keep the bread cubes separate and mix them into each serving.  That will prevent the leftover bread from becoming mushy.


6 cups cubed rustic bread (these can be toasted up to 1 week before use.  Keep in airtight container at room temperature.)

4 large ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 medium yellow peppers, seeded and cubed

1 large cucumber, cut into small pieces (use seedless if you can find it.  If not, a regular cucumber is fine.)

1/3 cup chopped parsley

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a jelly roll pan with foil and spray with non stick cooking spray.  Arrange your bread cubes on the pan in one layer and toast 10-15 minutes, tossing once, until evenly browned.

2.  Combine tomatoes, onion, oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally.

3.  Add remaining ingredients to tomato mixture and let stand at least 15 minutes to let flavors blend together.  Add bread crumbs just before serving.  Mix to combine.

Every Monday is a “Reci-bee” post, where I share my favorite recipes, recipe collections, and cooking and baking hints and tips. 

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Tabouleh and Watermelon Salad

Okay, now just bear with me here.  I know this may not sound appetizing, but this is maybe one of the most delicious and refreshing salads I’ve ever had.  It’s simple, healthy, and perfect for a hot summer afternoon.

Tabouleh with Watermelon


1 box tabouleh mix

Olive oil (according to package directions)

1/4-1 cup parsley, depending on taste

1/2 cucumber, chopped into bite sized pieces

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

1-1/2 cups watermelon, cut into 1″ squares

Juice of 1 lemon

1.  Prepare tabouleh according to package directions (usually soaking the mix in boiling water for at least 30 minutes).

2.  When tabouleh has set, remove from fridge and fluff with a fork.  Add olive oil, parsley, cucumber, feta, and watermelon.  Stir until incorporated.  Sprinkle lemon juice over the salad and stir once more.

Let the flavors marinate overnight, or at least for 1-2 hours.  Serve as a main dish, side dish, or use it in a lettuce wrap.  The possibilities are endless!

Every Monday is a “Reci-bee” post, where I share my favorite recipes, recipe collections, and cooking and baking hints and tips. 

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Bruschetta ala “Julie and Julia”

Every time I watch Julie and Julia, I crave bruschetta.  CRAVE IT!  It’s super refreshing in the summer and perhaps one of the easiest things to make.  It’s perfect with just red tomatoes, but you haven’t lived until you’ve tried it with assorted heirloom tomatoes.  As Julie says, “YUM!”.

Rustic Bruschetta with Heirloom Tomatoes

4 slices rough textured bread, such as a crusty baguette, cut lengthwise on a diagonal
16 oz. assorted heirloom type tomatoes, chopped
extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
sea salt
chopped fresh basil

1. Toss tomatoes with 1 T. olive oil and about 1 tsp. sea salt.
2. Fry bread in 2-3 T. olive oil in skillet, browning on each side, and adding 1 more T. oil if necessary.
3. Rub cut half of garlic over 1 side of fried bread.
4. Spoon tomatoes over bread. Top with chopped basil and more sea salt to taste.
5. Eat with plenty of napkins on hand.



Every Monday is a “Reci-bee” post, where I share my favorite recipes, recipe collections, and cooking and baking hints and tips.

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