Tuesday, August 14, 2012


This month usually throws me for a loop. Outside of my sister's looming wedding there are birthdays, bridal showers, anniversaries, bachelorette parties, weddings. With lots of celebration comes lots of indulgence. As a person who cooks for a living, it's difficult to keep the ol' girlish figure. It takes discipline and I don't have a ton of that virtue lying around. Thank god we live in a society that values a "boot-strap" philosophy. There's plenty of assistance for the do-it-yourself-er, and I'm a fan of getting help when it's needed.

So, being an American- one who, as my nutritionist would say, is "lit-up" by food- it behooves me to be proactive in my approach to health and my weight in the future (ie, after children, which is an eventual and inevitable thing). I've struggled to maintain my weight my whole life, and the struggle continues. Nay, it continues to get more difficult. I exercise regularly ... about five to six times a week ... I eat good foods, maintain a healthy diet for the most part ... but there is this trigger in my brain that overwhelms my gut signals when it comes to delicious food. When that happens, I'm more likely to finish a platter of food for 20 people than I am to stop when I'm actually full.

It's a problem. But, I'm working on it.

Seems the whole house has gone health-crazy, trying desperately to not make a trip to Beech Hill Farm and Ice Cream Barn trip before the clock strikes 8 pm. We're big ice cream fans around here. We try not to have it in the house at all.

In the midst of all this dogged running, crunching, squatting, lunging madness, I've found some pretty awesome and healthy recipes. Now, when it comes to eating healthy the key is to make food as easy as possible. Anything that requires too much trouble is out the window. That's why I fell in love with this little concoction right here:

Eggplant coins. It's a riff on a recipe I found on Pinterest, called Eggplant pizza.

Mark Bittman wrote that he used to say he never invented a recipe in his whole life ... but lately he's backtracking on that statement. To read a great piece by him recently, click here. So that said, the inspiration was there and I just took it to a different place.

I love photographing my cutting boards. They are usually scattered and my mise en place is never really "en place" ... ya' dig?

Most of the ingredients for this came from our humble home garden. We are slowly pulling heirloom tomatoes from the vines, but it feels like hundreds of pounds of them are sitting there all green and lovely, refusing to move. Dammit. Get some color already. The eggplants, on the other hand, are always ready to party.

So I sliced them into coins about a centimeter thick, lined them up on a baking sheet, brushed them with olive oil, then baked them at 400 for about 20 minutes.

In the meantime I sauteed the chopped tomatoes in olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and a bit of left over canned "tomato sauce" I had sitting in the fridge that needed to be used before it went fuzzy.

When the "coins" were done, I topped them with tomato paste, my simmered tomatoes, parmesan cheese, and added basil in the last five minutes of cooking. I think the thing cooked for a total of 30 or 32 minutes. I ate them until I was over-full.

Banh Mi knock offs have been a regular in the house, too. With two dozen cucumbers picked on average a day, I need to figure out ways to use them. They're covered by pickled carrots and red onion here, but trust me- they make an impact.

Banh Mi sauce is what gives this whole shin dig a little spring in its step (and its name). I like using the following ingredients for pretty consistent results:

0% Greek Yogurt
Maybe some sour cream? If you have it.
Cilantro. Lots.
Fish sauce. A good splash.
Lime juice. SO tasty.
Sriracha. Enough to give you a rosy glow.

Mix that together and set some aside as a dip, shmear, whatever. Toss your protein in the rest and grill up for one satisfying meal. I love to add cabbage, slices of cucumber made by using a peeler, and lots of zippy pickled carrot and onion.

That could be eaten as a salad, a wrap, on a baguette, in a panini on your trusty George Foreman Grill, you name it.

All of this was lying around. I absolutely recommend finding any used summer issues of Bon Appetit, Food and Wine, Cooking Light ... their recipes are good all summer and many of these savvy publications get the fact that we're all too busy to make a creme anglaise or some other ridiculous culinary feat at 5:30 at night with a hungry family as an audience. It aint happenin'. By some stroke of consumer polling, they figured out we would prefer if they would just KISS.

Keep it simple, sister.

That's more like it. 

May all of your bikini wishes and ice cream dreams come true. xo

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