8.28 | Thoughts on a Thursday

{story of my freakin’ life}

1. Dexter is seriously comparable to a child. He gets all excited and expectant anytime Casey or i put on sneakers and expects demands to be taken on a walk. This past weekend i put on sneakers, demands ensued, and i left to go to the gym because, well, that was my original plan. Casey told me Dex proceeded to get into the trash, strew trash all over the dining room, then go upstairs and climb into his bed. I was gone several hours and he basically “locked” himself in the bedroom and didn’t come out. Dramatic much?

2. Anyone else see and was bothered by this pic on instagram last week?

I thought the bachelorette was supposed to be about love? Oh wait no it’s about money…

3. I finally saw Divergent this past weekend and was so so disappointed. Why do they never live up to hype? BOOKS FOR LIFE!

4. I just signed up for my first real race: the Mario Lemieux 6.6k which is on October 5th! Considering that i haven’t run more than 2 miles in a row in the past 2 months i better start training. Need to get on the treadmill stat!

5. Giving up sugar has been much easier than i anticipated. I usually want something sweet directly after dinner and haven’t had those cravings. Plus maybe i’m hallucinating, but my skin looks much clearer too.

6. Is it crazy that i’m getting excited for fall when i feel like there was barely any summer? It didn’t even get sweltering hot like it did last year. I’m dying over these slouchy boots and these booties and this scarf (but let’s be honest i pretty much wear scarves all year round) and this sweater. The fashion and all things pumpkin are my favorite things about the cooler seasons.

What are your thoughts on this Thursday?

Chinese Cabbage Salad

THIS SALAD.

THE DRESSING.

Let’s talk.

chinese cabbage salad

First of all, i think your head will explode by all of the different textures in this salad: there’s cabbage, shredded carrots, bell pepper strips, sesame sticks, thinly sliced radishes, and lightly salted peanuts. Which basically means there’s no crunch, a soft crunch, a medium crunch, and holy moly crunchy all in one bowl. GAHHHH!

chinese cabbage salad

Now onto the dressing. To me, this dressing is the epitome of a perfect chinese cabbage salad. It fits the dish so perfectly and is the rock star of the show! It’s peanuty-sesame-vinegary-touch-of-sweet-y goodness will have you wishing it would never end. And in a perfect world it never has to. :) I am ALL ABOUT making my own dressings lately and see no reason to slow down. I think some flavor experimentations are to come. Be afraid.

chinese cabbage salad

{another successful pour shot!}

The sesame stick things i found in the bulk bins at whole foods. Every asian-inspired recipe i see features chow mein noodles and i have looked far and wide and can’t seem to find them. Am i looking in all the wrong places? Attention Pittsburghers! Lead me to the chow mein noodles noowwww. Pleaseandthankyou.

But seriously just make the salad.

Chinese Cabbage Salad
 
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Author:
Ingredients
For the salad:
  • ½ head of cabbage, sliced into strips
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced radishes
  • ½ cup sesame sticks or chow mein noodles
  • ½ cup peanuts
For the dressing:
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 3 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • 2-3 Tbsp honey (depending on sweet preference)
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
Instructions
  1. Place all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss to mix.
  2. Whisk all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl until fully combined. The peanut butter takes a little but of work to thoroughly mix so if yours is refrigerated, set it out while you chop the vegetables.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad, stir, and serve!

 

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

So remember how i brought you the messiest recipe ever?

Now get ready for the longest recipe ever. Myyy goodness…

It’s ok though, this eggplant parm creates enough food to feed an army. Hello lazy evenings & leftovers!

eggplant

Two jobs ago, Casey worked right next to this authentic, family-owned italian grocery store. They had homemade lasagnas, eggplant parms, chicken parms. and anything else your little italian heart (or italian recipe) desires. He would go over there during lunch and get a piece of eggplant parm for me and a piece of lasagna for him. Then after work he would drive over to my apartment (my first solo apartment!) and we would re-heat the cheesy saucy goodness in my oven and eat it at the tiny bar in my tiny kitchen. Ohhh the good old days…

sliced eggpant

I wish i was joking when i tell you i would lick my plate clean after devouring that eggplant parm. I wanted to make sure i got every tiny morsel off my plate because it was that freakin’ fantastic. GIVE ME ALL THE MOZZARELLA!

eggplant parm

This recipe takes some dedication, yes. But the result is oh so worth it. My version is pretty damn close to that italian grocer and way cheaper than buying a single slice. The sauce has a great kick to it (or not – your choice!) and the panko breading is just heavenly.

eggplant parm

I actually had too many eggplant slices but decided to bread every single one. The rest are chillin’ in the freezer and will be used for burgers, sliced on top of salads, or on top of angel hair during the next pasta night. Depending on the size of your eggplant, you could have some interesting leftovers. :)

eggplant parm

{MUST. EAT. NOW.}

eggplant parmesan

Eggplant parm for daysss.

Baked Eggplant Parmesan
 
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Serves: 6
Ingredients
For the eggplant:
  • 2 medium sized eggplant
  • Sea salt
  • 3 cups panko bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp italian seasoning
  • ¾ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 4 eggs
For the sauce:
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup diced yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 28-oz can tomato puree (or crushed tomatoes)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes (use less for less heat!)
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups freshly grated mozzarella
Instructions
  1. Slice the eggplant into thicker rounds and place on paper towels/kitchen towels. Sprinkle with sea salt to draw out the moisture and let sit for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. While the eggplant sits, mix the panko bread crumbs, flour, italian seasoning, and parmesan cheese in a large ziplock bag. Crack the eggs in a large bowl and whisk until mixed.
  4. Once eggplant is ready, pat the tops dry with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel and run each slice first through the egg mixture and then into the ziplock bag with the panko mixture. Shake to coat.
  5. Place each slice on a greased baking sheet or silpat and bake for 25 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  6. To prepare the sauce, open the can of tomato puree and add to medium sized pot. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the garlic and onion, Cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
  7. Add the garlic and onions to the tomato puree and cook on medium heat until the sauce has slightly thickened, about 10-12 minutes.
  8. Add the rest of the spices and cook for an additional 5 minutes to incorporate the flavors.
  9. To assemble the eggplant parm, first spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of your 9x13 baking dish and then place the breaded eggplant rounds on top (as seen in the photo above).
  10. Next layer on ½ of the sauce and mozzarella.
  11. Next create another breaded eggplant layer and cover with the rest of the sauce and mozzarella cheese.
  12. Bake in the 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

 

Cold Veggie Pizza

veggie pizza

I remember the very first time i had cold veggie pizza. It was at a Penn State tailgate while i was in college (dex was still a lil pup back then!) I was in state college for the weekend visiting my best friend, Steph, and i’m pretty sure i gobbled up the entire pan on my own. Was there any other food there? Couldn’t tell you. But the pizza i remember. :)

{Ps- check out Steph’s blog Reinventing Supermom for great info & tips about motherhood}

veggie pizza

Fast forward say 10 years? And about a month ago Steph made the very same veggie pizza for our friend Megan’s bridal shower. Again the face planting into the plate and devouring occurred. And at that point i knew i had to make my own version at home so i could eat it forever and ever.

veggie pizza

The “sauce” for this pizza called for a ranch seasoning packet but i just mixed a bunch of spices together which did the trick instead. Ranch seasoning mix is so easy to make at home but i’m not a big “creamy dressing” person so i’ve never made the mix then turned it into ranch dressing from start to finish. Olive oil and lemon juice for my salads all the way!

veggie pizza

{Don’t you just wanna sink your teeth into that slice?}

veggie pizza

This veggie pizza will KILL IT at any party you bring it to. Or just make it and devour it with a friend/family member/significant other like i did.

#YUM.

Cold Veggie Pizza
 
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Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 can Trader Joe's crescent rolls (i like the ingredients better than Pillsbury)
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • ⅓ cup greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • ½ tsp dill
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion flakes
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  • ½ cup shredded cheese
  • 2 cups chopped veggies of your choice (i used shredded carrots, diced red onion, broccoli and diced red bell pepper)
Instructions
  1. Pop open the crescent roll can and roll out each "sheet." Use the sheets to form one long piece of dough (i did a 4 sheet x 2 sheet piece). Press the sheets together to eliminate any seams.
  2. Cook the dough according to package directions, for mine it was 13-14 minutes.
  3. While the dough cooks, mix the cream cheese, greek yogurt and spices in a medium bowl until fully mixed. Place the bowl in the fridge until ready to use.
  4. Chop/shred your veggies of choice and measure out the shredded cheese.
  5. Once the dough comes out of the oven, allow it to cool for about 10 minutes so the cream cheese "sauce" doesn't get runny.
  6. Once cooled, spread the cream cheese mixture over the entire piece of dough, top with chopped vegetables and shredded cheese.