Monday, October 11, 2010

Getting Back Into the Kitchen

I've been seriously slacking in the home cooked meal department over the past year and a half. My baking has also been pretty scarce as well. It all started when I got pregnant last year and then we began the process purchasing our home three short weeks later. Although I felt fine for the first few months of my pregnancy, we were so focused on packing (not to mention that we then went without a fully functioning kitchen for several weeks during the move when we were between houses) there was very little time, let alone energy, left for cooking.

By the time we were settled in our new home, I was about halfway through the pregnancy. Mike had to take over all of the cooking at this point as the smell of food on the stove (especially meat of any kind) made me extremely nauseous. Afterwards, I admittedly got lazy and the last thing I wanted to do after coming home from work and feeling like a blimp was to cook dinner. Then Abigail was born. As anyone with a new baby will tell you, it's not easy to find the desire to cook with a newborn in the house. Baking was even farther off my radar.

Now that Abigail is older and I'm not working, I've actually started to miss my time in the kitchen. I'm also out of excuses. Over the past few weeks, I've been making a concerted effort to meal plan and start getting back into the swing of things. To my surprise, now that I'm not trying to whip together a meal after being at work all day, I've actually started to enjoy cooking more. It's a nice change to have all afternoon to pull something to together if needed. Our food budget is also thanking me for the change from poor planning to efficient grocery shopping. Additionally, I'm hoping my weight will continue to drop as a result.

With that said, here are some of my latest concoctions:

Eggplant Parmesean -

3 eggplant, peeled and thinly sliced
4 eggs, beaten
3 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
6 cups spaghetti sauce
1 (16 oz.) package of shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Dip eggplant slices in egg, then in breadcrumbs. Place on a single layer on baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes on each side.
3. In a 9 x 13" baking dish, spread some spaghetti sauce to cover bottom. Place a layer of eggplant slices in the sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. Repeat with remaining ingredients, ending with the cheeses. Sprinkle dried basil on top.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes or until golden brown.

Goat Cheese Tortelloni with Roasted Butternut Squash (adapted from Wegmans Menu Magazine)-

20 oz. fresh butternut squash, cut in 1/2" cubes
2 tablespoons fresh sage
1 tablespoon basting oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chopped
3 cups butternut squash soup (can be purchased at Wegmans)
2 packages Italian Classics Goat Cheese Tortelloni, cooked 4 minutes and drained (also purchased from Wegmans)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
2. Toss squash, 1 Tbsp sage, oil, salt, pepper, and butter in mixing bowl.
3. Spread mixture in even layer on baking sheet. Roast 15-18 minutes until golden brown.
4. Add squash, soup, and remaining Tbsp. sage to skillet on MEDIUM heat. Bring to a simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add pasta, cook 1 minute.

And just for fun, I made some Halloween cupcakes!


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