Recipes

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan is one of my favorite Italian comfort foods.
The one thing to keep in mind when cooking eggplant, is eggplants hold onto moisture, like a sponge. So if you’re not careful you can end up with a mushy mess.

So the best method to make eggplant parmesan is to pull the moisture out of the eggplant prior to frying it.

How do we pull moisture out of the eggplant?

You sprinkle salt on the eggplant slice and let them sit for 45 minutes to one hour.The salt pulls out the moisture from the eggplant. 

It also helps to cut the bitterness of the vegetable and makes it “sweat”. You will notice little drops of moisture on the surface of the disks. Removing the moisture from the eggplant will prevent it from releasing it during cooking. 

After the 45 minutes, all you have to do is just pat them dry and dust off the excess salt and then you’ll be ready to start making your eggplant parmesan! I guarantee you will have a much crispier and less soggy eggplant parmesan dish! 

Now of course, you can bake or roast the eggplant for eggplant Parmesan, and they are tasty but frying the eggplant gives the dish a deep caramelized flavor that can not be mimicked by baking. 

I like my eggplant a tad thick so I slice mine about ¼ thick, using a sharp knife. Grab two shallow dishes, crack two eggs in one dish and whisk. I like to add some seasoning, like granulated garlic and black pepper, to my whisked eggs but that is totally up to you. Pour 1 ½ cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs in the other dish. I love cheese and feel you can never have too much so I sprinkle ¼ cup of grated Parmesan into the breadcrumbs and whisk until combined. 

Take each slice, dip it into the egg mixture, roll in the bread crumbs and shake off any excess. Place the breaded eggplant slices on a plate or large baking sheet and repeat until all eggplant slices have been coated. 

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil into the skillet. I always use my cast iron skillet but any skillet will work. I have become a big fan of cast iron in the last year. Check out my Tips & Tricks page for why. 

Once the skillet is hot, slowly slide two-three breaded eggplant slices into the oil. Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, they should be a nice golden brown. The first batch will take longer than the rest as the oil heats up. You will want to keep a close eye on them and watch out for oil splatters. 

Line a large sheet pan with foil, this will make for an easy clean up. Add a layer of eggplant slices then dollop 2 tablespoons of marinara sauce on top of the eggplant slices. The idea isn’t to smother the layers with sauce. On top of the eggplant slices, sprinkle a generous amount of mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. The more cheese the better, in my opinion. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and brown on top. I use the broiler for 5 minutes to get the cheese nice and brown – you don’t have to, but if you do, watch it carefully!

There is nothing better than the smell of fresh basil. It reminds me of my grandparents’ backyard when I was a child. My grandfather, Papa, always had a basil plant in his backyard. Here’s a great tip for cutting basil. Stack the basil leaves on top of each other and roll up like a cigar. Then make thin slices from one end of the basil cigar to the other. Sprinkle on top of your eggplant parmesan and serve. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/4″ thick slices
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil, for lightly pan-frying
  • 2 cups marinara sauce, homemade or store-bought
  • 2 cups whole milk mozzarella shredded
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese shredded
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves sliced, for garnish (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

Salt both sides of your eggplant slices and place them in a large colander in the sink. Let the liquid drain for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

When your eggplant slices have finished draining liquid, brush off the excess salt.

In 2 shallow plates, add breadcrumbs to one and whisk eggs and in the other. Dip both sides of the eggplant slice into egg mixture then cover with breadcrumbs, shaking off the excess. Place on a plate or large baking sheet and repeat until all eggplant slices have been coated.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil into the skillet. Once the skillet is hot, add two-three eggplant slices at a time to the skillet and cook on both sides until golden brown, remove and set on a large plate lined with paper towels. Repeat until you’ve pan-fried them all.

On a large sheet pan, add a layer of eggplant slices then using dollop 2 tablespoons of marinara sauce on top of the eggplant slices. The idea isn’t to smother the layers with sauce. On top of the eggplant slices, sprinkle a generous amount of mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and brown on top. I use the broiler for 5 minutes to get the cheese nice and brown. 

Serve hot and top with sliced basil.

Recipes

Cheesy Popovers

I totally have a recipe bucket list, I mean, shouldn’t everyone? 🤣

I have always wanted to make popovers. So, I decided to try my hand at making them and I’m so mad I haven’t made them before. 

They are easy to make and delicious! 

You may be asking yourself, what is a popover?

They are like a muffin but light, airy, and crispy around the edges. In this recipe, they pull apart to a buttery cheesy magical pastry.

The name comes from literally “popping over” the sides of the pan and are baked in a hot oven until they “pop” up. They are a simple side item for a weeknight meal or holiday entertaining.

You may have heard that popovers are usually made in a special pan. Good news – you can use a regular muffin pan and they work just as well.

If you use a muffin pan, you may want to skip every other opening just in case they “pop” over onto each other.

Guess what? No mixer or blender is required. Just one bowl, a whisk and a rubber spatula is all you need.

You can get pretty creative with popovers! In the recipe below, I used Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, but you can use any cheese combination you like and then add your favorite seasoning, instead of garlic powder and cayenne in the recipe below. Or, switch it up completely, and make them sweet for a dessert by using sugar and cinnamon. The possibilities are endless! Get creative! 

Ingredients 

  • 12 cup muffin pan or popover pan 
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder 
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan 
  • 4 tablespoons minced chives
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or smoked paprika

Directions

1.    Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

2.    In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and melted butter until combined. Whisk in the flour and salt and then fold in the cheeses and chives until even. Cover the batter and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3.    Put a muffin pan on the middle rack in the oven to warm for 10 minutes.

4.    Remove muffin pan from oven (careful, hot!) and pour the batter into the cups of the hot pan, filling almost to the top – make sure they are almost to the top.

5.    Lightly sprinkle with the cayenne or smoked paprika (a very small amount of cayenne). Bake the popovers until crisp and golden, about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven.

6.    Take each out of the pan, place on a wire rack, and pierce with a small paring knife to let steam escape. Serve hot.

Recipes

Stuffed Chorizo Chicken over Yellow Rice

The smells of Spanish cooking never fails to set my tastebuds alight.

Spanish food looks good and tastes great. But the smell of Spanish food cooking adds to the anticipation of dinner, and to the experience of eating it!

I loving making recipes that remind me of being a little girl at my grandparents’ houses.

I love using Chorizo in my cooking, whether it’s for my mom’s Spanish Bean Soup, a breakfast hash or tacos! It adds little richness and spice to a dish. The two most common types of chorizo here in the United States are Mexican chorizo and Spanish chorizo.

Here’s a some quick tips on the difference.

Spanish Chorizo

Spanish chorizo is usually cured or smoked and wrapped in a casing. It does not need any further cooking or preparation to enjoy. I like to eat Spanish chorizo as-is on a charcuterie board with cheeses and a glass of red wine.

Mexican Chorizo

Mexican chorizo is most commonly sold raw and must be cooked before consuming. It should be pan-fried or browned like any ground sausage. I love Mexican chorizo, it’s a highly versatile ingredient for adding huge flavor to any dish. It works seamlessly with soups, chilis, sauces, or as a topping for potatoes, pasta dishes, and breakfast hashes.

For this recipe, I used Mexican chorizo since I will stuffing it into chicken.

I always like to marinade my chicken, especially if I’m using breast. I find chicken breast to not have much flavor on it’s own.

I usually make my own marinade but I had a bottle of Goya Mojo Chipotle Marinade in the frig and it’s pretty good so I figured let’s save some time!

The first step of this recipe is to dump your chicken breast into a ziplock bag and pour enough of the marinade in to cover the chicken.

If you have the time, marinate it over night, if not at least 1 hour.

Now it’s time to get to slicing and dicing! This is where my boyfriend, Brian comes in handy!

Before you start, make sure you have a trash bowl next to your cutting board. I learned this tip from one of my favorite chefs, Rachael Ray! I use my Meme’s old metal colander, it makes me feel like she’s in the kitchen with me!

Evenly, dice the onion, garlic and red bell peppers.

Here’s another tip! When you cut your red bell pepper or any pepper make sure to cut it skin down. This will make it so much easier for your knife and you!

While you are slicing and dicing, heat your skillet. Place the chorizo in a skillet over medium heat and break it up into tiny pieces with a wooden spoon while cooking. Transfer the chorizo to a large bowl lined with a paper towel and let the oils drain from the chorizo.

Next, using that same pan, wipe out most of the oil with a paper towel, but leave some of the chorizo oil, and sauté your onion. Sprinkling the Saxon Con Azafran (I use the Baida brand). Continue to sauté for about 4-5 minutes until tender, then add the red bell pepper and sauté until tender. I add the garlic last because garlic can burn if cooked too long and that is not good for any dish. Sauté all together, for 4-5 minutes until fragrant.

Transfer the veggies and chorizo to a large bowl and stir together. This is the filing a.k.a Chorizo stuffing for your chicken!

By now, the aroma from your kitchen should be calling to your family and neighbors to come over for dinner!

PreHeat your oven to 325F

Next up, prepare the yellow rice! I personally love VIGO yellow rice! It’s made right here in Tampa! If you have never visited the VIGO store in Tampa, you must! They also offer field trips for students!

First melt the butter and EVOO in a saucepan. Then add the rice. A great tip I learned from Gordan Ramsay is to first toast your rice!

The secret to a better pan of rice lies in seasoning and flavoring the grains before they even hit that pot of boiling water.

Once the grains are coated and start to toast (you should smell a deep nutty aroma), take it a step further by tossing in some aromatics — like chopped shallots, garlic, ginger, and/or spices — into the pan. For this recipe, toss in the garlic! Toast for just a few minutes, until the rice starts to look slightly brown on the tips and smells fragrant and nutty. Then add in the 2 cups of chicken broth. Stirring occasionally, bring the broth to a boil. Cover saucepan tightly. Reduce heat to simmer and allow to cook for 20-25 minutes.

Now it’s time to take out all the stress from the day! Grab your mallet or rolling pin; chicken, and cutting board.

Place the chicken on the cutting board and cover it with wax paper or plastic wrap (keep it covered, you don’t want chicken juice on your rolling pin or mallet). After giving the chicken breast a good pounding on both sides, use your rolling pin to roll it out like pie dough to approcimately 1/4 thick (but keep it in the covered since you don’t want chicken juice on your rolling pin.)

Sprinkle Badia Sazon With Saffron over the chicken. Take a scoop of Chorizo stuffing about 1-2 tablespoons and place it at one end of the chicken breast. Do not let your scoop touch the chicken, you are going to want to save the leftover stuffing for future meals, I used mine in quesadillas the next day! It’s also good in a breakfast hash or even as a salsa!

Unravel the cheese… yup I said unravel! It’s like a ball of yarn but cheese! Super fun!

Cut 2-3 inch strips and place on top of the Chorizo stuffing.

Now roll the chicken, making sure to tuck in the cheese and stuffing. You’re basically rolling the chicken like you would a tortilla for a burrito.

You can use tooth picks or kitchen twine to tie the chicken, so it does not come undone. I used twine but tooth picks are much easier. 😉

Heat a cast iron skillet on medium heat and drizzle with EVOO. You don’t have to use cast iron – a large skillet will do but I much prefer cooking with cast iron!

Sear the stuffed chicken breasts for 4 minutes on each side until browned. (They will not be fully cooked. You will finish them off in the oven.)

Some of the cheese will ooze out, but don’t worry it will taste amazing like fried cheese!

Take the skillet off of the heat, and pour in 1/4 cup white wine or chicken broth. Place the skillet into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165F.

Now it’s time to plate the dish! I love creating the presentation of the meal!

Take a ladle and press the rice to form a dome, then place the chicken next to it with the cheese oozing onto the plate. YUM!

Get creative and post your plated presentation below in the comments, I’d love to see it!!!

Ingredients:

Goya Mojo Chipotle Marinade

4 Chicken Breasts

1 large Onion – diced

5 garlic cloves- minced or diced

2 red bell peppers – diced

1 pound Mexican Chorizo

1 ball of Oaxaca Cheese

2 teaspoons Badia Sazon With Saffron

Salt & Pepper to taste

1/4 cup white wine or chicken broth

Yellow Rice Ingredients:

10 oz. Vigo Yellow Rice packet

1 tbsp unsalted butter

Olive Oil – EVOO

1 clove garlic – minced or diced

2 cups Chicken Broth

Instructions:

1. Place the chicken in a large Ziploc bag and pour marinade over the chicken. Leave in refrigerator at least one hour or overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 325F.

3. In a large skillet, sauté Chorizo until cooked through. Place the chorizo in a large bowl lined with a paper towel.

4. In the same skillet, sauté the diced onion, sprinkle with Badia Sazon With Saffron seasoning. Add the diced red bell peppers, stirring occasionally until soft. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant.

5. Pour onion, red bell pepper & garlic mixture into a large bowl. Add the chorizo into the bowl and stir together.

6. Lay down 2 sheets of plastic wrap on a cutting board. Use the smooth side of a mallet or rolling pin, pound the chicken. Start in the center of your chicken and work your way out, until chicken is 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch thick.

7. Scoop the Chorizo stuffing onto one side of the flatten chicken breast.

8. Lay a 2-3 inch slice of cheese on top of the chorizo stuffing.

9. Roll up the chicken, tucking in the stuffing and cheese.

10. Stick a couple of toothpicks in near the opening to keep it all together.

11. Heat up a pan to medium-high heat (I used a cast iron skillet) and sear the meat on both sides about 4 minutes for each side.

12. Pour in 1/4 cup white wine or chicken broth.

13. Lower the heat and continue cooking the meat on the stove until it’s done or, if you’re using a cast iron skillet, you can put the skillet in the oven. Just make sure you cook it until the center reaches 165ºF on a thermometer

14. Serve immediately over yellow rice. Enjoy!

Yellow Rice Instructions

1. Melt butter and EVOO over medium heat in a sauce pan.

2. Pour packet of yellow rice into the saucepan. Toast the rice until the edges are slightly brown.

3. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant.

4. Pour 2 cups of chicken broth into the saucepan and bring to boil, stirring for about one minute.

5. Cover saucepan tightly. Reduce heat to simmer and allow to cook for 20-25 minutes.