Oven Fried Eggplant

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WARNING: If you make this, you may not be able to stop yourself from eating large amounts of eggplant!

I have found my new favorite way to prepare eggplant.  Eggplant may or may not be something you enjoy on a regular basis, or may not even be something you’ve ever tried.  If you’ve been afraid to try it, I beg you, you have to try it like this, stat!

I’ve been enjoying eggplant since I was a kid.  My mom always battered it up with your basic egg wash & flour combo & fried it on the griddle with LOTS of butter, yum!  This has been my favorite style of eggplant for a long time & still ranks very high on my list of Summer favorites.  I’ve been trying to come up with an easier, less messy way to prepare this with a similar result, & I think I’ve done it!

First off, I want to be clear that my main reason for baking these rather than frying is because it creates much less of a mess & takes a little less concentrated time{you can be working on the rest of your meal while these are in the oven}.  I have no health arguments against frying things in some good ole’ fashioned butter :).  I’m a big fan of real butter & my baked version still uses a healthy amount of it to be sure.

I hope to have a picture tutorial up of this one soon.  It’s really quite simple, but it’s still nice to have a visual guide sometimes.

So, without further ado, here’s my recipe {which you’ll realize fairly quickly, is sort of a non-recipe, more of a how-to}:

2 eggplants {obviously, you can adjust this to whatever you happen to have or get}

2 eggs

a splash of milk

2/3 c. flour {I use whole wheat, but any kind will do}

sea salt & pepper

1/4 c. butter, cut into chunks

Place butter in a 9×13 baking dish, & place in oven for a few minutes to melt, as the oven preheats to 400° {if you already have the oven preheated, that’s okay too, the butter just needs to melt}.

Into a shallow dish, crack the eggs & beat together with a splash of milk {Sorry, I never measure, I’d guess maybe 1/4-1/2 c.  You can always add more if you start to run low on egg wash}.

In a separate shallow dish, mix together flour {again, I don’t really measure this, 2/3 c. is just a guesstimate} & a generous dose of sea salt & pepper.

Wash & peel your eggplants & slice into thin rounds {I like mine nice & thin so your breading to eggplant ratio is….well, heavier on the breading side:)}.

Form an assembly line, starting with your sliced eggplant, then the egg wash, then the flour mix & finally the baking dish with the butter swimming pool.

Begin dipping the eggplant rounds into the egg wash, then flour mix & then place into butter.  Try to lay out the eggplant in a single layer, if they overlap a little, that’s okay.  Once all the eggplant has been buttered & your baking dish is full, sprinkle a little of the remaining flour mixture over the top {if you have any}.  Place into 400° oven for 30 minutes, flipping the eggplant rounds with a large spatula after 20 minutes.

Position oven rack 6-8 inches from the broiler & turn on low.  Place eggplant under broiler for 5-10 minutes until nicely browned.  And, as when broiling anything, keep a close watch to keep from burning.

Remove from oven & enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Energy Bars

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These things have become somewhat of a staple around here.  Caleb loves them in his lunch & they’re great for an afternoon pick-me-up when I start to feel a little…..shall we say…. unmotivated ;).  Because I store them in the fridge or freezer, they’re a nice cool treat on these hot, Summer days too.  Oh, and another bonus, they’re no bake, so you don’t even have to heat up your kitchen to whip these treats up!

I’ll warn you, they are a bit rich & extremely filling, so you’ll want to be sure to cut the bars to a manageable size, especially if you have little ones that will be snacking on them.

Chocolate Chip Energy Bars

2 c. rolled oats

1 c. natural peanut butter

2/3 c. honey

1 c. unsweetened coconut flakes

1/2 c. wheat germ

1/2 c. sesame seeds

1 c. flaxseed meal

1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 tsp real vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients together.  Line an 8×12 baking dish {a 9×13 would also work, you’ll just end up with thinner bars} with parchment paper.  Press the granola mixture into the prepared dish, pressing together well so that it will hold together.  Place in fridge or freezer for 3 or more hours.  When the bars have hardened, dump out onto a large cutting board & use a knife to cut into bars.  Store in fridge or freezer.

To serve, eat directly from fridge/freezer or allow to sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften {bars will be very solid from fridge/freezer so they may be hard on the teeth}.

Source: adapted from Money Saving Mom

Linking to Tuesday Talent Show at Chef-in-Training

Slow Cooker Black Beans

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There’s a few reasons you may want to consider buying & cooking dried black beans {or any variety of bean in fact} versus buying the canned type.

First, there’s the cost factor.  I haven’t taken the time to do the exact math on this, but I think it’s fairly obvious that dried beans are the more frugal way to go.

The other factor for me, is health.  Many of the cans that are used today still contain BPA {here’s just one article of many that you can find on the web about why we should avoid BPA} .  There are companies out there that have switched to a BPA-free can liner {Eden Organic is one brand that I know has} but they are a little harder to find & because of the better packaging, the price will be higher than others.  Rather than search out the BPA-free cans & pay the higher prices,  I just find it easier to go the dried beans route.

I buy my black beans {again, you can do this with about any variety of bean, black beans are just the kind we use the majority of the time} in bulk from Azure Standard, a natural food co-op {I plan to share more about them at a later date}.  I can get a 5 lb bag of organic black beans for less than $10 & that lasts us quite a while.

The first step in cooking your beans is to soak them overnight {be sure to pick through & toss out any pebbles or icky looking beans before covering in water too}…

Cover the beans with at least 2 inches of water.

In the morning, strain the beans in a colander & rinse with cold water…

Dump the beans into your slow cooker…

Use fresh water to cover the beans by at least 2 inches…

Cover & cook on low for about 8 hours.

Strain into your colander again.  To use in place of canned beans, use 1 2/3 c. of cooked beans in any recipe.

I like to make a large batch anytime I cook up some beans & then freeze them in small jars…