Monday, August 30, 2010

Eggplant Parmesan

I bought a very nice, medium sized Italian eggplant at the Farmers Market at the PA Farm Show Complex last week. I bought it specifically for making eggplant parmesan.

I was quick to slice it up to let it sweat because I had a hungry boy to feed so I didn't get a photo of it before it was sliced.

There are so many recipes out there for eggplant parm. I just wanted it to be extra crispy and not soggy. And, well, I succeeded! This was a great dinner - Adam loved it even after being skeptical that there was no meat involved!

Mary found me this recipe that was adapted from Cooks Illustrated.

Serves 2 or 3 but can be easily doubled.

For eggplant:

1 globe or Italian eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
2 cups bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

For assembling the dish:

1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce
1 cup whole milk mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
5 fresh basil leaves, chopped, for garnish

Place a baking sheet on center rack in the oven and preheat to 425 degrees

Toss eggplant slices with kosher salt in a large bowl until combined; transfer salted eggplant to a large colander set over a bowl - make sure the slices are in flat layers. Let stand until eggplant releases about 1 tablespoon of liquid, about 30 minutes. Arrange eggplant slices on triple layer paper towels; cover with another triple layer paper towels. Firmly press each slice to remove as much liquid as possible, then wipe off excess salt.

In a shallow bowl, combine bread crumbs, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, 1/8 salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; set aside.

In another shallow bowl, combine flour and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Beat eggs in a third shallow bowl.

Remove baking sheet from oven and coat with 3 tablespoons oil.

With each eggplant slice, dredge in flour, dip in eggs and then coat with bread crumbs. Continue with all eggplant slices and arrange on the oil-coated baking sheet.

Bake until eggplant is well browned and crisp, about 25-30 minutes, flipping slices half way through baking.

Do not turn off oven.

Spread 1 cup tomato sauce in the bottom of a 13x9 inch baking dish. Place a layer of the eggplant slices in the baking dish; distribute 1 cup sauce over eggplant; sprinkle with half the mozzarella. Layer in the remaining eggplant and dot with some sauce, leaving majority of eggplant exposed so it will remain crisp; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and remaining mozarella. Bake until bubbling and cheese is browned, 13-15 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; scatter basil over top and serve with remaining tomato sauce, on the side if needed.

I received a bottle of La Familia Del Grosso's Uncle Fred's Fireworks Sauce at the Taste of the Nation event in Philadelphia. We used it with the eggplant and it was soo good! I was pleasantly surprised! It has a lot of spice to it but in a very tasty, refined way. I am definitely going to look for this sauce in the grocery store!

And Del Grosso is a Pennsylvania company!

We ate our eggplant with spaghetti.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Garden Success

These are the flower beds at our place in May. Our moms gave us lots of plants and we just kept adding and adding anything we could find. Adams parents even made the beds wider and longer for us to keep expanding.

Even Baxter and Trapper helped with the tan bark.

Then fast forward to mid August. Our garden is quite wild and jungle-like! We learned what we like and what we don't like. So we will move some plants this fall - mostly group the same plants together like the various kinds of lillies.

May - August

To the far right are 3 tomato plants and a bell pepper plant. We have gotten several grape tomatoes but we're waiting for the pineapple heirlooms to ripen. Can't wait for those!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Summer Wine Fest at Benigna Creek

Last Saturday Adam, his mom and I went to the Summer Fest Wine Festival at Benigna Creek Winery in Klingerstown, PA.

Upon arrival, we each received a wine glass and proceeded into a big white tent where 8 PA wineries were pouring samples of their finest wines.

Here is a view of the Shade Mountain Winery testing table. You can see many people came out to enjoy the afternoon.

The glass we received and the Shade Mountain tasting guide - each winery gave out sheets with their wine names on so you could make notes of what you like and don't like. Just so you know how many to buy of each bottle :)

The wineries were very busy giving out samples but they had plent for everyone to try. Below are the wines of Spyglass Ridge Winery of Sunbury, PA. We especially loved their Spycat, a sweet Catawba, and Tim's Blueberry.

Here is Adam and I with the vineyard in the back and beyond that, the rolling hills of the Mahantongo Valley.

A close up of those grapes!

The vines were filled with them.

Some other favorites of the day:
Alexander Red, a dry, oaky red from Brookmere Winery
Rebel Red, tastes like grape juice from Adams County Winery
The dry Reisling and Merlot from Red Shale Ridge Winery
German Helmet Riesling & Fuzzy Groove Peach from Long Trout Winery
Pinot Grigio from Shade Mountain Winery
And most importantly - Chambourcin & Patriot Red from the host, Benigna Creek Vineyard
We are heading back to Benigna on November 27 for their annual lighting of the vineyard!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

French Breakfast Puffs by The Pioneer Woman

Doing more cooking from The Pioneer Woman's Cookbook. Love the book! Thanks again Bec!

I made muffins - or French Breakfast Puffs - last Saturday morning. These were so good and hard to stop at 1. Or 2.

For Muffins:
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon gound nutmeg
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup Crisco shortening
2 whole eggs
1 cup milk

For topping (this is less than the PW calls for because I had a lot left over):
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 stick butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 12 muffin cups.
In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.

In another large bowl, cream together 1 cup sugar and shortening. Then add eggs and mix again.

Add flour mixture and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beating well after each addition.

Fill prepared muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden. Once out of the oven move muffins to a cooling rack.

In a bowl, melt the butter. In a seperate bowl combine the sugar and cinnamon.

Dip baked muffin tops (PW says to dip entire muffin but I find if you do the tops, it's enough) in butter, coating thoroughly, then coat with cinnamon-sugar mixture.

These are a great treat! I had enough batter to make about 14 muffins but because I didn't have any other muffin tins or small baking cups, I just made a few huge muffins and it turned out fine.

I used to make a recipe very similar to this from Martha Stewart only I used a mini muffin tin. You could do that here and reduce baking time.

Here's a muffin I coated all over. It was just too sugary for my taste.

Giveaway Winner!

Sharon is the lucky giveaway winner!! Congratulations!
Let us know what kitchen item you end up getting.

Thanks to everyone for participating!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Rotini Bake that tastes exactly like pizza!!!

I made this recipe 2 Fridays ago and it was very delicious! It tasted exactly like a slice of pepperoni pizza! The Italian seasoning is key here. I used the McCormack blend.

From Paula Deen's July/August magazine - Rock'n'Rotini (yes, it was from the kids' section of the magazine!)

1 (14.5 oz.) package rotini pasta
3/4 cup diced yellow onion
3/4 cup diced green bell pepper
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 (14.5 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (4.5 ounce) can sliced mushrooms, drained
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 (8 ounce) package shredded Italian cheese blend, divided
1 (5 ounce) package miniature pepperoni (Hormel makes these)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly spray 9x13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Heat a medium skillet over medium heat until hot. Lightly spray with cooking spray; add onion, pepper and garlic. Saute for 3 minutes or until tender. Add tomatoes, sauce, mushrooms and Italian seasoning; cook for 1 minute.

Reserve 3/4 cup cheese. Combine remaining cheese, pasta, tomato mixture and pepperoni; toss well. Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish. Cover casserole with foil. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and top with remaining cheese. Replace in oven and bake until cheese is lightly brown, 5 minutes.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Damn Cupcake Wars

The show literally forced me go out over lunch and buy a cupcake!

But boy, was this cupcake good!

After watching episode after episode of Cupcake Wars on FoodNetwork, I am finally satisfied.

For now.

A chocolate cupcake with marshmallow frosting from The Pennsylvania Bakery

Tuesday, August 3, 2010 GIVEAWAY!!


I am very excited to offer the very first giveaway on Hope in the Kitchen!

When the folks at CSN Stores contacted me asking if I'd host a giveaway I was MORE than thrilled! For those of you who chat with me often or follow me on Twitter, you know I enter all kinds of giveaways on various blogs and win a lot interesting things.

One of the stores in the CSN family is On this site you can find almost any kind of cooking utensil or pot or pan or appliance you'd ever need in your kitchen! They have wonderful prices and offer several good sales.

I want to draw your attention their large line of Le Creuset products. I have a dream of having a large collection of Le Creuset someday. In order to my collection started, is a great place to start buying piece by piece. The prices are as good as they get and they're always doing some great sales too. The 7.25 quart round French oven in cobalt is my favorite piece right now. I hope to get a few pieces in the cobalt color.
Now for the exciting part.... wants to give one of my readers a $70.00 gift certificate to spend on anything they want in their store!

All you have to do is go to, find a product you like, come back to this post and in the comment section below, tell me the product you like and include your email so I can contact you if you win. I will then pass along your email to the representative, who will send you the prize.
The giveaway will end at 12:00 am EST on August 18. A winner, chosen by random selection, will be announced and notified later that same day.

This giveaway is open to U.S. & Canadian readers only.
Good luck!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Peach Salsa

I just love sweet fruits served with grilled meat. So when I saw a recipe for peach salsa on one of the blogs I follow, I couldn't get it out of my head so I had to make it! We ate it with grilled chicken breasts. It was very tasty!

This recipe is from Simply Recipes.

4 ripe but firm peaches, finely chopped
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded - more if you like a lot of kick - finely chopped
juice of a lemon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon sugar

You can also add (but I did not):
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped onion or shallot
salt & pepper

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate for 2 hours to let flavors mix.

The original recipe say to put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse a few time - but careful not to liquify - but I didn't think it was necessary.

I used white peaches, which I peeled, so the salsa looks kind of lack lustre. But still sweet and spicy!