Enchanting Recipes & Everyday Life In General

How To: Basic Pasta Dough

Homemade Pasta > Store Bought Pasta

There is nothing quite like it. It’s hard to describe–that flavor…Mmm, and that texture…Yum! It actually has flavor, and it actually has texture. 
AND you can control the flavor–that’s the biggest advantage I see to making pasta at home. You want spinach pasta? Add a little spinach. Want herby pasta? Add some herbs.
The dough is very versatile and you can make whatever kind of pasta you want to out of it (ravioli, spaghetti, tortellini, etc..)
It’s very easy, and it doesn’t take too long either! 

Basic Pasta Dough

Printable Version
Recipe by Tyler Florence


You’ll need:
2 cups all purpose flour
3 eggs
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Cornmeal, for dusting

Get your mise en place all ready.

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Mise en place means ‘everything in its place’, meaning measure all your ingredients and have them handy before you start cooking. The first step to mise en place is always to read the entire recipe from start to finish, so you know what to expect.

Dump the flour onto a clean working surface, mix in the salt

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Make it into a pretty little mound, then create a little well in the center

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Beat the eggs (Oops, I forgot to!) and

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Add the olive oil as well…

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Start to lightly beat the eggs, gradually draw flour into the mixture while beating.

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Slowly, but surely, draw more and more flour into the mixture until a firm dough starts to form.

Then, start kneading the dough.

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If the dough is too dry and hard to knead, add a little hot water.
Knead until elastic-ey, form into a ball. Dust the tabletop with cornmeal as needed to prevent sticking.

If you’re using an electric mixer...It’s even easier!

Put the flower (oops) flour in a mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment…

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Add the eggs and mix on low.

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Slowly drizzle in the olive oil…

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Mix until it comes together as a dough, then dump out onto a floured/cornmealed surface.
Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic-ey.

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This is what a picture looks like with horrible lighting.

Roll the dough into a ball.

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Orrr…

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A butt! Bahahaha.

Then cover it with plastic and let it rest for 20 minutes.

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Ta da! Pasta dough.

To use the dough, simple roll it out into a thin sheet & cut it into whichever shape you’d like.

To cook homemade pasta–it takes MUCH less time. Cook in boiling, heavily-salted water for 3-4 minutes until al dente. Serve with your favorite pasta sauce, pesto, or simply butter & parmesan cheese.

Bon Appetit!

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Doggy Treats & Little Miss Mae

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Today, this 17th day in April, 2011, is Gracie Mae’s 3rd Birthday; therefore, this entire post is devoted to her.

Little Miss Mae is celebrating her third year of life. I still remember her first day with us.
Look how much she has grown! Wasn’t she just a darling little peanut!?

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For her birthday, we typically go for a nice long walk, or to the park, and then we go to the pet store and let her pick out a couple new toys of her choice…And, yes, she really does chose them.

We always have a little photo shoot, to document her growth, and her day. And this year, we added something new into the mix–I made her yummy homemade doggie treats (and yes, Paul & I both tried them.)

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Homemade Pooch Treats

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These were super-duper simple, and Gracie can’t get enough. Plus, they are healthier (and cheaper) than her normal Milkbones that tend to make her constipated and change her poop weird colors.
I did a little research before making these–a lot of recipes I came across had garlic in them, apparently fleas hate the smell of garlic, so garlicky food keeps them away. Unfortunately, garlic is bad for dogs. Like onions, garlic can cause anemia in dogs–which can cause death. No, thank you!
A lot of the recipes also had animal flavors in them, like chicken or beef bouillon. I opted not to add these because of the typical sodium content, but feel free to if you’d like.

In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of rolled oats..

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…and 1/3 cup softened butter.

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Then pour in 1 cup of hot water (just like you’re making oatmeal!)

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Mix it together a bit, and let that sit for 10 minutes.

Measure 1/4 a cup of cornmeal,

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and grate 2 carrots.

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Put the carrot shreds into a piece of paper towel and gently squeeze the juice out.

Next, chop up 1/2 cup of parsley…

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..and measure 1 cup of peanut butter.

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Add this all to the bowl with the oatmeal.

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Next, add 3 cups of flour.

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I would have used whole wheat flour if I’d had it–but I didn’t…So, I just used plain ol’ all-purpose flour. If you have whole wheat flour, I recommend using it.

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Add 1 egg and 1/4 cup of milk, then mix it all together.

It should look something like this.

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You may be tempted to eat the dough at this point–it smells like peanut butter cookies. Don’t let yourself be fooled–this is going to be dog food. Remember? But mmm, it smells so good.

Mmm, smell them?

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Dump the dough out onto a well-floured surface. The dough should be firm, not too sticky. If it’s sticky, dust it with flour and knead it a bit until it becomes firm.

Form it into a ball.

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I rolled the dough a bit and found it was too much, so I cut it in half.

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Roll your dough to about 1/4″ thickness.

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Use a cookie cutter to cut it into whichever shape you desire.

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Lay the cookies on a grease cookie sheet. Bake on 350˚F for 45 minutes–until hardened.

Let them cool, and share them with your favorite pooch!

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Exciting News

Here it is, the big reveal!

After several weeks of eagerly waiting, anticipating, and stressing, the day has arrived that I can finally share this HUGE news with you all.

I am pleased to announce the growth in our house!
New life is blossoming here in this family, and I couldn’t be more excited to finally share in this with you.

I am thrilled to be able to celebrate this joyous day with everyone!

That’s right!
My herbs are finally in bloom!

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I’ve been wanting to tell you guys for a while. To shout it from the rooftops. But I’ve been waiting for the basil to finally make an appearance.

On Monday, it rained and rained and rained, ALLLLLLLLLLLLL the live long day. And I, being the horrible gardener that I am, left all my pots out on the steps while I was away all day. My face paled and my stomach dropped to my toes when I was at cooking club and remembered that my pots we’re still sitting outside on the porch.

They were doomed, I knew it. All that water. All the flood warnings…they were done for.

Apparently, all that rain was what they needed because the next day, this happened:

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Happy, tiny, little basil sprouts started to appear. 
And that’s when I knew it was time. Time to share the joyous news of the growth of de herbs with you. 
The cilantro made its appearance first.
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It’s clearly doing the best of all the herbs. It’s even starting to take its shape.

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I picked a piece and ate it, and it’s delicious. Mucho cilantro-ey. I cannot WAITTTT to use it this summer! It will be so nice to not have to run to the store all the time for herbs.

The parsley made it’s appearance next.

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It’s not quite as full and robust as the cilantro–but I’ll take it. It will come, in time, in time. It also hasn’t started to take it’s signature flat leaf parsley shape. It will get there, I know it will.

Next, my marigolds started to sprout.

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I’m a little underwhelmed with the state of these. They haven’t done much growing since they first sprouted, and come on, where are all the brothers and sisters? They are going to need to start appearing if I am going to have the beautiful welcome plant on my front stoop like I had hoped…

Then finely, the lone basils started appearing. I almost missed them–two tiny little sprouts on the very side of the pot. Last year, the basil were the quickest growers.

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They’re shy this year, they must be.
Maybe that’s why I can’t seem to find basil at any grocery stores this year…They’re shy.

Anywhoo…
Precious herbs.
I can’t wait to see how they grow up.

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Pssst. You may notice in the picture about that my deck is one color, and the stairs are another. This was an annoying story. 
Yesterday morning I came outside of my condo to take my precious Gracie potty–there was a strange man at the bottom of my stairs with a power washer and a bottle of wood stain. He had removed all the stain from our stairs, and re-stained it. The stairs were dripping wet with stain, and there I was, stuck at the top with my dog who had to poo. I asked if I could walk on it, and the strange man replied with, “Uhhhhh….You’re not supposed to.”
HELLLOO–Those are my only stairs. My only way out. What am I supposed to do? Fly down? Glide down on the rail? A little warning about the staining would be nice, don’t you think? Well, I picked up Gracie and we went downstairs anyway. Psh. Don’t tell me what to do, homeboy. 
The deck is still a different color than the stairs. Annoying. 
More herby updates to come, promise. 
OH! And it’s Gracie’s birthday on Sunday. She’ll be three. I might die–my baby is THREE.
Random.
Goodbye!

Cauliflower Gratin

I just have a minute, so I’ll share a quick side dish with you.

Cauliflower Gratin was something I grew up eating. I loveeee cauliflower, and this is one of my favorite dishes. It’s pure melt-in-your-mouth cheesy goodness. It’s sort of like au gratin potatoes, except cauliflower.

Credit of this recipe goes to mi Madre. I know I poked fun of her pork steaks, but this cancels that out…Right?

Yum yum.

Cauliflower Gratin

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What you’ll need:
1 head of cauliflower
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
salt & pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
8 oz swiss cheese

First, trim the cauliflower into bite sized pieces.

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In a saucepan, melt butter on medium-high heat.

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Add the flour to the melted butter, and whisk until combined.

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It will be kind of lumpy. This is called a roux–it’s a thickener. You can add a roux to any sauce to thicken it.

Side Topic: Roux
To make a thickened sauce from a roux, melt the butter, then add the flour, then the liquid. It’s always equal parts butter to flour (1 tablespoon of butter–1 tablespoon of flour.)

If you’re thickening an already made sauce (or soup), melt the butter and add the flour. Then add some (a cup at a time) of the already made sauce (or soup) liquid to the roux. Whisk it until liquidy and smooth (not lumpy). When the roux is thick, but smooth, then add it to the sauce (or soup). Then, bring it to a boil. It thickens at a boil–so don’t forget this step.

I’ll have more on this in a later post, I promise. Maybe I’ll do a How To post.

End Side Topic.

Slowly, SLOWLY, add the milk–stirring to incorporate. I cannot emphasize slowly enough, this prevents lumps.

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See. Thick. Lump Free. Looks like gravy.
Add your salt and pepper, and garlic powder.

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You just made what our grandma’s call a “white sauce”.

Pour this white sauce over the cauliflower in a 9×9 baking dish. Mix it in and make sure the cauliflower is saturated with sauce.

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Then, grate your cheese.

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My favorite step, clearly.

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Cover the cauliflower with the cheeeeeeeese.

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Stick it in the oven at 350˚ F for 25-30 minutes, until the top is golden and the cauliflower is tender.

See. Yum.

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Serve it with your favorite meal to make it even more delicious.

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Chicken & Asparagus Crepes

I know I told you I’d have this recipe for you yesterday, but it was such a gorgeous day–one of the first one’s we’ve had this season, and I just couldn’t have myself sitting at home indoors. Sorry!

I tried something new yesterday.

I went to Zumba class.
Zumba is a dance fitness workout.
Oh boy, oh boy!! Is it ever funnnnnnnnn!!!

Now, I’m not a huge workout buff–and I definitely cannot dance. I am very long limbed, and clumsy as all get out–but Zumba was fun. And I sweated. Boy did I ever. It was a great, great, fantastic workout.

Afterwards, I didn’t feel exhausted like I normally would after sweating that much, I felt incredibly energized.
Have you tried Zumba?
You should.
My friend got me a Groupon in our area for Zumba–TRY it! It’s FANTASTIC.

Annnyywhooooo, back to these delicious Crepes.

Deliciousness wrapped in a perfect pancake-omelet.

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**I must post a disclaimer: As I said in the last post, my camera was a little wonky during crepe-time–so these pictures may be a little funky. Also, I am not an excellent editor. But please, please don’t let un-delicious looking pictures distract you from the deliciousness that this meal truly was. We all have our moments**

These ended up being very similar to enchiladas (in the step-by-step, not the ingredients or flavor.) You fill them, you roll them, you bake them, and you cover them with sauce. See the similarity?

Let me tell you something, though: These were better than enchiladas.
I am a huge enchilada lover, myself–and these were better. Why am I even talking about enchiladas?
These crepes, they are not enchiladas.
They are cheesy-chickeny-herby goodness, wrapped in a sort of pancake, sort of omelet, then smothered again in creamy, cheesy, goodness.

Um, yes please.

And now, I share with you–the secret of these heavenly bites…

Chicken & Asparagus Crepes

(Printable Version)
Adapted from here.
What is required:
1 tablespoon oil
2 cups shredded chicken
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, shredded
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (such as dill, parsley, mint, or chives), or…
      1 teaspoon of each dried herbs (I used thyme, parsley, and dill)
salt & pepper, of course
1 teaspoon garlic powder
8 crepes (recipe here)
1 shallot, chopped
1/2 pound asparagus
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup half & half, milk, or cream (whatever you have)
1 teaspoon lemon zest

First, shred the chicken into a medium bowl.

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I just used 2 leftover chicken breasts leftover from the night before. You can do the same, or just boil and shred some or you can use rotisserie chicken.

Then add the ricotta.

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Yep, that’s ricotta–not ice cream.

Then grate some Parmesan…

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My favorite part of grating cheese in when you do allll that work grating, then you finally get to lift the grater up, and you have a nice big cheese pile.

Add the Parmesan, herbs, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper to the chicken mixture.

Mix it. Mix it good. Mix it….Mix it reeeeaaal good.

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Next, you’ll need a 9×13 baking dish, lightly sprayed.

In the dish, lay out 1 crepe, and spread a little of the chicken mixture on it.

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Roll it up, and push it to the end.

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Do it again….

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And again.

Until all 8 crepes are rolled.

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See, looks like enchiladas.

Stick this in a oven that’s been preheated to 425˚ F.
No need to cover it. It will only be in there about 15 minutes–while we make the sauce.

For the sauce:

Chop up a shallot or 2 (I used 2, mine were small.)
Do you know what a shallot is?
A shallot is like an onion–but it has a much milder, sweeter flavor.

These are shallots:

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But wait…Aren’t those onions?

Nope–they’re shallots. They’re mini.
See:

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Anywhooo, chop them up–just like you would an onion (be careful though, they’re small.)
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Then, get your asparagus ready.

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First, cut the ends off (not the end shown in the picture–the other end….Someone in school cut off the end in the picture–oy.) You want to cut the dry parts off the end–they are just that, dry, and not good to eat.

To know where to cut, bend the asparagus gently.

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It will bend naturally near the end…

Then bend a little harder…

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And it will break naturally where it should be cut.

You don’t have to do this to all of them, just one. Then you can chop the ends off the other ones about the same distance up as where the one broke.

*Can I just say that I’m mortified by my nails in these pictures. Please don’t judge me by these pictures. Some people like chipped nails–like my old college roommate (Hi Mouch!). I; however, do not like chipped nails, and I can assure you that the problem has been addressed and the nails have since been properly manicured.*

Back to it, back to it…

Heat a skillet on medium-high heat.
Add 1 tablespoon of oil or butter..
Then add the shallots.

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Cook for about 1 minute, then add the asparagus.
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Add the broth..

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Then add the cream, salt, and pepper, and lemon zest.
Let it simmer for about 5 minutes, to thicken a bit.

Remove the crepes from the oven–serve with sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
YUM.

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See! So easy!

I’m off to start my weekend…It’s another gorgeous day–maybe I can convince the Boo to take the pup and I to the park…

Do you have any big weekend plans? Anything exciting happening in your neck of the woods?

soooon.

Enjoy!

Pancake Omelets…Errr, Crepes.

I had been missing out on the deliciousness that is a crepe for the first 22 1/2 years of my life.

I had my first crepe experience when the iHOP came to town. (Don’t get me wrong, I had eaten at an iHOP before, they had plenty of them in Michigan–but when the first iHOP came to Louisville, people went CRAZY for it.)

So, although I hadn’t been missing out on iHOP, I had; however, been missing out on crepe-ness.

The idea of this pancake thing, which is kind-of like an omelet too…kind of like a pancake omelet…a pancake omelet that can be filled with delicious pastry cremes and syrupy fruit with whipped cream and goodness… or that can be filled with melty cheddar, and salty ham, and topped with a sinful hollandaise and some grilled veggies….. That idea… it’s ridiculous.

Ridiculously fantastic.
And ridiculously easy.  Ya dig?

Follow me here…

Basic Crepes

(Printable Version)
All you need for these delicious pieces of heaven is:
1 cup of all purpose flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Measure milk…

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Flour..

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And water.

Get 2 eggs…

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Add it all to a bowl:

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Add 1/4 teaspoon on salt…

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Then add 2 tablespoons of melted butter.

Mix it all together.

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It should be a thin batter.
If it’s not, then you messed up.

Next, heat a small non-stick saute pan on medium-high heat. Lightly spray the pan with cooking spray.
Once the pan is hot, ladle some batter into the pan.

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Swirl the pan around to spread the batter evenly on the bottom of the pan.

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Allow the batter to swirl a little bit onto the side of the pan. This will make it easier to flip later.

Cook the crepe for about 2 minutes on the first side
Start to loosen the edges of the crepe with a spatula…

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Shake the pan a bit to loosen the rest of the crepe, if it releases evenly from the pan, it’s ready to flip.

To flip the crepe, hold the pan in one hand push it away from your body, then quickly pull back to your body.

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I had to call the Boo in to help photograph the flipping.

Let me just tell you, it’s hard to take pictures while demonstrating cooking. Weird, twisted, angles and limbs occur frequently. This recipe was particularly hard because the batteries in my flash were dying, so it took about a minute for the flash to charge again. Half of my pictures turned out completely black. Oy

Okay. Rant over.
After the Boo took his picture, I decided to give it a go myself, you know, so you could see it from my perspective.

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Not bad, right? I was proud.

Phew. The hard part is done.
Now, just let the crepe cook for another 2 minutes on the second side, until its just a little bit brown.

Flip it out of the pan and get started on the next!

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This recipe will make about 8 crepes.

Mmmm….

You can serve these as dessert crepes–with whipped cream, powdered sugar, and fresh fruit.
Or you can stuff them with chicken, and sprinkle cheese on them with fresh vegetables.

Delicious. Versatile. Crepes.

Don’t fret, I’ll have a delicious recipe to use the crepes with tomorrow!

Baked Eggplant Stacks

The Boo and I have been on a mission lately to try to eat a little healthier. We’ve been eating at home a lot more, and aside from buying two 5-pound bags of Sour Patch Kids from Target, (on clearance for $2.79, each!) we’ve been doing decently.

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Do you have foods that you crave, but don’t really like?
I do.

I crraaaaveee mozzarella sticks and their melty, cheesy, fried goodness. I order them a lot. I don’t actually like them. I never do. I’m always disappointed when I order them. I order them, knowing I will be disappointed with them. I can’t help it, I crave them.
I guess I crave the idea of them.

Eggplant is the same way for me.
They are so cool, eggplants. These big, squishy-ish, purple squash-like things. They feel hollow. How could you not love them?
I guess I don’t. I crave the idea of them, though.
I drive around town, going to [literally] five different grocery stores looking for them.
I buy them, and make a simple, beautiful dish.
And hate it.
Every. Single. Bite.

I’m not selling you on this meal, am I? The Boo liked it though, I promise. He loved it, in fact.

If you like eggplant, you’ll like this dish.
If you like eggplant parmesan, you’ll like this dish.
If you like a combination of eggplant, cheese, and tomatoes, you’ll really like this dish.

Baked Eggplant Parmesan Stacks

adapted from here.

What You Will Need:
1 eggplant
salt
olive oil
1 onion, chopped finely
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 14.5 oz cans fire roasted diced tomatoes w/ garlic, undrained
3 tablespoons flour
2 egg whites
1 cup breadcrumbs
6 thin slices fresh mozzarella cheese
6 large, fresh basil leaves (or 2 tablespoons dried basil)
3/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon each garlic powder, dried oregano, dried parsley, & dried thyme

This Is How It’s Done:

Friends, meet the newest cast member of Veggie Tales

tomegg
*Please disregard my quick, horrible Photoshop skills (or lack thereof)
Tom, the Eggplant.
I just realized that this is going to get incredibly morbid, incredibly quickly. 
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The first step is to cut Tom the eggplant into 1/2 inch wide slices, then pour salt in his wounds coat the slices liberally with salt. Put them in a strainer (in the sink, or in another bowl/on a plate) and let them sit for 30-ish minutes.
The salt will draw all the moisture from the slices so they won’t get soggy later when they are baked. 

While the eggplant is dehydrating, you can get started on the sauce…

…And I can show you my new pot.

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Isn’t she pretty? She looks really pretty on my stove.
(She looks prettier with her top on, but I forgot to get to that. I will, eventually. Pinky promise.)
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That’s where she lives. On my stove…whether I’m using her or not. 
The Boo got her for me as a graduation present. 
Did I mention I finished school? I did. I’m done. Finished. Finito. 
Sorry, sorry…Back to this meal…
Heat a pot on medium high heat.
Once the pot is hot, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Once the oil is hot, this only takes a few seconds, add 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. 
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Stir them for about 10 seconds.
Don’t let them burn.
They will burn.
Quickly.
Add the finely chopped onion.
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Saute the onion until softened, 5-10 minutes.
Add the 2 cans of tomatoes.
Don’t drain them.
(This is what the can looks like–so you can find it easier.)
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Add in the garlic powder, and herbs here.
If you like things really flavorful, you can add more.

I did.

Like double-more.
I also added dried basil (2 tablespoons) here, because I didn’t have any fresh basil leaves. 
Just don’t add any salt yet. We’ll add that later. If you add it too early it will become too salty because the liquid will evaporate and the flavor will be more concentrated. 
Let the tomatoes stew until the liquid has evaporated. This will take about 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 325˚ F.
Next, I sliced up the fresh mozzarella.
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Then, I set up my breading station.
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The standard breading procedure is dry, wet, dry.
Remember that. Dry. Wet. Dry.
In this case its flour (dry), egg whites (wet), bread crumbs (dry).
A note about breadcrumbs. I buy unseasoned, that way I can season them myself to whatever I like. I like to control my flavors. 
So, if you’re also using unseasoned breadcrumbs, now is the time to add seasonings.
I added salt (1 teaspoon), pepper (1/2 teaspoon), dried basil, dried thyme, dried oregano, and dried parsley (1/4 teaspoon of each). 
Then I added about 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese.

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And mixed everything in really well.
By this time, the eggplant slices have been draining for about a half hour.
Rinse them off really well with water.
Then pat them dry with paper towel.
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Now, we bread them, using the standard breading procedure.
How’s that go again?
Dry. Wet. Dry.

Coat them in flour.

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Then egg.
Then breadcrumbs.
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Place them on a baking sheet lined with foil.
Bake them 10 minutes, flip them, and bake another 10 minutes.
When they are done, they wont look too much different than when you put them in. They wont really be browned, just a little less dense.
Taste your tomato mixture–add salt if needed.
Layer tomato sauce on half of the eggplant slices. 
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Top with mozzarella.

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The add a basil leaf. Grated parmesan. And top it with an eggplant hat.

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Put it back in the oven for 5 more minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
Then serve it immediately.
*I tossed the remaining tomato sauce with some pasta and served it with the eggplant.

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Looks Yum, right?
OH! And it’s healthy, too. Somewhere around 300 calories.
…I’m craving eggplant again….Uh-oh.