Easy Eggplant Parmesan

I’ve learned that eggplant is officially “in season” July through October. Well, in season or not, I managed to find a couple of nice ones at my grocery store the other week.

EggplantsI made Eggplant Parmesan, which my husband reminded me was one of the very first meals I ever cooked for him back when we were dating. So I guess you could say it is one of the dishes I used to win him over ;). Ha.

I originally got this recipe from a television program where a camera crew would show up at a regular person’s house and film them making their “signature dish.” It was on Food Network and I don’t remember the name of the show! But I’ve tweaked this recipe so much over the past 15 years or so, I feel safe calling it my own at this point, anyway.

After washing and slicing the eggplant (I used about 1.75 lb.s here), dredge it in an egg/milk mixture and some bread crumbs. The easiest way I have found to do this is to put the egg mixture in one pie plate and the breadcrumbs in another right beside it. Dip each slice of eggplant in one dish and then the next, and then lay it on the baking sheet. Sometimes I use preseasoned Italian breadcrumbs such as those pictured here, other times I mix plain whole wheat crumbs with Italian seasoning. Either one works.

Eggplant Parmesan 1Arrange the coated eggplant slices on a baking sheet (here, I put parchment paper over mine — also, I needed two baking sheets to accommodate all the eggplant!) and drizzle each slice with a little olive oil. This step makes the crumb coating crisp up nicely in the oven, so I don’t recommend skipping it! Just dip a spoon in some oil and sprinkle it on.

Bake the eggplant in a 400 F degree oven for 15 minutes, then use tongs to flip all the slices, drizzle with olive oil and bake for another 15 minutes. They should be browned and crispy on both sides. In the meantime, heat 6 oz. tomato paste, 6 oz. water, and 8 oz. tomato sauce in a saucepan. Add whatever Italian seasonings you prefer (I’ll list my favorites at the bottom of this post) and simmer for about 30 minutes, while the eggplant is cooking.

When the eggplant is done, arrange the browned slices in a baking dish. Spoon the sauce over each slice and cover with Mozzarella and a bit of Parmesan cheese. Here, I used a mixture of thinly sliced and shredded Mozzarella, because that is what I had in the fridge!

Bake the completed casserole at 400 F for 10 – 12 minutes, just until the cheese starts to brown. Don’t leave it in too long; you don’t want your eggplant to get soggy!

Eggplant Parmesan 2I served this with a salad, tossed with a homemade Italian salad dressing that has become a favorite of mine.

Eggplant Parmesan 3So easy and delicious!

RECIPE:

1 1/2 – 2 pounds eggplant, washed and sliced 1/2″ thick

1 egg, beaten with 2 Tbsp. milk

Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

olive oil

6 oz. tomato paste

6 oz. water

8 oz. tomato sauce

1/4 tsp. Italian seasoning

1/4 tsp. oregano

1 minced garlic clove

dash of onion powder

salt & pepper to taste

1 cup (or more, depending on your taste) shredded or sliced Mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup (or more) shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Dip eggplant slices into the egg mixture and then into the breadcrumbs, coating both sides well. Grease a baking sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment. Arrange each slice of coated eggplant in one layer on baking sheet and drizzle each piece with olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes. Check that slices are golden brown. Turn and bake for another 15 minutes.

In the meantime, dilute tomato paste and sauce with water in a medium saucepan. Add seasonings, cover and simmer on low for about 30 minutes, while eggplant is browning.

When the eggplant is browned, arrange the slices in a 13″ x 9″ baking dish. Spread sauce over each slice. Top with Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Bake assembled casserole for 10 – 12 minutes, just until the cheese starts to brown. Serve hot!

Bon appetit!

Elizabeth

Make your own hamburger buns.

One of the reasons I started this blog was to share simple cooking/cleaning/general homemaking tipsĀ  and ideas that I have put into practice over the years — and to give a shout-out to the blogs I have learned them from. Because when I first got married I knew next to nothing about being a wife or homemaker, and I have learned so much from reading other people’s blogs! I haven’t been doing much of that thus far, but I hope to rectify that in the future…even if the tips wind up being published only sporadically ;).

My tips and recipes and stuff won’t be anything fancy. Nevertheless, I hope they will be helpful to a novice such as I was (and in many ways still am) :). At the very least, I hope they will be encouraging. I’ve noticed that when I read homemaking blogs, even if the posts are about things I already do, know how to do (or, hey, will never do), it still usually inspires me in some way. Sometimes it’s just nice to read about other women’s routines and ideas! Makes me want to try my hand at something new.

So…my tip this week is to make your own hamburger buns. They are inexpensive and taste so much better than store-bought ones.

DSCF2670I used to be afraid of yeast baking, honestly, because it seemed rather complicated to me. I think I was mostly worried about not doing the kneading right. But a couple of years ago I got a KitchenAid stand mixer with a dough hook for Christmas and it sort of changed my life. Now I bake all sorts of bread!

For the hamburger buns, I use this recipe and tutorial from The Frugal Girl. I follow it pretty closely, except I use my dough hook for the kneading and I often mix in at least a third white whole wheat flour. And I usually halve the recipe overall because my freezer is not very big and I don’t want to fill it up with nothing but hamburger buns :).

I have also made this recipe in my bread machine a couple of times. I use the dough cycle and then take the dough out, shape it, put it on the cookie sheets and into the oven (with a bowl of hot water) for the second rise.

It is a somewhat time-consuming process, but not really difficult. You can, after all, work on other stuff while the dough sits and does its thing :). And then, when you are done, you get to eat the results with the delicious toppings of your choice. I often serve mine with homemade bean patties of some sort (a recipe for another day), but the leftovers are great to pack in my husband’s lunches, topped with Tofurky veggie “cold cut” slices or a breaded Morningstar Farms “chikn” patty like this one:

DSCF3480 Happy baking (and eating!),

Elizabeth

PS – The top photo is from my first attempt at making these buns, while the bottom photo is from my most recent one. The tops of the buns turn out a lot smoother and prettier these days! But they have always tasted good :).