Tag Archives: eggplant

Flamingos + Pizza + Babies. Now That’s a Party

13 Aug
Someone was bound to get naked.  Oh, also celebrating one of the few pictures where I'm not DROWNING in sweat. Dang Miami.

Someone was bound to get naked. Oh, also celebrating one of the few pictures where I’m not DROWNING in sweat. Dang Miami.

I survived my child’s first birthday. I survived and I thrived. And let’s be honest, the only reason it was a little bit stressed was me. I can’t do ‘simple’. I really can’t. It’s not in my DNA. Gd bless you if you can do simple. I admire and salute you but I just can’t do it. I mean, you should have seen my Bat Mitzvah. Of course there was a theme (Hollywood). Of course there was a color scheme (black, silver and magenta) and of course, there was a DJ who dressed up like Michael Jackson and did an entire choreographed dance to a medley of Michael Jackson through the years. I mean, this was THE Bat Mitzvah to end all Bat Mitzvahs. So you see, the daughter raised by a mother who bought life-size cut-outs of movie stars and a hot pink sequenced top hats and feather boas as decoration for her daughter’s Jewish coming-of-age party wasn’t going to grow up to tread lightly into her own child’s birthday parties. Oh no. Not a chance.

Grain-free peppermint chocolate chip brownies. One of my most requested recipes.

Grain-free peppermint chocolate chip brownies. One of my most requested recipes.

There was a theme (retro-Palm-Springs-tacky-chic). There was kind of a color scheme (pink, yellow, green). I had made all the decorations, from the “Happy Birthday” sign to gluing about 50 individual sea horse cut out onto toothpicks for cupcake toppers. Part of the reason I made everything is because I can’t in good conscience pay $10 for a happy birthday sign when I can pay less to make my own. Same goes with the cupcake toppers. Paying for things I can make hurts my insides a little so, of course I had to make that stuff. And of course, I made the food. Oh the food. The baking/cooking started at 8:45 on Saturday night and didn’t stop until 1:55 on Sunday afternoon (the party started at 2PM). My husband and I went back and forth with what to serve folks for a late afternoon party — I wanted to go dairy so that I could do dairy cupcakes. We settled on homemade pizzas of varying fun flavors coupled with your usual hummus, veggies, fruit, etc. I also made mini strawberry cupcakes using the Sprinkles Cupcakes recipe, which I highly recommend. And since we have a few loved ones with a grain-free diet, I ended up making mini grain-free pizzas using roasted eggplant and zucchinis as the ‘crust’ as well as grain-free, vegan peppermint chocolate chip brownie bites (I used my own brownie bites recipe, found here, and took out the oats and added a few drops of peppermint oil and vegan chocolate chips). All-in-all, I felt really proud of the party we created to celebrate the first year of life of our sweet girl. But honestly, I do love the planning and the arts and crafts and whatnot but that’s not why I do it all. I go through all this big planning because I also want to celebrate the people who helped make her first year of life so frikkin’ wonderful. Yes, I do love a good theme party and yes, I love cooking for people but more than anything, I love showing the people in our lives my ever-lasting appreciation through food and through taking care of them, even if it is for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon. My hope is that they walked away knowing that I love them for loving our girl. And if they happened to take a few dozen extra mini cupcakes away with them as well, that’d be OK too.

Below is a photo journal of the party as well as a few recipes I created for our dear friends. I hope you enjoy!

Grain-free Pizzas

Ingredients:

1 large roasted eggplant OR 1 large, thick zucchini cut into 1.5 inch thick rounds
Marinara Sauce
Cheese of choice
Fresh basil
Oil for baking sheet

How:

Cut eggplants into 1.5 inch rounds and dust with coarse kosher salt. Leave on for an hour to draw out moisture. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Pat down with paper towel. Place on greased baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees for roughly 30 minutes – keep eye out for over-browning. Once roasted, top with sauce and cheese — I used a standard marinara and topped some with sheep’s milk feta and some with mozzarella. Top with chopped fresh basil.

Out of the oven

Out of the oven

So. Much. Cooking.

So. Much. Cooking.

I made 3 different kinds of pizzas using puffed pastry dough as the crust — I couldn’t make the crust too. I wasn’t that much of a glutton for punishment. Anyway, the toppings were as follows:

1) Tomato sauce with mozzarella, roasted eggplant, roasted garlic and fresh basil

2) Tomato sauce with mozzarella, sheep’s milk feta and corn

3) BBQ Sauce, black peppercorn Monterrey Jack with caramelized purple onions

Roasted eggplant and garlic pizza.

Roasted eggplant and garlic pizza.

My 1 year old

My 1 year old

We still have 30 of these in our refrigerator

We still have 30 of these in our refrigerator

My Queen

My Queen

Just a bunch of moms being awesome by the pool

Just a bunch of moms being awesome by the pool

They really have no clue what's going on

They really have no clue what’s going on

Ice-cold beverage, anyone?

Ice-cold beverage, anyone?

After an hour in the pool, she was ready to party.

After an hour in the pool, she was ready to party.

Aunt Misty was there too! I bet she didn't even know it.

Aunt Misty was there too! I bet she didn’t even know it.

Seriously, Uncle Mo, do my shades make me look too ironic?

Seriously, Uncle Mo, do my shades make me look too ironic?

Cupcake ecstasy

Cupcake ecstasy

I'm not sure what it is, maybe it's the beard, but Siona is captivated by Zak.

I’m not sure what it is, maybe it’s the beard, but Siona is captivated by Zak.

One of those people I hope I can at least make half as happy as she makes me.

One of those people I hope I can at least make half as happy as she makes me.

Balance

25 Feb

Self-care can be a tricky thing. It can be a tricky thing but I believe in it so much. As a new mom, a wife, a full-time school counselor and taking on cooking 3 meals a week for someone, I can leave “me” behind from time to time. Even this blog, which I love so much, can become just one more thing I “HAVE” to do. People continuously say, “You have to learn to find a balance.” I get that, I do, but ummmm, how does one do that and how does one know when you’ve reach ‘balance’ because, and I don’t know, this might be a new idea for ya, but life changes—constantly. As a result of this awesome constant change, it seems like once you find a balance something new comes along and you gotta start looking for that balance again. So the balance and the change? That stuff I can’t really control but boundaries. Oh man, I loooove me some boundaries. I still get excited when I pass into a new state and you see the, “You’re Now Leaving . . . ” and then immediately afterwards, “Welcome to . . . .! We’re happy to have you!” so of course I’m gonna love personal boundaries! I like making them and I certainly like keeping them. Thank Gd because I think my personal boundaries are the only reason I can function in society, much less function as a wife, mother, friend, school counselor, daughter, etc.

I’m very strict when it comes to boundaries and do a pretty good job of keeping work at work but of course, there are those nights when I’m on my iPhone checking email and dang it, I reply! NO!! Oy. I actually pride myself on not saying , ‘how high?’ when my supervisor or a parent says, ‘jump’ and I kinda feel like it’s part of my job to set up those boundaries because if you’ve ever worked at a private school, you know that pushing boundaries is a constant, every second occurrence happens sometimes. I say all of this because last week I was feeling like my cup runneth over with well, everything. I got sick for the third time in 6 weeks and I NEVER get sick that much. Yes, we have day care germs running rampant in this apartment and it’s possible that that’s why I keep getting sick. But I’ve also decided that I keep getting sick for another reason; actually 2 reasons. Now, I’m no medical doctor but I’m thinking I keep getting sick because a) my gossiping is out of control and I need to keep that in check more and b) stress. It’s ridiculous how the body holds onto stress in ways we aren’t cognizant of and how that stress can manifest itself in the body in pretty negative ways. So last Monday I made two decisions; 1) to cut out the gossiping or at least keep it to a very respectable minimum and 2) make an appointment with your therapist. I did both and saw my therapist 2 days later (I also got on antibiotics, but whatever) and I’ve felt a lot better this past week. I feel less pissed off and feel like I’m able to connect to my husband and daughter on a much more loving basis. I mean things aren’t perfect but they’re getting there. It’s a balance 😉

So this happened this past Purim--she's either a pirate, hippie or Johnny Depp. We're still not sure

So this happened this past Purim–she’s either a pirate, hippie or Johnny Depp. We’re still not sure

And then this -- Carrie Bradshaw, circa 2003/2004, Season 2.  I'm a really really good mom.

And then this — Carrie Bradshaw, circa 2003/2004, Season 2. I’m a really really good mom.

OK, since we’re on the topic of balance there really is no other way to showcase balance in cooking besides soup (in my humble opinion). Soup used to be incredibly intimidating to me and then one day, when my husband and I were first falling in love in Jerusalem, he made me chicken soup. He used the freshest ingredients available at the shuk, added a dash of love and the result was the greatest chicken soup I’ve ever tasted. Now, I’m not gonna post that recipe but I am gonna post a roasted eggplant and tomato soup that made my heart sing when we ate it. I hope you find it delicious as well.

Delicious food porn

Delicious food porn

Pre-roasting

Pre-roasting

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

What!?

2 eggplants cut in half4 tomatoes – varied is your option but plums could be nice
4 large garlic cloves
1 medium onion , chopped
Coconut oil
4 cups vegetable broth
Sea salt
Pepper
Sour cream
Parmesan
Italian parsley, chopped

How’s That Now!?

Pre-heat oven to 425. Cut the eggplants length-wise. Spread coconut oil over eggplants and place face down on a baking pan. Cut tomatoes length-wise as well and put to the side. Put eggplant in oven for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, put tomatoes and garlic on the same baking pan and place back in the oven for another 25 – 30 minutes keeping an eye on the garlic that it doesn’t burn. After a total of about 45 minutes, pull the baking pan out of the oven and let cool. Using a pair of tongues, flip the eggplants over and scoop the meat out of the middle until on the skin is left. Pour about 3 tbsp of coconut oil in a large stock pot and heat for a minute. Once hot enough, sautee the onions in the coconut oil until translucent. Add the eggplant meat, tomatoes and garlic to the pot and sautee for another few minutes. Add the vegetable broth and let simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. Take pot off the heat. Using our favorite immersion hand blender, blend all the ingredients together until smoother. Top with a dollop of sour cream, parmesan and the parsley. Enjoy!

(This was one of those cooking experiences where the soup finished right before shabbat so there is no picture of the final outcome but trust when I say, ’twas delicious).

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