Meatless Monday: Mediterranean-Style Stuffed Eggplant

I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but orzo has become a staple in my kitchen.  And lately I’ve been loving various combinations of orzo, kalamata olives, feta, tomatoes, spinach, artichokes, etc. So when I sat at my desk daydreaming about what to make for “Meatless Monday” tonight I knew it was going to involve something that I could stuff with orzo goodness and Mediterranean flavors.  Enter: eggplant.

I chuckle a little any time I whip up eggplant anything because as a kid eating eggplant was my nightmare.  I HATED it. Trying to eat it, I would gag and everything. Fast forward 20 years later and it’s one of my favorite foods!

Last week’s “Meatless Monday” recipe was also dedicated to eggplant so I promise next week I’ll step away from the purple fruit.  But I’m happy to say that this week’s dish was a great success!

Mediterranean-Style Stuffed Eggplant

Mediterranean Style Stuffed Eggplant, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Mediterranean Style Stuffed Eggplant, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup orzo
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 roma tomatos, diced
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper for seasoning
  • 2 medium eggplants

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Prepare the orzo according to the directions on the box.  Drain and dump in a large bowl.
  3. Add the tomato, olives, pine nuts, basil, and olive oil to the large bowl.  Season with about 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Stir to combine.
  4. To create your eggplant “boats”, slice the eggplants in half, lengthwise. With a small knife, cut around the edge of the interior of the eggplants leaving about a 1/2 inch rim; make sure not to cut all the way through. Using a spoon (or your hands), gently remove the meat of the eggplant. You can either slice it up into small chunks and add it to the bowl with the orzo mixture or simply discard it.
  5. Place the hollowed out eggplant halves (your “boats”) onto a cookie sheet.  Drizzle the eggplants with some olive oil and season with about 1-2 teaspoons of salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.
  6. Spoon the orzo mixture into each eggplant “boat” and lightly press to pack it in.
  7. Cover the eggplants lightly with some aluminum foil.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the eggplants are tender. Enjoy!
Mediterranean Style Stuffed Eggplant, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Mediterranean Style Stuffed Eggplant, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Mediterranean Style Stuffed Eggplant, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Mediterranean Style Stuffed Eggplant, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

(Is that a paper plate? You’d better believe it. It’s Monday, my friends. Ain’t nobody got time for dishes!)

Meatless Monday: Eggplant Parmesan with Parsley Orzo

Eggplant Parmesan with Parsley Orzo, Photo Credit: Cooking Light magazine, May 2014

With swimsuit season fast approaching, the beau and I have decided to take dieting a little more seriously.   Portions will be smaller and pasta, potatoes, and rice will be taking a backseat to heaping helpings of veggies. That also means “Wing Wednesday” will be on hiatus for a while.

In case you haven’t already heard of “Meatless Monday”, it’s not something I invented.  “Meatless Monday” is a movement geared towards encouraging people to forego at least one meat-centered meal a week.  It’s by no means meant to convert anyone to vegetarianism, rather, it’s to expose people to the health and global benefits of a diet more evenly balanced between meat and plants.  See the video below to learn a little more about it or visit the Meatless Monday website:

I’ve taken the Meatless Monday pledge and will be consciously planning one or two meals a week that don’t involve meat.  And because I believe in the movement, I’ve decided to spread the word and feature Meatless Monday meal options from now on.  This week’s featured dish: Eggplant Parmesan with Parsley Orzo.  The recipe is featured in the May 2014 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

Eggplant Parmesan with Parsley Orzo

Eggplant Parmesan with Parsley Orzo, Photo Credit: Cooking Light magazine, May 2014

Eggplant Parmesan with Parsley Orzo, Photo Credit: Cooking Light magazine, May 2014

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour *
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 2 large eggs *
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs *
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano *
  • 1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup)
  • Cooking spray
  • 6 ounces part skim mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced or shredded *
  • 1 15 oz. can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes *
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

* I took liberties with the original recipe.  See original recipe here.

Preparation

  • Arrange oven rack 10 inches below broiler element. Preheat broiler to high.
  • Cook orzo according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and return to pan. Add parsley, oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; toss.
  • While orzo cooks, cut top and bottom off eggplant. Partially peel eggplant lengthwise with a vegetable peeler, leaving long purple stripes. Cut eggplant crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Place flour in a shallow dish. Combine 1 teaspoon water and eggs in another shallow dish, stirring with a whisk. Combine panko, oregano, and Parmigiano-Reggiano in another shallow dish.
Eggplant Parmesan with Parsley Orzo, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Eggplant Parmesan with Parsley Orzo, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

  • Dredge eggplant in flour, dip in egg mixture, and dredge in panko mixture, gently pressing mixture to adhere. Arrange on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Coat tops of eggplant slices with cooking spray.
Eggplant Parmesan with Parsley Orzo, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Eggplant Parmesan with Parsley Orzo, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

  • Broil 3-4 minutes on each side or until browned and tender but firm. Top evenly with diced tomatoes and mozzarella; broil 1 minute or until cheese melts and begins to browns.
Eggplant Parmesan with Parsley Orzo, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Eggplant Parmesan with Parsley Orzo, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Eggplant Parmesan with Parsley Orzo, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Eggplant Parmesan with Parsley Orzo, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

  • Arrange 1/2 cup orzo mixture on each plates; top each serving with 2-3 eggplant slices. Sprinkle evenly with pepper.
Eggplant Parmesan with Parsley Orzo, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Eggplant Parmesan with Parsley Orzo, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

 

If you’re wondering how I managed to get the cheese to melt in a perfect little circle on each slice of eggplant: I bought sliced mozzarella cheese from the grocery store and used a large circular cookie cutter to cut out circles of cheese. I figured it’d be more aesthetically pleasing that way. It’s still got nothing on the perfection photographed by the Cooking Light professionals, though. So to do the dish justice I made sure to include the photo from the magazine.  Bon appétit!

Fish Tacos + Salsa Fresca

Fish Tacos + Salsa Fresca, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

You mean I’m posting a recipe about something OTHER than the almighty chicken wing??? I know, I know. Long overdue. Somewhere along the line this blog took a detour from being an homage to diet-friendly recipes and became all about “Wing Wednesday”.

Sadly, I try new recipes almost every single evening but I don’t end up posting any of them! Every weekend I spend Sunday afternoons combing through Pinterest and my health mag subscriptions. I choose 5 new recipes to make for the upcoming week and even go out and buy all of the ingredients so I have no weeknight excuses about not being able to cook dinner.  Every night of the week I make one of these new meals. —  What the heck has kept me from sharing them???

Sigh…

Well… I suppose it boils down to the following:

1. I was probably too busy inhaling the food to take a picture of it.  Because, “hangry”.

2. It just wasn’t a very photogenic meal.  Hey – I’m not a professional food photographer. I can only do so much to make a dish look appealing.  If, ultimately, I don’t think I got any attractive photos of a meal then I won’t post about it. Visually unappealing food interests no one.  Sure, I could use the magazine photo but I feel a bit like a cheater doing that. (Maybe I’m just being silly…)

Anyhow, I promised myself I’d get back to sharing the joy of cooking new recipes.  So here we go!

Fish Tacos + Salsa Fresca, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Fish Tacos + Salsa Fresca, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

 

Fish Tacos + Salsa Fresca

The beauty of making tacos is that they are endlessly customizable: shell, protein, produce, sauce – whatever you like and however you like it.  For this week’s fish tacos, you’ll need the following ingredients (makes enough for 2-3 people):

INGREDIENTS

For the fish:

  • 1 lb. of fish fillets (I used cod but you can use whatever fish you’re in the mood for.)
  • a few tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 a lemon or lime

For the salsa fresca:

  • 1 cup diced tomato
  • 1 cup yellow corn kernels
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1/2 diced jalapeño (use the whole jalapeño if you like to live dangerously)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • juice of 1 lime (about 2 Tbsp.)
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

For the tacos:

  • corn tortillas (or flour if you prefer)
  • sour cream (optional)
  • queso fresco (optional)
  • hot sauce (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

For the fish:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spray a shallow baking dish with non-stick cooking spray or lightly drizzle with oil to prevent fish from sticking.
  3. Place fish in the baking dish and drizzle the fish with olive oil to lightly coat.  Season with paprika, salt, and pepper.
  4. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Squeeze the 1/2 lemon (or lime) juice over fish after you remove it from the oven.
Fish Tacos + Salsa Fresca, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Fish Tacos + Salsa Fresca, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

For the salsa fresca:

  1. Add all of the salsa ingredients in a bowl and gently toss to combine.
Fish Tacos + Salsa Fresca, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Fish Tacos + Salsa Fresca, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

For the tacos:

  1. Gently break the cooked fish filets into smaller pieces so that you can build your tacos.
  2. Warm the tortillas in the oven for a few minutes (optional).
  3. Place a few pieces of fish onto the tortilla. Top with salsa fresca, sour cream (optional), queso fresco (optional), and hot sauce (optional).
  4. Enjoy! You should have plenty of salsa fresca left over to enjoy for the next few days! You can top baked chicken breasts or pork with it as a dinner option for another night of the week, add it to a salad, or just enjoy it with some tortilla chips for a glorious snack.
Fish Tacos + Salsa Fresca, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Fish Tacos + Salsa Fresca, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Wing Wednesday: Baked Apple Butter Brown Sugar Wings

This week’s wing deliciousness is brought to you by one of my new favorite food blogs, Damn Delicious.  I’ve pinned and prepared quite a few recipes from the Damn Delicious recipe repertoire and it’s everything I hope my little blog will grow into some day.

Baked Apple Butter Brown Sugar Wings

Baked Apple Butter Brown Sugar Wings, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Baked Apple Butter Brown Sugar Wings, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Baked brown sugar and apple butter sticky sweetness.  It’s also paired with a sour cream and sririacha dipping sauce, for an added creamy kick.  Thanks to this recipe, I now have an entire jar of apple butter to get creative with. (I’m talking to you, Pinterest.)

INGREDIENTS

  • chicken wings
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha, or more to taste
FOR THE APPLE BUTTER GLAZE
  • 1/4 cup Musselman’s apple butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place a wire rack in your baking pan. Spray it with non-stick spray.

Place a wire rack in your baking pan, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Place a wire rack in your baking pan, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together apple butter, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar and Dijon; set aside.

3. In a large bowl, combine wings, vegetable oil, brown sugar, garlic, onion and chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper, to taste.

Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

4. Pour the apple butter mixture over the wings and toss to coat.  Place wings onto the prepared baking sheet.

Toss wings in apple butter mixture and place on wire rack, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Toss wings in apple butter mixture and place on wire rack, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

5. Place into oven and bake for 35 minutes.

6. While wings are baking, prepare the dipping sauce.  Simply stir together the sour cream and the desired amount of Sriracha (depending on how spicy you want your dipping sauce).  If you aren’t sure, start small and add little by little until you’ve reached a spice level you’re happy with.

Bon appétit!

Baked Brown Sugar and Apple Butter Wings, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Baked Apple Butter Brown Sugar Wings, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Wing Wednesday: Momofuku Say What?

This week’s recipe is courtesy of the amazing David Chang, Michelin star chef and owner of the award-winning Momofuku restaurant group, largely based in New York.  The recipe “Fried Chicken with Octo Vinaigrette” is published in his cookbook, Momofuku. However, instead of making fried chicken I tossed it over baked chicken wings.  (Youz guys know by now we don’t fry on Wing Wednesday.)

Chicken Wings with Momofuku Octo Vinaigrette Recipe, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Chicken Wings with Momofuku Octo Vinaigrette Recipe, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Chicken Wings with Momofuku Octo Vinaigrette Recipe

(Recipe credit: Momofuku cookbook by David Chang)

The recipe for the Octo Vinaigrette (all of the ingredients minus the wings) is straight from the Momofuku cookbook.

  • chicken wings
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh chili pepper
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons canola, vegetable or grapeseed oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • cilantro (optional)
Place a wire rack in your baking pan, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

1. Preheat oven to 425F. Place a wire rack inside your baking pan.  (I like to bake the wings on a wire rack because it allows all sides of the wings to crisp up and prevents you from having to flip them over halfway through cooking.)  Drizzle the chicken wings with some oil (olive, vegetable, peanut – whatever you’ve got) to lightly coat.  This will prevent the wings from sticking to the wire rack and allow them to brown nicely.

2. Place the wings on the wire rack.  Bake for 40-45 minutes, until nice and golden brown.

3. While the wings are baking, prepare the vinaigrette. In a large bowl, mix together the remaining recipe ingredients.

4. Once the wings are done, remove them from the oven and place them in the large bowl.  Toss the chicken wings in the vinaigrette to coat.

Bon appetit!

Momofuku, by David Chang

Momofuku, by David Chang

Wing Wednesday: Baked Parmesan Garlic Chicken Wings

I wish I could share the fantastic fragrance lingering in my apartment after making these! I finished eating them 20 minutes ago and I’m still basking in the delicious aroma. This week’s wings were just heavenly!

Added bonus: as if the wings aren’t amazing enough all by themselves, the dipping sauce is a blend of blue cheese dressing with Dijon mustard! BOOM. Kicking it up a notch!

Baked Parmesan Garlic Chicken Wings, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Baked Parmesan Garlic Chicken Wings, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Baked Parmesan Garlic Chicken Wings

Ingredients:

  • chicken wings
  • 2 teaspoons italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • kosher or sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
  • 2 tsp minced garlic (fresh garlic or substitute the jarred stuff)*
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup blue cheese dressing
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425F.

Baked Parmesan Garlic Chicken Wings, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Baked Parmesan Garlic Chicken Wings, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

2. In a large bowl, mix together the oil, italian seasoning, and cumin. Toss the wings in this mixture.

Baked Parmesan Garlic Chicken Wings, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Baked Parmesan Garlic Chicken Wings, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

3. Place a wire rack inside a sheet tray. Place the chicken wings on this wire rack and sprinkle salt over the chicken wings, to season.

4. Bake the chicken wings for 35-45 minutes, until golden brown.

5. While the wings are baking, mix together the oil, fresh basil, garlic, and parmesan cheese. *Note: Raw garlic can be a little strong, so I sautéed the minced garlic in some olive oil over low heat to take some of the kick out of the garlic. If you are using jarred minced garlic, you should be fine and don’t need to do this. Also, if you want to grow some hair on your chest, just use the raw garlic. More power to you. :)

6. When the chicken is cooked through, toss the wings with the garlic/cheese/olive oil (or butter) sauce. Serve with the blue cheese/mustard dressing.

7. To make the dipping sauce, mix the blue cheese dressing and Dijon mustard together in a small bowl.

Baked Parmesan Garlic Chicken Wings, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Baked Parmesan Garlic Chicken Wings, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

8. Plate and serve. Bon  appétit!

Wing Wednesday: Spicy Apricot Awesomeness

This week’s wings were a winner! BIG TIME winner! My tummy is so happy right now. :) Sticky sweet apricot marmalade and sriracha came together in beautiful, spicy sweet matrimony.

Spicy Apricot Awesomeness, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Spicy Apricot Awesomeness, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

 

Spicy Apricot Wings

Ingredients:

  • chicken wings
  • olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup apricot marmalade (sub any flavor preference if you don’t dig apricot)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce, more or less to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper, or to taste
  • cilantro (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Drizzle olive oil over the chicken wings, just enough to lightly coat (I probably used about 3 tablespoons?).  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

3. When baking chicken wings, I prefer to place a wire rack in my sheet pan and bake the wings on the wire rack.  It helps to make them crispy on all sides without having to flip them over during cooking.  However, you can also just spray your sheet pan with non-stick cooking spray and turn the wings halfway through cooking to achieve crispy wings. Do one of these things. :)

4. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until wings are golden brown.

5. Meanwhile, to prepare glaze, heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add apricot marmalade, rice vinegar, sriracha, and salt and pepper and simmer for about 5 minutes or until reduced and slightly thickened.

6. Chop about 2 teaspoons cilantro, if desired, and add to your glaze.

6. In a bowl, toss chicken wings with glaze until evenly coated.

Bon appétit!