Dec 30, 2011

What's For Dinner? - Baltimore, MD - Dec 2011

So these days I'm completely motivated by food. With Little Sticks squashing my stomach in to my UPPER rib cage, somewhere around my shoulder, I get to eat a few extra meals each day! That's never a bad thing! =)

So with a looming grocery store run hanging over me yesterday I thought to myself "What's for dinner?" and THANKFULLY I had an answer! (so often I'm like... "I don't know... Whatever!?" But yesterday I got and answer! Woo hoo!!! Eggplant Parmesan!!! With this dish being one of my all time favorites I thought I'd do a little "blogumenting", is that a word?

My little sister made it for us for the first time when she came shortly after El was born and we loved it! SInce then, it's my "go to" meal when "we're having friends over for dinner", " a good friend has been in the hospital or has a new baby", or "The Hub wants to eat something that's not a casserole". It's ALWAYS met with RAVE reviews!  It also freezes well and makes for awesome leftovers!

You will need:

1 large eggplant
2 cups of bread crumbs
2-3 eggs
canola or vegetable oil or olive doesn't really matter
Approximately 48 ozs of homemade pasta sauce (made in advance) or 2 jars of whatever flavor of marinara sauce you like (I like Classico Tomato & Basil)
fresh spinach
fresh basil
42-3 cups of mozzarella
1 cup fresh Parmesan cheese (not canned)

STEP 1 - Preheat canola oil in a cast iron skillet (once oil is hot keep heat on medium to medium low, depending on your stove and pan, to prevent oil from smoking).  At the same time, preheat oven to 350

NOTE TO READER: I use a cast iron skillet because it maintains a pretty consistent temperature and canola oil because it has a higher smoke point, both of which make it so that we are less likely to set off the fire alarm. =)

STEP 2 - Peal the skin off the eggplant and first slice the eggplant into quarter inch slices, then cut those slices in half,

Bread the eggplant slices. Have one shallow bowl for an egg wash (break eggs into bowl and mix whites and yolks together) and one shallow bowl for bread crumbs and a clean dry cutting board or cookie sheet for breaded eggplant slices. Once pealed, cut, and breaded they should look like this.

Note to Pregnant Readers: If your oven/stove top controls are on the front of your appliance beware, your baby belly likes to adjust the size of the flame. Oops! =)

(Holy Crap where the heck are my feet!)
(Oh thank goodness... There they are!)
 STEP 3 - Once all eggplant slices have been breaded place into hot oil and brown on each side.  According to the below picture, I can usually fit 8 or 9 half slices in the pan at a time.

 STEP 4 - After all the eggplant slices have been browned, it's time to assemble.  This goes together in layers, sort of like a lasagna.  Coat the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish with a ladle full of marinara sauce 

NOTE TO READER: If your going to freeze half for later or take half to a friend, use two 8x8 baking dishes.  Also when I'm freezing or taking to a friend I get the disposable aluminum 8x8 DEEP baking pans from the grocery store.  Makes clean up super easy and they don't have to worry with cleaning and  returning a dish.

Layers go like this on top of the thin coat of marinara sauce, layer browned eggplant, then cover with spinach, then mozzarella cheese, then a few torn basil leaves, and then another ladle of marinara sauce.  Should sort of look like this.
(It takes about 3 layers to use all the eggplant.)

STEP 5 - Once all the eggplant has been layered, top with a nice layer of marinara, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.  Should look like this just before you stick it in the oven. 

Step 6 - Bake at 350 for 30 min.

Then it's yum yum eat it up!

Till next time,
Bon Voyage!

Dec 29, 2011

31 Weeks - Baltimore, MD - December 2011

I haven't done nearly the number of posts I thought I'd be doing on this pregnancy, but much to my amazement, my friends that are mommies of one and one on the way were right!  The days and weeks are just FLYING by!

(25 Weeks - Fall photo session by Monica Leigh: MM Leigh Photography)

The 2nd trimester was great!  I pretty much ran after the Monkey throughout that entire 12 weeks.  El and I also did some fun traveling.  First to see my friends Robyn and Sarah in Florida for about a week and then to see my Sister in Kansas for a 4 day weekend.  We also went as a family to New York City.  All of these trips I fully intend on posting about, so please stay tuned and please don't give up on me.  I just feel like on most days I'm going in circles and praying that at the end of the day the beds are made the sink is clean there is something to eat for dinner, The Hub has clean scrubs to wear tomorrow, and I can say I accomplished SOMETHING that day.

I'm starting to "list" all the things that need to be done before the arrival of Little Sticks and am starting to get a little overwhelmed, and A LOT excited!  Most things will need to wait until after the new year, but with the Hub on a pretty rough couple of rotations in a row I know we must take our time and do what we can today and be okay with leaving the rest for tomorrow, or the next day, or even next week or month.

It's been a lot harder for me this time around not knowing the gender of this baby because I am worried if it's a boy that he'll have to wear pink new born stuff, but I'm comforted when I pull out the box of preemee and newborn clothing from when El was tiny and remember that we deliberately bought things to be gender neutral. =)  Good thinking us!

Here are a few belly pictures
20 Weeks
 25 Weeks
30 Weeks

How far along? 31 weeks
Total weight gain/loss:10 lbs
Maternity clothes? Yep (Thank you Katie, I'd be naked without your super cute tops!)
Stretch marks? Nope
Sleep: Not so great. My dreams are still NUTS and the heart burn is KILLER!!!
Working out? I picked up The Perfect Pregnancy Workout: Vol 1 and it's actually pretty good.
Best moment this week: I have 2: One hearing Little Stick's heart beat on Tuesday and two When El woke up yesterday morning she pointed at my belly and said "baby" and blew Little Sticks a kiss.
Movement: ALL THE TIME!!! And he/she gets the hiccups like you wouldn't believe!!!
Food cravings: Japanese Hibachi food, Red Robyn bottomless fries, and root beer floats! Mmmmmmmm!!!!
Gender: Not finding out!!
Labor Signs: Nope (unless you count Braxton Hicks contractions which I've had in both pregnancies from the 2nd trimester through to the end). 
Belly Button in or out? OUT
What I miss: Sushi and sleep
What I am looking forward to: Christmas! (I know this is a little late.)
Weekly Wisdom: Sleep when you can!
Milestones: I have my "shelf" back! Most often used as a plate or cup holder while kicking back on the couch, this belly comes in pretty handy! =)

Til Next Time,
Bon Voyage!