Eggplant Marinara Flatbread

The cool thing about working part time at a bookstore is that…well, you get to see all the new books that come out! You can talk to customers about good books they’ve read and skim through books from all different genres in hopes to find a new and fun read.

Recently this 50 Shades of Grey trilogy has blown up. Gone crazy. Made people mad excited. It’s cool, I get it, and since these books are my store’s biggest seller by far, I knew I had to read it. So, I did…and the book had me hooked.

It’s weird, the entire story is unbelievable, the writing is bad, the male character is seriously messed up and into painful sex, but there I was….reading my sexy book in the park while sipping iced tea, in bed at night while my boyfriend made fun of me, and in between baking times while my cookies were in the oven.

I guess I’m just like everyone else. I couldn’t get enough of it. The only thing that seriously confuses me though is when customers come into the store and say “the book is life changing” or “the best book ever” or “it has amazing writing and plot”….really?! Have these people ever even read a book before? Who knows. And if this book is actually life changing, I do not want to know what’s going on inside their bedrooms…or maybe I do. Creepy.

Anyway! On to flatbread. Delicious, amazing, chewy, flatbread. This appetizer seriously rocks my world, and will totally rock yours too. It has herbed goat cheese, mozzarella, marinara and buttery eggplant on ciabatta. YES!

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Season the eggplant slices with salt and pepper. Lay the eggplant in the heated skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, turning, until the eggplant is lightly browned on both sides, about 6 minutes total. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Brush the cut side of the bread slices with the remaining oil and cook in the warm skillet on medium-high heat until golden brown, 1-2 minutes.

Lay the bread, cut side up, on a baking sheet. Spread a thin layer of the marinara sauce on each slice. Crumble the goat cheese over the marinara and sprinkle with chopped basil. Lay the eggplant slices on top of the marinara. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella over the eggplant slices and dot lightly with remaining marinara sauce. Just like the picture!

Bake until the topping is hot and slightly browned, about 12 minutes. Slice into small pieces.

Enjoy!

Eggplant Marinara Flatbread
Recipe taken from Annie’s Eats

Ingredients:
4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
6 (1/3-1/2-inch thick) slices eggplant, about 4 inches in diameter
I loaf of ciabatta (or Italian), cut in half
Marinara sauce (about 1 cup)
1 oz. soft fresh goat cheese (I used herbed)
1 cup coarsely grated mozzarella cheese

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400˚ F. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Season the eggplant slices with salt and pepper. Lay the eggplant in the heated skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, turning, until the eggplant is lightly browned on both sides, about 6 minutes total. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Brush the cut side of the bread slices with the remaining oil and cook in the warm skillet on medium-high heat until golden brown, 1-2 minutes.

Lay the bread, cut side up, on a baking sheet. Spread a thin layer of the marinara sauce on each slice. Crumble the goat cheese over the marinara and sprinkle with chopped basil. Lay the egg plant slices on top of the marinara. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella over the eggplant slices and dot lightly with remaining marinara sauce.

Bake until the topping is hot and slightly browned, about 12 minutes. Slice into small pieces.

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Peanut Butter and Banana Breakfast Cookies

Whew, only two days after my marathon and I’ve been reading through webpage after webpage trying to decide on what run to do next…I’m obsessed, and super excited about racing to say the least.

I had an amazing day. The weather hovered at about 15*C (59*F) for the first half and then went up to about 22*C (72*F) by the time I finished. Spirits were extremely high too, and I knew from the beginning that the race would be a personal best for me. I finished in 3:41:36! And I firmly believe it was the fans that kept me going. The cheering really amps up my adrenaline and pumps me up big time. Along the way I saw some fun things…

I ended the race off with a big, delicious cookie. I had one for breakfast too. I love these cookies because they are chalk full of all the good stuff I have before a race anyway. Like bananas and peanut butter…my classic pre-marathon meal.

I like having breakfast cookies on regular days too. They’re light and chewy and make me feel happy. And isn’t that what life is all about??

To make these bad boys, preheat your oven and cream butter, brown sugar, banana and applesauce together in an electric mixer until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and mix until combined.

Add vanilla and peanut butter and mix well.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

Add flour mixture to butter mixture and mix just until combined.

Stir in rolled oats, chocolate chips and other add-ins.

Mmmm…

Using a large ice cream scoop, scoop out 1/4 cup portions and place two inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a Silpat. Press down on each cookie to slightly flatten.

Bake for 13-18 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned.

Remove and cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy!

Peanut Butter and Banana Breakfast Cookies
Makes approximately 18 hefty cookies
Recipe lightly adapted from Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 medium ripe banana, mashed
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup peanut butter (I used smooth, but chunky would be really nice too!)
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup brown crisped rice cereal (regular Rice Krispies would be good too)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (or any other additional add-in)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Cream butter, brown sugar, banana and applesauce together in an electric mixer until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and mix until combined.
3. Add vanilla and peanut butter and mix well.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
5. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and mix just until combined.
6. Stir in rolled oats, chocolate chips and/or other add-ins.
7. Using a large ice cream scoop, scoop out 1/4 cup portions and place two inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a Silpat. Press down on each cookie to slightly flatten.
8. Bake for 13-18 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned.
9. Remove and cool on a wire rack.

Note: Cookies will keep up to three days in an airtight container, or up to one month in the freezer.

Roasted Garlic Hummus

I’m going a bit crazy. In three days I’m running in the Ottawa marathon and have been relaxing my muscles this week by cutting my weekly running miles in half.

*sigh*…oh, the classic taper week. The week that all runners love to hate.

To clear their heads, some people have a therapist, some people are just plain angry, some people eat a lot of cake…and I run. It makes me feel strong and happy and free all at the same time. So naturally, a taper week (less running) doesn’t allow me to do that. It’s torturous!

During this week my boyfriend just happens to be on a fishing trip up north, so without him to keep me busy I’ve been visiting with friends every day, going for long walks and bike rides, doing the short runs I’m allowed, and making so, so, many salads and dips. With this hot weather, they carry me over so I don’t have to turn on the oven too much or do too many dishes. It’s a win-win situation really. Plus, dips and salads are healthy!

To make this roasted garlic hummus (the best hummus), start by roasting a head of garlic. Preheat your oven to 375°F. Cut off the very top of the garlic clove (about 1/4″) so that the tops of most of the cloves are exposed slightly. Coat with a little olive oil and wrap securely in tin foil. Roast garlic in oven for 1 hour.

Remove from foil and allow the garlic to cool.

Using your fingers, squeeze the soft, roasted garlic out of each clove into food processor (this is easily done when the garlic has cooled completely). Set aside 3 garlic cloves for later use. Rinse and drain chickpeas. Add them, and all other ingredients except olive oil and the 3 roasted garlic cloves you set aside, to the food processor and blend until completely smooth.

Scrape ingredients off the sides of your food processor to make sure it blends evenly. Finally add one tablespoon of olive oil at a time until you have reached the desired consistency. Add it very slowly, allowing the mixture to combine fully before adding more liquid. For a tasty garnish, mince the 3 roasted garlic cloves you set aside and toss in a tiny bit of olive oil and place on top of hummus.

Enjoy!

Roasted Garlic Hummus
Recipe taken from The Novice Chef

Ingredients:
2 cups canned chick-peas or cooked chickpeas
3 tablespoons tahini
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup warm water
1 extra large head of garlic
1 lemon, juice of
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375°F Cut off the very top of the garlic clove (about 1/4″) so that the tops of most of the cloves are exposed slightly. Coat with a little olive oil and wrap securely in tin foil. Roast garlic in oven for 1 hour. Remove and allow cool.

Using your fingers, squeeze the soft, roasted garlic out of each clove into food processor (this is easily done when the garlic has cooled completely). Set aside 3 garlic cloves for later use. Rinse and drain chickpeas. Add them, and all other ingredients except olive oil and the 3 roasted garlic cloves you set aside, to the food processor and blend until completely smooth.

Scrape ingredients off sides of food processor to make sure it blends evenly. Finally add a tablespoon of olive oil at a time until you have reached the desired consistency. Add it very slowly, allowing the mixture to combine fully before adding more liquid. For a tasty garnish, mince the 3 roasted garlic cloves you set aside and toss in a tiny bit of olive oil and place on top of hummus.

Serve at room temperature with pita, crackers, or veggies. Also you can add it as a condiment to a wrap! Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a week.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

With all of this awesome rhubarb-ness going on at the farmers market I have already made TWO strawberry rhubarb pies this month. The one you see here, and another one with a crumble topping that I will post about later. My tummy is happy.

Fresh pie just screams summer to me. I love it, and find myself looking for excuses to make it.

Friend: “Oh hey Katrina, wanna go out for coffee tomorrow.”

Me: “Sure, that will probably require me to bake a pie.”

Strawberry rhubarb pie is my boyfriend’s absolute favorite pie. He’ll beg for it. He will go out of his way to find rhubarb, bring it home, place it in the frige, and mention nonchalantly “there’s rhubarb in the fridge if you’d like to bake something with it”.

Lucky for him I DO!

Although I loooove this pie, I personally prefer plain ol’ rhubarb pie, but if you’re like my man this pie is for you!!

To begin, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. On a well-floured counter, roll half of pie dough into a 12-inch circle and carefully transfer to a 9-inch pie plate.

Stir together rhubarb and strawberries….

…and juice that pretty lemon.

Stir together rhubarb, strawberries, sugars, lemon, salt and tapioca in a large bowl.

Mound filling inside bottom pie crust and dot with bits of unsalted butter.

Roll second half of pie dough into an 11-inch circle. Transfer it to center over the pie filling. Trim top and bottom pie dough so that their overhang beyond the pie plate lip is only 1/2-inch. Tuck rim of dough underneath itself and crimp it decoratively.

Brush egg yolk mixture over dough and cut slits into your pie.

Transfer pie to a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, until the pie is golden and the juices bubble visibly.

Transfer pie to wire rack to cool. When fully cooled (several hours later) the juices will gel.

Enjoy!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Recipe taken from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 1 9-inch round pie

Ingredients:
1 recipe for double-crust pie dough (I always use the Pioneer Woman’s recipe)
3 1/2 cups (about 1 1/2 pounds, untrimmed) rhubarb, in 1/2-inch thick slices
3 1/2 cups (about 1 pound) strawberries, hulled and sliced if big, halved if tiny
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a well-floured counter, roll half of pie dough into a 12-inch circle and carefully transfer to a 9-inch pie plate.

Stir together rhubarb, strawberries, sugars, lemon, salt and tapioca in a large bowl. Mound filling inside bottom pie crust and dot with bits of unsalted butter. Roll second half of pie dough into an 11-inch circle and cut decorative slits in it. Transfer it to center over the pie filling. Trim top and bottom pie dough so that their overhang beyond the pie plate lip is only 1/2-inch. Tuck rim of dough underneath itself and crimp it decoratively.

Transfer pie to a baking sheet and brush egg yolk mixture over dough. Bake for 20 minutes then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, until the pie is golden and the juices bubble visibly.

Transfer pie to wire rack to cool. When fully cooled (several hours later) the juices will gel.

Note: Pie should keep for up to three days at room temperature.

Lentil Feta Salad {Vegetarian Collection}

This year I turn 25 and because of that I started this little list. There are 30 things I want to do before I turn 30, and baby, I’m going to do them no matter what!

Besides wanting to drink in a pub while singing an Irish bar song in Ireland, I also have a few things that are a little more right now instead of in the futre. One of those things is to cook my way through a book from cover to cover.

When choosing a book I had to take two things into consideration. The first is that I am a vegetarian so I can’t choose a book with meat in it, and the second is that I like the way my body is shaped now and didn’t think choosing a baking book was the best idea. I bake once to twice a week already and that’s more than enough!

Lucky for me I work in a book store so during my breaks I had a ton of cookbooks to look at. After browsing many, many, cookbooks I choose Canadian Living’s The Vegetarian Collection and have made 6 recipes from it so far – all delicious! This was the first recipe I made and the very first recipe in the book. I hope you enjoy this lovely, healthy salad, and this new segment on my blog!

To begin, toast almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring often until golden, about 5 minutes.

Whisk together your oil, vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper.

Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Add lentils and garlic; reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water; drain again. Disgard garlic.

Add lentils, cucumber, tomatoes, onion and parsley to a large bowl.

Toss with dressing to coat.

Stir in almonds and about ¼ cup of feta cheese. Sprinkle remaining feta just before serving.

Enjoy!

Lentil Feta Salad
Recipe from The Vegetarian Collection
Makes 4 regular and 6 small servings
Per 1 of 6 servings: 305 calories | 14g protein | 18g total fat | 25g carbohydrates | 6g fibre

Ingredients:
½ cup slivered almonds
1 cup dried green lentils
2 cloves garlic
¼ cup extra virgin olove oil
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp dried oregano (or fresh)
salt and pepper
1 ½ cups cucumber, diced, seeded and peeled
1 cup halved grape (or cherry) tomatoes
½ cup red onion, diced, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
¾ cup feta cheese, crumbled

Directions:
In a small dry skillet, toast almonds over medium heat, stirring often until golden, about 5 minutes.
Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Add lentils and garlic; reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water; drain again. Disgard garlic.
In a large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper. Add lentils, cucumber, tomatoes, onion and parsley. Toss to coat.
Stir in almonds and about ¼ cup of feta cheese. Sprinkle remaining feta just before serving.

Banana Walnut Oatmeal

Breakfast is one of those meals where I usually stick to the same thing. I love smoothies, and tend to have one every day of the week (and make them while my darling boyfriend is trying to sleep). It’s a habit.

Now don’t get me wrong, I looooove breakfast foods, I just don’t seem to make enough of them. My bookmark list of breakfast items is exploding and I have decided that from today on, I’m going to try new and exciting breakfasts a few times a week. Starting with this oatmeal. It’s simple, it’s delicious, and it’s something that makes me want to start a new breakfast habit of only oatmeal…but I won’t. I WILL be making this again though. It’s so scrumptious, and I know you’ll like it too!

To make this, mash up your banana.

Then place water, milk, banana, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and brown sugar (or maple syrup) in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Stir in oats.

Simmer over medium heat for 8 minutes or until desired thickness. Stir in walnuts just before serving.

Enjoy!

Banana Walnut Oatmeal
Recipe taken from Kitchen Simplicity
Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk (I used 1%)
1 banana, mashed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
pinch salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar (or maple syrup)
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Extra brown sugar for topping

Directions:
Place water, milk, banana, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and brown sugar (or maple syrup) in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Stir in oats. Simmer over medium heat for 8 minutes or until desired thickness. Stir in walnuts just before serving.

Cookbook Queen’s Cookie Brownie Cupcakes with Chocolate Marshmallow Frosting

It’s spring, and I know I should be craving a big bowl of fruit salad or a nice strawberry tart, but I can’t get chocolate off of my mind. There is too much love there. We get each other.

I spotted this beautiful recipe a while ago and have been saving it for a good enough occasion to eat like a maniac indulge in a big time sweet treat. Exam time was the perfect occasion, and these cupcakes got me through some tough organic chemistry problems. I mean, brownies and cookies together to make a cupcake? Puuuuulease!

That semi-naked brownie below gets me hot.

Anyway, to begin, preheat your oven to 350 and line 12 muffin tins with cupcake liners. Then slice store bought refrigerated cookie dough into 12 1/4 inch slices.

Place one slice of cookie dough in the bottom of each lined muffin tin. You can eat any extra…I demand it in fact! You can always make your own cookie dough too, but I needed these bad boys FAST and making everything myself was not an option that day. Waiting stinks.

Mix up that awesome store bought brownie mix following the instructions on the box. I used Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge.

Spoon brownie batter over the cookie dough, filling cups to about 2/3 full.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until brownies are set.

Remove from oven and cool on a cooking rack.

When the cupcakes are all set and cooled, get your frosting ready.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat butter, vanilla, and milk on medium-low speed until smooth and combined. Add powdered sugar and cocoa powder and beat on low until just combined. Add chocolate syrup and increase speed to high. Beat for 2 minutes until light and fluffy.

Using a spatula, fold in marshmallow creme, just until swirled throughout. You don’t want it to be completely mixed in.

Pipe or frost icing on cookie brownies. Enjoy!

Cookie Brownie Cupcakes with Chocolate Marshmallow Frosting
Recipe taken from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen
Makes 12 cupcakes

Ingredients
For Cupcakes:
Brownie batter (use homemade or mix, I used Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge prepared for cake-like brownies)
Regular sized tube of refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough

For Frosting:
2 sticks salted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons milk
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 Tablespoons chocolate syrup
7 1/2 oz jar marshmallow creme (I used fluff)

Directions:
For Cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350. Line 12 muffin tins with liners.

Slice cookie dough into 12 1/4 inch slices and place one in the bottom of each lined muffin tin. Don’t worry about any left-over cookie dough you might have–you will be eating it later.

Spoon brownie batter over the cookie dough, filling cups to about 2/3 full. Bake for about 20 minutes or until brownies are set. Remove from oven and cool on a cooking rack.

For Frosting:
In the bowl of a mixer, beat butter, vanilla, and milk on medium-low speed until smooth and combined. Add powdered sugar and cocoa powder and beat on low until just combined. Add chocolate syrup and increase speed to high. Beat for 2 minutes until light and fluffy.

Using a spatula, fold in marshmallow creme, just until swirled throughout. You don’t want it to be completely mixed in.

Pipe or frost on cookie brownies. Enjoy!

Huevos Rancheros Wraps

I have to tell you about this woman that lives on the first floor of my building. You see, I haven’t actually met her, but I HAVE met some of her cats. Well, kind of.

My parking space is just outside of this woman’s apartment and pretty much every day I can see a kitty sleeping in the window – it’s always such a pleasant surprise. Today I saw cat number 7. I am not kidding.

SEVEN cats! First I saw a short haired black kitty, then a long haired black kitty, then 4 more and then today I saw lucky cat number seven. A white fluffy kitty was sitting in the window. Is this allowed?? Who knew crazy cat women actually existed?? I’m here to tell you that they do. And am unsure if I need to call the pet shelter…but that’s another matter. On to these wraps!!

To begin, heat butter over medium high heat. Add eggs and fry until cooked through (I scrambled mine).

Mmmm….

Heat the tortillas in a frying pan.

Layer the black beans on the warm tortilla.

Add fried eggs and cheese.

Top it off with cheese, salsa, slices of avocado and cilantro. Be careful to leave room so you can wrap up your tortilla!

Enjoy!

Huevos Rancheros Wraps
Recipe taken from Eat Live Run
Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 large whole grain tortillas
8 eggs
1 avocado
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 bunch cilantro, minced
Salsa
Vegetable oil to fry eggs

Directions:
Heat oil or butter over medium high heat. Add eggs and fry until cooked through (you can either scramble or keep the yolks whole).

Heat the tortillas, then layer black beans, fried eggs, salsa, slices of avocado and cilantro in each. Be careful to leave room so you can wrap up your tortilla!

To make a closed end wrap (like mine), fold both the right and the left edges over the filling and roll from the bottom. Then cut the wrap in half with a sharp knife and enjoy!