Southwestern Eggplant Dressing--Serve as a vegetarian entree or add sausage on the side for meat lovers

We’ve been binge-watching the TV series Heartland the past few cold, winter days. Unlike Downton Abby where the elderly Dowager Countess of Grantham seems to get the best lines, the young neighbor girl Mallory often offers opinions no adults would dare speak. For example:  “What is this stuff?” as she looks down at her plate. When told it was Shepherd’s Pie, she remarked, “It looks more like something the shepherd stepped in.”

I hope this doesn’t look that bad, but I admit cooked eggplant is the opposite of photogenic. Is there a word for that? Can somebody help me? In ultrasound, we call it “ultrasound ugly.” Maybe we could call eggplant “food ugly.”

But I won’t let the unfortunate appearance of eggplant keep me from eating it. If you are tired of green beans, broccoli, and carrots, you might try eggplant in this scrumptious vegetable casserole. I only call it dressing because it includes cornbread crumbs. You could just as easily use rice or quinoa in place of the cornbread.

Southwestern Eggplant Dressing

I’m not a fan of boiled eggplant as called for in so many eggplant recipes. I much prefer to grill it using a grill pan so it doesn’t get mushy. In the absence of a grill pan, saute the eggplant in a skillet brushed with olive oil.

Southwestern Eggplant -- when grilled in a grill pan or skillet, eggplant doesn't get soft and mushy like it does when boiled.

I am always looking for ways to trim calories so I’m rather sparing with the cheese. Otherwise, I would stir an additional two ounces of shredded Cheddar into the casserole just before baking.

Southwestern Eggplant Dressing
Recipe type: Vegetarian Entree or Sidedish
  • 1 small to medium eggplant, cooked and diced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • ¼ cup chopped red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 4 ounce button or portobello mushrooms, sliced or chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup lowfat milk
  • 1 4 oz. can green chilies
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen and thawed corn
  • 1-1/2 cups crumbled, stale cornbread
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
  1. Use greased grill pan or skillet to cook peeled and sliced eggplant, flipping when browned. See picture above. Set aside.
  2. Melt butter in large skillet. Add onions, celery, peppers, and garlic and saute until soft. Add mushrooms and sage to skillet and cook another 3-4 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle flour over cooked veggies. Stir to distribute evenly. Add milk and continue to stir until thickened. Add cooked and chopped eggplant, green chilies, corn and cornbread crumbs, stirring gently. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Sprinkle cheese over the top during the last 10 minutes.



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White Chocolate, Apricot, and Walnut Scones

With Valentine’s Day waiting in the wings, have you thought about making something a bit special for breakfast? I propose these rich and scrumptious scones with a hot cup of coffee or tea to set the mood and tone for the day.

I scored this recipe when volunteering at Bible Study Fellowship headquarters in San Antonio some years back. The people who work there do everything with excellence, including the food. After helping to serve these for breakfast one morning, I was thrilled to get the recipe. [Keep reading…]


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Chocolate Peanut Butter Greek Yogurt--powdered peanut butter is the secret

I used to eat a miniature Reese’s peanut butter cup every single day, melted on top of my favorite chocolate fudge fiber bar. That questionable habit lasted a couple of years before it wore off. Now I have a different peanut butter-related vice. The idea came from the comment section of one of my homemade Greek yogurt posts.

A reader suggested adding powdered peanut butter to unflavored Greek yogurt. Turns out it mixes into yogurt much more easily than real peanut butter, which can be difficult to combine with yogurt without affecting the texture. My favorite brand and flavor of powdered peanut butter is PB2 with premium chocolate (found it at Target but also available online). Click here to read more…


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Football and/or cold weather often calls for a bowl of chili. With the Superbowl this weekend, I collected all my chili recipes into one post for your consideration. They are quite different from each other with about the only common ingredient being chili and possibly, cumin.

My Favorite Chili, so meaty and thick. It even has a touch of chocolate to bring all the flavors together but you would never guess it.


Click here for more ideas


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The most important thing you should do when using your bread machine

Your bread machine does not have a brain! A timer and a thermostat maybe, but no brain. I know a lot of people buy a bread machine hoping it will magically make the perfect loaf of bread with the press of a button. You might get lucky and it happens…..if you use the right recipe, and the humidity is the same as wherever the recipe-developer resided, and you measured your flour in the same way the recipe-developer did, and the room temperature where your bread machine sits is exactly the same as theirs was, etc.

Making bread is an art, not an exact science. Sometimes you have to make adjustments based on the environment, the ingredients you use, and the finished product you desire. Knowing when, what, and how much requires experience, a sixth sense, and sometimes, good luck.

The Most Important Thing You Should Do When Using a Bread Machine

Whether you are using your bread machine as a mix-knead-rise appliance (like I do), or you want to mix, knead, rise, and bake in your machine, my #1 piece of advice is to open the lid and check out the dough inside. Do this 5 minutes or so after starting the machine and then again after the machine has been kneading 5-10 minutes. If you walk by 15 or 20 minutes into the cycle, open the lid and peek to see if all is well. The only time you do not want to open the lid is in the middle of the rising period as you will be letting some heat escape, thus prolonging the rising time.

The goal is for the dough to stick to the side, then pull away cleanly as it kneads. The dough in the video below is the perfect consistency for the average loaf of yeast bread. It’s pliable, shiny, smooth, and not too sticky.

Is your dough too dry? Does it refuse to form a ball, or does it make a ball that slaps loudly against the side of the pan? Add a tablespoon of liquid, give it a chance to mix up for a couple minutes, and check again. Keep doing this until the dough looks right.

Is the dough too wet? Does it look gooey and sticky? Add a tablespoon of flour at a time, watching until you see the dough stick to the sides and then pull away cleanly. Allow a couple minutes for the dough to incorporate the flour before adding more. Remember that some doughs need to be quite wet, like brioche or ciabatta. If you are a beginner, I would avoid those kinds of recipes until you have dependable success with a simple loaf.

Another time I recommend you peek inside the machine is at the end of the dough cycle. I will address that topic in an upcoming post.

p.s. If you are new to the bread machine world and want to increase your chances of success, may I suggest you start with a bread machine mix from the grocery store or use a basic recipe from the manual that came with your bread machine. Or, you could use one of my bread machine recipes formulated to be mixed and kneaded in a bread machine, then removed from the pan, shaped, and baked in a conventional oven. Check out my recipe index for lots of possibilities.


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