roasted vegetable moussaka

roasted vegetable moussaka | drag it through the gardenThis dish is part two of my meat-free meal attempts, not only for Lent but also because Lauren apparently decided she does not like meat that much any more ever since her trip to Spain. Especially not chicken.

So, after having my plans of making a normal meat-filled moussaka shot down, I decided to try to pack the moussaka with some mediterranean veggies. Not only did I feel pretty healthy eating it with all of those vegetables, it tasted really good. Like good enough where I would make it again even though it doesn’t boast any meat in the ingredients.

My thing for Lent this year is to eat less meat. I have heard of people going vegetarian altogether during these forty days, but to be quite honest, that is just way too drastic for my diet.

I think I am going to start the “Eat Your Heart out Diet” this week which will definitely cut down on my meat intake. Have you heard of it? It’s basically a crash diet (which obviously isn’t an ideal situation) where you eat (pretty much) as much as you want of specified foods for a given day during a week. Supposedly people have consistently lost ten pounds during the course of the week and have supposedly kept the weight off. We’ll see.

If you want updates on how it’s going, I’ll try to post news over on my Facebook page. Like I said, I think I am going to start it this week… hopefully Wednesday. But that all depends on how quickly I eat the leftovers sitting in my fridge.

roasted vegetable moussaka

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients:
½ cup dried lentils
1 large eggplant, thinly sliced
2 large zucchini, thinly sliced
2 russet potatoes, thinly sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 14.5-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon oregano
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cups milk
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Toss eggplant, zucchini, potatoes, onion, and garlic with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread out on baking sheets, using as many as necessary to maintain a single layer. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes until tender and lightly browned, tossing occasionally.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, add lentils and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a gentle simmer. Continue cooking uncovered for about 20-30 minutes until lentils are tender. Drain. Return lentils to the saucepan and add tomatoes and oregano. Warm over low heat for a couple of minutes.

Once vegetables are cooked, place a single layer of eggplant on the bottom of a 9×13” baking dish. Add a layer of zucchini, potatoes and onion, and half a cup of feta cheese. Add all the tomato and lentil mixture. Add remaining feta cheese. Layer with remaining potatoes and onion, zucchini, and eggplant. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes in the preheated oven.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour. Slowly whisk in milk, making sure to break up any clumps. Continue heating until bubbling and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Season with salt and pepper and add nutmeg. Let cool for a couple of minutes then rapidly whisk in th egg.

After the initial 25 minutes of baking, pour sauce over vegetables and top with Parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered for an additional 25-30 minutes until browned and bubbly on top.

Source: Slightly adapted for AllRecipes.com

cheesy broccoli and cauliflower stuffed spuds

cheesy broccoli and cauliflower stuffed potatoes | drag it through the gardenLooking for a meat-free meal for the upcoming Lent season? I know I am. Maybe these baked potatoes stuffed with a cheesy broccoli and cauliflower filling will do the trick. You could always try it with a caesar salad or maybe my mom’s seven layer salad (just take out the bacon on that one for a meatless option).

This is the first time I have updated this blog since the end of January. And while that is good news right now (free time!) that was horrible news for the past week and a half. But, alas, I am back. And hopefully this little bit of extra time I have this week will allow me to get all my ducks in a row and get ahead of the game. Maybe.

Or else I will just spend that time catching up on TV shows I missed…

To be honest, I do not have that much of a life update if you are looking for one. I have decided to erase all of last week out of my memory. Because it was awful. Besides dinner with some friends Wednesday night. Shrimp and crab risotto and fro yo afterwards? Yes, please!

Okay, okay. Between these two paragraphs I just decided to check and see if an exam grade was up. I took this exam on Friday and I swore it absolutely murdered me. If I am going to be completely honest, I just wanted to go home and cry afterwards. But, I did not get that opportunity because I had to go to another class to take another exam.

Long story short, I ended up receiving a solid A on that first one. Maybe last week wasn’t so bad after all…

cheesy broccoli and potato stuffed baked potatoes

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:
4 russet potatoes
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
6 cups mixed broccoli and cauliflower
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon mustard powder
2 ½ cups milk
1 ½ cups grated cheddar cheese
1 ½ cups grated Gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F. On a baking sheet, rub potatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil and coarse salt. Bake in preheated oven for about 1.5-2 hours, until cooked through with crispy skin.

Heat remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add broccoli and cauliflower. Season with salt and pepper and cover. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, until cooked through, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a 2-quart pot over medium heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour and mustard powder. Slowly whisk in milk. Continue whisking until no lumps are present. Stir in cheddar and Gruyere cheese. Heat until melted. Carefully fold in cooked broccoli and cauliflower. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise and spoon cheesy broccoli and cauliflower mixture inside. Serve.

Source: Adapted from Whole Foods

brown sugar bacon-wrapped smokies

brown sugar bacon-wrapped smokies | drag it through the gardenNo, I did not know the Superbowl was this coming Sunday until I heard someone behind me talking about it at the hockey game. And everyone starting posting Superbowl food on their blogs and Pinterest. That was kind of a not-so-subtle hint.

So, you might think I took some initiative and made these delicious bacon-wrapped brown sugar smokies to post on here especially for the Superbowl. Suuureee I did! Except they might have been made a few days post-Christmas and I just never got around to putting them on here. You decide.

On another note, I am really, really sorry that I have not been responding to any comments. I promise that I am reading them! As I’m sure you have heard from me a bajillion times before, my life is pretty hectic right now. Whoever said last semester senior year is the easiest is a flat-out liar. I feel like this is the busiest I have ever been.

It does not help that there are all these TV shows that I want to watch instead of doing homework. Well, there are plenty of things I would rather do than homework.

Like eat these sweet and savory smokies. That’s not a bad idea!

brown sugar bacon-wrapped smokies

Makes 1 pound

Ingredients:
16 oz. smokies
about 12 oz. bacon, cut into thirds
¾ cup brown sugar
toothpicks

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and do it well. If you don’t, you’ll have a not-so-fun pan to clean… if you can get it clean!

Take a smokie, wrap it in a piece of bacon, and stick a toothpick in it to hold in place. Place on prepared pan. Repeat until all smokies are wrapped. Sprinkle with brown sugar and toss until even coated.

Refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Place pan in preheated oven. Bake for 50 minutes, until bacon is slightly crisp and sugar is bubbling.

roasted garlic broccoli

roasted garlic broccoli | drag it through the gardenI bring to you a quick and easy recipe to get those veggies packed into your meals… in a way you will want to eat them! God knows I need all the help in that department I can get.

I am sorry about the lack of posts this past week. And I’m sorry if you have written me a comment and I have not responded. I was really on top of my updates for a while there. School just got super crazy within this last week and I am still trying to get on top of it. This whole Spanish senior thesis thing is driving me up a wall, mainly because (a) I have to re-read two Spanish books probably by next week, (b) I want to be in a blow-off non-literature-based Spanish class instead of writing this, and (c) I don’t want to have to present this in April… which I will have to do in front of a bunch of professors, unfortunately. I am already nervous.

Between that, having to write my chemistry senior thesis, all of my other classes and labs, and the start of hockey season (Let’s go Blues!), I have surrendered myself to the fact that I will probably have a minimal social life this semester.

roasted garlic broccoli

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:
6 cups broccoli florets
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cloves of garlic, minced
juice from half a lemon

Preheat oven to 375°F. On a baking sheet, toss together broccoli, olive oil, salt, and garlic. Spread out in a single layer. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20-23 minutes, until broccoli is cooked through and a little crispy in some parts. Squeeze lemon juice over broccoli and serve.

an update on life

I just wanted to give you all a quick update as to what’s going on and where I will be the next few days or the next week (hopefully that week does not need to be plural). Due to the amount of coursework in a Spanish class I was enrolled in and the overall unease I had when attending the class, I decided to drop and opt to write a thesis instead. Bad news: the abstract for the thesis is due on Tuesday, so I will be hitting the books hard this weekend and hopefully will end up with a nice finished product.

This added to coursework from other classes and another thesis I need to begin for my chemistry degree is going to add up, so bear with me for a little while. I will try to update as soon as possible with some great recipes!

baked ham and swiss sandwiches with poppy seeds

baked ham and swiss sandwiches with poppy seeds | drag it through the garden

You might recognize these sandwiches. Yep, I have posted them on here before. I did not know whether I should post them again. It felt a bit like turning in the same paper to two different professors.

…not that I would know…

But, I made these for dinner with spicy kale chips and it felt like a waste not to take pictures. And then when I compared the old pictures with the new ones (ignoring those not-so-pretty blinds in the background), I decided I in favor of re-publishing this recipe. Cut in half, of course. Because, as much as I love these sandwiches, I do not think I could eat 24 all by myself.

I told you before how I was voted “Most Likely to Open a Sandwich Shop” in my Spanish class solely because of these sandwiches.

I was also voted “Most Likely to Be Married First.” And while I don’t actively keep up with my fellow students from that class, no news of any engagement has appeared on Facebook. And Facebook knows everything, obviously. So, I suppose I still have a chance to fulfill both superlatives, although the second seems a lot more likely right now than the first.

Speaking of marriage, does anyone watch “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette”? Well, Lauren and I watched an entire season of “The Bachelorette” last week, the season with Emily Maynard (hey, it’s addicting). Anyhow, Jef is so freaking adorable. Who comes up with these sticky sweet things to say while avoiding sounding corny or like he did something wrong? Because, let’s face it, a lot (or at least some) of the sweet things that comes out of some guys’ mouth are just a way to butter you up before dropping a bomb. Like they turned all of your whites to pink in the wash…

baked ham and swiss sandwiches with poppy seeds

Makes 12 sandwiches

Ingredients:
12 dollar buns or small rolls, sliced in half
¼ pound deli ham
3 slices Swiss cheese, cut into four pieces each
¼ cup butter (1/2 stick), melted
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 350°F. Assemble sandwiches by evenly distributing ham and cheese to each bun. Replace top part of bun on top of cheese. Place sandwiches in a 9×13” pan.

In a small bowl, mix together butter, brown sugar, poppy seeds, Dijon mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Drizzle over sandwiches. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, until sandwiches are heated through and cheese is slightly melted.

papa g.’s famous caesar salad

caesar salad | drag it through the garden

Papa G.’s Famous Caesar Salad. No, I did not come up with that name myself. My dad did. And I could only publish the recipe if I stuck to his name.

I have been backlogged for forever, so this recipe should not have made an appearance on here for a couple of weeks. But, due to the polite request (read: mild harassment) of my father, I am posting it now.

This recipe has been in my family for ages, which is why I was initially torn about whether or not to relinquish it to the public. I remember trying to learn every step in the kitchen by my dad’s side. Then came the scary task of attempting to make the salad myself, which sometimes proved to be a tedious process as I tasted and tested until the proportions were just right. Now I have made this salad so much, I can tell when it is right solely by its appearance.

I absolutely hate ordering Caesar salads in restaurants because, nine times out of ten, I get what tastes like jarred Caesar dressing with a tiny bit of Parmesan and a couple of croutons over limp lettuce. But, this salad? I would replace every other Caesar salad with this salad if I could. Seriously.

papa g.’s famous caesar salad

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients:
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 2-oz. tin anchovy filets, thinly sliced and oil reserved
2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3 heaping tablespoons mayonnaise
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 large (or 3 small) hearts of romaine, torn into bite-size pieces
½ cup croutons (whatever kind you want)
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
juice from half a lemon

In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, sliced anchovies and reserved oil, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, mayonnaise, and Dijon mustard until well combined. Toss romaine with dressing until evenly coated. Add in croutons, sugar, Parmesan, and lemon juice and thoroughly mix. It is recommended to serve in frosted bowls (just place you bowls in the freezer an hour or so before you’re going to eat!).