Best Ever Eggplant Parmesan

I'm seriously mourning the fact that my roommates and I polished off this best ever eggplant parmesan a couple weeks ago.

Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) most of the photos in this post are melted cheese.

I was really nervous about my ability to take food photos while living in D.C. this summer.  Food photos are sort of a finicky business. You have to have a good-sized window, and it has to face a certain direction in order to get the best light, which only occurs at certain times of the day.

I'm  learning, but I still haven't quite mastered the lighting situation yet. Or the food photography situation, to be honest.

But,  once I moved into my D.C. apartment, I was delighted to discover that I have a window in my room that is perfect for food photography.  The only problem is that my room is on the third floor and the kitchen is on the second.

Running up and down the stairs with ingredients and different stages of a recipe for a photo would just result in too much stress and/or marinara sauce all over our white carpets.

So,  you have photo after photo of melted cheese. There is eggplant under that cheese, though, I promise.  Delicious, disintegrating, melt-in-your-mouth eggplant.

This recipe comes from my sweet friend Erin, who has guest posted here several times before (First with this gluten-free pumpkin pie, then this delicious crock pot cranberry sauce)  I was feeling a bit uninspired, food-wise, at the beginning of the summer, and she graciously sent me the recipe for her mom's famous eggplant parmesan.

This is a frequently made and well-loved recipe.  Here's Erin:

I am not exactly sure if I love this recipe so much because it is ooey gooey and filled with cheese and sauce, or if I love it because it reminds me of special occasions. In my family my mother’s Eggplant Parmesan is famous and almost everyone requests it as their special meal for their birthday, graduation, confirmation…really everything! This is comical because Eggplant Parmesan is an Italian dish and we are about as Irish as it gets. I hope you try this very simple, yet incredibly delicious, dish and make it a special meal for your family as well. 

Eggplant Parmesan

2 large purple eggplants, sliced into ½ inch round medallions
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded  (as you can see, I used the block of mozzarella cheese for mine because I like the big globs of melty cheese, but either works!)
2 cups Parmesan cheese, shredded finely
1 bowl full of breadcrumbs of your choice, seasoned to taste*
 2 large eggs, whisked in a bowl
32oz your favorite marinara sauce
Olive oil

Prepare an assembly line of your ingredients: a plate of the eggplant slices, a bowl of the whisked egg, and a bowl of the bread crumbs

Prepare a skillet coated in olive oil on high heat next to your bowl of breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit

Cover base of large glass pan in thin layer of your favorite marinara sauce

Dip a slice of eggplant in egg allowing excess to drip, then in breadcrumbs and then in a prepared skillet with olive oil. Repeat for all slices.  Warning: your fingers will get messy so have a friend nearby with a towel.

Allow eggplant pieces to cook (flip after a few minutes) until browned on both sides. Arrange slices in a single layer in your glass pan on top of the sauce.

Top the eggplant with an even layer of 1 cup of the mozzarella, then an even layer of 1 cup of the Parmesan. Repeat for a second layer.

Bake for 1 hour in pre-heated oven. After 30 min, top your pan with aluminum foil to prevent the top layer of cheese from burning.  (Alternatively, you can keep it covered with aluminum foil for most of the cooking time and then set the oven to broil for the last couple minutes to achieve the perfect golden brown melted cheese.)

Sprinkle with basil and enjoy with a salad, glass of wine, and a few friends or family members!

*if you do not want to buy prepared breadcrumbs, I recommend toasting up a loaf of your everyday sandwich bread and throwing it in the food processor. Then add some of your favorite seasonings like salt, pepper, garlic powder and parsley.

Links I'm Loving


I had a food post all made, photographed, and half-way written for today, but at the moment I just don't have the energy to finish it. I'm finally back in DC after a long weekend of traveling home to the beach for a wedding .

So, instead, I'm sharing a list of things I'm into at the moment.

Eating--strawberries! Also dark chocolate, almond butter, too many pad thai noodles, and these lunch wraps.

Listening--to the new Laura Marling album.  One of my co-workers turned me onto her music and I love it.

Drinking--lots of tea. Can't wait to try this method.

Thinking--about this Shauna Niequist sermon that Adam and I listened to it on the drive back today. Shauna talks about the fear so many of us have about missing out on things or experiences and the way it causes us to be discontent and absent in our own lives.

Wasting--time reorganizing my pinterest boards.

Dreaming--about these milk chocolate cookies and cream cookies. So many good things.

Eyeing--this outfit. Too bad I'm not spending money on clothes any time soon.

Laughing--at this video. My love for him is unending.

Reading--Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite books ever and I adore Atticus Finch. I've heard some worrying things about this new book, but I'm reserving judgement until I finish reading it.

Wishing--I'd celebrated national ice cream day yesterday by eating one of these.

Hope you have a good week friends!


Pappardelle with Fresh Tomatoes, Mozzarella, & Basil

I have a super simple pasta recipe for you today, courtesy of our wedding menu.

Since we loved the food at our wedding, I decided a couple years ago that it would be fun to recreate one item from our wedding menu for each anniversary.

For our first anniversary, I attempted to recreate our wedding cake (amaretto cake with lavender icing), and for our second anniversary, I made tomato, corn & avocado stacks with basic shallot vinaigrette.

This year I decided to recreate the simple papparadelle with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella & basil.  Life is hectic for us right now with both of us living in different cities, so a simple recipe was exactly what we needed.

This morning we listened to a segment on the radio about how similar couples become after many years together.  Over time, they begin to mirror each other's speech patterns and body language, and even develop their own ways of communicating that others may not understand.

I'm already noticing signs of this with me and Adam. Even though we've only been married for 3 years, we've been together for 10.  Last year, we got each other almost identical anniversary cards.  (They each had a little boy and little girl kissing. I guess we both feel like we've grown up together, which we sort of have.)

This year, we wrote very similar messages in our cards.  The coming months will be difficult for us, for lots of different reasons, and we're both struggling with uncertainty and fear about what comes next.

However, we're also finding tremendous comfort in the fact that, whatever happens, we're in this together.  For better or for worse, in good times and in bad, for always.

There's lots of comfort to be found in the everyday routines we share together, too.  This simple pasta dish we shared Friday night after a long week apart was definitely one of them.

I hope you enjoy it too!

Pappardelle with Fresh Tomatoes, Mozzarella, & Basil

12 ounces papparadelle pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil 
2 roma tomatoes, sliced
1 can san marzano tomatoes
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cubed
handful of fresh basil, thinly sliced

Cook pasta according to package directions, ensuring that you add plenty of salt to the pasta water. 

Meanwhile, add olive oil to a saucepan over medium heat. Add fresh tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes, or until tomatoes are starting to fall apart.  (If you're a garlic lover, you can add a clove of minced garlic or a pinch of garlic powder here.) 

Add canned tomatoes to the pan. Continue cooking on low for anywhere from 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. 

When the pasta is ready, use a slotted spoon to add pasta directly to the tomato sauce. (A little pasta water is a good thing! It will then out the tomato sauce and adds a little starchiness which makes a lovely sauce.)  Add the cubed mozzarella and stir to combine.  The mozzarella will melt and become a little stringy. Embrace it!

Sprinkle with fresh basil and enjoy with a glass of wine.


Spinach Quinoa Salad with Peaches, Goat Cheese, and Cinnamon-Sugar Pecans

Dear July,

Hi. I'm sooo happy to see you.

I know you're not everyone's favorite month, but I think you're mine.

I'll take all your fresh peaches and corn and tomatoes. All your popsicles and ice cream and smore's by campfire.

I'll even take your blazing temperatures and humidity as long as there's some water nearby and maybe a cold beer.

Just promise me summer will last a liiiiiittle bit longer this year.

I'm not ready for this to end.

Sincerely yours,

Spinach Quinoa Salad with Peaches, Goat Cheese, and Cinnamon-Sugar Pecans

1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt 
2 ripe peaches, sliced
4 cups fresh spinach
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
handful of cinnamon sugar pecans (recipe below)
honey balsamic vinaigrette (recipe below) 

Add the quinoa and water to a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Add salt. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let cook for 15 minutes. Fluff quinoa with a fork and set aside to cool. (You can make this a day ahead of time.)

Arrange the spinach on the two plates. Top with cooled quinoa, peaches, pecans, and goat cheese. Drizzle with honey balsamic vinaigrette. 

*Makes 2 servings but can be easily doubled or tripled. 

Cinnamon-Sugar Pecans 

1 cup pecans
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Add pecans, melted butter, cinnamon, and sugar to a ziplock bag. Shake to evenly distribute butter and spices.  Pour nuts into a dry saucepan over medium heat.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until fragrant and slightly toasted.

Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette 

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons olive oil

Whisk together the balsamic vinegar and honey.  Continue whisking as you gradually pour in the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.