Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The #HungryHusbandProject - 4th Edition: Eggplant Parmesan with Spaghetti (Squash)

It's been a while since I contributed to the #HungryHusbandProject, and I am embarrassed to say that I actually had 2 other meals to write about, but managed to misplace the husband's score sheets. Oh well.

The 4th edition of the #HungryHusbandProject is Eggplant Parmesan with Spaghetti (Squash), inspired by my college friend/roommate, Kelly. Kelly is pregnant with her 3rd baby and due any day now. Her mom made her some Eggplant Parmesan to see if it would induce labor (so far it hasn't)...but it sounded delicious, so I decided to make it tonight. This recipe is low-fat, low-carb, and vegetarian. I wasn't sure how the hubs would feel about it, but when I texted him from the grocery store, he was all for it.


Left: Fresh out of the oven; Right: For a low-carb meal, serve over cooked spaghetti squash. (I made mine in the microwave.)

Servings: 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 1 large eggplant (or 2 small eggplants)
  • 1 jar spaghetti or marinara sauce
  • 2 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 (2 cup) container low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • Italian seasoning (to taste)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray.
  2. Beat eggs in small bowl. In another bowl, combine parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
  3. Slice eggplant(s) into 1/2" slices. Dip each slice in egg, and then dredge through parmesan cheese mixture. Place in single layer on cookie sheet.
  4. Bake at  425°F for 20 minutes, turning slices halfway through.
  5. Spray a 9"x13" pan with non-stick spray. Cover bottom of pan in a thin layer of spaghetti/marinara sauce. Layer half the eggplant slices on the bottom.
  6. Top with another thin layer of spaghetti/marinara sauce, then spread ricotta cheese evenly over the sauce.
  7. Add remaining eggplant slices, then cover with the remaining spaghetti/marinara sauce, then mozzarella cheese.
  8. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes. Serve over cooked spaghetti or spaghetti squash.
It smelled so good while it was cooking and took me less than an hour to make. Surprisingly, the hubs really liked it and said he'd definitely eat it again.


Here is the verdict:

 28/30  Taste
 20/20  Presentation
 10/10  Originality
 10/10  Re-heatability
 10/10  Clean-up
 20/20  Overall Ranking 
----------------------------------
98/100  Final Score
    A+    Letter Grade

Comments:
"Had surprising flavor for a vegetarian dish. Might even taste better the next go-around!"

This is my highest-rated meal so far, which is surprising since it's vegetarian. (I swear I said that last time.) The original recipe I was looking at called for ground hamburger, which was browned and then placed over the ricotta cheese layer. This is an option for those who eat meat. I've never cooked eggplant before, and I've actually only eaten it a few times. I definitely didn't mind the flavor. I have to admit though, my fave part was the melted mozzarella cheese. :)

Luv,
the Bride

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Becoming a vegetarian

I have been eating a vegetarian diet for just over a month now. (Technically, a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet, as I eat eggs and dairy.) It has actually been a lot easier than I thought it would be, and certainly much easier than eating low-carb. I had to figure out a few vegetarian fast food options for those days when I have to go to work but haven't had time to pack a meal. I've started visiting Taco Bell a little more and Panera Bread a little less. (I love how easy (and cheap) the Cheesy Bean & Rice Burritos and Bean Burritos are.) I've also fallen in love with The Remedy Diner


Overall, I don't feel much different. I was expecting to feel different, maybe lack energy (or gain it), but I feel about the same. One thing my friend Beth pointed out to me was that I need to be careful of my soy intake since I have hypothyroidism. Luckily I have a physical and thyroid check up next week, so I'll discuss it with my doctor then. 

I was only planning on doing it for a week, but a week turned into two weeks, and two weeks turned into a month...I think I will likely incorporate fish and seafood in (pescetarian), but we'll see.


A few things I've discovered: 

  • Excluding meat cuts down on cooking time significantly! 
  • You don't have to include meat for a meal to be tasty.
  • Cutting out meat was not as hard as I thought it would be.
  • I've met more vegetarians in the veterinary field than anywhere else.
  • Vegetarian restaurants are pretty darn good.
  • There's usually a way to "vegetarianize" or "veganize" a meal and make it still taste good.
  • Raw meat grosses me out a lot more than it used to. (I never did like cooking chicken very much.)
  • LOTS of food (packaged, pre-packed, prepared, un-prepared) contain meat or meat products.
On another note, the hubs and I have been cooking up an interesting project we want to start together. More on that later. :)

Luv,
the Bride