Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Eggplant Parmesan

Every time we eat at Olive Garden, I order Eggplant Parmesan. My husband does think I'm crazy. My kids have tried it and like it but they always order something else. Well, I have been receiving eggplant from my farm share lately so I decided to try making it for the kids. My son even at the leftovers the next day. I really liked this recipe a lot. I really can't think of a better way to use up my eggplant.
My poor lonely eggplant! 
Eggplant Parmesan
2 medium eggplants, peeled and cut in 1/2 inch slices
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup flour
4 tsp olive oil, divided
1 cup milk
2 tsp butter
1 cup dry bread crumbs
1 tsp oregano 
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1jar of marinara sauce
 8 oz. mozzarella cheese, slice into thick pieces

Directions:
  1. In a colander, place the sliced eggplants.
  2. Sprinkle the eggplant with salt and allow to sit for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  4. Rinse and pat dry.
  5. On a plate, sprinkle the flour. Set aside.
  6. In a bowl, mix 2 tsp olive oil with the milk. Set aside. 
  7. On a plate, combine the bread crumbs with the oregano and Parmesan cheese. Set aside.
  8. In a large baking dish, pour the marinara sauce. Set aside.
  9. Dip the eggplant into the flour mixture. Shake any excess flour off.
  10. Dip the eggplant into the milk mixture.
  11. Dip the eggplant into the bread crumbs to coat. 
  12. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.
  13. Add the olive oil and 2 tsp butter.
  14. Add the coated eggplant and cook until golden brown.
  15. Place the golden eggplant into the baking dish. 
  16. Top the eggplant with slices of mozzarella cheese. 
  17. Bake the eggplant for 10 minutes. 
  18. Top with some of the marinara sauce before serving. 
Recipe adapted from Recipelion.

One year ago...............................I made Lemon Bars.
Two years ago.............................I made PB American Beauty Cake.
Did you already know......................
-Eggplant is classified as a fruit.
-Eggplant does contain small traces of nicotine.
-In ancient Asia, some aristocratic would dye their teeth black by using the skin of eggplant. (It is said to prevent tooth decay.)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Travel: Botanical Gardens

Before we went to the botanical gardens, I told the kids that I wanted them to learn one new plant's name and be able to describe the plant. During our visit, I would ask them if they had their plant and they told me they did. Not once did I ask my husband if he was going to do the game too. Well, he surprised me. When we were heading home, I asked the kids and they did very good. They named and described a plant for me. Then my husband named at least five plants. I told him I was impressed and he told me it was because he knew I would be asking. Plus he wanted to show up the kids. He won the game since I couldn't have named as many as he did without looking at my photos.
We decided to visit the botanical gardens since I wanted to bring my sister and the girls there. I was lucky to have chaperon my son on a field trip a couple of years ago. My husband had never been either. 
Throughout the gardens, there are these gigantic sculptors. The kids had a little fun with them like this fish attacking my daughter. The kids had fun saving her.
The gardens have paths through the woods which overlook the coast. There is a waterfall and wooden bridges. One of my favorite parts of the botanical gardens is the kids section. The kids sections resemble children's books like Peter Rabbit and stories by Robert McCloskey like Blueberries for Sal. There is a bear cave and a fairy garden for the kids to visit.
The kids can pretend to be part of the children's books like my son dressed up like a fisherman from the book Burt Dow Deep-Water Man.
Of course, the best part is all the beautiful flowers and immaculate landscape. My husband asked if we could have a yard like this place. I wish!
Did you already know........................
-In 2007, the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens opened.
-It took over 16 years of preparation to make the botanical gardens.
-The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens comprises of 270 acres of tidal shoreline. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Ice Cream Cake

My sister loves ice cream cakes. She loves them. Since we celebrated her birthday this weekend, I wanted to post a recipe for her. Yes, I made this dessert for her. Yes, she loved it. The kids loved it. How can one go wrong with ice cream and brownie? She loves Oreos and peanut butter cups so I included them in the dessert for her too. The best thing about making a homemade dessert for someone is that you can make it exactly to the persons liking like this dessert for my sister. I love my sister.
Ice Cream Cake
1 box of brownie mix (plus ingredients for the brownies)
1 container (14.3 oz) of Oreo cookies, fine crumbles
1 quart of peanut butter cup ice cream, softened slightly
20 miniature peanut butter cups, chopped
1 quart of cookies and cream ice cream, softened slightly
2 cups whip cream
Garnish: sprinkles

Directions
  1. In a 11x7 baking dish, bake the brownies according to directions. 
  2. Allow the brownies to cool completely.
  3. Sprinkle half of the Oreo crumbles over the cooled brownies. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, add the peanut butter cup ice cream. 
  5. Fold in the chopped miniature peanut butter cups.
  6. Evenly spread the ice cream over the Oreo crumbles and brownies.
  7. Sprinkle the remaining half of the Oreo crumbles over the peanut butter cup ice cream layer.
  8. Evenly spread the cookies and cream ice cream over the Oreo crumble and peanut butter cup ice cream layer.
  9. Evenly spread the whip cream over the top of the ice cream cake.
  10. Garnish the top with sprinkles.
  11. Cover tightly and place in freezer for several hours and the cake is frozen before serving.
  12. (Run a sharp knife under hot water before slicing to make it easier.)
Recipe adapted from Cookies and Cups

One year ago...........I made Ladybug cupcakes.
Two years ago.........I made Stracciatella Cookie Dough Ice Cream.
Did you already know..........
-President George Washington enjoyed ice cream at Mt. Vernon.
-The Library of Congress a recipe written by Thomas Jefferson for ice cream.
-First Lady Dolly Madison served oyster ice cream.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Spumoni

Have you ever had spumoni ice cream? It is three ice creams to make one great dessert. My friend told me how to make this dessert. It is like Neapolitan ice cream but with cherry, pistachio, and chocolate ice cream. The ice cream has candied cherries with nuts throughout it. It is easier to make this dessert with ice cream slightly softened or freshly homemade. This is the perfect dessert to serve on a hot day.
Spumoni 
1 pint of chocolate ice cream
1/2 cup hazelnuts, roasted
1 pint of cherry ice cream
1/2 cup candied cherries
1 pint of pistachio ice cream
1/2 cup pistachio, roasted

Directions:
  1. In a large bowl, combine the chocolate ice cream with the hazelnuts.
  2. Evenly spread the ice cream into a 13x10 baking dish.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the pistachio ice cream with the roasted pistachio.
  4. Evenly spread on top of the chocolate ice cream layer.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the cherry ice cream with the candied cherries.
  6. Evenly spread the cherry ice cram over the pistachio ice cream layer.
  7. Place plastic wrap on top of the ice cream and wrap well.
  8. Wrap a second time with aluminum foil.
  9. Place in the freezer.
  10. Serve once the ice cream has refrozen overnight.
  11. Serve in slices. 
One year ago...................................................Sunflower frosting.
Two years ago................................................Peach and Pluot Cobbler.
Did you already know....................................
-Spumoni originates from Italy.
-Vanilla ice cream can be substituted for the chocolate layer.
-Sometimes whip cream is folded into the ice cream.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Travel: Fort Knox

All summer, we had plans to visit Fort Knox but something would happen. A child would be in trouble. Another child was sick. The weather was a contributor to not heading up. Sometimes the beach was the trump card. Two of my Uncles from Mississippi even made it to Fort Knox before we did. Well, we finally did it. We made it to Fort Knox. The kids thought it was great with the labyrinth of tunnels. There were many places inside the fort that were dark so we had flashlights. We have plenty of pictures of the kids behind bars-it is a fort after all. 
The kids on a cannon. Blast off!
The kids climbed on everything. My sister and I were more tame. Maybe it was because we were worn out from all the stairs the kids insisted we climb. If a stairway lead to a dark place, we were there. Of course, we scared each other many times.
The kids acting sick at the old ambulance.
Also, all the kids had a partner. My sister so kindly volunteered to be my partner. At the end of our visit, my sister left me alone with the kids for a short time. Of course, I had more stairs to climb to head down to the water. I told my sister that I know she went to the car for a nap. 
The kids getting ready to conquer the fort!
We were lucky since it was a beautiful day. The sun was warm and the tunnels were cool. Most of the tunnels were dry. There were a few places water dripped down through the tunnels due to raining earlier in the day.
Let me help you up, partner!
Throughout the fort, there are cannons which the kids pretended to fire. Also, there are educational signs to learn more of the history of the fort but the kids were busy running through the tunnels. Inside the fort, the tunnels lead in one big circle.
Fort Knox has an entrance fee unless you have the State of Maine park pass or are a disabled Veteran. There is a gift shop but no dining facilities. We brought a lunch and had a picnic on the grounds. The fort does have an observatory but we skipped it since there was more than plenty for us to see.
Did you already know..........................
-In 1844, Fort Knox was established on the Penobscot River in Maine.
-Due to the British successfully invading the area twice, the Fort was built to protect the coastline. The Fort has never been attacked. 
-Fort Knox is named for the First Secretary of War: Major General Henry Knox.

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