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Posts from the ‘Recipes’ Category

Pita Bread Made with Whole Wheat Pastry Flour

This post definitely falls into the “If I can do it, so can you” category.

Today I made something that seems kind of magical to me. Pita bread. Actually, baking in general, particularly if it’s bread, seems magical to me. I think it’s the yeast.

My mom recently made some pitas and ever since then I’ve thought that I should try it too. Especially since I recently learned about the wonders of baking with whole wheat pastry flour as opposed to whole wheat flour.

So I Googled a recipe and found this one. Of course, I substituted the all purpose flour with the whole wheat pastry flour, but other than that, I followed the instructions exactly. Here’s the result:

Home Made Pita Pockets

See? They have pockets and everything! And the texture is so much better than the whole wheat pitas I buy at the store.

I think I like this baking thing. What’s next?

Oven Fried Eggplant

What is it about this time of year that turns me into a domestic diva? Maybe because it’s finally cool enough to be able to turn the oven on? Whatever the reason, I have a sudden, uncontrollable urge to cook healthy, unprocessed stuff.

I haven’t been to Trader Joe’s in ages, but the last time I went they had frozen fried eggplant slices that I used to like to have in sandwiches and for eggplant parmesan. Lately, I’ve been craving them, so today I made a batch of oven fried eggplant, which serves the same purpose and is a lot healthier.

Granted, this isn’t any sort of cutting edge recipe. It’s more of an idea, I think. But wevs. Do with it what you will.

Behold, the ingredients:

Oven Fried Eggplant Ingredients

That’s it. Egg whites, eggplant, and bread crumbs. Of course, you’re also going to want to have some cooking spray and salt & pepper on hand.

Pre-heat your oven to 450.

I peeled the eggplant because sometimes the skin can be a little tough. But that’s up to you. After that, cut them into half-inch slices and dredge them in the egg whites and breadcrumbs.

Dredging the eggplant

Liberally spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and lay the slices on it. Salt and pepper to taste, then spray (again liberally–pretty much everything I do is liberal) the tops. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn them over, giving them one last spray for good measure. Bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Note: Another method (which is tastier, frankly) is to brush the cookie sheet with olive oil, then drizzle oil on the slices instead of using the cooking spray. Keep in mind that I wanted to keep mine as low-calorie as possible, so I used cooking spray instead.

This is what you end up with:

Oven Baked Eggplant


Let ‘em cool and then put them in a freezer bag and freeze for future use. Or, make yourself a vegetable sandwich or a a batch of eggplant parmesan as soon as they come out of the oven. This is my favorite eggplant parm recipe, which you should seriously consider making at your earliest convenience.

CSA Box Challenge

Today our CSA box came. As you already know, that makes for a great day at Casa West, but now my challenge is to figure out what I’m gonna make with all the goodness. This is what I have to work with:

Picture of CSA Box ingredients

CSA box goodness: Garnet sweet potatoes, gravenstein apples, eureka lemon, shishito peppers, red plums, sweet peppers, zucchini, globe eggplant, bi-color corn, beets, and leaf lettuce. Not shown: cantaloupe. Read more

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

Chili isn’t necessarily all that ground-breaking imagination-wise, but I created my own version of slow cooker turkey chili that Mick and I love. In the winter months I make this several times a month, and during the summer it’s a quick, easy meal that doesn’t require turning on the oven.

Picture of ingredients

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Recipe: Peach Crumble

Whenever I’m called upon to bring a dessert, fruit crumbles or cobblers are the first thing I think of. They’re quick, easy, and delicious, and I usually have all the ingredients I need to make one on hand.

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Chicken with Coconut Milk

I have long been a fan of Indian food and at some point I decided I wanted to try my hand at cooking it. This is the recipe book I bought:

Curried Favors: Family Recipes from South India

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Roasted Portobello Lasagna

Lately, I've been a little obsessed with lasagna. I pretty much make a batch every time I entertain. Why? Because it's delish. And because it's a dish you can make ahead, then pop it in the oven when it's time to eat dinner. That means I get to socialize with my guests instead of slaving away at the stove while everyone else partays.

My go-to lasagna recipe is from Cooking Dinner: Simple Italian Recipes Everyone Can Make. It features a simple meat ragu and bechemel sauce version that's oh so yummy. But my sister-in-law is visiting from England this week and I needed a vegetarian version. This Roasted Portobello Lasagna is what I came up with (it's basically a mash-up of a few lasagna recipes).

Roasting the portobello mushrooms brings out their rich, smoky flavor. Coupled with creamy bechemel and sharp parmesan-reggiano, this lasagna is a truly amazing dish (if I don't say so myself).


This is the lasagna before it's been baked. Even uncooked it's beautiful!


1 1/2 lbs portobello mushrooms
Olive oil
4 cups milk
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
1/8 ground nutmeg
12 lasagna noodles
8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup freshly grated parmesan-reggiano cheese

For the bechemel sauce:
Heat the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it's just about to boil. Meanwhile, melt the butter over low heat in a larger saucepan. When melted, remove from heat and whisk in the flour until smooth. Continue whisking, and add the heated milk about one cup at a time.

Return the mixture to low heat. Add salt and nutmeg and stir until the sauce reaches a boil. Cook for three more minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to use.

For the roasted portobellos:
Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.

Remove stems and slice the caps about 1/4 inch thick. Drizzle olive oil over a cookie sheet and lay the slices closely together on the pan. Drizzle more olive oil over the slices and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Roast portobellos for about ten minutes, until they are sizzling. Turn them over, then roast for an additional ten minutes. They will shrink considerably and become a lovely rich brown color. Set aside until ready to use.

For the lasagna noodles:
Fill a large pot with water, salt it, and bring to boil. Add the noodles and boil for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water until cool enough to handle.

Assemble the lasagna:
Ladle a spoonful of bechemel into the bottom of an 8x12x2 inch pan. Add a layer of noodles. Add another layer of bechemel, 1/3 of the mushrooms, top with a sprinkling of mozzarella and 1/4 cup parmesan-reggiano. Repeat 2 more times. Add a final layer of noodles, sauce, and parmesan-reggiano.

Bake the lasagna in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes, or until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbling. Allow to sit for 15 minutes at room temperature before serving.

Substitutions: Take a page from my friend Ben's recipe book and use sharp white cheddar cheese instead of the mozzarella and parmesan-reggiano.

Finally, here's where I get all food-snob on your ass. If you haven't tried lasagna (meat or otherwise) with bechemel instead of ricotta or <shudder> cottage cheese, do yourself a favor and try it. You'll never look at the world the same after that.



Baba Ganoosh Recipe

I got an eggplant in my Farm Fresh to You box this week and as soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to make baba ganoosh with it. I love this simple eggplant dip–I devour it every time we go to Taverna Tony.

Here's the easy recipe:

1 large eggplant (1 pound)
1/4 cup tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
Fresh parsley (garnish)

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Pierce the eggplant 10 – 12 times with a fork and put it in a baking dish. Bake for about 50 minutes or until soft. Let cool and remove skin.

Finely chop the eggplant and combine with remaining ingredients.

Garnish with fresh parsley and serve at room temperature with pita bread or crackers. Or, if you're like me, eat it plain straight out of the bowl.

Penne Pasta with Shrimp, Tomato and Basil

A long time ago, I used to go to a restaurant in Los Angeles that served a dish called Pasta Portofino (or something like that). I don’t remember the exact ingredients, but I know it included penne pasta, shrimp, tomato, and basil. It was a favorite of mine, and eventually I came up with my own version of it. The restaurant

is long since closed, but I still enjoy this recipe all the time.

This is a light pasta dish that really lets the flavors of shrimp, tomato, basil, and garlic shine. I originally created the recipe without the zucchini, but one day I had one left over and I decided to add it. When it’s chopped so finely, it adds nutrition and texture without a heavy zucchini flavor.


Cook Time: 25 mins.

Level: Easy
Yield: 2


1/2 tbs exra virgin olive oil
1/2 lb raw jumbo shrimp, peeled, tails off, and deveined
4 garlic cloves, minced finely
1/2 small zucchini, chopped in food processor or mini prep for a very fine consistency
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt (plus salt for boiling pasta)
2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
4-6 leaves of fresh basil, chopped
1 cup penne pasta
Freshly grated parmesan to taste

In a large pot, put water to boil for pasta with a handful of salt. When water boils, cook pasta until al dente, about 11 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.

Mince and chop your garlic and zucchini and set aside. Cut the tomatoes in half and gently squeeze out some of the juice and seeds into the sink, then chop.

In a large skillet, heat the oil on medium. Do not let it get too hot before putting in your garlic and zucchini because the garlic could burn. Sautee for 1-2 minutes. Add the shrimp, red pepper flakes, and salt and sautee until the shrimps are pink and almost cooked through, 2-3 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and finish cooking the shrimp 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the fresh basil.

Add the pasta to the skillet and mix thoroughly. Serve in bowls or plates and top with fresh parmesan.

copyright Holly West 2009

This recipe originally appeared at in 2009.