Lola's Victory Garden

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lola's Eggplant Rotolo

My garden has been producing, but not very prolifically due to lack of rain. In the mean time, I thought I'd share with you an Original Recipe By Lola, Lola's Eggplant Rotolo. I did not plant eggplant this year, so I purchased mine from my local farmer's market.

OMG! This is so delicious. I was trying to duplicate a recipe for an Eggplant Rotolo at a local tapas bar. This turned out even better than the original. I've attached a photo, but it was taken after we ate dinner. It doesn't do it justice.
Lola's Eggplant Rotolo
1 large Eggplant
1 large tub of Ricotta Cheese
Mozzarella Cheese, shredded (about 1 pound)
1/2 of 1 small box of frozen Spinach (use fresh if you have it.)
3 eggs, beaten
Vegetable Oil
Cooking Spray

Bread Crumb Mixture:
Bread Crumbs
Parmesan Cheese
Spices to season Bread Crumb Mixture:

Spaghetti Sauce (about 1 quart):
Mine is a secret, so you'll have to substitute your own recipe or use store bought sauce.

Slice Eggplant into 1/4 inch long slices. Salt eggplant and layer in strainer/colander with paper towels. Put a plate and a heavy weight, like a large can or book. Place strainer/colander into a larger bowl to catch the drainage. This allows the moisture from the Eggplant to be removed and it removes the bitterness from the Eggplant. Allow to sit with the weight on it for several hours. You will notice a brownish colored liquid in the drain bowl. Discard this, then thoroughly rinse and dry each slice of Eggplant. (I know rinsing afterward sounds counter intuitive, but trust me, this process removes the bitterness and you will definitely notice the difference if you skip this step.)

Mix Bread Crumb Mixture thoroughly in a bowl large enough to dip the Eggplant slices into.

Dip Eggplant into beaten eggs, then dredge in Bread Crumb Mixture.

In a large frying pan, pour about a 1/4 inch layer of Vegetable Oil. Heat oil. Test oil by putting a drop of water into it. If it disburses, the oil is hot enough. Fry Breaded Eggplant slices on both sides until golden brown. Allow to drain on cooling racks, or paper towels. Set aside.

Defrost Frozen Spinach in Microwave Oven. Squeeze water out and press a clean paper towel over the top to remove any excess moisture.

In a medium bowl combine Ricotta Cheese and Spinach.

Spoon a layer of the Ricotta Cheese/Spinach mixture onto each slice. Using a spoon, dribble a bit of Spaghetti Sauce down the middle of each slice. Sprinkle a small amount of Shredded Mozzarella Cheese over the top, being sure to reserve some to top off the dish before baking. Roll each slice individually, using a single wooden toothpick to secure each.

In a 9x12 baking dish, spray thoroughly with Cooking Spray. Add a layer of Spaghetti Sauce. Add each Eggplant Roll to the baking dish.

Top with reserved Shredded Mozzarella Cheese. Use cooking spray to coat a sheet of Aluminum Foil large enough to cover baking dish. Cover baking dish with foil. Bake in 325 oven for 40 minutes. Remove Aluminum Foil, bake an additional 5-15 minutes until cheese on top browns.


Lola's Victory Garden©2009-2010

Friday, June 18, 2010

Finally! Garden Photos!

Due to my back issues, and lack of help with the garden from my kids, I decided to do a raised bed garden.  This way I can tend to weeds and pick the produce myself and no bending or stooping is required.  I already had most of the supplies (railroad ties, cinder blocks, planter box recycled from curbside, large pots and several bags of dirt unused from last year.)  I purchased 2 pre-cut pieces of plywood to form the bottom of my raised beds, along with more bags of dirt.

I planted Beefsteak Tomato plants in the raised bed area of the cinder blocks, and in the large planters (ran out of room, lol!).  I also planted 2 Kohlrabi plants in the raised bed area of the cinder blocks and 2 in the large orange planter.  I planted 4 varieties of peppers (A sweet Italian Red Pepper variety, Banana Peppers, Jalapeno Peppers and Green Bell Peppers), and 4 Roma  Tomato plants in the planter box.  I planted Basil plants in the openings of the cinder blocks.  Basil aids in pest control for the tomato plants.  And besides, no one can ever have too much Basil.  Lol!

I still haven't planted my Petunias.  I hope to get to them soon.  I need to purchase more dirt.

So how's your garden growing?

Lola's Victory Garden ©2009-2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Garden Procrastination

Yes, there will be a Lola's Victory Garden this year. I'm just getting a late start, as usual. Last week I purchased my plants. Mostly Beefsteak Tomatoes, a few Roma Tomatoes (they only had a few left), basil, green bell pepper, jalapeno pepper, yellow banana pepper, and I think Kohlrabi.

Last week I also purchased a few 1/4 pieces of plywood for part of the base of my raised garden beds.

Monday we set about to assemble the raised beds and purchased 6 additional bags of soil to add to the 3 bags left from last year. I utilized the landscape timbers I purchased last year, along with the recently purchased plywood, and cinder blocks which I got from a few years ago. I also will be utilizing a large planter box which I literally picked up the night before trash pick up one night. I will be recycling Styrofoam blocks from packaging I've saved up to raise up the bottom of the planter box, so as not to use an excessive amount of soil. My raised beds don't look pretty, but they accomplish what I need. That is, that they are raised beds and will allow me to tend to my garden more easily due to my back issues.

Rain is expected on Tuesday, so actual planting will not commence until the weather clears.

I will have photos of the garden beds as soon as I am able to take some.

How's your garden growing?

Lola's Victory Garden©2009-2010

Thursday, April 29, 2010

B-bye Entrecard

I will be leaving Entrecard May 5th. Please become a follower and bookmark my site so you don't miss out on anything at Lola's Victory Garden.

Why am I leaving? Too many of my blog pals have been getting hit with Trojans and Viruses while visiting sites through Entrecard to drop. I don't think I even have that many blog pals, and when I'm hearing it this often amongst a small group, that means the danger is too much to ignore. Entrecard is ignoring the problem, so it's time to leave.

Yes, I will miss the traffic, but it hasn't been that much lately anyway. Time to cut the apron strings and be free.

The other 2 blogs I own will also be leaving Entrecard, so please visit them, follow them and bookmark them so you don't miss out.

Lola's Diner
Fire Crotch Rocket

Lola's Victory Garden©2009-2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Garden Thoughts

As the weather turns more Spring-like (well not really the past couple days, it's been fairly cool, which I do like) thoughts turn to gardening plans.

Unfortunately, this years vegetable garden will be scaled down from last year. I had originally hoped to expand, but since this year I will be handling it solo, except for when I can badger the kids into helping me, smaller will have to do.

I envision a raised bed using cinder blocks and landscape timbers. (I already have plenty on hand.) Probably mostly tomatoes and zucchini, with some herbs.

In terms of other gardening activities, I plan on adding landscaping rock to the front of the porch area. I'm thinking the white rocks, rather than river rock. That will make the Lilac Bushes stand out when they are in bloom.

I have a large planter box, about 1' x 4' that I need to paint. Looks a bit like this one:
I can't decide on the color. It was originally a boring brown, but needs repainting. My house is a kind of grayish-blue. I'm debating whether to go with a Country Blue or Barn Red. Any thoughts?

Lola's Victory Garden

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Scalloped Potatoes And Ham

This is one of my favorites my Mom used to make. It uses leftover ham and potatoes. When potatoes are $2.99 for 10 pounds, this is a real inexpensive meal. When I bake a ham for the holidays I cut the leftovers into cubes and put into zip-top bags. Each bag contains enough for a large batch of Scalloped Potatoes And Ham. I also take the bone and put it in a zip-top bag and throw it in the freezer for a future date for making Split Pea Soup.

When my Mom used to make this, it wasn't a side dish, it was dinner. When I make it for my family I use a large baking pan in the hopes of having leftovers the next day. Every time our son manages to eat all the leftovers before I look for them in the fridge the next day for lunch. I guess that tells you how good it is.

Lola's Scalloped Potatoes And Ham
Russet Potatoes (peeled and sliced thinly)
Ham (cubed)
Milk (you can use Cream, Whole Milk, 2%, 1% or Skim Milk.)
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Non-stick cooking spray

If you slice your potatoes very thin, the top layer gets very crispy. If you don't care for that, slice them about 1/4 inch thick. For the Milk, you can go full fat with the Cream, or you can even use Skim Milk, it still turns out delicious.

Spray your baking dish or pan with non-stick cooking spray. Layer sliced potatoes in bottom of pan. Lightly sprinkle with Salt, Pepper and Flour. Sprinkle some of the Ham pieces. Cut the Butter into small bits and dot the mixture in the pan with some Butter. Add another layer of sliced Potatoes and continue layering until you reach the top of the pan. Add Milk, being careful not to overfill your pan. You want enough liquid to make the creamy sauce, but not so much that it bubbles over while cooking.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees about 30-45 or until done. You may want to take off the cover for the last 5 minutes or so to brown the top layer.

Lola's Victory Garden

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pantry Porn

This is my canned good pantry. I have all my dry goods in a slim tall pantry cabinet in my kitchen, which I will not photograph because even though I painstakingly re-organized it about a month ago, the kids have trashed it. I'm sure my canned good pantry will shortly experience the same thing. (Note: This is not the way I would have organized the canned goods, you can't see what's behind things. See that beige shelving unit? It's empty. I would have utilized that so I could see everything I had, like grocery store shelves. But beggars can't be choosers, the kids organized this with some supervision by Anastasia. It definitely is better than bags of canned goods on the floor, like it was before they re-organized it.)

Storm @ Confessions of A Psychotic Housewife posted awhile back asking for photos of pantries. So I'm a little late!

As a kid my Mom always had a well stocked pantry so that she always had basics on hand and didn't have to run to the store all the time. I've learned it comes in handy when I've experienced issues with delayed disability checks too. I always know I have food on hand. Last November when my check was delayed we had a full pantry and freezer to keep us fed. Had I not planned ahead, we would have been without food. Keeping a stocked pantry also helps me take advantage of sales too. I replenish items as they go on sale, so I'm paying the lowest price.

Lola's Victory Garden

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Chicken Cacciatore

I've had a taste for Chicken Cacciatore lately and since cut-up chicken was at a fairly good price I decided to made it on Sunday. Oh my! I've forgotten how good it is.

The recipe amounts are estimates, as I did not measure, I did it from memory from when my Italian Mom used to make it. Well, not exactly...I cheated and used canned Hunt's Traditional Sauce.

Lola's Easy Chicken Cacciatore
1 cut-up chicken (or whatever chicken parts are your favorite)
Olive Oil (a couple tablespoons for browning the chicken)
Flour (about 1 1/2 Cups for dredging the chicken)
Rosemary (about a teaspoon, crushed)
Basil (about a tablespoon)
Oregano (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
Pepper (about a 1/2 teaspoon)
Kosher Salt (or regular salt, about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
Your favorite tomato sauce (about 32 ounces)
3/4 Cup Dry White Wine

Mix together the Flour, Rosemary, Basil, Oregano, Pepper and Salt thoroughly. Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture. In a large skillet, heat Olive Oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and saute until brown. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Make your own sauce, or use prepared sauce. Pour into your crockpot. Adjust the spices if you like. I jacked up the canned sauce with about 3 tablespoons of garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons of Basil and 1/2 a teaspoon of Oregano. Add 3/4 cup of Dry White Wine to the sauce. Stir thoroughly. Use tongs to transfer the browned chicken pieced into the crockpot. I set the crockpot for 4 hours and then turned it down to keep warm until dinner time.
(Sorry about the lousy photo. This was part of the leftovers. I should have taken the photo on Sunday, but I forgot.) I served my Chicken Cacciatore with fettucine, but you can serve it with your favorite pasta. (Sadly it was from a box, I had no time to make fresh using my pasta maker. I had to run errands all afternoon for my sick partner. Next time I hope to make my own fresh pasta to accompany this.)

Lola's Victory Garden

Monday, January 18, 2010

Depression Era Cooking/Homemade Pasta...

This Homemade Pasta recipe in this post is from "Wisdom, Memories, and Recipes From The Great Depression - Clara's Kitchen" by Clara Cannucciari and her Grandson, Christopher Cannucciari. The name may look familiar if you've checked out her depression cooking videos on youtube.

A little book review before the recipe...I was a bit disappointed with the book. I was hoping for lots of depression era recipes, ways to stretch staples. Instead of that, there were colorful stories from Clara's past and not very many recipes. Of course she did include her Poorman's Dinner, which is a big hit with my kids. I also may try the Lentils with Rice. Many of the recipes I wouldn't even consider inexpensive. Meatballs, eggplant, caprese salad all call for expensive ingredients - beef, eggplant (unless you grow your own) and mozzarella balls (unless you make your own).

Homemade Pasta
1 1/4 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 Large Eggs
Pinch of Salt

1. Add the ingredients to a food processor, or make the dough by hand, first pouring the flour into a mound on a clean surface. Break the eggs into the well and add the salt. With a fork, start working the rest of the flour into the eggs in the center. When the dough becomes difficult to work with a fork, use your hands to work the rest of the flour into the eggs. Knead the dough for several minutes, until it has a nice, squishy texture. You may need to add more flour as you go.

2. Cut the dough into six equal pieces and flatten each piece with a rolling pin. Pre the dough through your pasta machine, folding each piece in thirds as you roll it through. Keep pressing the dough through the machine until you achieve the desired thickness. After each rolling, lay out the dough on clean towels, making sure the edges don't touch. Rest them on the towels for about 10 minutes, giving them some time to dry out.

3. Pass the dough through the cutter of your pasta machine or cut by hand. Cook the pasta to the desired doneness and toss it with your favorite pasta topping. Just be careful, homemade pasta cooks much faster than dry. You really only need to warm it---probably not more than 3 or 4 minutes at most, depending on the thickness and shape.

I've been wanting to make homemade pasta for awhile now. This past weekend I snagged a Popeil Automatic Pasta Machine from my local for just $15. That's less than 1 meal out. I'll be honest, I'm a sucker for those infomercials and I'm amazed that I never did buy one when the infomercials first came out. According to those original infomercials (1990's), homemade pasta costs 25-30 cents per pound, a bit more now, but still a bargain, you can't beat the taste, and it's fun too!
Sunday night I made Chicken Parmigiana with homemade Vermicelli. The reviews were rave! We haven't had homemade pasta since going to a local (very pricey) italian restaurant. The meal at a restaurant would have easily cost $18.95 per person. Everyone in my family is now offering suggestions on what kind of pasta to make next.

Lola's Victory Garden

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What's for dinner when I don't feel like cooking?

Check my home canned stash.

BBQ'd Pork (also called Pulled Pork)
I got the recipe from Mom's Cafe Home Cooking - Homecanned Barbeque Pork. I did make one modification though. After the meat was done, I removed the cooked roast from the cooking liquid, pressing out as much liquid as possible, removed visible fat and then refrigerated the roast separate from the cooking liquid. This allowed me to remove the excess fat from the cooking liquid/sauce and remove any fat I missed on the roast. Then I shredded the roast with 2 forks, added the de-fatted cooking liquid/sauce, heated it to a boil, stirring to insure consistent temperature, and then canned per Garden Gnome's instructions. As you can see from my jar, very little fat.

When we opened the jar we spooned it into a saucepan, heated to a boil and served on white bread. (That's what we had, and since this was a last second meal, there was no time to make rolls with the bread machine.) This was just as delicious as if I had made the roast the very same day. Nice and moist and flavorful. I actually canned it last summer. Delish!

Lola's Victory Garden

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Eats

Some foods that are traditionally eaten on New Year's Day are Hoppin John and Smothered Collard Greens. Both are supposed to bring prosperity and good luck. I started making Hoppin John a couple of years ago. This year was my first attempt at Smothered Collard Greens.

I use Emeril Lagasse's recipe for Hoppin' John. Our son was a bit upset with me for not adding smoked sausage like I did last year. Oh well, you go with what you have and what you can afford, right? For the Smothered Collard Greens I kind of combined parts of 2 recipes I saw online. I made a lot so that I can serve the leftovers with ham on Saturday.

Lola's Smothered Collard Greens
3 bags of Pre-washed Collard Greens
1 Ham Hock
8 ounces of Bacon cut into small slices
Kosher Salt (a good amount, about a tablespoon, more or less to taste)
Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning (to taste, I used about a teaspoon) (You can substitute any hot sauce.)
Medium Size Red Onion Sliced

I started with the Ham Hock in about 3 cups of water and added in Collard Greens as they wilted and continued to add more as there was room in the pot.

In a frying pan I cooked the bacon until crisp, then removed and reserved. In the bacon drippings, I sauteed the sliced Red Onion until transluscent, but not yet browned.

I then added in some of the Collard Greens and cooked them in with the onions and bacon drippings. I then added the bacon.

Then I removed the Ham Hock (I added that to the Hoppin John) and poured the contents of the frying pan into the pot of Collard Greens and let it simmer. It's done when the Collard Greens are a deep green in color and are soft.

The Hoppin John is always a hit because my kids love all kinds of soups and beans. The Smothered Collard Greens I wasn't too sure of, however, our son went back to refill his plate with the Smothered Collard Greens 4 times! I'm hoping he doesn't eat the leftovers for breakfast!

Lola's Victory Garden