In the kitchen

I made an experimental casserole tonight for dinner basically a modified version of my Chicken and Artichoke Bake. I picked up two eggplants yesterday at the Farmer's Market so I thought I'd use them at the peak of freshness. I was procrastinating writing out my Christmas cards so I cooked up a storm instead.

Shelly's Chicken, Eggplant and Artichoke Bake

1 Eggplant, Diced & Roasted
1 Yellow Onion, chopped
8 Mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 boneless skinless Chicken Breasts, sliced into 1" pieces
1/2 can (13.75 oz.) Artichoke Hearts (non-marinated), chopped
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon Prepared Horseradish
1 cup (plus two tablespoons) Italian Blend Cheese, divided use
2 Tablespoon Italian dry Bread Crumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss eggplant with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in oven for 45 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking time. Set aside.

Reduce oven to 350 degrees. Saute onions and mushrooms till golden. Add garlic and seasonings and cook 1 minute more. Remove from pan. Saute chicken until golden and cooked through. Add onions and mushrooms back to pan. Mix roasted eggplant, artichokes, mayo, horseradish, and cheese together combine with onions and chicken mixture. Pour into a casserole dish. Mix bread crumbs and 2 Tablespoons of shredded cheese together and sprinkle evenly on top. Bake 30-35 minutes till golden.

While I was roasting the eggplant also roasted another eggplant, some red pepper, and red onion and whipped up a batch of Roasted Eggplant Spread. This is one of the best dips you will ever eat. It sounds like a lot of work but seriously if you own a food processor. It comes together in seconds. It is the first thing to go at parties and potlucks.

Generally, I have it with soy crisps (Trader Joe's Garlic Feta & Olive Oil flavor rocks) or veggies or if you eat pita chips or crackers. It can also be used as a spread on grilled crusty bread (as a bruschetta topping), stirred in pasta as a sauce (thin with a little marinara or olive oil), used as a spread on wraps or sandwiches. Tomorrow I am topping chicken breasts with it. If there are leftovers I'm going to spread it on a Tortilla Pizza.

Roasted Eggplant Spread

1 medium eggplant, peeled
2 red bell peppers, seeded
1 red onion, peeled
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the eggplant, bell pepper, and onion into 1-inch cubes. Toss them in a large bowl with the garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread them on a baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes, until the vegetables are lightly browned and soft, tossing once during cooking. Cool slightly. Place the vegetables in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the tomato paste, and pulse 3 or 4 times to blend. Taste for salt and pepper.

Here's some more weight loss surgery friendly party suggestions:
Party Like a Rock Star Part 1 (the food)
Party Like a Rock Star Part 2 (drinks, desserts, tips)

Highlights of the day:

* Mmmm the smell of roasted veggies in the house.

* I woke up in my own bed. Finally. I tried last week but I couldn't do it. My bed is super high. It hurt to get in and out. I've been on the much lower den couch since I came home from Mexico. Yeah one more step toward back to normal.

* Listening to music right now with a yummy cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee.

Listening to: "Promise" Eve 6