Friday, February 17, 2012

Our Valentine's Day Dinner (Eggplant "Parmesan" and Beet Cake recipes!)

Last night John and I celebrated Valentine's day (and his birthday)!  I made him stay in his office until I finished making dinner and setting up a little picnic in the living room for us... 

Yep, that's $4 champagne right there.  'Cause we're classy. ;)  

I'm just so happy that we could still make Valentine's Day special - without having to do a big expensive dinner out.  So it was really lovely, and I could stick to my Spending Fast!  Woohoo! 

Dinner was my own made-up version of Eggplant Parmesan - without all the cheese.  It turned out DELICIOUS!  I've never cooked with turnips before, but I've always wanted to try.  I bought one at the store over the weekend, and figured what the hell - I'd just wing it!  It actually cooks up really nicely - it has kind of a potatoey flavor.  I really liked it!

Here's how I made everything...  

Beth's Easy Eggplant "Parmesan" with Veggies 
(no cheese, but still YUMMY)

- 1 eggplant (sliced into 1/4 to 1/2" pieces)
- Panko bread crumbs
- 2 eggs (beaten in a bowl)
- 1 zucchini (sliced)
- 1 turnip (sliced thinly & quartered)
- 1/2 a yellow onion (diced)
- 3 cloves of garlic (minced)
- Pasta sauce (about 2 cups)
- Butter
- Olive oil
- Salt & pepper (to taste)

In a small pot, pour in the pasta sauce and set at a low heat so that it can warm up.
In a large pan, add a pad or two of butter, then add the onion, turnip, and garlic.  Saute for about 5 minutes or until slightly soft.  Add the zucchini & mix well - cook for another 3-4 minutes, season with salt & pepper, and set on a back burning over very low heat.

In another large pan, add enough olive oil for frying.  Coat each slice of eggplant in the beaten eggs, then press into the panko breadcrumbs.  Fry in the oil on each side for about 5 minutes, then set them on paper towels to drain.

To serve, cover the bottom of the plate with pasta sauce, add the sauteed veggies & turnips, then stack 2-3 of the fried eggplant on the side.

I couldn't get enough if it - and I totally went back for seconds.  After dinner, John and I watched a couple of episodes of "The Walking Dead".  

Aren't we romantic? :) 

The cake in the top left corner of the picture above is the beet cake that I made!  It actually turned out REALLY GOOD - even after refrigerating it overnight.  Here is the video that inspired me to make it: 

beet cake from tiger in a jar on Vimeo.

Isn't that just beautiful??  I had to give it a try, so I watched the video carefully and gathered all of the ingredients.  The video doesn't give much guidance as far as method, but I did my best with the information I had!  Here is what I used, along with what I did for the frosting: 

Beet Cake
I know it sounds a bit of a strange combo, but the beets somehow made this cake really soft and spongy - I really enjoyed it.  You can't really taste the beets once you have all the sugar & chocolate mixed in, but they add kind of a sweet & tangy flavor in the background.  

It made 1 cake in a 9" pie pan, and about 6 cupcakes - so maybe a 9x13" baking pan would fit everything, but I didn't have a pan that big!  Haha! 

- Beets (2 cups), canned whole (or sliced)
- Flour (2 cups)
- Brown Sugar (1 ½ cups)
- Semi-Sweet Chocolate (4oz)
- Baking Soda (2 tsp)
- Salt (1/4 tsp)
- Butter (1 cup)
- Vanilla (1 tsp)
- Eggs (3), beaten

For icing
- Powdered sugar
- Red food coloring
- Soymilk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Put the beets in a blender or food processor, and pulse until smooth.

Wow, those are some REALLY red beets, huh?

Pour into a bowl, and add vanilla and eggs - mix well.  Add the brown sugar, and mix.  In a separate bowl, melt the chocolate and the butter - mix together and set aside.  In another large bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking soda - sift to combine.  Mix the chocolate & butter into the bowl with the beets, then slowly add the flour mixture to combine everything.  

Pour into a lightly oiled baking dish, and place in the oven for about 15-30 minutes*.  Poke a toothpick in the center - when it comes out clean it's all done!

*Looking back - I actually used 2 CANS of beets instead of 2 CUPS of beets - so my cooking may have taken a bit longer because of this.  Honestly I'll probably make it this way again though, since I liked how light & fluffy it was!  Basically just keep an eye on it while it's in the oven so that it doesn't over-bake. 

To make the icing, add some powdered sugar into a bowl and add a splash of soymilk.  Mix well, and add a teeny bit of soymilk at a time to thin it out.  Add a couple of drops of red food coloring to make it pink!

I really liked this recipe, and I definitely think I'll make it again.  I think it was fantastic as cupcakes too!

On top of all that cooking fun I had yesterday - I got a FREE Starbucks coffee!  I LOVE GETTING FREE STUFF!!  I just filled out a survey online, so they sent me an e-gift certificate for $5 at Starbucks.  I was super excited.  So on my break yesterday I bundled up, and went to get myself a Grande Salted Caramel Mocha.  My favorite treat - and it was lovely. 

That there is my special backpack I got with my big sister when we were in Coney Island last year.  It's probably my most favorite thing I've ever purchased in New York, and it was only $20!  

We're off to the mountains for some snowboarding this weekend, so I hope you all have an AWESOME one!!  YAY FOR SNOWBOARDING!! 


Anonymous said...

Glad you had a lovely dinner on a budget! That's really the best kind to have...and it's totally from the heart. :)

I think you are inspiring me to keep a budget now!

Lauren said...

That looks so lovely, and is such a sweet idea! Sometimes its much lovelier to have a picnic on your floor with a good home cooked meal, rather than go out to a restaurant.


Beth B said...

Thanks ladies! :D I'm so glad that posting stuff like this can help inspire others to do things more creatively (rather than spending a lot of money going out). Honestly, I think it was much better this way!