Monthly Archives: February 2013

Wheat-less

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Hey guys,

Hope all those who are also on reading week are enjoying it! It has gone by abnormally fast, which makes me sad, but it’s been a nice little break. I love being home for a week or two, it gives me my Toronto fix but also makes me appreciate my own place in Kingston.

Here are the top 5 things I love about being home

1. Seeing my baby sister/friends/family

2. Eating leftovers that I did not cook ( me luv leftovers)

3. Reading the paper when I eat breakfast

4. Toronto culture: Queens can feel a bit like a very large high school sometimes. Everyone is in their 20s and very attractive. It’s refreshing to be around different people and just blend in.

5. FIZZY WATER! I love perrier but it is expensive and HEAVY. I went down to my basement fridge and discovered an entire case…..

 

Another thing about being home is that I see doctors. Ive been to the normal doctor, optometrist, and dentist to be checked out. However, I have unfortunate news.

 

I have to go off wheat/gluten.

 

I LOVE WHEAT! however, I do not love what is happening to my insides lately after I eat (rhyme!).  I get these weird stomach cramps, and after seeing my doctor the only thing he recommended was trying to go off wheat and see if it helps. Which was exactly what I was afraid of, but oh well. My poor mother will never know what to make me for dinner when I come home now.

Surprisingly, the biggest change will be getting different bread and flour. I actually almost did a backflip when I found out that oats dont have gluten in them, so I can keep that. Which is good cause I’m really into oats cooked in milk with honey for breakfast lately.

ANYWAYS

The biggest impact of this gluten free nonsense is the lack of snacks. Most of my go to snacks are gluten-y, like toast, crackers, cereal. So I had to come up with a lil snacky to have at home.

Enter gluten free cookies

 

Cranberry Pecan Apricot Jam cookies

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{I am really good at tearing wax paper…}

I used apricot jam cause I found some fancy stuff in the back of our fridge that needed using. However, these can be easily adapted if you don’t have apricot jam. Just add in 1/2 cup maple syrup and some chopped apricots and youre good to go!

Ingredients

-1 1/2 cup quick cooking oats (certified gluten free if youre life is over like mine)

-1/2 cup melted butter: okay, normally I would use coconut oil here to get some healthy fats in there, but there was none at my parents house. that being said, I forgot how good butter is in cookies. Your call.

-1 egg

-1 tsp baking soda

-1 tbsp cinnamon

-1/4 cup apricot jam (Note: start here, taste the batter, and if you want it sweeter add more. I think I ended up with an amount between 1/4 and 1/2 a cup)

-1/4 cup chopped pecans

-1/4 cup dried cranberries

Makes about 12 smaller cookies, or 10 bigger ones

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Mix everything together (really, just mix it all up). Be sure to get rid of any chunks of jam.

3. Use a tablespoon to drop down cookies onto wax paper coated cookie sheet.

4. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

 

These were a little crumbly, probably because I didn’t use flour, but they were exactly what I had in mind. Needless to say, they are all gone. Another thing that’s nice about being home, I don’t have to eat everything I bake myself. Also I don’t pay for ingredients.

 

Also sometimes I come home to a pie with my name in it:

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{thanks grandma!}

Enjoy the last of your Reading Week, or just Happy Friday!

 

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Valentine’s Day Feast

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Hey world,

So this year Ryan and I decided to not make a big deal out of Vday, and just have a nice dinner over Reading Week when I went to visit his hometown. In hindsight, this really just meant we did Valentine’s day twice, since we still celebrated a little on Feb 14, so it got a little confusing when to do cards/gifts. Or in my case, you just get so excited about the prospect of making an amazing meal and forget to do a card (IM SORRY SO SORRY).

Anyways, on to the meal! Originally Ryan and I were going to cook together but I got a leeeeeettle carried away with the menu so I kind of took over and decided to cook for him. It was reeeeeaaallly good. Took quite a bit of prep, but after midterms and an illness reduced my diet to oatmeal and eggs it was refreshing to spend that much time on a meal.

So I started out on foodgawker, and gradually planned a menu. This was a little difficult, since as you remember from Date Night Ryan and I don’t usually eat the same thing. But I persevered!

In the end, I did most of the cooking ahead of the meal, with a few things I had to cook between courses. Ryan said it was all DELICIOUS, and so did I. Although, I’ve noticed the longer I spend cooking something the less impressed I am with the finished product. So Ryan’s vote counts for more than mine (the only time this is true).

Here it is!

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{the goodies}

1. Potato, Bacon, Apple Soup

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{so happy to be eating such good soup}

I adapted this recipe by adding potato (originally just apple and bacon) and less cream. This soup was probably my favourite part of the meal, it had such good flavors and was really filling. It would be an ideal lunch soup I think. Also I make an exception to my no pork rule for the occasional bacon recipe because cmon, its bacon.

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{this is Ryan’s “smiling for girlfriends blog cause she won’t leave me alone until I do” smile…qt}

2. Roasted Garlic and Parmesan Crusted Asparagus with a fried egg

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{mmmm}

This is one of my favourite ways to make asparagus, although the addition of the egg was new to me and made it feel really gourmet. I’d read about egg and asparagus pairing really well together, and knew it was two foods that Ryan and I agree on, so thought it was perfect!

For the asparagus, I squeezed about 4 cloves of roasted garlic out of the garlic head, literally coated all the asparagus, shook some parmesan out on to the spears and popped em in the oven at about 425. I then fried the egg, put it on top, and cut it so the yolk was kind of a sauce. SO GOOD MMMMMMMM.

3. Basil, Provolone and Roasted Red Pepper Stuffed Chicken with a mushroom white wine sauce. Plus linguine and alfredo sauce.

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{yup that looks gross. I swear it tasted way better than that}

I was kind of underwhelmed by this recipe, which was an adaptation of this. I swapped out the bacon and used roasted red peppers, and didnt bother with rolling or tying up the chicken. Although all my friends think I’m being fancy when I stuff chicken, its actually really easy!

How to make stuffed chicken breast and impress your friends

1. Cut chicken almost in half, length wise, so that you can open it up like a book.

2. Pound both halves of chicken flat with a heavy thing (water bottle, heavy mug, textbook coated in plastic bags, etc)

3. Put your stuffing in the middle, then “close the book”/wrap the other half of the chicken on top so that it forms a rough seal.

4. Chocolate Raspberry Pots de Creme

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{yeah, I made that, nbd}

MMmmmmmmm. I really liked these, although it was a bit of an emotional roller coaster. I decided to modify this recipe by using coconut cream instead of whipping cream. My stomachs been bothering me, and also I have always wanted to try baking with coconut cream.

So basically pots de creme are grown up puddings. Melted chocolate in cream then cooked until its a custard. I made the raspberry syrup the recipe recommended, but after straining out the seeds I had basically nothing left. I am not one to waste expensive raspberries, so I used the seedy bits as a topping and loved it.

For some inexplicable reason, I decided to add more coconut cream then the recipe used…I honestly don’t know why in hindsight. I added the recommended cup, then thought it didn’t look like enough (although I have never made this before) so added another. INSTANT REGRET haha.

This meant that my pots de creme took forever to set, then an additional forever to chill, so Ryan and I enjoyed them as a kind of chocolate soup. Still delicious, I really liked the intense chocolate flavor with fresh raspberries.

I made 3, and the third stayed in the fridge overnight. It turned out great! So I guess this is a make ahead dessert.

This was a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. Also reinforces that I like to cook, but I don’t want to be a chef or anything. Best to keep cooking as a hobby.  Hope youre all having a great (short) week!

PS. This is by far one of my favourite songs, on one of my favourite albums. This guy is so talented, and acoustic guitar always gets me.

The Adventures of Maggie and Kelly at Luke’s Gastronomy!

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Hello!

Lately I’ve been up to my eyeballs in midterms, and then had the huge misfortune of getting incredibly sick. I seriously believed that studying while being that ill was going to kill me, so I didn’t really have the willpower to do anything else (like blog, go to school, change out of my pjs….). BUT ITS READING WEEK NOW!!! and yes, I do have some serious reading, but not today!! or tomorrow!! maybe monday, but hey, thats a whole glorious work free weekend!

And I have stories for you, dear readers!! So before I got sick, my room mate Kelly and I had a date planned. And this was a highly anticipated date. See, my other room mate Adrienne (also known as very best friend who left me for Switzerland) had talked about this restaraunt called Luke’s here in town that served fancy, molecular gastronomy type food. She went with her parents, but Kelly and I have…ummm….turkey/potatoes/beer kinda parents, so we decided to go together!

That was last year. As fate would have it, Groupon was having a deal a month ago($40 for $80 worth of food) on Lukes, so I bought it! Anyways, short story is that this date was a long time coming.

Now time for the photos!!!

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{gettin’ romantic with Kelly}

So the menu was really small… and all the items had weird names with not-very-descriptive descriptions. The usual for a “concept” kind of restaraunt.  Also, it was REEEALLLLY slow, which makes sense. The restaraunt only has 5 tables, one waitress and one cook.  Also, the food is very carefully crafted.  it was an experience people.

{Note: it was suggested to me by Ryan that maybe this restaraunt was some huge joke, since on paper it sounds like the worst restaraunt in Kingston. This suggestion was met with an eyeroll and a condescending tone, although, in hindsight, I had the same thought during dinner. Sorry Ryan.}

First course

Kelly got: CHEVRE NAPOLEON Chèvre, oat tuiles, black olives, Clover Honey, balsamic

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{all she really talked about was the cheese, so I think it was good!}

I got: “CAESAR”, Romaine Ice Cream, Bacon Jam, Asiago, Garlic

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{yes that really is romaine flavoured ice cream. It was on top of an asiago chip thing, with bacon jelly spheres and a garlic dressing}

The Verdict: it was cool! it really tasted like a caesar, but I didnt love with texture combos of ice cream with garlic mayo. Kelly liked hers, although neither of us could figure out which part was which.

Second Course

We both got something called “Coffee and Biscuits”

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{still not entirely sure what was in this}

The Verdict: it was disgusting I’m afraid. They were little jelly cubes of something, maybe coffee, with dehydrated coffee “crisps” on top, in a sweet, yet kinda earthy broth. That green thing is arugula. It was really bitter, and smelled kinda like the agar gel mediums we use in my Microbiology class to grow E.coli.

Third Course

Kelly got: BLUES JUNKIE GOAT, (Or, How Coffee Was Discovered)-Goat, Yoghurt, Coffee, Chillis, Spice, Pomegranate, Dates, Almonds, Carrot ( hey kelly there was carrot in there!)

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{we both agreed it should have come with instructions}

I got: CURIOUS DUCK FROM MARS –Leg Confit, “Pulled” Breast, Caramelized Onion Pain Perdu, Tomato, Duck Comet, Marshmallow

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{There is a picture of Mars in between two plates…kinda cool!}

The Verdict: This was by far the best course. Duck is AMAZING, and it had this spiced tomato sauce with carmelized onions. Yes, there were pop rocks on that little spoon and a marshmallow attached to that white rock, but it was good! It all kinda went together. Kelly thought hers was good, the goat was also delicious, but hers had a lot of separate components that we weren’t sure what to do with. Particularly the sauce….it came in a little egg cup and we weren’t sure if you were supposed to dip it, pour it, or drink it like a shot. Pretty sure mine was better.

Here is where we realized we were going to be very late for a previous engagement, and had to SKIP DESSERT! I was crushed.

OVERALL

Meh. Honestly, the main course was amazing, but I was a bit underwhelmed. The atmosphere was kind of average, and I expected a nice place for the very pricy meal we got. And that second course was grooooooss. Plus, we did not get nearly enough food! We may have made a pitstop at a well-known fast food restaraunt for a quick snack before heading out (it may or may not have been McDonalds….).That being said, the wait times and price were to be expected, and I really like the philosophy of using local stuff. Plus it was cool! Anyways, we wont be going back but glad we went once! Really fun experience.

Kelly’s music pic:

See ya tomorrow with a belated Valentines day dinner menu!

Avalanche!!!

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Soo this happened on friday…

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Yeah, its about up to my thighs in the unplowed part (which is most of my street unfortunately). They actually cancelled classes!! Thankfully after my midterm, I didn’t want that hanging over my head til Tuesday. This large amount of snow really emphasized that we need a shovel in our house. Although I felt very authentically Canadian digging out my friends car with my hands, it was highly ineffective.

Faced with a literal wall of snow when I open my door, it is safe to say that I will be staying in for a large portion of this weekend. So I might as well make some snacks!!! I’ve made this recipe a few times, and its perfect for when I want something sweet but also filling. Also, it reminds me how much I neglect brown rice…..it aint always about the quinoa!

Here ya go!

Chai Infused Brown Rice Pudding

Ingredients

-1 cup brown rice

-1/2 cup raisins (optional)

-1 tbsp loose leaf chai tea (loose leaf will give a better flavor but bags will work too)

-1 cup maple syrup or 3/4 cup honey or1 cup sugar

-2 1/2 cups milk of choice (I went with half coconut, half 1%, but you could also do half water if youre trying to keep the calories low)

-2 tbsp chia seeds (optional, but awesome)

-1 tbsp cinnamon

-1 tbsp vanilla

-pinch sea salt

Makes about 4 serving

Directions

1. Put your milk on the stove in a medium sauce pan, heat on medium. Stir often.

2. You’re going to infuse your milk with tea now, so depending on the kind of tea you have (bags, loose) put that in there. Here’s how mine looked

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{thats my little infuser}

3. As an amazing smell wafts over your kitchen, measure out the rice. Let the steeping process go on for about 3-5 minutes, depending on how strong you want your flavor.

4. Bring the milk to a gentle boil, add the rice, spices, and sweetener. Stir often

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5. After about 15 minutes, do a taste test on your rice. It should be chewy, but not hard. If it seems good, take your pot off the heat (don’t worry, it should look very liquidy, this is pudding not real rice!)

6. Add in raisins and chia seeds, and let it set for about 10 minutes.

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{The finished product. Thought: I need to work on my photography}

7. Eat!!

Tip: if youre rice pudding dries out a bit while microwaving it for seconds (ya I did), just top it off with a splash more milk.

This recipe is soooo good! A perfect companion for the weather.

You probably noticed I included chia seeds (WHOA chia is one letter away from being chai! cool!). If you don’t already know, these little guys are great! They have a ton of omega 3s in them, and theyre really useful for baking because they’re a great binding agent. When they get wet they get a little jelly coating around them and it really makes things stick together. They don’t have a very defined taste, so you can toss em into anything!

Here’s a little more info on chia seeds, and a great chia pudding recipe from Angela.

Anyways, I’m going to go have a mug of tea the size of my face and catch up on Greys (BEST. MORNING. EVER.), have an excellent weekend!! If you got snowed in too, stay safe! The roads are craaaazy. Here’s an excellent song to get your morning going.

{I am slightly obsessed with The Lumineers. This is one of those rare albums where every song is awesome. They just announced their tour to Canada, and once again I am thankful my parents decided to raise our family in Toronto. I CAN’T WAIT!}

Crushed (like garlic) under the weight of midterms

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Hi friends!!!!

Oh how I’ve missed you!! This week has been insaaaaaaane, so I have not blogged nearly as much as I would like. Two midterms on either end of a week full of labs (read: lab reports) will do that to a girl. Also, my Internet connection has decided to be as inconsistent as my feelings on mushrooms (do I like them? Don’t i? I don’t know!!!) so I haven’t even been able to blog when I want to! Wah!

Anyways, I resolve that on Friday, you my dear readers will get a recipe!

For now, I offer you a tip that has made my life in the kitchen much easier:

(Fun fact: I went to a “do you want to go to med school seminar” and the facilitator told us that a well known interview question at a particular school was “can you teach me something?” Ever since then I have slightly obsessed over what I would teach, and landed on this. No, its not that impressive. Hopefully I come up with something better in the years to come)

The easiest way to peel/chop garlic

-I love garlic. In fact, I use it so much I can rarely get the smell out of my hands (not cute I have to say). That being said, I peel and chop a lot of garlic and have devised the easiest way to do so, because I am efficient and also lazy.

1. Peel garlic by placing it flat on a cutting board and hitting it with the flat part of your knife ( saw them doing this on iron chef and was amazed. Ilu iron chef)

2. Flaky bits of garlic skin should have split under your knife, making them easy to peel off in one go! Do that!

3. My profesh tip: get a fine blade grater. Like one of those ones you use for Parmesan cheese. Just grate that sucker. Don’t chop at all. The pieces will be too big, meaning you’ll bite into them and overwhelm your palate (ooh look at me using the word palate) and the flavor won’t spread around. Also it’s faster, tiny cloves of garlic are hard to chop!

Sorry for the lame-o post, stay with me guys!! Let the Internet gods look down upon me with mercy (also, while I’m at it, the organic chemistry gods too). See ya Friday!!

 

my study jam!

 

Chemistry, Anatomy and Muffins

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Hewwooooo,

It’s been a pretty laid back Saturday at mi casa. First of all, my house is pretty empty. Good for studying/using my incredibly noisy food processor.

Second, it’s so pretty out! If I stay in my jammies, drink enough tea, and occasionally look outside I can convince myself that I’m having fun staying cooped up in my room reading about organic chem for 4 hours.

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{this is the view from the balcony in my room. I can’t go out there, the landlords deemed it unsafe and put a stopper on my door, so sometimes I just press my nose up against it and pretend}

After a 3 am indulgence in pizza pizza that may or may not have been related to alcohol consumption, I woke up with a weird feeling tummy. I’ve been eating pretty well lately, sticking to clean proteins, healthy fats and slow carbs, and I think my system was just in shock at the amount of crap I put in it. However, I am a firm believer in the Julia Child motto, “Everything in moderation, including moderation”.

To remedy this situation and get me back on track, I decided to make some muffins for the week! I accidentally bought wayy too many veggies for the eggplant lasagna (it was originally going to include zucchini), I had a veggie crisper that overfloweth.

Enter Zucchini Muffins!

Zucchini Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

The amount of fiber in these muffins is impressive, but I guess a whole banana and zucchini will do that. Because the fruit/veggies make these really moist, they take a WHILE to cook, so bear that in mind while you’re whipping em up. Luckily, the prep is really short!

Ingredients

Makes 6 muffins

  • 1 small zucchini, grated
  • 1 medium ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup choco chips
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg white
  • 2/3 cup oil (I used coconut, but any oil would work)
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup or 1/3 cup honey or 1/2 cup sugar, whatever you got on hand
  • 1/2 cup milk or water

1. Preheat the oven to 375.

2. Mix wet ingredients together: zucchini, banana, egg white, oil milk/water, maple syrup or honey.

3. Mix dry ingredients together in separate bowl: flour, baking soda and power, sea salt and cinnamon,

4. Mix both bowls of ingredients together, and pour into muffin cups. Bake for about an hour or until a toothpick/fork comes out clean.

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{the aftermath}

These muffins are soo good, and full of healthy fats, fiber and whole grains. And chocolate chips. In other words, exactly what I want in a muffin. I better get my butt back to my desk (First midterm in less than 2 days….wahhh), so see ya later!

Something to cheer up fellow students who have also realized they actually have to start studying

Date Night! ft. Ryan

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Hey world,

Today has been a very busy but good day. We learned about the very elusive lymphatic system today in my anatomy class (elusive because I am in 2nd year Life Sciences and, until today,  had no idea what the spleen did…)

Reminded me of this little guy….

Look at him go!

Anyways, tonight is DAAATE NIIIIGHT! date night with who, you may ask? me and my new basil plant?

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{So cute! it was the same price as a bunch of fresh basil, so if it doesn’t die in like, a week, itll be worth it!}

But no. Not my date. My date is this guy!

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Meet Ryan. He’s my awesome boyfriend, who tolerates my prolonged indecision at the grocery store, is a bit of a genius, and buys me perrier when I’m broke. Also I love him LOTS AND LOTS.

Since we spend pretty much all day in class together with our friends  (and in labs…and projects…) we decided we need to have some more couple time. Revolutionary, I know. So it’s looking like were gonna try and cook dinner together every week!

But we have vastly different palates, as well as opinions on certain types of cheese, so I’d say were probably not going to be making the exact same thing.

Last week we did pizza, but this week, continuing with the italian theme, we decided on LASAGNA! minor setback: I don’t eat pasta. Haven’t for a couple years now, and after trying to make myself like soba noodles cause I adore tomato sauce, I just don’t see the point. It tastes like nothing!

So I set out to find some kind of alternative. Due to my previously mentioned love for tomato sauce, finding pasta substitutes is one of my specialties. Zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash noodles, and now….EGGPLANT noodles!

I’d read some recipes for ‘low carb’ veggie-noodle lasagnas, and although I’m not super concerned with the carb aspect (if you had seen the amount of garlic bread I had before dinner you would see what I mean), I am always trying to get more veggies in. And eggplant is one of the many vegetables I need to use more, so it was perfect!

Eggplant-Noodle Chicken Lasagna

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I used ground chicken cause I’m not a big pork fan and its leaner, leaving more of my daily saturated fats for CHEESE! mmmmm. Feel free to substitute ground beef or pork

Makes one lasagna

Ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 jar tomato sauce (I usually like organic tomato sauce cause I find it has a purer flavor)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and grated (note: I find garlic to give a much better yield if you grate a peeled clove on a fine grater…you get fresh garlic puree, and its faster than finely chopping)
  • fresh basil! about 5 leaves, depending on your preference
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1 tsp salt ( I almost always use garlic salt cause I love garlic, but regular is good!)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp each oregano and thyme
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh parmesan flakes
  • 1 lb ground chicken

Directions

1.Preheat oven the 375.  Heat up the oil in a frying pan on medium heat, and chop up your onion. Grate 2 cloves of garlic, and pop these and the onion in the pan.

2. Once the onions have released a little bit of their moisture, add in the chicken. Season it a bit with a pinch of salt, pepper, and chili (if you like chili).

3. Let the chicken/onion mix cook a bit while you slice your eggplant layers! they should be about as thick as your index finger. start laying the foundation layer in your pan (a deeper dish 8×12 is perfect).

4. Stir chicken around, and let it cook until its no longer pink. This should take a bit longer, so mix up your ricotta layer. Mix cheese, oregano, basil, and more salt and pepper. Give er a bit of a taste test, and make sure its not too bland! Spread about half onto your eggplant layer.

5. Once the chicken is cooked its smooth sailing. Add the chicken, and then add more layers to your hearts content/pan depth.

6. Sprinkle parmesan on top layer and wrap the whole thing with tinfoil. Place in oven for 1 hr, removing the tinfoil about 40 min in let the cheese get all crispy and amazing.

Enjoy!

PS. This was Ryans lasagna. We’re calling it the Behemoth…

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Ryan’s Music Request….