I've been thinking about what to do with my life lately. Nothing too big, I assure you. I have no plans to join a circus... or do I? hehe (Secretly, I would love to join a circus, sshhh)
Anyway, I was thinking about researching catering a bit. Not because I want to run out tomorrow and cater, that's not my style. I like to think things through thoroughly and then build my education on the subject before I make a decision to move forward with it (well, with important stuff, with small stuff I'm all over the place). The main reason I want to research it is because it's practical for me (it's been in the back of my mind for 2 years at least). Opening a restaurant isn't going to happen. It's far more work than I'm willing to do. I know this because my parents owned a restaurant while I was growing up. I even worked there as a teenager and to be honest, it was the best job I've ever had. In a perfect world, I would own a restaurant and work there from time to time, which would allow me to spend more time with my family. But that's not how you start a restaurant, and I'm not willing to devote the hours away from home. But catering is something I could do in the distant future from time to time. My idea would be to use as much local food as possible and even though I would cook almost everything, I would offer a speciality in North African cuisine. It's something new to the area.
Another reason I want to research it, and this is a huge reason actually, is because when people learn that you love to cook you receive a ton of catering questions. It would be nice though to have an understanding of the business and be able to answer a few questions at the very least. Plus, I LOVE food. Everything food. Even the business aspect of it (you know that already from my book recommendations). So even if this goes nowhere, which is very likely, then at least I'll have the knowledge.
What else.... oh yes, and I am going to commit to cloth diapers. Ask me this 6 months from now. haha! The number one reason I want to go cloth is to avoid chemicals. You saw that coming, right? That's pretty much the only reason. Wish me luck folks, I will need it! I am worried I'll start and then give up, but hey, you never know unless you try. I also plan to put Mimi in the cloth diapers as well.
I have more to add but I will save it until next time. This post is becoming long.... very long. I'm breaking a blog rule, I'm sure. Let's get to the recipe. It's a Middle Eastern eggplant and chicken casserole that I kind of threw together. I did cut the chicken pieces a bit large, so be careful with that. Hubs started teaching and I was alone with Mimi and in a hurry. She was actually a good girl. I think I was just worried that a tantrum would suddenly occur and I wouldn't finish dinner. The dinner rocked, we loved it, add as much spice as you want.
|Sorry for the blurry pics. My camera didn't cooperate for some reason.|
|Remove from oven and serve.|
Serving Size = 3 - 4
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cumin (maybe a touch more if you want)
- Cayenne pepper to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon corriander
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 1 large eggplant peeled and thinly sliced
- Oil (EVOO)
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into small pieces (maybe 1/2 inch)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 can of whole tomatoes, chopped or 3 large tomatoes chopped
- 1 cup of tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup of water (might need less or none at all if you use the liquid from the canned tomatoes)
- Salt/Pepper to taste
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- Ok, here's where you can get creative folks. I have a limited understanding of eggplant, although I love it and eat it regularly. They say salt the eggplant, place into a colander and let it drain for about 30 minutes to remove the bitterness. I've never had a bitter eggplant, and I rarely salt and drain them. When I do salt them it's to remove some of the liquid, not bitterness. So this part is optional, but I skipped it.
- Another choice now. You can either fry the eggplant in some oil over medium or medium high heat (it will absorb the oil, so drain on a paper towel), or you can brush them with oil and place them under the broiler for a few minutes to soften them. Entirely up to you. I fried them this time, but I usually broil them.
- So once that's done, set the eggplant aside.
- Place a pan over medium heat with a tablespoon or so of EVOO and saute the onion. Once they start to soften a bit, add the chicken pieces. Cook until the chicken starts to get some color and then add the spices and garlic, stir and add the tomatoes. Cook for a few minutes and then add the tomato sauce, water (if necessary) and cilantro. Let that cook for a while, until the sauce thickens and the chicken is done (about 15 - 20 minutes maybe?).
- Get a casserole dish that will hold the eggplant pieces well (I think mine was 8 x 8, roughly) and spray it with some oil. Place one layer of eggplant on the bottom. Top with some chicken and sauce, then add more eggplant, more chicken and sauce and so on. I made sure to get all of the chicken under the eggplant so that when I placed the last layer of eggplant on top I just added some of the leftover sauce.
- Place into the oven to bake for about 20 minutes, or until everything is bubbling.
- Now, this part is optional but in the last 10 minutes or so of cooking time I melt some butter in a pan and add the breadcrumbs, toss around. Then I sprinkle that over the top and cook until it turns a nice brown color. I think it makes a better presentation and I like the added crunch.
- *I served this will hard boiled eggs topped with cumin and salt (beets and olives usually follow).