Summer Vegetable Casserole

photo of finished summer vegetable casseroleI recently bought a huge eggplant from my local farmer’s market with the full intention of doing an eggplant parmesan. However, I got a hair up my ass when I found a recipe on Pinterest (which has since been deleted from the webs) for an easy casserole w/eggplant. I had some other summer veggies going to waste on the counter, and I needed to use them or toss. So I decided to spice things up.

Honestly, you can use whatever vegetables and seasoning you want. The idea is you half cook the veggies before you “casserole” them. Some optional additions: tofu, chopped onions, salt & pepper, herbs! Feel free to make it your own. My fiancee was amazed by this dish, and said it needs to be in the regular rotation. Cheap and tasty!

Ingredients

1 large eggplant, cubed
1-2 tbsp olive oil (depending on how much squash)
1 large bell pepper (I used green), diced
2-3 medium-to-large summer squash (I used yellow & zucchini), cubed
6-8oz. of mushrooms, sliced thick (they cook down)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 can tomato sauce
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used italian style)

Boil the eggplant for 10 minutes. Make sure you turn it occasionally. After 10 minutes, cool the eggplant, and then cube it.

Meanwhile, cut up the rest of the veggies. Heat the olive oil in a pan (skillet, 4qt pot, saute pan), and add the diced bell pepper. Cook on medium-high for a minute or so. Add the squash, and toss to ensure squash is coated in olive oil. Immediately, add the minced garlic to the squash & peppers, and continue to mix. After 5 minutes, add the mushrooms. Cook until squash is mostly cooked (“meat” is somewhat translucent), & remove from heat.

In a casserole dish, add a layer of eggplant, then a layer of the sauted vegetables, and finally the last of the eggplant. Mix the breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. Pour the can of tomato sauce evenly over the veggies. Sprinkle (heavily) the breadcrumb mixture on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Serve over rice, polenta, pasta, or enjoy it on its own!

Valuable: day 6

My dog is awesome. When i was growing up, we had pets, but it was difficult to keep them indoors due to allergies throughout the family. Brain has taught me a lot about myself, something that i never expected from a dog. And having her with me anytime i am home feels amazing. Another living being so unlike a human yet completely able to communicate with me…even if it is primitive at times.

Valuable: day 4

Graduating from college was one of the proudest moments for me personally. Not because I think graduates are better than anyone else, but because it was a personal goal that was a real challenge for me to complete. Seeing something that long term through to the end was a huge accomplishment for me personally. Now my degree hangs beautifully framed on the wall, and anytime I feel crappy about things I’ve not accomplished yet, I can look up at it and remember I can do anything given enough time.

Valuable: day 3

I’m very proud that I have very little debt (only mortgages). It’s tough to stay disciplined and not go spending money I don’t have on things I think I want/need, but at times like these (when there are lots of bills to pay), it’s nice not to have that extra overhead at such high interest rates.

Valuable: day 2

I know, I know. I missed a few days.

I have to say, I highly value the down time I get, particularly after a busy weekend w/activities and company in town. I love vegging out on a Sunday afternoon, drinking a beer or two, and relaxing to some TV (just finished season 4 of Mad Men) or a movie. Being an introvert, I need time to recharge, and lazy Sunday afternoon is just the thing to regain my energy.

What’s valuable?

I have decided to do an exercise in perspective for myself. I often hold myself to a much higher standard than is possible, and think that despite my successes, i have done nothing and gained nothing for myself over the years. And to top it off, our society promotes the idea of what everyone else thinks you should be doing, eating, buying, etc. Over the next 30 days, I’m going to post something specific…detailed even…to describe something that is valuable to me with the idea that I will have something tangible to remind me everyday that I am valuable, and so are the things I choose to do. Duh!

Book Review – One Hundred Years of Solitude

One Hundred Years of SolitudeOne Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was really surprised to be as engrossed in this book as I was. I am always a little skeptical when “everyone loves this book,” but I was pleasantly surprised. The characters are wild and crazy that I couldn’t look away. In most cases, the story is one giant train wreck of a family who’s generations repeat the same mistakes over and over. I was fascinated to see the variation in each generation, yet also saw how the family traits carried down the line. The writing was a fairly easy read, but the story was so engaging I couldn’t put it down at times. Definitely recommend.

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Book Review — Empire

EmpireEmpire by Orson Scott Card
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was very disappointed in this book. I’m a huge fan of the Ender Series, and was really looking forward to the ideas and creative story telling that Card seems to carry with him. However, I felt this book fell short of that. While his character development was on par, the overall story telling style left me unsatisfied. As other reviewers have noted, Card seemed to leave nothing to the reader’s imagination. Every time I would start creating possibilities in my head, Card would tell me outright what was going on in a very obvious manner. The action portions and some of the twists were exciting and kept me engaged, but in general, I wouldn’t say this is even a good work of his. Not a bad beach book, I suppose. It’s a very easy read, and pretty easy to pick up on the story after a break in reading.

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On Worry…

This is a segment of the Asmi Yoga newsletter. Dolly Stavros is one of my favorite yoga teachers, and always has some nuggets. This segment resonates with me (worry wart!), and felt it should be documented if for no other benefit than my own personal record. It’s written in the context of worry and the autumnal equinox (sept).

“Witness the quality of your thoughts. Will the thought-seeds you plant grow weeds or beautiful blossoms? Ritualize this equinox (time of new beginnings), by channeling your energy into that which will manifest your dreams and desires, not your doubts and dreads. Be grateful. Watch with childlike wonder as the wind blows the leaves of your life into whirls of chaos, knowing that you can rake them up later! Refuse to be unfazed by life’s storms. Life fully. Breathe deeply. Celebrate joyously this gift of life, even if it’s not perfect. Because in its imperfection, it is perfect!”

Book Review – Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxyThe Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one book I’d been meaning to read for a long time, and boy am I sorry I didn’t read it sooner! I knew mostly what it was about, and had seen the movie, so the story wasn’t all that surprising. What was surprising was the engaging way Adams had in his writing. The book is smart and humorous as well as entertaining. Who knew a towel could be so useful! And it’s not a difficult read either. It’s not overly sci-fi/fantasy, yet it touches on some very interesting philosophical concepts that will remain relevant for the foreseeable future.

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Book Review — Pygmy

PygmyPygmy by Chuck Palahniuk
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a tough one to read due to the style in which it was written, and I am not one to shy away from a challenge like that. The story was fairly straight forward, but with subtle twists and turns — typical Palahniuk IMO — that take you on a journey through the mind of a young trained assassin. Really fascinating to see the impact of training (you could even say brainwashing), and that’s the part that really piqued my interest in the book. You really get an interesting look into the mind of this highly intelligent child who’s received a certain level of conditioning. Pretty dark at times, but interesting ending.

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