Pickled Eggplant

Our family had a version that is a favorite – and I hear via FB that my sisters are at it today. One of the difference to my mom’s recipe is that they has the eggplants cut in shoestring pieces – not just in sliced. (Sort of the same way we do fried celery at the holidays.)

I’ve asked my sister Gina  to share the recipe  – but in the mean time – this is via her mobile post


Sometimes you just have to tinker with a recipe; 2-Meal Maple Sweet Potato, Carrot, Butternut Squash, Leek & Chicken

This recipe is one I found several years ago and has become a regular standard. I make it a bit different every time and find that its a forgiving recipe and can be adapted based on whats around and to your own tastes. I also love it because its a 2-meal deal for me.

Dinner 1

I make it once and eat the chicken for the first meal  (usually with another  vegetable I roasted  or  a simple salad. Then with a quick process with my hand blender, and some finishing touches  – its becomes a rich and hearty soup for lunch or dinner the next day. In fact I will often toss in any left over chicken (cubed or shredded) the next night to add more portien to the soup.

Dinner 2

In the fall I tend to go heavier with the maple, nutmeg and spices to give it a more autumnal taste – while other parts of the year I tend to like it sweeter to add more of the juices and hoisin sauce.

The link below will get you to the original. What I an sharing is my version.


The Original version: Maple-Orange Chicken with Acorn Squash and Sweet Potatoes was one I saw on the Food Network – and when I looked at the posted comments – also mentioned some challenges about meat being dry and that the chicken itself is good but not pretty and that the vegetables were unappealing visually to serve. But since I liked all the elements I figured I could work with this to make it work for me.

Note: While I use a combination of chicken breasts and thighs,  its great for chicken thigh lovers which also makes it more cost saving


  • 18 oz of cubed butternut squash
  • 1 small  acorn squash, peeled, seeded, and cut
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut
  • 2 – 3 leeks, rinsed and chopped
  • 2-3 large carrots, chopped

Note – try to chop all the veggies in similar sizes so they cook as a similar rate.

  • 3  skinless chicken breast  halved (without bone) and 2 chicken thighs ( you can omit the thighs but I find they give the soap a nicer flavor)
  • Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup orange marmalade ( I tend to use more like 9 oz)
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth (you can add up more  broth – if you are using a 14 oz can, and don’t have another use for it, I use the whole thing and I find it didn’t change the taste much)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice (lime and lemon works great – I am thinking so would pineapple)
  • 2 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoon maple syrup ( The real stuff)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 (or to taste ) of ground nutmeg

Seasonally I have also added sprigs of Thyme, Rosemary, and other herbs – Its up to your taste really – but remember it cooks for 4 – 6 hours


Pack it tight

  1. Layer the squash(s), carrots and sweet potatoes and 1/2 leeks in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  2. Season chicken all over with salt and black pepper and place on top of vegetables, then cover with the remaining leeks. It will be a full pot.
  3. In a container (one that can be shaken or whisked in) mix the orange marmalade, maple syrup, hoisin sauce, spices, herbs, orange juice and 1/2 the chicken broth.
  4. Now taste it! Adjust the flavors and then add the rest of the broth.
  5. Mix well and pour 3/4 down the inside, side of the crock pot first, then slowly poor the rest over the chicken and vegetables. I find that this is where I adjust some – I like the liquid to cover the chicken – but it doesn’t have to.
  6. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours or on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours (Note if you have a newer machine – use the shorter times and then check the chicken. Mine is a  new one and on hight Im in good shape by 3.5 hrs but over 4 on high dries out the meat. The Low and slow is my preferred method and I find it can be ready in 6.5 – 7 hrs.Cooking

Once the chicken is ready – I remove it from the pot, and place in a warm bowl.

Ladle out some of the cooking broth;  cover the chicken with some and put some aside to save or freeze for re-use later (it will be a great stock). You can also make a great gravy if you are inspired using the broth as drippings.  Toss a salad or some other vegetables that haven’t been simmered all day  and dinner is served!


I have been asked by I remove some of the broth? Because I will be turning the veggies into a blended soup – I don’t want too much of the liquid to thin it out too

fast. Its easier to remove some now then add it back  while doing the Meal 2 steps as ne


Now – for Meal 2 -What to do with those veggies!


Make soup of course.   I am accused of making this dish purely for the soup part (which isn’t far from the truth on some occasion).

  1. Using a hand immersion blender start to puree the warm veggies.
  2. I do it right in the pot but remember to unplug the pot.
  3. Once I get a thickness, I add Mocha Mix

( YES – I SAID MOCHA MIX! – remember I am lactose intolerant so tend  save my dairy for times when I really want it) but those of you who want you can definitely add cream or milk.

Finshed veg

  1. Add it slowly as you blend until you get the smooth, silky consistency you prefer.
  2. Adjust for taste at this point – do you want more spice or herbs, honey or maple syrup etc.
  3. Cool and refrigerate (or eat!) This soups reheats great and also freezes well.


My Sunday “Staycation” in Tuscany

Always love a sunday at the second hand bookstore. Full of treasures waiting to be discovered. This weekend’s find was a cool cookbook called “Tuscany”. Just finished reading it; and yes I read cookbooks cover to cover and tab pages I like for later. I found several cool regional dishes that will get tried the next few weeks.


This is the description from Amazon;

A unique cookbook containing 50 recipes from the tables of Tuscany, the finest gastronomic region of Italy and birthpace of most Italian cuisine as we know it today. Recipes are accompanied by texts detailing traditional Tuscan ingredients, producers, food markets and speciality stores. Contains specially commissioned photography of landscapes and products from all provinces of Tuscany, from Florence and Siena to Pisa and Lucca. All-new, authentic and easy-to-follow recipes from the Silver Spoon kitchen, ranging from simple crostini to delicious desserts.

Any one can knock out a lava cake these days.

My Pal Jacque found an organic mix for Molten Lava Cake by Wildtree that allows you the ability to toss some of these babies together in

less than 15 min. The recipes is easy and as is comes out good. I altered the recipe a bit and added vanilla and a splash of espresso to make the chocolate taste more chocolaty.. The package comes sized for 6 small ramekins – so you may need to purchase them as well. Bake time says 12 – 15 min. I suggest you check them at 10 min, then take them out by 12 min to really get the gooey center. Otherwise you will end up with a pretty nice brownie cake. The cost of the premix box is around $9 makes 6.




Bak-klene ZT cooking spray – get your glide on

This Christmas one of my work colleagues gifted me with Bak-klene ZT cooking spray.

Yes – I know – you might wonder why?? Well  – we often all talk about food and She had heard about this particular brand and thought of me ( Note – this is what gifting is all about – thinking before hand and knowing the person – not because its been marketed since october and with the biggest most  budget).IMG_9673

So, I digress.. I had always tended to use what ever spray I had around the house – but never found them great. Till now – Bak-klene converted me! Not only does it go on easy and provided me with the non-stick coverage I wanted – it has no after taste or leave a funky texture on the cookware.  It also has zero-transfat and is used in many profession kitchens I have heard tell. I have been working with it now since December and even the stickiest messes  I have managed to bake up – have simply slid out!

Available at Williams-Sonoma or Amazon – at almost $10 its not cheap – but its well worth it.