why i love fall semester

>> September 22, 2009

fall semester at psu is arguably better than spring. there is football, which means tailgates, screaming with 110,000 friends, joepa face stickers, pom-poms, tailgates, pins with witty slogans, tailgates... =)

we're in there, somewhere!

friday night lights


s-zone, what?

our tailgates are far more than a way to pump up for the game... they are an opportunity to out-cook, out-create, and out-eat eachother. the overall theme for last week's game against syracuse was "classics day," where all the students were encouraged to wear tie-dye tshirts and sing 60's songs. natch, we chose to celebrate at our tailgate with a plethora of retro recipes.

lyss made a fab green bean casserole, which, unfortunately, isn't as photogenic as it is delicious. my homemade hostess cupcakes, however, turn out a little better for the lens:


i have to admit, i used a boxed cake mix for these. friday night baking sessions require short cuts... especially when the game on saturday begins at noon. the icing was the same chocolate ganache from ina's birthday cake (previous post -- a barefoot blogger challenge), and i filled them with the fool-proof seven minute frosting. it kind of got absorbed into the cupcakes, but that kept them moist and good as leftovers.

the other great thing about penn state fall that's non-football related are the weekly farmers' markets held downtown. every friday (and a smaller version on tuesdays), local farms come and shower us with their goods. if i saw a zucchini over a foot-and-a-half long at wegmans, i'd be worried about crazy growth hormones, but the little mennonite boy can't possibly do anything but sing to it to make it grow that big.

this eggplant stew is a favorite fall recipe of mine. it takes advantage of the fresh produce in abundance in PA, and it's full of fresh flavors. it has an italian flare, pulling flavors and ingredients from a traditional panzanella (the inclusion of the crusty bread makes it hearty). it makes me want to pull out my scarves and boots and jump in some leaves.


farmers' market eggplant stew

1 medium-to-large eggplant, chopped in 1" pieces
1 large green bell pepper, diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 to 2 red tomatoes, chopped and de-seeded
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (may substitute 2 of these with red wine)
1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning (i use chunky california style)
1 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
2 slices crusty bread, diced
1 clove garlic, chopped or pressed
3-4 leaves fresh basil, chopped
pinch red pepper flakes

heat the oil over medium heat in a skillet (i used cast iron). add the onion and bell pepper, and cook until medium soft and shiny. add eggplant, can of tomatoes (with the juice!), diced tomatoes, salt, pepper (to taste), lemon pepper, and rosemary. cook until tender, but make sure there is still liquid in the pan. add the garlic, fresh basil, and balsamic vinegar (and wine, if using). turn down the heat and cook until almost all of the liquid has gone. stir in the bread cubes and continue cooking. sprinkle in the pinch of red pepper flakes and cook for 2-3 more minutes. remove from heat and let sit for 3-4 minutes. then you may immediately devour.

makes a lot, depending on the size of your eggplant. it's great as leftovers... and you can serve it with polenta, rice, potatoes... i find that the bread cubes make it starchy enough, but i do love carbs.

<3 ciao,


Alisa September 22, 2009 at 11:21 AM  

I'm not into football, but that stew looks yummy :)

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