We are finally all healthy again here, wahoo! After a busy week, we’re just hanging here and getting caught up on house stuff today… all the fun stuff like laundry and cleaning bathrooms (so fun!), and hopefully at least a couple of new recipes in the kitchen! What are you up to this weekend?
As always, you’ll find a recap of what was posted to the site this week, the most shared recipes, my Sunday dinner menu, and recipes I’ve bookmarked from other blogs. Enjoy!
1. Last week, Joseph had his first independent swim lesson (no more mommy-and-me, *sniff*) and he was a little weepy off and on throughout, which the instructor said was totally normal for the first few times when they’re used to having class with mom, and that he actually did a fantastic job for his first solo class. He has another this morning, so I’m hoping he keeps feeling better about it… the upside is that after the class he told me how much fun he had, all the skills he did, and he was really, really excited to be in the “big kids class”.
You probably remember that Dominic’s hair has been crazy since the day he was born and it really has ever only either stood straight up or laid flat down on his forehead. After a bath over the weekend, I was actually able to comb it over a little bit, and he looked like such a little man!
(P.S. If you’re on Instagram, be sure to follow BEB… I’ve been getting better at sharing videos and photos on Insta Stories of the boys, the dogs, and behind the scenes food stuff!)
2. Thanks for all of the love for our new furry addition, Judith! We’ve had a great week getting to know her and have totally fallen in love with her. She and Duke became fast friends, playing and chasing each other around the yard… Joseph is absolutely smitten and talks to her all day long, telling her about school, and asking if she wants a cup of coffee after dinner (HA! He was actually insistent that I make her coffee one night, and I had to tell him that dogs don’t drink coffee.).
Dominic took the longest to warm up; she still has lots of puppy energy and is certainly more “in your face” with the little people than Duke is, however we just kept taking time to get on the floor with both of them so Dominic could stand next to her, pet her, etc while we were next to him. By Wednesday, he was taking her by the collar and walking her around the house, and telling her to “sit”. He’s been totally fine with her since, so I think it’s safe to say he’s reached his comfort zone, too! She’s an incredibly sweet dog, and so good, and we’re so thrilled that she’s part of our family.
3. And can we talk about how I am now less than seven weeks from my due date?! How on earth did that get here so quickly?! And frankly, no, we are not ready in the least, ha! I do have clothes, buuuuuuut that’s about it! The nursery isn’t set up yet because we’re waiting on Joseph’s new big boy bed to arrive (should be another week to 10 days) so we can move his crib into her room and then get everything situated. I feel like with each subsequent pregnancy we’ve taken our good old time getting things in order (including picking a name, ha!). Maybe after the first we realized there really isn’t so much that is absolutely, positively necessary and are more laid back?
4. The weather here has been absolute insanity over the last week… we got two inches of snow last Saturday, then on Tuesday it was 75 degrees and sunny, and now it’s cold and we’re in the midst of a four-day monsoon. I love winter and snow, but I’m ready for 60-degree weather!
5. If you’re on Facebook, be sure to join the Brown Eyed Baker Friends group – there are a lot of awesome members who help each other, and it’s a great way for me to see what you’ve been baking and cooking!
7. So, a Trader Joe’s opened 10 minutes from my house ummmm three years ago, and I have still NEVER been there. I KNOW. But I want to make a run, so please tell me what’s on your list of must-buys when you go!
8. We’ve still been going hard on the Olympics, and I was so thrilled that the U.S. women’s hockey team won gold! When I was little, I was obsessed with hockey (shocking!) and would put on my dad’s stinky hockey equipment and play with a street hockey ball on our porch. I always wanted to play, but at the time, where we lived, there weren’t any programs at all for girls. Such a bummer.
9. We finally caught up on the first two episodes of Homeland and… meh. It just doesn’t grip me the way the first few seasons did… the storyline with Brody was just phenomenal and while the show is still good, it doesn’t knock my socks off anymore.
10. TGIF! These two are getting to be such amazing friends! xo
This eggplant parmesan recipe is my father-in-law’s signature dish and it always receives rave reviews, even from people who are sworn eggplant-haters. With multiple layers of fried eggplant, pasta sauce and tons of cheese, you can’t go wrong!
It’s here! Quite possibly the most requested recipe since I started sharing our Sunday dinner menus a few years ago; so many of you have begged for my father-in-law’s eggplant parmesan recipe, and I’m excited to finally share it with you!
Now full disclosure here before we jump into the recipe… I am NOT an eggplant fan. Which is to say, I really don’t like it much at all. So the very first time my father-in-law ever served this when I was dating my husband, I took a small piece to be polite, but truly was not expecting to like it. But, OMG, I actually LOVED it. And other people in our family who have sworn off eggplant have fallen in love with this eggplant parm, and declared it the best they’ve ever had.
There are no special ingredients, but layers upon layers of thinly sliced, fried eggplant, homemade pasta sauce, and lots of cheese is certainly hard to beat!
How Do You Prepare Eggplant for Eggplant Parmesan?
This is probably the most vital part of preparing eggplant parmesan, and also the most time-consuming part of the process. My father-in-law swears by thinly-sliced eggplant that has been salted to remove the bitterness, then breaded and fried.
How thick do you cut eggplant for eggplant parmesan? His recipe calls for 1/8-inch thick, but basically, as thinly as you can safely get it! My mandoline and food processor are both too narrow for the bulbous eggplants, so I sliced by hand and just went slowly and got them as thin as possible.
Do not crowd the pan when frying; if you have large slices of eggplant, you may only be able to fit four slices at a time.
If you have a deep fryer, you could use that, too.
Be sure to place the fried slices on a paper towel-lined pan to drain the oil.
I only did one thing differently than my father-in-law’s recipe.. he does not put a layer of mozzarella cheese on top, but adds more in the interior layers; he just puts sauce and Parmigiano-Reggiano on the top layer. However, I love a cheesy, browned, bubbling top layer on something like this, so I veered slightly. I couldn’t help myself!
There’s no denying that this dish a definite labor of love. The preparation of the eggplant takes a good bit of time, so you could totally break up the prep work. I prepped and assembled everything the day before serving, but my father-in-law sometimes spreads it out over three days:
Day 1: Prep and fry the eggplant, then refrigerate once cooled. Can also make the sauce this day, as well.
Day 2: Assemble the eggplant parmesan.
Day 3: Bake and eat!
This is also a great baked casserole to freeze both before and after it’s been baked. Simply cover tightly in foil and freeze for up to 2 months.
I so hope that you’ll give this eggplant parmesan a try and that your family loves it as much as we do!
And I promise, if you’re not an eggplant fan, there is a huge chance that you’re going to love this anyway!
Prepare the Eggplant: Place the sliced eggplant in a colander and sprinkle with the kosher salt. Allow to sit for 15 minutes, then rinse and place on a double layer of paper towels and pat dry.
Place the lightly beaten eggs in one shallow bowl, and the bread crumbs in another (I like using pie plates for this!). Dip the slices of eggplant into the egg, allowing any excess to drip off, then coat in the bread crumbs. Place the breaded eggplant on a baking sheet while you prepare the rest.
Pour the olive oil and vegetable oil in a large, deep skillet (I use a 12-inch cast iron skillet) and heat over medium-high heat. Add a pinch of bread crumbs to see if the oil is ready – if they begin bubbling and sizzling the oil is ready.
Add the eggplant slices a few at a time (do not overcrowd the pan, four is about the max amount per batch) and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Remove to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain.
Assemble the Eggplant Parmesan: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Spread ¾ cup of the pasta sauce over the bottom of the pan. Cover the sauce with slices of eggplant (the pieces can overlap), then spread 1 cup of sauce over the eggplant slices, sprinkle with 2 cups of the shredded mozzarella cheese, and 1/3 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Repeat another layer of eggplant, 1 cup of sauce, 2 cups shredded mozzarella and 1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. For the last layer, add the sliced eggplant, 1 cup of sauce, remaining 1 cup shredded mozzarella, and 1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Cover the pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees F, and continue to bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cheese on top is melted, browned and bubbling. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
My father-in-law has tried some different variations with breaded eggplant that had been baked, and everyone agreed that it wasn’t nearly as delicious.
He’s also tried panko bread crumbs, but again, everyone was in agreement that regular Italian-seasoned bread crumbs were best.
Use your favorite spaghetti sauce, whether it’s homemade or jarred. Of course my favorite is my father-in-law’s meat sauce; if you want to keep this totally vegetarian, just omit the meat from the sauce.
You can assemble this in stages – prepare the eggplant day 1 (refrigerate), then assemble the eggplant parmesan the next day, cover and refrigerate, and bake on the third day.
This can also be frozen before or after baking; cover tightly with foil and freeze for up to 2 months. Reheat in 350 degree oven.
Say hello to milk bread! This is a fabulous recipe for the iconic soft and fluffy bread that can be made into loaves, pull-apart bread, rolls, or split-top buns. You seriously won’t be able to stop eating this!
Have you ever had milk bread?
I honestly had never heard of it until I saw a Food52 video on Facebook a couple of months ago, and I was immediately sucked in with the promise that it was “the most addictive bread you will ever eat”. Challenge accepted.
The origin of this recipe comes from the Kindred restaurant in Davidson, North Carolina. Apparently, this bread is served as mini pull-apart loaves warm from the oven in lieu of a bread basket, and has a total cult following. The restaurant uses the same dough recipe for its burger buns, split-top rolls, and sandwich bread.
I was totally sold on making the bread, and after a couple of small tweaks, I can confirm that this is, indeed, a hopelessly addicting bread. Grab your favorite butter and let’s get rolling!
What is Milk Bread?
On the surface, milk bread is an utterly fantastic soft and fluffy bread that totally melts in your mouth.
It’s rich, much like challah, but lighter and airier, making it perfect for pull-apart loaves that you just slather with butter.
What Makes the Bread Soft and Fluffy?
So what keeps an enriched dough that uses eggs, butter, cream and honey so soft and fluffy?
This style of bread dates back to 19th century Japan, and utilizes a Chinese technique called tangzhong, which is to first cook a small amount of the flour with water to create a paste that is almost like a roux. Once that is made, you add the rest of the ingredients and and proceed with your bread. Doing this creates a bread with a soft, springy texture that has tiny air bubbles throughout the crumb.
As you can see below, the mixture is a little looser than a roux, yet still thick. The heavy cream and honey get added to the paste, and warmed until the honey has completely dissolved.
Can You Use This Recipe to Make Rolls?
Yes! In fact, you can use it to make all sorts of great bread variations. I made two simple loaves of bread, but you could also make any of the following:
Rolls (dinner roll size or larger)
Split-top rolls (for hot dogs, po boys or lobster rolls!)
I’ve included instructions in the recipe notes on how to make the variations above.
The first time that I made this bread, I had two major issue:
#1 – The dough took FOR-EV-ER to rise both times. As in, like HOURS (3+) for each rise, and even at that, it never got as high and fluffy as I think it should have.
#2 – The bread was super, insanely salty. I’m usually not one to be too bothered by excess salt, but this was like borderline I couldn’t even eat it. My husband actually thought it was pretzel bread because it was so salty.
I made two easy fixes and the next round turned out absolutely phenomenal! First, I swapped the active dry yeast that was in the original recipe for instant yeast. Given that the dough has so much fat between the eggs, cream, and butter, as well as a healthy dose of sugar with the honey, I thought it needed a boost to get going, and the instant yeast provided just that. It rose beautifully with the instant yeast and the resulting bread was super light and fluffy.
As for the salt, I simply cut it in half and it was perfect. It balanced out the rich sweetness but wasn’t overpowering.
If you’ve never tried milk bread before, you HAVE to give this recipe a try! It’s easy and the bread totally melts in your mouth. I made one loaf as a sandwich loaf, and the other one to pull apart. I could NOT stop ripping big chunks off and slathering them with butter. It lasted less than a day, and I would have loved it if three more would have appeared in my kitchen, ha!
The sandwich loaf was equally as delicious, and made absolutely phenomenal sandwiches!
A fabulous recipe for the iconic soft and fluffy bread that can be made into loaves, pull-apart bread, rolls, or split-top buns.
For the Bread
5⅓ cups (640 grams) bread flour, divided
1 cup water
1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream
⅓ cup (113 grams) honey
3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder
2 tablespoons instant yeast (from 3 envelopes)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature
For the Egg Wash
1 teaspoon water
Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling, optional
Combine ⅓ cup of the flour and the water in a small saucepan and place over medium heat, whisking constantly, until a thick paste forms (it should be a little looser than a roux), about 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the heavy cream and honey and whisk until honey dissolves. Remove from the heat.
Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and add the milk powder, yeast, kosher salt, eggs, and 5 remaining cups flour. Knead on medium speed until dough is smooth, about 5 minutes. Add butter, a piece at a time, fully incorporating into dough before adding the next piece, until dough is smooth, shiny, and elastic, about 4 minutes (the dough may look loose and separated at first, but it will come together, just keep kneading).
Coat a large bowl with nonstick cooking spray and transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Coat two 9- by 5-inch loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and divide into 12 pieces. Nestle the pieces side-by-side to create 2 rows down length of each pan. Cover with a clean dish towel.
Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size (dough should be just puffing over top of pan), about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water for the egg wash. Brush top of the dough with egg wash. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt, if desired. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until bread is deep golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 190 degrees F, about 30 minutes. Let the bread cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes before turning them out, then let cool completely before slicing.
To make rolls, divide the dough into 12 equal pieces, shape into rolls, and place in greased 9×13-inch pan. Cover with clean dish cloth and let raise until doubled in size. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with flaky sea salt, if desired. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown brown and instant read thermometer registers 190 degrees F.
To make split-top rolls, lightly coat two 9×13-inch baking dishes with nonstick cooking spray. Divide dough into 12 pieces and shape each into a 4-inch long log. Place 6 logs in a row down length of each dish. Cover with clean dish cloth and let raise until doubled in size. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with flaky sea salt, if desired. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown brown and instant read thermometer registers 190 degrees F.
Say hello to Judith! She is a 16-month-old Golden Retriever, and officially joined our family on Friday.
If you follow me on Instagram, then you already got a glimpse of her sweet face; be sure to follow along because I’m sure I’ll be sharing tons of pictures and videos on stories!
She is such a sweet, sweet dog and so far she and Duke have gotten along really well. He’s definitely getting a little bit in the way of karma; he nagged and picked on Einstein so much when he was young, and now he’s getting it back! She still has a lot of puppy in her and loves to play, but is super smart and a really good dog. Joseph is a big fan, and loves playing ball with her; he threw it over and over and over again on Saturday. Dominic is still taking some time to warm up to her, but he made some great progress yesterday!
I got a lot of questions on Instagram about whether she’s a rescue… we adopted her! She’s actually a fully trained therapy dog but at the end of training was found to be a bit too high energy for the job. So instead, she gets to live in a house full of kids and with another dog, which we think will serve her well!
We’re so excited to have her as part of our family… below are a few pictures from over the weekend!
Whew has it been a WEEK here – my cold got worse, I got a fever, had to get swabbed for the flu (ugh, not fun) and finally diagnosed with a sinus infection. The GOOD news is that as soon as I had two doses of medicine, I was feeling a lot better.
ALSO! Someone (furry!) joined our family yesterday; stay tuned for the introduction on Monday!
As always, you’ll find a recap of what was posted to the site this week, the most shared recipes, my Sunday dinner menu, and recipes I’ve bookmarked from other blogs. Enjoy!
1. These boys are finally back to their happy, crazy, non-sick selves! Dominic ended up with a double ear infection at the end of last week but after two doses of meds he was back to himself. He also figured out how to climb up onto the couch on his own this week, which he is ridiculously proud of, ha!
We just ordered a “big boy” race car bed for Joseph, and he CANNOT wait. He’s been obsessed with cars for a few months now, and he keeps asking where his race car bed is, lol. It hasn’t arrived yet, but we’re hoping that getting something he’s super excited about will help with the transition from crib to bed!
2. On top of the nasty cold that everyone else had, I managed to snag myself a sinus infection, which explains why I started to actually get WORSE at the beginning of this week instead of gradually getting better. Ugh. However, after only one day on medicine, I was feeling much, much better. I had my 32-week appointment and we put in dates for my c-section, just waiting to be finalized through scheduling at the hospital. BUT! We’re at T-minus 7 weeks, give or take a day or two. Holy heck has this pregnancy flown by!
3. As a result, my attention has already turned to Easter, spring, and early summer, as I start to do some planning ahead for when the baby arrives. It also didn’t hurt that it was 60 degrees here yesterday! Joseph got to play outside at school, and I was able to run errands with the boys without bundling them up in jackets and hats. Win!
I wanted to pop in and say hi and let you know I’m still over here (no early baby!), but I’m still sick and my head is wayyyyy too foggy to even attempt coherent recipe instructions. I have a few in the queue I’m excited to share with you (including my father-in-law’s famous eggplant Parmesan!) and they’ll be coming your way as soon I’m on the other side of this nasty cold!
In the meantime, these sweet boys are wishing you a very Happy Valentine’s Day! xo
I hope that your week was better than ours… Joseph came down with a nasty chest cold last Saturday and the rest of us caught it by Tuesday. After being extra, super-duper miserable most of Thursday and yesterday and not at all like himself when he’s usually sick, I took Dominic to the pediatrician yesterday afternoon and found out he has a double ear infection :( I feel so bad for him! Joseph has never had one, but I had TONS when I was little (had tubes when I was in preschool, I think), and I can remember writhing on the bed, holding my ears and crying in pain many times. Hoping he’s feeling better soon!
And since we’re all sick, we cancelled Sunday dinner this week so we don’t spread our germs. Planning on lots of TV, couch time, and recuperating for all of us this weekend! What do you have going on?
On Brown Eyed Baker This Week
7 Minute Frosting – The classic meringue or marshmallow-like frosting that is light, fluffy, and holds perfect peaks. Great for cakes and cupcakes!
Traditional Devil’s Food Cake – This traditional devil’s food cake recipe is easy and super moist. Filled and covered with seven minute frosting, it will quickly become a family favorite!
Friday Things – Colds, Olympics, CheezIts, blankets, the Super Bowl, and more…
This Week’s New Recipe Video!
Fat Tuesday is just a few days away, so get ready to make Paczki!
1. We have all been sick this week AGAIN. Ugh. Since Joseph started preschool, it’s been approximately once a month… he always gets sick first, then the rest of us get it about 3 days later. Same thing happened this time, but this is the sickest Dominic has ever been, he’s so miserable and I feel awful for him. Joseph missed school picture day on Tuesday, womp womp. And to top it off, yesterday was my husband’s birthday, and we were all just a sick cranky bunch at home. Bummer :(
2. I’m starting to plan ahead for when the baby is born, so if you have any Easter/spring/early summer recipe requests, send them my way! :)
3. Once I find the time to start crocheting again, I really, really want to make a temperature blanket. It would be easy enough to keep up with, and the colors would probably be gorgeous!
5. Did you watch the Super Bowl? First all, it was an awesome game just from a sports fan perspective, so thrilled the Eagles won, and hands-down, the absolute best commercial was Eli Manning recreating Dirty Dancing:
6. Also, thoughts on the half-time show? I was totally meh about it. But I’m not really a Justin Timberlake fan; his music is fine, but I don’t get the crazy hype.
7. Confession: I do not like CheezIts. I’ve never liked CheezIts, and every so often I eat them thinking that I might like them. Nope. Apparently that’s not happening. However, I LOVE homemade CheezIts!
8. The Olympics finally started! Which events do you love watching? I’m always hooked on downhill skiing, figure skating, speed skating, luge, bobsled… okay, I love so many of them!