Quick Meal: Thai Eggplant and Sausage Pizza

Sweatbands: warm weather necessity but very unattractive. #100bysummer

I don’t know if this is true for you, but when I get home from work I need time to decompress from the day’s activities. By the time I am ready to cook dinner, I want to make something tasty and quickly. Sometimes I have a plan formulated, but often I swing it with what I have on hand.

Barefoot and wounded. #lol #xmasevedinner

I like taking photos of my meals that turn out well. (Any one who follows my Instagram account knows I am one of those people.) The thought occurred to me last night that I should start posting about some of my successes. These “quick meal” posts are not going to have beautifully crafted photos with excellent lighting. They will just feature photos I take with my phone, a little write-up of my thought process and a the step-by-step recipe.

Still no freaking tomatoes. What gives? #summerlove

I’m always searching online for a recipe and though maybe I could help someone else out there in search of a quick meal. Weirder things have happened. Plus, I hate forgetting the details of my creation if I want to replicate it later on. So what the hell, here goes…

@Adieboo and I are ready to eat our grilled fish pizza. #comeandgetit #dinner

I have been working on my pizza skills in various ways for about a year. I’ve made my own dough, grilled pizza and tried a variety of interesting toppings. The only annoying thing is I usually roll my dough too thick, too thin or don’t cook it long enough. So I am working on execution constantly and try to make a pizza every week or two. Luckily, Nate and Adie are good sports about eating both my successes and failures.

Just a few tomatoes from my parents garden. #extralarge #summerlove

Last night, I was drained after work and I knew that I need a workout to burn off a little stress. I wanted a meal that would allow me to work out and still have dinner before 9pm. In the fridge I had shredded cheese, eggplant and pizza dough so I formulated a plan to make a Thai inspired pizza. As soon as I got home, I took out some Trader Joes pizza dough (so it could come to room temperature and rise), cut two eggplants in half and salted them (to take out the bitterness) and turned on my oven (so it would be nice and hot for the pizza). With dinner essentially started, I was able to get a 30 minute workout in.

Quick Food: Thai Eggplant and Sausage Pizza

Once I was done sweating it up, I went back to the kitchen to finish prepping and start to cook. First, I surveyed possible toppings and decided to sauté a bunch of fresh veggies for that Thai focus. Along with the eggplant, I took out some tomatillos for a little sweetness, red chili pepper for heat and a bunch of Thai basil I was growing in the garden (my favorite herb ever). I also pulled out a tomato, shredded mozzarella cheese, a jar of tomato sauce and some soy sausage (regular sausage would work as well) we had in the fridge to add later.

Quick Food: Thai Eggplant and Sausage Pizza

I chopped and sautéed the veggies as I rolled out my dough. Then popped it in the oven for ten minutes on a heated pizza stone. When it was done I loaded all the toppings on the pizza and put it back in for another 10 minutes. Ta-da a quick fresh pizza featuring vegetables from the garden.

Quick Food: Thai Eggplant and Sausage Pizza

Thai Eggplant & Sausage Pizza

Ingredients

Pre-made Pizza Dough (I like the whole wheat dough from Trader Joes)
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Jar of Tomato Sauce
2 Small Eggplants
4 Tomatillos
Bunch of Thai Basil
1 Red Chili Pepper
3 Garlic Cloves
1-2 Sausage Links
1 Large Tomato
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to Taste

Instructions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put in pizza stone if you have one. Set out pizza dough on lightly floured surface. Cut eggplant in half and lightly salt to pull out bitterness. Let dough and eggplant sit for 30 minutes.

Put sauté pan on medium heat. Roll out pizza dough and place in oven either on a lined baking sheet or heated pizza stone. Cook for 10 minutes.

Rinse salt off eggplant and chop into bite sized pieces. Also chop garlic cloves, tomatillos and red chili pepper. (Remove the chile seeds first, depending on your heat tolerance) Once pan is heated add garlic and olive oil. When garlic is lightly browned, add the rest of the chopped vegetables. Chop a couple of tablespoons of basil. Cook vegetables until soft and then add half the chopped basil to the mix. Cook for another 5-10 minutes.

Prep the rest of your pizza ingredients. Cut up the sausage, take out the cheese and tomato sauce and chop the tomato.

Once the dough is done, remove from the oven and flip it so the crisp bottom is now the top. (The new bottom will crisp up once it goes back in the oven.) Cover the top with a light layer of tomato sauce. Then add the remainder of chopped basil and sausage. Cover with a light layer of cheese. Then top with tomato and sautéed vegetables. Cover with a second layer of cheese and top with a few fresh basil leaves. Season with salt and pepper.

Stick the pizza in the over for another ten minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is done to your liking.

Happy cooking!

World’s Most Awesome Cat Calendar

I saw this Kickstarter project yesterday and it made me so happy I wanted to share.

The opening headline says it all -

“Do you enjoy photos of cats dressed up as magical creatures? Do you use a calendar? Yes? Then we have something awesome for you.”

This calendar looks amazing and yes I plan on funding the project. The only question is how many do I want?

The tall task of organizing my digital photos

That's right I'm rocking my Class of '95 mug

One of my 2013 personal goals is to organize all my digital photos from 2005-2012 so I can 1) find photos when I need them and 2) enjoy them. (I don’t even what to think of all the printed photos and negatives I have to go through as well. That’s a project for an another year.)

I took a look at my external hard drive and I currently I have 228 GB of photos saved to it. I have no idea how many photos that is, but it’s a lot. I also have 11,477 photos uploaded to Flickr. I pay a small annual fee for a pro account that let’s me host an unlimited number of photos on the website. I find it is an easy way for me to share photos and I also host all my blog photos on it as well. Over the last seven years I have used Flickr, my habits and camera equipment have changed many times so there’s a good chance that some of the photos hosted on the site are not on my hard drive. So I’ll have to be careful not to remove any original photos when I work through everything.

I am slowly…working…through…all….the….photos….

It’s a tall task.

Here’s my plan.

  1. Standardize my file names
  2. Organize the files by year and month
  3. Upload and keep only the “best of” photos to Flickr
  4. Use the “best of” photos for each year’s photo book

Bleh, just writing out the process makes me tired. Oh well, it’s going to be awesome when it’s completed.

1) Standardize my file names

Organizing photos

I have been using Adobe Bridge CS4 for a couple of years. It’s Adobe’s version of a file browser and comes when you purchase one of their product suites. I can download my photos from my SD card & phone through it, view thumbnails of all my photos and perform batch operations really easily using it.

adobebridge

I went through each folder of photos I had on my hard drive and renamed them based on their creation date using Adobe Bridge.

Organizing photos

I gave my iPhone photos an extra prefix to distinguish them from my regular camera photos. Once all the files were renamed, I slowly deleted any duplicates from the drive.

2) Organize the files by year and month

Organizing photos

Next I set up folders for each year I have digital photos.

Organizing photos

If I click on the 2012 folder, I have my photos broken down by month. Edited photos are kept in a separate folder within each month’s folder so I know these are the photos I want to upload to Flickr each month.

3) Upload and keep only the “best of” photos to Flickr

Organizing photos

Flickr has a great uploader tool you can download from their website. I upload my edited photos to it and then label them based on the project or event. I can also organize them into a set or tag the photos.

Organizing photos

Once they are up on the site, I can share them with others or use them in a blog post.

4) Use the “best of” photos for each year’s photo book

Organize photos

Last month I worked on my 2012 photo book. I’ve never designed one of these before, but after looking at all my options I decided to use Shutterfly. I was pretty pleased with their website interface and they were running a 50% off promotion at the time so it seemed like a good deal. I went with a 12×12 book with white cover and spine with black lettering so that all the books will match and have a classic look no matter what company I use.

Organize photos

I laid out the pages in chronological order of the year. It’s pretty amazing to look back at your year through photos. I featured many pages of home projects and the cats of course.

Organize photos

There was also some amazing moments like our engagement. Amazingly, I only have the photo of my grandma’s ring from the evening, but plenty from the Color Run earlier that day.

I was pretty happy with the final product. I love having my photos displayed in a book. I think Shutterfly did a great job, but am going to try a few other company’s before I really decide what product I prefer.

This is going to be a long and laborious project, but I am excited to get my photos organized. I seem to take more every year with the convenience of my iPhone so it’s important to get in the habit of organizing them now or never!

Disclaimer – I am not affiliated with Adobe, Shutterfly or Flickr. I paid for all the products mentioned in this post with my own hard-earned money. :)

Dressing our tree

We waited until Saturday, December 8th to get our Christmas tree. Every year its a little of a mental battle for me to decide when its the perfect time for the tree. Last year, we got ours the Saturday after Thanksgiving and it was dead by Christmas. Drat.

Christmas 2012

Nate claims we have never gone to Home Depot for a tree as a couple. I am not sure if I believe him. Regardless that’s where we found ourselves Saturday evening. We picked out a 6-7 foot Noble Fir. The nice guys in the tree area even helped us tie the tree to our car which was a first. I’d happily go back next year for that service.

Christmas Tree 2012

Once we got home, I got the Christmas tunes going while we set up the tree. I have to say that I am really impressed with the quality of our Home Depot tree. It’s still drinking about a liter of water a day.

Decorating the tree

For lights, I go with white lights on the tree and multicolored on the house. I plan on switching them all out to more energy-efficient LEDs once my current strands break, but so far these strands haven’t had any issues and I have had them about four years.

Christmas 2012

With the lights up, I start decorating with my collection of vintage ornaments. I am very lucky to have inherited (hoarded) all my grandparent’s globe ornaments.

Christmas Tree 2012

My favorites are these giant hot pink ornaments from the year my Grandma Estelle had a white flocked tree with only pink ornaments. Can you imagine? I have added to the globe collection anytime I come across them at thrift stores or estate sales. You can never have enough.

Christmas 2012

Once the globes go up, I add the special ornaments. Like a lot of families, I got a new ornament every Christmas of my childhood. Some are pretty unique like this mad hatter ornament.

Christmas Tree 2012

I showed the ornaments we got from my parents last year, but they deserve another feature. We love Mexican Loki. It’s a spot-on representation of our weird orange cat. The Pixel ornament is nice and sassy, we just wish it was a little more burly. I mean, our girl cat is also a bad ass.

Christmas Tree 2012

Finally, with the rest of the ornaments up, I dress the bottom third of the tree for the cats. They are the plastic and wooden kind that can take a beating. Here’s Loki hiding from his sister. I have found him under the tree every morning this week ready to play.

With the tree up, I have a few more decorations to finish up and I am ready for the season. Nate’s going to be very excited for me to move all the storage boxes out of the front room since they’ve been cluttering it all week. Fingers crossed I get it all done tonight before I leave for the midnight showing of The Hobbit.