Extra Helpings: Veggie Grilling Temps and Times


This is the weekend!

There’s so much summer produce in the markets you’ve just got to get out, buy some and throw it on the grill. Here’s a handy-dandy grilling chart for guidance.

Remember! Grilling time has a lot to do with how you cut the produce, the type of grill you’re using… and the temperature of the grill.

Watch your veggies carefully so they don’t burn. A little charring goes a long, long way.

What’s your favorite vegetable to grill?

Try This: Purple Cauliflower


How many purple vegetables can you name? My most recent discovery? Purple Cauliflower.

Purple Cauliflower in FM

Unlike so many other purple vegetables, say… green beans and bell peppers… the beautiful bright color doesn’t fade when sautéed or blanched. Cook it quickly and you’ll keep the vibrant color and the tender crispness.

All cauliflower is high in fiber and low in calories and, the best natural source of vitamin C next to citrus (bet you didn’t know that!). And, how about this? Cauliflower may also contain a phytonutrient that helps block cancer growth.

Cauliflower is also one of those vegetables that intimidates a lot of people… don’t be one of them!

Break the head into bite-size florets and sauté in a little olive oil, garlic and lemon juice… then spoon on top of cooked gnocchi and sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese.

Purple Cauliflower and Gnocchi 1

I’ve never purple cauliflower in the regular supermarket, only in a farmers’ market or specialty food store. If you come across it, Try It!

So, how many purple vegetables did you come up with? Here’s what I’ve got so far:

1. Eggplant
2. Purple potatoes
3. Purple Corn
4. Purple Bell Peppers
5. Purple Carrots
6. Purple Green Beans

What am I missing?

Purple Vegetable Collage


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Gadget Tree: Soft Skin Peeler


Ever tried to peel a peach with a regular vegetable peeler?

Soft Peeler Collage

Disaster. Half the peach disappears. Same with tomatoes.

That’s why this little gadget is one of my favorite tools in the kitchen, especially at this time of year when farmers’ market tables are heavy with gorgeously fresh fruits and vegetables.

A Soft Skin Peeler is made exclusively for removing (you guessed it…) the soft skin of delicate fruits and vegetables, without removing all the delicious goodness below the skin.

I use Kuhn Rikon’s Piranha Peeler because the super sharp serrated blades can easily maneuver around the swooping curves of an eggplant.

If you’re still blanching your peaches and tomatoes to remove the skin or using a regular peeler on a tomato, you’ll find this little gadget very appealing.

Sorry…I just had to write that…

Eggplant Napoleons


GP’s outta town, living it up in LA… and that’s just fine with Mama.

Yeah, yeah, I do miss him. But you know who really misses him? The kids.

When GP’s gone, Mama “cleans the cooler” (as they used to say in culinary school) and makes dinner from everything hiding in plastic containers, sealed in Ziploc bags, frozen solid or languishing in the vegetable bins.

I like the challenge.

But it drives the kids crazy. They’ve tried a few lines on me:
• “Dad’s gone, so why don’t you take it easy tonight and we’ll order take-out?”
• “You always make such fantastic meals, why don’t you let someone else cook tonight and we’ll order take-out?”

Then their pleas get a little more insistent:
• “You need to help me with this project, if you cook you’ll finish too late and we won’t have a enough time! Let’s order take-out!”
• “You look really tired. Are you getting sick? Let’s order take-out before you pass out!”

And then just plain desperate:

And the answer is no.

I know what all about the cost of food. I know what it takes to prepare it. I HATE spending money on restaurant meals (especially lukewarm carry-in meals) when we have plenty of food in the house and I know how to cook it.

Thank you for letting me vent. GP’s been gone since Monday. These hooligans are driving me nuts.

Found in the fridge (among other things): Eggplant, mozzarella cheese, pasta sauce in a jar, eggs and basil.
Made as part of dinner: Eggplant Napoleons. (Sounds all fancy-do… but it isn’t.) And I finally got to use used those eggplants that’s been in there since Saturday.

GP gets home tomorrow. You know what? We’re going out to dinner.


Eggplant Napolean

Eggplant Napolean
prep: 40 minutes (including 30 min eggplant salting)
cook: 10 minutes
serves: 6 (as a vegetable course)

you’ll need…
2 medium eggplants, peeled
2 Tablespoons salt
1½ cups breadcrumbs or panko crumbs
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1½ cups pasta sauce (or more to taste)
2 eggs slightly beaten
6 oz. sliced mozzarella or 1 cup shredded
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons chopped basil

let’s get to it…
Place a double layer of paper towels on a baking sheet; set aside.
Slice the eggplants into ½” rounds. Place the eggplant slices in a single layer on the paper towels. (You can skip this next step if you want): Sprinkle salt lightly on top of the eggplant slices. Let rest for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, blot dry and set aside.
Mix the breadcrumbs and Italian seasoning in a medium size bowl; set aside.
Heat the pasta sauce on medium high in a small saucepan until just below boiling. Cover and remove from heat.
Dip the eggplant slices, one by one, in the beaten eggs and then into the breadcrumbs so that both sides are thoroughly coated. Set aside on a plate.
Heat a large skillet on medium high for 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium; add the olive oil and heat for another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the eggplant slices to the hot olive oil and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel.
Place six cooked eggplant slices on the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch pan. Evenly top each eggplant slice with 1 small piece or 1 Tablespoon of cheese and 1 Tablespoon of the sauce. Repeat layers.
Serve immediately or keep warm in a 150°F oven. Top with the basil just before serving.


I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: mamashighstrung@gmail.com