Born Pinner, Budding Chef | Eggplant Pizzas

I have an unabashed love of Pinterest. As I've trimmed my social media presence down over the past year, the three to hold strong are Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. Each morning at the crack of dawn, there's nothing the World's Cutest Human loves more than drinking a bottle, snuggling and watching Elmo. I indulge her because there's nothing I love more than drinking my coffee, snuggling and Pinning when I wake up. I'd like to think that the part we both love best is the snuggling, not the screens. Luckily she cannot challenge me on that. Yet.

Of all the boards I pin to, I really love finding inspirational interior design (I'm designing our future home on Pinterest, no lie) and stumbling upon motherfanning amazing recipes. I can't count how many times per week the following conversation goes down in my kitchen:

The Love of My Life: "Holy shit! This is delicious! Oh my God! Where did you get this recipe/idea?"

Me: <deliberate pause>

The Love: "Pinterest? Wow, you have a problem."

But c'mon. If you're loving what I'm putting down in front of you, you can't hate what inspired it, right? So, my new series in 2015, "Born Pinner, Budding Chef," is going to make my habit legit. I win.

Through this series, I will share the recipes that are just too good to keep to myself. Note that I'm just passing them on, they will (almost) never be my own recipes and so I don't claim any ownership of anything.

But I will highlight some eats that are going to flip your kitchen upside down (if we have the same taste, I guess... but let's give it a try. Glance through my "Yummy" board to get a sense for the kind of recipes that catch my eye).

I will specifically choose recipes that parents can attempt in a parentally-allowed amount of time, using the World's Cutest Human and her very short fuse as a time tester.

First up: Eggplant Pizzas.

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'Tis both the season to feel guilty post-holidays and to want to eat healthy, and to simultaneously want hot, cheesy comfort food to pretend like January in the Northeast isn't happening.

I got you.

Because these babies are very good for you. They are crazy simple and fast to make. They use fresh ingredients. They are hot, cheesy, saucy mothatruckas. And goshdarnit, I would not fail you in a new series post numero uno. Let's get to it, shall we? I've modified the recipe linked above.

What you need:

  • A good-sized eggplant (or 2, if you're serving more than 3 people)
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh basil
  • Course fresh salt
  • Fresh-ground black pepper
  • Garlic
  • Tomato sauce or pesto
    • I advocate for homemade sauce on either front because both are easy, and it will make all the difference in taste
    • 'Mater sauce needs: large can of diced tomatoes, basil, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and onion (optional)
    • Pesto needs: basil, olive oil, pine nuts (or walnuts), garlic, salt and pepper
  • Fresh tomato (optional, as are any other toppings)

What you do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees
  2. Peel and slice your eggplant(s) about 3/4-1 inch thick (leave skin if you prefer, but wash carefully)
  3. Grill your eggplant slices on both sides quickly in a grill pan, then arrange them on (a) baking sheet(s)
  4. Make your sauce and spread sauce on the top of each eggplant slice
  5. Smash more garlic than that already in the sauce and add to eggplant (it's so good for you... your breath be damned)
  6. Layer the eggplant slices with fresh sliced tomato and then fresh mozzarella
  7. Top with fresh basil, salt and pepper (and a few hot pepper flakes if you're spicy)
  8. Broil for about five minutes or until ooey, gooey, toasty, melty -- but don't look away, lest the cheese go up in flames (not that I ever set off the smoke detector)
  9. Serve with huge green salad (angel option) or big ole Italian serving of linguine (devil option)

What you'll earn:

Endless praise from your family and dinner table recipients, and therefore a swollen ego and sense of pride. You're welcome!

Bon appetit! Or as a waiter once said to me in Georgia, "Boney appetite!"