1. when the ball drops
you wouldn't think that four gigantic globe lights crashing to the ground at 6:45 in the morning would be a highlight of my day. however, now that my things are put away and my to-do list is all about decorating (and buying a microwave of course), i've been spending a lot of time trying to figure out where to hang things. nobody likes to be woken up to what sounds like a moose charging into a dining room table full of thanksgiving dinner (yeah, it was THAT loud), but sometimes, it's nice to have the decorations decide where to put themselves.
2. is that centered? oh wait, there's nobody else here.
it can be slightly difficult to hang and center things when you can't exactly be the person hanging things AND standing across the room seeing if they're crooked. but until i have a four-legged furry friend here who can meow at me if i hang a painting too far to the left, it's up to me to figure out where things go. once again, i'm taking this day-by-day and i still have a pile of pictures, flags, etc. that need to be hung, but as for now, these are the recent additions. of the two pictures frames i bought, only one has the ability to stand up by itself, so before i made dinner yesterday afternoon (i had to pre-make dinner so it would be ready when i got home from work), i decided that my sister would enjoy watching me cook--hence the picture that now sits above the TV. i'm hoping to have at least two more picture frames up there by the time i'm done with all of this. i never realized how bananas it can be to decorate an apartment.
speaking of, do you think these are centered?
on my first visit to home goods, i found a TON of great things. one of them being this wooden picture frame on the yellow wall. the second i picked it up, i knew immediately what i wanted in this frame and where i wanted it to go.
incase you can't read that: "love is splendid"
3. eggplant roll-a-fanny
the other day, sara mentioned to me that she had picked up eggplant parm takeout for a movie night. i'm very easily influenced when someone talks about food. last week, she mentioned that she was craving the thai restaurant down the street from me. i've now ordered takeout from there twice in the course of about five days. the first time i read reviews of the commissary coffee shop on fairfax and learned that they had "the best lavender earl grey iced tea", i went straight there and have since bought my own lavender earl grey tea leaves. if i see guy fieri go to a greek restaurant on diners, drive-ins, and dives, most likely i'll be eating chicken souvlaki for lunch the next day.
basically...i like food. i like to talk about food. i like to eat food. and if you talk about food, most likely very soon i'll be eating what you were just talking about.
back to rollatine. i decided that i wanted to make my own eggplant parmesan. because i don't get home from work until 9 or later, it's a little insane to try and cook a big italian meal when i walk in the door. so yesterday i decided to make up the dish so that all i would have to do is throw it in the oven when i walk in. i looked up recipes for eggplant parm on food network just to get some ideas. i ended up coming upon a giada di laurentiis recipe for eggplant rollatine and i took her basic concept and then created my own recipe.
this...is eggplant roll-a-fanny!
the most important concept is that you want to flavor EVERY layer of the dish. for the cheese filling, i started with a base of crispy sauteed shallots to add an extra punch. along with that: ricotta cheese, one egg, fresh basil, salt, pepper, and smoked mozzerella.
instead of frying the pieces of eggplant--which i thinly sliced lengthwise and sprinkled with salt and pepper--i wanted to sautee them. but like i said, you need to add flavor to every layer of the dish so i sauteed each strip of eggplant in olive oil and butter which i infused with garlic. (using the side of a big knife, smash a garlic clove releasing it's flavor and let it simmer in the olive oil/butter. then remove the garlic clove. that way you have a flavorful swimming pool for the eggplant pieces, but the garlic isn't just cooking away in there and getting too dark. burnt garlic = bitter flavor = start all over = bummer)
once the cooked eggplant slices have cooled, spread a layer of the cheese mixture inside of them. then roll them and put into your casserole dish. i put marinara sauce on the botttom. generally i would have made my own sauce--roasted tomatoes, garlic, and basil--but using a good canned sauce is ALWAYS a great way to save time. hey, we can't always be emeril.
once you've got your first layer, top it with more marinara sauce, parmesan cheese, and gouda. most people use mozzerella but i love the smoky flavor that gouda adds. so for me, gouda was good-a.
once the layers are complete, top the whole thing off with more marinara sauce and a sprinkle of parm. this is the dish before it hit the oven.
and this is it post-baking. i did it at 350 until it was bubbly. hello oozy cheesy sizzling goodness. (note to self: if you don't have a microwave, eat immediately)
don't forget the last and most important steps: top it with more parmesan, fresh basil, and lemon zest.
and don't forget the wine.
highlight of the day:
aside from the fact that who WOULDN'T want to have zac effron over for eggplant rollatine--i decided to have a movie night with myself. i know that movie night (especially when you're by yourself) doesn't seem like much of a highlight, but to me, it was. i've been waiting a long time to see this movie because it holds a special place in my heart. i picked up this book in the airport on my way back from the first trip to LA. for those of you that don't remember, this trip home was the day after wilbur passed away. i decided that this book seemed a little too intense for me at the time because of what i had just gone through, so i opted for a funny book on the way home (thank you chelsea handler for making me laugh so hard i embarassed myself on the plane).
on my way back to LA (the official move), i read charlie st. cloud on the flight. although it left me in tears and once again embarassing myself on a plane, the message in the book was extremely touching. it's about a boy who loses his younger brother in a car accident, but is still able to see him and play catch with him every night. to make a long description short, the idea behind the book is extremely positive and uplifting. it reminds us that people we love who have transitioned from life to death are still around us everywhere. needing to feel that comfort in my situation after losing wilbur, this book held a very special purpose for me. hence, renting this movie was important to me and absolutely worth the $4.99. and once again, who WOULDN'T want to share a meal with zac effron?