Monthly Archives: June 2012

Eggplant and Tomato Gratin

Theresa and I went to an Irish bar in Clarendon last week for happy hour. We started talking about the HEM blog, cooking, and Pinterest. Since joining Pinterest, I have found several recipes that sound yummy and can’t wait to try (and of course blog about). Theresa and I decided to have a cooking day at her apartment. She just moved near Eastern Market so we figured we could pick up most of our ingredients there. (I love walking through Eastern Market ad checking out all the craft vendors and produce stands). We were able to find eggplant and yellow and red tomatoes.

Eggplant and Tomato Gratin
Yield: serves 6-8 people

1 large eggplant
2 medium yellow tomatoes
2 medium red tomatoes
olive oil (for frying – use sparingly)
3 Tablespoons chives (fresh)
3 Tablespoons basil (fresh)
3 Tablespoons parsley (fresh)
2 Tablespoons oregano (fresh, if you have it)
1 teaspoon black pepper
10 ounces heavy cream
8 ounces parmesan cheese (separated)

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Slice eggplant 1/2 inch thick and tomatoes 1/4 inch thick.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Lightly brush one side of eggplant slices with olive oil (use sparingly and only brush one side with oil).
  4. Fry each side of the eggplant slices for 2 minutes or until lightly browning. 
  5. In a small sauce pan bring cream to a boil over medium heat and reduce to a simmer (for 5 minutes, allowing cream to reduce).
  6. Mince the spices (basil, parsley, oregano, and chives) and add to cream with 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese. Cook for an additional 2 minutes mixing constantly to allow cheese to melt.
  7. Spray a 9×12 inch glass pan with olive oil.
  8. Spread a layer of eggplant slices on the bottom of the pan. Alternate eggplant and tomato layers (2 layers).
  9. Spread cream mixture evenly over the eggplant and tomatoes. 
  10. Sprinkle remaining parmesan cheese over top of cream.
  11. Bake at 375 cheese for 40 minutes.
  12. Allow dish to cool for 10 minutes before serving. 


Heather (& guest chef Theresa)


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Filed under Italian

Melissa’s Bridal Shower

The bride!
The frames were only $1 each at Michaels and I used black construction paper to make them temporary chalkboards.

When Melissa and I were joking around one night (probably over a bottle of wine) discussing her Bridal Shower, she came up with idea of a wine tasting theme. I thought, I can work with that – I love wine!

Over the next several months I brainstormed and searched Pinterest for DIY crafts and ideas for the Bridal Shower. I had planned most of my decorations by early May but was still not sure how to do the wine tasting table and serve lunch. All my ideas came together once I found Chalkboard cloth on Amazon (approximately $10 a yard). We bought 2 yards and used it as a tablecloth for the wine tasting table – writing labels for appetizers and drawing arrows to pair wines with food.

Chalkboard Tablecloth

Wine Tasting

For the wine tasting we bought wines from the bride and groom’s home state, the state they met/where they live, and champagne from Gloria Ferrer Winery, where they got engaged. For Maryland, Melissa’s home state, we bought Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay from Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard. To represent Wil from North Carolina, his family brought wines from Biltmore Winery. To represent their new life together in Virginia and the place they met, Virginia Tech, I chose the Norton and BOW Haus Red from Barrel Oak Winery (Melissa’s favorite VA winery). 

Michele and I made labels to put in front of the wine bottles using the Cork Place Holders.

Wine tasting glasses – doubled as bridal shower party favor.

For the wine tasting I made cards that allowed each guest to rate 5 of the wines. On the back of the cards I included a description for each of the wines.

Wine Cork Balls and chalkboard picture frames made with black construction paper.

Centerpieces – wine bottles, white hydrangeas and wine corks (from Narmada Winery and Barrel Oak Winery).

Michele, another one of Melissa’s bridesmaids, came up with the shower games: Bridal Bingo, Bridal Word Scramble, the clothespins game (don’t say wedding!), and toilet paper wedding gowns.

Bridal Word Scramble using wedding related words. Naturally Melissa was the first one to finish. Clearly Words With Friends and Bananagrams are excellent training for this activity!

Bridal Bingo using wedding words instead of bingo numbers.  These took longer than I expected to make because you need to make so many different cards. Michele found bags of seashell pieces to use as unique bingo markers.

Finally a shower game prize that you really want to win! Trader Joe’s has decent bottles of wine at low prices. These went perfectly with the  theme of the shower. We used the free wine sleeves from Trader Joe’s as wrapping paper and just added a bow!



Melissa & Me!

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Filed under Crafty

Caprese Bites

I love everything about a Caprese Salad – simplicity, taste, color, and smell –  it reminds me of Italy and summer. For Melissa’s shower I wanted to make at least one appetizer that was a quick fix-it and forget-it dish so I wouldn’t be torn away from the festivities and into the kitchen. Since I know Melissa and I both love Italian food, this was perfect! To make this salad a more delicate appetizer, I speared the 3 ingredients onto a toothpick for easy eating and serving. Mangia!

Caprese Bites

1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar
2 cups of grape tomatoes
2 cups of mini mozzarella cheese balls (cut in half)
1/2 cup of fresh basil leaves (cut large ones in half)
1/2 tsp pepper

  1. Boil balsamic vinegar for 5 minutes until it reaches a thicker syrup like consistency.
  2. Thread 1 tomato, 1/2 a mozzarella ball, and 1 basil leaf onto each toothpick.
  3. Sprinkle all Caprese bites with pepper and balsamic vinegar just before serving.



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Filed under Appetizers