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Eggplant Tomato & Chickpea Curry

My husband really loves Indian Food.  Before Darren and I met, I had never tried it.  Well, real Indian Food that is. Sure my mom had made some form of curry chicken surprise but never anything that could be considered close to authentic Indian food.

Eggplant tomato & chickpea curry

I was living in Florida, He was living outside of Nashville, TN.  I flew to Tennessee and spent the weekend with him.  One evening, we went out for dinner to Ruth Chris Steakhouse but the wait was over 90 minutes so we opted to go somewhere else.  He took me to an Indian Restaurant just around the corner from the Steakhouse.  I was hesitant.  Ok more like resistant.  Thinking to myself, “We should go back, I’m not sure I’m going to like this curry stuff.  If the food is bad, the date is going to be ruined.”   Being on my best “newly dating” behavior, I decided to give it a try and I was hooked immediately.  I still remember my first bite.  My taste buds were doing the Happy dance.  Spices and Flavors I had never tasted before.  That first date was over 6 years ago and we have eaten Indian food hundreds of times since.

This is my twist on Indian Eggplant Bhurtha  which is eggplant + tomatoes + onion + spices and thats really it.  I decided to add some chickpeas to the dish making it a little heartier and to stretch it out since I was feeding a few extra people.

Eggplant tomato & chickpea curry vertical

Since I ended up with tons of eggplant & tomatoes from a Farmers Market trip and decided to make this recipe and can it.   This recipe LOVES to be canned!!!    Quick, easy, Only a few ingredients & super healthy!  Taste great by itself or over rice.

farmers market produce

It you are doing the lo-carb thing, just leave out the chickpeas/garbanzo beans.  It is still a tasty dish.  You could also turn this into a delicious soup with the addition of  some vegetable stock.

Indian Eggplant, tomato & chickpea Curry
  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 large eggplant, chopped into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 5 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp curry
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • handful of cilantro or parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a large pot, fry the cumin seeds in the olive oil over low heat while stirring for 1 min.
2. Increase the heat, add the eggplant & onion, and let cook for about 8-10 minutes just until it begins to soften.
3. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 10-15 minutes.
4. Add the tumeric, curry, salt and stir the mixture.
5.  Let simmer for 8 minutes.
6. Stir in the cilantro or parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

Eggplant tomato & chickpea curry

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Summer Rolls, Spring Rolls & See through burritos

Summer rolls vs spring rolls - TYPICALLY Summer rolls are fresh & spring rolls are fried.

HOWEVER, just google spring roll, you will find hundreds of these “unfried spring rolls” called Vietnamese spring rolls aka summer rolls.

My youngest son calls these – “see through burritos“.

My oldest son refers to them as something way to XXX-rated for this blog…

Whatever you choose to call them, these rolls are healthy & delicious.

So what is it?  Basically fresh vegetables wrapped in rice paper which happens to be great for a refreshing appetizer or light lunch.

shot of healthy veggie spring roll wrapper

These are my youngest sons absolute favorite food and a guaranteed way I can get him to eat some veggies.  WITHOUT COMPLAINING!!!

I serve these with a yummy peanut sauce.

Daniel: “Mom guess what this sauce is good on?”

Me: What?

Daniel: EVERYTHING!!!!

and I totally agree.  This sauce is so yummy!!!!

Traditionally these rolls are served with a light soy type dipping sauce or a sweet chili sauce.. The rice paper wrap is already so light & refreshing that I like it with a rich creamy sauce to compliment it.  Serve it up however you like.

Spring Roll Stuffers – Asparagus, carrots, cucumber, cabbage, avocado, rice noodles, bean sprouts, cilantro, mint, lettuce, sweet colored peppers, shrimp, whatever you would like.

These are great for parties and can be made to fit all types of dietary needs. Raw, Vegan, Vegetarian & Gluten Free.

Summer Rolls, Spring Rolls & See through burritos with Thai Peanut Sauce


  • Rice Paper Wrappers
  • Veggie Fillings- Asparagus, carrots, cucumber, cabbage, avocado, rice noodles, bean sprouts, cilanto, mint, lettuce, sweet colored peppers, shrimp
  • Thai Peanut sauce:
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. thai red curry paste
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. peanut butter
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 can coconut milk


  1. Dip one rice paper in warm water until pliable but still firm.. DO NOT SOAK.
  2. Lay rice paper flat and fill with veggies. Roll the bottom and tuck in the sides. (Just like a burrito)
  3. Repeat.
  4. For the sauce: In a small sauce pan heat sesame oil. Fry curry paste & sugar stirring 20 seconds. Add peanut butter, lime juice and coconut milk. Stir to combine. Heat through and serve with summer rolls.

shot of spring roll wrapper with microgreens vertical


White on Rice Couple did a beautiful job of creating a step-by-step tutorial with stunning photo’s  you can see here: HOW TO ROLL FRESH SPRING ROLLS




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Couscous with sautéed mushrooms & onions

Couscous pronounced Koose-Koose with sautéed mushrooms, onions & roasted garlic.  YUM!

Don’t you just love couscous?  Tiny, light, fluffy semolina pasta, which takes just minutes to prepare

When it comes to dolling up a dish with couscous, you can “taylormake” it with just about anything.   Mushrooms, nuts, seeds, meat, spices (although I would not recommend all at once).. Adding ingredients like nuts, herbs, or vegetables takes a little more time, but not much, and they add a lot more flavor and texture to your dish.

Truth be told, my kids like it plain.  But tonight it’s sautéed mushrooms & onions.

couscous with mushrooms vertical @taylormademarket.com

It cooks up in less than 10 minutes and super simple to make.  If you can boil water, you can make couscous.

Couscous is plain on it’s own but you can gourmet it up just by adding a few ingredients.  What about Sundried tomato & basil? or chorizo & queso fresco? Or a roasted shrimp & herb couscous.  The possibilities are endless.

couscous mushrooms and onions bowl @taylormademarket.com

This is a simple version of couscous that is healthy & vegan.

Couscous with sautéed mushrooms & onions


  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 1/2 c water
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 c mushrooms sliced or chopped
  • 5 cloves of roasted garlic (recipe below)
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • Sea salt to taste


  1. Place the couscous in a medium bowl and pour 1 1/2 cups of boiling water over it. Stir, cover, and let it stand 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, add olive oil and saute the onions & mushrooms for 3-5 min until slightly tender. Add smashed roasted garlic and stir to combine. Remove from heat.
  3. Uncover the couscous and fluff with a fork. Add the mushroom onion mixture and fluff to combine. add green onion for garnish. Serve warm or at room temperature.


to roast the garlic: cut the top off the head of garlic exposing a bit of each each clove of garlic. Place garlic head in a sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle olive oil on top, sprinkle with salt. Wrap & Seal the foil around the garlic gathering at the top. Place in the oven and roast 375* for 30 or until completely tender when poked with a fork or knife. Allow to cool, remove from foil. Squeeze garlic bulb and soft buttery roasted garlic slides out.


It’s really good now, but it’ll be even better the next day so refrigerate any leftovers.

couscous with mushrooms @taylormademarket.com

Couscous comes in More than one type – regular couscous made from semolina wheat (which I used), whole wheat couscous, which uses the whole grain and Israeli, or Middle Eastern couscous, which is larger and pearl-shaped.

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Food and Braces – Thank you Metz Orthodontics

The twins just got their braces by the fantastic Dr. John Metz located in Land O Lakes, FL.  The office is beautiful, the staff is fantastic and the Doctor is incredible.

I thought it would be great to do a post on the foods you shouldn’t eat with braces and share our experience.

Alanna & Jenna have begged for braces for the past 3 years as if it were a Christmas gift.  We made an appointment with an orthodontist but their baby teeth hadn’t all come out and the Doctors we talked to said they just weren’t ready.  So 3 years later, it’s finally time.  The girls were super excited about getting their new braces and then, the morning of the appointment, their brother teased told them how bad it was going to hurt when they put the braces on…. FYI – this brother has never even had braces…

Ready to walk out the door with both twins, now scared it’s going to hurt and bummed they can no longer eat anything sticky, chewy, hard or even one of their favorites, popcorn, we head to the orthodontist.

Foods to Avoid:  Sticky Foods (candies, caramels, gum) Hard Foods (bagels, pizza crust, biscotti cookies, nuts, ice)

foods braces 1

Avoid foods you  have to bite such as apples, carrots, corn on the cob ribs or chicken wings.  Jenna LOVES carrots so she was bummed when she first read this. But, Carrots are fine if they are shredded or steamed.  Same way apples are fine if they are cut into pieces.  Chicken wings & ribs are fine if they are pulled off the bone first…

food braces 2

 Foods to Limit: Sugary (cake, cookies, ice cream, soda & sweet tea limited to once a day)

What can you eat?  Just about anything else.

The first two days after getting braces, the girls were a tiny bit sore and being big drama queens.  They only ate foods they didn’t have to chew such as ice cream, smoothies, popsicles, yogurt & soup.  After day 3 they returned back to normal foods.

foods to eat

Here’s  a few “softer” food recipes from TaylorMade Market.

Peach & Yogurt Popsicles

Roasted Sweet Potato & coconut Stew

Curried Carrot Salad

Healthy Reeses Inspired Ice Cream (3 ingredients)

Santa Fe Quesadilla’s

Roasted Vegetable Fritatta

Tomato Davinci – A.K.A tomato bread salad

Now onto the amazing Orthodontist…..

I love the office for MANY reasons…You feel welcomed as soon as you enter.. There’s tons of magazines to read while you wait and the kids can make themselves comfy in the video game area.  I should note.. You Hardly “wait” in the beautiful waiting area for long.. yet another thing I LOVE about Metz Orthodontics.

metz ortho interior front

On top of service, Dr. Metz embraces some of the latest orthodontic trends & technology.    The patient area also has a nice view of the lake.

Metzortho interior office back

Jenna gets to go first -

Jenna: Is it going to hurt?

Staff: It’s just like painting a fingernail except it’s your tooth..

After a quick pep talk assurance from the amazing staff, the girls were ready to go.

Jenna before braces ortho

I love how Alanna is watching her sister in the background wondering what to expect…

jenna getting braces

and then Alanna’s turn.  One down, one to go…

Alanna before ortho

Dr. Metz treats each patient as if they were his only one.

Alanna getting braces

almost done…

alanna during braces

Jenna’s Braces Done..

jenna after braces

and Alanna’s Braces Done… 100% Pain-Free

Alanna Braces

The girls received a travel bag filled with goodies to keep their teeth clean and healthy.  Then one last quick chat from Dr. Metz before we left.

metz ortho branding bar

With 6 children, we have met our fair share of orthodontists over the past 15 years.  Metz Orthodontics is by far, the best!!!

You feel the staff has a relationship with you after only a few visits.

If you are considering braces, please give them a call.  You will be happy you did.

The consultation is FREE and they also offer patient financing for services.

METZ ORTHODONTICS - 813-948-6389

Thank you Dr. Metz and staff for your outstanding work and allowing us to capture this memorable moment.

metz business card

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Andrea Taylor - March 6, 2014 - 3:13 pm

Hi Mary,
YES! Dr. Metz is the BEST! Give them a call 813-948-6389

Mary P. - March 5, 2014 - 8:27 pm

Does he work on adults too? I am looking for a really good orthodontist.

Banana Bread Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Goodbye Banana Bread… Hello Banana Bread Cupcakes.  Leftover Bananas get a makeover with a Maple & Cream Cheese Frosting…because Everything taste better with cream cheese

Banana Cupcakes with Maple frosting top

and REAL Maple syrup makes ALL the difference.

Banana Maple Cupcakes

I LOVE Banana Bread just as much as the next person,  I am just not crazy about the chunks of banana you end up with.  In order to make “my” perfect tasting banana bread cupcake, I puree the bananas until smooth so the flavor is in every bite

Banana Maple Cupcakes on top

These are still yummy (and much healthier) without the frosting. But I promise, It taste sooo much better this way.

It is full of banana flavor with more of a cupcake texture than bread.  The maple cream cheese frosting just puts it over the top.  This is my new favorite way to use up bananas.

If you don’t have a piping bag, just put the frosting in a ziplock with a piping tip on the end.

Banana Maple Cupcakes on white

Banana Bread Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting


  • For the cupcake:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, unbleached
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups banana puree (about 4 ripe bananas blended until smooth)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • For the Frosting:
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temp
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temp
  • 4 cups confectioner’s powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp good maple syrup


  1. Preheat oven to 350*. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners or spray pan with non-stick spray. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  2. Make a well in center of flour mixture. In well, mix together melted butter, pureed bananas, eggs, and vanilla. Stir until combined (DO NOT overmix). Dividing evenly, spoon batter into muffin cups about 3/4 full.Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan; cool completely on a wire rack. Pipe with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting.
  3. For the frosting, cream the butter and cream cheese with a mixer until light and fluffy. With mixer running, Slowly, Sift in the powdered sugar until smooth. Add maple syrup. Mix for 10 seconds, until combined.

I have tried 100′s of Banana bread recipes.. Most are extremely dense but I think this one is perfect for a cupcake.

Just DO NOT overmix batter or you will end up with a dense cupcake.

Banana Bread Cupcakes BB

Feel free to add nuts if you like, we opted not to..

by toasting the nuts first it will bring out 100X more nut flavor to your recipe..

cupcake frosted on white vertical

This recipe yields 12 regular size muffins.  I opted for the jumbo size so we ended up with 6.

cupcakes upclose vertical

You could also make mini cupcakes for little kids with this batter.  I ALWAYS use a cookie scoop when measuring cupcake batter.  Keeps the sizes consistent and the kitchen a little cleaner.

cupcakes with frosting on white vertical

You can refrigerate the leftover frosting, should you have any.  I keep mine still in the ziplock sitting in a bowl.  Just bring back to room temp before using.

cupcakes with frosting upclose

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dina - March 1, 2014 - 9:16 pm

they look delicious!