We should all really be thankful every single day of our lives…
However Thanksgiving week tends to bring out the thankfulness in even the deadliest of hippos…
That being said… I just want to take a minute to appreciate a few things* I feel as though I have been taking for granted lately….
So thank you…
EGGPLANT for… Being a silky smooth “operator” and taking a page from the Mighty Morphin’ Power Ranger’s book and morphing into lasagna noodles for all those paleo, gluten-free, keto eating, vegans!
TOMATOES for… Your succulent and plump juiciness (Beyonce is quite envious) that has the capability of making love to any food it touches.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH for… Always being excited to see me…
And… MARIA MENOUNOS for sharing Papou’s Baked Poatoes and Eggplant Casserole with the Food Pervert and I…
And now ALL OF YOU!
Book to Plate’s Rendition of Maria Menounos’ Eggplant Casserole
(Tara and I added the above “erect” squash to the mix)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 large onions, julienned
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup fresh parsley (we used dried)
- 2 bay leaves
- salt and pepper
- 1 7-ounce can tomato sauce
- 2 large eggplants, sliced into 1/8-inch slices
- 1 large white potatoes, sliced into 1/8-inch rounds (can be omitted, just add more butternut squash)
- 1 small butternut squash, sliced into 1/8-inch rounds (can be omitted, just add another potato)
How to layer up the love:
- Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add diced onions and saute until caramelized, about 3 minutes.
- Add julienned onions, garlic, parsley, bay leaves, and salt and pepper and saute until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add tomato sauce. Cook until sauce is warmed through, about 1 to 2 minutes. Set mixture aside.
- Oil the bottom of a deep baking dish. Cover the bottom with slices of eggplant, potatoes and butternut squash, overlapping the slices. Top with half of the onion mixture.
- Layer remaining eggplant, potatoes and butternut squash. Cover with the other half of the onion mixture.
- Bake for 35 minutes until golden brown.
I also want to thank Maria for
inspiring millions to achieve abs that they can do their laundry on (wait, yes, yes I do), taking a few minutes to chat with me the other day about food, fitness and cheesy pick-up lines!
Me: If you could eat one food without negative ramifications for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Maria: Probably French toast, every different kind! If you’re going to go for it, go for it. I had French toast this morning and when I make French toast, I really go for it. I make my bread fresh, slice it really thick, and I let it soak in the egg mix and I use a little vanilla extract and cinnamon and I poke holes in the bread so the mix soaks all the way through. It’s pretty intense and pretty friggin’ delicious!
Me: You have one of the hottest bodies I have ever seen! Where does that French Toast go?
Maria: I have to say, it does stick! The thing with me is, is that I have such an intense life and schedule, I am moving, literally, at least 18 hours a day. I am burning more calories than I am taking in most of the time. Now there are periods of time when I get a little sedentary and it sticks. When I have those moments I am like ‘okay, everything I am eating, I can see on the side of my thighs!’ and I think the only person who believes it, is my best friend because she knows me and she’s willing to be like ‘yeah, you have cellulite.’ When you eat and you don’t move, it will stick! I am not a robot and you’re talking to someone who was heavier and did have weight gain to deal with before so I am not immune to it but I am really busy all the time so I can very quickly, in about 4 days, when I don’t have time to snack and I am running around so much, everything just smooths out again. I also have incredible muscle memory because I have been working out for so long, it just snaps right back.
Me: What is one of your favorite arm work outs?
Maria: I am really bad with my arms, I just did a little bicep challenge on instagram actually because I really need to start focusing on my upper body strength.
Maria: My favorite is hiking, squats and lunges generally or some floor-based pilates.
Me: What is one of your favorite ab work outs?
Maria: My abs, it’s very simple, I have it in my book (The Every Girl’s Guide to Diet and Fitness), I do 50 sit ups; 20 straight up and down, 10 to each side with a leg crossed over the knee, and then another 10 straight up. I am switching it up enough so that I can get through the suffering and the pain.
Me: Speaking of pain and suffering… What has been the funniest, stupidest, or worst pick-up line you’ve ever received?!
Maria: When I worked at Dunkin’ Donuts, it was the all time worst pick up line and I will never forget it. I asked someone what they wanted for their coffee and the guy says ‘cream no sugar, you can just put your finger in it, you’re sweet enough.’ Ew!! Pretty gross.
Me: And finally, you have a lot to be thankful this year, including your boyfriend of 16 years, how to do you keep things spicy?
Maria: I don’t know if it is super spicy, but we try. We both get so busy and because we work together it is very easy to fall into ruts, it’s definitely always a work in progress because we have been together for so long; you definitely have to work at it especially when you work together because it’s so easy to go into work mode. We love going to the movies, going for hikes, and once we get away from work and we are on a personal level and we get reconnected, everything gets better. We like to go on a week long spa getaway, that’s always helpful.
Maria, can you please take me on your next spa retreat please? HA!
Well there you have it… Some inside scoop to Maria’s hectic life!
SO TELL ME…
- What food would you like to thank and why?
- Did a grandparent of yours pass down one of their signature recipes to you? If so, what is it?
- When you hear the word CASSEROLE what do you think?
- What is your favorite Thanksgiving dish?
- Do you stuff yourself like a turkey or do you squawk at those who do?
- If you could ask Maria one question, what would it be? I will ask her for you next time!
*Sure I am thankful for salmon, squashes, coconut oil, my elliptical trainer, Ryan Reynolds chiseled abs… But truly, I want to thank each and EVERY ONE of you for visiting me every single week, leaving me comments, sharing my content, watching my videos and all being unique unicorns! I friggin’ love unicorns just as much as I love giraffes, and you know what? Giraffes are probably the closest things to real-life unicorns… Whoa, I just blew my own mind!