I was a vegetarian for about four years. Not a 'I am going to eat healthy vegetarian', rather a 'I want to eat cake for every meal kind of vegetarian". I was away at college and could never find satisfying meatless dishes, so I relied on cereal and sweets to satisfy my caloric needs— I quickly realized these choices were not the best and decided to start experimenting in the kitchen. 

At this time I rediscovered one my favorite homemade dishes that my mom used to make me all the time when I lived with my parents—eggplant parmesan. Cheesy, hearty goodness that fills my daily veggie intake? Yes, more please! The recipe is super easy and can be made by anyone with access to a stove-top oven! I made this dish last night to entertain a few friends (one vegetarian & the lovely akinnison) and received tons of praise. Trust me, I am not so good around the kitchen, so as long as you have the right tools you can make this crowd pleasing dish!

To make my eggplant parmesan you will need: 
1 large eggplant
1 egg
2 cups of bread crumbs (I use plain and mix in some garlic powder and crushed red pepper)
Olive oil
Large frying pan
Oven safe dish
Red sauce
Mozzarella cheese (as much as you please!)

1. Cut up eggplant with skin on in rounds and soak in bowl of cold water for about an hour (you can skip this step, it just makes it more tender)
2. Arrange an 'eggplant station'
 a. crack the egg in a bowl and add a few drops of water and mix
 b. pour the bread crumbs on a plate
3. Heat frying pan with oil on a medium temperature 
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
5. Take a slice of eggplant, dip in egg, dip in bread crumbs, place in hot oil (normal frying sequence)
6. Place fried eggplant on plate with paper towel to absorb excess oil
7.Repeat until all of the eggplant is fried (a light brown crispy appearance, its okay if it is a little burnt though)
8. Pour about a cup of the red sauce on the bottom of an oven safe dish and place eggplant on top
9. More more sauce on top of eggplant and sprinkle mozzarella cheese over each piece — keep layering until you use all the eggplant
10. Place dish in oven with aluminum foil on top for about 25 minutes.
11. Remove foil and keep dish in oven for another 5 minutes, then take dish from oven.
12.  Voila! You have created cheesy, eggplant-y goodness in just a few steps!

This is my favorite meal for entertaining diverse crowds. Many of my friends have never tried eggplant but are always pleasantly surprised when they taste my dish!

What recipes do you make to impress friends when they come over? Do you have a go to recipe that you rely on to please your guests?