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Five years ago, Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin wrote a diet book called "The Skinny B--ch." It was aggressive, it was honest, and it flew off the shelves.

They've both continued to write books under the guise of their successful "Skinny B-ch" empire revolving around healthy, TOTALLY vegan food, and Kim's latest solo entry is "Skinny B--ch: The Ultimate Everyday Cookbook." It's chock full of recipes for appetizers and desserts that are super simple and good for you.

Kim accepted "The Early Show on Saturday Morning"'s "Chef on a Shoestring" challenge of preparing a three-course vegan dinner on our skinny budget of $40.

The highlight? Polenta Crusted Eggplant Parmesan, the entrée viewers picked via mobile phone voting.

Your possibilities for next week? A Barbecue Shortrib Sandwich, Chicken Curry or Tangy Fried Chicken. Click here for details on how to vote.

In addition, Kim's hat was automatically tossed into our "How Low Can You Go" ring. The "Shoestring" chef whose ingredients cost is lowest will be invited back just a few short weeks from now to whip up our holiday extravaganza.

"Early Show" Recipes Galore!
Vote on Next Week's "Shoestring" Main Course

FOOD FACTS

(Source: Epicurious.com)

GRAPESEED OIL: Extracted from grape seeds, most of this oil comes from France, Italy or Switzerland, with a few sources now in the United States. Some grapeseed oils have a light "grapey" flavor and fragrance but most imported into the United States are on the bland side. Grapeseed oil can be used for salad dressings and, because it has a relatively high SMOKE POINT, it's also good for sautéing. It may be stored at room temperature (70°F or under) or in the refrigerator. Grapeseed oil is available in gourmet food stores and some supermarkets.

KALE: This attractive, nonheading member of the cabbage family has been cultivated for over 2,000 years. Though it grows in warm climates, it's happiest in colder climes where for centuries its high vitamin content has made it particularly popular with northern Europeans. Kale has a mild, cabbagey flavor and comes in many varieties and colors. Most kale is easily identified by its frilly leaves arranged in a loose bouquet formation. The color of the leaves of the varieties most commonly available in the United States is deep green variously tinged with shades of blue or purple. There are ornamental varieties in gorgeous shades of lavender, purple and celadon green. Kale's best during the winter months, though it's available year-round in most parts of the country. Choose richly colored, relatively small bunches of kale, avoiding any with limp or yellowing leaves. Store in the coldest section of the refrigerator no longer than 2 or 3 days. After that, the flavor of kale becomes quite strong and the leaves limp. Because the center stalk is tough, it should be removed before the kale is used. Kale may be prepared in any way suitable for spinach and small amounts make a nice addition to salads. Kale, a CRUCIFEROUS vegetable, provides ample amounts of vitamins A and C, folic acid, calcium and iron.

EGGPLANT: Because the eggplant is a member of the nightshade family, it's related to the potato and tomato. Though commonly thought of as a vegetable, eggplant is actually a fruit, specifically a berry. There are many varieties of this delicious food, ranging in color from rich purple to white, in length from 2 to 12 inches and in shape from oblong to round. In the United States, the most common eggplant is the large, cylindrical- or pear-shape variety with a smooth, glossy, dark purple skin. It's available year-round, with the peak season during August and September. Choose a firm, smooth-skinned eggplant heavy for its size; avoid those with soft or brown spots. Eggplants become bitter with age and are very perishable. They should be stored in a cool, dry place and used within a day or two of purchase. If longer storage is necessary, place the eggplant in the refrigerator vegetable drawer. When young, the skin of most eggplants is deliciously edible; older eggplants should be peeled. Since the flesh discolors rapidly, an eggplant should be cut just before using. Bitter, overripe fruit can benefit by the ancient method of salting both halves and weighting them for 20 minutes before rinsing; the salt helps eliminate some of the acrid taste. Eggplant can be prepared in a variety of ways including baking, broiling and frying. It does, however, have spongelike capacity to soak up oil so it should be well coated with a batter or crumb mixture to inhibit fat absorption. Many other varieties of this versatile fruit are now finding their way into some markets. The very narrow, straight Japanese or Asian eggplant ranges in color from solid purple to striated shades and has tender, slightly sweet flesh. The Italian or baby eggplant looks like a miniature version of the common large variety, but has a more delicate skin and flesh. The appearance of the egg-shaped white eggplant makes it clear how this fruit was named. It has a tougher skin, but firmer, smoother flesh. In general, these varieties can be cooked in many of the same methods as the large eggplant. They rarely require salting, however, and usually benefit from a short cooking time.

RECIPES

Kale and White Bean Soup

While this might be a nourishing winter soup, it makes me feel good any time of year. I am a big fan of kale because it's high in fiber, acts as a powerful detoxifier, and is packed with nutrients that may help fight cancer. And for all us Skinny Bitches, it also helps fight fat.

Makes 6 Servings

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 cup (130g) peeled and chopped carrots
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/2 cup (75g) peeled and cubed potatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
6 cups (1.4 l) water
2 tablespoons white miso paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups (135g) chopped kale with the hard spine removed
1 (14 ounce/400g) can white beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
Pinch of Pepper

Heat the oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until golden brown, about four minutes. Add the garlic, carrots, celery, potatoes, and tomato paste until the ingredients are well combined. Add the water, white miso, cumin, coriander, and salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer 30 minutes. Add the kale, white beans and thyme and simmer another half hour. Garnish with basil and pepper before serving.

Cal: 150 Fat: 5g Sat Fat: 0g Carb: 21g Fib: 5g Pro: 5g

To see more of Kim's recipes, go to Page 2.

Polenta Crusted Eggplant Parmesan

Yet another elegant dish for a special treat. The "Italian grits" make it a fun, comfort food, but eggplant always breathes of class.

NOTE: Vegan Brown gravy mix is available at most specialty health retailers such as Whole Foods. Brands like Hain Pure foods (www.hainpurefoods.com ) and Simply Organic (www.simplyorganic.com ) are both healthy options.

2 1/2 cups (600g) diced Italian Style Tomatoes
2/3 Packet Vegan Brown Gravy Mix
1/2 cup (70g) dry, quick cooked polenta
1/4 cup (20g) Vegan Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
White Pepper to taste
2 medium Japanese eggplants, sliced 1/4 inch thick lengthwise
1/4 cup (60 ml) vegan mayonnaise
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
3/4 cup (85g) shredded Vegan mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to broil.

In a small saucepan, simmer the tomatoes. Add the gravy mix and stir until well blended. Cover and keep warm. In a small flat dish, combine the polenta, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt and white pepper. Spread both sides of each of the eggplant slices with about 1 teaspooon of the vegan mayo. Press the eggplant into the polenta mixture, making sure to cover both sides.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat and add the grapeseed oil. Place the coated eggplant slices into the hot oil, making sure that each piece is on top of oil, not just the hot, dry pan. Saute until golden brown on each side. Remove the eggplant from the pan and top each one with 1 to 2 slices of the mozzarella cheese. Place on a cookie sheet and broil 2 to 3 minutes, or until the cheese melts. To serve, arrange on a plate and top with the tomato sauce. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Cal: 260 Fat: 19g Sat Fat: 2.5g Carb: 26g Fib: 7g Pro: 7g

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

I know it's a basic, everyday cupcake flavor, but I feel it should be a staple in a cookbook, the go-to recipe for almost every occasion. This has a nice hint of orange that pairs well with the chocolate.

Makes 12 cupcakes

2 1/2 (320g) cups of unbleached, all purpose flour
3/4 cup (70g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (120 ml) almond milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 (115g) Earth Balance at room temperature (soy butter substitute)
1 cup (200g) evaporated cane sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (120 ml) orange juice
1 teaspoon grated orange peel

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with crimped paper liners.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour and the cocoa powder. Add the baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the milk and the apple cider vinegar and let sit until lightly curdled.

In a separate large bowl, beat together the Earth Balance and the sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat an additional 30 seconds. Pour the flour and milk mixtures into the sugar mixture and stir until well combined. Add the orange juice and orange peel and stir together, but do not overmix. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan, filling each liner about two-thirds full. Bake about 15 minutes or until toothpick is inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool completely. When cooled, frost with your favorite frosting. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Cal: 220 Fat: 8g Sat Fat: 3.5g Carb: 37g Fib: 3g Pro: 4g

Peanut Butter Frosting

Makes 1 1/2 cups

2 cups (200g) confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup (65g) organic creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup almond milk

Using an electric mixer, beat together the confectioner's sugar and the peanut butter in a medium bowl until creamy. Add the vanilla and almond milk, and beat an additional two minutes.

Cal: 110 Fat: 3g Sat Fat: 0g Carb: 21g Fib: 0g Pro: 1g

So, how did Kim do with our $40 budget?

White Bean and Kale Soup
Onion $0.30
Garlic $.50
Carrots $1.29
Celery $1.99
Potatoes $3.00
Tomato Paste $0.79
White Miso Paste $5.99
Kale $1.29
White Beans $0.80
Basil $1.29
Total $15.55

Eggplant Parmesan
Tomatoes $1.60
Vegan Brown Gravy $1.79
Polenta $2.45
Parmesan $2.00
Mozzarella $3.00
Parsley $1.30
Total $12.14

Cupcakes
Almond Milk $2.99
Soy Butter $5.00
Evaporated Cane Sugar $2.99
Orange $0.99
Total $11.97

Grand total: $39.66

Our Leaders Board:

1. Bill Telepan $37.01
Telepan

2. Marc Murphy $37.11
Ditch Plains

3. Amanda Freitag $37.17
The Harrison

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