Have any of you ever read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin? I saw it mentioned on Emily‘s blog a couple of months ago and bought it immediately (damn Amazon knowing my bank details, it’s far too easy to buy myself things). I’m about two thirds of the way through and I am loving it. It’s about Gretchen’s year-long project to make herself happier in easy, simple ways. It’s really been helping me to keep positive and to find little ways to make myself happier, even when sometimes things don’t go my way. In fact I’m trying not to read it too quickly because I find that even just reading the book makes me happier, so I’m trying to make it last. I’m definitely planning to buy her second book Happier At Home when I’ve finished this one (*cough*or maybe my mum could get me it for Christmas…*cough*).

During her happiness project, Gretchen focused on a different area of her life each month and set herself little targets that she thought would help these areas to become happier. While you might want to focus on slightly different things in your own life, there are definitely many things that you can adopt and apply to yourself.

One thing I’m trying to do this year is to embrace the autumn! Usually I’d groan or sigh as soon as I saw a drop of rain (so… every morning), and struggle to get out of bed because of the cold. But no more! No more moaning! Now I am trying to view the rain as refreshing and a lovely excuse to stay indoors and be productive… and you know, it’s good for the farmers and stuff, right?

Perhaps I’m not quite as accomplished at this positive thinking as Gretchen is, but at least I’m trying. And since aubergines are in season for just a little bit longer, I’m embracing the chilly weather with a rich, warming stew-like aubergine bake with chickpeas and cheesy croutons.

This would go perfectly with a cold glass of wine and a night in front of the telly – comfort food at its finest, and the best way to spend a cold autumn evening.

Aubergine and chickpea bake with cheesy croutons

Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food

Serves 3

1tbsp oil
1 medium aubergine, cut into 1cm dice
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 tsp dried oregano
150g cherry tomatoes, halved
50g black olives, halved
200g tinned chickpeas, drained
6 slices white baguette
75g cheddar, grated

Preheat the oven to 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F).

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the diced aubergine, onion and garlic. Cook over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes, until the vegetables are soft and the aubergine is beginning to break down. Add the tinned tomatoes and dried oregano, along with 300ml water, and cook for a further 10 minutes, until the sauce has reduced and thickened a little.

Stir in the cherry tomatoes, chickpeas and black olives, and transfer to a large baking dish. Place the slices of baguette on top of the mixture, and top with the grated cheddar (both on top of the bread, and the casserole itself). Bake for 25 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the bread is crispy but not burned.