RSS

Category Archives: Pasta

Eggplant Parmasan

A traditional Italian entree, eggplant parmasan is one of my favorite meals. I was inspired to learn how to cook it when I first started dating my boyfriend Jason who is part-Italian and may like eggplant even more than I do. We often order eggplant parmasan when we go out to eat as well, so this dish has become a culinary theme in our relationship. 🙂 My BFF and former roommate Michelle taught me how to make it and her version beats many I have tasted in fancy restaurants.

The proportions below are for a casserole. If preparing one or two servings, I recommend using a small serving dish for each and cutting the ingredients in half. While this does take a long time and is very messy, it’s totally worth it! Serve with pasta and/or a green salad. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggplants
  • 16 oz. (2 large packages) shredded mozzarella cheese (I like Sargento brand the best)
  • Freshly shaved parmasan cheese (enough to cover the top of the casserole)
  • 2 large bottles of marinara sauce (you may make your own sauce from scratch or if short on time, buy a high quality one-I like Newman’s Own)
  • Extra virgin olive oil for frying
  • Salt (enough to sprinkle on eggplant)
  • 6-8 eggs
  • Flour (enough to coat eggplant)
  • Large box of breadcrumbs since you will run out of these faster than you expect (I like Italian breadcrumbs the best- do not use Panko breadcrumbs- although they are healthier, they do not fry well)

Instructions:

Preparing eggplant before cooking:

  • Remove skin from eggplants (optional)
  • Slice eggplants horizontally into very thin slices and lay the slices side-by-side on a cutting board.
  • Sprinkle salt on both sides of each slice and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes. Remove salt with paper towels. (The salt soaks the water out of the eggplant so that it doesn’t get soggy when you fry it later).
  • In 3 separate bowls, place flour, beaten eggs (start with 3) and breadcrumbs. You will coat each slice of eggplant with these ingredients in turn.

Frying eggplant:

  • Coat the first slice of eggplant in flour, then egg, and then breadcrumbs. Make sure you completely cover every corner of the eggplant. Place in a pan with olive oil and fry until each side is golden brown. (About 3-4 minutes per side). Repeat for each slice of eggplant. Depending on the size of your pan, you can probably fry up to 4 slices at once. Leave at least 1/2 inch between slices and move them toward the center of the pan so that they cook evenly.

Layering eggplant, sauce and cheese in casserole dish:

  • As you finish frying the first few slices, begin layering them with marinara sauce and cheese in a casserole size (9×13 inch) baking pan. Begin by coating the bottom of the pan with marinara sauce, then place a layer of eggplant slices and cover with cheese. Repeat until the pan is full. Your top layer should be marinara sauce covered with cheese.
  • Cover the top layer of mozarella with freshly shaved parmasan cheese.

Cooking time:

  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly and the top layer is golden brown.
  • Allow to cool before slicing and serving. (Otherwise it will be runny).

Did You Know?

The name of this recipe is deceptive because many eggplant parmasan recipes do not actually contain parmasan cheese, only mozzarella. My recipe is unique because I add freshly shaved paramsan on top of the casserole before baking it.

Advertisements
 

Tags: ,

Meat Lasagna with Eggplant, Zucchini, and Creamed Spinach

I conceived this recipe when I needed a dish to prepare for New Year’s Eve, 2010. I was at Trader Joe’s and felt like making a lasagna with eggplant, but couldn’t figure out what else would go well with it. Luckily for me, I came across a very helpful employee who gave me suggestions for how to construct my own lasagna!

My lasagna is unique in that it contains both meat and vegetables, but you can easily omit the meat or use a substitute.The frozen creamed spinach and eggplant/zucchini mixtures can only be found at Trader Joe’s, but you can use fresh vegetables instead.

Ingredients:Lasagna

  • 1 package Lasagna noodles
  • 1 large jar tomato sauce
  • 1 package Trader Joe’s frozen creamed spinach
  • 1 package Trader Joe’s frozen eggplant and zucchini
  • 1 package sausage
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 large container ricotta cheese
  • 1 large package mozzarella cheese
  • 1 large container parmasan cheese

Instructions:

  • Cook noodles according to directions on package.*
  • De-frost creamed spinach and eggplant/zucchini mixtures. Set aside and allow to cool.
  • Cook sausage in a frying pan with oil over medium heat until it is no longer pink. (If using pre-cooked sausage, you may skip this step).
  • In a large bowl, combine sausage and jar of tomato sauce, reserving some sauce for later.
  • In another large bowl, combine beaten egg, ricotta cheese, and parmasan cheese. Stir until thoroughly blended.
  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Pour a layer of plain tomato sauce into a large rectangular baking dish so that the entire bottom of the dish is covered.
  • Cover with noodles.
  • Add a layer of sauce with the sausage mixed in. (If not using sausage, you may skip this step).
  • Cover with noodles.
  • Add a layer of the creamed spinach mixture, spreading evenly on top of noodles.
  • Add a layer of the eggplant/zucchini mixture, organizing vegetables so that they fit neatly in the direction of the noodles. (This will make it easier to cut the lasagna later).
  • Cover with noodles.
  • Add layer of egg and cheese mixture.
  • Cover with noodles.
  • Add layer of plain sauce and generously cover with shredded mozzarella.
  • Bake for 1 hour or until done.

*Some noodles do not need to be pre-cooked. If you are using “no boil” noodles, simply lay the uncooked noodles in your baking pan. They will cook with the rest of the lasagna.

Chef’s Tips:

  • If you know ahead of time that you will need to cut your noodles in order to fit your pan, do not use “no boil” noodles! These are difficult to re-size.
  • Allow lasagna to cool for 15 minutes prior to serving. Otherwise it will be too runny.

Lasagna serving suggestion

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 30, 2011 in Beef, Entrees, Lasagna, Pasta

 

All-American Lasagna

Aunt Jaymie

This is not the healthiest recipe in the world, but it is oh SO good! (Everything in moderation, right)?If you are trying to lure people to come over to your house, tell them you are making Aunt Jaymie’s lasagna and company will be knocking at your door. It certainly works for Anni and Roman.

Preparation Time:
Cooking Time:

Ingredients:

  • 1lb. package lasagna noodles
  • 1lb. Italian sausage
  • Large bottle of spaghetti sauce such as Prego
  • 16 oz small curd cottage cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 12 slices American cheese
  • 2 cup package shredded mozzarella

Instructions:

  • Cook noodles.  Drain & rinse.  Put a little water back in the pot & straighten out the noodles until you’re ready to use them.
  • Remove sausage from casing & brown, pouring off fat.  Reserve 1 ½ cups of sauce in a bowl & pour the rest into the pan with the drained sausage.
  • Add cottage cheese and egg.  Mix well.
  • Grease a 13 x 9” pan.  Pour in ½ cup of reserved plain sauce, saving the rest for later.  Place a layer of noodles over this.  Depending on the size of your pan, it may take 3 noodles & sometimes half of another for the width, plus part of a noodle at the top of the pan.  Just cut up noodles to fit until you’ve covered the pan.
  • Add half of sauce with sausage, etc.
  • Cover with 6 slices of American Cheese.
  • Cover with another layer of noodles, piecing to fit pan.
  • Add rest of sauce.
  • Cover with 6 more slices of cheese.
  • Cover with another layer of noodles, piecing to fit.
  • Spread remaining reserved plain sauce over the top.
  • Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella, if you’re baking it right away.
  • You can bake this now, or refrigerate it, covered with foil.  If you decide to bake it later, don’t put on the mozzarella.
  • When ready to serve, bake it at 350, covered with foil, for about 30-40 minutes, until it starts to bubble.  If it’s been in the refrigerator, it will take about 10 extra minutes to bake.
  • Remove foil.  Sprinkle mozzarella on top & continue baking until bubbly & cheese is melted, about 15 minutes more.
  • Take out of the oven & let it sit for 15 minutes or longer before you cut it.  Otherwise it is too runny.
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 16, 2011 in Beef, Entrees, Lasagna, Pasta

 

Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese

Mom and Aunt Jaymie

One of my favorite memories growing up is “Kid Friendly Dinners.” On Tuesdays and Thursdays (Dad’s late nights) Mom would make me and Gabe anything we wanted for dinner even if we each wanted something different. We were allowed to have bad table manners (i.e. elbows on the table), but on the nights Dad was home we were to be on our best behavior. This mac ‘n cheese recipe was a regular request for Kid Friendly Dinners, and it was one of Mom’s favorites when Grandmama used to make it for her. You may substitute the Velveeta for cheddar or another healthier cheese, but it won’t taste nearly as good! Mom usually served it with carrots arranged in the shape of smiley faces. When she was short on time, Mom made us Annie’s Macaroni and Cheese from the box which is also very good.


Preparation Time:
Cooking Time:

Ingredients:

Macaroni

  • 8 oz. (2 cups) uncooked noodles

Sauce

  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 4 Tbsp. flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 8 oz. (1/2 lb.) of cheese, grated (or if Velveeta, sliced)

Instructions:

Macaroni

  • Bring pot of water to boil.
  • Add about 2 tsp salt.
  • Add noodles & cook according to package directions, about 8 minutes.  Drain.
  • Butter a baking dish.
  • Preheat oven to 350.

Sauce

  • Melt butter in saucepan
  • Stir flour into melted butter.
  • Cook flour & butter together, stirring constantly for about 2-3 minutes, until nice & bubbly.  This takes the raw taste out of the flour.
  • Add about ¼ of the milk, stirring constantly until mixture is smooth.  Then add rest of the milk gradually, stirring to keep sauce smooth. *
  • Add cheese to hot sauce & stir until melted.

*Aunt Jaymie heats the milk in the microwave for 2 minutes before adding it to the flour and butter mixture, but you don’t have to). 

Final Instructions

  • Combine sauce and noodles.
  • Pour into baking dish & bake at 350 until bubbly, about 20 minutes if mixture is hot, or up to 45 minutes if you’ve made it ahead & placed it in the refrigerator.
 
 

Tags:

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Grandmama

Next to Grandmama’s meatloaf, her spaghetti and meatballs was my favorite dinner she made. She usually served it at least once when we came to visit. This was my cousin Seth’s favorite “St. Clair meal.” Grandmama got the recipe in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Preparation Time:
Cooking Time: 2 ½ hours

Ingredients:

Sauce

  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced and browned in the olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed through garlic press
  • 1 large can tomatoes (or fresh summer tomatoes)
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-2 tsp. oregano
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar

Meatballs

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • ½ cup dry bread crumbs
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 beaten egg
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  • Simmer sauce for 2 hours; then add the meatballs.
  • Simmer meatballs in the sauce for about 30 minutes.
  • Pour off any fat that might be on top and it is ready to serve.
  • Makes enough for ¾ to 1 lb. spaghetti noodles.

Serving Suggestion:
Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese.