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Category Archives: Spaghetti/Noodles

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.

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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.
 
 

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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.