GRAFFITI EGGPLANT PARMESAN CASSEROLE

This is a simple delicious eggplant parmesan casserole made with the small Graffiti eggplant. The Graffiti eggplant has a thinner skin so you do not need to peel it and it also has smaller seeds and cooks quicker. With this no-baked method, it’s healthier too!

Ingredients:

  • 2 Graffiti eggplants, cut into 1/2 inch thick round slices
  • 1 1/2 cups Italian Panko Breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs, beatened
  • olive oil for spraying
  • 1 cup flour for dredging
  • 1 jar (32 oz.) Marinara sauce (I prefer Rao’s)
  • 3/4 cup parmesan or pecorino romano cheese
  • 1 (15 oz.) container Ricotta (I prefer Galbani)
  • 1 package (8 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • salt and pepper as needed
  • 2 1/2 qt. casserole dish

Optional: Another jar of Marinara sauce and spaghetti to serve along side!

Directions:

Arrange the eggplant slices on baking sheets and sprinkle generously all over with salt. Set aside to let the bitter juices weep from the eggplant, at lease 1 hour.

After an hour, transfer the eggplant to a colander in the sink and rinse well with cold running water, making sure you get the salt off. Transfer to paper towels on a work surface and blot very well with more paper towels, get as dry as you can.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Use a large cookie sheet with wire grates on top. Spray a little olive oil on the wire. Set up a station with the flour, eggs, and panko breadcrumbs. Add a little salt and pepper to the flour and eggs and mix. Dip the eggplant slices in the flour, shake off, then dip in the eggs, and then the panko. Press crumbs down with fingers to pack and cover evenly. Place in a single layer on the oiled baking grate and sheet. Lightly spray or drizzle olive oil on the eggplant. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. (No need to flip since it’s on the grate).

When you take the eggplant is taken out of the oven, lower the oven to 350 degrees.

In a 2 1/2 qt. casserole dish, place 3/4 cup of marinara sauce on the bottom of the dish. Place dollops of Ricotta cheese around the bottom and spread around a little with the back of a spoon. Place a layer of the eggplant. Top with another 3/4 cup of marinara sauce, then spread it around with the back of a spoon. Then sprinkle 1/2 the package of mozzarella around the dish.

Repeat with another layer of eggplant and pour the remaining marinara sauce on top, again spreading it around with the back of the spoon. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella on top and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Serve with a side of spaghetti and top with a little more marinara sauce.

Posted in ENTREES, Sides & Misc. | Tagged , | 7 Comments

WILD RICE SALAD

This is a cold (or room temperature) salad. It has a complex taste that actually taste better as you eat it. So many fresh ingredients and fresh citrus makes this perfect for any occasion.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup long grain wild rice
  • sea salt
  • 2 navel oranges
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tablespoon raspberry or apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup seedless green grapes, cut in half
  • 1/2 cups pecans, chopped and toasted
  • 1/4K cup dried cranberries or golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 freshly ground black pepper
  • salt to taste

Place the wild rice in a medium pot with 4 cups of water and 2 teaspoons of salt and bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered for 50 to 60 minutes, until the rice is very tender. Drain well and place the rice back in the pot. Cover and allow to seam for 10 minutes.

While the rice is still warm, place it in a mixing bowl. Peel the oranges with a sharp knife, removing all the white pith. Cut between the membranes, cut the segments in half, then add the orange sections to the bowl. Add the olive oil, orange juice, vinegar, grapes, pecans, cranberries, scallions, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the pepper. Allow the rice salad to sit for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Serve room temperature or refrigerate.

Posted in Sides & Misc. | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

PINEAPPLE CASSEROLE

This is a side dish that goes great with ham, pork chops, chicken, salmon or turkey! Simple to make and is a mouthwatering dish. It can be served as a side or as a dessert, especially along side a scope of vanilla ice cream!

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 (20 oz.) can pineapple tidbits, drained (both pineapples in it’s own juice)
  • 1 (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple drained well with paper towels
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1 cup shredded white cheddar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 40-50 Ritz crackers crushed

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 1 1/2 quart baking dish.

Whisk together flour and sugar. Stir in pineapple and cheddar cheeses. Spoon the contents into a prepared casserole dish.

Place the Ritz crackers in a large plastic bag and crush with a mallet. Combine the melted butter in the same plastic bag with the crushed crackers and massage in order to mix. Sprinkle on the top of the dish. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cracker crumbs are golden brown and the casserole is heated through. Serve promptly. 8 servings.

Posted in Sides & Misc. | 2 Comments

RICOTTA ORANGE ZEST CHEESECAKE

Now this is a showstopper! Definitely a dessert for your special company! Not only is it delicious, it’s beautiful with just a little creativity and some strawberries and blackberries.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 32 ounce ricotta cheese
  • zest from one orange (2 teaspoons)
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 18 graham crackers
  • 1 stick butter plus 2 tablespoons
  • 2 tablespoons powder sugar for dusting
  • Optional for decoration: 6-8 strawberries, sliced thin lengthwise and 10 blackberries

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 10 inch springform pan with butter.

For graham cracker crust: Crush graham crackers in food processor until consistency of bread crumbs. Place crumbs in large bowl. Melt 1 stick of butter plus 2 tablespoons in the microwave. Pour butter into the graham cracker crumbs and stir well to combine.

Pour crumb mixture into the pregreased springform pan. Firmly press graham crackers into the bottom and along the sides of the spring form pan. Press down hard with the palm of your hands and fingers. Set aside.

Sift together flour and sugar in small mixing bowl. In another medium bowl, stir together ricotta cheese and orange zest. Slowly fold in flour mixture with spatula untill well blended and smooth.

Add eggs, one at a time, continuing to blend with spatula. Stir in vanilla extract.

Pour batter into spring form pan and gently smooth top with spatula. Bake for 60 minutes until cake is firm all the way to top center. Cool completely and refrigerate for 2-3 hours to set. Dust top of cake with powder sugar.

Optional: After cheesecake is cool, place 10 blackberries in the center of the cheesecake. Place sliced strawberries around the blackberries to form a “flower”. Refrigerate cheesecake.

Posted in Desserts | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

PINA COLADA NO-BAKE CAKE

Ready for summer? Well here’s the dessert for you! Make it the day ahead and refrigerate, the next day you’ll enjoy a silky delicious cake!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon rum extract
  • 2 cups Pina Colada Drink mix (liquid-divided)
  • 1 package (3.4 oz.) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 container (8 oz.) frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 box (14.4 oz.) Honey Graham Crackers (will have some leftover)
  • 1 can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple, drained well
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

DIRECTIONS:

(Use a 13 x 9 baking dish). In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and rum extract until smooth. Gradually beat in 1 cup Pina Colada Drink mix; beat on low speed until smooth. Fold in whipped topping.

Pour 1 cup Pina Colada Drink mix in a shallow dish. Quickly dip Graham Crackers in the liquid, allowing excess to drip off. Arrange the crackers in a single layer in the bottom of the baking dish. Break crackers as needed to fit. Top with about a third of the cream cheese mixture, spreading it around with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle a third of the pineapple, then a third of the coconut on top. Repeat layer exactly the same 2 more times. The third layer is done with the final amount of cream cheese mixture, scattered pineapple and coconut. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight or minimum of 4 hours. Keep refrigerated!

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