Eggplant Parmesan with Breaded and Baked Eggplant

I was looking for something easy and comforting to make today for dinner, and this definitely hit the spot.  I was so hungry that I didn’t even have time to take a photo!

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil, for baking sheets
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup plain or italian style dry breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan plus 2 tbsp for topping (I actually used shredded parmesan and it worked fine)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh chopped basil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried parsley (you could use 1 tbsp. fresh parsley, but I just used what I had on hand)
  • Sea salt and ground pepper
  • 2 medium or one large eggplant (about 2 lbs worth)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • ¾ cup mozzarella (divided)
  • 1½ cups marinara sauce (divided)
  • Additional marinara sauce if desired for pasta side
  • Pasta to serve as side (I swear by the Dreamfields brand)

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cut ends from eggplant and slice the eggplant lengthwise into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick slices and place in a colander. Sprinkle with sea salt and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Rinse the eggplant under cool water, drain thoroughly and pat dry.

2.  Brush 2 baking sheets with olive oil and set aside. In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk together eggs and 2 tablespoons water. In another bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, 3/4 cup Parmesan, and 1 tbsp of the basil. Season with sea salt and pepper.

3.  Dip eggplant slices in egg mixture, letting excess drip off, then dredge in breadcrumb mixture, coating well; place on baking sheets. Bake until golden brown on bottom, 20 to 25 minutes. Turn slices; continue baking until browned on other side, 20 to 25 minutes more. Remove from oven and lower oven heat to 350 degrees.

4.  In a small bowl, combine ricotta cheese, ½ cup mozzarella cheese, parsley and basil. In an 8 x 8 baking dish, spread ½ cup of marinara sauce on the bottom of the pan. Place a layer of eggplant slices in the dish and spread ½ cup of the cheese mixture on top; repeat, layering 2 more times. Top with remaining (1 cup) marinara sauce and sprinkle the remaining (¼ cup) mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese (2 tbsp) on top. Cover loosely with aluminum foil. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes.

5.  Meanwhile, boil water to cook pasta according to package directions.  Time this so that you are just starting to cook the pasta when the 30 minutes is over. Also begin heating the marinara sauce.

6.  After 30 minutes of cooking the eggplant parm, remove aluminum foil and bake another 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and slightly golden brown. Cool slightly and serve.

This recipe can be made ahead of time. Just cover the dish with aluminum foil after preparing but before baking and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.  If you try this, you might need to add an additional ten to fifteen minutes to the thirty minute bake time.

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Cupcake pans: Not just for cupcakes!

First of all, I’ve been looking for a good stuffed pepper recipe forever!  But I’m picky, and I didn’t want anything that had beef in it, or anything made with taco seasoning.  I found a recipe that used chicken and marinara sauce online at campbellskitchen.com, and it looked good.  What I like about that site is that there are always a lot of user comments from those who have tried the recipe including suggestions on how to make the recipe better!  Anyways, I didn’t have a casserole dish, and although I sliced the bottom of the peppers to flatten and make them stand better, I was worried they would fall over if I cooked them on a cookie sheet. 

I checked the cabinet to see if I could find a better solution… 

Image

An extra large cupcake pan!  It held them up perfectly during cooking, and makes it easier to stuff them because they don’t have much room to move/fall over.

Here is my adjusted recipe based on adding rice to make them even more filling and including enough ingredients for 6 peppers instead of 4:

 

6 sweet peppers (red, orange, yellow)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced

garlic powder or garlic and herb shaker to taste (I rarely use real garlic- too lazy)

2 cups diced cooked chicken (I buy a rotisserie from the grocery store- again, lazy)

1 1/4 cup Prego Marinara Italian Sauce

1 cup shredded monterey cheddar cheese

1 package of Uncle Ben’s microwavable whole grain brown rice (prepared)

sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

 

1.  Heat oven to 375F.  Heat oil in a skillet over med-high  Add onion and garlic powder and cook until tender.  

2.  Meanwhile, cut the tops off of the peppers and save them.  Remove and discard the seeds from the peppers.  Place the peppers in the cupcake pan.

3.  Combine the following in a bowl:  onion mixture, chicken, sauce, rice, cheese, and salt/pepper.  Spoon the chicken mixture into the peppers and replace pepper tops. 

4. Bake for 40 minutes. 

 

They make great leftovers the next day!  

Cupcake Cake Truffles (cake pops without the sticks)

I’ve always wanted to make cake pops, but this is a much easier version of the adorable treat on a stick. I got this idea from Veronica’s Cornucopia:  http://veronicascornucopia.com/2011/05/05/cupcake-bites/

Like Veronica says, these are nearly impossible to mess up.  They are really easy to make- the centers are simply crumbled cake mixed with frosting!

There were so many colors of melting chocolate to choose from, including orange, neon green, and purple.  I chose pink and a white with pastel chips for the frosting on the cake truffles.  I bought the chocolate and cheap ($1) candy molds for the bottoms of the cake truffles from Michael’s craft store.  I used devil’s food boxed cake mix and vanilla frosting.  I looked at a lot of recipes for cake balls and not many of them specify a flavor for the frosting, so I just went with vanilla.  I don’t think the flavor really matters because you use a relatively small amount of frosting- just enough to bind the balls together.  I don’t suggest using whipped frosting.

First I baked the cake as per the instructions on the box and let it cool, then I crumbled the cake using a food processor.

Add about 1/3 cup frosting and use your hands to mix in until you get one big ball.

It looks messy.. and it is.  Next I used  a small cookie dough scoop to portion out the dough and rolled the dough into balls.  I put the balls in the fridge for a couple hours and took a break here.  Then I melted the chocolate for the base and filled the molds about a third of the way and pressed the rolled balls into the filling.  This went in the freezer for 2 minutes, then they easily popped out of the molds and I dipped them in melted chocolate for the frosting.

Here’s what they look like on the inside:

The inside has the fluffy texture of cake but tastes like fudge.  Keep stored in the fridge until a half hour before serving.  These pop-able treats were a big hit at home and at the office.

Hello world!

Welcome to my sweet tooth blog.  I’ve forever been a lover of sweets and treats, especially cupcakes.  Follow my blog to read reviews of local cupcake bakeries and generally all things related to baking.

-Jess