A few weeks back I hosted a dinner party where Italian was the theme! And who doesn't love an authentic Italian meal?
We started with Arancini di Riso as an appetizer, then a nice Caesar Salad and crunchy Cheesy Garlic Bread, then the most awesome Lasagna I've ever made (complete with homemade noodles), followed by New York Style Cheesecake with Strawberries! Yes, it was all so delicious.
Here are the recipes! I didn't include the noodle recipe as that is just an egg noodle dough. I believe it's on my blog from a previous posting!
Arancini di Riso
(Rice Balls with Marinara Sauce)
2 cups cooked rice
4 oz. mozzarella cheese, cut in ½-inch cubes (about 1 cup)
¾ cup seasoned bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Beat eggs lightly with fork. Add the rice and stir gently but thoroughly.
Take 1 tablespoon of the mixture, place a cube of mozzarella in the middle and then top with another tablespoon of rice. Shape into a ball and roll in the breadcrumbs. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the rice mixture.
Refrigerate pan of rice balls for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425°F. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over rice balls.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve with warm marinara sauce.
World's Best Lasagna
1 pound sweet Italian sausage
3/4 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup onion minced
2 cloves garlic crushed
28 ounces crushed tomatoes
12 ounces tomato paste
13 ounces tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons chopped parsley
12 lasagna noodles
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound mozzarella cheese sliced
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.
Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.
New York Style Cheesecake
1 1/4 cups HONEY MAID Graham Cracker Crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted
5 (250 g) packages PHILADELPHIA Brick Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup sour cream
1 (19 ounce) can cherry pie filling (I substituted fresh strawberries)
Heat oven to 325 degrees F if using a silver 9 inch springform pan (or to 300 degrees F if using a dark nonstick 9-inch spring-form pan). Mix crumbs and butter; press firmly onto bottom of pan. Bake 10 minutes.
Beat cream cheese, sugar, flour and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add sour cream; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition just until blended. Pour over crust.
Bake 1 hour 10 minutes or until center is almost set. Run knife or metal spatula around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing rim of pan. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Top with pie filling before serving. Store leftover cheesecake in refrigerator.