Christmas has been celebrated at our home no less than 5 times this season. We have had 2 Christmas Eves and 3 Christmas Days. Needless to say we are ready for New Year’s – a different holiday to celebrate.
Christmas Eve#1 was celebrated with 1 set of parents, friends, and 2 of the 4 kids. Christmas Day#1 was celebrated quietly with just a set of friends. Christmas Eve#2 was enjoyed by the other set of parents and the other 2 kids. Christmas Day#2 was all 4 kids and 1 set of parents. Today was the final get together, Christmas Day#3.
Today’s gathering was the largest of all. Included in our gathering was both sets of parents, my brother and his family, a set of close friends, and all 4 kids. We wanted to make this occasion relaxing and enjoyable. Unlike our Thanksgiving that kept us in the kitchen most of the day, we wanted to have time to talk and laugh with our family and friends. Therefore, we went with a menu that would have most of the work done hours before our guests arrived.
To start our afternoon, we had a simple platter of crackers and cheese – pepper jack, smoked jack, and sharp cheddar. We also had wasabi tamari almonds and sesame honey cashews. For dinner we served garden salad, meat lasagna, veggie lasagna, meatballs and sauce, and bread. For dessert, we had an assortment of holiday cookies and chocolates.
The fifth (and final!) Christmas celebration was a success. The food was delicious, and the company was enjoyable. It was the perfect way to wrap up our Christmas season.
- 1/2 medium eggplant
- 16 oz. whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- Italian seasoning
- 12 oz. whole milk mozzarella, divided
- pasta sauce
- 8 no boil lasagna noodles
- 1/2 10 oz. pkg. frozen spinach, thawed and drained
- Cut eggplant into 1/2 inch slices. Heat nonstick skillet and saute slices until tender and golden.
- In medium bowl, combine ricotta, egg, and Italian seasoning (1-2 Tb. depending on your preference.) Using 8 ounces of the mozzarella, cut into small cubes, and add to cheese mixture. Stir well.
- Shred remaining 4 ounces of mozzarella, and set aside.
- Put a thin layer of pasta sauce on the bottom of an 8 x 8 baking pan. Place 2 lasagna noodles on sauce, top with half of the ricotta mixture.
- Place 2 more noodles on ricotta. For this layer, spread a thin layer of sauce, followed by a layer of spinach.
- Arrange eggplant slices atop spinach. Cover spinach with 2 noodles.
- Spread remaining ricotta mixture on noodles, and cover with 2 remaining noodles. Pour enough sauce to cover noodles. Sprinkle shredded mozzarella on top.
- At this point, the dish can (and should) be covered and refrigerated for 24 hours to allow flavors to blend.
- Remove lasagna from refrigerator an hour or two before cooking.
- Place covered dish in 400 oven for 45 minutes or until bubbly.
- Remove cover, and allow to cook an additional 10 – 15 minutes so that top layer of cheese is golden.