A Birthday Celebration

homemade eggplant lasagna

Tuesday was Connor’s 25th birthday and I had lots of fun coming up with a special dinner to celebrate.  The main event? Well..besides Connor, himself…

Homemade lasagna, filled with grilled eggplant, mozzarella, ricotta, and lots of homemade tomato sauce.  Luckily, I happened to have made a huge batch of tomato sauce last week and intentionally froze about a quart and a half’s worth in mason jars (with about an 1.5 inch space at the top, allowing it to expand).

Since homemade lasagna is already pretty time-intensive on it’s own, what with pre-boiling the pasta, grilling the eggplant, and preparing everything else, it made the entire process much simpler.  Once it’s prepared, it really makes the perfect dinner for entertaining—allowing you to be a part of the festivities.

Homemade Eggplant Lasagna: How-To

homemade lasagna illustration

This was all served with a simple salad, with my go-to vinaigrette (made with almost equal parts olive oil and red wine vinegar, a hefty amount of Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper), as well as steamed green beans. 

After some investigating and sorting through lots of recipes, I decided to make this Brown-Butter Hazelnut Cake, found deep in the archives of Smitten Kitchen.  I guess I’m leaving Connor to take on the task of multi-layer birthday cakes…at least for now! 

chocolate hazelnut cake smitten kitchen

This cake is a dacquoise (which essentially means its made with lots of whipped egg whites).  It involved a lot of butter (2 sticks, browned, with vanilla bean), as well as hazelnut meal and few other ingredients.  I happened to have Bob’s Red Mill hazelnut meal on hand, which meant I was able to skip the task of finding, toasting, and grinding blanched hazelnuts.

It was decadent, but relatively easy to put together.  Though it’s a very dense cake, it is the opposite of dry, wasn’t overly sweet at all, and was bursting with hazelnut flavor.  A winner, for sure! 

birthday celebration

Over all, it was a really fun night filled with great conversation, food, and celebration!  This guy deserves it.