You Need to Make This Casserole

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There’s really no other way to put it. You need to stop what you’re doing and make this casserole. Like, now. Right now!

This is the second recipe I’ve made of Gina’s this week (the first being Saucy Balls aka Asian Turkey Meatballs with Lime Sesame Dipping Sauce,) and not only did this yummy casserole satisfy both husband AND wife, but it also took Ben and I back to the unforgettable Italian vacation we took this Fall.

What is it already?!

Arancini Casserole!

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Those luscious balls of fluffy risotto stuffed with meat and cheese then fried to a golden crisp that Ben and I fell madly in love overseas? Here! In casserole form! And it’s not even that bad for you! :D

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Reader Elizabeth sent me the link to this recipe on Facebook and I followed the recipe pretty much exactly. I started by cooking up a typical Arancini filling: spicy Italian sausage mixed with ground turkey, onions, peas and marinara sauce.

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While that mixture simmered and reduced, I got to work on the rice.

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Normally Arancini would be made by stuffing leftover risotto with meat & cheese, rolling it into a ball, then breading and frying it. Since I’m not an Italian Grandmother with leftover risotto just laying around, I made my own with rice, egg whites, parmesan cheese and marinara sauce.

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Casserole building time! I started by dusting a casserole dish with bread crumbs, then pressed in half the rice mixture.

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Next, top the rice with the cooked filling mixture and mozzarella cheese,

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then the other half of the rice and more marinara sauce.

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Finish with MORE cheese and MORE breadcrumbs, then bake.

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Yesssss!

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Layers and layers of flavah!

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How much do you love it when casseroles come out in perfect squares?!

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In true casserole fashion, the layers of creamy, cheesy rice and spicy, savory filling stood straight up. :)

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The best part? The crunchy breadcrumb crust!

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I used whole wheat, seasoned breadcrumbs and they gave the casserole that extra “umph” of flavor.

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Ben and I inhaled this. We were so happy because it was so good, but sad because it made us seriously miss our Italian shenanigans!

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On the side I served some steamed broccoli. Blah, blah, blah. It was nothing compared the casserole, to be completely honest with you!

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Wait, it gets better. For dessert I made the best batch of Peanut Butter Babies I’ve ever made.

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Unlike last time, I used chewy, California pitted dates instead of dried, chopped dates.

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It made ALL the difference.

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My babies whipped up in a fraction of the time and were lusciously chewy.

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Seriously – like caramel. CARAMEL! Peanut butter-vanilla caramel. Insane!!!

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Sorry, I know that was a lot of CAPITALIZED WORDS and !!!!!!, but that was a really good meal. You know how it is! :D

In other news, it was more gorgeous today than it was yesterday – 69 degrees! I foolishly thought it was too windy to run outside, so I went to the gym after work, but the zillions of people I saw running and walking on my drive home made me realize it’s absolutely perfect out. Ben and I are going for a walk in the twilight!

Have a great night!

~~~~~

Do you have any spring break or upcoming trip plans?

Ben and I are trying to decide if we want to take an epic road trip in the very near future, or save for something bigger!

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