Fun Take On An Old Recipe: Lasagna Cups

There are so many reasons to love Pinterest…and to a gal that loves to cook, it is a great resource for finding new, interesting recipes. I have over a dozen recipes pinned on my Food for Thought board…just waiting to be tried. I’ve got everything from breakfast to dessert saved on there.

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Now, if only I can find the time to try them. It’s tough getting home from work after 8pm–all I want to do is curl up on the couch with some fast food and then go to sleep. Of course, if I actually did that, I’d be as big as a house. So instead I default to the same easy recipes week in and week out–Lemon Chicken, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Steak with Steak Seasoning. BORING!

So, finally this weekend I decided to make an old food new again…with the help of a fabulous recipe I found via Pinterest. Lauren’s Latest has the cutest recipe for Lasagna I’ve ever seen–Lasagna Cups! I didn’t have all the ingredients so I improvised with what I had in my pantry. Here’s what I used:

Ingredients:

12-Cup Muffin Tin

1 Box of Barilla Lasagna Noodles

2 Table Spoons Olive Oil

2 Palm Fulls of Salt

1 Bag of Reduced Fat Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, divided in half

1 15oz Container of Part Skim Ricotta Cheese

1/3 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

1 Egg

1/2 Teaspoon Ground Black Paper

1/2 Teaspoon of Italian Seasoning

1 Jar of Barilla Roasted Garlic and Mushroom Pasta Sauce

I also didn’t assemble it quite like Lauren says because I was missing the parchment paper. I had to use wax paper which is much thinner and if it gets too wet it sticks to the food. So here’s how I made and assembled it.

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For the Pasta:1- Put a big pot of water and the 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil to boil on the stove.

2- Once the water starts to boil put 2 palm fulls of salt into the water.

***I know 2 palm fulls is A LOT of salt….but I took a cooking class recently and the chef said the water must be like ocean water in order to get the pasta to taste right. So in went the 2 palm fulls of salt***

3- Cook pasta for 2 minutes less than the box says. Drain and lay the cooked noodles out to cool.

4- Stack and cut 9 of the pasta sheets into quarters.

For the Sauce:

Lauren has this great recipe for the sauce complete with Zucchini and garlic. Yum. Unfortunately I didn’t have all the ingredients AND have very picky roommate in my mother who won’t eat anything green. So I just used the Barilla sauce right out of the jar.

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For the Cheese Filling:

Stir the ricotta cheese, half of the bag of mozzarella cheese, the parmesan cheese, egg, Italian seasoning and pepper together in a medium sized bowl.

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For Assembly:

1- Cut 12 large squares of wax paper and put into muffin tin (waxy side down!).

2- Roll up the pasta into a circle and line the muffin tin with it. The pasta sheet will overlap itself.

***Be careful not to roll them too small or else you won’t be able to fit the layers of pasta squares inside. Don’t roll them too big either!***

3- Press one piece of the pasta sheet into the rolled piece of pasta, making a bottom for your cup.

4- Fill with about 1 tablespoon of pasta sauce and a generous tablespoon of ricotta cheese mix. Then press another pasta sheet onto the cheese. Repeat this 2 more times.

5- After dong the sauce-cheese layering for a total of 3 times, top the lasagna cups off with more sauce and the rest of the mozzarella cheese.

6- Bake for 25 minutes OR until the cheese is bubbling.

***I left mine in a little too long and the tops of the lasagna cup started to get a little brown and crunchy. But they were still delicious!***

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I loved making this recipe! Thanks Lauren’s Latest and Pinterest. I can’t wait to try another recipe. But…*sigh*…it will have to wait until I have another free weekend.

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Planning The Perfect Picnic

There are only a limited amount of beautiful days left here in New York. Summer is coming to a close and this week I realized that I haven’t been on a picnic all summer! Chris and I really love packing up a bag full of food and spending the day eating and lounging in the shade of a tree. We agreed that this past weekend, it was either now or never. So, I got my butt off the couch, went to the supermarket and dug out my Picnic at Ascot picnic tote, which had been collecting dust in the back of my closet since last summer.

Picnic BagWe had such a great time on Saturday that I wanted to post some tips on how to plan a really great picnic. It’s not too late for you to plan a picnic of your own. It’s quick and easy–especially if you follow these quick and easy planning tips:

STEP 1: PICK YOUR LOCATION

I think there are three key elements to consider when planning the perfect picnic. Those elements are location, menu and activities. The first thing to consider is the location of your picnic because the location will determine the mood. If you are going for more of a romantic feel you might choose to go picnic at a private beach or lake where you’ll be able to get some quality alone time. If you are going for more of a family outing then a local park would work perfectly.

If you don’t have any particular place in mind check out your state parks–they will give you plenty of ideas for places to go and offer a wide variety of amenities that will help you out with the third step in the picnic planning–your activities. Here’s a great list of state parks by state compiled by Wikipedia. On Saturday, Chris and I went to Belmont Lake State Park. It was only about a 25 minute car ride from my house on Long Island. We set up our picnic blanket right in front of the lake and had a great view of the wildlife that live there as we ate.

Chris and Marci Picnic

STEP 2: PLAN YOUR MENU

The second element to consider when planning your picnic is your menu. Depending on the duration of your picnic you want to bring enough food to keep you nice and full. Depending on your location, you will want to prepare food that you are able to eat cold or food that you can cook while there. Belmont Lake has fire pits that you can use for grilling, so if I wanted to I could have packed up some hamburgers or BBQ chicken and cooked them right there next to our blanket. But as I grill at home all the time I decided I wanted a meal that I could precook at home and then eat it cold at the park.

Chris and I arrived at the lake for lunch so I packed Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Bowtie Pasta Salad for the main meal. Both these recipes are super easy and quick to make. And they both taste delicious when cold.

I modified the chicken recipe a little bit by adding a generous amount of Adobo to the chicken before marinating it in buttermilk overnight. The morning of the picnic I dredged the chicken in flour (with salt, pepper and basil added in) then egg yoke and then in the flour again. The recipe calls for vegetable shorting for frying but I used canola oil. I fried the chicken pieces for 5 minutes on each side and then baked them in the oven for 30 minutes so they could fully cook.

Buttermilk Fried ChickenFor the Bowtie Pasta Salad I followed the recipe to a tee–except that I used peas instead of edamame.

Bow Tie Pasta and ChickenFor desert I made Chris’ favorite–Derby Pie. Now carrying a whole pie to a picnic can be difficult, especially if you have a small bag, so I made Derby Pie Bars. If you ever want to makes these for a picnic or a party, feel free to make these a day or two a head of time. They have Bourbon or Whiskey in them and they taste better as they age! They transported easily in a small food storage container.

Derby Pie Bars

I also packed fresh fruit and a water jug with a couple of lemon slices in it to give an added lemony twist to the taste of the water. Some other good picnic food items that I didn’t bring this time around are sandwiches, cheese, chips and dip and wine.

Water Lemon Twist

STEP 3: PLAN AN ACTIVITY

The third key element of a good picnic is the activity. If the goal of your picnic is relaxation then you might want to bring a good book and a pillow for napping. If you are a bit more active, pack your meal in a backpack and go hiking. If you’re in the middle, a Frisbee or a baseball bat and ball provide hours of fun. Since Chris and I were at a lake, we rented a pedal boat and pedaled around the lake, watching the lake’s wildlife in their natural habitat. We also ate our desert in the boat before heading for shore and then home.

Chris and Marci Water
Swan 2I hope these tips help you plan the perfect summer picnic. I had a great time last weekend and it might be my favorite picnic outing to date! Does anybody else love picnics? What’s your favorite picnic memory? Let me know in the comments section below!

Jumbo Strawberry Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

This cupcake is perfect for your summer parties and is sure to be a hit with all your guests. I invented this cupcake for Scoopalicious‘ Cupcake Ice Cream Contest and I ended up serving it at my 4th of July celebration.

Cupcakes with Strawberry Ice Cream

The Cones are made of Cupcake!!!!

Everyone loved it!

Okay, so here’s how I made it:

I modified a Strawberry Shortcake Recipe that I found on Food & Wine.com

Ingredients:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature

Plus Strawberries and your favorite Strawberry Ice Cream!

You will also need an Ice Cream Cone mold. I bought mine on Amazon.com

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Coat the cupcake mold with an olive oil spray like Pam.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the cornstarch, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the sugar with the eggs and vanilla extract at medium-high speed until smooth and thickened slightly, about 3 minutes. Add the butter and oil and beat until incorporated, scraping the bottom and side of the bowl. Add the dry ingredients and milk in 3 alternating batches, beating well between additions.
  4. Cut up 5 strawberries and using a mortar and pestle mash them up. Fold them into the cupcake mix.
  5. Carefully pour the batter into the greased muffin tin, filling them about two-thirds full.
  6. Bake the cupcakes in the center of the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until springy and a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool slightly in the muffin tin, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. After they’ve cooled add ice cream on top and cut some more strawberries as garnish.

Serve up right away and enjoy!