Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Lasagna Cups

I have seen on Pinterest recently a lot of lasagna cup recipes and decided to try my hand at making them.  I will warn you that these are kind of labor intensive, just as much as making regular lasagna, if not more.  So this would be a good recipe to keep for weekends, special occasions or when you're having guests over for dinner!  They're well worth it though, they're delicious and look really cool!

1 jar spaghetti sauce- any flavor or brand would do, I used Ragu meat flavored because I didn't want any big chunks in the sauce
1 lb. ground beef
1 10 oz. tub Philadelphia Italian Cheese and Herd Cooking Cream
1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend (I always grab the 4 cheese Italian blend but just mozzarella would work)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp basil
1 bay leaf
1 box of lasagna noodles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Noodles- Fill a large pot with enough water to cook all the noodles, make sure to add salt to the water.  Bring that to a boil and gently add lasagna noodles, making sure to keep them in tact. Add a little olive oil to the water while the noodles are boiling, this will prevent them from sticking to each other.  Cook the noodles for about 8 minutes, you don't want them completely done.  Remove the noodles from the pot and place on a cookie sheet lined with foil, set aside.

Sauce- Brown ground beef in skillet.  Whenever I cook ground beef I always add spices to it while it's cooking.  I used dried minced onions, garlic powder, basil, oregano, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.  Drain meat after it's completely browned then add the entire jar of spaghetti sauce and a bay leaf.  Let that simmer on medium low heat for about 10 minutes.

Cheese filling- Mix together cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, egg and spices until well incorporated, set aside. 

Now the fun part!  This part can be a little tricky but if you're patient you'll get great results!  I used my jumbo muffin tin for this recipe and for how much filling you need to put in each cup I would say that is the best pan to use.  I cut 12 squares of parchment paper big enough to line each cup.  I pushed each square into the cup, it's okay if it doesn't look pretty, it's there for function!  Now you're going to wrap each of the cups with one whole lasagna noodle around the sides.  This is a little tricky at first because the noodles will be kind of sticky but just take your time.  The noodles will overlap a few inches but that's what they are supposed to do.  Now that you have each cup lined with a noodle now you're going to build inside the cup.  Take the remaining noodles and cut into 5ths.  I have a handy pair of kitchen shears that I used to do this but a knife would work just as well too.  Grab a couple of measuring spoons and starting with the sauce you're going to spoon about a 1/2 tablespoon of sauce into the bottom of each cup.  Next, press one noodle piece into the cup on top of the sauce.  Top noodle with a generous tablespoon of sauce,  a generous tablespoon of cheese mixture, a sprinkle of the Italian cheese blend and then another noodle.  Press down on the noodle gently to compact the layers.  Then you're going to start all over: sauce, cheese mixture, Italian cheese and then one more noodle.  Once again, press down gently on the noodle to compact the layers.  Add another heaping tablespoon full of sauce on the top of the noodle then you're going to top all of the cups off with the remainder of the Italian cheese.

Pop the cups into your 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until the cups are bubbly.  Once the cups are done, pull them out of the oven and you're going to want them to rest for about at least 10 minutes.  This gives the lasagna a chance to set up, other wise it'll just fall apart when you try to eat it.  Once you've let them sit, lift the cup out of the pan by pulling up on 2 of the sides of the parchment paper.  Slide the lasagna cup off of the parchment paper with a knife.  The noodle that is on the outside is going to be a little crunchy and not really consumable so what we do is peal back the noodle until it exposes the softer part of the noodle then you're ready to enjoy!

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