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More Ramekin Fun! Featuring Lasagna!

Here is another recipe featuring Ramekins! I love using them, and basically am going to make everything I can in them. I like that it makes portions that are perfect for one person, which makes it easier to control how much is made (less wasted leftovers) and easier to store in the fridge or to take for lunch to work, etc. This time I tried making some lasagna in them- and they were delicious, better than lasagna that I usually make in the pan. I didn’t do all of this homemade. Instead of making my own sauce, I just added some stuff to canned spaghetti sauce because I didn’t have enough tomatoes to make my own and I was feeling lazy. I was also feeling slightly lazy when writing this entry. It is 2AM after all, and I usually try to do this early in the day and schedule them for later. So I’m sorry if things don’t make sense!

I made half of mine with meat in the sauce, and half without. I’m not a vegetarian, but I prefer lasagna to be all cheese and sauce and noodles. I also saw a recipe online where this was done with round ravioli noodles- but I couldn’t find any at my local grocery store so I went this route. This is great when paired with garlic bread. The garlic parmesan bread that I made a few weeks ago would be even better.

Ingredients

  • Lasagna Noodles
  • Jar of spaghetti sauce (your choice)
  • Bag of shredded Italian blend cheese
  • 1 small container of Ricotta cheese
  • 1 tomato
  • 1/2 of a medium onion
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Browned ground beef (optional)

Directions

  1. Grease four ramekins
  2. Put your meat on to brown if you’re choosing to include it.
  3. After browning the meat, place it on a plate of paper towels to drain the grease. Set aside.
  4. Pour the jar of spaghetti sauce into a pot, set the heat on low-medium to start warming the sauce.
  5. Dice 1/2 of a tomato and 1/2 of an onion. Stir the tomato and onion into the sauce.
  6. Add the herbs. You can use more or less to taste. I love the taste of herbs. Garlic is also a great additive if you want to add some!
  7. After stirring in the herbs and the tomato/onion, add the browned meat to the sauce.
  8. Break 12 lasagna noodles in half. Place them in a small pot of boiling water. The noodles need to be fairly limp to fit into the ramekin- because they’ll have to bend without breaking.
  9. Add a spoonful of sauce into the bottom of the ramekin.
  10. Sprinkle some of the shredded Italian cheese on top of the sauce.
  11. At this point, take two halves of a lasagna noodle and tuck them into the ramekin on top of the sauce and cheese. This is easily done if you make an X shape (which I figured out half way through making these!).
  12. Spread some of the ricotta cheese on top of the noodles.
  13. Top the ricotta cheese with more sauce and shredded cheese.
  14. If needed- add another layer of noodles/cheese/sauce. If you’re close to the top, go ahead to the next step..
  15. After you have reached the top of the ramekins, cross two of the noodles on top. You can tuck them into the sides and have them pop up- like a lid almost. (Picture after the cut.)
  16. Tuck some ricotta cheese between the “lid noodles”. Top with a little bit of sauce. Then sprinkle a generous amount of the Italian cheese on top.
  17. Repeat steps 9-16 until all ramekins are full! (Do as few or as many as you like, but this recipe is for four.)
  18. Place a baking sheet on the lower rack of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350.
  19. Set the ramekins on the upper rack of the oven.
  20. Bake for about 10-15 minutes- until the cheese on top of the ramekins is very brown.
  21. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  22. Turn them upside down on the plate, and then flip them back over (if you want the cheese on the top). They should slide out easily since you greased the ramekins.
  23. Serve with garlic bread!

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Extraordinary Pizza! (So good it will make you sing Dean Martin!)

On 3-25, the same night that my friend made the chocolate cheesecake featured yesterday, we also made pizza. The pizza turned out amazing- with homemade crust and sauce. We ended up making three, because all of us like different types of pizza. Although it certainly was a hell of a lot of trouble, I believe that it was definitely worth it. I was thrilled to use the pizza stones that we got. The deep dish pizza was most exciting. I cannot wait to do this one again so that I can share it with my family. The sauce was absolutely sublime- and between three different sets of tastebuds, we added a lot of little things here and there to make it better. This post will have two recipes and a huge set of pictures- so get ready!!

Pizza Crust (2 pizzas)

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • .5 oz active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of Italian seasoning

Directions

  1. Sift the flour and yeast into a large bowl. (Again, I use yeast that doesn’t have to be dissolved in warm water first.)
  2. Make a well in the center of the flour. Pour the water, olive oil, salt, and seasoning into the well.
  3. Use a spatula to mix the water into the flour.
  4. After you can no longer mix it, turn the dough out onto a floured surface or pastry mat.
  5. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes then gather it into a ball.
  6. Spread some olive oil in a bowl.  Place the ball of dough into the bowl. Cut a slit in the top of the dough.
  7. Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise for about 2 hours.
  8. After rising, turn out the dough again and knead briefly. Separate the dough into two halves.
  9. Shape each half of the dough into a round crust using your hands and a rolling pin.
  10. Top the dough with sauce, cheese, and whatever toppings. (Will need to bake 20-25 minutes.)

Pizza Sauce (2-3 pizzas)

Ingredients (everything but the kitchen sink!)

  • Crushed Tomatoes (about 2 cups)
  • 1 6oz can of tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup of red wine
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • some minced garlic clove
  • a few sundried tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pizza Seasoning (to taste)
  • sugar to taste

Directions

  1. Mix all of the ingredients in a sauce pan (except for the last two)
  2. Cook over low for about 15 minutes. (Make sure the wine has time to reduce.)
  3. After cooking for 15 minutes, taste the sauce. Then add Pizza Seasoning and sugar until you find the taste satisfactory.
  4. Use as much or as little sauce as you prefer- freeze the rest to use for later!

Assembling The Pizza

Directions

  1. Make the crusts.
  2. Make the pizza sauce.
  3. Pour about 1/2-1cup of sauce onto the crust.
  4. Add cheese and whatever other toppings you like.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350°.
  6. Remove from oven, cool, cut, eat.

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Chicken Parmesan

I’m a huge fan of Italian food in general. I decided that I definitely wanted some Parmesan Chicken- back at Valentine’s Day. I didn’t have a date, so I cooked myself dinner and watched B-Rate Horror Flicks all day. It was awesome. And my dinner was freakishly delicious. And just writing about it now makes me want more! I kind of played this one by ear. I’m not a huge fan of a lot recipes for this because I’m picky and I hate pounding chicken.

It turned out really good, if I do say so myself. So I thought I’d share with you my own special way that I make Parmesan Chicken. And hopefully you will try it and you will like it!

Ingredients

  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
  • Heavy Cream
  • 1 cup Flour
  • Pepper/Salt
  • Italian Seasoning (I use a McCormick grinder for it.)
  • 2 jars of spaghetti sauce (I use tomato and herb)
  • 1/2 box of angel hair pasta or any other noodles you like
  • 1 bag of Parmesan cheese
  • 1 bag of Mozzarella or Italian Blend cheese (I like the latter!)

Directions

  1. Line a pan with enough spaghetti sauce to cover the bottom. You might need 2 pans depending on how much you make. (I needed two pans with just 3 chicken breasts.)
  2. Most recipes call for you to pound the chicken out to about 1/2 inch thickness. Instead of pounding mine, I cut my breasts in half to make them thinner. I don’t like pounding chicken. It’s loud and messy.
  3. Pour some heavy cream into a bowl- enough to cover the chicken when you place it in.
  4. Mix flour, pepper, salt, and Italian seasoning in pie pan (or bowl). Everyone likes different amounts of pepper and seasonings in their breading- so use your best discretion. I happen to love tons of pepper and lots of Italian seasoning.
  5. Pour some oil into a deep pan, enough to cover the chicken half way when you place it into the pan. About a quarter of an inch deep, maybe a little more. Let the pan and the oil get hot before you put any chicken into it.
  6. Put a chicken breast into the heavy cream and let it soak for about a minute. I find that heavy cream helps the breading stay on better than egg/milk.
  7. Place cream soaked chicken into the flour pan. Usually I scoop some on top with a spoon, flip it over, scoop some more.
  8. Put the floured chicken into the pan with oil. Let it rest for a few minutes, until the sides turn brown. Flip it over, let the bottom brown. I usually sprinkle some of the Italian seasoning on the top of the chicken after browning it.
  9. When both sides are browned, place it in the sauce lined pan.
  10. Repeat steps 6-9 until you’ve finished cooking all of your chicken breasts.
  11. Sprinkle on some mozzarella cheese, then some Parmesan, then some more mozzarella. Put as much or as little cheese as you like. I love to have tons of cheese.
  12. After all of the breasts are fried, in the pan, and cheese covered bake them until the tops of the cheese is nice and brown.
  13. While you’re baking the chicken, put some water on to boil. Put in your pasta and cook it. I’m going to assume everyone knows how to boil pasta. It’s not exactly rocket science. Follow the directions on the box if you’re confused.
  14. You should also heat up your extra sauce at this point.
  15. When everything is done, take some pasta and put it on a place. Pour some sauce on the pasta. Put a piece of the chicken on the pasta, cut int it, and DEVOUR. It’s going to be delicious, I swear!!

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