Lasagna

I’ve made many versions of lasagna; Taco Lasagna and Nacho Lasagna to be precise, but sometimes I crave something a little more classic, with a beef ragu and a creamy ricotta filling. A crust of cheese with sauce bubbling around the edges. So that’s exactly what I made last night. It’s simple like any lasagne, just a little assembly required and little cooking here and there.

Here’s what you’ll need for a 13×9 in lasagne dish

Beef Ragu:

1 pound ground beef

3 T oil

1 bell pepper, finely chopped

1 T crushed garlic

salt and black pepper to taste

1/2 t chilli flakes

2 cups marinara sauce of your choice

Ricotta Mix:

1 15 oz jar ricotta

1 egg

salt and pepper to taste

2 T fresh parsley, chopped (or 1 t dried parsley)

1/2 t chilli flakes

For layering:

1 box lasagne sheets(I use the ready to bake ones)

1 jar marinara sauce

3-4 cups shredded mozzarella 

For the Beef Ragu start off by saut√©ing the beef, bell peppers and crushed garlic in the oil. Once the beef looks cooked, add salt, black pepper, chilli flakes and marinara. Mix well and simmer covered for 30 minutes. Make sure to mix and check on it a few times to make sure it’s not burning or drying out! (Or use an instant pot!)

While the Ragu is simmering away mix all the ingredients for the ricotta mix in a small bowl.

Once the Ragu is cooked, it’s time to assemble the Lasagne. Start off by putting some Ragu and marinara on the bottom of your baking dish. (I like mixing some plain marinara into the Ragu to cut the concentrated flavour, but you can skip the plain marinara in the Ragu layer if you like) Then a layer of lasagne sheets. Then another layer of Ragu and marinara, then some mozzarella.

In the second layer spread out the lasagne sheets, then a thin layer of plain marinara sauce. Dollop half of the ricotta mix and spread it out evenly. If you like extra cheese you can add some mozzarella to this layer too. Then repeat the Ragu layer as before, and then the last ricotta layer. After all the layers are complete I like adding a slightly thicker layer of mozzarella on top so once it bakes it becomes a nice golden brown.

I added some fresh bell pepper on top as well.

 

 

Once you’re done layering you can bake the lasagne right away at 375F or refrigerate it for up to one day before you bake it. You can also freeze the lasagne, and bake it when needed. Baking times can vary according to your oven. It’s done when the top is golden brown and the edges are bubbling, which can take anywhere from 30-45 minutes.

Enjoy!

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Banana Pudding

Oh my word! This stuff is good. It looks so simple that my nephew thought it was just yogurt and bananas, but you take a bite and your world changes. Life before having this delicious concoction was just so dull, and things can’t go back to the way they were. You need this is your life. And fyi, this is pretty close to the Magnolia Bakery version.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 package vanilla pudding mix

1 1/2 cups water

1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk

3 cups of heavy whipping cream, chilled

1 box Nilla wafers (or any simple vanilla cookies/wafers)

4-5 Bananas, sliced

Theres no cooking involved. Just some mixing here and there and some chilling in the fridge and there you have it.

Start off by whisking together the pudding mix, water and condensed milk. Once it’s smooth cover it and let it chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

In a large bowl whisk the cream until soft peaks form. Then just fold the cream into the pudding mix in three stages. Make sure you fold the cream in. If you whisk it in it might deflate the cream.

Then it’s a matter of getting a trifle dish or any pyrex dish and starting with a layer of wafers, then bananas, then the pudding and cream mixture. For my trifle dish I like doing three layers so I divide everything into three, but you could do two layers in a rectangular pyrex dish as well.

Then chill for a few hours before serving, or you can keep it in the fridge overnight. It’s a great make ahead dessert and can feed approximately 10-12 people, maybe even stretch it to 15.

Chalupa’s

This recipe is very close to my heart, because sometimes you can’t get to the taco bell drive thru, but you need your chalupa fix. The simplicity of this is perfection, and if you’re a texmex lover like me, you’ll pretty much always have these ingredients at home, and if not, you can find them anywhere. Literally. I was on the tenth target run of the week and found mini tortillas and I knew there and then that this was gonna happen very soon. So here you go, home made chalupas. And yes, they taste really good! And i’d like to point out that since I don’t fry the tortillas they probably have less calories than the taco bell ones=)

Here’s what you’ll need for 12 mini chalupas

1 pack mini flour tortillas

1 can refried beans (I get the vegetarian ones)

1 t taco seasoning

salt to taste

1 cup shredded cheddar

1 cup sour cream

1 seeded and diced tomato

1 cup shredded lettuce

Taco Bell sauce (available at most grocery stores)

There is very little cooking involved in this! Put the beans in a sauce pan and heat them through with the taco seasoning, 1/4 cup shredded cheddar and a pinch of salt. Taste to adjust the flavour accordingly.

In an oven proof dish line up the tortillas, folding them to form a taco shell. Spray them with pam or brush them with some oil. Divide the refried bean mix between the tortillas and bake at 350 for 5-10 minutes.

Remove the dish from the oven and begin layering the sour cream, remaining shredded cheddar, chopped tomatoes and shredded lettuce into each tortilla.

Serve with taco sauce!

SO simple yet so divine! This is a recipe you all have to try, I insist! (You can always replace the beans with beef or steak)

Taco Bowls

Move over taco Tuesday, taco bowls are taking over my kitchen!

I was on yet another grocery run and came across the cutest mini taco bowls. Basically, they’re tortillas made in the shape of mini bowls by Old el Paso. I mean, do I really need to explain myself? I don’t know how long they’ve been around for, but I feel like they were just the thing I needed in my life. I can go on and on about them, but they are definitely great for brunch, lunch, dinner, snacks, teas, taco parties, appetisers, etc. I have so many ideas. I’ve thought of making churro ice cream bowls out of them, fry them and make chalupa style tacos, bake them off and make fruit bowls. I mean, I can literally go on forever, but i’ll tell you what I made them into recently. Although I must warn you, lots of recipes featuring them will be coming!

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 pound ground beef

4 T oil

1/2 onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2-3 T taco seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

taco bowls

seeded and diced tomatoes

shredded lettuce

sour cream

salsa

shredded cheddar cheese

I haven’t listed the amounts because that depends on how much toppings you like to add.

For the beef, heat the oil in a medium pan and add the onions and cook them until translucent, stirring occasionally. Then add the garlic and ground beef and cook for about 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the taco seasoning, salt and pepper and stir for a couple minutes, then cover and let beef cook on a low flame for about 5 minutes and set aside. Bake the taco bowls on a baking sheet according the the package instruction. Then it’s a matter of filling them up and serving them!

If you want to make these as an appetiser or a little before you want to serve them, sprinkle some cheese inside each taco bowl before baking. The cheese will melt and create a barrier between the fillings so the taco bowls won’t get soggy. Or you can do what I did and bake the bowls with the beef and cheese inside!

Then add spoons full of the beef, more cheese, sour cream, salsa, tomatoes and lettuce and serve!

Cinnamon Rolls

Oh my word! Everyone loves that smell that hits you right when you enter a mall. The sweet cinnamon and cream cheese frosting baked fresh, right in front of your eyes. But you gotta admit, Cinnabon is delicious but oh so very sweet and not something I can get away with eating very often, so here’s my version of the classic cinnamon rolls, sweet but not too sweet, cinnamon-y, but not too overpowering, and best of all, the dough is easy to make.

I actually had a little pizza dough left over in my fridge and shockingly enough I didn’t want to have pizza three days in a row, so I decided to experiment and make cinnamon rolls and I was pleasantly surprised! The savoury dough balanced out the sweet sugar and cinnamon filling, and cooked all the way through so there were no thick doughy parts in the centre. All in all a winner!

Here’s what you need for a medium sized dish:

1/2 recipe of pizza dough (Don’t add the oregano, and add 2 T olive oil while mixing the dough)

1/4 cup melted butter

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

2 T cinnamon

1/2 cup cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup cream

1/4-1/2 cup sugar

Roll the dough out 1/4 inch thick into a rectangle. Brush the melted butter onto the dough, covering all the edges as well. Then in a small bowl mix together the sugars and cinnamon. Sprinkle the mix evenly over the dough, covering all the edges as well. ( I didn’t mix them but its easier if you do)


Start rolling the dough into a tight roll (Roll the longer edge). Carefully cut the rolled dough into 1.5-2 in thick pieces. Grease a medium sized baking dish with butter and place the rolls cut side up spaced at least 1 inch apart.


Cover and let them rise for at least 30-40 minutes before baking in a 350 F oven for about 20 minutes or until the rolls are golden brown.


While the rolls are baking mix the cream cheese, cream and sugar in a bowl and spread over the rolls right when you take them out of the oven. The frosting will melt over the warm rolls and you won’t be able to wait till they cool down to try one.

There you have it. Cinnamon rolls baked fresh at home. It’s so much easier to make these at home than i thought it would, and i’m going to be making these very often!