For the last year, I have been baking and eating cupcakes. Poor me! The photo to the right shows Coco Loco cupcakes on top, Lemon Meringue Cupcakes in the middle, and strawberry cupcakes on the lowest level. The recipes for all of those cupcakes and more are in the book.
In The Diva Frosts a Cupcake, Nina Reid Norwood arranges a gala banquet with an eight-course cupcake dinner. Accordingly, I had to come up with a few savory cupcakes. Originally, I thought I might make little cupcake shepherd's pies. That would be easy enough. And the potatoes on top would even look like frosting. But I kept hearing about lasagna cupcakes. I've made them several times now and I have to tell you -- they're a hit. All my tasters loved them.
They're actually simple to make. I may never bake a big pan of lasagna again! Don't tell Natasha, but I cheated by using canned sauce. You can certainly use homemade sauce if you prefer. I've made them with ground beef and ground bison. They're delicious with both. I would imagine that ground turkey would work well, too.
There really aren't too many tricks to this. The first time I made them, friends helped me with the laborious task of cutting rounds out of lasagna noodles so they would fit neatly into the pan. But we discovered that they were somewhat difficult to remove from the pan neatly and intact after baking. Please note that the photos are from that first attempt.
The next time, I tried using a lasagna noodle rectangle that was a little bit too long for the cupcake well as the base piece of pasta. That was exactly what they needed. Not only did the little corners that stood up act as handles for lifting them, but they slid out of the pan much better. The corners become hard and crunchy, of course. You can trim them before serving, or leave them on if your family likes crunchy things. Count on at least two per person for diners with average appetites.
12 to 14 (a couple extra) pieces lasagna noodles
1-2 tablespoons olive oil plus extra for pan
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon oregano
1 pound ground bison (or lean ground beef or ground turkey)
1 14.5 ounce can pasta (or tomato) sauce
8 ounces low-fat mozzarella, shredded
4 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
Cook the lasagna noodles according to package and drain. Heat the olive oil in a pan over low heat and add the minced garlic. After two minutes add the oregano. When it’s aromatic, add the meat and cook. When the meat is cooked, mix in the tomato sauce, salt to taste, and set aside.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Thoroughly grease the wells of a muffin tin with olive oil. Cut each noodle in half and line each cupcake well with one piece so that the ends extend slightly beyond the well. Add a layer of meat and sauce to each well. Add a layer of mozzarella to each well.
|Needs more mozzarella!|
Cut the remaining noodles roughly to cupcake width. Lay one across each cupcake well. Repeat the layering of the meat and sauce, and the mozzarella. Sprinkle a substantial layer of Parmesan on top of each.
|Don't forget the Parmesan.|
Bake 18 - 20 minutes. The cupcakes should be bubble a bit at the edges. Remove from oven and use a sharp knife to loosen the cupcakes around the sides. Allow to stand five minutes before removing cupcakes from the pan. If they do not should their shape, allow to stand a few minutes longer.
Lift the cupcakes out of the pan using the using the pasta that sticks out as little handles. The handles will be somewhat crunchy. You may wish to cut them off.