I am not going to lie, I fell off the wagon during the holidays. Hard. Like really hard. Like face first into a box of Trader Joe’s peppermint Jo Jo’s, and no I didn’t share them with the husband, hard.
I promised myself after the holidays I would get back on track, so I set out to go grocery shopping on Monday, but got busy with other stuff and before I knew it the day was over and I hadn’t made it to the store. I rummaged through the fridge and pantry and noticed I had some wonton wrappers that were about to expire, an open jar of pasta sauce in the fridge, some left over ricotta from my cheat day Cannoli’s (drool!), and some ground beef in the freezer. Put that all together and that spells Lasagna Cupcakes! I put the exclamation point because I absolutely adore lasagna cupcakes, in fact, I may actually like it better than the real thing. I love all things that come in small packages, and food is no exception. Seriously, I love small things, like those tiny little salt and pepper spoons, espresso cup, and pretty much any mini anything. If a store has tiny things, that’s where you will find me. I am also slightly obsessed with all things in cupcake form. The first time I tried these savory “cupcakes” I was in heaven, and now I try and make everything a “cupcake”. I am actually trying a chicken fajita cupcake recipe tonight, so hopefully that comes out tasty and delicious and I will post it up on the blog soon.
After my grueling Camp Gladiator (we just call it CG) workout I was ready for a hearty dinner. If you recall from my Banana Nut Overnight Oats post, our coach thought it would be fun to put a 20lb sandbag on our backs and have us hold a 6 minute plank, and if you broke the plank you had to do 6 burpees, and then back to plank. Good times! I also have a year’s supply of salad bowl lettuce that I pulled from my garden, so a nice healthy salad was the perfect compliment to these yummy, comforting Lasagna Cupcakes.
It had been a while since I worked out, but it had been even longer since I went to a CG class. It was a beast, but it felt good to get back there. Camp Gladiator is a true HIIT workout. You are constantly being pushed to your limits, and just when you think you can’t take it anymore, you get a small break, but then you are right back at it! I will have to do a full article on it because it’s a great alternative to a mundane gym workout. The first week I did CG I thought I was going to puke during every workout. Which in some sick twisted way, is what makes me love it so much and why I keep going back.
Back to the cupcakes. These are super easy to make, and you can customize them anyway you would like. Normally, I would add lots of yummy veggies to mine, like zuchinni, shredded carrots, spinach, etc. Sadly, I didn’t have any of those things in my house, not even fresh basil because my garden decided it didn’t want to produce any basil this season, so I just went with the ground beef I had in the freezer. You could easily do ground turkey or even ground chicken in there, although I think the chicken would be too dry, but I almost always think ground chicken is too dry, so it’s a personal preference thing here. Of course, you could also omit the meat altogether. I have done that many times, and just done a straight veggie lasagna cupcake and it was delicious too.
For this specific recipe all I did was brown up the beef (I used 97/3), added some Italian seasoning, a little salt and pepper, and an extra dash of basil because I love basil, and a couple spoonfuls of the pasta sauce to ‘wet’ the meat. The sauce step isn’t necessary, it’s just how I have always done it. After that it’s assembly time. I put a wonton wrapper in a standard muffin tin (not the big one and not the mini, the size here matters because of the size of the wontons), spread some ricotta on each of the wrappers, then added a spoonful of meat, then sauce, then some mozzarella cheese, sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, and then repeated those steps with another wonton, ricotta, and so on. Once that’s done I popped it in the over for about 20 minutes and they come out bubbly and brown and smelling like heaven in a muffin tin, yum!
Italian food is a true comfort food for me. I am not Italian, there is no one in my family that is Italian, but my mother would make stuffed shells, manicotti, spaghetti and meatballs, or some other form of Italian food at least once a week. Just about every Sunday my mom would make a batch of sauce and it would sit on the stove top all day long, and her meatballs would simmer inside it. Some of my most vivid memories of childhood are being in the kitchen with my mom stuffing shells and rolling manicotti. To this day spaghetti and meat sauce is still at the top of my list of all time favorite foods.
What are some of your comfort foods? Do you have any childhood memories from the kitchen? We would love to hear your stories.
- 1/2 lb 97/3 ground beef or any meat you prefer, or no meat at all
- 1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp dried basil or 1tsp fresh (optional)
- 1 TBS pasta sauce
- 16 wonton wrappers
- 4 oz fat free ricotta cheese full fat is fine, just adjust the nutritional info accordingly
- 1 1/2 oz Parmesan cheese fresh from a block, grated (you could use the powdered stuff, but it won't taste the same)
- 1 cup pasta sauce I used Mids Onion & Garlic, you can use whatever you like, or make homemade
- 4 oz 2% Mozzarella Cheese shredded
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray your muffin tin with cooking spray so the cupcakes don't stick. Set that aside.
- In a sauté pan or skillet over medium-high heat, add the ground beef, Italian seasoning, and basil. Brown the beef, making sure to break it up with a wooden spoon so it's in small pieces.
- If you are adding veggies, you would add those to the meat mixture now and saute them with the meat, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes until the veggies are softened but not mushy. You still want them to have some texture when you bite into them, and they will continue to cook a little while in the oven.
- Grab the greased muffin tin, and place 1 wonton wrapper in the bottom of 8 cups of the tin.
- Take half your ricotta mixture and put a dollop of ricotta on each of the wonton wrappers and spread it around. You want to save the other half of the ricotta to repeat this step with the second layer.
- Take half your meat mixture and add a spoonful to each of the 8 cups, placing the meat on top of the spread out ricotta. Remember to save half your meat for the second layer.
- Take half your sauce and add a spoonful on top of the meat. Again, remember to save half for the second layer.
- Take half your Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and sprinkle those onto the sauce, doing Mozzarella first then the Parmesan. Again, remember to save half for the second layer.
- Press another wonton wrapper on top of the 8 cups to begin your second layer.
- Repeat the ricotta, meat, sauce, Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese steps until all 8 cups are complete. **If you have fresh basil, you could add a basil leaf on top of each cup for added flavor and color, but if you don't have it don't worry about it.**
- Place the muffin tin in the pre-heated oven and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the wonton edges are crispy and the cheese is fully melted and started to brown just a little.
- Let cool for 5 minutes before trying to remove them from the muffin tin. It makes it much easier to remove if you let it cool a bit.
- Nutritional information is for 1 cupcake.