I’m Snow Happy Eggnog and Rum Cupcakes

I’m Snow Happy Rum and Eggnog Cupcakes: A smooth, rich eggnog cupcake with a splash of dark rum to give it depth, filled with divine white chocolate ganache, frosted with eggnog and rum butter cream, and topped with a delicate white chocolate snowflake.

Mood: Just picture yourself curled up on the couch with your coziest blanket, a hot mug of tea in your hand, warmed by a crackling fire, watching the snow fall gently out the window and carpet the ground with a soft white blanket which softens the harshness and nakedness of winter, transforming it into a magical winter wonderland. That is what this cupcake tastes like, the bliss and utter contentment you can only find watching the snow fall on a cold winter night.

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Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! Man if it snowed cupcakes, that’d be the tastiest winter ever. I’d be ok with that.

I LOVE winter. Absolutely love it. I might even say I have an unhealthy emotional attachment to snow. Even though February 2015 has been one of the coldest Februaries experienced in a long time in Southern Ontario, I’m not ready for winter to be over and am quite saddened by the melting snow and above-freezing temperatures that are coming this week. I mean, really, we only got 2 months of actually good proper winter and it’s already starting to warm up! 2 months out of the year! How am I supposed to wait a whole 10 months for it to come around again?

I think I need to move further north…

I understand that most other people don’t share my enthusiasm for winter but I do not care! I will frolic about in the snow like a young filly in a grassy meadow and I will never not love winter. The instant the first snow fall of the year dusts the ground, my heart soars with yearning anticipation for the cold harsh beauty of winter to finally settle in our corner of the world yet again.

Also, you can see why climate change distresses me. You thought I was an environmentally conscious person- ha! I fooled you! I only care about my favourite season. Though so far it seems to have brought us some extreme cold weather, in general an average warming of the planet is the absolutely last thing I want. Who cares about saving the planet, I want to save winter! Somehow I doubt that many people would join the cause if I phrased it that way…

“Ok Ok we get it Emily! You’re a crazy person who loves winter. Enough already.” Fine sorry guys I could go on about my love for winter forever. The point is, to me, snow makes me so unbelievably happy that of course I was going to make a happy cupcake that was snow/winter themed. Obviously I thought the rum and eggnog went well as rum and eggnog is a holiday drink, and around Christmas time most people still feel positively about snow as winter is still in its infancy. So even if you’re not a crazy winter person like me you can still feel happy about snow and the holidays. And if you also hate Christmas and winter and eggnog and think these cupcakes are ridiculous, not my problem! Make your own damn happy summer cupcakes. I hope you choke on them (not really please don’t die I’m sure you’re a lovely person).

I made this cupcake specifically for the office Christmas potluck; yes, definitely trying to impress the co-workers. (And it worked- they loved them by the way. How could you not they were delicious!). And also why they’re gluten free- it would just be cruel of me to make these amazing cupcakes that could not be enjoyed by all of my co-workers!

Enough chitchat already- let’s start baking!

Instructions: 

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line your cupcake pan with 18 paper liners (to go with the theme I recommend a pale blue or white. I used white).

Make the ganache- take a half cup of whipping cream and bring it to a boil in a small saucepan. Then pour it over the cup of white chocolate chips, let set for a minute, and stir together until smooth. Refrigerate until needed.

In a bowl, combine 1 1/3 cups flour (gluten free or regular), 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. I know that there are tricks to gluten free baking that are fancy, but I just substituted 1 for 1 and they were delicious anyway sooo if you want to be all fancy with your gluten free baking you go figure that out. I thought it worked out satisfactorily.

In another bowl, mix together with an electric mixer the 1/4 cup of dark rum, 1 cup of eggnog, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and 1 cup of white sugar. The original recipe says that rum is optional, but I do not. Don’t be a pansy and just put the liquor in- and feel free to use the “shot for me, shot for the cupcakes” method, generally makes baking more fun. It is essential to deliciousness.

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Rum and eggnog, a match made in heaven. You can imagine what happened with the leftover eggnog and rum… yup. #noregrets

Add the dry ingredients and beat until incorporated. Divide among the muffin cups and bake for 22-24 minutes. Woo. If you’re doing gluten free, they probably won’t puff up as nicely as normal gluteny cupcakes. Just be aware of that- that’s why mine look kind of flat!

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Slightly flat but still hella tasty!

While the cupcakes are baking, make the snowflakes. Melt 1/2 cup of white chocolate on the stove. If you’re feeling lucky and are generally an attentive person, do it right in a stove pot. Otherwise make a double boiler type setup to be safe and not burn chocolate. I mess up melting chocolate all the time because I am too lazy to double boiler. Don’t be me. If you screw up or need more chocolate, melt more.

Then take wax paper (or if you’re fancy like me a nonstick silicone baking mat) and spread it out on the table. Put the icing into either an icing bag with a super small tip or a plastic bag in which you can cut a very small hole. Then pipe out the shape of a snowflake! I tend to make mine like little asterisks (*). Do a lot, including some extra, as you will likely break some by accident like myself, and not all of them will come out as you hope. Stick them in the fridge and let set.

Now prep the icing. Take your 1/2 cup of softened butter and whip it up in a mixer until nice and fluffy. Add the 1/2 teaspoon of rum and vanilla and 1.5 tablespoon of eggnog and blend well. Gradually add 3 3/4 cup of powdered sugar until well incorporated. Tasted the icing because it is unreasonably delicious. Feel free to add more rum/vanilla/eggnog if you feel like it could use more flavour, but I feel like the icing should be a more subtle eggnog flavour than the cupcake, which is where it’s at.

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Mmmm frosting. So great.

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Into the icing bag it goes- I always like to use a cup to hold open the bag, works well.

Now fill the cupcakes by cutting the cones out of the top, putting in a dollop of ganache, and putting the cone back on (again, detailed instructions can be found in my Going Banana’s Cupcake Recipe).

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Filled with the nectar of the gods- white chocolate. Mmmmm yes.

Pipe on the icing in a nice delicate swirl. Take your snowflakes out of the fridge and carefully (VERY CAREFULLY) peel them off of the wax paper/silicone mat, and stick them onto your cupcakes! And there you have it folks. Once you try one of these cupckes you’ll be “snow happy” I guarantee it!*

*Disclaimer* I don’t actually guarantee it I do not know your baking skills. You could have totally screwed them up and that is not my fault. My cupcakes were awesome. So I suppose I should say if you do it correctly and then eat them you will be “snow happy.” But probably not if you screw everything up. Sorry kids.

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Tell me these aren’t happy cupcakes! They’re just sitting there all happy and snowy and wonderful. Winter in edible form.

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*happy sigh*

Ingredients (Makes 18 cupcakes)

Cupcakes

  • 1 1/3 cup flour (either gluten free or all purpose)
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup dark rum (mandatory)
  • 1 cup eggnog
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup white sugar

Icing

  • 1/2 cup room temperature butter (1 stick/8 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 tsp. rum
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1.5 tbsp. eggnog
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 3 3/4 cup powdered sugar

Ganache

  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup white chocolate

Snowflakes

  • 1/2-1 cup white chocolate (depending on your snowflake making skill)

Brief Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350F and line cupcake pans with 18 cupcake liners, preferably white or light blue.

Make the ganache by bringing 1/2 cup of whipping cream to a boil. Right when it starts boiling pour it over the 1 cup of white chocolate. Let sit for a minute then stir together. Put in fridge to cool.

In a medium bowl, mix 1 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt.  In a mixer, blend together 1/4 cup dark rum, 1 cup eggnog, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 1 cup white sugar. Add the dry ingredients.

Pour into cupcake liners and bake for 22-24 minutes; cool.

While the cupcakes are baking, prepare the snowflakes by melting 1/2 cup of white chocolate. Put the white chocolate into a piping bag with a very small tip or put in a ziplock bag and cut a tiny hole out of the tip. Pipe snowflakes onto a piece of wax paper and make lots of extra! Place in the fridge to cool.

Prep the icing: whip up the 1/2 cup of butter. Add the 1/2 tsp of rum, 1/2 tsp vanilla, pinch nutmeg, and 1 1/2 tbsp. eggnog. Then gradually add 3 3/4 cup of powdered sugar until well incorporated.

When the cupcakes are cool, cut out cones in the top, fill with chocolate ganache, and put the cone back on. Then pipe on the icing, carefully peel the snowflakes from the paper, and set on top!

Sources:

Feeling the Lemon Squeeze Cupcakes (Gluten Free)

Feeling the Lemon Squeeze Cupcakes: A tart, lemon cupcake with lemon curd filling, topped with meringue icing and a candied lemon on top.

Mood: Are you stressed beyond belief? Do you feel like life is squeezing you to a pulp? Then this cupcake is for you!

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As I read in my employee manual when I started my new job, it’s customary for people to bring in office treats on their birthday. And wouldn’t you know, 1 month into my job, it was my birthday! What better an opportunity to show off my mad baking skills to my new co-workers?

But of course I needed to go all out and make these cupcakes to die for. I mean, you only get 1 chance to make a baking first impression after all. I though briefly about making my “Blood Red Velvet” cupcakes, but then decided that might leave a rather… strange impression. Instead, I decided to try my stressed lemon meringue cupcakes.

Unfortunately, by the time I got the cupcakes to the office, the meringue had wilted a bit. So they were slightly less impressive looking than I had hoped. Still, there’s always the Christmas party, a chance to get back into my game! I will conquer all and win the baker of the office award yet! (That award doesn’t actually exist, but if it did I WOULD WIN).

I think I need to take my baking ego down a notch.

Anyway, here you go. Feeling the Lemon Squeeze cupcakes.

Instructions:

First you wanna get started on those candied lemons. Cause they take for ever. Prepare an ice bath (a bowl full of ice and water). Slice a lemon into thin slices (you’ll need at least 6 but can probably get more than that out of a lemon). Pick out the seeds.

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Tart for now, these lemons will soon be super sweet with sugar!

Then bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Take it off of the heat, add lemon slices, and stir for a bout a minute. Drain the water and put the lemon slices into the ice water.

Bring 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water to boil in a medium skillet or pan. Dissolve the sugar, and when it boils reduce heat to medium low. Add the lemon slices so they are in single layer.

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I didn’t quite achieve the single layer thing. But it worked.

Simmer until the rinds are translucent, so for about an hour. When they’re done set them on parchment paper and let stand. Once they are cool, cut them into halves or quarters, depending if your cupcakes are mini or not. Mine were mini so I did quarters, but if you have normal sized cupcakes halves will probably do.

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Candied lemons! So fun. Making the inedible edible since 1991.

While you are letting those lemons become candy, it’s time to work on the cupcakes themselves. Step number 1 as always: preheat the oven to 350 F. Zest 3-4 lemons. (Yes I know we’re using a crap ton of lemons. They’re lemon cupcakes. Get over it).

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I use this tiny grater. It works wonderfully. A steak knife will also do in a pinch.

Then, whisk together 5/8 cup of milk and 3 3/4 teaspoons lemon juice. Add the 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 2 egg whites, zest of 2 lemons (s0 2/3 of the zest that you zested earlier, you’re saving the rest for the curd), and 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.

In another separate bowl, combine the 1 1/8 cup gluten free baking flour (I made them gluten free because one of my co-workers is of the gluten free variety. Tasted good either way. You can use regular flour and it’ll still work out fine), 3/4 cup white sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Add them together and mix it up. Woot. I didn’t take pictures of these steps because you probably know what cupcake batter looks like. If not google it. Seriously.

Spoon the batter into baking cups. I used mini baking cups because I thought people might not want a whole cupcake (people can be weird like that). You can make full sized if you want. Whatever floats your boat.

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In the oooooovveeeeeen! Baking it up.

Bake for 15-18 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Alright now time for the lemon curd. While your cupcakes are baking, combine 4 egg yolks (save the egg whites for the frosting), zest of 1 lemon (leave 1 tsp for the frosting), 1/3 cup lemon juice (freshly squeezed if possible. Use the lemons you zested), and 1/2 cup sugar.

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My super cool lemon juicer i got at the thrift store! Love thrift stores.

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Yep! That’s the curd.

Cook over medium heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat a spoon, or about 12 minutes. Add the pinch of salt and 5 Tablespoons of butter (the butter should be added in chunks) and stir until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap, pushing the film down so it lies on the surface of the curd, and put it in the fridge for at least an hour.

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Ready to go in the fridge!

Now in case you haven’t noticed, by this time I had quite a lot going on- cupcakes in the oven, lemons candying on the stove, and curd cooking. Was that enough? NO! I also had to rehydrate my chickpeas. I am maybe a crazy person. Well really I’m a hummus addict who really really needed to make a new batch of hummus.

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Just in case I didn’t have enough stove elements going on at the same time. I had to simmer these suckers.

The last portion- the meringue frosting! Oh meringue. How I loathe you. Slightly. It just is not the easiest thing to make.

So fashion yourself a double boiler. I just sat two pots on top of each other, put some water in the bottom one, and made it boil. Basically you want some water boiling below a pan. Make it happen.

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This is my pro double boiler set up. SO pro.

Whisk the 4 egg whites, 2/3 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, pinch cream of tartar, and a pinch of salt in the top pan. Continue whisking until the mixture is hot to the touch and the sugar dissolves (1-2 mins).

Then put it in a stand mixer (or a bowl that you can use with a hand mixer.

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Oh stand mixer, how I love thee. Let me count the ways. I remember the days I had to whip up egg whites by hand… not fun.

Beat on medium high speed until meringue is cool and holds a stiff peak. Now for some reason mine never quite reached the stiff peak stage, it kinda just stayed as a soft peak. So sad. Still worked though, just didn’t stay as stiff as I would have liked. Maybe add more cream of tartar? Still delicious!

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That was about as stiff as mine got.

ASSEMBLY TIME! Hopefully your cupcakes are done baking by now. Take the cupcakes and cut a small cone out of the top of each (if you’re confused, see some of my previous posts where I explain this method in detail). Fill the hole with lemon curd and put the top back on.

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Why do you fill me up, butter cup baby (yes, a flower song pun)

Pipe the frosting on top. I used one of those round bits because I thought it would work better with meringue. It did. Yum.

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So shiny! If only they had stayed this stiff 12 hours later… :/

Then place a wedge of candied lemon on top and you my friend have just made your own “Feeling the Lemon Squeeze” cupcakes!

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All done! 🙂

Fun story: After I was done my cupcakes, I still had a decent amount of meringue left over. So I thought, why not try to make meringue cookies? They’re tasty! I knew you either baked meringue super hot for a quick time or super long at a lower temperature, and being too lazy to look it up, turned the oven to 425 F. I put the meringue blobs in, and 10 mins later the outsides were crispy and the insides were super gooey. They then deflated completely into flat discs. Such a fail.

Moral of this story: Always double check your instincts against the internet. Always.

Also if you have left over lemon curd, you can make lemon bars. Delicious.

Ingredients (makes 24 mini cupcakes or 12 regular sized)

Cupcakes

  • 5/8 cup milk
  • 3 3/4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 lemons, zested
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/8 cup gluten free flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Icing

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  • pinch of salt

Lemon Curd

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 5 Tablespoons butter, cut into chunks

Candied Lemons:

  • 1 lemon
  • 1 cup sugar

Brief Instructions:

First you wanna get started on those candied lemons. Prepare an ice bath (a bowl full of ice and water). Then, slice a lemon into thin slices (you’ll need at least 6 but can probably get more than that out of a lemon). Pick out the seeds.

Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Take it off of the heat, add lemon slices, and stir for a bout a minute. Then drain the water and put the lemon slices into the ice water.

Bring 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water to boil in a medium skillet or pan. Dissolve the sugar, and when it boils reduce heat to medium low. Add the lemon slices so they are in single layer.

Simmer until the rinds are translucent, so for about an hour. When they’re done set them on parchment paper and let stand. Once they are cool, cut them into halves or quarters, depending if your cupcakes are mini or not. Mine were mini so I did quarters, but if you have normal sized cupcakes halves will probably do.

Next the cupcakes. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Zest 3-4 lemons. Then, whisk together 5/8 cup of milk and 3 3/4 teaspoons lemon juice. Ddd the 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 2 egg whites, zest of 2 lemons (s0 2/3 of the zest that you zested earlier, you’re saving the rest for the curd), and 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.

In another separate bowl, combine the 1 1/8 cup gluten free baking flour, 3/4 cup white sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add them together and mix it up.

Spoon the batter into baking cups. 12 if regular cupcakes, 24 if mini.

Bake for 15-18 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Lemon curd time- While your cupcakes are baking, combine 4 egg yolks (save the egg whites for the frosting), zest of 1 lemon (leave 1 tsp for the frosting), 1/3 cup lemon juice (freshly squeezed if possible. Use the lemons you zested), and 1/2 cup sugar.

Cook over medium heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat a spoon, or about 12 minutes. Add the pinch of salt and 5 Tablespoons of butter (the butter should be added in chunks) and stir until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap, pushing the film down so it lies on the surface of the curd, and put it in the fridge for at least an hour.

The last portion- the meringue frosting! Fashion yourself a double boiler. Whisk the 4 egg whites, 2/3 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, pinch cream of tartar, and a pinch of salt in the top pan. Continue whisking until the mixture is hot to the touch and the sugar dissolves (1-2 mins).

Then put it in a stand mixer (or a bowl that you can use with a hand mixer. Beat on medium high speed until meringue is cool and holds a stiff peak.

Assembly! Take the cupcakes and cut a small cone out of the top of each. Fill the hole with lemon curd and put the top back on. Pipe the frosting on top. Then place a wedge of candied lemon on top and enjoy!

Sources:

Red and White Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

This isn’t your normal lasagna. No sir. This lasagna will blow all of your other lasagnas out of the water. “But I like my lasagnas with meat because I’m a carnivore” you say. Trust me. This lasagna is freaking delicious, and meat is overrated and unnecessary when you have a plethora of juicy vegetables swimming in 2 delicious sauces and a mountain of cheese.

I also made Red Lobster cheesy biscuits to go along with, which isn’t traditionally a lasagna side dish but still super tasty. Along with an avocado semifreddo for dessert (yes, avocado in a dessert. Mind blowing). Basically the best meal ever.

Anywho this lasagna was pretty easy to make, just roast some veggies, make some sauce, shred some cheese and bam! Assemble into deliciousness. I made the sauces from scratch because a) I don’t know if i can find premade sauce here in Peru and b) making things from scratch is more bad ass and fun. Although I do hate peeling tomatoes. However, I do love a day of working hard in the kitchen while rocking out to my favourite playlist.

veggie lasagna (18)First is the preparation of the vegetables and the sauce. Chop up all the veggies, toss them with some oil and garlic, and roast them in the oven until they start to brown- the egg plant and mushrooms will take less time than the pepper and zucchini. This is a picture of post-rosted veggies- don’t they look delicious?! And the great thing about roasted vegetables is that you can use them in tons of things- pastas, lasagnas, noodle bakes, just eat them as a side. So versatile.

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Then start on the sauces- for the tomato sauce, boil a big pot of water and then throw your tomatoes in. The tomatoes, when ready to peel, should look like the above picture, like the skin is splitting a bit. That is when you know to take them out. Throw them in a blender and toss in the rest of the sauce ingredients and simmer for a while. For the white sauce, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Then add the milk and stir constantly over medium heat until thickened.

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I wanted to keep the two sauces distinct, so I decided to mix the white sauce with the vegetables, keep them nice and moist and it will make a nice layer in the lasagna. Mmm. Also soak the lasagna noodles if necessary, mine needed to be soaked.

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Now to assemble the lasagna. First off, grease the pan. Then, put a nice layer of your freshly made tomato sauce down as the base. If you put noodles first they will stick, and no one wants that! Look at the steam coming off, that is some fresh sauce right there.

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Next put a layer of noodles over the sauce. Then put half the vegetable sauce mix on top of the noodles, 1/2 of the basil, 1/3 of the cheese, 1/4 of the red sauce on top of that, and then 4 more noodles on top. Then repeat- vegetables, basil, cheese, sauce, noodle. For the end, put the rest of the red sauce on top of the noodles, and the rest of the cheese on top. If you don’t have enough sauce, red or white, to do all the layers, omit one or two in the middle. As long as everything is in the pan, it’s all good.

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Finished lasagna, ready to go in the oven! My pan was super full, and halfway through baking I smelled some burn- it had overflowed a bit into the oven, so I took a larger pan to put underneath and catch the drips. Just beware if your lasagna is really full.

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After baking for a while, it’s finally done!!! Smelled so good, couldn’t wait to dig in. Have you ever seen such beauty.

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Tell me you don’t want to eat that. Go ahead. I’m waiting. That’s right, no one could resist! Except maybe lactose intolerant people. Or people allergic to tomatoes. Other than that…

veggie lasagna (12)Barely any left in the pan! It was an instant hit at the house. And lasagna is one of those foods that tastes super good as leftovers!

Red and White Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

adapted from http://www.yummly.com/recipe/external/Roasted-Vegetable-Lasagna-TasteOfHome

Ingredients:

Tomato Sauce:

  • 15 tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste

White Sauce:

  • 3 cups milk
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 6 Tablespoons flour

Assembly:

  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into slices
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, cut into slices
  • 3 small zucchini, cut into slices
  • 2 red peppers, cut lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Mozzarella cheese
  • 2-3 cups another kind of cheese (you can go for ricotta, I got some mozzarella type thing with herbs. Just basically, get lots of cheese)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 jar meatless spaghetti sauce or the sauce made above
  • 12 ready to bake lasagna noodles
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh basil

Yield: 1 awesome lasagna.

Directions:

First off, vegetables! Chop the vegetables and put the zucchini and red pepper in one bowl and the eggplant and mushroom in another. Combine the 3 T oil and 2 cloves garlic and split between the two bowls, coating the vegetables with the oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake the pepper and zucchini at 400 F for 10 minutes, then add the mushrooms and eggplant until tender and edges are browned.

While the vegetables are cooking, start on the sauce. For the red sauce, boil a large pot of water and once boiling put in the tomatoes. When the skin starts to split, take them out and submerge in cold/icy water. Peel and chop the tomatoes, the skin should come off easily, and purée in a blender. Then saute the onion, bell pepper, and garlic in the oil and butter until the onion softens. Pour in the pureed tomatoes, and add the 1/4 cup basil, 1 T oregano, 1/4 cup red wine, and 3 T tomato paste. Bring to a boil and simmer for a while, until you’re ready to assemble the lasagna, at least a half hour.

For the white sauce, melt the 6 T butter in a pot, and when melted add the 6 T flour. Stir well, and add the 3 cups milk. Stir until the sauce thickens then remove from heat.

When the vegetables are done, mix them with the white sauce- this will keep them nice and juicy! Mix all the cheeses together with the  eggs. My lasagna noodles said to be soaked in water first, so if yours are the same put them in some water to soak.

Now time for assembly! Best part. Layer 1/4 of the sauce on the bottom of a greased 13 x 9 pan. Then put 4 noodles, and try not to let them touch the edge. Then put half the vegetable sauce mix on top of the noodles, 1/2 of the basil, 1/3 of the cheese, 1/4 of the red sauce on top of that, and then 4 more noodles on top. Then repeat- vegetables, basil, cheese, sauce, noodle. For the end, put the rest of the red sauce on top of the noodles, and the rest of the cheese on top. If you don’t have enough sauce to do all the layers, omit one or two in the middle. As long as everything is in the pan, it’s all good. Most important is that the last few layers are noodles, red sauce, and cheese. The middle doesn’t matter.

Baking time! Cover and bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 minutes longer. Then eat it! Delicious lasagna time 🙂 You won’t be able to keep from having seconds. Or maybe 3rds. Veggies are healthy!

Banana Muffins!

Got rotten bananas? Don’t be sad- Make some muffins! What better idea is there? http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/banana-muffins-ii/Detail.aspx

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (Emily: I used all whole wheat flour. Worked fine :D)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large bananas, mashed (EMILY’S HINT: if you’re freezing bananas, peel them BEFORE you freeze them. It makes life easier, trust me. Otherwise only half the peel comes off. And that’s not pleasant)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar (We substituted 1/4 cup of brown sugar, so 1/2 c white and 1/4 c brown, cause brown is healthier or something I dunno, worked well)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  •  OPTIONAL (Emily’s additions): 1 cup chocolate chips and 1/4 cup chopped pecans

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Coat muffin pans with non-stick spray, or use paper liners. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  2. Combine bananas, sugar, egg, and melted butter in a large bowl. Fold in flour mixture, and mix until smooth. Scoop into muffin pans.
  3. Bake in preheated oven. Bake mini muffins for 10 to 15 minutes, and large muffins for 25 to 30 minutes. Muffins will spring back when lightly tapped
Emily’s notes: Very easy muffins, worked really well, the tops came out kinda flat and we’re not sure what exactly happened, but they were quite tasty. I personally only like chocolate chips, but we put some nuts in Heathers’, so just do what you want, improvise a little. That’s what makes baking fun!