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Mac & Cheese Cupcakes.

Mac & Cheese Cupcakes with Ricotta, Spinach & Onion.

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Clearly, I’m really into making pasta dishes into cupcakes these days! (See yesterday’s post!) This was another item on the menu for my friend’s baby brunch. I got the idea of taking the basic ingredients from one of my favorite recipes that my mom makes and putting it all into mac & cheese. I thought it would be super fun to make it into little handheld treats by using my trusty muffin tin once again. They were super yummy and were a great vegetarian option. Another great party food!

Makes ~20 cupcakes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb elbow macaroni (use brown rice pasta to make this gluten-free)
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 4 large handfuls baby spinach
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat shredded cheddar
  • 1/3 cup shredded Swiss & Gruyere blend (you can find this at Trader Joe’s but you can also just use mozzarella)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan, plus extra for topping
  • 1 egg
  • salt/black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Begin by cooking your pasta as directed on the package. While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a pan on medium heat and cook the onions and spinach for about 5-7 minutes so that the onions soften and the spinach is wilted.

Once the pasta is done cooking, drain any excess water and add the pasta back into the pot. While the pasta is still hot, quickly add in spinach and onions, ricotta, all cheeses, and egg and stir vigorously to combine. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Spray a non-stick muffin pan with cooking spray and put a heaping spoonful of the pasta mixture into each muffin cup, filling it to the top of each cup. Sprinkle a dash of grated Parmesan on top of each one and bake in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until the macaroni is lightly browned and the cheese is melted. Allow to cool slightly before removing from the pan.

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Lasagna Cupcakes.

Mini Lasagna Cupcakes with Tomato Basil Meat Sauce.

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A few weeks ago, I threw a little lunch for my friend Brittany who is having a baby next month. Since it was an early, casual lunch I wanted to make a few dishes that weren’t too heavy and also easy to eat. I had seen various posts on Pinterest for mini lasagna cupcakes using wonton wraps so decided to give it a whirl. They turned out really great. They were super delicious and quite adorable, I must say. They make an awesome party food… I will definitely make these again!

Makes 12 cupcakes.

Ingredients:

  • 24¬†wonton wraps (2 per cupcake)
  • 1/2 pound ground beef, preferably 10% fat or less
  • 1 cup tomato sauce (I used creamy tomato)
  • 1 large handful fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2¬†cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat shredded mozzarella
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • salt/black pepper to taste

Begin by cooking the ground beef. Heat a pan on medium-high heat and add the meat. Cook for 10 minutes or so until browned and use a spatula to break up the meat so it doesn’t clump together. Once browned, stir in the tomato sauce and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spray a non-stick muffin pan with cooking spray. Press a wonton wrap into each muffin cup and then add a small spoonful of ricotta on the bottom. Continue layering with a small spoonful of meat sauce, a pinch of shredded mozzarella and a dash of grated Parmesan. Press a second wonton wrap on top of that, and then repeat the layering process again.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and the wonton wraps are lightly browned.

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Roasted Veggie Chili With Beef & Bacon.

Smoky Beef & Bacon Chili with Roasted Eggplant, Green pepper, Green Beans and Onion.

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With the chilly weather this time of year, this chili is the perfect dish to warm you up! (Cheesy pun intended!) This is a low-carb chili with no beans, although you can always add beans into the mix if you prefer. I bulked up this recipe using lots of yummy roasted veggies. I also jazzed it up with some bacon to add a subtle smokey flavor. I’ll be eating this chili all week and can’t wait! It’s so good and also so good for you!

Makes about 6 cups of chili.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef (7% fat)
  • 6 pieces hickory smoked, center cut bacon
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 1 medium eggplant, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 12 oz fresh green beans, cut into small pieces
  • 1 packet McCormick smoky BBQ chili seasoning
  • hot sauce, to taste
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt/pepper to taste

Begin by roasting your veggies. Add them into a large roasting pan and drizzle with 3 tbsp of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and roast in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes.

In a large pot, brown the ground beef on medium/high heat. There’s enough fat in the beef that you shouldn’t have to add any oil to the pot beforehand. Use a spoon or spatula to break up the meat so it doesn’t clump together as it cooks. Once browned, add in the crushed tomatoes and chili seasoning.

Cook the bacon so it’s partially cooked, but not overly crispy. The goal is to get some of that fat out of it. I cooked mine in the microwave on a plate lined with paper towel for 2 minutes. Once the bacon is partially cooked, chop it up and then add it into the beef and tomato mixture. Reduce the heat to simmer and put a lid on the pot.

Once the veggies have completed roasting, add them directly into the pot. Season with a dash of hot sauce and salt/black pepper and stir well to combine all of the ingredients. I topped my chili with a spoonful of light sour cream, but you could also top with tortilla strips or avocado.

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