Because Smaller Things are Cuter: Petite Lasagna

Little things are cuter! Petite Lasagna

Small things are somehow cuter. Babies are cuter humans. Puppies are cuter dogs. Doll houses, cuter houses, cake pops, you get it….all cuter simply because they are smaller.

If that is true, than why are we so intimidated and fearful of cooking for fewer people. Or, God forbid, cooking for…gulp…one.

There’s a song about a breakup that I first heard in the ’80s when forced to listen to a quasi-muzak station at work and its lyrics have always stayed with me. Though originally written by Burt Bacharach, the kids today may know it because it was also featured on Glee in 2010.

Burt Bacharach Week on Glee

That aside, the lyrics are ridonk:

One less bell to answer / One less egg to fry / One less man to pick up after / I should be happy / But all I do is cry.

Seriously. Those are the lyrics. The singer lost her man and it is so so sad. And, the saddest part is – sigh, wipe tear – that now, every morning she only has to fry ONE egg. One – the loneliest number – the most feared amount of eggs to ever have to fry. Breaks me up every time I hear it.

But then, I think, first of all, what man eats only one egg for breakfast? And, secondly, who cares?!?!? You’ll find someone else to fry an egg for. Until then, enjoy the peace, quiet and fewer plates to clean.

I’m relatively certain that the saddest part of the single egg fryer’s life isn’t having a plethora of unfried eggs in the fridge. I’m actually completely sure of it.

Cooking for fewer people just isn’t sad. Embrace it. Last night I wanted lasagna. I had most of the ingredients already but I didn’t have six people coming to dinner.

Here’s what I did:

Petite Lasagna with Spinach and Chicken (serves 2 – even if 2 is you and your leftovers)

Preheat Oven to 450 degrees

1. Make the spinach mixture:

  • Cheesy Spinach Mixture pre-Chicken

    Heat a saute pan over med heat with 2 tbsp of butter + 2tbsp olive oil

  • Saute 2 cloves of garlic diced and 1/2 shallot diced until fragrant – about 2 mins
  • Add in one 10oz package of defrosted and squeezed dry chopped spinach – stir
  • Add in 2 tbsp of cream or milk – last night I only had 2% and it was fine
  • Add in 1/2 cup of Ricotta Cheese – stir to combine
  • Turn off heat and add 2 tbsp of grated parmesan cheese
  • Add salt and pepper to taste – remember that the parmesan cheese is salty
  • Stir in 2 breasts of cooked chicken meat diced or shredded – I used a rotisserie chicken – face it, you’ll never make chicken as good at home.
  • NOTE: I also didn’t stir the chicken in, because I thought there would be some left over and I didn’t want it all spinach-ified

2. Make a Bechamel Sauce

  • Bechamel Sauce Perfectly Coats Back of Spoon

    In a sauce pan over medium heat melt 2.5 tbsp of butter

     

  • Using a whisk, stir in 3 tbsp of flour – cook for about 2 mins
  • Whisk in a combination of 1 cup whole milk (again, I only had 2% and it was fine) + 1 cup of chicken stock
  • BTB (bring to a boil) RTS (reduce to a simmer) and continue to stir until the béchamel sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  • Remove from heat and add 1/4 tsp of Salt and about the same of Pepper. You can add a pinch of nutmeg here as well

3.

Sweet Potatoes, because that’s what I had

Cut 1/2 of a peeled sweet potato into fry size pieces, lightly cover with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for :20 mins – tossing a couple of times during the roasting.

I only had sweet potatoes but roasted squash or zucchini or egg plant or whatever you have and like would be just fine.

TURN OVEN DOWN TO 350 degrees

4. Shred 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. I didn’t feel like getting the cheese grater dirty, so I just cut the cheese…into small cubes

Get out a 9x5x3 loaf pan (see Banana Bread Recipe)

5. Use no-cook noodles. I had some fresh ones in the freezer that I defrosted in the fridge earlier in the day. Place 4 noodles (or enough to create 4 layers of noodles in a 9x5x3 loaf pan) in warm water just for 1 minute to soften

4. Layer the lasagna

Mise En Place for Lasagna

  • Put enough of the béchamel sauce to thinly cover the bottom of the pan
  • Put one layer of lasagna sheet(s) on top
  • Spread on a layer of the spinach, cheese and chicken mixture

Petite Lasagna Layer 1

  • Add a few of the roasted sweet potato fries – or whatever veggies you have and have roasted. There are no rules here. I like the sweet potatoes because they’re pretty.

Add the Sweet Potatoes – Pretty Colors!

  • Sprinkle on some of the mozzarella cheese and pour about 1/4 cup of the béchamel sauce over it
  • Layer on another layer of the lasagna sheet(s)

REPEAT – creating a complete second layer of spinach, chicken, sweet potatoes and cheese…and a little béchamel sauce

5. On top of the second layer, add the final layer of lasagna sheet(s), cover with about 1/3 cup of béchamel sauce, a sprinkle of mozzarella and some grated parmesan

Oven Ready Petite Lasagna

6. Cover with tin foil and bake for :35 minutes

7. Remove the tin foil and bake another :10 minutes

8. Remove from the oven – it will be bubbling – and let stand uncovered for :10 mins before serving

Lasagna out of the oven ready to cool…

If dinner is for you and someone else, great. If it’s just you dining with your leftovers….Go ahead and pour yourself a glass of wine. Sit in front of the TV. Eat and enjoy. See, was that so sad?

NO! No it was not. This lasagna is petite, smaller than most, and thus, cuter and better.

By the way, this morning for breakfast, I had one, absolutely deliciously fried egg.

One Happily Fried Egg

Gold Medal Egg Cups for the Fab 5

My niece and I stayed up until after midnight last night to cheer on the US Women’s Gymnastics team as they made history earning the first team gold since 1996.

Last night’s victory was amazing – but not quite as suspenseful as the evening we watched as the US women clinched the gold in 1996. They were leading Russia as each team entered its the final rotation; Russia on floor and the US on vault. Then, disaster struck. It’s as if the team fell apart the second they saw the vault. First, Shannon Miller stumbled and missed her landing, then Dominique Moceanu missed as well. With two missed vaults for the team, the last athlete, Kerri Strug, had to make her vault in order to even have a chance at the win for the US. The weight of the team was on Kerri and Kerri wasn’t known as the athlete who could put it all together and perform under great pressure…. As she prepared for her first vault, the eyes of 60,000 in attendance and the entire country were on her.

She missed. Kerri Strug missed her vault twisting her ankle and landing on her bum.

Kerri fell – badly – and appeared injured. She had one last chance and had to make it. There was no question as to whether she would do her second vault – the only question was how? On a badly injured ankle, while Bela Karolyi screamed ‘You can do it, Kerri! You can do it!’ from the sidelines, Kerri Strug attacked and stuck her second vault. She earned a score of 9.712 and sealed the gold medal for the US women – the first Team Gold for the US ever!

That night is as etched into my memory as the night that Mary Lou Retton captured the first ever gold in the All-Around at the 1984 Olympics with a vault that earned a perfect 10.

This morning, in honor of Mary Lou, the 1996 and 2012 US Women’s Gymnastic Teams, I made Gold Medal Egg Cups for my niece. This is an tweak on Rachel Ray’s Green Eggs and Ham….

Here’s what I did…

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees

2. lightly butter a muffin tin….use the standard size, a Texas Muffin Tin is too large

3. Cut the crusts off of 12 pieces of bread – white works best here

4. Carefully line each cup of the tin with one piece of the bread

5. Add a few shavings of a favorite cheese to each cup. We used cheddar this morning, but any melty cheese will work

6. Carefully crack one egg into each cup

7. Top each egg with a little salt and pepper and gently add a few more shavings of cheese

8. Bake for :15 minutes until eggs are set. At :15mins the yolks should still be runny.

My love (or obsession) with Olympics Gymnastics runs deep. My niece wasn’t even born when Kerri Strug vaulted the US Team to gold. Thank you 2012 US Women’s Gymnastics team for giving me a gold medal moment with one of my favorite people on the planet!