Posts Tagged ‘Secret Recipe Swap’

It’s time for another Surprise Recipe Swap! What is that, you ask? Each month participants are assigned another blog to choose a recipe from. It’s a secret, so we can’t say ahead of time which blog we have been assigned. Then, everyone posts their chosen recipes on the same day! Jutta, from Hungry Little Girl does a wonderful job with heading up this adventurous group…Thanks Jutta!

This month, I was assigned Anne’s blog: Domesblissity. Anne has a fun blog full of recipes (like this 3 minute microwave chocolate slice), crafts (like these cute stuffed bat toys), tips on reusing/recycling items, and detailed informative posts (like: 16 ways to use quinoa). I chose to make her Beef and Eggplant Lasagna. I am trying to eat more vegetables and this looked like a great way to do so. Also, I always make lasagna with ricotta cheese, so using a bechamel sauce was a little different- but delicious! I made some small changes to the recipe by using gluten-free noodles (which I had to cook ahead of time- Anne’s recipe calls for instant lasagna noodles). I also used cornstarch instead of flour in the bechamel sauce. The changes were equal changes, meaning, I didn’t have to adjust the quantities from the original recipe. So, if you are not concerned with gluten-free*, use the instant lasagna noodles that Anne’s recipe calls for, and use flour in the bechamel.

Beef and Eggplant Lasagna

Beef and Eggplant Lasagna
Lasagna recipe lightly adapted from Domesblissity
Bechamel recipe adapted from Food Network

1 pound ground beef
1 onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, finely diced
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 medium-sized eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 14oz. can diced tomatoes
1 cup beef stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups grated mozzarella, divided
Gluten-free lasagna noodles (I used Tinkyada noodles)
Olive oil

Bechamel sauce:
5 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the onions with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, until the onions are softened. Add in the ground beef and brown, then add in the garlic. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Lower the heat to medium-low and add in the basil, oregano, diced tomatoes, beef stock, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for at least 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place the eggplant slices into a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Using your hands, turn the slices around until they all have a light coating of oil on them (the centers may still look dry- that’s ok). Place the slices evenly onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove from the oven and set aside.

In a large stockpot, cook the lasagna noodles (if you aren’t using instant lasagna noodles) according to the directions.

Make the bechamel sauce:
In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once melted, whisk in the cornstarch. Continue whisking for 2 minutes. Slowly add in the milk, whisking continuously to avoid any lumps. Once all the milk has been added, bring to a boil, then boil for 10 minutes, all while whisking continuously. Remove from the heat and add in the salt and nutmeg.

To assemble the lasagna:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Add 1/4 of the meat sauce to the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Top with with 1/3rd of the pasta and eggplant, and 1/3 cup of mozzarella cheese. Repeat the layers, ending with the meat sauce. Top with the bechamel sauce. Bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle on the remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Return the lasagna to the oven for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and let set for 8-10 minutes before cutting. Enjoy!

*Disclaimer: I am not gluten-free, as you can tell by the dessert recipes that I post. However, I do find that I feel better if I reduce the amount of gluten that I eat. So I have started experimenting with some gluten-free noodles for our meals. If you are interested in gluten-free or grain-free recipes, please let me know and I can give you a list of blogs that have wonderful recipes!

Beef and Eggplant Lasagna

Made with love, not calories!


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This is my first month with the Secret Recipe Swap group, and I am excited! Each month participants are given a blog. From this blog, we get to pick one of their recipes to make and share with our audiences. Now, we have to keep this a secret. I can’t tell (ahead of time) which blog I have been assigned. Then, we all reveal our posts on the same day! A big Thank You goes out to Jutta, from the Hungry Little Girl, who is our recipe swap leader!

This month I was given the blog “Feeding Big“. After going through Cynthia’s blog and drooling over her Best Shrimp Recipe Ever, Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, and Best Ever Onion Strings, I decided on her Moist Caramel Apple Cupcakes! You know how fond I am of desserts! I made a few small changes to the recipe: I diced the apples instead of grating them (I was too lazy to get my box grater out) and I topped the cupcakes with a caramel buttercream frosting and a caramel drizzle instead of using melted caramels.

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

One Year Ago: Banana Boat Tarts

Caramel Apple Cupcakes
Recipe lightly adapted from Feeding Big via The Recipe Critic
Makes 12 cupcakes

1 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 Granny Smith or Rome apples, peeled and finely diced

Homemade Caramel Sauce:
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt

Caramel Buttercream Frosting:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/4 cup homemade caramel sauce
2 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line a cupcake pan with baking liners.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vanilla extract, and the eggs. Pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until everything comes together. Fold in the diced apples. Divide the batter evenly between the muffin liners. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and let cool completely.

To make the caramel sauce (can be made ahead of time):
In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar and water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring continuously. Once the mixture is boiling, stop stirring. Continue to boil until the sugar turns an amber color. Remove the pan from the heat and add in the butter and salt (this will bubble, so be careful). Whisk until all the butter has been incorporated, then add in the heavy cream. Again, the mixture will bubble, so whisk this carefully. If the caramel turns hard, put the pan over low heat and stir until the caramel has melted and the mixture is smooth. Strain the caramel sauce through a sieve into a heat-safe container. Refrigerate until needed.

To make the caramel buttercream:
In a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, cream together the butter and cooled caramel sauce. Add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Slowly add in the heavy cream until you have reached the desired frosting consistency.

Spoon the caramel buttercream into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Frost the cooled cupcakes, then drizzle on additional caramel sauce. Enjoy!

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

Made with love, not calories!

If you are interested in joining the Secret Recipe Club, please visit Hungry Little Girl!


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