The Baker Upstairs: 2021

4.06.2021

Raspberry Lemon Cake

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This gorgeous raspberry lemon cake has the most delicious combination of flavors. It's fresh and light, and perfect for spring!
This gorgeous raspberry lemon cake has the most delicious combination of flavors. It's fresh and light, and perfect for spring!
I am so excited to finally share my daughter Lizzy's birthday cake today! When she requested a raspberry lemon cake for her birthday, I was initially a little disappointed, because this tired mom had been hoping to persuade her to go with a Costco cake instead of a homemade cake. Her cute pleading face was too much for me, though, and I agreed to make a cake from scratch for her special day. It actually turned out to be a lot of fun to make, and the end result was probably the prettiest cake I've ever made. I'm not super confident in my cake decorating skills, so it was a wonderful boost to my confidence that I made a cake that was not only delicious, but looked gorgeous as well. Most importantly, the birthday girl was happy with it. I loved seeing her face when she came down and saw her cake on the table!
This gorgeous raspberry lemon cake has the most delicious combination of flavors. It's fresh and light, and perfect for spring!
Since I was just making the cake for the four of us, I cut the recipe in half to make three 6 inch layers, instead of the full recipe of three 8 inch layers. I still ended up with enough cake for three nights of dessert for us! I'll share the full recipe below, but know that it's pretty easy to scale down or up if you need to. I don't normally add too many embellishments to my cakes, but I couldn't resist these cute gold candles and cake topper from Target. Lizzy kept telling me how magical her cake was, so I definitely made the right choice!
This gorgeous raspberry lemon cake has the most delicious combination of flavors. It's fresh and light, and perfect for spring!
The lemon cake is adapted from a vanilla cake recipe I tried several months ago and sent to work with my husband. All of his co-workers raved about it and asked for the recipe, so I knew it was a keeper. I wanted to keep the lemon flavor in the cake light and not overwhelming, and I think it worked out really well. The raspberry buttercream is made with fresh raspberries, and has the most amazing raspberry flavor! All of that beautiful rich color comes from the raspberry puree, and I love that there's no artificial colors or flavor added. For the filling I also used some homemade raspberry jam that we canned last summer after berry picking, but store-bought jam will also work just fine. 
This gorgeous raspberry lemon cake has the most delicious combination of flavors. It's fresh and light, and perfect for spring!
The cake layers are so light and tender, with a sweet buttery flavor and that perfect kiss of lemon. The raspberry buttercream is sweet and just slightly tart, and coordinates beautifully with the raspberry jam. I don't have any really great tips for frosting the cake except to do a crumb coat on the outside (a thin coat of icing to seal all of the crumbs in), refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes or so, and then add a thicker layer of frosting on the outside. As tempting as it is to skip that step, it really does make all the difference in the finished product. My cake decorating skills are very much still in progress, but I'm okay with that.
This gorgeous raspberry lemon cake has the most delicious combination of flavors. It's fresh and light, and perfect for spring!
This cake has a fair amount of steps and felt a little overwhelming at first, but it was pretty easy for me to break it down into smaller tasks. I made the layers of the cake in the morning and left them on the counter to cool. In the late afternoon, I made the frosting, assembled the cake, and did the crumb coat. I left the cake in the fridge until I was ready to decorate it after dinner, then finished frosting it and added the fresh raspberries and the decorations. That made it easier for me to fit in feeding the baby multiple times, going out to lunch, wrapping gifts, and playing at the park, all important parts of our day. Everyone loved the cake, especially the birthday girl, so I definitely think we will be making it again soon!
This gorgeous raspberry lemon cake has the most delicious combination of flavors. It's fresh and light, and perfect for spring!
Raspberry Lemon Cake

for the lemon cake:
2 cups sugar
zest of two lemons
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
3 large eggs + 2 egg whites, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 2/3 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

for the raspberry buttercream:
12 ounces (2 small packages) fresh raspberries
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
5 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons cream or half and half
1 cup raspberry jam
fresh raspberries, for decorating

Preheat the oven to 350. Line three 8 inch cake pans with parchment and spray with cooking spray. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, rub the lemon zest into the sugar until fragrant. Add the butter and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and egg whites, vanilla, and lemon juice, and mix until well blended. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk, and mix just until combined. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake 23-26 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Move to a cooling rack and cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, puree the raspberries using a blender or food processor. Strain the raspberries through a sieve to remove the seeds. Add the butter to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, and beat unti light and fluffy. Add the raspberry puree and powdered sugar, and mix until combined. Add cream as needed to make a smooth frosting. Beat on high speed until light and fluffy.

To assemble the cake, level each of the cake layers. Place a cake layer on a serving platter or cake stand and spread a 1/4 inch thick layer of frosting over the top. Pipe a ring of frosting around the edges of the cake layer to hold in the jam. Spread 1/2 cup of raspberry jam evenly over the buttercream. Repeat with the next cake layer, then top with the remaining cake layer. Spread a thin coat of frosting over and around the cake to seal in the crumbs. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. After the frosting has set, spread a thicker layer of frosting around the sides and top of the cake, then decorate as desired (I just did little dollops with an open star tip). Refrigerate any leftover cake.
This gorgeous raspberry lemon cake has the most delicious combination of flavors. It's fresh and light, and perfect for spring!

4.02.2021

Mini Bacon Breakfast Pizzas

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These mini bacon breakfast pizzas are so delicious and flavorful, and perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
These mini bacon breakfast pizzas are so delicious and flavorful, and perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
I've been having a really hard time coming up with ideas for dinner every night in the last few months. I usually sit down once a week and make a menu plan and grocery list, and order grocery pickup for the next day. Because I've been so tired in the past few months with the baby keeping me up at night, it has been gotten harder to think of new ideas, and we've been in a total rut of eating the same things over and over. I decided to ask my older kids which of my recipes are their favorites, and to my surprise, they filled up a whole page with all of their favorite foods. I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't just mac and cheese and cookies! They had also included things like hazelnut green beans and fruit salad. At the top of their list was bacon breakfast pizza. I was a little surprised that they both love it so much, since it's totally easy to make, and we usually have all of the ingredients on hand already.

My daughter Lizzy requested that I come up with a mini version of their favorite breakfast pizza so she could have her own pizza all to herself for her birthday, and I was happy to do it. The mini pizzas turned out so cute, and they're the perfect serving size for one person. I served them with baby carrots and ranch on the side (another of Lizzy's favorites) and it was a totally delicious birthday dinner!
These mini bacon breakfast pizzas are so delicious and flavorful, and perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
I like the yolks of my eggs soft but not runny, but you can adjust the baking time to your preference. If you'd like them more runny, I would suggest cooking the pizzas for around 6 minutes, and 8-9 minutes if you like them more firm. If you're very concerned about the eggs being cooked all the way through, you can also scramble the egg before you pour it into the center of the pizza. In that case, it should be fully cooked in about 7 minutes. If you're using a scrambled egg, you'll want to be extra careful to build a solid dam of cheese around the edges of the pizza so the egg doesn't run out and burn all over your oven. We love ours with bacon, but you could also use diced ham, crumbled sausage, sautéed mushrooms and/or peppers, or just cheese. They're delicious no matter what!
Mini Bacon Breakfast Pizzas

for the dough:
3/4 cup warm water
1/2 tablespoon yeast
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon corn meal

for the toppings:
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
4 large eggs
salt and pepper to taste
fresh parsley (for garnish)

Preheat the oven to 500 with a pizza stone or overturned cookie sheet inside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the water, yeast, and sugar. Let sit five minutes, or until bubbly. Add the flour and salt, and mix until a dough forms. Knead gently, adding more flour as needed, to form a soft dough. Cover and let rest 15 minutes.

Sprinkle a piece of parchment paper or a pizza peel with corn meal. Divide the dough into four equal sized balls. Spread each ball of the pizza dough into a 6 inch circle, using your fingers to make an indented border around the outside edge. Brush the pizza dough generously with the olive oil. Sprinkle the cheese and bacon around the edge of the dough, leaving an open space in the middle for the egg. Crack an egg into the center of each mini pizza, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Carefully transfer the pizzas to the pizza stone or overturned cookie sheet using a pizza peel or large cutting board. Bake 7-8 minutes, or until the egg whites are set and the crust is golden brown. Remove the pizzas from the oven, and sprinkle with fresh parsley. Serve hot.
These mini bacon breakfast pizzas are so delicious and flavorful, and perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

3.30.2021

Birthday Cake Waffles

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These birthday cake waffles are so delicious, easy to make, and perfect for a special birthday breakfast!
These birthday cake waffles are so delicious, easy to make, and perfect for a birthday breakfast!
My daughter Lizzy celebrated her tenth birthday earlier this month, and was pretty dismayed to realize that she would have to have a second pandemic-style birthday. Last year everything shut down for us on her actual birthday, and this year we are still being extra cautious about exposure to germs since we have a new baby in the house. She had really hoped for a birthday party with friends this year, but it just wasn't in the cards. I'm hoping we can do an outdoor celebration this summer and she can finally have the party she deserves, but for now I just gave her a list of options for the day and let her decide what she wanted to do. Since she has a somewhat bossy older sister who likes to make decisions for her, she was pretty excited to be the one in charge for the whole day! 

Lizzy chose homemade birthday cake waffles for breakfast, take-out burritos and ice cream for lunch, and homemade bacon breakfast pizza for dinner, with a raspberry lemon cake and mint chocolate chip ice cream for dessert. We played at the park in the afternoon, per her request, and watched her favorite movie after dinner as a family. It was probably not the most exciting birthday she has ever had, but I think she had a great time anyway. I'm excited to share some of the recipes I made for her over the next little while, since everything turned out totally delicious!
These birthday cake waffles are so delicious, easy to make, and perfect for a birthday breakfast!
Lizzy absolutely loves anything with sprinkles, so these birthday cake waffles were the perfect special birthday breakfast for her! They taste just like cake batter, with light and fluffy middles and crisp edges. I used my mini waffle maker so she could have a tall stack of waffles on her plate, but you could easily make these in a regular size waffle maker if you prefer. This recipe makes about 4 cups of batter, which is enough for 16 mini waffles or 4 large Belgian waffles. (Since every waffle maker is different, use the recommendations for your own brand of waffle maker.)  To keep the waffles more crisp, I like to preheat the oven to 200 while the waffle maker is heating. I put the cooked waffles on a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet, and keep them in the warm oven while the other waffles are cooking. 
These birthday cake waffles are so delicious, easy to make, and perfect for a birthday breakfast!
I served our waffles with fresh strawberries and whipped cream on top (plus a few extra sprinkles!) and the birthday girl was totally thrilled. They were the perfect breakfast for celebrating our newly minted ten year old!
Birthday Cake Waffles

1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
1 3/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup dry white or yellow cake mix
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup sprinkles (I like to use multi-color jimmies)

Add the butter and buttermilk to a small bowl or measuring cup, and heat in the microwave for one minute and thirty seconds, or until the butter is melted. Whisk in the vanilla and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until fluffy. Add the milk mixture and stir to combine. Add the flour, cake mix, baking powder, salt, and sugar, and mix until just combined (small lumps are ok). Let sit five minutes. While the batter is resting, preheat your waffle iron. Stir in the sprinkles just before cooking. Add the batter and cook according to your waffle maker's directions. For my mini waffle maker, 1/4 cup of batter cooked for 2-3 minutes was perfect.
These birthday cake waffles are so delicious, easy to make, and perfect for a birthday breakfast!

3.26.2021

Easter Dinner Menu Plan

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This simple and delicious Easter dinner menu plan has everything you need to make an unforgettable holiday meal!
This simple and delicious Easter dinner menu plan has everything you need to make an unforgettable holiday meal!
Is it just me, or has Easter really crept up on us this year? I don't know if it's just because of the pandemic, or the sleep deprivation that comes with having a new baby, but this winter has felt totally endless. I can't believe it is officially spring now! I have done exactly nothing to get ready for Easter, which is especially bad now that I have three Easter baskets to fill and three cute girls to find Easter dresses for. If you are in the same boat and looking for some Easter inspiration, I've got you covered food-wise at least! I'm sharing my own Easter dinner menu plan below, full of my favorite (easy!) recipes to make your Easter dinner extra special. I have everything you need to put together a great meal, from appetizers to side dishes to dessert. I'm hoping I can get my act together enough to pull those Easter baskets together by next week, but if not at least we'll have some delicious food to eat!
 

These deviled eggs are one of my favorite appetizers year-round, and they are perfect for using up those eggs from your Easter egg hunt. The everything bagel seasoning makes them over the top delicious!
This simple and delicious Easter dinner menu plan has everything you need to make an unforgettable holiday meal!

This bacon cheddar cheeseball is a favorite with my whole family. I think my kids would eat it for every meal if I let them! One of the best things about it is that you can make it the day before and then put it out to snack on while you're getting the rest of the meal ready. 
This simple and delicious Easter dinner menu plan has everything you need to make an unforgettable holiday meal!

This slow cooker brown sugar ham is super duper easy to make, with only a few minutes of hands-on time. The leftovers also freeze wonderfully!
This simple and delicious Easter dinner menu plan has everything you need to make an unforgettable holiday meal!

These rolls are so soft and fluffy, with the best flavor! They are also perfect for making sandwiches with the leftover ham... so delicious!
This simple and delicious Easter dinner menu plan has everything you need to make an unforgettable holiday meal!

This cheesy potato casserole is made from totally from scratch, and I think it's even more delicious than the more traditional condensed soup version. It's a big pan of cheesy goodness!
This simple and delicious Easter dinner menu plan has everything you need to make an unforgettable holiday meal!

These hazelnut green beans are one of my favorite vegetable sides. The combination of green beans and hazelnuts is so delicious, and they're so easy to make, too!
This simple and delicious Easter dinner menu plan has everything you need to make an unforgettable holiday meal!

These simple roasted carrots are perfect for Easter dinner, and take almost no time to put together. The carrots get so mellow and sweet as they roast!
This simple and delicious Easter dinner menu plan has everything you need to make an unforgettable holiday meal!

This coconut layer cake is so light and fluffy, with the perfect amount of coconut flavor. It's beautiful and festive, and perfect for celebrating spring!
This simple and delicious Easter dinner menu plan has everything you need to make an unforgettable holiday meal!

This fresh strawberry lemonade is so easy to make, and tastes even better than restaurant lemonade. The juicy sweet berries and tart lemonade are the perfect combination!
This simple and delicious Easter dinner menu plan has everything you need to make an unforgettable holiday meal!
Happy Easter!

3.24.2021

Pull-Apart Rolls

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These light and soft pull-apart rolls are so delicious, and easy to make, too! They're the perfect dinner roll!
These light and soft pull-apart rolls are so delicious, and easy to make, too! They're the perfect dinner roll!
I really thought that I had reached absolute roll perfection with my perfect crescent rolls. I've been making them for years, and they turn out consistently perfect. They're beautiful, light and fluffy, and they taste amazing. Why in the world would I need another roll recipe? I mean, sure, there are my one hour rolls (which are by far the most popular post on my blog) and they're great for when I need rolls quickly. And there are the Lion House rolls that remind me of my wedding luncheon, and are totally delicious. But really, how many roll recipes does a girl need? I've been really content with the recipes I already have. And then I saw these rolls on my friend Melissa's blog, and couldn't stop thinking about them. And then I made them and my family basically inhaled them, and now we have another favorite roll recipe! I've made them three or four times in the last couple of months, and they are just so good!
These light and soft pull-apart rolls are so delicious, and easy to make, too! They're the perfect dinner roll!
These rolls are a little quicker to make than my crescent rolls, and I like that they are easier to shape. I'm a little neurotic about all of my rolls being exactly the same size, so I always use a kitchen scale, but if you are less of a perfectionist than I am, the process will go even faster. As with all yeast doughs, the key is to use the right amount of flour. Too much flour, and your rolls will be dense and heavy, too little and the dough will be hard to work with and your rolls won't hold their shape. I've found that my dough has the perfect amount of flour when it pulls away from the sides of the bowl, and I can tap it quickly with my finger and it doesn't stick. Be sure to add the flour little by little, so you don't accidentally add too much.
These light and soft pull-apart rolls are so delicious, and easy to make, too! They're the perfect dinner roll!
These pull-apart rolls have the perfect light and fluffy texture, with beautiful round golden brown tops. They smell totally amazing while they're baking! I love that they are simple enough to make for a weeknight dinner when you have a little extra time on your hands, but delicious enough to make for a holiday or special occasion dinner. The leftovers (if there are any) still taste great the next day, and we like to use them to make sandwiches with leftover turkey or ham. These rolls are so good!
These light and soft pull-apart rolls are so delicious, and easy to make, too! They're the perfect dinner roll!
Pull-Apart Rolls

2 cups milk
1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons instant yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs
6 1/2 - 7 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Add the milk and butter to a microwave safe bowl or measuring cup and heat until the butter is melted, about 1-2 minutes. Pour the milk and butter into a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the yeast, warm water, and sugar, and stir to combine. Let rest five minutes. Add the salt, eggs, and 3 cups of flour, and mix to combine. Add additional flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and is only slightly sticky to the touch when tapped lightly. Knead five minutes. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise for 30 minutes.

After the dough has risen, gently punch the dough down and divide into 32 even pieces (I like to use my kitchen scale so they are all the same size). Roll each piece of dough into a ball and place on a baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes. While the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 400. Bake the rolls for 15-17 minutes, until golden brown. Brush the rolls with the melted butter immediately after baking.

adapted slightly from Bless this Mess
These light and soft pull-apart rolls are so delicious, and easy to make, too! They're the perfect dinner roll!

3.18.2021

Cranberry Orange Muffins

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These soft and tender cranberry orange muffins are the perfect blend of tart and sweet!
These soft and tender cranberry orange muffins are the perfect blend of tart and sweet!
It's finally starting to feel like spring these days and I'm so excited for the change! It has been a very long, very difficult winter for me, and I'm happy to have warmer days and sunshine on the horizon. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I am still really into baking muffins right now, and these cranberry orange muffins have such a bright and delicious flavor. I know it's not typical to think of cranberry as being a spring flavor, but these muffins are so sweet and tart, and the flavor is just like sunshine!
These soft and tender cranberry orange muffins are the perfect blend of tart and sweet!
I recently discovered the base recipe for these muffins, and it is my new absolute favorite. I've been experimenting with adding different flavors (blueberry muffins coming soon to the blog!) and the combination of cranberry and orange is absolutely fabulous. These muffins have such a light and tender texture, with the perfect balance of sweet and tart flavors. They keep well for several days in an airtight container, so I can make a big batch early in the week and we can have them on hand for easy breakfasts on school mornings. 
These soft and tender cranberry orange muffins are the perfect blend of tart and sweet!
The recipe for these muffins can easily be halved or doubled, depending on how many muffins you need. They also freeze well, so they're a great make-ahead breakfast. I used frozen cranberries because I had several bags of them in my freezer already, but you can use fresh cranberries instead if they're available. If you decide to use dried cranberries, I would suggest reducing the amount to about 3/4 cup. These muffins have such a delicious combination of flavors, and I love that they're so easy to make!
These soft and tender cranberry orange muffins are the perfect blend of tart and sweet!
Cranberry Orange Muffins

1 cup sugar
zest of one orange
2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, cut in half
1 cup buttermilk
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Preheat the oven to 425. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners. In a large bowl, rub the orange zest into the sugar until fragrant. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, and whisk to combine. Toss the cranberries with the flour mixture until coated. In a medium bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, melted butter, oil, eggs, and orange juice. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Scoop into the prepared muffin tin, filling 2/3 full. Bake 15-28 minutes, until golden on top.
These soft and tender cranberry orange muffins are the perfect blend of tart and sweet!

3.16.2021

Butternut Squash Soup

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This delicious and flavorful butternut squash soup has a silky smooth texture, and is so easy to make!
 
This delicious and flavorful butternut squash soup has a silky smooth texture, and is so easy to make!

I know we're getting to the tail end of soup season and it's starting to be warm and sunny out, but I'm just going to keep making my beloved soup for dinner at least once a week. There really is nothing more comforting to me than a warm bowl of soup! This butternut squash soup recipe is one that I discovered about a year ago, and it has been on repeat on my dinner menu ever since. It's super healthy (as long as you don't count the topping...), incredibly flavorful, and has the most delicious texture. My kids are always a little wary of new foods, but they loved this soup from the very first spoonful and they request it regularly. It's simple enough for a weeknight dinner, but fancy enough for company (assuming it ever happens that we can have friends over for dinner). 

The topping for the soup is a little unique, but it adds so much delicious flavor! I found already diced prosciutto at Fred Meyer (my local Kroger store) in the deli section, which makes the topping quick and easy to make. The prosciutto gets crisp and delicious, and tastes almost like bacon on top of the soup. The crispy sage leaves are to die for! A splash of cream makes it even more delicious (and you really can't go wrong with adding cream to anything, right?). This soup makes enough for two meals for my family, and it freezes beautifully. We love it so much that I try to always have some on hand in the freezer for when the craving strikes!

This delicious and flavorful butternut squash soup has a silky smooth texture, and is so easy to make!

Butternut Squash Soup

for the soup:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
4 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt

for the topping:
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 ounces diced prosciutto
1 bunch of fresh sage leaves
salt
fresh cream

Heat the olive oil in a heavy stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the carrot, celery, onion, and garlic, and cook until the vegetables are softened. Add the butternut squash, potato, chicken broth, brown sugar, and salt to the pot. Bring the soup to a simmer, then reduce the heat and continue to simmer for 30-40 minutes until the squash is soft and easily pierced with a fork. Remove the soup from the heat and puree using an immersion blender or in batches in a blender (be sure to remove the center cap from the blender to allow steam to vent).

To make the topping, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Add the prosciutto and cook until crispy, then remove to paper towels to drain. Add the sage to the skillet and cook until crisp, then sprinkle with salt. Serve the soup with prosciutto and sage sprinkled on top, and a drizzle of fresh cream.

adapted slightly from Our Best Bites

This delicious and flavorful butternut squash soup has a silky smooth texture, and is so easy to make!

3.11.2021

The Best Lasagna

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This delicious lasagna is truly the best! The recipe makes two pans, so it's easy to bake one and put another in the freezer for later!
This delicious lasagna is truly the best! The recipe makes two pans, so it's easy to bake one and put another in the freezer for later!
When we welcomed our baby girl in October, we were so blessed to have multiple friends drop off dinner for us over the next few weeks. I had a tough go of it postpartum, and those meals were a lifesaver for me when I was exhausted and having a hard time keeping everything together. I had stocked the freezer before she was born with some easy to prepare meals for my husband to make, but it meant so much to me that people around us brought us food. Having food prepared for me makes me feel so loved and taken care of. Now that I'm feeling a little better, I'm on the lookout for friends or neighbors who might need a meal so I can pay it forward!

One of my favorite meals that was brought to us (although they were all incredibly delicious!) was a lasagna from one of my husband's co-workers, Stephanie. She piled it high with a delicious meaty sauce, loads of cheese, and tender noodles. She brought over a giant pan for us, and I ate it for pretty much every lunch and dinner until it was finally gone. (I think I cried when my husband told me the pan was empty, though that may have just been the postpartum hormones...) As soon as I felt like cooking again, I asked her for the recipe, and she was happy to share!
This delicious lasagna is truly the best! The recipe makes two pans, so it's easy to bake one and put another in the freezer for later!
My version of the lasagna isn't exactly the same as Stephanie's recipe, but it has all of the things I loved about it... a rich and flavorful meaty sauce and loads of gooey cheese! I used my trusty meat sauce recipe, and it worked fantastically in this lasagna. Since the meat sauce recipe makes a ton, I decided to make a giant batch of lasagna so I could store the extra in the freezer. This recipe will make enough for four 9 x 9 dishes, or two 9 x 13 dishes. One 9 x 9 dish of lasagna will serve my family of four for dinner, with enough left over for two adult lunches the next day. 
This delicious lasagna is truly the best! The recipe makes two pans, so it's easy to bake one and put another in the freezer for later!
I used no-bake lasagna noodles (I like Barilla brand) to eliminate a step and make things easier. I love the tender texture they give to the finished product! It's important to use whole milk ricotta, because reduced fat ricotta has more water in it and will make your lasagna a soupy mess. For the sauce, I like to use a mix of mild Italian sausage and ground beef, but you can use all sausage or all beef. Stephanie told me she sometimes makes it with ground lamb, and it's extra delicious that way!
This delicious lasagna is truly the best! The recipe makes two pans, so it's easy to bake one and put another in the freezer for later!
The recipe looks like a lot of steps, but it's really simple once you get started. To make things even easier, you could definitely make the sauce and ricotta mixture one day, and assemble the lasagnas the next day. To store the extra lasagna in the freezer, I assemble it in a disposable foil container, wrap the top tightly in plastic wrap, then cover it with foil. When I'm ready to bake, I just remove the plastic wrap, replace the foil, and put it in the oven. The frozen lasagna takes usually takes about 10-15 minutes longer to cook than a fresh lasagna. I always write the instructions on the foil so if someone else (like my husband) is baking it, they'll know what to do (and not accidentally bake it with the plastic wrap on - ugh!). 
This delicious lasagna is truly the best! The recipe makes two pans, so it's easy to bake one and put another in the freezer for later!
This lasagna is completely delicious! Every single layer is flavorful and delightful, and all together it is just comfort food at its best. I can't imagine making lasagna any other way from here on out!
This delicious lasagna is truly the best! The recipe makes two pans, so it's easy to bake one and put another in the freezer for later!
The Best Lasagna

for the sauce:
1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound mild Italian sausage
2 teaspoons minced garlic
4 cups beef broth
1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

for the ricotta layer:
2 large containers (30 ounces each) whole milk ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano

to assemble:
2 pounds mozzarella cheese, freshly shredded
2 boxes (9 ounces each) oven ready lasagna noodles

To make the sauce, brown the ground beef and Italian sausage in a large heavy pot or dutch oven over medium heat, breaking them into smaller pieces as they cook. When all of the meat is browned, add the garlic to the pot and cook until fragrant. Add the beef broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, salt, basil, and Worcestershire sauce to the pot, and stir well to combine. Bring the sauce to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer for 30-40 minutes, until the sauce is thickened. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before assembling the lasagna. To make the ricotta layer, in a large bowl, mix together the ricotta, eggs, salt, basil, and oregano until well combined. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the lasagnas.

To make two 9 x 13 pans of lasagna:

Preheat the oven to 350. Spread a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of each baking dish. Add a layer of four noodles to the bottom of each pan (it's okay if they overlap a little). Spread about 2 1/2 cups of the ricotta mixture on top of the noodles in each pan. Spread about 2 cups of the remaining sauce on top of each layer of ricotta, then sprinkle each pan with 1 cup of the shredded mozzarella. Add another layer of noodles to each pan, followed by the remaining ricotta. Add a third layer of noodles to each pan, top with the remaining sauce, and sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese on top. Cover with foil and bake for 60 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes, until hot and bubbling.

To make four 9 x 9 pans of lasagna:

Preheat the oven to 350. Spread a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of each baking dish. Add a layer of two noodles to the bottom of each pan. Spread about 1 1/4 cups of the ricotta mixture on top of the noodles in each pan. Spread about one cup of the sauce on top of each layer of ricotta, then sprinkle each pan with 1/2 cup of the shredded mozzarella. Add another layer of noodles to each pan, followed by the remaining ricotta. Add a third layer of noodles to each pan, top with the remaining sauce, and sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese on top. Cover with foil and bake for 60 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes, until hot and bubbling.
This delicious lasagna is truly the best! The recipe makes two pans, so it's easy to bake one and put another in the freezer for later!