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This week I'm in Chicago to celebrate the holidays with my family.  While I love to be home for the holidays, the brisk winter weather is always a bit difficult to adapt to.  However, it's nothing a hot cup of soup can't fix, so I'm serving just that for dinner tonight with today's featured recipe for two -- Lasagna Soup!

_Pepperoni and Italian Sausage Lasagna Soup
Total Time: 30 minutes
Prep: 5 minutes 
Cook: 25 minutes

What you'll need
1/2 pound Italian sausage (I used Jennie O Turkey Seasoned Italian Sausage.  It's amazing!!)
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1 can (about 14 ounces) Italian-style stewed tomatoes, chopped
10 ounces tomato sauce
1/2 cup uncooked mafalda pasta
1 cup spinach
1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, diced
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
2 teaspoons. thinly sliced fresh basil
1 teaspoon pepper


Directions
1. Brown sausage in a large soup-pot over medium heat.
2. Add onions and pepperoni; saut
é for 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir in garlic; sauté for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Add broth, stewed tomatoes (including juice), and tomato sauce, bring to a boil.
4. Drop in pasta and simmer until the pasta is cooked through, about 10 minutes.  

*Note -- if you can't find mafalda noodles you can also use lasagna noodles, just be sure to break the noodles into smaller peices before adding them to the soup.
5. Stir in spinach and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes.
6. Place 1/4 cup of the diced mozzarella into each soup bowl and pour soup on top. 
7. Garnish with Parmesan and basil.  Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Cuisine Tonight Magazine
 
 
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Tonight, I'll be making lasagna -- minus the tray of leftovers --  by creating my sister Colleen's pepperoni lasagna bowls.

There are so many things that I love about this recipe, the ricotta mixture, the marinara sauce, the pop of flavor from the pepperoni and of course the fact that it is made just for two. 

Pepperoni Lasagna Bowls
Total Time: 45-55 minutes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30-40 minutes

What you'll need
4 lasagna noodles, cooked
2 cups marinara sauce
2 cups fresh mozzarella cheese
16 slices pepperoni 
4 ounces ricotta cheese 
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon breadcrumbs
1 egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
2. In a small mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, parsley, garlic, breadcrumbs, egg yolk, salt and pepper.  Mix well. 
3. Add about 1 tablespoon of marinara sauce to the bottom of your oven safe  bowls (you can either use pre-made marinara sauce or you can use my recipe for marinara, which is listed in my marinara burger post).
4. Add 2 cooked lasagna noodles to each bowl.
5. Scoop about 1 to 2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture into each bowl.
6. Add another layer of marinara sauce and a layer of pepperoni slices. 
7. Top pepperoni with a thin slice of fresh mozzarella cheese. 
8. Fold one lasagna noodle over the mozzarella cheese. 
9. Repeat steps 5 and 6. Then, fold the second lasagna noodle over the pepperoni layer.  Top with mozzarella cheese. 
10. Bake covered for 30-40 minutes or until cheese and sauce begin to bubble.  Serve and enjoy!
 
 
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The Main Dish
Today marks the official launch of Reservation For Two, and I’m kicking things off with a hearty vegetable lasagna made just for two, and not a bite more.  

The key to cutting down a giant helping of noodles, sauce and cheese that makes family sized lasagna, is to ditch the lasagna tray.  Instead, I’ll be using 10-inch pieces of aluminum foil to hold together layers of noodles, vegetables, sauce and cheese baked into delightful, individual squares.    
The Side Dish
Given that lasagna is a pretty hefty meal on its own -- even when you reduce portions -- I’ll be serving the vegetable lasagna with zucchini, caprese skewers.  This light side dish will complement the main course, without overfilling your plate (or your stomach)!  Plus, the zucchini, caprese skewers are a great way to utilize some of the leftover ingredients.

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Let’s start cooking!  
I begin with a key element to good tasting lasagna, a great sauce.  I love this recipe because it is quick, easy and of course it tastes good too.

What you'll need
1 cup crushed tomatoes (I like Dei Fratelli all natural crushed tomatoes)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
salt and pepper

Directions
  1. In a medium saucepan heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic; saute for 2 to 3 minutes. 
  2. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, sugar, salt and pepper.  Mix well. 
  3. Bring to a boil.  Then, reduce heat to low.  Let simmer for about twenty minutes.

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While the sauce is simmering, I get started on the lasagna.  This recipe serves two, based on my husband having 2 pieces of lasagna and me having 1.
What you'll need
1 cup lasagna sauce
3 lasagna noodles, cooked and cut into thirds
3 x 1/8-inch thick slices of fresh mozzarella cheese
3 tablespoons boursin light garlic and herbs spreadable cheese
1/2 zucchini, diced
1/2 bell pepper, diced 
3/4 tomato, diced
cooking spray

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Directions
  1. Cut the zucchini in half.  Dice one half into quarters for the lasagna, and slice the other half into 1/4-inch thick pieces for the caprese skewers.  
  2. Once the noodles are cooked dry them out on a piece of foil so that they don’t stick together.  When the noodles are dry cut each noodle into thirds.
  3. Cut three 10-inch pieces of aluminum foil; lightly spray each foil piece with cooking spray, and apply a thin layer of sauce to the center to further prevent the lasagna from sticking.
  4. Instead of packing on layers of shredded cheese, I spread a thin layer (about 1/2 tablespoon) of boursin light garlic and herbs spreadable cheese onto one side of every other noodle third.  Cheese lovers, don’t fret, I do put one thin slice of mozzarella cheese in the center to maintain the gooey goodness that makes lasagna oh so delectable.
  5. Layer the lasagna
The Lineup:
• lasagna noodle with boursin spreadable cheese
• vegetables -- zucchini, bell pepper and tomato
• sauce
• lasagna noodle
• mozzarella cheese
• vegetables -- zucchini, bell pepper and tomato
• sauce
• lasagna noodle with boursin spreadable cheese 
 
6.    Fold each side of the foil square and create a packet.  Place each packet on a baking sheet and put them in the oven for about 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and the sauce begins to bubble.

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While the lasagna is baking I put together the zucchini, caprese skewers.  

What you'll need
1/2 zucchini, sliced
1/4 tomato, cut into 4 even pieces
1/4-inch thick slice of fresh mozzarella, cut into 4 even pieces 
1 fresh basil leaf, cut into 4 even pieces
balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
4 toothpicks
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Directions
  1. On each toothpick apply one tomato, one zucchini slice, basil and mozzarella.
  2. Lightly drizzle balsamic vinegar over each skewer.  Season with salt and pepper.  
  3. Place in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve. 

After about 30 minutes in the oven my lasagna packets are ready. I carefully scoop out each piece and place them alongside my zucchini, caprese skewers. Dinner is served!
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