Train Counting Puzzle

Does your little one love trains?  How about puzzles?  Let’s add some counting to the mix for good measure, and we get a Train Counting Puzzle.  My inspiration for this was the Caterpillar Counting Puzzle I talked about yesterday.

This is what we did.

I cut three cereal boxes into squares/rectangles.  I thought Jamie’s idea for painting in a baggy was a brilliant idea.  So we tried it.

Aiden pretty much hated it.  I tried to sell the idea by showing him how the paint squished around.  I even pulled out a rolling pin so he could flatten it.  Yeah, not so much.  He wanted to use a paint brush.  This didn’t work in the baggy, so he just opened the bag and that was the end of that brilliant idea.  Maybe it will work for you though.  Jamie’s toddler loved it.

I gave in and let Aiden paint with a sponge brush not in a baggy.  I squirted some paint onto the cardboard and he went to town asking for more paint ever so often.

Aiden would choose to have all of the colors on every cardboard piece if I let him.  Did you notice that on his paper bag art piece?  Most everything he paints turns out gray.

I carefully limited his color choices so we would be able to vary the colors of the train.  I did let him use all of the colors on a couple of the pieces.

I painted edges after Aiden was done painting each cardboard piece.

We let the cardboard pieces dry while we went off to play.

Later, I turned our painted pieces into train cars and an engine.  I rounded corners on some of the cars and cut various shapes out to make the train.  I had a super fun time cutting out the circles.  I had a few circles leftover from our Valentine Matching Games, but not enough for all of the train.  I should have pulled out my Silhouette to let it cut out the circles for me.  Instead I traced the bottom of a paint bottle and cut the circles by hand.

I put together the engine and glued on the wheels.

Now for the puzzle creating part.  I just cut out a random shape from a train car and attached it to the car/engine in front with a skinny rectangle in between.While I was turning the train into a puzzle, Aiden decided it would be a good idea to color on the train cars with crayons.  Who am I to stop him?

I put the train puzzle in order and numbered the cars.  Then, I added animal stickers to each car.  Train car number 1 received one bear sticker, train car number 2 was allowed two snake stickers, etc…  Aiden was off doing something else at this point, otherwise I would have had him add the stickers to the train cars.

That’s it!  Aiden put the train together and we counted the animals as he did this.  Then, he decided it would be fun to march around the train to “The Ants Go Marching,” so, of course, I broke out in song so he could march.

Left click on the train image to view a bigger size.

We paired the train counting puzzle with some books as well.

We read 1, 2, 3 to the Zoo by Eric Carle  {It’s a counting book about a train full of animals – how fitting!}

We also read Skippyjon Jones 1, 2, 3 {a board book that counts some of the things a naughty kitty gets into}

Lastly, we read a Thomas the Train lift the flap book.  No numbers or counting in this one {except for the numbers on Thomas and James}, but it is fun to see the things under the flaps.  You could always count the things you find.

I’m linking up with my favorite places.

What are your favorite train or counting books? {bonus for both}

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Aiden’s Room: Wall Decals and Bookcase

Have you ever used wall decals or stencils in your decorating?
Before Aiden was born, I saw found these Alphabet Zoo Re-Stik Wall Decals from Blik.
I fell in love with the animals and the blue color.
I bought them and decorated Aiden’s nursery with them. {no clue where pictures of his nursery went.}

Because they are the Re-Stik kind of wall decals, I was able to take them down and move them with us to Florida.
I finally got around to putting them in his new room.  {View the empty house tour here.}
In our old house, the wall was painted blue, but here the bedroom walls are just white.
I wasn’t up for painting yet, so I just put the wall decals up.

The Re-Stik decals went on just as easily the second time around.
You should really keep the plastic backing they come on,
but somehow I neglected to do so.
All that was available {and not packed} was wax paper,
so we {and by we I really mean one of my nice friends} carefully placed the decals on the wax paper.
I was a little worried the decals wouldn’t come of the wax paper and I wouldn’t be able to reuse them.
Thankfully, they came off easily.

What do you think?

I like placing the decals above the bed because I’m a little paranoid about hanging something on that wall.  Will it fall down on top of Aiden?  Yeah, probably an unfounded fear, but still…the decals make me feel better.

Also on this wall is a bookcase {securely attached to the wall}.

When we sold our house in Missouri, my friend helped me stage it.  {It sold in 4 days btw.}
One thing she taught me was staging a bookcase.
Do you see what I’ve done?

Here are a few tips:

  • Don’t pack the bookshelf with books from edge to edge.
  • Vary the way you stack books.  Stack some shelves horizontally and some vertically.
  • Place objects {toys in my case} on top of books or in the empty spaces next to the books.
  • If you’re not staging to sell, do whatever is pleasing to you.
  • If you are staging to sell, do whatever is pleasing to most.

I’ll share more of Aiden’s room another day.

Thanks for dropping by!
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Paper Bag Creative Challenge

What fun can you have with a paper bag?  That is essentially the challenge from Tinkerlab: Grab a paper bag and some other materials and see what your child will create.

Before we started with the paper bag, we went outside to gather some supplies.
Aiden collected rocks and acorns from our front yard.

I cut up the paper bag to make a canvas for his creation.

I set up some watercolor paints {we later broke out some different paints}.

Here’s how the art piece progressed:

Aiden started by finger painting with the watercolors.

Then, he grabbed a brush.

He wanted to move on to different paints, so he mixed them up and used a sponge brush to paint some of the rocks and acorns we collected along with the paper bag.

We had some cut out shapes leftover from our Valentine Matching Games.  Aiden applied those to the art piece as well.

We also crumpled up a coffee filter we painted and added it to the corner.

Here’s the final product:

It was definitely about the process for us:
Searching for rocks and acorns outside;
Playing with shapes and colors;
Combined with the sensory experience of painting
Makes for a fun time!

”Tinkerlab”

Here are some of the blogs that are taking part in this challenge:

Paint Cut Paste, Imagination Soup, Hands On: As We Grow, Child Central Station, Putti Prapancha, Irresistible Ideas for Play-Based Learning, Teach Preschool, The Chocolate Muffin Tree, Nurture Store, Small Types,Make Do & Friend, The Imagination Tree, Toddler Approved, Red Ted Art, Mommy Labs, Kids in the Studio, Rainy Day Mum, Glittering Muffins, Sense of Wonder, Mom To 2 Posh Lil Divas, Come Together Kids, My Creative Family, Kitchen Counter Chronicles, A Mom With A Lesson Plan, Angelique Felix, The Golden Gleam, Share and Remember, Clarion Wren, Living at the Whitehead’s Zoo, Let Kids Create, De tout et de rien, PlayDrMom, Creativity My Passion, Messy Kids, Kiwi Crate, Tinkerlab

Check out what they are doing.


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1. Where the Wild Things Are, RTA
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2. Valentine Animals on Bag
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3. Mini Coloring Book

4. Paper Bag Monsters
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5. Child Directed Projects
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6. Paper Bag Puppets & Literacy
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7. Paper bag dress with hanger
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8. Paper Bag Windsock
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9. Paper Bag Thankful Book
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10. Paper bag bean bags
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11. Paper Bag Princesses
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12. paper bag weaving
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13. Bark george: Origami Dog play
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14. Paper Bag Heart Gifts
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15. paper bag purse
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16. Paper Bag Fan
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17. Stuffed Puffy Heart
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18. Paper Bag Fairy Dresses
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19. Paper Bag Valentine Satchel
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20. A Clowns Hat
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21. Paper Bag Angry Birds
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22. Paper Bag Knights Helmet
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23. Childrens Art Lanterns
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24. Hot Air Balloon Night Light
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25. Patterned paper heart banner
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26. paper bag envelopes
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27. Paper Bag Walnut Grove
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28. A Hunt for Love
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29. Gruffalo paper bag
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30. Cave art
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31. Tall Giraffe Puppet Tutorial
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32. Paper Bag Backpack
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33. Painted Paper Bag Fairy Book
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34. Mystery Bag

35. Paper Bag Art
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36. Simple Paper Bag Weaving
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37. Paper Bag Love Owl
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38. Paper Bag Love Bomb
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39. Valentines Bags for 2s
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40. Bag Vests w Design Papers: LUV
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41. Handcrafted Bangles from paper
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42. LOVE Luminaries
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43. Small play hut from Paper Bag
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44. Goldfish Bag Puppet Tutorial
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45. Hungry Paper Bag Lion
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46. Paper Bag Painted Rose Bouquet
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47. Learning Color Words

48. Paper Bag Boat
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49. Ferocious Paper Bag
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50. Josephs Colored Coat
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51. Paper Bag Whale
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52. My Book of Colors
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53. Stained Glass Paperbag
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54. Letter Monster
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55. Tinkerlab Challenge Rules
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56. Paper Bag Chrysalides
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57. Bird Nest
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58. Paper Bag Museum
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59. Paper Bag Hat
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60. Paper Bag & Valentine Mail Box
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61. Whats in the Bag?
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62. Heart Lamp Shade Cover
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63. Paper bag vines
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64. Rubble – construction craft
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65. Paper Bag Playground
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66. I Lov U Sensory PaperBag
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67. Paper Bag Turkey
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68. Distressed Paper Bag Art
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69. Paper bag vines
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70. Paper bag Valentines card
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71. mixed media valentine
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72. printing on brown paper bags
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73. paper bag gift tags
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74. Lunchbag Gift Bag
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75. Paper Bag Cheese
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76. Sweet Little Heart Village
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77. 4 Ways to Recycle Paper Bags
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78. paper bag valentine lantern
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Do you have any creative ideas for paper bags? 

Visit Tinkerlab to join in on the fun.  Submit your idea to the Pinterest contest.

Thanks for stopping by!
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Veggie and Egg Toast Cups

Remember when I was trying to figure out recipes for Christmas breakfast?  I made toast cups inspired by this recipe from Martha originally pinned here.  Although, I made mine without any bacon and without any salt (my father-in-law is on a low sodium diet).  They were amazing.

Ingredients
8 slices of plain white bread (can also use wheat)
3 tablespoons of butter (or margarine)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 onion
3 large button mushrooms
2 small zucchini
8 large eggs

Equipment:
Standard size muffin tin {mine has 12 cups; some have 6}
4 1/4 inch round cookie cutter
rolling pin

How to Make Them Delicious:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Lightly butter standard size muffin cups.
  3. Flatten bread slices with a rolling pin.
  4. Cut bread into circles using a4 1/4 inch round cookie cutter.
  5. Place bread circles in muffin cups and gently mold them into place.  {Martha has more complicated directions, but this way works for me.}
  6. Sauté zucchini, mushrooms, and onions in olive oil.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper near the end if desired.
  7. Divide mixture into toast cups.  Place about a tablespoon of the mixture into the toast cups.
  8. Add an egg to each cup.  {I like scrambled eggs on top of mine.  I crack the egg into bowl and scramble it with a fork first.  This meant I had a little egg left over, so I made another toast cup for a total of 9.}
  9. Sprinkle eggs with a little salt and pepper.
  10. Bake 20-25 minutes or until the egg whites are just set.
  11. Run a knife around the edges of the toast cups to remove them from the pan
  12. Eat.
    I think the possibilities of these toast cups are endless.  Add whatever your heart desires and taste the yummy goodness.

Enjoy!
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The Pinterest Challenge

Living Room Design

I need help with my living room.  The room is an odd shape.  It has a sliding glass door {which I hate and will add a window treatment asap} and doors everywhere.  The only electrical outlets are along the wall where the TV is.  I have taken nearly everything out of the room and arranged it two different ways.  Then, I have added back what it currently looks like.  I still have art to add.  The living room of my old house was inspired by Kenya.  I had a giant piece of art entitled Kenya by Lazlo Emmerich as well as picture of Masai (I’ll show you those in a bit).  My new living room will not accommodate the large Kenya art piece.  The only place it will work is in the dining room I think.

Arrangement 1 {table by the red chair}

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Please ignore the mess in the background – the kitchen and dining room are still works in progress.

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Bookcase against this wall? I currently have a 5 shelf 30 inch wide bookcase (about half the width of the wall)…

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Arrangement 2 {table by the yellow chair}

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My dog decided she needed to be in the picture.

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Add a lamp here?

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Place a lamp here? No outlet on that wall though…

The lamp is here.

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Or leave the lamp here? {Or get rid of it all together?}

Current look

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Basket in the little alcove?

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Please help.  Which look do you like best?  What should I add?  A bookcase or two?  A table?

Here’s the Masai art I have to add some where, but where?  In case you’re wondering…my friend Maggie painted these for me from pictures I took in Kenya.  She painted them exactly how I imagined them.  She’s awesome.  Check out her art.

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At my previous house, I had these four paintings grouped in a 2 x 2 square evenly spaced.  Should I frame them, paint the edges (currently white), or add some kind of trim?

Last thing — I want to share with you how I brought these painting across country without damaging them.  I have no idea how the pros do it, but this is what I did.

I taped the bottom of 4 paint sticks to the walls of the box.  My paintings have a wire across the back, so I hung the wire on the paint sticks and taped the top of the paint sticks to the box.  Last measure of protection:  these babies traveled in my car not in the moving truck.

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Close up of the box behind the paintings.

Thanks for your help!!
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Handmade Christmas

This year I decided to make a lot of the gifts we gave people.

I used Shutterfly to make photo books of Aiden’s first 2 years for his grandparents.  Here’s a sample of some of my favorite pages.

I painted a shirt with dandelions for my niece. {I wish I had a picture for you!!}
I had intentions of painting a shirt for my other niece but her shirt was ruined by ink in the washer! The shirt I found for her was red and had cute rufflie sleeves – there was only one. I was so sad the ink destroyed it. I always check pockets. I think the pen was just in the pile of clothes…my Aiden probably put it there.
I made my niece a necklace instead. {Wrapped without taking a picture, too!}

Patrick, Aiden, and I made cookies for everyone.  I forgot to tape one of the cookie tins, so the cookies fell out when they were shipped.  Good thing I sent them more than one tin!

We made tons of ornaments.
We did salt dough.

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This one is stamped with an owl. Aiden loves owls!

We did thumbprints in clay inspired by Stephanie’s post here.

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Aiden’s thumbprints and initials.

 We filled, painted, and glittered glass balls.  See my inspirations here.

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I made Christmas cards using Aiden’s drawings.  See post here.
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My favorite thing I made was a set of birds inspired by Jessica Jane’s ornament tutorial.

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The lighting in my apartment is horrendous! New house next week!!

I had so much fun creating this Christmas season!  How about you?

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Making Cards with Toddler Art

Aiden loves to color.

I wanted to share his art with our family back in Missouri, but I didn’t just want to mail the coloring pages to them.  I thought it would be fun to incorporate his art into our Christmas cards!

I let Aiden color on several pages of cardstock – all different colors.  {We did this over several days – I’m not a mean mama who made him slave away in one sitting…}

Then, I cut out shapes with my Silhouette machine.

For some of the cards, I simply added a star to the inside of the card – a small touch of Aiden.

I also made a few using his coloring page as the main background.  I cut out different shapes and stamped ”Merry Christmas” on the outside.  I added some glitter for sparkly fun.

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A nice message and bible verse is on the inside (and a few more cut out stars colored by Aiden).

I added one more picture on the back, a little stamp, and note saying the artwork was by Aiden.

I hope everyone likes their cards!

{I think I’ll save one for myself.}

Enjoying this Christmas season!  Much love,

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What’s for Dinner Tonight: No Bake Lasagna

Tonight I made a pasta dish inspired by lasagna.
It has less cheese, and you don’t have to bake it.
For this recipe, you will need your favorite pasta sauce, 1 or 1 1/2  cup of ricotta cheese, 1/2 lb to 1 lb of campanelle pasta, and freshly grated parmesan (optional topping).  1/2 lb of campanelle and 1 cup of ricotta cheese should be enough to feed 3-4 people depending on how hungry you are.  (**I will say that I think I used a 1/b of pasta – I dumped about a 1/2 a box into my cooking pot.)

  1. I started by making my meat sauce (a modified version of Giada’s marinara sauce).  You can find my recipe here. 
  2. While you are waiting for the meat sauce to simmer, cook your pasta according to the package directions.  I used campanelle – they look like the curled edges of lasagna.  (You will need to reserve a ladle or two of starchy cooking liquid, so don’t forget before you drain the pasta.  Plain water is just not the same.)
  3. In a large bowl, add your ricotta cheese.  Add a ladle of starchy cooking liquid.  Stir.  You should end up with a creamy sauce.  If it’s took thick for your liking, add a bit more starchy cooking liquid.
  4. Drain your pasta.  Add the pasta to your ricotta.  Stir to coat.
  5. Add about half of your meat sauce to the pasta and ricotta.  Stir.  (You can add as much or as little sauce as you like.  If you only use half, you will have enough leftover meat sauce for another 1/2 lb of pasta – I recommend adding it to angel hair — yum!)

    I am not exactly thrilled with the color of this dish. Maybe a little more sauce?

  6. Plate your pasta and add some freshly grated parmesan.
  7. Serve with a nice green salad and some warm bread.  Delicious and easy!
Do you have any ideas for an easy pasta dish?