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Urban Foodies

Mason Jar Individual Strawberry Shortcakes with Lemon Curd

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These individual strawberry shortcake parfaits are topped with lemon curd and vanilla mascarpone, and packed into mini mason jars, making them the perfect dessert for a summer picnic!

Individual strawberry shortcake in a small mason jar
Mason Jar Strawberry Shortcake

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase one of the products via the product link,  I’ll receive a small commission.

So, who else loves dessert??!  Lemon is one of my favorite flavors for dessert, right behind chocolate!  And individual desserts are always high on my list of great ideas for parties and picnics so I decided to add a bit of a twist to a traditional strawberry shortcake by adding lemon curd and some vanilla mascarpone and then packing it into little mason jars. FUN!!  

I made these in a jar because they are easy to transport – think summer picnics and backyard parties.  Not to mention they look really cute when packed in these lovely little mason jars!!

Recipe Ingredients

This recipe includes a few less common ingredients but the end result is definitely worth an extra trip to the store! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Flour: You need both cake flour and all-purpose flour.
  • Raw sugar: You can substitute demerara sugar if you happen to have it in your pantry.
  • Half and half: I don’t recommend substituting milk here but if you had to, whole milk would be the best option.
  • Butter: Whenever possible, I use European-style butter for baking.
  • Lemon zest + juice: You’ll need 1 to 2 lemons depending on the size.
  • Eggs: The recipe assumes large eggs.
  • Mascarpone: You can find this in most major grocery stores, usually in either the cheese or deli sections.
  • Strawberries: A few strawberries is enough for this recipe.
  • Pantry staples: salt, baking powder, sugar, honey, vanilla extract

Tips for making strawberry shortcake parfaits

This recipe really has three distinct parts: the shortcakes, the lemon curd and the vanilla mascarpone. Since the lemon curd needs to cool to fully set, I recommend starting with that step.

Lemon curd. Start by zesting and then juicing the lemons ahead of time, it’s very hard to zest after juicing! 🙂 Lemon curd starts by making lemon sugar. That gets whisked together with the lemon juice, egg and salt, and cooked over low heat. After the butter is added, everything is strained through a fine-mesh strainer. Then it goes into the refrigerator to set.

Meal prep tip: You can make the lemon curd and the vanilla mascarpone a day or two ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Shortcakes. These are pretty traditional, unstructured shortcakes. The ingredients go into a food processor for easy mixing. You want them to be a very light, golden brown so keep an eye on them due to oven temperature variations.

Vanilla mascarpone. The honey and vanilla extract give the mascarpone a little extra flavor boost.

Desconstructed strawberry shortcake with lemon curd in a small mason jar

Other Uses for Lemon Curd

If you are a regular blog reader you’ll notice that sometimes I make more of a specific recipe component than you’ll need for a particular recipe. This provides you with leftovers to add to other dishes and explore new flavor combinations! That’s what I’ve done with the lemon curd in this recipe. Usually, I do this because that part of the recipe requires an ingredient that is difficult to divide, like an egg. In this case, any leftover lemon curd would be lovely on these Cranberry Orange Scones or maybe drizzled on some sliced strawberries for an afternoon snack!

Strawberry Shortcake with Lemon Curd

These make-ahead mini mason jar desserts are perfect for summer picnics or any time when a packable transportable dessert is needed! They are also a great idea if you want to have something unique on hand for dessert during the week.

Serving Suggestions

Since they are served in a mason jar, these parfaits are ideal for a summer picnic or backyard party. For a complete menu, I’d add this Tortellini Pesto Pasta Salad or this Grilled Chicken Quinoa Salad, along with some Healthy Cowboy Caviar and some Melon, Proscuitto and Mozzarella Skewers.

More summer dessert recipes

If love light summer desserts, check out the recipes for Grilled Peaches (which will also use up some of the leftover mascarpone), No-Churn Salted Caramel Ice Cream or Lemon Lavender Cake.


things you may want for this recipe

Small mason jars – These mini mason jars are the perfect size for individual desserts and are also great for storing and transporting salad dressing and other sauces.

Desconstructed strawberry shortcake with lemon curd in a small mason jar

Mason Jar Strawberry Shortcake with Lemon Curd

These individual strawberry shortcakes are topped with lemon curd and vanilla mascarpone, making them the perfect dessert for a summer picnic!

Prep Time 30 mins

Cook Time 30 mins

Total Time 1 hr 30 mins

Course Desserts & Sweets

Cuisine American

Ingredients  

For the lemon curd: 

  • 1 ½ tablespoons lemon zest
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 4 tablespoons butter

For the shortcake: 

  • ¼ cup cake flour
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon demerara or raw sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • cup half and half

For the vanilla mascarpone:

  • ½ cup mascarpone
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon honey

For assembly: 

  • 1 ½ cups sliced strawberries
  • ½ tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoon Demerara or raw sugar

Instructions 

For the lemon curd: 

  • Combine the lemon zest and sugar in a small bowl.  Use a fork to mix together until fully incorporated.

  • Add the sugar mixture, lemon juice, eggs and salt to a small saucepan and whisk together.  Place saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add butter and whisk constantly until thickened; about 5-6 minutes.

  • Place a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl.  Strain the lemon curd using the back of a large spoon to push the lemon curd through the strainer.  Place plastic wrap directly on top of the lemon curd and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to cool and set.

For the shortcake: 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  • Place flours, baking powder, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 2-3 times until combined.

  • Add butter and pulse until fully incorporated. A coarse mixture will form. With the motor running add the half and half and continue blending until a soft ball forms.

  • Drop the dough in two equal parts on the baking sheet; flatten with the back of a spoon. Bake for 30 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Let cool.

To assemble:

  • Mix the lemon zest and raw sugar together.  Set aside.

  • Break the shortcakes into pieces and divide evenly between four small mason jars.

  • Add a layer of sliced strawberries.  Add approximately 2 tablespoon of lemon curd to each jar, followed by approximately 2 tablespoon of the mascarpone mixture.

  • Sprinkle with a bit of the lemon sugar mixture and top with additional strawberries.  Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Notes

If you refrigerate the jars before serving the shortcakes may get a bit soggy however they will taste just fine!

Keywords : individual strawberry shortcake, mason jar dessert, summer dessert

This post was originally published in August 2015. It was updated in May 2021 with some new information and photos. No changes were made to the original recipe.

Individual strawberry shortcake with lemon curd in a small mason jar
This strawberry shortcake in a mason jar is topped with lemon curd making it the perfect dessert for a summer picnic!





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Urban Foodies

Celebrating Our 20th Anniversary at Taco Maria (During Covid) –

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Taco Maria in Costa Mesa has always been one of our favorite Mexican restaurants in LA.

Chef Carlos Salgado is originally from Mexico but spent over ten years training in some of the best kitchens in the US, including 2-Michelin starred restaurants like Coi in San Francisco and Commis in Oakland. He opened Taco Maria in 2013.

Prior to achieving a Michelin Star, Chef Salgado was a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef West consecutively for the past four years, and was named Food & Wine Best New Chef in 2015.

Dining During Covid

Notoriously challenging to book, this Michelin-starred restaurant got even harder to book during Covid. They removed all indoor dining and limited seating to parties of four. They also opened up bookings only 1-2 weeks in advance, so Bryan diligently logged onto their website (at midnight in Hong Kong!) to grab seats for us during popular, coveted weekend slots.

Taco Maria – The Food



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Urban Foodies

Visiting Family in Los Angeles During Covid

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Returning to the US



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Urban Foodies

A Weeknight Meal for Two

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This Deconstructed Skillet Lasagna gives you that great lasagna taste without all the fuss of traditional lasagne, making it an easy weeknight meal for two!  

Skillet filled with lasagne with bread, wine and cheese on the side

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product via these links, I will earn a small commission which helps to keep this blog running!

There is nothing like a good hearty pasta dish on a chilly winter night! This creamy, deconstructed lasagna takes all the components of traditional lasagna and incorporates them into an easy-to-make version. No need to spend time layering anymore. 

This skillet version might just change the way you make lasagne forever!

Contents:
Deconstructed Skillet Lasagna shot from overhead on a teal blue napkin

Recipe Highlights

  • Cheese sauce! Do I really need to say more?!
  • Designed for two. Since it’s made in small skillets, this lasagna is the ideal two serving meal.
  • Easier than traditional lasagna. Traditional lasagna can be time consuing to make. By deconstructing it a bit, this recipe is ready in just about 30 minutes, making it a weeknight staple.
  • Make-ahead option. You can make everything ahead of time and refrigerate until you ar ready to cook. Then just pop the skillet in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Packed with flavor. Cheese sauce, red wine, tomatoes and ground beef combine to give this dish loads of flavor.

Key ingredients

The full list of ingredients and quantities can be found in the recipe card below.

Ingredients - corkscrew pasta, tomatoes, onion, red wine, cheese, herbs and garlic

The key ingredients include…

  • Cellentani pasta: This corkscrew style pasta works well with both the meat and the cheese sauce. Cavatappi also works for this recipe.
  • Ground sirloin: I typically use at least 90% lean ground beef.
  • Beef broth: Purchased beef broth works fine for this recipe.
  • Red wine: I recommend a fruitier red wine, but your favorite varietal or whatever you happen to have open will work.
  • Diced tomatoes: Ideally, you’ll use petit diced tomaotes for the best consistency in the sauce but sometimes they seem to be hard to fine so standard diced tomatoes also work.
  • Italian blend cheese: I normally prefer to grate cheese instead of purchasing pre-bagged, grated cheese, however since you want an Italian blend it’s easiest to purchase a bag.
  • Pamesan or Asiago cheese: Freshly grated is the best option here.
  • Spices: dried basil, dried oregano, dried thyme, sea salt, ground pepper
  • Pantry staples: Garlic cloves, milk, butter, all-purpose flour

How to make this recipe

Since it’s ready in just about 30 minutes, this lasagna is ideal for any night of the week.

Cook the pasta. I always recommend following the package directions, since cooking times for pasta vary based on brand. You want to cook to al dente.

Make the meat sauce. You’ll start by browning the ground beef, then adding in the beef broth, wine and tomatoes.

Make the cheese sauce. Starting with a traditional roux (butter + flour) gives you a nice, thick cheese sauce that eventually combines with the meat sauce to give you cheesy goodness in every bite.

Assemble the lasagne. You’ll divide the pasta between the two skillets, then top with the meat sauce, and then pour the cheese sauce over the top. Next, you’ll bake the lasagna for about 15 minutes and dinner is ready!

You can cook the pasta, make both the meat and cheese sauces and assemble the lasagna ahead of time. If you will be refrigerating for more than a few hours, I don’t recommend using cast-iron skillets. Stainless steel skillets or small ceramic baking dishes will be a better choice.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I don’t have mini skillets?

If you don’t have mini skillets you can either use another small baking dish, or you can make this in a larger skillet though you will need to increase the cooking time by about 5 minutes.

How should I store leftovers?

If you used cast iron skillets, I recommend removing any leftovers from the skillets and storing them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Close up of Deconstructed Skillet Lasagna with a glass of red wine

Tools you’ll want for this recipe

Small cast iron skillets – Cast iron skillets are great for cooking so many things. Something about 6″ in diameter is ideal. I like to keep two of the smaller version in my kitchen for smaller servings. You can also use a small stainless steel pan.

Serving Suggestions

To keep it simple, I like to pair pasta with a nice green salad. My quick and easy salad is greens topped with some shaved asiago, toasted pine nuts, a squeeze of lemon juice, some olive oil, and a bit of balsamic glaze.  

And of course, you can’t go wrong by adding some homemade garlic bread to soak up any extra sauce! Add a nice glass of red wine, perhaps the merlot you used in the sauce, and you have the perfect meal!

More pasta recipes

If you are looking for other easy pasta dishes check out these reader favorites:

  • Creamy Lemon Pasta. While this recipe is easy enough for a weeknight meal, the bright lemon flavor and parmesan breadcrumbs give it a touch of elegance.
  • Roasted Tomato Summer Spaghetti. This is pasta is perfect for an easy, everyday meal. Tomatoes, mozarealla, pesto and pasta combine for vegetarian dish that’s ready in just under 30 minutes.

Skillet filled with lasagne with bread, wine and cheese on the side

Deconstructed Skillet Lasagna Recipe

This Deconstructed Skillet Lasagna gives you that great lasagne taste without all the fuss of a traditional lasagne, making it an easy weeknight meal for two! 

Prep Time 15 mins

Cook Time 15 mins

Total Time 30 mins

Course Pasta & Grains

Cuisine Italian

Ingredients  

For the meat sauce:

  • 1 cup Cellentani pasta, uncooked
  • pound ground sirloin
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 ounces beef broth
  • 4 ounces Merlot, or other fruity red wine
  • 1 15- ounce can petite diced tomatoes

For the cheese sauce: 

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup non-fat or 1% milk
  • 1 cup shredded Italian blend cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • Grated asiago or parmesan for topping

Instructions 

  • Heat the oven. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat two small cast iron skillets with olive oil. 

  • Cook the pasta. Cook the pasta according to package directions for al dente pasta. Drain when pasta is done cooking.

  • Brown the ground beef. While the pasta is cooking heat a large skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the ground sirloin and onions; cook for 4-5 minutes until the ground sirloin is browned. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the basil through pepper and cook for an additional minute until fragrant.

  • Make the meat sauce. Add the beef broth, wine and tomatoes; continue to cook until the mixture begins to boil. Reduce heat and simmer while you make the cheese sauce.

  • Make the roux. melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until a thick paste forms.

  • Make the cheese sauce. Slowly add the milk, a small amount at a time, stirring with a whisk after each addition until the sauce is smooth. Once all of the milk has been added cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, whisking constantly, until the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese; continue stirring until the sauce is smooth (sauce will be quite thick). Add the pepper and nutmeg; stir to combine.

  • Assemble and bake. Add half of the pasta to each of the prepared skillets. Top each skillet with half the meat sauce mixture then half of the cheese sauce. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese sauce begins to bubble around the edge of the skillet. Top with grated cheese and serve

Notes

  • If you are saving one or both of the skillets for another time, wait to put the dish in the skillet until you are ready to bake. You can refrigerate in an airtight container and then transfer to the cast iron skillet. Alternatively use a non-cast iron mini skillet or baking dish. 
  • When ready to eat, cook as directed, however, you will need to increase the cooking time by 5-10 minutes to ensure everything gets hot!

Keywords : cast iron cooking, pasta for two

This post was originally published in January 2016. It was updated in January 2022 with some new photos and information. No changes were made to the original recipe.





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