Saturday, September 25, 2010

What's Cookin': Lasagne

Although the weather hasn't necessarily been cooperating, I decided that during the first week of Autumn I needed to make something that would at least trick my brain into thinking the weather was getting cooler. And, I was on vacation and had time to make a meal that took longer than 30 minutes to prepare ... and, I needed to carb-o-load for my upcoming half marathon ... and, Mike would surely appreciate eating through the leftovers while I was gone all weekend ... not that I needed to justify making this somewhat unhealthy dish or anything ... Paired with homemade garlic bread, this hit the spot!

6 lasagne noodles, cooked according to package directions

Ricotta Filling:
1 15 oz. container ricotta cheese
1/3 c parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

Meat Sauce:
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 lb lean ground beef
1 t Italian seasoning
Dash of salt and pepper
1 14oz can diced tomatoes and 1 14oz can tomato sauce
or 1 26oz jar of pasta sauce

2 c mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Boil lasagne noodles according to package directions.

Add the olive oil to a saucepan and heat over medium. Add the garlic and onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the beef and cook until no pink remains. Drain any liquid once browned. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes, or pasta sauce and let simmer for at least 10 minutes.

Combine all ingredients for the ricotta filling in a medium bowl, set aside.

Using a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish spread a layer (about 2/3 c) of the meat sauce on the bottom of the dish. Top with 3 lasagne noodles. Top with 1/2 of the ricotta mixture, 1/2 of the remaining meat sauce and 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese. Starting with the noodles, repeat layers ending with mozzarella cheese.

Cover loosely with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake for 20 minutes. Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Two Weeks in Paradise: Our Honeymoon

Over Labor Day weekend I finally got around to creating a memory book of the amazing two weeks we spent in Hawaii on our Honeymoon (see the post below). I just love looking at our wedding album and am so glad I spent a few hours putting this together. I used shutterfly and was amazed at how easy the site was to navigate; I keep thinking of what book I'll create next, this could get dangerous.

(The first several pages are botanical pictures, I promise we did things outside of looking at flowers the entire trip, so feel free to skim past those)

Two Weeks in Paradise: Our Honeymoon

Monday, September 20, 2010

Happy Birthday Milo!!

Milo turned two last week, the day before I left for San Francisco. My how the time flies! Mike was out of town for work, but I couldn't bear to not celebrate in some form or fashion. Milo has turned into quite the sophisticated kitten, so we kept things low key with a small cake and only a few presents; he requested we also make a donation to his first real home (the local SPCA) and I'll be dropping some food and cat litter off later this week. Happy Birthday Milo!!

(and, yes, he was allowed on the counter for a brief second and it was thoroughly disinfected immediately after the celebration ... it was the only way he could enjoy his "cake" without kid sister butting in)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

What's Cookin': Eggs in a Basket

My childhood friend Mandy and I were masters of adventure in her backyard. And her Mom was a master of wow'ing me with her culinary skills. I had forgotten about one of my favorite childhood meals until a few months ago when we were thinking through a weekend breakfast and were low on eggs. Although rather elementary, the premise is quick, simple and delicious!

Eggs in a Basket (per egg)

1 egg / 1 slice bread / butter spray / S&P to taste

Heat a skillet coated with butter spray. Using a biscuit cutter or glass, cut a hole in a slice of bread. Place the "basket" and the reserved "nest topper" in the skillet and allow to toast for a minute or two. Add the egg to the "basket" and flip when it reaches your liking.

Mike and I prefer our eggs over easy and the "nest topper" is the perfect vehicle to soak up the runny yolk.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Funny: Crazy Puppy

I saw this posted on Facebook with the caption reading: These people were always finding water all over their pool deck and furniture, every time they came home, after being away for a few hours. They thought the neighborhood kids were watching for them to leave, and using the pool. However, they could never catch them doing it.So, they set up their video cam and left. This is what they found:

I don't care if the back-story is true or not, this is hilarious!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, September 13, 2010

Making our House a Home: Landscaping

We loved pretty much everything about our new house when we moved in ... except the landscaping. It wasn't necessarily horrid, just really, really overgrown and unloved. Overgrown to the point that spending an afternoon trimming or cutting back was worthless. We found out after moving in that two owners ago had done pretty extensive landscaping, but the previous owners hadn't kept up with much of anything. We had good bones to work with in that the beds were laid out nicely and there were a few plants worth saving, but we really needed a major overhaul.

If you know me, you know that I like to knock things out pretty quickly if it's on my radar. Since it was late spring / early summer and the outside of our house was the first thing visitors and neighbors saw, I wanted this project done ASAP. Mike, on the other hand, was in a bit of sticker shock from the new home purchase, new furniture purchases and was delusional in thinking we could do it all on our own. This led to our first real exercise in compromise, aka our first big round of arguments, aka WWIII at the Kelly household.

In the end, the quote we received was extremely reasonable and the compromise was that Mike could "Mexican labor" his way through the yard up until the professionals started work. The lag time between us the initial meeting and the start of work was about 6 weeks and Mike did make some decent headway, kudos to him and the Kelly genes of strength.

I've been working from home about one day week and my schedule is relatively flexible, but the day they started work I had to be in the office as my boss from Indianapolis was coming in to go over my annual review and raise/bonus. I was a little bummed that I wouldn't be there to see the progress in person, but man, was I in for a surprise when I got home that night. It was like Christmas! Other than a few plants left to put in the ground and mulching, they had whipped through all 3 areas of the yard in a matter of hours. And, on the hottest day of the year, no less. They finished up the next day and we were thrilled! The best money we've spent in a long time .... and the ultimate reward was Mike admitting (1) it was totally worth every penny, (2) it was the right time to do the project and (3) the professionals did a much better job than we as a team could have done. Victory, errr, compromise has never felt so sweet!

The hot summer was not been kind to our new plants, but they have powered through and we are excited to see how they look next Spring after a fall and winter to really root into the ground. We hope you can come see for yourself sometime soon! Click on any of the picture sets to enlarge.

Front Yard Before n
Front Yard After

Side Yard Before and After

Back Side Yard Before and After
(please excuse the wilty, on their side plants, they were re-plants are still getting their footing)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

What's Cookin': Minestrone Soup

To me fall means soups and I love anything that only involves one pot! Amber popped up for a visit this weekend and I treated her to a ladies lunch including minestrone soup, fresh bread and strawberry shortcake. We had a great time catching up and getting our shop on at IKEA. Although she threatened to kidnap one or both of the cats, they are both currently rumbling at my feet, so I am sad to report she was unsucessful : )

Minestrone Soup

2 t olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
3 carrots, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 yellow squash, diced
1 T Italian seasoning
2 14 oz cans petite diced tomatoes
1 10 oz can tomato juice
2 c vegetable broth
1 14 oz can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 14 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 c any small pasta
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese for sprinkling
Fresh chopped basil for sprinkling

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrots and italian seasoning. Sauté for 5 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften. Add zucchini and squash. Sauté for 2 more minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato juice, broth and beans. Cover and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add pasta and simmer for 15 minutes more. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve in bowls sprinkled with parmesan cheese.

** This post is dedicated to my phriend phil and his new vegan lifestyle ... minus the cheese, this recipe has you written all over it! **

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Saturday, September 4, 2010

What's Cookin': Guacamole

What's Cookin' is not really specific to this post ... more like what's smushin'.

If you haven't made guacamole at home, you have no excuses after this quick tutorial. The ingredient list is short, it's super-easy and it's capital D - li - cious.

Here's what you need (adjust to your tastes and preferences):

4-5 avocados
1-2 roma tomatoes
1 lime
chopped red onion *
chopped garlic
large zip-top bag
* I only had a yellow onion this time, I used a shallot last time and really enjoyed the milder flavor

That's right, no bowls needed, just dump everything into a zip-top bag and get to smushin':
Season to taste with salt and a little pepper. Once you have the desired consistency, cut the corner off the bag and squeeze out the goodness. Then enjoy!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Match Point

Cincinnati hosts a Master's and Women's Open Tennis Tournament each August. I had known it existed, but never really knew what the fuss was about until I attended as part of a small work outing this year. Let me tell you what the fuss is about ... it's about seeing awesome, and very attractive, men playing tennis.

First we saw Mardy Fish beat Andy Murray in the longest match ever
(our box seats were amazing, four rows from the court)

Then we saw Andy Roddick beat Novak Djokovic
(Brooklyn Decker was at the Tourney supporting him the day before, but no sighting when we were there)
I was amazed at the serve power ... see the 132 in the lower right corner, that's MPH ...

And, then, the highlight of my day ... Roger Federer beat Nikolay Davydenko:

He is soooooo dreamy ... I just loved his outfit, he barely broke a sweat ...

Let's not forget we're still in Ohio, Mason to be exact. This guy came dressed as Vin Diesel for the day:

The icing on a wonderful day away from the office was dinner. Although we'd been out in the heat all day, a girl has to eat, so my co-workers and I stopped by a local restaurant for dinner in their bar area. We heard when we arrived that it was a popular place for the tennis pros to dine after matches, but didn't think we'd be lucky enough to have a personal spotting. Sure enough, as we were finishing up, in walks Roger and his entourage. Needless to say, we ordered another bottle of wine, oggled from afar and waited for him to leave to afford us another sighting. ** Sigh ** All in a day's work ...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wordless Wednesday