Saturday, November 5, 2016

Classic Lasagna

It is such a treat to have my Mom at the house and have her ask me to cook traditional Italian food for her and Tim.  My Mom was so territorial about her kitchen growing up.  I guess with three rambunctious boys - it would be a little challenging to have them running around you while you tried to cook.  However, as I got older, I would be slowly allowed to sit at the kitchen bar and watch her cook.   We would have these long conversations while she prepared meals and she allowed me to be her "taster."  "Does it need more mayonnaise or mustard?"  "Does it need more salt?"  The day she showed me how to make french salad dressing with just mixing ketchup and mayonnaise - was amazing to me.  It took her a long time to accept me in the kitchen and then accept Tim in there as well. Tim's cooking far exceeds my abilities and she eventually looked forward to Tim visiting and cooking in her kitchen. She had me make Eggplant parmesan when she first moved back here.  It is a laborious process to make it and I don't do it too often.  Lasagna is not as complicated but still labor intensive so I usually make a couple casserole dishes - one to eat and one to freeze.  We had it for dinner and then she asked for more for lunch the next day.  Glad to oblige.

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 15 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 1 15 oz can water
  • 1 12 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 16 oz mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 16 oz ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 16 oz box lasagna pasta

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large pan, add olive oil, chopped onions and garlic. Saute until onions are soft and translucent.
  3. Add ground beef and cook until completely browned, drain fat. Return to pan.
  4. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, oregano, basil, salt and pepper.
  5. Bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for approximately 15-20 minutes.
  6. Cook pasta according to package directions, rinse and set aside (I usually add a tsp of oil to the water so the pasta doesn’t stick to each other).
  7. In a 14 x 11½ x 2¼ baking dish, or two smaller size baking dishes, put a small amount of meat mixture in the bottom of dish. Spread around.
  8. Add lasagna noodles (approximately 5-6, and they will overlap onto each other).
  9. Next, spoon half of the ricotta cheese on top of the pasta and spread covering the pasta.
  10. Spoon meat mixture on top of ricotta cheese.
  11. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  12. Next add of the mozzarella cheese.
  13. Repeat with another layer of pasta, ricotta cheese, meat mixture, Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese.
  14. Final layer is pasta, topped with remaining meat mixture and remaining mozzarella cheese.
  15. Cover with foil and cook for approximately 1 hour.
  16. Serve with salad and garlic bread.

Butternut Squash Soup

While we were experimenting with butternut squash - this was another recipe we tried.  Very healthy, Zero points and easy and awesome!

Butternut Squash Soup

4 cups vegetable broth
12 oz. butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 to 11/2 inch cubes
1/2 large Vidalia onion, cut into 2 inch cubes
1/2 small apple, peeled and cut into 2 inch cubes
1/4 tsp table salt, to taste
1/4 black pepper to taste
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg to taste

In a large stock pot, combine broth, squash, onion, and apple; cover pot and bring to a boil over high heat.  Uncover pot and reduce heat to low; gently simmer until squash is very tender, about 10 minutes.
Puree soup in pot using an immersion blender ) or puree soup in a regular blender in batches; be careful not to splatter hot liquid).
Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg; server.  Yields 3/4 cup per serving.

Twice Baked Butternut Squash

It's that time of year to try out new recipes.  Experimenting with a few things.  This was a healthy new find.  So easy and healthy and the combo of squash, goat cheese and rosemary was delicious.  We doubled the ingredients based on the size of the squash.  We also put it in a baking dish vs. the skins.

Butternut Squash
Tbl non fat yogurt
Tbl goat cheese
Tbl Honey
Add cinnamon and rosemary 

1. Pre heat oven to 450
2. Slice squash into two halves
3. Cover a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray 
4. Bake for about 45 minutes (check by poking it with a fork, if it comes out easy it’s ready!)
5. Remove from the oven and lower temperature to 425
6. Scoop out the flesh and in a bowl combine the squash flesh with the other ingredients
7. Spoon back into the squash skins and top with rosemary and goat cheese
8. Bake for another 10 or so minutes or until the mixture is hot throughout

Monday, October 17, 2016

Zucchini Lasagna

Now that we are no longer on vacation - I was really bad! - back to healthy eating.  Thanks to Tim - he continues to add more clean eating recipes to his repertoire.   I was suspicious of this one but it was delicious and although I am not a fan of bolognese combos - it was very good!


  • 1 lb 93% lean ground beef
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28 oz can) crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 3 medium (8 ounces each) zucchini, sliced 1/8 thick
  • 1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 large egg
  • 16 oz (4 cups) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
In a medium sauce pan, brown meat and season with salt. When cooked drain in colander to remove any fat. Add olive oil to the pan and saute garlic and onions about 2 minutes. Return the meat to the pan, add tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer on low for at least 30-40minutes, covered. Do not add extra water, the sauce should be thick.

Meanwhile, slice zucchini into 1/8 thick slices, add lightly salt and set aside or 10 minutes. Zucchini has a lot of water when cooked, salting it takes out a lot of moisture. After 10 minutes, blot excess moisture with a paper towel.
Preheat a gas grill to medium high, and grill 2 to 3 minutes per side, until slightly browned. Place on paper towels to soak any excess moisture.
Preheat oven to 375°.
In a medium bowl mix ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese and egg. Stir well.
In a 9×12 casserole spread 1/2 cup of sauce on the bottom and layer the zucchini to cover. Spread 1/2 cup of the ricotta cheese mixture, then top with 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese and repeat the process until all your ingredients are used up. The last layer top with remaining zucchini and sauce, cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover the foil and bake 20 minutes (to dry up the sauce) then place the remaining 1 cup mozzarella and bake until melted, 10 minutes.

Let stand about 5 – 10 minutes before serving.

Home Textiles Market

Home Textiles Market came and went.  It is exhausting designing and developing for market week.  I am responsible for designing Jacquards, Embroideries and Embellished Quilts.  These were just some of the 40 something beds my team develops for market. I design for stores like Macy's, Bed Bath and Beyond and J.C. Penney's.   Just when you think it's over, you have to start all over again for the next season.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

A True Neighbor

We got back from Portugal and got terrible news.  My Mom's best friend and neighbor of my family 
for 30 years passed away.  She had been struggling with cancer and it had gone into remission but then apparently came back.  Her name was Linda King.  She defined what a neighbor should be.  Our
families moved into two brand new homes next to each other in a new subdivision in the late 70s and have been close friends ever since.  I took care of her children when they were little - babysitting for her three boys in high school and college. When I needed work - she employed me in her business whenever I needed money because I had such crazy hours in college. When I was in my early 20's, I did a lot of community theatre and they came with my parents to see every play - as excited to see me as my parents.  Whenever, I came home to visit over the years, we would go out to dinner and they would always have me over to their house.  They were very close to my parents and when my brother, Chris, died in 2005 - they held a memorial at their home and went on trips together through out my parents grieving process.  My parents sold their home and moved a short distance away. When it came time to move back to be closer to San Antonio, Linda and her her family built a 2 bedroom mother in law apartment on the lot they owned next to them so they could look after each other. The apartment was two doors down from their original house and it felt like they had never left the neighborhood.  Linda was there at the hospital the day my Dad died in 2013 and at my mother's side at the service never leaving her alone.  You couldn't ask for a better friend or a better neighbor.  We loved her so much and she will be greatly missed. 


 Prior to Portugal, I had to make a quick trip to London with co-workers for market shopping.  I design for a large home textiles company and we just finished market in September and jump right in to designing for the next market.  We shop Europe for trends and come back with a lot of samples for product development in China and India.  It was a short trip just to London for 4 days with lots of shopping.  Liberty of London, Harrods, Debenhams, John Lewis, Next, Selfridges, and House of Frazier. Had the best bruschetta pizza which I had never had before.