For as long as I can remember I’ve been scared of basements. Scared of the dark corners, creaking floors that tend to be above, bumps, urgs and squeeks that pop up when you’re least suspecting it. But this weekend on a traipse around the time-capsulated town of Port Gamble, I was not only scared of one particular basement of one particular creepy ass old house, but drawn to it for just such reason.
I’m a walking, breathing contradiction – what can I say.
But between the laughs, mustaches*, freakish and abnormally sized maple leaves** and century old cemeteries***, I was able to snap some creepy and not-so creepy photos.
Our day started out to a slightly late start start, enjoying Bloody Rose-mary’s and hollandaise slathered bendicts in Seattle before Jackie, Beka and I hopped a ferry to the Peninsula of our great state. I live in Washington if you weren’t quite sure.
The tiny town, with a population of 72 held our attention the entire day, snapping photos, making funnies and generally creating chaos that only three 20-something girls can cause.
The main subject of my photos revolved around a house for lease, known as the Walker-Ames House. Walking around it gave off a chilling vibe, perhaps one of old times and over a century’s worth of families residing in and doing business out of the building.
Even 100 years later it was impeccably detailed, only the priciest of mansions today could compete. Maybe it’s the old-school charm and historic nature that elevates and skews it worth to me, but so be it – I’ll never own a house to this degree, so I’ll admire those when I can.
The doorknobs, beautifully tarnished and immeasurably detailed. 100 years ago they could perform these intricacies on metal without machinery? For a pretty penny, I’m sure.
The foundation of the house was painted the truest red with white sills and swirled, ancient glass to match.
The basement door yielded simplistic and to which behind lay a secret and other wordly place.
Machinery lay nearby, giving us a peek into the world world of Port Gamble – a form company logging town, one of the oldest in Washington.
But despite the history, and my love of logging lore, I was still drawn to the house up on the hill.
And into the basement I saw, a lone lightbulb. The windows were old, swirled and swayed – nothing we would see today, lending the perfect texture to the photograph and an aura of eerie.
(The swirls were created by the glass, peering through the window.)
But once I peered closer and was shadowed by Jackie with a jacket behind me to drown out the glare, I saw closer in…and this is the result.
The Walter-Ames House has a hair-raising history. It’s been searched, trawled, and analyzed by mediums and humans alike to discover all of the history, tales and lore it has to offer. One of the most chilling being this one here. *Read only if you dare*
Does the stool in the pictures look familiar? Yeah, I thought so.
Sleep tight y’all!
*runs away screaming in fear*
(More Pictures to follow)
*Mustaches : Example A
*Mustaches : Example B
**Freakishly Large Leaves
*** Century Old Cemetery
*Author’s Note: The photographs are my own. I respect that it may be easy to save them and print them on your own. But they are copyrighted and use of them is prohibited without my knowledge and consent. If you wish to use them, please send me an e-mail and we can discuss their use or purchase. Thanks for your cooperation.
Wedding planning is FUN. Fun. I keep repeating this like a motivational mantra. At the end of the day, I’m marrying Ben and that’s what matters. But between then and now, I’m not-so silently having minor panic attacks over arrangements, decorations, favors, table settings, guest lists, hotel, honeymoon stuff and drum-roll please, paying for it.
From the beginning Ben and I have been trying to prioritize the necessities of the wedding and categorizing what things are most important to who. Of course, me being the bride means that it’s almost all important to me and really he just wants to show up and get it all over with. Heart warming, isn’t he?
In between all of the wedding website, blog, magazine searching and Pinterest-ing that I’ve been doing has given me a plethora of ideas and light-bulb moments that only seek to confuse and muddle my decision making even farther. No, I’m not indecisive. Am I?
With Pinterest being my latest media addiction, the sheer scope of ideas coming my way is mind boggling. Here are a few of my favorites.
With a country-chic wedding plan I fell over at the sight of the burlap table runner. And this picture, was actually from Trezzi Farm where Ben and I are getting married. Perfection.
Seeing as we (yes, the royal “we”) are getting married in August, it’s prime camping time. Which means camp fires and what else – S’more! A s’mores bar? Take that candy bar! Everything is better toasted, melty and sammiched between grahams.
And using other chocolates like Kit Kat, Reese’s and Peppermint patties alongside good ol’ Hershey’s? I’m SO There! After all my wedding dieting is over, I will unapologetically scarf down three (okay, five) of these, earning every morsel.
There are so many ways to honor those who are no longer with us at weddings. From memory candles, to pictures set aside the ceremony, or their names placed on the program there are endless ways to show your loved ones they are missed. When this beauty found it’s way onto my Pinterest boards, I was sold.
Each of us have special family members that are no long we us, and we want to commemorate their memories in a special way, and this seems like just the right touch.
The colors we (read: I) chose are poppy, dark teal and wheat. This tie – country-chic as it gets and fabulously matched, am I right?
Yesterday on my Facebook page I posted this picture of a cupcake stand, which was a momentous success. I’m glad y’all don’t think I’m nuts. Freakin’ adorbs, budget friendly and this lumberjill can get this done in about 10 minutes! Give me a chainsaw, STAT!
And why not use a few rounds to use as a center piece stand? Okie dokie!
Last but not least – a bug spray station. Terribly unromantic, but during a summer outdoor wedding? These are a must. Why not toss them int a tub, throw some streamers on there and go to town? With some much better scents on the market than just deet and shame, you can spray away the pesky gnats without smelling like a walking bug-blood bank.
Now, go forth and plan! And if Pinterest doesn’t help – a glass of wine might.
A couple of weeks ago, on a quest to meet the Great One, Alton Brown, with Beka he graciously and hilariously answered the plethora of questions the captured audience threw his way. One of the questions that was posed was, “What advice do you have for an aspiring cook?”. His answer was to learn to cook an egg. There were some scoffs and grumbles amongst the troops, but in all seriousness he told us all that learning to cook an egg is a pivotal turn in your culinary experience. It can go from fantastic to faulty in a split second and it teaches you a wide range of lessons, like patience – something that I am notoriously lacking.
(Please excuse the atrocious picture – it was taken at 8 at night -
it’s SO much tastier than it looks! I’ll be making it again later this week and including better pictures)
I’ve covered some of the secrets to making the perfect poached egg, including using vinegar in the water bath to keep the whites together and lookin’ purdy. Baking in egg is something totally different. And I found this out making this tart.
Last week my new copy of Martha’s Everyday Food came in the mail and as I ravenously turned the pages to discover sheer glory and gather ideas, the Shitake and Egg Tart caught my eye. Ben is someone who has at one point in his life come to hate eggs (and gravy, but that’s a rant for another time.). The last three plus years I’ve been making steady calculated maneuvers to incorporate eggs into his diet.
The egg and mushroom tart in the magazine sent me drooling like Huck over a scooby-snack. How could I pass up buttery and gooey eggs over puff pastry and sauteed mushrooms? I couldn’t.
For this recipe I did make a couple of minor substitutions, but I think they were for the better. I will leave it entirely up to you.
For your Grocery List be sure to include:
~ 1 sheet Puff Pastry
~ 3/4 pound Mushrooms, thinly sliced
(I used Chantrelle, the recipe called for Shitake)
~ 2 Tbsp Butter
~ 1 medium Onion, thinly sliced
~ 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, shredded
~ 2 1/2 tsp Tarragon, minced
First, roll out the puff pastry into a 11×14 square,
trimming the edges to create a perfect rectangle.
I layered my pan with a couple of parchment triangles and went to work.
Like a pie crust, I rolled the puff pastry over my rolling pin and laid it out over the parchment.
Once it was all situated, as per Martha’s directions the pastry was scored about 1/2-3/4 of an inch around all of the edges and docked with the tines of a fork to prevent it from puffing too badly when I par-bake it.
From here, the dough was put into the fridge for 20 minutes to chill and the oven was heated to 375 degrees.
While the dough was chilling and the oven was heating, I went about prepping the rest of the goods.
The mushrooms were washed, ends trimmed and then all sliced thinly. Same goes with the onion. Now I used a sweet onion, but feel free to use a plain ol’ yellow or heck, a red might be kind fun too.
Into a 12″ non-stick skillet, 2 tablespoons of butter were melted and the onions thrown in to carmelize. Once they were golden and delicious, the mushrooms were added and tossed around until they began to wilt slightly.
About now is when the 20 minutes was up for the dough to chill, so it was promptly put into the oven for 15 minutes and left to puff up slightly and turn golden brown.
Once partially baked it was taken out of the oven and topped with all of the glory that caramelized onions and chantrelles can provide. Now here comes the most fun part of all!
I made 6 little “wells” into the toppings that would nestle each egg. Evenly spacing the wells apart, I cracked six eggs and placed one into each well. Then the whole pan was placed back into the oven for ten minutes so the eggs would set.
Unfortunately, my nerves got the best of me and I overcooked the eggs! AHHH!!
Either way it was still utterly delicious once topped with some dried tarragon.
One thing I would do differently next time is to add some pork sausage to it. It may not be bacon, but it’s equally as tasty. Mmmm pork, the wonder animal.
Is there anything it can’t do? *name that TV show*
This may be a teensy bit labor intensive for what you get out of it, but it is worth every morsel.
If you’d like the actual recipe go pick up a copy of Martha’s newest Everyday Food magazine.
Okay fine, maybe it doesn’t have the same ring to it as “More Cowbell”, not that that has much of a ring to it either, but there are no words to describe the utter sinfully deliciousness that this is.
It’s that time of the year where everything is pumpkin, everything has an orange tint to it and if I were to scarf down much more I’m going to start taking on a shade that lends itself to fake tanning… but no it would be due to pumpkin, not indoor lightbulb cancer.
A couple of weeks ago Ms. Lauren of Lauren’s Latest posted her recipe for Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream. Her recipe spoke to me in no uncertain terms. The message was somewhere between an “If you make it they will come” and “Follow me to the dark side, we have ice cream”. No buts about it, I could not resist the call of homemade pumpkin ice cream.
Instead of going the route of Pumpkin Pie ice cream, I wanted to take it up a notch – with cheesecake. *Hallelujah*
Traditionally, cheescakes and I don’t get along. Water-bathing my cheesecakes always end in disaster with a leak that I thought was plugged, or my oven protesting that I over-work it and it refusing to get to or maintain a proper temperature. And this time, was no different. The recipe I used for my initial cheesecake was appropriately named “Perfect Pumpkin Cheesecake” and indeed it was perfect – except for the protesting oven, it got too hot and ended up overcooking my cheesecake!
Then I proceeded to pour myself a glass of wine and eat a slice out of sheer resentment. The cheesecake was NOT going to beat me. It was a delicious victory, if you want to call it that.
Now, I should note something – if you don’t want to make a whole cheesecake, I won’t judge. There are plenty of them about in local groceries, so if there is a slice pre-made that you’d rather pick up and toss into your gelato – by all means, do it! Save yourself the time in front of the stove.
So, for the gelato and your grocery list include:
~ 2 cups Half and Half
~ 2 cups Heavy Whipping Cream
~ 5 egg yolks
~ 1 tsp Vanilla
~ 1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
~ ½ c. Sugar
~ ½ c. Brown Sugar
~ 1 ½ c. Pumpkin Puree (Not Pumpkin Pie Mix)
~ 1 slice Pumpkin Cheesecake
The night before, I put my ice cream freezing bowl into the freezer to get a chill on. And yesterday, I prepped the pumpkin custard. I started by whisking together the two sugars. One half was going to be immediately incorporated into the egg yolks and the other into the cream mixture.
Into the five egg yolks, half of the sugar went and the two were whisked into fluffy submission.
And no, there’s no after shot. Once the eggs and half of the sugar mixture is whisked, set aside.
For the cream mixture I decided it was time to up the fat content of my ice cream. In the past times I’ve made ice cream and gelato, it’s begun to develop freezer crystals quite soon after. Attributing this to the lack of fat content, I decided this time instead of using half and half and whole milk, I was going to jack it up with half and half and whipping cream.
And here is where my Weight Watchers points for the day took a nose dive.
In a medium saucepan, the creams, other sugar, vanilla, pumpkin, and pumpkin pie spice was heated over medium heat until it just began to boil.
Once it was heated enough to just bubble a couple of times, 1 cup of the cream was removed and used to temper the egg/sugar mixture I’d set aside earlier. This will help bring the eggs up to temperature a bit more gradually than if you just dumped them in there unceremoniously. Over cooked eggs in a custard ice cream is the last thing you want.
Once the eggs were tempered, they were added into the saucepan with the rest of the ingredients and left to heat up until it had all begun to thicken. The true test that the custard was ready when it coated the back of my spatula. After this, I poured it all into a large mixing bowl and placed it into the fridge to cool off for a couple of hours. You can leave it over night, if you’d like. But who are we kidding, you dipped a spoon into the warm cream and you realize this is something that can’t wait to be made over night! Pish posh!
With a cooled custard and a frozen ice cream bowl, I went to work.
After pouring the cooled custard into the ice cream maker, my patience was feigning and I admit to dipping my spoon into it a time or two.
(Whoopsie daisies – it went a little overboard…)
But after 20 minutes it was ready to go. So feel free to serve this immediately, or put it into an air tight container and serve later.
Don’t lie to yourself and say you can wait on this one – it’s so good – you can’t. Just do it. Be bad, I won’t tell.
On a drizzly day earlier this year I played the role of tour guide to some friends from out of town. We ate seafood to our hearts, drank local beer, and felt our jeans shrink a size in a few short hours. Today, feeling slightly nostalgic and needing good food, it was only appropriate to whip up our favorite dish of the day in Seattle – Crab Benedict.
A couple of days ago one of Beka and my “third 3rd roommates” from college came home from the San Juans with a hefty dose of crab for us. What a guy! With two crabs to split between Ben and I, we were busting at the seams somewhere between delicious nirvana and gluttony. A half of a crab did remain, and so it was shelled and kept for tonight’s dinner.
Eggs Benedict is notoriously fattening, but sans hollandaise it’s really not quite so bad. Calculating it all out for my Weight Watchers plan gave me a whole serving of Crab Bennie for only 6 points! What up, weight loss?
Here are the tricks for the perfect Eggs Bennie.
I used a double fiber whole wheat english muffin for this bad boy. 120 calories and 8 grams of fiber, hello. The addition of extra greens, like a handful of spinach definitely took away a boat load of guilt and added zero, ziltch, nada in extra points. Score!
Two ounces of lump crab meat was needed for each bennie, so a quick steam to reheat and they were gently laid upon the bed of greens ready for me to devour.
The hollandaise was probably the most intimidating part. Sure there’s the easy road – hollandaise in a packet, and no I’m not judging. Feeling adventurous and daring, I set out to find a perfectly creamy and dreamily yellow hollandaise to make in a snap. Where does one turn for the perfect hollandaise recipe? PW, of course. Five minutes and done.
Then for the poached egg, I simmered a deep skillet full of water and added 2 tablespoons of vinegar to it. The vinegar is key. The pH of the water is changed and facilitates in keeping the egg whites together in the bath. Who wants frayed whites? No one, that’s who!
Three minutes bathing in simmering water resulted in gently whitened whites and a buttery yolk ready to seep into each nook and cranny of the english muffin and slather itself over the spinach.
Two tablespoons of, as Ben calls it, “Holiday Sauce” and we were off to the races. Lawdy help me.
This was a 25 minute meal, perfect for two. 6 points to boot and zero guilt. All equalling Megan being 2 sizes down.
Being that Ben is in class during prime dinner time four nights a week means that once I get home, there’s about 30 minutes of good quality time we get to spend together before we (meaning “I”) have to start on dinner to get him out the door and to learning all he needs to know to become a world class nurse. Scrubs are hot, just sayin’.
During the week it’s imperative that we have healthy, quick and nutritious meals. Some days are better than others in that department. But one of the recipes in our (meaning “my”) back pocket is ATK’s Spa Chicken. Yup, another adapted ATK recipe for ya. The beauty behind this recipe is that you can vary and substitute whatever herbs you want into it with luxurious and well, spa-esque results every time.
For your grocery list be sure to add:
~ 1 pound Chicken Breast
~ 1 1/2 cup Water
~ 2 tsp. low-sodium Soy Sauce
~ Salt and Pepper
~ 2 cloves Garlic, peeled and smashed
~ 1 Tbsp Cilantro, minced
~ 4 sprigs Lemon Thyme
~ 1 Tbsp Chives, minced
In a large non-stick skillet, whisk together the water, soy, garlic and herbs bringing to a simmer over medium-low heat.
Pat the chicken breasts dry and season with salt and pepper. I prefer sea salt for seasoning, but that’s just personal preference.
Once your water has come to a simmer (don’t let it come to a rolling boil)f, place the chicken boobs in there and cover with lid letting them simmer away for 10 minutes.
After that 10 minutes, flip and continue to cook for an addition 7-10 minutes, or until the temperature in the thickets part of the chicken registers 165.
Serve over a bed of fresh spinach and a side of extra vege and your’e off to the races.
Oh, and the best part. It’s only 4 Weight Watchers points a serving. Boo-yah! Now that’s something to relax over!
When cooking blueberry muffins, or anything else that has watery berries in it like Blackberry Icebox Pie, cook down half of your berries over a stove, adding in 1/2 cup of sugar and make a mock jam out of them. This will concentrate their flavor and reduce the excess moisture that would leave your dish bland and wicked of that berry flavored punch we so adore.
Sharper Knives are Safer Knives.
Invest in a good set of knives. Like, for real. There is nothing like a good, balanced and sharp knife.
The sharper they are the SAFER they are. Completely counter intuitive, but absolutely true.
Less slippage and cleaner cuts. When you aren’t muscling your way through a cut of meat, or slicing an apple – it will be much prettier and less bloody than if you slipped and ran the blade over your hand.
My enameled cast iron dutch oven baby. My hunny loves me.
Cook with cast iron.
Last forever. Cheap. Distributes heat evenly. When seasoned properly they are virtually non-stick. They don’t have all of the pesky carcinogens and chemicals coating them that more mainstream modern non-stick cookware contains.
And they’re terribly romantic and nostalgic. They’re nostalgic, because what good grandmother doesn’t have one or two of her very own. And romantic for their old west roots, with cowboys cooking over a hot fire, and wearing cowboy hats and chaps…sorry, I got a little distracted there.
Sure, they’re pretty darn heavy. But if you haul enough cast iron around your kitchen you’ll get a good arm workout. So maybe it’s a “pro”, after all.
There is nothing more rewarding than when you get your first poached egg perfect. The keys are to use a shallow pan, about 3″ deep and gently lay the egg into the simmering water. It’s like putting a fish into a new bowl, you don’t just DROP it in – you lay it in there gently.
And while you bring your water to a simmer – add 1 tablespoon of Vinegar to it. The pH will help the whites stay together and not fray at the edges. Nifty, and works every time.
When you master the poached egg, you also conquer patience. Something I’m usually short on.
I was also asked what my biggest cooking fails were and much like my first (non)-experience on Splash Mountain at Disneyland where I screamed, cried and refused to get on, my biggest cooking failures are mostly repressed memories. Much like Splash Mountain.
But occasionally, you can salvage those mishaps and turn them into complete and unprecedented successes. My Bacon Maple Cupcake Bread Pudding, was one of those incidents. And it will go down in infamy as a raving success.
Always find the positive and don’t let one mis-step beat you.
Easier said than done, I know.
Eventually, everything will fall into it’s proper place and you can claim kitchen victory.
Shout it from the rooftops, spatula and glass of wine in hand – VICTORY IS MINE!
What are your biggest and most utilized cooking and kitchen tips?
*UPDATE* And the winner of the $20 giftcard to MasonJar Primitives and chosen by Random.org is…
Darlin’, I know you are going to love the heck out of this prize. MJP melts have been burning in my house non-stop and I still can’t get enough.
Thanks again to Suzy, my homegirl back from the land of rolling wheat fields, aka Colfax, and her daughter and creative candle melt genius, Christina, for providing us this fantastic giveaway.
And remember, even if you didn’t win. Be sure to stop by the shop and pick something up for yourself or someone you love. ________________________________________________________________________________
Before we know it fall time will be over and the pumpkin smell will dissipate from our homes. It is a sad day when the holidays are over and we are forced to smell the mundane and lack luster smells of normalcy. Sorry, I’m just a little attached to the smell of pumpkin pies and fall – anything other than that smell just doesn’t compare and doesn’t rank on my smell-o-meter.
(Lumps of Coal in Plumberry Spice – smells like sweet pine)
But one way to prolong that smell a little longer is with some melts and candles. You can’t deny that they do give you the aroma that you crave, permeating the home and transporting you back to the holidays. Nothing wrong with that! And now with all of the fabulous candles and melts you can find in stores, you can get that smell all year long. The only downside being that candles get really expensive! When was the last time that you found a good jar candle for less than twenty bucks?
(Melts in Southern Creme Brulee, Banana Nut Bread, Apple Spice, Cinnamon Mocchiato)
Well, no more! This week I will be giving away a $20 giftcard for MasonJar Primitives. I was turned on to MJP by a friend of mine Suzy, who lives back in my beloved Palouse. Her daughter Christina is the maker of the most mouthwatering smells that MJP has to offer.
Christina is a Marine-wife living on the east coast, raising two beautiful boys and providing a loving and nurturing household for her family. When her first born, Mason, was diagnosed with respiratory issues as a wee pup she thought her candle burning would be put on indefinite hiatus. But with the melts she’s created, she can plug in an electric and make her home smell utterly delicious without running the risk of putting her boys health into jeopardy. And with two rambuncious boys padding around, candles also posed a safety issue as well. Hence, the melts.
(Carmel Dipped Apple in Pumpkin Apple Tart flavor)
Her candle melty deliciousness is all made by her, lovingly packed and shipped through her Etsy shop, MasonJar Primitives. And it’s all fabulously priced! The $20 gift card will go a long way to making your house smell incredible all year long.
Mandatory for Entry:
Stop by Christina’s Etsy shop and leave a comment telling me what you would buy if you were the lucky winner!
~Like me on Facebook, leaving me a comment you did.
~ Follow me on Twitter, leaving me a comment you did.
~ Become a Google Follower, leaving me a comment you did.
~ Tweet about this giveaway, leaving me a comment yada yada yada.
~ Share this giveaway on Facebook, and leave me a comment here!
That’s a total of 6 entries. 6 chances to make your house smell delicious all year ’round.
This giveaway will conclude on Friday, October 21st. Now, go enter and make your home smell incredible.
*Obligatory Author’s Note – I was provided with these melts by Christina to test out and review. The opinions are my own. I’m so delighted to be given this set to review and help promote a hard working military wife and mother.*
We all know what kind of America’s Test Kitchen weirdo I am. It’s been well documented. And the recipe below is no different.
But first, there is news.
Last week I received a wonderful e-mail from the fine folks of ATK letting me know five other bloggers and myself had been selected to review their soon to be released Menu Cookbook! How neato-burrito is that?
The other bloggers and myself will be hosting dinner parties for 8 guests, each fixing up a different dinner party menu. ATK’s Menu Cookbook outlines various different menus based on food themes, from provencal bistro to family style Italian, which I will be preparing. So keep an eye out on the ATK Feed page for all of the deliciousness that gets created and meet some really exceptional foodies while you’re at it. Meet the lineup here.
Now, for the food!
For Christmas Ben’s family got me a copy of the ATK Healthy Family Cookbook and I’ve been hooked ever since. They take all of the classic recipes we all know, putting a much healthier and just as tasty spin on them. Less guilt but just as much flavor as the originals. You can’t lose.
Earlier this week I made their Meat and Cheese Lasagna. With Ben having class almost every night during the week, there is a limited amount of time we get to spend together and the last thing that I want to do is spend the 2 hours we see each other everyday in front of a stove. This lasagna made the perfect dinner with plenty of leftovers for us to reheat and devour on his busy school nights.
The only substitution I made to this recipe was using beef instead of the required ground chicken, because let’s face it – I was way to lazy to go the store and battle rush hour traffic. We all know that feeling.
For your Grocery List be sure to include:
~ 1 cup Non-Fat Shredded Mozarella
~ 16 oz. Non-Fat Ricotta
~ 1/2 cup Shredded Parmesan
~ 1/4 tsp Ground Pepper
~ 1/4 tsp Salt
~ 1 cup chopped Basil
~ 1 pound Ground Chicken or 90/10 Ground Beef
~ 1 medium onion, diced
~ 1 28oz can Diced Tomatoes
~ 1 28oz. can Crushed Tomatoes
~ 2 Tbsp. Minced Garlic
~ 1 pkg. No-Boil Lasagna Noodles
In a large bowl, whisk together the ricotta, 1/2 of your shredded mozzarella, the parmesan cheese, the salt, pepper and 1/2 of the chopped basil.
Whisk into tasty cheesy oblivion. Oblivion never looked so good.
Once all of these have been mixed together throughly, place in the fridge to meld until the final preparation.
Reserve the other half cup of basil for later.
In a large non-stick skillet, saute the diced onion until they are in the in-between sweated and translucent phase. Once this has happened, toss in your meat and brown throughly. Once it has just turned, drain off the excess grease. This is a healthy lasagna, remember?
Add each can of tomato to the skillet, not forgetting the garlic! Shame on you if you omit the garlic.
Over medium-high heat, let the mixture start to reduce and thicken. Once it has you’re ready to prep and bake!
After pre-heating your oven to 425, grab a 9×13 dish or 2 9×9 pans if you’d like to make one and freeze one, and spray with non-stick spray. On the bottom layer add 1 cup of meat sauce and spread evenly.
Top with no-boil noodles and then spread the ricotta mixture over the top of each noodle. Then layer more sauce, noodles and ricotta on each subsequent layer.
Top the last layer with meat sauce and the other half cup of your chopped basil.
Cover and bake for 45 minutes, making sure you place your lasagna on a foil lined baking sheet to prevent over flow. One it has baked, uncover topping with the rest of the mozzarella and continue to bake for 20-25 more minutes.
Positively delicious straight out of the oven and still wonderful reheated on those chaotic nights.
Being too cheap to invest in the wonders of cable, has really put my cooking show and Food Network addiction to a screeching halt. Due to this personal injustice that I have inflicted on myself, I have missed years, YEARS, of fabulous programming from cooks like Pioneer Woman,who throws culinary caution to the wind and cooks from the heart , Paula Deen who adds an extra stick of butter to any and every dish just in case, and last but not least Alton Brown who mixes the wonders of science and geekdom with the glories of food.
Seeing as I’ve missed out on so much, when my bestie presented me with the opportunity to meet One of the Greats, I had to join in. Who would I be to leave her hanging? With there being no cake classes to hold that night and the promise of caffeine and coffee the next day, I had to partake. If the roles were reversed she would sit through a PW book signing with me, I had to submit and do this one for her. Needless to say…
Holy crap am I glad I did!
Not only is sir Alton geeky on TV, but he did not disappoint in person. Bow tie and all! For nearly an hour he took audience questions, ranging from “Who is your favorite Iron Chef?” asked by an adorable little toe-head to “Why Welch’s?” All valid questions.
You name it, it was probably asked. The answers to these questions included, “I’m not dumb enough to answer That question…all the Iron Chefs are snowflakes. They have knives, I’m not answering”, and “Worst dish? Raw Trout Ice Cream!”
And as for why the Welch’s pitches, “It goes great with gin.”
Straight shooter, I like that.
After all of the questions were answered and Beka was bouncing on the edge of her seat, the book signing began. We continued to sit for about an hour and a half, butt bones aching and growing fidget-tier by the minute. The snaking line wrapped almost entirely around the downstairs section of the bookstore.
As the winding line grew shorter, us two weary book-signing travelers meandered up the stairs into the dwindling line.
Through the Children’s section we wound, stumbling upon this beauty.
Bawr! A beer wanting his hat back? What jerk would do such a thing? He looks so cute and cuddly, he needs some love. And a hat!
Next on our kids book stroll we came across “Bake Sale”. Is it weird that cupcakes selling cupcakes is part of childrens’ reading fodder? It’s like cupcake cannibalism…
Finally, we were within eyesight of said Great One. Just as Beka was about to piddle like a puppy, we were up!
(Subconscious says, Piddle? Really Megan, you just jumped ahead 25 years to become your mother…)
He was so patient with the two of us fumbling with our things, asking us polite questions and even cracking a few funnies. Then…
Welcome to Country Cleaver, where country comfort and convenient cooking come together. Follow my adventures of self-reliant country cooking and baking from scratch with a little life mixed in for kicks! ...more