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Blog

staying warm

Andrea

I have a confession to make...I haven’t run since my 5-mile accomplishment on Saturday.  :(  The problem with living in Virginia in the Winter is that its cold.  Really cold.  I know I’m a wimp to complain about 20* weather when so many of you live in places FAR colder but you have to understand that I grew up in Florida...this whole temperature getting below 50* in the Winter is still fairly new to me.  Each day this week I have planned on running, and each day I have chickened out.  Maybe its because the window in my office is so drafty that I have to wear my wool coat and scarf all day, and even then my poor little fingers are still icicles.  Or maybe its because when I get home all I want to do is create a meal that will be so satisfying and hearty that I will be warmed from the inside out after consuming it, like last night’s Ravioli Lasagna and Brussels Sprout Spaghetti.

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This idea came from Tina at Carrots & Cake, and originally from Real Simple magazine (I couldn't find a recipe link).  Lasagna noodles and ricotta are replaced with prepared ravioli pasta...I chose 365 Brand frozen 5 Cheese Ravioli.

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The raviolis are layered with pasta sauce (also 365 Brand), frozen spinach (thawed, excess water squeezed out) and part-skim mozzarella.  There are so many variations that could be played with.  I was thinking about an amazing portobello ravioli that a local pasta shop creates and how good that would be layered with additional mushrooms, olives and capers...yum!

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Were I to create the lasagna for a dinner party again I would probably use fresh ravioli in lieu of the frozen.  This would make the cost of the dish significantly higher, which is why I would reserve it for special occasions only.  The frozen raviolis were good, just chewier than fresh would have been.  Even with frozen raviolis this dish is more expensive than a classic lasagna with noodles would be, but its a fun take on a classic favorite that I will surely make again.

Basic Ravioli Lasagna (I encourage you to try different variations...next time I will add more veggies)

Ingredients:

  • (3) 8oz packages of fresh or frozen ravioli

  • (1) jar of pasta sauce

  • (1) 10oz package of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove excess liquid)

  • 1-1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella


Method:

  1. Ladle 1/2 cup of sauce into bottom of 9x9 glass baking dish.

  2. Layer one package of ravioli on top of sauce.

  3. Top with 1/2 of spinach and 1/2 cup of mozzarella.

  4. Ladle 1/3 of remaining sauce over mozzarella.

  5. Repeat steps 2-4.

  6. Layer last package of ravioli on top of sauce.

  7. Ladle remaining 1/3 of sauce over ravioli and top with last 1/2 cup of mozzarella.

  8. Bake at 350* for about 20 minutes, until lasagna is bubbly and top layer of cheese is just starting to brown.


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While the lasagna was baking I worked on a new brussels sprouts recipe.  Our go-to method for cooking brussels has been to roast them, and I'm getting a little tired of it.  We have them weekly, so I wanted to play around with different methods of preparing them.  A friend of mine told me about a recipe he and his wife cook often, where you slice the brussels into 1/8" pieces, essentially turning them into a slaw-like consistency.  You then sauté them in butter, toss them with linguine and serve.  I was intrigued, so we tried it.

Brussels Sprout Spaghetti

Ingredients:

  • lots of brussels...we probably had 20 medium-sized

  • 1 shallot, minced

  • 1 tbsp butter

  • whole wheat pasta (I used spaghetti, but will use angel hair next time)

  • juice from 1/2 a lemon

  • parmesan cheese, shaved


Method:

  1. Boil the pasta until soft.

  2. Meanwhile, saute' the brussels and shallot in 1/2 the butter until fragrant and beginning to brown.

  3. Drain the pasta and add to the brussels pan.  Add the last 1/2 of butter and toss all together. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  4. Serve with shaved parmesan on top.


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This dish was delicious, although I will definitely reduce the amount of pasta used next time, and will probably substitute angel hair for the spaghetti noodles.  The shaved parmesan really makes the dish, and I think it would be divine with bacon or pancetta added in.

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The evening was delicious, warm and satisfying.  But if I'm going to keep making dishes like this, I have to get over my fear of the cold and get back on the road for some runs!  Here's hoping the weather warms soon...