Archive | January 2011

Lasagna

I know, it’s taken forever for me to get this one up. I’ve been extremely busy with three different projects and on top of that, I’m about to move again. There will be some big announcements coming up soon, but nothing to do with cooking, so we’ll just leave that be for now. =)

Today, I bring you my lasagna recipe. I say MY recipe because I’m very picky when it comes to lasagna. I don’t like ricotta cheese, so it’s not in my recipe, but by all means add it if you’d like. It just reminds me of cottage cheese, which is a poor substitute for ricotta cheese and which I hate. Don’t ever serve an Italian any Italian dish with cottage cheese as the substitute. You might get whacked.

Note that this recipe is entirely homemade, including the sauce. You may substitute jarred sauce, but please don’t tell me you did it. That’s like sacrilege to an Italian.

Lasagna

Photo credit: Jinxie G

Ingredients:

1 pkg (8oz.) lasagna noodles

1-2 lbs. ground beef (you can substitute ground turkey for this, but you’ll need to add ground sage to season it. It just helps it taste better)

marinara sauce (recipe below)

mozzarella cheese (4 cups)

Colby jack cheese (4 cups)

6 tblsp. Parmesan cheese (or 2 cups)

3 eggs

First, you’ll need to make the sauce. Below, I’ve added my marinara recipe, which can also be found here.

Marinara

Photo credit: Jinxie G

Ingredients:
1 29 oz. can of tomato sauce (it doesn’t have to be a name brand)
2-3 cloves of fresh garlic (or 1-2 teaspoons of minced garlic*)
Extra virgin olive oil
Garlic powder
Onion powder (optional)
Italian seasonings (optional)

*Note: the minced garlic can be found in a jar at the store so you don’t have to mince a clove or two of garlic yourself. Keep it in the refrigerator. I prefer fresh garlic and enjoy the hell out of my garlic press. And as you can see from the multiple cloves sitting on that cutting board, I love garlic! =)

Add a splash or two of extra virgin olive oil to the pan, then add your garlic and sauté it on medium to low-medium heat. You’ll want to sauté it to a golden brown. Be careful not to burn the garlic.

 

Once the garlic is ready, add the can of tomato sauce and about half a can of water. Depending on how thick or thin you like your sauce, adjust the portion of water.

 

Bring the sauce to a boil and stir occasionally. As the sauce boils, you’ll see a foam rising to the top.

 

Skim the foam off. I usually keep the tomato sauce can on the stove just for this purpose. You can dump the foam in there. Continue to boil until it no longer foams – about 15 minutes or so – and stir. After you’ve skimmed the sauce, you can add garlic powder. Allow it to simmer another 15 minutes and add other desired seasonings to taste–onion powder and Italian seasonings.

 

This sauce takes about an hour to cook.

Next, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brown the ground hamburger. I like to add spices to the hamburger as it’s browning: garlic powder, onion powder and Italian seasonings, but remember that you’ve used these in the sauce as well so don’t go overboard on spices or it’ll turn out to be a vampire’s worst nightmare.

Note: I do not pre-cook the noodles. The juices from the rest of the ingredients will do the job just fine.

Once the hamburger is ready, stir it into the sauce and let it simmer. While that’s simmering, you can prepare the cheeses. Now, I’ve given you measurements to go by, but honestly, I just eyeball it and use my hands. Use about 3/4ths of the cheeses and mix them together in a large bowl with the 3 eggs. This will be your cheese layer.

Grab a 13x9x2 baking dish and line up 3 lasagna noodles on the bottom of the dish. Yes, they won’t look big enough, but pasta expands. Next, spoon a layer of the meat sauce over the noodles. Cover them nicely, but not too much.

Then do a layer of your cheese mix.

Repeat this process until you run out of ingredients or room to layer. Don’t forget that you’ll need a little room on top for the remainder of  sauce and cheese.

Once you’ve finished with all of your layers, top the dish with the remaining cheeses (sans eggs and you may have cheese left over) and cover with foil. You will bake this for 30 minutes. After that, remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let it stand for 10 minutes before serving. Cut pieces out with a spatula and serve.

From the photo at the top, you’ll see I served this dish with breadsticks. A perfect compliment to the meal, as is a fine Cabernet Sauvignon.

As I said earlier, you can add whatever you like to the layers. Some suggestions would be zucchini, squash or the like. That’s what one of my many brothers does and it’s also amazing!

Piacere!

Vive bene, spesso l’amore, di risata molto!

(live well, love much, and laugh often)

Advertisements

My (own version of my) Weekend in ABQ

Photo credit: Jinxie_G

As most of you know, the weekend before last—the 14th through the 17th—I attended the Albuquerque Comicon. My first ever Comicon, mind you. Upon my return, and after a few days of rest, I was able to post THIS on the ZSC website. Of course, I had insomnia the night before so at the time I wrote it, I’d been awake for approximately 24 hours, which would extend to 35 by the time I finally went to sleep. Juliette helped write the post, though she was exhausted too. The insomnia stems from excitement, stress, and my mind running a bah-jillion miles a second. What else is new, right? You know how this works, don’t you? You’ve been through it with me once or twice before, except I’m not all sad and depressed now. There’s a nice change. *big smile*

Also? ADD—Attention Deficit…oh look, a flower! ADD is inherently pronounced when one is exhausted. That means it takes forever to do just a few things on your To Do list. Apparently, it took me 35 hours to write a post and edit someone’s book.

Ooh, shiny!

Yeah.

The first leg of my trip? Driving for six hours on unfamiliar roads. I’ve driven to Albuquerque before. Four and a half years ago, I made that drive with a friend to watch Nine Inch Nails. After the show, we drove back and were home by sunrise. It’s a six hour drive. No biggie. Being the nocturnal creature I am I’m fine with driving all night. I also used to drive through Albuquerque a lot on my way to Denver or La Junta, CO. But I’d never traveled that distance by myself or along the I-10 to the I-25 and up. I’m used to going through Payson and up to I-40, where I have broken down just outside of Albuquerque before. Remember when the Firestone tires were bad on Ford Explorers? Yeah, lost half my tread that day. Fun! That was when I was married many years ago. My ex-fiancé worked for Firestone until a few years ago. Guess what tires I have on my Avalanche. Not that they’re bad anymore, but I was a little nervous about my drive, yet excited all the same. Luckily, I made it to the Hilton in one piece . . . and so did my ‘lanche.

The decision for me to make this trip was not one I made lightly. I’m about to move again; back up to the Tempe area to take care of Umi. I’ll refrain from beating the shit out of Akhi until after he helps me move. He let our mother eat Ramen for two weeks straight. You want to beat the shit out of him too right now, don’t you? By all means, help a girl out and hold him down. I won’t mind. He’s taller than me now. Anyway, my idiot brother aside, I’ll be taking care of my mother once again and making sure she’s eating right, among other things. You know I wear many hats in all the things I do, right? Where’s my hat for that? I’d thought I’d retired the damn thing. Apparently not.

It cost me two tanks of gas for this trip. Could I have used that elsewhere? Yes. I could have used it for a moving truck. Money will be really tight now, especially since my brother doesn’t feel like paying his goddamn phone bill. Sorry, I’m in a bit of a venting mood and this is my personal blog, not professional one.

Would I have regretted not experiencing this? Abso-fucking-lutely! The weekend spent in Albuquerque was so completely EPIC, that I cannot even begin to describe it to you outside of the post on the ZSC blog. Many things that happened I can’t tell you about or couldn’t tweet at the time. No, it’s not a ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’ situation (I always say ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas . . . unless you’re with a writer *evil grin*). It has to do with business and things Juliette and I don’t wish to reveal. We worked incredibly hard that weekend, Juliette in full war correspondent mode—amazing to witness and it sucks that I can’t tell you about it.

But I can tell you a few things . . . .

Photo credit: Anthony Guajardo

Anthony Guajardo is a total sweetheart and I adore him. Love his mom Lisa too.

We met all three Boondock Saints the first night. I even got my picture taken with two of them.

Photo credit: Lisa Guajardo

David Della Rocco with Juliette and me.

Photo credit: Lisa Guajardo

Norman Reedus with me and Juliette.

Although I missed my opportunity to get a photo with Sean Patrick Flanery the first night (because I’m a stupid shy bitch and was tipsy by then—alcohol does not give me courage for certain things, like approaching celebrities, which I DON’T do EVER), I was able to get the photo the next night, which was also stupid because of my lovely hangover . . . er, I mean, because I was sick. *ahem* So, I ended up with this shot where I look like hell and Sean looks like Demon Hunter revisited with those eyes. Sorry, Sean, I couldn’t help it. =p

Photo credit: Anthony Guajardo

Sean Patrick Flanery and me.

Why did it take me two nights to get a damn photo with Sean? Because I’m the quiet observer, always. I sit back and watch everything. It’s actually quite entertaining. *evil grin* All three gentlemen were wonderful and nice and I can’t wait to see them again, especially now that they’re all on the crew. We’re happy to have them!

I met Daniel Logan as well (young Boba Fett), and he’s just awesome and hilarious too. Had me laughing so hard on Sunday most of the day.

Jim, the man who put the Comicon together, was great and I’m so happy for him and his success. Dave, Anthony’s concierge, I’d like to keep with me at all times, as he was tireless at taking care of us, bringing us water, lunch, and candy for a boost in energy.

We met some wonderful people too: Cody, Karen, Elijah and Albert. *waves* They gave us a ride home from the bar and grill Saturday night. Albuquerque rocks!

Juliette, Anthony and I did film something on Sunday night, which was hilariously fun, and I can’t wait to see what Anthony does with all the clips. I’m just the camera girl. I made him director.

By the time Monday morning rolled around, I was damn near exhausted from lack of sleep and being in a near constant state of go-go-go. I don’t know how some of you people do it. Seriously. Of course, I used to be like that too. I’ll definitely be hitting the gym again soon and fixing my beach cruiser–The Betty. Time to ride again, baby!

I dropped Juliette off at the airport Monday afternoon and began my trek home, where again I had no issues with the ‘lanche, thank God. It’s just a bit of a lonely drive, that distance for that amount of time. It also had my imagination in overdrive.

BEST WEEKEND EVER! I can’t wait to see if I can top that.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go figure out where I’m going to live and how I’m going to get all my stuff there, along with figuring out what to do with my Moonbug because she can’t climb stairs and no lower level apartments are available at this time. I have a shit-ton of phone calls to make on Tuesday afternoon, and I hope some of you will remind me if you see me on Twitter when I wake up. Please?

Thanks. You’re awesome!

 

Loss – Lisa Sabine

I was going to vlog this because I thought perhaps filming it would be easier than writing about it, but I suck at video editing and there isn’t enough light around this place to get it right, so . . .

I logged out of my Jinxie Facebook today and into my “other” account to see what was going on over there. I have different people friended over there and it’s become a more professional account for me for the writing/editing. Upon logging in, I got a slap in the face when I saw I’d been tagged in a note. Regardless of the wonderful weekend I spent in Albuquerque at the Comicon and meeting the Boondock Saints, I discovered today that one of my best friends in high school passed away on October 10, 2010 due to cancer. She was my age. That’s too soon in my book.

Lisa Sabine – I’d met her in eighth grade at McKemy Junior High when she moved to Arizona from England. I’d then met her again at McClintock High School a couple of years later, and she, Rhonda and I quickly became the Durannie trio. We loved Duran Duran. We’d talk about them, dream about them, fantasize about them (c’mon, I was a teenager). I have many pictures of our nights out before/during/after dances, parties, graveyard scenes (don’t judge), but my scanner isn’t working right now so I can’t show them to you. Lisa was a vivacious and wonderful person whom I regret losing track of over the years. But then, I don’t really talk to anyone from that era anymore. At least, not until the existence of Facebook. She’d moved back to England many years ago and that is where she passed away.

Rhonda asked that we raise a glass and listen to one Duran Duran song in remembrance of our friend. So, here’s to you, Lisa . . .

You have been missed, you will be missed, and may you rest in peace.

I picked a special B-side song just for you. It’s Fame: tinysong.com/vSAB

Love you, girl. Always.

Marinara

I suppose if I’m going to share any Italian recipes with you it might help if I give you the base ingredient to most of them–the marinara sauce. Marinara means “no meat.”

This is the sauce I now use for Red Clam sauce, Lasagna, Spaghetti and Meatballs (or not), Chicken Penne pasta, and pretty much any Italian dish that requires a red/tomato-based sauce. Now, growing up with the British side of my family, I never learned to sauté garlic in the pot first, which is why my Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe is a tad bland. I’ve learned freshly chopped/pressed garlic does change the taste of the sauce dramatically. I’ve also tweaked a few things with this original recipe to suit my own taste. I like garlic. What can I say? I also like other spices added to the mix.

Marinara Sauce

Ingredients:
1 29 oz. can of tomato sauce (it doesn’t have to be a name brand)
2-3 cloves of fresh garlic (or 1-2 teaspoons of minced garlic*)
Extra virgin olive oil
Garlic powder
Onion powder (optional)
Italian seasonings (optional)

*Note: the minced garlic can be found in a jar at the store so you don’t have to mince a clove or two of garlic yourself. Keep it in the refrigerator. I prefer fresh garlic.

Add a splash or two of extra virgin olive oil to the pan, then add your garlic and sauté it on medium to low-medium heat. You’ll want to sauté it to a golden brown. Be careful not to burn the garlic.

Once the garlic is ready, add the can of tomato sauce and about half a can of water. Depending on how thick or thin you like your sauce, adjust the portion of water.

Bring the sauce to a boil and stir occasionally. As the sauce boils, you’ll see a foam rising to the top.

Skim the foam off. I usually keep the tomato sauce can on the stove just for this purpose. You can dump the foam in there. Continue to boil until it no longer foams – about 15 minutes or so – and stir. After you’ve skimmed the sauce, you can add garlic powder. Allow it to simmer another 15 minutes and add other desired seasonings to taste–onion powder and Italian seasonings.

This sauce takes about an hour to cook. The beauty of this recipe is that the sauce is extremely versatile. You  can use it for any of your Italian dishes and just adjust the ingredients.

Piacere!

Vive bene, spesso l’amore, di risata molto!

(live well, love much, and laugh often)