Tag Archives: friends visiting from out of town

Guess Who’s Back? [Lasagna Recipe]

21 Feb

Back again. Throwback anyone?

Thanks for being so patient while I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off. I have been so busy trying to be a good host for my friend Lars that I have had little time for anything else! I haven’t been to the gym in a week – can you believe that? People from the gym were legitimately calling me to find out if I was okay. You know you’re a gym rat when…

Anyway, I’m back and so ready to get back on the healthy living train. That’s not to say I didn’t have a good time with Lars. I had so much fun showing him around America’s capitol. I took him to Old Town Alexandria for their annual President’s Day parade…

IMG_2054[1]And out for yummy eats…

Chocolate fondue at Bread & Chocolate

Chocolate fondue at Bread & Chocolate

One of the biggest music scenes in D.C. is the jazz circuit on U Street, so one night we went out to Bohemian Caverns to catch a great jazz concert.

IMG_2065[1]And Lars, being American for the day, had deep fried Oreos for dessert.

IMG_2066[1]Excuse the dark photo, the venue was in a cavernous basement with very little light.

One of the things the often comes up when people come to visit is meals out. Aside from breakfast and one dinner at home, every meal we had was at some sort of restaurant. Not only does that get expensive, it can sometimes be difficult to find healthy options.

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Falafel pita with side salad at Busboys & Poet

I didn’t stress about it too much, but I am happy to go back to making my lunches and dinners. The one meal I did make for us at home was a big pan of lasagna. I made it for us on Sunday evening and there are still leftovers in my fridge!

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This recipe is so easy and delicious – classic Italian comfort food.

Classic Italian Lasagna

Makes 16 3″x3″ slices
  • 1 package Trader Joe’s no-boil lasagna noodles (or similar – alternatively, you could use 16 oz. lasagna noodles, cooked)
  • 1 pound ground beef (I used 80% lean, but you could use a leaner meat if you wanted)
  • 1 jar (usually 24-28 oz.) spaghetti sauce
  • 1 14.5-oz. can of tomato sauce
  • 1 14.5-oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 16 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 12 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 teaspoons fresh basil, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  1. In large skillet, brown meat; drain and return to pan.
  2. Stir in spaghetti sauce and pasta sauce; simmer 10 minutes while preparing ricotta filling (see below).
  3. Heat oven to 350°F.
  4. In large bowl, stir together ricotta cheese, 1.5 cups mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, oregano, basil, garlic, salt and pepper.
  5. Spread about 1/2 cup meat sauce on bottom of 13 x 9 glass baking dish. Arrange 4-6 pasta pieces lengthwise over sauce, overlapping edges. Spread 1/3 cheese mixture over pasta; spread with about 3/4 cup meat sauce.
  6. Repeat layers in the pasta, cheese, meat sauce order. Top with can of diced tomatoes (this will make it look very juicy but don’t worry – most of the liquid will soak in, leaving the lasagna nice and moist); sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese.
  7. Cover with foil. Bake 45 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Remove foil; bake until cheese is lightly browned, ~10 minutes.
  8. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

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Buon appetito!

 

 

 

Last Day of WOL + Chocolate Covered Strawberries [recipe]

15 Feb

Good morning, world! It’s Friday and I am so grateful.

Stefano and I had a very nice, low-key Valentine’s day celebration, which was exactly what I was hoping for.

IMG_2040[1]We ended up having southwestern-style stuffed bell peppers (recipe next week) and a big ol’ salad.

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We exchanged cards and had some lovely conversation, but we were basically just waiting until we could get to these:

IMG_2042[1]I decided to try my hand at chocolate covered strawberries because I don’t think I’ve ever even had one and I know I’ve never made them. Luckily, it turned out to be pretty straightforward.

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

Makes 12 strawberries

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  • 1 dozen strawberries
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (milk, semi-sweet, doesn’t matter!)
  • Optional: shredded coconut or other toppings to sprinkle on.
  1. First I washed and dried the strawberries and laid them on a cookie sheet that was covered with parchment paper.
  2. I put a big pot of water on the stove, then made a make-shift double boiler by putting a glass bowl inside and turning the heat up to medium.
  3. After added the chocolate chips to the double boiler, I made sure to stir frequently and keep a close eye on the melting status. Pro-tip: Be sure not to get any water inside the bowl – it will totally ruin the consistency of the chocolate.
  4. As soon as the chocolate was melted through, I turned the heat down to low (make sure you don’t burn the chocolate) and started dipping away.
  5. After placing the chocolate-dipped strawberries on the tray, I sprinkled some shredded coconut on each strawberry (you want to do this while the chocolate is still hot so it will stick!).
  6. Once I finished dipping and topping the strawberries, I popped the whole tray in the fridge and sat down for dinner. By the time we had finished eating, the chocolate had hardened and those little babies were ready to eat!

This is such an easy yet indulgent treat and you can make as few or as many as you want – the recipe is totally flexible.

Since today is Friday, it is the last day of the Week of Love Challenge. Sad days! I was enjoying making the conscious decision to express my love to the people I care about. Today’s challenge is to remind us that we are all connected to each other and it is up to us to care for the people all around us. Therefore, I present to you the Random Act of Kindness Challenge!

WOLFri

Can’t wait to hear about the wonderful RAKs you do today!

This weekend I have so many things to look forward to. Tonight is a birthday dinner for my friend Ellen at Ardeo Bardeo. I have been there for brunch before, but this will be my first time for dinner. Then on Saturday, I am going to bust a move or two at a Zumba party with Allison! The event is being put on by Vida, one of the gyms in DC and is taking place from 5-7 PM at the U Street Music Hall. DMV-ers, come join the party (and after party)! I’m sure I am going to look ridiculous, but it’s going to be amazing.

On Sunday I have to prepare for the arrival of a special guest. My friend Lars is visiting the US for the very first time from Germany and will be hanging out with me until Wednesday. I am so excited to show him around, but I feel a tremendous amount of pressure to make sure I help give a good impression 🙂 I have plenty of day-time ideas, but if anybody from the area wants to recommend places to go/things to do in the evenings, I am totally open to suggestions.

Do you have any fun plans for the weekend? Spill!

Wishing you the happiest of weekends – I love you guys!

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