Tag Archives: Old Town Alexandria

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!

 

 

 

Adventure in Old Town

15 Jan

For our anniversary, Stef and I wanted to go somewhere we hadn’t visited before. We were originally thinking about going to Mount Vernon and picnicking, but the weather really wasn’t so great for that. Instead, we decided to head over to Old Town Alexandria to do some walking around.

IMG_1845[1]Old Town Alexandria is the eastern/southeastern area of Alexandria on the Potomac river and is one of the last remaining “colonial-style” towns in America and there’s so much history to it! Not only did Robert E. Lee grow up there, there is also a church that used to be attended by him, as well as George Washington (not at the same time, obviously)!

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The market square in town is one of the oldest continuously operating markets in the U.S. – it has been in use since 1753. It used to serve as one of the largest slave markets in America, but now it’s home to the Saturday farmer’s market in town.

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The town itself is very quaint and has a very colonial feel. Having grown up on the West coast, this was all very new and exciting to me and makes me want to travel to Boston even more than I already did! Near the end of King Street (the main drag), there was a busker who was playing Bach with water glasses! It was incredible – he managed to get such rich tones from the glasses.

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Behind him was the stop for the Old Town Trolley – a free bus that goes up towards the King St. metro stop and then back down to the waterfront. We ended up walking all over town, but it was nice that complimentary transportation was available for people who needed it.

IMG_1850[1]We arrived in town around 1:30 and hadn’t eaten lunch yet. Since he knows I turn into a majorly cranky girl when I’m hungry, Stef suggested that we grab some lunch before we started exploring in earnest. The restaurants in Old Town can be on the pricey side so, because we already had fancy dinner plans for the evening, we decided on a pretty simple lunch at a sports tavern called Bugsy’s. The restaurant is owned and operated by former NHL player Bryan Watson and his wife Lindy and the space is definitely set up for prime sports viewing.

I ordered the roasted veggie sandwich on focaccia bread and it came with roasted peppers, onions, mushrooms, Provolone cheese with tarragon mayonnaise. I asked them to hold the mayo because, for whatever reason, I can’t stand the taste/sight/smell of it.

IMG_1849[1]It came with a side of sliced Kalamata olives, which I wasn’t expecting, but I put them inside my sandwich and they added a nice, salty kick to it.

After lunch, we spent the afternoon walking all the way up King Street and then back down to our car. The street is so cute and I couldn’t get enough of the beautiful homes and storefronts.

IMG_1851[1]I was tempted to go into the candy store, but I refrained. I couldn’t stop myself from walking into the used bookstore, however. I ended up picking up Ask Me Why I Hurt, Ciao America, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and a James Patterson novel – all for $20! I don’t think I have ever left a used bookstore empty handed.

We had a great time walking through town, window shopping (mostly), and enjoying the change of scenery. We didn’t do any of the historical tours, though my inner Civil War buff is dying to see Robert E. Lee’s house, so we’ve saved that for another trip. Apparently, the town has a big parade and celebration in honor of George Washington’s birthday next month, so hopefully we can make it out there for the festivities.

Though we drove to Alexandria (it was a probably a 20-minute drive from DC), the town is Metro accessible, which makes it even more convenient for a fun day trip. It’s amazing how different the vibe is from DC, even though it is only a few miles away.

One of the things Stef and I are hoping to do during our time in DC is take advantage of its proximity to other cities and explore. Washington State (and the whole West coast, really) is so spread out that it is difficult to travel to other cities with ease. Because the East coast is so much more compact, I hope that means that some trips to Philadelphia, New York, and other places are on the horizon.

Speaking of Washington State, I woke up to some very Seattle weather this morning – lots of grey and mist. The weather hasn’t become too cold yet, though I’ve got my new jacket to keep me warm!

Stay dry and have a happy Tuesday, everybody.

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