Friday, March 29, 2019


We've made lasagna a lot over the years but I don't see it on the recipe page. So here's a lasagna post! We made it back in February and were able to freeze a few servings for quick dinners.
Step 1 is the sauce. We made my mom's sauce. I chopped onion, celery, and green pepper.
Meanwhile SP browned the ground meat.
He drained the meat and wiped out the skillet before sauteing the vegetables and then adding the other ingredients. Not just tomato puree and paste but also Worcestershire, brown sugar, parsley, oregano, and black pepper.
It simmered for a few hours in our Dutch oven (any large pot will work).
Step 2: combine ricotta, mozzarella, and egg for the cheese layer.
Step 3: Cook the lasagna noodles. Step 4: Create the lasagna.
Top the lasagna with more shredded mozzarella and shredded parmesan. Bake at 350 for an hour or until bubbly and cheese is browned. Let it cool 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving.
Lasagna is one of my favorite meals. Maybe my favorite. Especially my mom's lasagna. It's cheesy and saucy and so darn delicious and comforting.


2 large cans tomato puree
1 medium + 1 small can tomato paste
1 green pepper, finely chopped
½ large onion, finely chopped
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
1~2 lbs ground beef
about 2 tbsp brown sugar
2~3 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
black pepper

Brown the ground meat in a large pot. Remove meat to drain and clean grease from pot. Add olive oil and saute vegetables in olive oil until softened. Add the puree, paste, brown sugar, Worcestershire, parsley, oregano, and pepper. Add browned meat. Stir well. Add a bit of water if sauce is too thick. Simmer for 4-5 hours, stirring occasionally.

Cheese Layer:
16 oz mozzarella, grated
32 oz ricotta
2 eggs

Combine in bowl and set aside. The cheese mixture can be mixed together ahead of lasagna assembly time, just refrigerate until ready to assemble.

Cook 10-11 noodles (about 3 noodles per noodle layer (9 total) plus 1 or 2 for breakage or to fill in any gaps). Drain and spread out on cookie sheet.

Use a 13 x 9 casserole dish. Ladle enough sauce into the bottom to cover the bottom of the casserole. Fit about 3 noodles on top the sauce layer.
Top with more sauce.
Top with half the ricotta-mozzarella-egg mixture.
Use 3 more noodles and fit them on top the cheese layer. If the noodles don't fit quite right, you can trim them or cut off bits of a spare cooked noodle to fill in any noodle gaps.
Top with sauce.
Top with the other half of the ricotta-mozzarella-egg mixture.
Top with the final & third layer of noodles.
Top with sauce.
Sprinkle with grated mozzarella and/or parmesan.

Place lasagna on foil lined baking sheet (just in case it bubbles over).

Bake at 350 for an hour or until bubbly and the top cheese layer is browned.

Let it rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving.

*You might have leftover sauce which you can freeze.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Thursday Thoughts

Last weekend was one of the nephew's birthdays. His 11th. Instead of a birthday party, he now gets to choose a birthday dinner place. He chose Central Diner and ate his usual French Toast drenched in syrup with fries on the side and a piece of cake for dessert.

Another nephew, the 16 year old, was away for the weekend on a"mini" hike in preparation for a week long hike this summer. I think the summer hike will be 100 miles - ?!!

And another nephew, the almost 14 year old, was learning to climb trees in preparation for a summer job working with a guy who cuts down trees. He sent us photos of him climbing up high, standing out on a branch, all the ropes & safety gear & such - it looks scary!We've watched the pros in our backyard and I can't believe my nephew is learning to do that kind of work! He said he'd rather do that than work in a fast food place.

What We're Eating:

  • Leftovers from last weekend
  • Breakfast sandwiches (egg, cheese, ham, tomato)
  • Dessert: Cake, Pocky, Girl Scout Cookies

What We're Watching:

  • We're enjoying Spring Baking Championship. I don't like rhubarb, but it was interesting to see what kinds of rhubarb pie the bakers created (other than the usual strawberry-rhubarb, which 2 bakers made).
  • Gotham continues to annoy me and I was so happy to see that there are only 2 episodes left! Forever! And it's on break for several weeks!
  • Poor us: ever since Dish & HBO parted ways, we've been getting HBO through Amazon Prime BUT it's suck a pain to remember when everything airs and we miss setting up HBO shows on the DVR and then never worrying about forgetting an episode.
  • Of course, that's as long as the DVR works, which it didn't do for last week's Madam Secretary. It's supposed to record it for an extra hour, but, oops, nope, it malfunctioned. Grrrr.
  • I am enjoying Jon Cryer as Lex Luthor on Supergirl even if the show has been losing my interest.
  • I watched A Star is Born and enjoyed it even though I knew how it would all end.

What I'm Reading:
Magazines. Between new issues and a bunch MIL dropped off, the pile is huge.

Monday, March 25, 2019


We made a second trip to LeoGreta in Carnegie at the beginning of the month. Once again, we went for lunch. And once again, it was delicious. We both ordered fresh brewed iced tea and SP got a glass of wine (he must have know a difficult hospital weekend was an hour away from starting!).
Frisée & Lardon (crisp bacon, creamy herb dressing, fried egg). I still love the creamy dressing & frisee is growing on me. 
SP ordered the Combo to go with his salad. It had a house meatball, slow cooked pork, and house sausage. He said it was delicious and he ate all of it.
I had the yummy gnocchi again. This time, I also ordered a meatball:
It's a good sized meatball and it is delicious. So smooth and not at all dried out or tough.
Inside the meatball.

Delicious food and great service, just like on our first meal there in December. We'll be back, and maybe even remember to make reservations for dinner sometime.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Thursday Thoughts

I had a whole bunch of thoughts during the week but I didn't jot them down anywhere and now my mind is blank!

It's finally spring, though I'm pretty sure the weatherman said something about snow flurries - ? SP bought some pastel colored M&M's for the candy dish.

We are not growing any herbs/garden veggies from seeds this year. Last year was a very disappointing garden/herb year so we haven't felt like putting any effort into the garden. Also, some of our herb pots are broken from when the tree fell on the deck, so we'll need to decided whether or not we want to replace them.

What We're Eating:

  • Pork Tenderloin Roulade with Bacon, Apple, and Gruyere (just likPork Tenderloin Roulade with Pancetta, Pear, and Cheddar, just a different filling) served with twice baked potatoes and steamed broccoli or sauteed green beans.
  • Pasta with meat sauce (that we made in February & froze)
  • Dessert: Girl Scout Cookies

What We're Watching:

  • We finished The Umbrella Academy and enjoyed it. Looking forward to Season 2.
  • Spring Baking Championship started on Food Network. We always enjoy the seasonal baking championship shows, seeing what the bakers create.
  • Restored By the Fords is back on HGTV. I don't need more shows to watch, especially home remodel shows, but it's set in Pittsburgh and the way Leann and Steve banter makes me laugh. 
  • Still not liking Meredith & DeLuca on Grey's Anatomy.   

What I'm Reading:
Magazines. Or at least I'm trying to work my way through the pile.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Thursday Thoughts

Last weekend we saw Captain Marvel. It was a good, but not great, movie. For some reason, I don't really like Brie Larson. Obviously I don't know her, she could be a super duper awesome person. But something from her previous roles/news coverage makes me not like her. I was sad when I heard she was going to be Captain Marvel, but I enjoyed her performance and didn't have any "ugh Brie Larson" thoughts. I'm looking forward to the final Avengers movie in April.

Saturday dinner out was at Downey's House. As usual we shared fried zucchini and this time I had a chicken cordon blue sandwich with tomato & honey mustard sauce.

What We're Eating:

What We're Watching:

  • We started watching Umbrella Academy on Netflix. So far, we're enjoying it. We're only 4 episodes into it.
  • We watched The Passage finale. I'm happy about the time jump at the end.
  • I watched Collateral on Netflix. I really liked it, how the characters were all related/intertwined into the main crime.
  • I watched the movie Widows. Viola Davis is always amazing. The cast is amazing. 
  • Speaking of Viola Davis, I finally got to watch the season finale of HTGAWM. Good grief all the plots twists and turns and people being wrong then right then wrong and more death and kidnappings/disappearances!

What I'm Reading:

  • I finished Cemetery Road from Greg Iles. Excellent book. It's the kind of book I most enjoy reading. I hope that maybe there will be another book or two with these characters like there were six books with Penn Cage. 
  • I've been extra tired lately and not reading magazines. So the pile is growing. New issues of Saveur and Cook's Country arrived last week but I haven't opened them yet. They're sitting on top the 3 Simthsonian Magazines I have yet to read.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Cast Iron Roast Chicken with Lemon-Thyme Pan Sauce

Ever since my hospital stay and diagnosis, I've been, well, stressed, worried, in denial, disbelieving. And every time I feel a twinge in my shoulder or neck, I freeze in terror. I know diet had nothing to do with this particular issue, or any of the other issues I have, but since I'm a mess, I decided it should be chicken and salad week. But not an unhealthy chicken. No cream sauce, no rich sauces with bacon or pancetta. Just roast chicken. SP took it upon himself to try a new roast chicken recipe: Cast Iron Roast Chicken with Lemon-Thyme Pan Sauce. It's really easy to make. I was napping while the chicken cooked and I woke up to a strong roast chicken smell.
The pan sauce is easy, too. My contribution to dinner: stirring the chicken broth-lemon-mustard-thyme sauce a bit.
SP made a pretty plate of chicken and poured the pan sauce into a small container. This was an excellent roast chicken. It was really juicy and tender. The sauce was delicious, even better than our usual go-to roast chicken sauce with lemon juice and chicken stock.
I kept my salad and chicken on separate plates. Like a little kid, I didn't want my food touching! Here's my plate of cut up chicken with the sauce:
This is my new favorite chicken.

Recipe here: Cast Iron Roast Chicken with Lemon-Thyme Pan Sauce

*We used dried thyme.
*We omitted the shallot because we didn't have one.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Thursday Thoughts

Since last week's Thursday Thoughts, things have not been great. I don't know if I ever mentioned on the blog, but since November, I've been having problems with hearing my heartbeat in my ear. For 2 months I was told it was a sinus/Eustachian tube dysfunction issue. Then I was told it couldn't possibly be that, it was an ear thing. Then ear doctor said there wasn't anything wrong with my ear, I just had a form of tinnitus and I had to learn to live with hearing my heartbeat in my ear. But just to be sure, get a CT scan, but 98% of the time it doesn't reveal any reason for the pulsing.

So last Friday I had the CT. We went to lunch and as soon as we got home, I had a call that they found something on the CT and could I come in again that afternoon for an angiogram, an outpatient procedure. Then someone else called and said I would need an MRI, too, and to prepare for an overnight stay.

Any idea how much I hate being in the hospital? I spent 2.5 weeks in one for the hip replacement followed by 3 weeks in a rehab facility. Two years later, I was in the hospital for several days for the femur break. A month later, I was in for a week for femur surgery and then a year later it was 2 days for knee surgery. Then six years ago I was in the hospital again for my broken left hip. I hate the hospital 5 seconds after I arrive.

Add in my uncontrollable fear of dying that day because of the carotid dissection, my fear of having a stroke and ending up like some of the people I saw when I was at that rehab facility for my hip, the fear of having an angiogram - it was not good. I wasn't in pain from a broken bone or surgery this time, so no morphine to help me sleep/mute my annoyance and stress. Just the disgusting, hot, sweaty bed with head/leg controllers that were next to my head, so really difficult for me to twist and reach. People coming in every 20 minutes nearly all night to take my blood pressure, draw blood, insert an IV, whatever. A room right next to the heart monitor screen for the nurses, a screen that beeped. A lot. Loudly. I was so exhausted from getting up so early for the CT and then I couldn't sleep. Saturday was even worse. I was told morning angiogram. That turned into 1 pm. That long wait came after Friday afternoon when we rushed to get back by 3 pm and then no one came to see us until 8 pm. Five hours sitting a room with nothing, just nurses saying, oh, they know you're here. I was livid. Oh and I hadn't had anything to eat since lunch on Friday because they didn't order me a tray for dinner and then from midnight on I wasn't allowed any food or water.

The doctors were great and the nurses/care people were great. But now I'm being billed for an overnight hospital stay when both an MRI and an angiogram could have been scheduled outpatient appointments. With my existing health issues, sleeping in that bed and twisting/contorting to reach the bed controllers has left me feeling extra sore & achy - particularly in my neck/shoulders. I've got 4 holes in my left arm from being poked, 2 are a lovely yellow bruise. The one on my right arm is also a lovely yellow color. They tried to do the angiogram through my right leg, but after poking around a lot they couldn't find the artery (vein?) so they had to do my left leg. This means I have poke holes, bruising, and soreness in both areas instead of one.

I suppose I am on the mend. For now, treatment is an aspirin/day for 6 months then repeat CT to see if the dissection healed. I am hoping that with time I become less stress/worried about a clot/stroke. I am hoping my neck achiness/soreness is from twisting and contorting to see/reach the bed control buttons and not from anything serious. I had a horrible headache Saturday night/Sunday morning and I was convinced I'd be dead by morning. In retrospect, I was so darn tired and hungry that I had my "tired/hungry" headache, but something about a carotid dissection at age 48 for no apparent reason (no trauma like a car accident) has really freaked me out.

Oh, and the best part? The doctors said the location of the tear means it is likely NOT the cause of the pulsing in my ear.

I am laugh/crying over all this. But mostly crying. And a hot mess of worry.

What We're Eating:

  • Meatloaf, pierogie, roasted asparagus. All week long. 
  • Dessert: paczki, whatever we find in the house

What We're Watching:

  • Victoria ended. I was happy with several developments. It'll be interesting to see how some of the cliffhangers are resolved.
  • Worst Cooks ended and Team Red won - yay!
  • I feel like The Passage is dragging a bit. It's like they had enough story for 8 episodes but are being forced to make 10. 
  • I have not seen any of the season finale of HTGAWM because last Thursday night we lost power right at 10 pm for 2-3 hours. I suppose I could watch online, but I haven't felt like it. 
  • I do not like Meredith and Deluca. At all. Ugh.
  • I Am the Night ended. I guess the ending was OK. It answered the questions, at least in this Black Dahlia version, but it wasn't all wrapped up with a neat bow and everyone living happily ever after & justice prevailing.

What I'm Reading:
The new Greg Iles book. One of my favorite authors. Diving into Cemetery Road is taking my mind off other things.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Meat & Potatoes

I haven't written much lately. I was busy with other things. This past weekend was not good. I'm not ready to write about it, so I thought I'd post some food photos from our last couple dinners at Meat & Potatoes. It's one of our favorite restaurants but we only go when we're already in the city, usually after seeing a show. Our most recent dinner was with my parents after we saw Phantom of the Opera. We also were there over the summer. Above is a Dark & Stormy Cocktail, which we first had one one of our earliest visits after they opened. This more recent version seems different, not as gingery, but it was still good.
Above, from last summer, I forget what the drink on the left is but on the right is Sgt Pepper's Old Fashioned. That's been my favorite for quite some time but on our most recent visit, it wasn't quite as good. I didn't enjoy it as much.
We always order Fried Brussels (not pictured) and Fried Pickles. I love their fried pickles.
A tomato salad special from last summer.
There's always a Mac & Cheese appetizer, but the flavor changes. On our most recent visit, it was with brisket, smoked gouda, & fried onion breadcrumbs. Yum!
My dad loves wings so he & SP shared these Smoked Wings with whiskey buffalo sauce. They both really liked them though my dad thought they were a bit too hot for him. He kept eating them anyway and took home the leftovers! 
SP often has the Salmon (black rice, kim chi, cucumber, chinese sausage, korean hot sauce, fried egg, ginger scallion relish).
Last summer he switched it up and had this lamb shank with, I think, lentils.
My mom had a special : Meatloaf with smashed potatoes, onion rings, broccoli rabe, sauce diane. It was huge and delicious.
My dad enjoyed Smoked Short Rib (polenta, baby carrots, confit pearl onion, pickled orange zest)
I also enjoyed a special: Pork Schnitzel with ricotta gnocchi, mushrooms, bacon, Brussels sprouts. Really good and a nice change from my new usual:
Pappardelle (bolognese sauce, pancetta, pork shoulder, garlic bread). It's delicious. It's my new usual since they took the Three Little Pigs sandwich off the menu. I'm still pretty bummed about that.
Desserts change. Last time, SP & my mom shared Carrot Cake with pistachio ice cream, which they really liked.
Dad & I hoovered up the Chocolate Pot de Creme. There were little bits of chocolaty rice krispie treat on top. 
Last summer we had, I think, a French Toast Brulee dessert, which was good.

I always take photos of what we eat when we're out, but I don't always share them on the blog/Instagram. So since my blog content has been lacking and I'm not doing well, I figured I'd post all the recent food photos from Meat & Potatoes. Enjoy and definitely get there for some yummy food.