Sunday, February 26, 2012

Spinach and Pumpkin Lasagna

Hey, Y'all,

Today I made the most delicious, anti-oxidant-rich veggie lasagna I've ever tasted.  It came from the  Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation's February 2012 issue of The Tennessee Magazine.  It does involve some prep work before you add it to your slow cooker.  Trust me, it is time well spent!  I'm going to divide it up into servings and freeze them before I sit down with the crockpot and a fork and eat the whole thing in one sitting.

Spinach-Pumpkin Lasagna
(yield 8 servings)

6 T. unsalted butter, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, finely chopped
2 T. finely chopped fresh sage (I used 1/4 t. of dried, crushed sage)
1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 c. chopped walnuts or pecans  (I used ~3/4 c. pecans)
1/3 c. all purpose flour
3 c. milk (I used 1 %)
4 oz. goat cheese
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
1 t. Kosher salt
1/2 t. black pepper
1 12 oz. pkg. no-boil or oven-ready lasagna noodles (I used Barilla 9 oz. no-boil)
1 10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese

In large skillet over medium heat melt 3 T. of butter.  When hot, add the garlic and onions and saute 5-7 minutes or until onions are translucent ( I let mine caramelize a little).  Add the sage and cook 1 min. longer. Stir in the pumpkin and walnuts or pecans.  Remove from heat and set aside. 

In med. saucepan over medium heat, melt the remaining butter.  Add the flour and stir constantly for 1 minute.  Gradually add the milk, whisking continuously until well blended.  Bring to a boil whisking constantly.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer five minutes or until slightly thickened.  Remove from the heat and stir in the goat cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Stir until the cheese is completed melted.

Spoon 1/2 c. of sauce over the bottom of a lightly greased slow cooker.  Lay 1/3 of the lasagna noodles over the sauce to cover, breaking to fit where necessary.  Top with half of the filling and half of the spinach.  Spread 1/2 c. of the sauce over the top and repeat the layers.  Top with the remaining noodles and spread the remaining sauce over the top.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Cover and cook on low for 2-3 hours.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving. 

I cooked my lasagna for 2 1/2 hours. 

If you want to keep the anti-oxidants coming, consider having blueberries and strawberries (in season) spooned over marscapone cheese for dessert. 

Hugs and Tootles,

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Heartbreak of "Matchy-Matchy"

Hey, Y'all,

Bless your hearts, I apologize for ignoring you while I wandered around in a euphoric fog following the birth of my precious first grandchild.  I'm learning to manage my euphoria so that I can remain employed and act like a responsible adult.  The timing is perfect because Spring fashions have hit the stores which leads to the topic of discussion today, The Heartbreak of Matchy-Matchy. 

I am 54 years old.  I was raised in the South and the Midwest.  In my world, a truly well-dressed female carried a handbag that matched her shoes.  Ideally, the shoes would pick up a color in her ensemble or at least be darker than her hemline (except for sneakers or white shoes between Memorial and Labor Days).  Her jewelry would match her outfit.  If she wore a print, be it Liberty or quirky red, white and blue running shoes on white polyester (yes, in 1975 I had a dress in this fabrication), she picked up a color in the print and selected her accessories accordingly.  Even the not-so-fashion forward female might wear eyeshadow that matched her outfit. These fashion conventions made shopping and getting dressed relatively stress-free. Once you mastered the concept of matching in kindergarten, you could be turned loose in Castner-Knott's or Roots or any fabric store.  Wearing a color-matched outfit could even be a saving grace as in, "well at least it matches." 

I don't know when matchy-matchy became a condition nigh unto awareness walk- worthy.  I suspect that it originated in New York.  Which is ironic since I've observed that Manhattan-ites routinely dress in all black and it's not because they're goth.  Anyway, like many undesirable conditions, I didn't pay much attention to it until it became personal.  A few years ago, I attended a family reunion.  I wore a sundress with a festive print and accessorized it with a light summer cardigan and cute little sandals.   I thought I looked well put together until we got to the event and one of the new additions to the family pulled her husband aside and said, "She's so matchy-matchy."  And it wasn't in an admiring tone of voice.

Ever since then I've been hyper aware of society's bias against matchy-matchy.

There are some advantages to not being matchy-matchy.  I carry the same purse all of the time because, of course, I don't want to be matchy-matchy.  And y'all know how fundamentally lazy I am.  However, the advantages are outweighed by the disadvantages.  First of all, it takes me at least a third more time to get dressed for any occasion because of my indecision while selecting accessories.  Secondly, I still live in the South and most women of my generation were socialized to match their colors.  Thus, although  I might impress Stacey and Clinton with my non-matchiness, my peers may suspect that I got dressed in the dark.

I am taking this opportunity to speak out against matchy-matchy prejudice.  Furthermore, I am walking the talk.  I recently scored a cute, sleeveless, tropical print summer dress at Goodwill and defiantly purchased a J. Crew summer cardigan that matches it.   Just don't judge me if I cave to societal pressure and buy a nude shoe to wear with it. 

So what are your thoughts and feelings about matchy-matchy?  Let's discuss this controversial topic.

Tootles and hugs,

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Just One Look

Hey, Y'all,

Just one look was all it took yesterday to fall utterly, wholly, hopelessly in love with James Dominic Garvin. 

My precious daughter-in-law was awakened yesterday morning by her water leaking.  She was admitted to the hospital and started on pitocin about 10 a.m. I arrived an hour later.   It was a long day spent trying to manage my eager expectancy and doing my best to support Neal and Rachel without being obnoxious. Every time I visited the family waiting room while Rachel's progress was checked, I learned far more than I ever wanted to know about various laboring women's cervixes, difficulty conceiving, hemorrhoids, etc. From time to time I fought back tears as I thought of my mother and Jim and how much I wished they were with me.  I wanted my sister with me  and felt selfish asking her to leave work early.  She did. { Because she is the best sister in the world. }   I stood with my ear pressed to the door to  my daughter-in-law's room for 45 minutes just waiting to hear his first cry.  As the nurses calmly coached Rachel to push while they counted to 10, I implored God to take care of Rachel and the baby while tears streamed down my face.

Then the energy in the air changed like a switch had been flipped and we heard Dominic crying loudly and with lots of expression.  We heard that he weighed 9 lbs., 11 oz.  I could hear my son's voice full of pride and love as he talked to the baby and to Rachel. Then we went to the waiting room while Neal, Rachel and Dominic became a family. 

When Neal called us and invited us to their room our family cruised down the hospital corridor like we were in the final stretch of the Music City Marathon.  I (barely apologetically) elbowed my way past everyone and walked into the room.  Dominic's big, wide eyes met mine. And, immediately, I knew I would do everything  in my power to nurture his gifts, support his parents, help him experience God's love, encourage his imagination, and love him unconditionally. 
James DOMINIC Garvin
Born February 6, 2012
9 lbs., 11 oz.  22 inches long


Nana TBelle