Easy Turkey Spinach Lasagna

I'm going to Chicago (where my parents live) this weekend to look for a wedding dress with my mom! I'm super excited. Since Jason will be on his own for the weekend, I wanted to make several dishes this week that would freeze well so he could heat up portions of them while I'm away. (I know, I know. I have total caretaker tendencies, especially when it comes to food! I can't help it. It's the Italian in me.) This recipe fits the bill. It's filling and delicious - plus I know he'll be getting his veggies in with the spinach and tomato sauce.

If you prefer, you can experiment with using goat cheese, parmesan, or another kind of cheese, although the ricotta really gives it a nice fluffy texture.

The recipe can be made vegetarian by substituting sauteed portobello mushrooms and/or sauteed ribbons of zucchini for the turkey.

Easy Turkey Spinach Lasagna (Serves 4 people or 1 very hungry fiance)

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 lbs lean ground turkey
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
16 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained
2 16-oz jars of marinara sauce (we love Newman's Own Five Cheese Sauce)
2 cups fresh ricotta cheese

16 oz grated mozzarella cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
1 package no-cook lasagna noodles
Chopped basil and parsley leaves, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large pan over medium-high heat, drizzle the olive oil, then cook the turkey with salt, pepper, garlic, crushed red peper, and oregano until turkey is just cooked through. Drain any extra liquid from the pan. Spray a deep 13 by 9-inch pan with non-stick spray. Cover the bottom with a layer of the noodles. Spread 1/3 of the marinara sauce across the noodles. Sprinkle 1/3 of the grated mozzarella and half the ricotta over the sauce. Cover the cheese with the cooked turkey and half of the spinach. Repeat the above process with the remaining ingredients, reserving 1/3 of the marinara and 1/3 of the mozzarella. Add a final layer of noodles on top, and cover with remaining marinara and mozzarella. Place in the oven and bake until bubbly and golden, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before serving. Slice and serve. Garnish with parsley and basil.

I love...

Strong coffee. Oversized mugs. That clean feeling in my lungs after a good run. Stretching. Reading the New York Times on Sunday morning. Art criticism. Family. Downloading new music to my iPod. Cooking. Baking. The sound and smell of onions and garlic sizzling in the pan. Pedicures. Massages. Yummy scented lotion after a shower. White wine. Microbrews. Frosty beer mugs fresh from the freezer. People with expressive eyes. Comfy blue jeans. Cozy sweaters. Espadrilles in the summer. Boots in the winter. Tights. Starry nights. Thunderstorms. Mango margaritas. Hors d'oeuvres. Yoga. Pretty dresses. Lip gloss. Anything and everything at Anthropologie. Excuses to get dressed up. Chopped salads. Cultural Anthropology. Art history. Food writing. Film. Cuddling with puppies. Road trips. Reading an engrossing book. Dinner parties. Best friends. Sunsets. Early-morning strolls while the city's still waking up. Biking. Being outdoors. Italy. Greece. Architecture. Top Chef. The Wire. Interior design. Travel. Buying loads of magazines to read on the airplane. Waking up in a new city. Hats and scarves. Cupcakes. Marzipan. Guacamole. Mexican food in general. Spicy tuna rolls. Miso soup. Modern art. Museums. Kind smiles. A teapot's whistle. Naturally wavy hair. Vintage t-shirts. Organic food. Flip-flops. Evolution. Satire. Dancing. Laughing. Hot showers. Townhouses. Fresh basil. Bruschetta. Garlic bread. Bike rides. Farmers' Markets. Dive bars. Bookstores. Thrift stores. Antique stores. Flea markets. Vintage jewelry. Fluffy down comforters. Learning new things. Weekends with friends. The mountains. Dangly earrings. Soundtracks. Tasting menus. Chicken noodle soup. Massages. Brunch. Exposed brick. Vaulted ceilings. Hardwood floors. Built-in bookshelves. Words. The drum circle at Meridian Hill Park. Supporting local businesses. Hiking. Linguistics. Well-crafted sentences. Gentlemen with old-fashioned manners. Philosophy. Intelligent banter. Pick-up trucks. Soft skin. Champagne. City lights. Skylines. Rooftop gardens. Falling in love. Joni Mitchell. Photography. The midwest. Periwinkle blue. Cobalt blue. Sage green. Chai lattes. Soy yerba mate. Cinammon sugar toast. Good listeners. Tulips. Steamed mussels in garlic broth. Garlic in general. Caprese Salad. Rock Band. When you can just hang out with someone and not have to talk. Proper grammar and correct punctuation. Finding the exact right word. Teaism. Scented soy candles. Retro style. Good hair days. Gchat. Hula Hoops. Tulips. Waterfalls. Thunder. Picnics. Original thinkers. Independence. Regina Spektor. Almond cake with buttercream frosting. Potstickers. Fiji water. Puppies. Essay anthologies. Pop culture. Public transportation. Live Music. Sepia tones. Horn-rimmed glasses. Mid-century modernism. Pink roses. Wool socks. Naps. Annapolis. Being near the water. Crabbing and boating on hot summer days. The city at night. Taking a long hot bath after a run. Food spicy enough to make your nose run. Old friends. Spending the day in bed watching old movies. New media. Orchids. Calla lilies. Getting flowers. Giving flowers. Board games. Organizing. Multi-vitamins. Ciao Bella Sorbetto. Green tea ice cream. Tulips. Seared scallops. Horn-rimmed glasses. Love.

My sister added some ideas to this list.

What things comfort you, calm you, inspire you, delight you, and make your heart go pitter-patter?

Photo by James Carriere via his website.


A more beautiful question

"nothing proving or sick or partial. Nothing false,nothing difficult or easy or small or colossal. Nothing ordinary orextraordinary,nothing emptied or filled,real or unreal;nothing feeble and known or clumsy and guessed. Everywhere tintschildrening,innocent spontaneaous,true. Nowhere possibly what flesh and impossibly such a garden,but actually flowers whichbreasts are amoung the very mouths of light. Nothing believed or doubted;brain over heart, surface:nowhere hating or tofear;shadow,mind without soul. Only how measureless cool flames of making;only each other building always distinct selves ofmutual entirely opening;only alive. Never the murdered finalities of wherewhen and yesno,impotent nongames of wrongright andrightwrong;never to gain or pause,never the soft adventure of undoom,greedy anguishes and cringing ecstasies ofinexistence;never to rest and never to have;only to grow.

Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question"

-e.e. cummings, "INTRODUCTION from New Poems"

Illustration by Cecelia Carlstedt via Art Department.


Monday Perk Up: Ten ways to care for yourself right this very instant

Need a Monday pick-me-up? These exercises can be done almost anywhere, at any time. For the most part, you won't even need to leave your desk.

  • Take a deep breath. A really deep breath. As you inhale, focus on sending breath to any parts of your body where you're feeling tension. Visualize the tension dissipating as you exhale. Now take four more breaths like that.

  • Tilt your head to one side until you feel a gentle stretch in your neck. Gently roll your head back, then to the opposite side and then forward. Reverse directions and repeat.

  • Use your non-dominant hand to give your dominant hand and wrist a mini-massage. It's amazing how much tension can build up in our hand muscles just from typing, mouse-clicking, etc.

  • While seated at your desk, take your left arm and cross it over to your right knee (palm facing up) while raising your right arm up toward the sky for a gentle spinal twist. For you yogis out there, think of this as a seated Triangle pose. Repeat on opposite side.

  • Send an email to an old friend or family member you've been meaning to catch up with. Update your friend on your life and ask for an update on his or hers.

  • Drink a really big glass of water. Alternately, if you have some tea on hand, make yourself a mug of hot tea and drink it slowly. Add lemon to your water or tea for a refreshing twist.

  • If you have any nagging to-dos in the back of your mind (such as making a dental appointment, paying the electric bill, sending a thank-you note, etc.), take a five minutes out of your lunch break and get it done. Most of these things really take no time at all, and yet we spend loads of mental energy trying to remember to do them and/or worrying about them! If you don't have the neccessary supplies/time/whatever to complete the task, at least take a small step toward getting it done, such as looking up the address for whomever you owe a thank-you note.

  • Make a mini Gratitude List. Write down five things you are grateful for today (a la Carolyn of Hang on Little Tomato. Carolyn, we must be on the same wavelength as I saw your post while I was writing this!) and tack it up somewhere you can easily see it.

  • Raise your arms over your head and behind you in a slight back bend, stretching out your abdominal muscles as you breathe in and out. Repeat several times.

  • Visualize the rest of your day going exactly as you want it to. Close your eyes (I promise your cubicle mates won't even notice) and mentally describe what you want to happen. It might go something like, "I will finish X project or Y report, receive positive feedback from a colleague, and take a few moments to clear off my desk at the end of the workday." Now imagine the rest of your evening and do the same visualization. Mine would go something like "I will have an easy commute home, go to the gym and have an intense cardio workout, make healthy and delicious turkey and spinach lasagna for dinner, take a relaxing bath, and go to bed early."
Photo by Debi Treloar via her website.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

We whipped up this simple, delicious soup last week and it was so tasty that it's earned a permanent spot in our meal rotation. It's hearty without being too heavy, and it's really quite healthy (well, except for the sour cream part which you can omit, though I don't recommend doing so.)

The recipe's fairly malleable. I could see a version with corn or hominy and some pureed Adobo chiles or even celery and bell pepper. It can be made vegetarian by substituting a good vegetable broth for the chicken broth, and adding extra veggies, potatoes, or beans in place of the chicken.

Make extra and bring a thermos of it to work the next day.

Chicken Tortilla Soup (Serves 4)
1 large bag of corn tortilla chips (at some grocery stores, you can find the ones that are already shaped like tortilla strips, but if not, just use your favorite brand of regular tortilla chips)
1 32-oz box or can of chicken broth (we like the boxed Pacific brand)
1 cup water
1 cup canned stewed or diced tomatoes with juices (we used Muir Glen's canned diced tomatoes with roasted garlic)
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 white or Spanish onion, finely diced
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon dried or fresh oregano
Note: If you have a Mexican seasoning blend, you can use simply 1 teaspoon of that and omit or add very small amounts of the other spices.
12 ounces skinless boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
2 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Avocado, sliced, and sour cream (or plain yogurt) for garnish

Combine garlic and onion in a large saucepan or soup pot. Sautee until onions are translucent. Add broth, water, tomatoes, bay leaf, garlic powder, cayenne, oregano, cumin, red pepper, garlic powder, and oregano to saucepan; bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes. Add chicken; simmer until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Stir in green onions, cilantro and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately in large soup bowls. Sprinkle tortilla chips on top, crumbling them with your fingers as you do. Garnish with slices of avocado and a dollop of sour cream if desired.

Because the soup is so spicy, I recommend a little bit of Ciao Bella sorbetto for dessert.



After months of careful attention (which, I'm not ashamed to say, included singing encouraging songs, with lyrics like "Grow my orchid, grow thee tall" to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star"), I have successfully resurrected my once-lifeless orchid and it is finally blooming! Isn't she gorgeous?

In other botanical news, my succulents (purchased from Home Depot a few months ago) also seem to be thriving. I had never had succulents before, but they are super low-maintenance and just sort of do their thing without a lot of fuss and bother. So here they are, being all succulent. And stuff.

Et enfin, yesterday I splurged and bought myself a dozen pink roses from Whole Foods. Just because. And I'm kind of in love with them. As my soon-to-be sister-in-law said, "It's nice having a man buy you flowers, but once in awhile it feels really good to buy them for yourself." So true.


What's on your plate today?

I have become addicted to Gourmet's My Day on a Plate series. Gourmet asked chefs and other notable figures to chronicle what they ate in the last 24 hours. It's about food of course. But it's also about our daily rhythms and routines, and the role that food and mealtime play in our day-to-day existence. Some of the essays are touching (actor and winemaker Kyle MacLachlan's devotion to making sure his baby son gets the right nutrients) and some of them are downright absurd (chef Chris Cosentino's consumption of 14 double espressos in one day, which he describes as "typical"). Reading someone's descriptions of he or she they ate (and why) feels like stealing a little glimpse at his or her personal life. Foodie voyeurism, if you will. It's pretty fascinating stuff.

One of these days, I will post my own Day on a Plate. In the meantime, I ask you: What's on your plate today?

Image via Urban Outfitters (it is an image I saved awhile ago because I adore the design on the plates, but I just checked their website and don't think they're up there anymore...).



"I used to wait for a sign, she said, before I did anything. Then one night I had a dream and an angel in black tights came to me and said, you can start any time now, and then I asked is this a sign? And the angel started laughing and I woke up. Now, I think the whole world is filled with signs, but if there's no laughter, I know they're not for me." - Brian Andreas, "Waiting for Signs"

Photo by Alicia Bock via her blog Bloom, Grow, Love.


Life lessons

Check out this awesome list from one of my favorite bloggers, Sweats in the City, of life lessons she has learned thus far, in honor of her approaching 30th birthday.

P.S. It reminded me of
City Girl's fantastic Pearls of Wisdom series!

Three things

1. Among the many other reasons I love Ingrid Michaelson is the fact that she performed totally sweet covers of both Radiohead's "Creep" and Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby" during her show Friday. She also did a hilarious ode to Mexican food as her encore. I told you...the girl is rad.

2. It's almost officially fall, and I'm so excited to partake in autumnal activities. Last year, we had planned to take a day trip to Ridgefield Farm. They have a pumpkin patch, apple orchard, and a haunted hayride/corn maze. For various reasons, we never made it out there, but I'm thinking we'll have to go for sure this year. How are you celebrating the season?

3. Today is grocery shopping day, so I've been planning out our meals for the week. Here's what I'm thinking. Tonight: Turkey meatballs with linguine and marinara sauce. Tuesday: Tortilla Soup with avocado for garnish and a side of corn. Wednesday: Baked Salmon with Mustard-Dill Sauce and a side of garlic sauteed spinach. Thursday: Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup (the Pacific Foods brand. Their boxed soups are delish...I highly recommend 'em) and cheddar and spinach paninis (grown-up grilled cheese). Friday: Go out to eat! What's everyone else eating this week?

Happy Monday everyone! Hope you're having a good one.

Image via Flickr user ex.libris.


Ingrid Michaelson

I am so excited to see this lovely lady perform tonight at the 9:30 Club! Her new album, Everybody, is absolutely brilliant. Her lyrics are optimistic without being sappy. She's witty, talented, and let's face it - pretty darn adorable.

Any other Ingrid fans out there?

Image via ingridmichaelson.com.


Harpers Ferry

(I realize I'm a bit late in posting photos from our Labor Day weekend, but better late than never, right?)

We woke up early and caught the sun rising over the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers.

We hiked up a steep hill for this view, but it was worth every step!

Jason by the giant rock.

I loved the juxtaposition of the stark white steeple in the foreground and the bridge in the background.

It was so pretty. I want to go back!



As the air turns crisp, and the days become shorter, I am drawn to simple, rustic recipes that promise warmth and nourishment. One of my favorite such recipes is Cioppino (say it with me now..."chop-EE-no"), a traditional Italian (by way of San Francisco) fish stew. It is sometimes called Fisherman's Stew because it was first created by Italian fisherman who had settled in the Bay Area as a delicious and simple way to cook up the catch of the day. The briny, garlicky tomato broth is exactly what I crave on chilly autumn days.

This past Sunday, I decided to make a big pot of the stuff, and it was so delicious that I wanted to share the recipe I used, which I adapted from this recipe.

(I prefer mine with scallops, shrimp, and clams, but you can use almost any kind of seafood in this. A mild fish like halibut or red snapper would work well. You might also try crab, mussels, or calamari.)

We put ours over some fresh egg linguine (our Whole Foods has a fresh pasta bar), and it was absolutely divine. The linguine soaked up the sauce without getting mushy. I sliced up some Italian bread for dunking up the extra sauce.

Cioppino (serves 6)
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 large white onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 1/2 cups dry white wine (you could use red for a richer, fruitier taste)
1 (16-oz) can chopped plum tomatoes (I like the Pomi or San Marzano brand, found at Whole Foods and specialty food stores)

1 (16-oz) can tomato puree (again, Pomi or San Marzano)
2 cups seafood stock (can be bought pre-made in the soup aisle) or clam juice
20 small (2-inch) hard-shelled clams such as littlenecks, scrubbed
1 pound large shrimp (16 to 20), shelled and deveined
3/4 pound bay scallops (or sea scallops if you prefer)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
Garnish: shredded fresh basil leaves and small whole leaves

Cook garlic, onions, bay leaf, oregano, sage, rosemary, and red pepper flakes in olive oil in an large pot over moderate heat, stirring, until onions are softened, about 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Stir in tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine and boil until reduced by about half, 5 to 6 minutes. Add tomatoes (both cans) with their juice, seafood stock or claim juice, and broth and simmer, covered, 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

While stew is simmering, get your seafood out of the fride and ready to go. Add clams to stew and simmer, covered, until clams just open, 5 to 10 minutes, checking every minute after 5 minutes and transferring opened clams to a bowl with tongs or a slotted spoon. (Discard any unopened clams after 10 minutes.) Lightly season shrimp, and scallops with salt and add to stew, then simmer, covered, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf, then return clams to pot and gently stir in parsley and basil.

Serve immediately in large soup bowls.
Image via Epicurious.



Jason has been working for almost the entire weekend because his company is moving to a new office space, and as the IT guru, he's in charge of getting all the computers moved and re-connecting them to the network. It's a bummer because I've hardly gotten to see him at all (he's literally been working until midnight these past couple nights), but on the upside, I have gotten SO much done. It's amazing what a couple days alone (and sans car) can do for one's productivity. Thus far, I have cleaned the kitchen; done the dishes and 3 loads of laundry; cleaned the bedroom and both bathrooms; unpacked some remaining boxes; swapped out my summer clothes for fall/winter clothes; organized my closet; and sorted out some clothes and shoes that need to go to the dry cleaners/shoe repair.

As a child, I loathed doing chores, but I now find something comforting about these rituals. I like feeling prepared for the week ahead. With Van Morrison's Greatest Hits blasting and the sun shining cheerfully through the windows as I work, I dare say that this weekend of chores has even been - gasp! - sorta fun.

And no, we don't have a cool retro-looking washing machine like the one in the picture, though I wish we did.

Image via Flickr user sinkdd.


Bride-ish necklaces on Etsy

I love the idea of using accessories to add just a little bit of color to an otherwise all-white wedding-day ensemble. I am loving these necklaces from luxedeluxe's Etsy shop, and think they would add just enough color while still being elegant and bride-like.

What do you think? Which is your favorite?

Images via luxedeluxe's Etsy shop.


Le Weekend

Hello, everyone! How was your long weekend?

I was feeling a bit under the weather at the beginning of the weekend, but we made it to Harper's Ferry and had a delicious time exploring and whitewater tubing down the Potomac. We had a great meal al fresco at this charming little cafe (I had a fabulous eggplant-pesto-mozzarella sandwich), and we even got in a run along a beautiful trail that runs adjacent to the town. I highly recommend Harper's Ferry as a great daytrip for those of you who live within driving distance! I'll post pictures soon.

I spent yesterday getting in some much-needed R&R, starting with a long hot bath, pedicure, and facial. Then it was time for a couple hours of journaling and working on a book idea (more on that later!) in bed, a mug of coffee in hand. After a yummy lunch (chicken, lettuce, guacamole, scallions, and shredded cheddar cheese on a spinach tortilla wrap), we sprawled out on the couch for a Mad Men marathon (we are almost to the end of Season 2, so don't talk to me about the current season if you watch it!). After dinner and a massage from Jason, I drifted off into a wonderfully relaxed sleep.

Aren't three-day weekends the best?



I am so excited for this weekend.

Jason and I are planning a mini-getaway to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Harpers Ferry is a beautiful little historic town situated right at the intersection of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. We have made reservations through an outdoor adventure company to go whitewater tubing on the Potomac River!

Other plans include wandering around the town, browsing antique stores, and finding a good coffee shop to settle in with a book.

Speaking of books, I could use some fresh recommendations. What have you all been reading lately? What books would you recommend for good coffeeshop reading?

Oh, and what are your plans for the long weekend? I want to hear all about it!

Photo of Harpers Ferry river by Flickr user jasonb42882.

Photo of the town of Harpers Ferry by Flickr user TheKanqueror.


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