Sunday, January 29, 2023

Lasagna Recipe

 Hello Everyone,

I documented every step of the process to show you how I made this wonderful lasagna for company. The best part is that I don't have to cook tonight, and the leftovers are even better!

Here are a couple of disclaimers that you have to know prior to making this recipe.

1.  You have to really like the people who you are making this recipe for because you will use every pan, bowl and utensil in your kitchen.  It is much worse than making a full Chinese dinner.

2.  You will be using 2 of your precious eggs in this recipe.  Eggs in my area are harder to come by than hens' teeth.

3. You can't clean your kitchen as you go because you feel like an act on the Ed Sullivan show that is spinning plates on little sticks.  You are zipping between one bowl to pan to another.

Having said all of this, and warned you about the process, this lasagna recipe is worth the effort.  As the aromas of garlic, Italian sausage and onions fill your kitchen, mama mia you will be bursting into choruses of Volare!

The best pans in my kitchen are cast iron.  They are fully seasoned to perfection, and I LOVE them.  Here are the steps and the full recipe is at the end of the post.

Step One:

Cook sausage, ground chuck, green onions and garlic in olive oil until the meat is browned, stirring to crumble meat; drain on paper towel.

Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, oregano, dash of basil, salt, and pepper; stir well.  

Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 to 30 minutes, stirring frequently.  You are supposed to cover and chill for 8 hours.  I skipped this step and assembled the lasagna and put it in the refrigerator for almost 8 hours.

Step Two:
Chop the bacon and cook in a large skillet until crisp; remove and drain on paper towels.

Combine bacon, spinach, Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, egg yolk, and olive oil.

Step Three:
In another bowl, combine Monterey Jack cheese and ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, green onions, fresh parsley, egg, basil and marjoram.

Place 4 cooked lasagna noodles in a lightly greased 13" x 9" 2" baking dish.
Layer on half of the meat mixture.
Then half of the ricotta mixture.
Then half of the spinach and bacon mixture.
Repeat the process again.
Meat, cheese, spinach and bacon.

Then top it off with Jack cheese and bake.  I popped it in the oven as the guests arrived and we ate appetizers and enjoyed a glass of wine while it baked for 45 minutes.

Add a salad, bread, glass of red wine and you will be in lasagna heaven. Mama Mia here I go again.....Volare, oh oh......

Our esteemed guest, Arno from Arnold, (his words not mine) had two helpings and he thought it was delicious! 


1 pound Italian sausage with casing removed

½ pound ground chuck

½ cup minced green onions

2 to 3 cloves garlic, crushed

3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil

1 (29 ounce) can tomato sauce

1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste

¼ teaspoon dried whole oregano, dash of dried whole basil

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup cottage cheese

½ cup minced green onion

½ cup minced fresh parsley

1 egg, beaten

½ teaspoon dried whole basil, crushed

½ teaspoon dried whole marjoram, crushed

8 slices of bacon

1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs

1 egg yolk

2 tablespoons olive oil

10 cooked lasagna noodles

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes.

Enjoy your Sunday.  I will be watching football playoff games and enjoying leftover lasagna!



Saturday, January 28, 2023

Machine Quilting in the Pines

 Hello Everyone,

This week I've turned my attention to marking and machine quilting Calico Cottages.  I hope to release the pattern at the end of the week.  I decided to do crosshatching around the cottage for an old-fashioned look and feel. 

This quilt is only 64" x 64" which is a nice size for my long arm.  It still takes me awhile to get it perfectly lined up and loaded on the machine.  I made one pass of feathers across the top and then I got too cold.  My long arm is in my garage, and it was a balmy 42 degrees as I started to quilt.  When my knees start to knock, my stitches get a bit wonky!  I do have a small heater by my side, but it just doesn't take the chill off.  We are supposed to get another round of snow tomorrow, not much, but the temps will be dropping like a stone thrown into a well as the storm sweeps down from Canada.

Yesterday we drove down to Angels Camp to pick up a printing order of block layout sheets.  There's a wonderful couple who run a small copy center there and I love to buy local and support their business.  I can email them the order and they have it printed and folded in no time at all.

While we were in Angels Camp, we did our grocery shopping in a store which is much larger than our local market.  We are like two kids in a candy store when we shop there.  Items that we usually never purchase end up jumping into our cart and the lengthy receipt reflects our impulse buying.

We stopped at a new barbecue place in Murphys, and picked up a sandwich and took it to Indian Rock Winery for a picnic.  It was chilly but look at that blue sky with just a whisper of clouds.  It felt soooo good to get out of the cabin with my hubby and Mazey!  Neither one of us get cabin fever, but we do enjoy a day on the town.  Notice I said 'day' on the town.  I can't remember the last time we spent a 'night' on the town.

We have friends coming over tonight for dinner.  I'm making my favorite Lasagna recipe.  I'll try to remember to take pictures of it and post the recipe.  The recipe has bacon in it.  You can never go wrong with bacon!



Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Houses Under Construction

 Hello Everyone,

Yesterday I spent the day in the classroom with the Independence Hall Quilters, my home guild, and taught them how to foundation paper-piece little houses.

By the end of the day, we had the beginnings of a neighborhood of cute little 3" x 3" houses.

The girls braved the chilly temperatures and the 4-foot-long icicles hanging from the eaves of the Hall to be in the classroom.  We've had such a harsh winter; the guild hasn't been able to meet in person in several weeks.  Everyone was looking forward to getting out and getting together and we made the most of our time together.

Independence Hall has a spacious classroom which easily accommodates 20 quilters and all of their assorted quilting gear.

The little houses are the same houses in my Calico Cottages pattern, which I'm going to try and release next week.  The pattern is out for proofing as we speak.

I want to get it on my long-arm this week and quilt it so I can get a decent picture of it for the front of the pattern.  This picture that I took in the snow may have to be the front cover if I don't get it done. 

Over the span of several days, we had 18" of snow dumped on us.  We liberated one of the cars last week, but the other one is still buried.  Now the snow is living up to the infamous name of Sierra cement.  It's been so cold and now it is so frozen.  Our daffodil bulbs are going to have a hard time fighting their way through the frozen ground to catch a glimpse daylight this Spring.

We won't be picnicking anytime soon on our back deck.

Underneath the ice in the middle of the picture is Snowflake Lake.  We sit at that picnic table to enjoy a bite to eat during good weather.

The day the sun came out, my sunglasses were nowhere to be found.

We've been snug as two bugs underneath our winter-white blanket of snow.  We had a couple of power outages, but they didn't last for days at a time.....just a few hours at most.  One of my jobs is shoveling the walkway from the house to the garage.  It's more like a luge run as you can start at the top and slide all the way down to the front porch face up, feet first and flat on your back. I think I made a qualifying run the other day for the Jamaican bobsled team.   

There's not a bag of ice-melt to be found in town and we exhausted the contents of our bag.  Yesterday, Mr. Joe found a bag of water-softener salt to do the job and it works just as well at twice the price.  We will pay anything to be able to keep our footing and stay upright and vertical as possible.   

My new block of the month is coming together nicely.  The weather has been so bad that I've hunkered down inside for days at a time in blissful creation in my sewing room.  I should be able to give you a sneak peak at the fabric and my project next month.

Have a great week and stay upright!


Friday, January 13, 2023

Life in the Mountains

 Hello Everyone,

It's not all fun and games living in the Sierra Nevada mountains.  We had a foot of rain over the 3-day New Year's weekend.  This weekend we are expecting a foot of snow. We've had continuous measurable precipitation since December 26th, until yesterday when the sun hesitantly peeked out behind the storm clouds.

I was sitting down to put on my boots complete with Yaktrax and looked over at our hats drying by the woodburning stove.  I thought to myself now that's a great picture!

Our wood pile was resembling a snow-covered wooly mammoth carcass.  Actually, a very small, baby wooly mammoth.  We have to go down to the 'valley' today and get a load of wood before the next snowfall over the weekend.  All of the shoveling, and wood stacking helps me maintain my girlish figure..NOT! But I do think it helps keep us young.

We've had the same wood company deliver wood for years.  Unfortunately, they've gone out of business, and we are left to our own devices to round up a load of wood. Our son brought us a load of wood as a Christmas present.  The most appreciated present ever.

I'm going to miss out on a day of quilting which I will make up for over the stormy weekend.  Our woodburning stove keeps us nice and toasty when the power goes out.  I wish I could curl up by the fire, but I have to sew, sew, sew on my block of the month.  I may just drag my sewing machine out of her designated room and set it up in the great room.  That way I can stay nice and warm and quilt while I'm watching football games.  It sounds like the perfect weekend to me.

Whatever you do, I hope it's the perfect weekend.



Monday, January 9, 2023

Time to Build an Ark

Hello Everyone,

As I write this post, I'm listening to torrential rain assaulting the cabin now, and throughout last night, and the night before, and so on and so on. Our governor has declared a state of emergency in California as the rain keeps coming and coming.  I was supposed to teach a class at my guild today, but it was cancelled and rescheduled for later on this month.....if the atmospheric river, and bomb cyclones ever stop.  We are supposed to get rain and snow tomorrow.

Last week, a tree company came by and removed some trees which had been re-tagged by Pacific Gas & Electric as a potential risk to the power lines.  After the windy conditions, we were glad they were toppled. Now we have a mess outside, but free firewood for next year.  I think our grandsons are going to busy for quite a while.

We have two large drainage pipes empty into our lot.  Remember this picture of a bear sleeping in one This drainage pipe was belching water from every gutter on our entire street!  Had a bear decided to curl up for a nap, it would have ended up in the Pacific Ocean!

Mr. Joe went outside to do some water reclamation work on the streams.  During the height of the storm on New Year's Eve, the water was close to the deck pilings.  The river of silver is the water coming out of one of the pipes.  Trees were taken down in this area too.

The sun peeked out between the clouds yesterday, so we took Mazey out for a walk.  The lake by us has been drained to make way for more water.  Those of you who come to my retreats are very familiar with the lake.  It doesn't look anything like it used to.

The only good thing about the weather is that it is great for quilting!  I've been working hard on my new block of the month for Marcus Fabrics.  It's coming along, but I have a long way to go to completion.  I've been told that I can share pictures of the quilt and fabric in February.  I hope so!  I don't want you to think I've been bone idle!




Monday, January 2, 2023

The Atmospheric River

Hello Everyone,

I wish I could show you what I'm working on......but I can't reveal anything for a month or two.  So, I'm going to show you one of my favorite blocks that I made with fabric from the Madison Square line designed by Paula Barnes for Marcus Fabrics.

If you've been listening to the news, you know that California has been under a firehose for the past few days, or it seems like a week, and there is more on the way in the form of snow tonight then rain and snow for the rest of the week, which makes for perfect quilting weather.

Earlier in the week, our gutters, which we thought were clean, overflowed and created a waterfall between two logs in my sewing room.  I've been dealing with a mess and had to move a lot of things out into the guest room.  On a positive note, it made me do some cleaning that I wasn't planning on doing.  We brought in heaters and fans, and all is well and I'm back in business working on my block of the month for Marcus Fabrics.  It has been so much fun working with my very own fabric line.  I can't wait to show you!

Living in a small mountain resort community brings several challenges other than the weather.....and that other challenge is the 'flat landers' who descend on our little town to experience the peace and tranquility which we enjoy on a daily basis.  

Unfortunately, the flat landers do not bring their food with them.  We know that we have to go to the store a couple of days before any holiday, so last Thursday we headed off with shopping list in hand to Big Trees Market.  I always plan our menus for the week and try to stick to my list. The price of food is astronomical, and I do not know how our kids can afford to feed growing families.  Anyway, we found almost everything on our list except for eggs.  I couldn't make my milk chocolate pound cake without eggs, so we drove 15 miles to another town in search of eggs.  Success!

Apparently, there is an egg shortage due to avian flu.  We thought the chickens in our area had extra tight 'pucker strings' and were reluctant to let go of their eggs!

Yesterday, someone posted the following pictures of our little market.  The first picture shows the potato chip aisle.

Prepared pasta and deli section.

There isn't much cheese left to put on the pasta!

We have to go to the store for milk today.... hopefully the cows aren't being stingy with their milk like those pesky chickens and their eggs!


Sunday, January 1, 2023

On The Stroke of Midnight

 Hello Everyone,

Happy New Year to everyone!  

We had a very quiet evening with a good friend and fellow quilter.   I invited Debbie over for dinner with a warning that we probably wouldn't be staying up until midnight, which was fine with her so she could get home early before the people that had over-imbibed were on the roads. The roads last night were treacherous!  

Those of us living in California have been experiencing a lalapalooza of a rainstorm.  We desperately need rain, but seriously, I have to stop doing my rain dance! My little community had almost a foot of rain in just a couple of days.  Now snow is predicted for tomorrow.

A friend posted the following on Facebook, and I loved it. Let's spend today sitting back and reflecting on who we are.  We are a lot!



On the stroke of midnight tonight, you can resolve to be better, if you like...
to be fitter,
to eat cleaner,
to work harder.
On the stroke of midnight tonight,
you can resolve to become a whole new you,
if you so choose.
Or you can take a moment to acknowledge, all you already are.
Because it’s a lot.
You’re a lot.
And you deserve to be commended.
On the stroke of midnight tonight, perhaps you could congratulate yourself, for coping.
For breaking, again,
and for rebuilding, again.
For catching the stones life has thrown at you,
and using them to build your castle that little bit stronger.
You have endured, my friend.
And I don’t see the need to resolve to become a whole new you,
when you are already so very much indeed.
Happy new year.
You made it.
Now let us face another 365 day-turn, arms wide,
accepting, embracing and ‘seeing’ each other,
for all we are.
Donna Ashworth