Monday, August 27, 2012

Skillet Lasagna

When I found this recipe on How Sweet It Is I knew I had to make it right away. Quick and easy lasagna that only takes a few minutes to throw together? Yes please!! I LOVE lasagna, love love love it. I love it at restaurants, the real stuff in Italy, the frozen kind, the vegetarian kind, all of it. What I don't love is how long it takes to make. The first, last, and only time I made homemade lasagna it literally took me ALL day and I was crying by the end of it. This seemed like a great compromise and it really was!! It says that it makes 4 servings but we ate it for dinner 3 nights in a row and Forrest took it for lunch twice. Hope you enjoy!!!

Quick and Easy Skillet Lasagna (from How Sweet It Is)

8 ounces whole wheat lasagna noodles, broken into thirds
1 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 sweet onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 pound 95% lean ground beef
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes (I goofed here and only had Italian style diced tomatoes. They were great but didn't make enough sauce, so I just added some jarred sauce and voila!)
3 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
1/2 cup ricotta cheese (I used part-skim which is not my fave but I was trying to be healthy)
8 fresh basil leaves, torn
parmesan cheese for grating
(I added in chopped black olives and fresh mushrooms. You can add anything you want, I'm sure!)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare water for pasta and bring to a boil. Season ground beef with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Heat a large (min was 12.5 inch) oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add in olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter, then toss in onions with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir and cook for 3-4 minutes, until soft. Add in garlic and cook for another minute, then add in ground beef, baking it apart with a spatula or wooden spoon. Cook until just browned, about 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. If there is excess liquid in the pan, feel free to drain a bit.

At this point your water should be boiling, so make sure to toss the broken noodles in and cook them for about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon or drain and set aside for a few minutes.
Once beef is browned, add in tomatoes with remaining butter and the 3 tablespoons of fresh basil, tossing well to coat. Add in broken noodles, using the spatula or spoon to fold the beef and sauce over the noodles. One noodles are evenly distributed and mostly under the sauce, add sliced mozzarella on top and scoops on ricotta. 

Bake for 10 minutes, then immediately remove and add torn basil on top. Serve!

Seriously, that is all! It's over! Done! Lasagna in 30---top that!! :)
This is before I added the extra sauce

Busy Busy!!!

Oh boy is it a Monday!!! I am glad to be able to catch a few minutes and write this post before I get sucked back into the craziness that is today! We had SUCH a great week and weekend! I got bitten by the organizational bug after reading my friend Lauren's blog and so Forrest and I spent most of the week and weekend cleaning out, rearranging, and organizing. We aren't quite done but we have made so much progress! The house is a total disaster but hopefully we will get finished by the end of the week. Since football season starts Saturday (well, really Thursday night), I know we have to finish or else we won't have time to deal with it all until January! In and among all of the cleaning, we have managed to squeeze in a little fun as well! On Thursday I put on a get together for the Etowah County Bar Association. It was hosted by a firm in town but I had to order the food, get the drinks, set, up, etc, so basically it was my party. I ran around most of the day getting things in order (which was hilarious because my car was stacked with rummage from the basement). While I was there, Forrest had a tennis lesson. He has had a few so far and is really enjoying them! He already plays tennis but just wanted to get his skills back into shape to be able to play in a league. On Friday we went to the Cobbler Festival which benefited the Wounded Warrior Project and was put on by the Knights of Columbus at our church. There was a dinner and live auction and Forrest REALLY wanted to win the trip to the Masters next spring. Unfortunately, the bid went WAY too high, and to top that all off, it didn't meet the reserve, so it didn't even sell! He was really sad but we did win a weekend and golf at Pearl River Resort and a package of gift cards for dinner around town! We spent most of the day Saturday cleaning and organizing. I tackled the kitchen while Forrest worked outside. After Mass we went down the street to the Frederick's housewarming party. It was great to be able to see their house all  set up, as well as seeing all of our friends!
Rio came to visit Sonny and his old neighborhood during the party! It was great to see him and the Gandhis!
Sorry the pic is so dark!

The weather was nice so we were able to sit outside and enjoy it! Afterwards we met the LeBlanc's at Old Mexico for dinner and they talked us into going to TuKanoo's after to hear a band play.
Friends at TuKanoos!
Forrest, Me, Shannon, Daniel, Jesse, Jenna
I stole this off of Shannon's facebook.

On Sunday it was more organizing. I worked on my jewelry and top drawer of my dresser (aka drawer stuffed with random items) and Forrest was hard at work in the basement. He painted one of the walls and even built me a shelf for my laundry supplies! During the afternoon, I had a quick meeting for the Alabama Alumni Board to plan a fantastic dinner next month in town. We are having Sarah Patterson (gymnastics coach) and Patrick Murphy (softball coach) speak about their national championships from this past season! Afterwards we picked up the Hayes and headed down the hill to the Smith's for dinner. They were having a Greek night and mmm mmm mmm it was great! They had tons of appetizers, a delicious meal, and bakalava and cookies for dessert. Don't forget the Greek wine and Ouzo! Opa!
Hanging out at the Smith's with Eloise after a DELICIOUS meal!!
Daniel, Claire, Farrah, Jay, Forrest

We had a great time last week balancing work and play and hopefully once the house is decluttered we can focus on the fall's main event: COLLEGE FOOTBALL!!! Roll Tide Y'all!!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Running Ragged

Our weekend was crazy this weekend but it was full of fun things! I will do more pics, less chat!!

On Friday, I went with my mom to Tuscaloosa for Serious Night at the AOII house. My sweet friend Jennifer was going to be there and we wanted her to know how much we would love having her as our sister. It is ALWAYS great to go back to the house, but this year was especially great because we have just had a huge renovation done to the house and I had yet to see it! It looks amazing! You can see bits and pieces of the house in the pics below, but I'll take more at the re-dedication next month!
Morgan, MMM, and Me
Morgan is MMM's lil sis and is the President!

Mom and her 2 girls, but in the AOII house, we are all sisters

After Serious Night, we met Randi for dinner. Randi and I pledged AOII together 10 years ago!!

On Saturday I got the news that Jennifer had pledged AOII! Hooray! A new baby panda and sister!
I ripped this off of her facebook so it isn't the best quality, but yay!!

Forrest and I spent the day at the Habitat for Humanity Dragon Boat race. The pics speak for themselves--we had a blast!!
All of our sweet friends were there to cheer on the racers!
Shannon and Eloise, Mamatha, Anu, Claire, Lance, Me, Forrest, Farrah, Justin

Go team LocavOARS!!

Forrest and his team

They got 5th place out of 25!!!

That night we ate dinner at my parents' house with my brother who had come to town. It was a lovely way to relax!

On Sunday we spent the day celebrating my Granddaddy's 80th birthday! The party at my grandmother's house was WONDERFUL!!
My assistant Rachel made these cookies for the party! Aren't they adorable???

Granddaddy and his grandchildren

Mimi and Granddaddy and their 4 children
Whew!! What a great weekend! Hope yours was wonderful and that you have a fun week ahead!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Ellen's Wedding

I can't believe Ellen got married this weekend! I have known her since we were teeny tiny and we have always been close. I was honored to stand by her on her big day and can't wait to be "married friends" with her and Nelson! The pics below tell the tale!

We started off the weekend with an adorable bridesmaids luncheon. The cucumber soup and panini were delish!

The bride with some of her bridesmaids
Kelley, Claire, Ellen, Jordan, and Me

After a relaxing pedicure with Farrah, I was off to the church for the rehearsal. One of the bridesmaids couldn't make it so Gran Gran had to stand in.
Caitlyn, Calle, Jordan, Me, Gran Gran, Kelley, Claire

The rehearsal dinner was at the Gadsden Museum of Art. The Fisherman catered with some delicious cajun food!

Me, Ellen, and Katie

Lambda Chi's and their AOII wives!
Claire and Jay, Me and Forrest, Ellen and Nelson, and Katie and Gusty

I loved this swag on the altar!

Ellen and her girls in blue! 

The bride's bouquet! It was wrapped in the sleeve from her mother's wedding gown.
(I did that too!)

The big reveal!

Practicing the AOII door song!

The cake was delicious!

The reception at the Country Club was beautiful!

Groom's cake

I LOVED the flowers!!!

Cutting the cake!

Dancing with her daddy

It was so special to sing our sorority song!
"There's an AOII, who is smiling, and her eyes, are too...."

Sorority sisters

Another AOII LXA pic

What wedding would be complete without Jay singing?

It was extra special because the Bride's father sang too!

And off they go to the Bahamas!!
 What a weekend, right? Wasn't everything beautiful? On Sunday we were so exhausted and I took a LONG nap after church. That didn't stop us from going to Superior Grille for Claire's surprise birthday party though!!
She was super impressed.
We wish Ellen and Nelson all of the best and can't wait to catch up with them when they get back from their tropical honeymoon!! Hope you all have a fun week planned!!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Happy Birthday!!!

Who can believe it is August?? Now that Forrest is out of school we have both officially outgrown "summer vacation". I used to love getting school supplies, picking out new clothes, and organizing my schedule. In college, August meant Rush Workshop, a week of Recruitment, and the start of football games! My how time flies!! We did have a great start to the month, as we celebrated some very important birthdays! The school I went to from K-5 through 8th grade, St. James School, celebrated it's 100th anniversary! What an accomplishment. I got a wonderful education and St. James and it really does mean so much to me. The celebration began on Friday night with a "meet and greet" reception at the school. I hadn't been through the halls in YEARS and I felt so grown up! Everything looked smaller to me. I was excited to show Forrest around and more excited to share the experience with Laura and Julie, who were 2 years ahead of me at St. James. We got to hang out with the teachers, explore our old classrooms, and relive countless memories! 
In the 8th grade, it was a big deal to get to paint a ceiling tile. I was super proud of my stick figures. I still kinda am. 

Me, Laura, and Julie showing off with the National Beta Club Charter

We won the same award, 2 years apart. I thought that warranted a photo. 

Forrest and Lance enjoying an adult beverage in the kindergarten classroom. Nice. 

The next day was super busy. After an early morning meeting, much to my chagrin, Forrest and I had a delicious lunch. It was a nice way to squeeze in a fun little date with each other during a hectic weekend. Afterwards I went to a shower for our friend Alana. She is getting married in October and we can't wait to attend! Forrest and Alana went to school together since K-5 and I became friends with her when I started high school. The shower was beautiful and it was great to catch up with the bride and some of my other high school friends!
Afterwards we had to get ready for the St. James dinner and dance at the Country Club. It was really fun and sweet, and now I can say that I have done the cupid shuffle with my teachers!
On Sunday we went to the Alumni Mass at the church and I got to see my very best friends from St. James. Next is was off to eat lunch with Mrs. Bailey. She is doing VERY well with her therapy and is hopefully going home this weekend! Please continue to pray for her recovery!! While we were there I got a text from Mamatha that she and baby Arth were still in the hospital so we went by to meet the newest arrival. He was born on Thursday after a long labor and eventual C-section so we weren't able to visit until then. He was so precious and sweet!!! 
Our first look at Arth Gandhi! Look at his open eyes!

On Monday we got to officially meet baby Arth after he arrived home. He is the tiniest most beautiful little angel! 
Why does he look like he actually belongs to Jay and Claire? Hmmmm.

We are so lucky to have such great friends!
Mamatha the new mommy, Claire, Jay, Forrest, Arth, Me, and Farrah

Girls and the Gandhi boys. Rio was so proud to show us his baby brother Arrh!
Happy Birthday sweet Arth! I can't wait to watch you grow up!!
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