Friday, June 26, 2009

Spinach Lasagna in a crock pot

I will admit that I am one lazy cook. Its hard to imagine that I used to cook for a living, but that was a looong time ago. I started looking around online for a lasagna recipe that could be done in a crock pot~my favorite way to cook. I found a recipe that looked pretty good, but it was a meat recipe. I really wanted a meatless lasagna, so after a few tries tweaking the original recipe I came up with this one. You might need to tweak this recipe a couple of times to get it right for you. The noodles do not get cooked for this recipe, the crock pot doesn't heat up the house (nice during the summertime swelter of Tennessee) and there are leftovers for the next day or two. Three things that make this recipe one of my favorites.

Here's my way and what you need:

~About 40 ounces of spaghetti sauce. I found a sauce I like in a 27 ounce can and I use 1 1/2 cans per lasagna, freezing the other half can for the next batch. I like a saucy lasagna...
~1/3 cup water
~8 uncooked lasagna noodles
~15 ounce container ricotta cheese, whole or low fat, doesn't matter
~2 eggs lightly beaten
~4 cups mozzarella (at least 4 cups, add more if you'd like)
~1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
~10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach-thawed and squeezed of all water

Combine sauce and water, set aside

Cheese mixture: combine ricotta cheese, beaten eggs, 3 cups mozzarella, 1/4 cup Parmesan and spinach, mix well.

Lightly oil bottom and sides of crockpot. Spread about 3/4 cup sauce in bottom of pot. Take 4 lasagna noodles and break into 2-3 inch pieces. Place noodles on sauce layer.

Spread all of the cheese mixture on top of the first layer of noodles. Spread another 3/4 cup of sauce on top of cheese mixture.

Break the remaining 4 noodles into pieces and layer on top of the second sauce layer. Dump the remainder of the sauce on top of the second noodle layer. Top with the remaining cup of mozzarella and 1/4 cup of Parmesan.

Turn crock pot to high for 1 hour.
After one hour turn crock pot to low for an additional 2 1/2-3 hours-depending on how fast your pot cooks. After cooking complete, allow to sit an additional 1/2 hour covered before serving. This 1/2 hour allows the lasagna to set up a little bit better. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Purple Passion

I've done it again. I've taken my favorite design and this time I've created it using 4 shades of purple. The center is an amethyst colored faceted glass jewel surrounded by a darker purple textured glass called English Muffle. Two more shades of purple are used in the body of the panel along with a textured clear glass. The 1" border is a deep dark purple textured glass with clear glass bevels used as accents in the corners and within the border.
Overall measurement of this piece is 10" or 25.5cm. This piece can either hang as a square as shown above or it can hang as a diamond. Available now in my Etsy shop. Colors not right for you? Custom orders for this design are gladly accepted.

Here you can see more of the different textured used in this piece.

Since glass is so tricky to photograph (at least I think it is) here I've shown 3 of the colors used-these are images directly from the manufacturer's website (Spectrum Glass). The first two samples are what I've used in the body of the panel. I couldn't find a good image of the glass that surrounds the center jewel, but it is a shade darker then the second image. The bottom image is the type that I've used for the border of this piece.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sweet Mellie

Being commissioned for a project is such a wonderful feeling. Someone has trusted you to make something special for them. Sometimes those projects really have extra special meaning. This is the case with Sweet Mellie.

Last year, one of my flickr friends, Peggy Vandevier, asked if I could create stained glass cat face ornaments of her kitties. She's got some beautiful cats, but due to limitations of glass colors available I really couldn't make them to look right. Except for Mellie, I thought that I would be able to make her. Peggy then informed me that Mellie is a one-eyed kitty, perhaps I could leave that side of her face black. Honestly, I didn't know even though I had been looking at her kitties for a few months by then. I thought that the fur on this side of her face was so dark that the eye just didn't show. We both agreed that Mellie should be realistic and we agreed that the missing eye would be shut, as if Mellie were winking.
That's when Peggy told me about Mellie's rescue. Peggy's husband, Kurt, had found a little badly injured kitten beside his truck near a busy highway and brought it home to Peggy. Immediately, this little calico bundle was taken to the vet's. Upon examination it was found that this little kitten had a broken hind leg, internal injuries, a broken tail (it eventually fell off), one eye, she was malnourished and might not survive. But she did! With lots of love and care here's Mellie 9 years later.

Peggy says that Mellie is the sweetest cat ever, the smartest cat that she's ever had, she's cute and funny and very healthy. I think that Mellie is absolutely adorable. I always enjoy seeing Peggy's kitties on her photostream.

Here's Mellie and Ozzy another of Peggy's kitties getting ready to play. Being a big time cat lover with 7 rescued kitties myself, I'm so thankful that little Mellie was lucky enough to find such a loving home as this one.

Its a feast!

In my wanderings around the neighborhood I came across this smooth sumac tree in full bloom with tiny little flowers. There were hundreds of bees all over these blooms, but just one butterfly-an American Painted Lady. None of these critters paid any attention to me as I watched them and took their photos-they were all quite content to gorge themselves on the nectar these blooms are producing.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I still haven't found what I'm looking for

I've been trying to find two things lately without much luck. One is a bird's nest, any kind of bird really and the other is a butterfly cocoon. Again it doesn't matter what kind of butterfly.

So, I set out yesterday in search of these two items. I found neither. I did find these lovely peony blooms in a neighbor's yard.

I made a new friend. This lovely kitty belongs to a couple down the street, he's really a nice cat.

Hiding out in this day lily was this little guy.

And on these Virginia Creeper leaves I found a katydid.

This half of an egg shell was found on this oak sapling. Parent birds will remove the egg shell from the nest and drop it wherever. Here's where it landed.

I love the color of this fern.

This is a mayapple, or maypop. This fruit is edible and is used in making jellies. I've not tried this yet.
As I was heading home I found this Blue Jay feather.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Flowers at night

I like taking pictures of things and sometimes I get lucky and get a good one. I found the orange day lilies above in a shaded woodland area that was just dark enough to set off the camera's flash. The effect was quite stunning I thought with the black background. Day lily blooms last just one day so they are probably all wilted by the time night rolls around. The day lily pics got me thinking about trying to capture these newly blooming mimosa at night. So, I waited until the sun went down and headed up the road with the camera. Wow, these came out really good too and I'm quite happy with all of these photos. No photo editing has been done to any of these pics besides cropping and sharpening.

New Dolphin Project in the Works

Here is a new project that I've been working on for the past few days. I don't remember where the idea for this suncatcher came from, some times these things just kind of pop into my head then I start working the idea on paper. Shown above is as far as I've gotten on the suncatcher as of Friday afternoon~all the glass pieces have been cut and I'm ready to start wrapping all of the pieces with copper foil. Shown below is what this suncatcher will look like once its completed--kind of...

For the one I'm working on right now, I've increased the body size of the two dolphins. The eye of both will be a solder ball as in the one below. Once the lead came frame is added at the end of the solder process, the overall measurement will be around 13 3/4 diameter, about 35cm. In the future, I'd like to develop a pattern similar to this using the idea of the yin yang with two orcas, two sleeping cats and who knows what else I might think of. Of course, I'm totally open to suggestions...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Orange everywhere

Right before the rains came yesterday, I took a walk around the neighborhood to see what might be in bloom. What I found were some fantastic orange lilies and daylilies. These seemed to have popped overnight, either that or I just didn't notice them a few days before when I made my rounds. Either way, they are gorgeous.

Monday, June 1, 2009

They're back!

Last year, I wrote about these ugly concrete parking barriers my husband installed in front of my workshop. His idea for this year was to pound steel stakes into the holes to keep the parking barriers from moving around. "Nope, can't do it. My toads will be coming back to use these, so don't interfere with them." Within minutes of my telling him this, a little toad poked his head out to say hello.
Here are some of today's toad observation. This one poked its head out pretty early in the morning and lingered around the hole most of the day. Later in the afternoon he came out to hang around by the downspout of the rain gutter.