Easy Lasagna

Sometimes I get to craving the oozing cheese and multiple layers of lasagna but I don’t want to go to all the trouble to make sauce and do all the other things that a traditional lasagna entails. Here is my quick and easy lasagna recipe, that can have you eating in less than 90 minutes.

1 pound ground meat, any kind or 1 cup Grape-nuts
1 21-ounce jar pasta sauce
16 oz small curd cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
12 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
1 cup Parmesan/Romano cheese, grated
2 eggs
9 lasagna noodles
1/2 lb of mushrooms, sliced

Brown ground beef and drain before adding to the pasta sauce. If you want the meaty mouth feel without the meat, add the cup of Grape-nuts to the pasta sauce and stir well.

Bring water for the noodles to a boil and cook lasagna noodles in boiling salted water.

In a medium bowl, mix cottage or ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese and eggs. Stir to combine.

Spread a spoonful of sauce in bottom of 9×13 pan. Then layer three noodles and put 1/3 of the meat mixture over the noodles. Place the sliced mushrooms across the top. Now, add 1/3 of cheese filling, dotting the cheese mixture. Continue to alternate noodle layers with sauce, mushrooms and cheese, ending with the cheese on top.

Bake at 350 degrees covered with foil for 30 minutes. Then 15 minutes uncovered, until cheese is golden and bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with garlic bread and it’s a dinner for the ages.

lasagna

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Max Lager’s Wood-Fired Grill & Brewery

The conference participants went out to dinner tonight at Max Lager’s Wood Fired Grill and Brewery on Peachtree Street. It is in a cool old building and within walking distance of the hotel.

I was looking for meat, so I went for the Cowboy steak – a bone-in ribeye, grilled with Max Beer, balsamic butter, whipped potatoes, grilled asparagus. Beautifully marbled and nicely seasoned, it was a little more medium than the medium rare I wanted but still, it was a terrific steak.

steak

The service was a little uneven as there were three servers dealing with our large party and we’d be asked several times for the same thing but they got all the orders right and delivered correctly.

Azio – Downtown Atlanta

I’m in Atlanta for the Equality Federation Institute’s Southern Leadership Summit. Thirteen of the 15 member state equality organizations in the South are coming together to share stories, talk strategy and build alliances.

A group of us went out to dinner before the conference at Azio DownTown, an Italian restaurant near Peachtree Center.

I started with their organic margarita – after a day of flying and walking it was a perfect way to unwind. The smooth tequila, the fresh juice and the salted rim tasted like more but I needed to keep my head about me so I only had the one.

azio margarita

For my entrée, I went with one of the specials. It was a pasta dish with chicken, shrimp, mushroom in a peppery garlic tomato sauce and topped with feta cheese. Very well-balanced, full flavored dish and the terrific bread they had on the table went perfectly to sopping up the remaining sauce.

pasta

We had a table of 16 and the service was quite excellent – drinks were refilled quickly, the food all came out at one time and the servers were quite helpful in assisting folks make a decision from the large menu.

Peggy Sue BBQ Dallas

I was in Dallas for a book discussion and signing. Sandy debated for a while about where to take me and decided on BBQ. As the sign says – Life, Liberty, BBQ!

life liberty bbq

Peggy Sue’s BBQ is in the gayborhood and you can smell the smoke from outside. Once inside, the aroma of meat smoking is heady.

I went with the ribs combo and I can attest that you don’t need no teeth to eat their meat. It was fall off the bone tender and delicious. Perfectly fatty and nicely sauced, too.

ribs combo

I can whole heartedly recommend this BBQ joint for those needing a meaty craving in the Dallas area.

 

Mariner’s Restaurant in Natchitoches

On my way to Dallas for a book discussion and signing with the JEWEL Lesbian Fiction Book Club, I decided to stop in Natchitoches, Louisiana for the night. The city bills itself as the oldest in Louisiana as it was in 1714 that Louis Juchereau de St Denis built a garrison post here to repel the Spanish and promote trade with the Natchitoches Indians.

I had a couple of recommendations to try Mariner’s Restaurant while I was here and I’m glad I did. The restaurant overlooks Sibley Lake and it was quite a view as the sun set.

mariners bloody mary

For an appetizer, I went with the Natchitoches meat pies – small little fried pies stuffed with beef, pork and cajun seasoning. There was just a little bit of heat but the pies were flaky and the filling quite good.

meat pies

I went with the stuffed shrimp as my main course and it came with a cream of artichoke soup that was absolutely delicious. I was tempted to lick the cup but managed to contain myself.

cream artichoke soup

The shrimp were stuffed with Rosetta’s seafood stuffing – I don’t know who this chick Rosetta is but she can sure make stuffing!

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The service was excellent. The staff was friendly, knowledgeable and certainly didn’t steer me wrong on item selection. I also got into conversation with a couple at the next table (up here for him to perform trombone with a brass band at Northwestern State University) and they gave me some suggestions for other meals. Yay for nice people!

SukhoThai New Orleans

I did a presentation to the New Orleans Secular Humanist Association today and went out afterwards with a few of the attendees to SukhoThai on Magazine.

I started with the Celadon Mojito – made with coconut juice and lemon grass syrup. It had a bit of an odd texture, as if the coconut juice had solidified. I then switched to the Thai iced tea, which was very nice and creamy.

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For dinner I had the cashew chicken off the wok menu. Very delicious with the right touch of heat. The chicken pieces were plentiful as were the cashews and the onions and bell pepper weren’t overcooked to mush as sometimes happens. I would definitely recommend this dish.

thai

The server was a little distracted and a couple of the folks who were trying to take advantage of the 2 for 1 drink special until 7pm were disappointed when he disappeared and didn’t get their drink order in time. Other than that, he was able to get the water refills to the table in good order and was unobtrusive enough to let the conversation flow.

Definitely good food and worth a revisit to take advantage of their numerous noodle dishes.

Cafe Atchafalya

Last night, I joined with several other feminist activists for dinner with Terry O’Neil, the National NOW President, who was in town for the Why Courts Matter event. We went to Cafe Atchafalaya for a late dinner.

Located on Louisiana Avenue at Laurel, Cafe Atchafalya is a good place for an intimate, romantic dinner or for a group of six raucous wild women to catch up and dissect the issues of the day.

I started with a Pablo’s Mustache – a tequila based drink that was the perfect mix of sweet and sour. It went well with the Fried Green Tomato appetizer. While I don’t think the crabmeat remoulade added much, the dish was still very tasty. From there I went with the pecan smoked NY strip steak. It was cooked perfectly medium rare and came with roasted potatoes and a salad (which I only ate because of the avocado vinaigrette)

steak

I also had a bite of the pecan crusted grouper with sweet potato puree that Charlotte ordered. Very nice and flaky fish and good flavor on the puree.

drum

As a side, I shared the vegetable risotta – I enjoyed the creamy rice and left the visible chunks of carrots to for Charlotte to eat.

risotta

I finished with their salted caramel ice cream – delicious. I also had bites of the seasonal bread pudding (if you like bread puddings, you’ll like that) and the pear tart tatine (quite good).

The service was excellent with good attention to drink levels and unobtrusive with refills to keep the conversationalists well lubricated. The rest of the service was excellent with the plates arriving together and disappearing once empty.

I heartily recommend a visit here for visitors and locals alike. The menu is varied and eclectic, the food cooked perfectly and the staff friendly and professional.