Tuesday, May 31, 2016

White Spinach & Artichoke Lasagna

Hey guys!  I've been wanting to share this recipe for a while and am just now getting around to it.  The last couple of months have been pretty busy.

This is a yummy meatless lasagna.  I found the recipe on Amazing Italian Recipes and I made a few changes to it.  So if you are ever looking for another kind of lasagna to try out, I would highly recommend this one.

(Click on title for printable recipe)


Ingredients:
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 20 oz thawed and drained spinach
  • 1 jar of Private Selection Basil Pesto Alfredo sauce (available at Smith's & Kroger)
  • 1 box oven ready lasagna noodles
  • 2 cups grated or sliced Gouda cheese 
  • 1 can of drained artichoke hearts
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

Instructions:

Spray a 9x13 pan.  Spread a couple tablespoons of sauce on bottom of pan to coat and set aside.  In a medium-sized bowl, mix ricotta with parm, salt & pepper.  Layer noodles in bottom of pan and top with 1/3 of cheese mixture spread thin.  Add a layer of artichoke hearts and spinach and dollop a bit of sauce throughout.  Continue to layer noodles, cheese & veggies.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and sprinkle grated or sliced Gouda on top.  Bake uncovered for an additional 10-15 minutes until cheese is golden brown.  Let stand for 12-15 minutes and serve.



Sorry I didn't take a better finished product pic.  I was making this for book club and didn't have time.  I wasn't able to find grated Gouda when I made mine and I would recommend going that route so that you don't have to use quite so much.  This is a very rich lasagna, but super yummy.  Also, if you can't find this particular sauce, use another alfredo sauce of your choice.  (But I really like the Private Selection one!)  Enjoy!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Family Tree Wall Art


This project has been in my brain for years!  I got into family history about 12 years ago...before it was cool.  ha ha.  I remember taking my 2-1/2-year old with her coloring book and my baby in her car seat to the family history library and working at the computers amongst a sea of white-haired seniors.  Things have changed a lot in the world of family history even since I started.  Information is so readily available through sites like ancestry.com and familysearch.org.  My favorite part of genealogy is finding photographs.  There is something so amazing about putting a face to a name.  It's also fun to pick out physical characteristics that you see in yourself or your parents, siblings, etc. I knew I wanted my art piece to be big.  I wanted to include as many generations as I could. I combed the internet trying to find a project that I could just copy, but I never found anything large enough and so I had to come up with it on my own.

My starting point was the two-pack frames that I found at Michael's one day last year. (I'm putting in a pic of the bar code so that maybe you can track down these exact frames.)  They were normally $1.50 a pack but they were on clearance for 50% off so I bought every.single.package.  Turns out I was two frames short, but there are a few ancestors that we don't have photographs of, so I just left them a blank spot for now.  I'll have to revise that later if we ever come across their photo.
I laid out my frames in a rough guess of placement so that we could determine how big my board needed to be.  Mine ended up as 68-1/2" wide by 38" tall.  See?  It's big!
We headed to Lowe's and bought seven cedar plank fence boards and two 1x2 to cut down and use as braces.   I believe the cost was around $24.
We cut off the dog-eared ends and sanded down each board.  We stained the board using a dark walnut color.
My hubby cut down and attached five bracing boards along the back using screws.
Next we laid the frames back out on the board.  We decided to arch the top a bit.   We made connection lines with pencil to give us an idea of where we would need to draw in branches.

Then my hubby drew out the tree and started to paint.  He's the artist in this relationship. I'm just the ones with the grand plans ;)  We used an off-white chalk paint from Wal-Mart to paint the tree.
Here it is coming along nicely...
I wanted the tree to have a little more of an aged feel, so once the paint was dry, I hand sanded it.  After I had it sanded the way I liked, I wiped off the board with a damp cloth to clean it up.
I sized down all my photographs to fit in the frames and colored them the same b&w with a hint of sepia tone and printed them out.  We glued the photos and frames to the board using hot glue but I'm not sure this will be the best long-term solution.  This has been hanging in our home for about three weeks now and we have already had one frame fall off.  If another one bites it them I might consider re-gluing using E6000 or something similar.
I wanted the tree to have lots of dimension, so for the names I printed on some lightly textured fabric using freezer paper.  There is a full tutorial for this process HERE.  I also included their date of birth and city where they were born.  I didn't bother making leaves for my husband and I or our children since we live here and all.
I hand cut leaf shapes around each name and glued them with one edge slightly tucked under the frame.  I ruffled some of them a bit or left edges hanging free to give it more texture. (I blurred my grandma's info to protect her privacy)

And here it is complete.  It is hanging on the wall right next to our front door so that it can be seen by visitors. It's a bit dark in our entry though, so I'm sorry for the poor photo quality.

I'm so happy with the end result!  And that's a big check mark on my mental list of things to do.