deconstructed lasagna

cold and rainy in your neck of the woods too? it's the perfect time of the year for hot, steamy bowls of pasta! lasagna is one of my favorites, yet i make it maybe once a year, simply because i don't have the patience for it. and seem to burn the tips of my fingers every time i make it while handling hot noodles during assembly. so dealing with the noodles is completely cut out and instead, the meat sauce and alfredo sauce are layered with short cut pasta. simple. delicious. and ready in about 30 minutes.

there's an obvious absence of ricotta cheese from this recipe. i am not a fan of ricotta in lasagna, and ever since a good friend turned me on to bechamel with stuffed shells, i haven't looked back. if you simply can't live without it, add a tablespoon or two to the bottom of your pasta bowl before you add the pasta.


caramel pear butter

my canner is getting a workout this year. i started with cherry almond jam, the moved into spiced plum butter with smitten kitchen's peach butter thrown in somewhere, and a few unmentionables that will show up around christmas time. it seems like every other weekend i've canned something. now that it's pear season - and two quarts of pears cost a mere $2 at the farmer's market - it's finally time for this pear butter that i bookmarked back in august. it's a play on one of my all time favorite combinations: caramel and fresh fruit. and if you love that combination even half as much as i do, this pear butter is to die for.


good eats near zion national park

last month's vacation didn't only take us to las vegas. we rented a car and headed straight for utah, stopping first at valley of fire state park to check out the red rocks before continuing onto springdale and zion national park.

each year from about the age of twelve to eighteen my mom, dad, sister and i took a trip out west. (sorry dad, i can't remember the exact years and places we went each year with even half of the accuracy that you have. many of the trips blend together for me. which really isn't so bad, i just remember it all started with yellowstone and ended with the raft down the colorado, with mesa verde, taos, arches, canyon de chelly, and others thrown in.) every year around christmas the four of us would talk about where we'd go the next summer, what did we want to see, what did we want to do. and once decided, dad spent months pouring over books, calling far off places to make reservations because of course, the only internet we got at our house was through a phone cord strung across the kitchen floor, into the laundry room where the computer was kept. and we'd spend our time riding horses, hiking to arches, floating down rivers, looking at old churches, eating navajo tacos and watching the mittens through the rental car window in monument valley. i wouldn't trade it for the world. it's hard to believe it's been ten years since i've been out there.


pumpkin gingersnap cookies

in the last week, i went from complete and total denial of the changing of the seasons, to full on in love with fall. i went from refusing to wear a jacket (or long sleeves for that matter) to work to apple picking, chili making, and hot cider drinking. the only thing that speaks fall just as much, if not more than apples, is pumpkin. last fall kicked off with mini pumpkin spice cupcakes, moved on to pumpkin spice scones, and ended with an iced pumpkin chocolate spiced bundt cake for my mom's annual halloween party. this year i am kicking off fall with these pumpkin gingersnap cookies i saw last week on two peas & their pod.


slow cooker french onion soup with beef

i really need to get on the slow cooker bandwagon. what has taken me so long?! it all started with the chicken tacos i made a couple weeks ago - before vacations and conferences and weddings got in the way - and i realized the only thing better than eating a homecooked meal every night, is eating one that's been cooked while you were at work. 
this time i tackled soup. french onion soup. one of my absolute favorite soups. i attempted a garlicky version  a year and a half ago but have yet to master the original. this time i decided to let the slow cooker do the work of cooking down the onions and added beef. yes, i know beef is not traditionally in french onion soup, but around these parts, i knew i needed to add some meat to the soup to get a certain someone to at least try it.


secret recipe club: double chocolate peanut butter chip oatmeal cookies

on the surface, deeba from passionate about baking and i don't have a whole lot in common. she lives in a country - a whole continent - i've never even visited, outside new delhi, india. deeba is a stay at home mom to two teenagers. i am a workaholic newlywed (when exactly do you move from newly wed to just plain married?). deeba's photos are absolutely gorgeous and she freelances in her spare time. but once you start really digging into who she is - a woman passionate about baking (as the name suggests), dedicated to making from scratch, and a supporter of all things local - it's easy to see how i got engrossed in her blog so easily. the fact that her current passion is baking with fruit had me hook, line, and sinker. if you haven't noticed, it's one of my favorites too.


pesto cream pasta

since i am out of town again this week, i'll keep this one short and sweet.

have some end of the summer - better eat them up soon before the plants die - tomatoes? how about some basil that you know won't last too much longer? do yourself a favor and whip them up in this pesto cream pasta. there are few things that stretch out summer like a bowl of fresh pesto.


las vegas: good eats edition

last week we spent three and a half days in las vegas for the very first time. we had some great eats and some not so good eats. below are the good eats, from best to good:

scarpetta, the cosmopolitan
jason and i often find ourselves watching chopped on the food network friday nights and have seen scott conant go crazy over chefs that cook pasta incorrectly. so we decided - since we were celebrating our anniversary on this trip after all - to have one night out in a swanky restaurant and chose conant's scarpetta. partly because we love italian food and partly because we had to taste his pasta!
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