Monthly Archives: March 2008

Baked Ziti – back by popular demand

By popular demand I mean that I remembered this dish and thought, “that WAS really good!” I’ve made this dish several times. Many times for more than 40 people and it’s just so affordable to feed a lot and I know several of you who read this have to feed more than 2 mouths! This is tasty – full flavor and doesn’t dry out (which is the problem with some baked pasta dishes). Also, it’s from my favorite magazine.

I also like this recipe because it gives you tips on freezing if you cook at the beginning of the week and then have meals prepared during the week to just simply thaw out and bake. (great tip)
Lasagna-Style Baked Ziti

1 pound ziti
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound lean ground beef (i use an80%/20% beef – more flavor!)
3 cloves garlic, minced (use fresh, please)
1/2 cup chopped fresh oregano (optional)
1 26-ounce jar pasta sauce (I like vodka sauce – comes in any brand, really)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Parmesan
1 15-ounce container ricotta
1 10-ounce box frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove liquid
1 cup grated mozzarella

Cook the ziti according to the package instructions.

Heat oven to 400° F.

In a large pot, over medium-low heat, heat the oil. Add the onion, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook until the onion is softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the beef, increase heat to medium-high, and cook until no trace of pink remains, 5 to 8 minutes. Drain any remaining liquid. Add the garlic and oregano (if using) and cook for 2 minutes. Add the pasta sauce and heat for 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the cooked pasta and toss to coat. Add the Parmesan, ricotta, and spinach and toss again. Spread the mixture into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or individual ramekins and sprinkle with the mozzarella. Bake until the mozzarella melts, about 15 minutes.

Tip: If you prefer, substitute Italian sausage for the ground beef and chopped broccoli for the spinach.

To Freeze: Assemble (but do not bake) the casserole. Cover tightly with two layers of aluminum foil. Store for up to 3 months.

To Reheat: Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or thaw partially in the microwave. Cover and heat in a 350° F oven for 1 hour. Uncover and heat until the mozzarella melts, about 10 minutes more.

Yield: Makes 4 servings



Filed under Food Stuffs, Tips and Tricks

I Need Your Vote!

I will enter a photography show (it’s an annual Lubbock show) on  Monday and I can only enter 3 photographs.  However, I have 4 I really like so I need as much input as possible on what everyones’ top 3 picks are.  Please rank the following photographs in order of preference:

Man and Window

Girl and Alley

Girl and Ivy

Dirty Sunday

Also, if you live in Lubbock (Allyson) you should enter!  Anyone can enter and the talent ranges usually from kids who take pictures of their dogs chewing on toothpaste, to real professionals blowing our socks off with pictures of Iceland and the like.  It’s pretty entertaining.  The top prize is $100 plus a $100 gift certificate to Armadillo Camera.  Then there is 1st, 2nd and 3rd in black and white and a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in color.  Not to mention, as many honorable mentions as the juror wants to give out.  I have NEVER won anything, but I still enter because it’s good to put yourself out there!


Filed under Photography

The Food Dictionary

In keeping with my wish for this blog to be useful, I thought of the wonderful world of food and cooking. I cook a lunch for about 40 college students every Thursday and at those lunches I get a lot of people saying, “How do you know how to do all this stuff? What is a bolognese? How do you saute something? What is a reduction?” And even a couple of weeks ago my lovely friend, Cassie, asked me what bitters were as one of the cupcake recipes she was making called for them. I only know these things because cooking is pretty much our hobby now. We read cookbooks, magazines like Gourmet and Bon Appetit, we watch shows like No Reservations, Good Eats, Nigella Bites and various chefographies, etc.

So I extend this invitation to anyone who might come across this blog to ask a question you’ve always had about food. Or ask a question you have about tonight’s dinner! Just put your question in the comments section and I’ll try to answer it. It can be anything from “What is matcha?” to “How on earth do you mince something?” No question is too simple – if you don’t cook very often it’s no crime to not know these things! If I get no questions, I’ll simply make some up – but I’d much rather answer questions real people might actually have!
In the meantime, I’ll tell you what I made for dinner tonight – it was so easy. Thanks, Martha!

Crispy Breaded Pork Cutlets

Crispy Breaded Pork Cutlets
Martha Stewart Show



Serves 4

  • 1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as safflower
  • 4 boneless pork loin chops (6 to 8 ounces each)
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepperDirections
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss panko with oil. Bake, tossing once, until golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees.
  2. Meanwhile, one at a time, place chops between two large pieces of plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet or the bottom of a small heavy pan, pound to make 1/4-inch-thick cutlets.
  3. Dividing evenly, coat pork with mustard; season with salt and pepper. One at a time, dip cutlets into panko, pressing firmly to adhere.
  4. Place a rack on a rimmed baking sheet; place pork on rack, and bake, without turning, until opaque throughout, 10 to 15 minutes.

I also made the yummy creamed corn to go with the cutlets:


Serves 4

  • 1 box (10 ounces) frozen corn kernels
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 3 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepperDirections
  1. In a medium saucepan, simmer corn and 1/4 cup milk over medium heat until corn is tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in cream cheese and chives. Season with salt and pepper. If desired, adjust consistency with a little more milk.


Filed under Food Stuffs, Tips and Tricks

My Keen Driving Skills

Earlier this week I got to see my niece and nephew, Kari and Evan. I haven’t seen them since probably sometime last summer so it was great to see them! We made a little road trip from Hobbs, NM to Portales, NM and all the way I took pictures of them by just holding the camera behind me – very safe, yes I know. When we got to my parents’ house in Portales, I played with them for a while until my parents got back from Lubbock (dad had surgery on his hand – two knuckles replaced). Anyway, just wanted to show some of my favorites of these GREAT little kids. You’ll notice a pattern in the car pics that when you don’t look through the lens…you don’t get the placement of your subject quite right. Little tip there for free. 😉


(oh, p.s. I got a written consent form from both Kari and Evan to publish these pictures) 😉


so safe



Kari and Evan
fun times


Gosh, I love this kid



Cheeto girl



Me and Evan


pretty Kari


Kari playing with my old toy kitchen set


Ah, memories. Did anyone else have this set? So cute.

Hiding from the camera

Evan and my parents’ dog, Mackey.


Evan and Granna

Kari and Granna

PopPop and Evan


Filed under General Hoo-Ha, Photography

Legal Rights of Photographers

Recent events led me to think that I should write more useful blog posts. Recent events also led me to think that my first useful blog post should be about the legal rights of photographers. I was accused of breaking the law earlier this week and I do NOT take that matter lightly. Especially when my accuser couldn’t have been more mistaken. However wrong she was and as innocent as I might be, it reminded me that any photographer out there should familiarize themselves with their rights – where they can take photographs, when they can not.

Can you publish any picture you shoot? Can you publish pictures of people that you took in a park? Can you take pictures of children you don’t know? Can you publish pictures you took on private property? Can you take photographs without asking people permission? The answers might surprise you because the answers to all of these questions is a resounding yes.  The law states that you have a right to take photos wherever and of whomever you want, give that the pictures don’t violate the following rules:

 Prong 1 (while gathering): Unreasonable intrusion upon seclusion (e.g., trespass)
 Prong 2 (if published): Unreasonable revelation of private facts (e.g., medical information)
 Prong 3 (if published): Unreasonably placing another person in a false light before the public
    Prong 4 (if published): Misappropriation of a person’s name or likeness

(facts taken from this site)

Know the answers to these questions – print this document off and carry it with you – especially if photography is your profession! There is a lot more information out there, but this was one that put things plainly and simply for those of us who don’t understand law terms.  There are a lot of paranoid people out there who might try to scare you. Don’t be scared! Be informed!

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Filed under Photography, Tips and Tricks

Sweet Caroline

Yesterday I finally got to meet Caroline Beatty!  I had seen pictures but they just don’t do justice to how sweet and bubbly this child is.  Tiffany wrote me an email on Friday asking if I could do a spur of the moment shoot on Monday since they would be in town.  Of course!  So we shot at Broadway Church of Christ where Sean and Tiffany met.  I thought it was hilarious that Caroline was as happy as could be until they put pantyhose and a dress on her.  Then she began to act kind of like I do when I have to wear pantyhose.  🙂  She is an absolute doll and I loved every minute of the shoot – even the parts when she screamed, “Get this dress off me, I wanna be nekkid!”  Such vocabulary for a 5 month old.














Filed under Photography