Pumpkin Lasagna Roll-ups Easy Clean Recipe

Pumpkin Lasagna Roll-ups Easy Clean Recipe IMG_2422


6 whole wheat lasagna noodles

1/2 c can pumpkin

1/2 c ricotta cheese

1/4 c cooked onions (optional)

small handful spinach or kale

marinara sauce

1/4 c Parmesan cheese


Boil noodles and let cool. Mix ricotta, pumpkin and onion. Spoon filling onto lasagna. Top with with greens. Roll up. Use toothpick to close. Arrange on baking sheet. Spoon marinara over tops of rolls. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake in oven @350 for 15 min or til cheese is melted.

**I had some leftover breakfast sausage that I included in my rolls as well and it was amazing.

Grandma's Thanksgiving Roasted Bacon Mushroom Green Beans

Happy holidays, Macrander family! It's here finally. Last night, J and I went over to his grandmother's house for Thanksgiving-Christmas dinner with his out-of-town aunt. She's going to be with her partner for the holidays and they will not be traveling so we had to celebrate early. Here's the standout dish from last night. Grandma's Thanksgiving Roasted Bacon Mushroom Green Beans

Grandma's Thanksgiving Roasted Bacon Mushroom Green Beans

Prep time: 15 minutes

Bake time: 20 minutes

Heat oven: 375 F


2 lbs. fresh green beans

2 tbsp. EVOO

2 tbsp. all purpose seasoning

6 slices (or more) thick-cut bacon

1/3 cup sliced shallots

2 tbsp. (or more) garlic

12 oz. fresh mushrooms

1 cup low sodium chicken broth


1. Trim and wash the green beans. Toss with EVOO and seasoning.

2. Roast beans in the oven for 10 minutes.

3. Dice and cook bacon in deep skillet (iron skillets make magic). When bacon begins to brown, add shallots, garlic and mushrooms. Stir fry until bacon is brown. (You might want to drain out the bacon fat at this point, or what the hell, YOLO, leave it in.)

4. Add roasted beans to the mix and add 1 cup broth. Cover pan and cook on medium for 10 minutes.

Butternut Squash, Bacon, Rosemary Macaroni and Cheese

Every now and again inspiration strikes. I was feeling pretty down Tuesday. J called and asked if I’d thought about what we might want to do for Bible Study dinner. We’ve gotten into a good pattern since J started hosting at his house where he cleans, preps for the hour before study and I go home and prepare a meal. It works for us and I really enjoy the challenge of making food that will feed 10 people on a budget. Like I said, I was feeling pretty grumpy, so when J called I told him that, yes, I had thought about dinner, but, no, I hadn’t come to any conclusions. He said we’d order pizza, a practice that we’ve really tried to get away from.

So, I got off the phone and asked my colleagues what I could possibly make that would be cheap and would feed many. Our wonderful IT guy, Michael, said “macaroni with hot dogs!” And suddenly my sad, self-pitying soul said, “Yes! Feed the hole in my heart with cheese and noodles!”

After some noodling (pardon the pun), this is what I came up with. Not exactly mac and hot dogs, but close. Also, it’s a variation on Nanni’s Mac-and-Cheese, that the family loves.

Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese


Butternut Squash, Bacon, Rosemary Macaroni and Cheese

1          9 by 13 Baking Dish, Greased

1          Box of Whole Wheat Elbow Noodles

½        Butternut Squash, Peeled and Cubed

6          Strips of Thick Cut Bacon

½        Yellow Onion

2          Cloves of Garlic

1          Package of Colby Jack Cheese Cubed

3          Cups Whole Milk

6          Tsp Flour

1          Tbsp Dried or Fresh Rosemary

2          Cups Seasoned Bread Crumbs

Total Time: 60 min. Time in Oven: 30 min.

Cook temp: 375 F

Boil water for pasta and steaming butternut squash. While water is heating up, cut up and peel squash and add prepped squash to steamer. Steam for at least 15 minutes. (You could also roast the squash, but it would take a bit longer.) Boil noodles.

  1. While squash is steaming and noodles are cooking, cook all of the bacon. Dice the onion and garlic.
  2. Drain noodles. Mix in the onion, the garlic, the squash, ½ of the chopped bacon, and ¾ of the cheese. Spread evenly in cooking dish. Poor milk into the casserole. The milk  should come up to right before the top of the noodles, but should not cover the noodles.
  3. Dust the top of the macaroni with flour. Top with bread crumbs, rosemary, remaining bacon and remaining cheese.
  4. Place in heated oven and allow to cook for 30-45 minutes.


Recipe: Underwood Ranch Chili

10268450_10203688316426972_7138828356168750405_n I adore this recipe and I've made it several times.

I enjoy cooking for guests when we go up to the farm, and I've found that meals that are simple to throw together are the best.

The first time I made it, I decided to augment it by adding some chipotle pepper. So, I added a whole can of peppers in adobo sauce. That chili could have set your face on fire. Since then, I've reduced the pepper number to 3-4, based on spice preference.

Anyway, I just made this for Bible study yesterday. This recipe tastes like Fall to me. It fed enough to fill five or six adults.

Also, I had an extra 1/2 zucchini and red bell pepper and carrots in my fridge, so I diced those and threw them in. Get creative. This is  a great recipe to clear out the fridge with.

Make it and love it. I promise it's make-a-million-times good.

Underwood Ranch Chili 

3 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

3 large garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 pounds lean grass-fed ground beef

1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 tsp. chili powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons sweet smoked Spanish paprika

1/2 teaspoon to 1 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

3-4 Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

About 1 tsp. salt

1 can (14.5 oz.) crushed fire-roasted tomatoes

1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce

1 can or bottle flavorful, medium-bodied beer, such as Anchor Steam

1 teaspoon Worcestershire

1 can (14.5 oz.) pinto beans, drained

Optional additions: Bell Pepper, Zucchini, Garbanzo Beans, Carrots

To serve: Sour cream, sliced green onions, and/or coarsely shredded cheddar cheese for topping


  1. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, cook bacon, stirring until it just begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Add onion, lower heat to medium, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 4 to 7 minutes. Uncover pan, stir in garlic, and cook 1 minute.
  2. Increase heat to medium-high and add ground beef; break it up with a wooden spoon and stir gently until it loses its raw color, 7 minutes. Stir in spices and 1 tsp. salt and cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, beer, and Worcestershire and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover partially, and cook 30 minutes.
  3. Add beans and cook 10 minutes, uncovered. Season to taste with salt. Serve warm, with toppings on the side.

See original recipe:

The tip jar thank you

For reference you may want to check the original Curmudgeon Chronicle posting titled Really?  At the end of that post I pointedly ignored a tip jar when I had received sucky service.  This post is not the same. Though it is technically not the closest pizza place to our house, Uncle Joe's on Old Seward is the closest decent pizza place.  You know I could eat pizza at least once a week.  Twice a week, if I make it once.  Mom doesn't like pizza all that much, so pizza becomes my, eat it when mom is gone, food, or my, we stayed at the office too late and I am not cooking food.  By either measure, I give Uncle Joe's a good bit of business.  In fact, when Susan & Chuck came to visit, mom & I were running late, so had a pizza.  S&C had not eaten and were hungry, so, we stopped at UJ's on the way home and got a second 12" all meat.

UJ's is also located at that perfect distance from the office that allows me to call as we are leaving and have it coming out of the oven when we walk in the door, then stay hot until we get home, leaving just enough time to open a bottle of Chianti.  It is also a pleasant well run business.  Everyone seems to work hard and appreciate the job.

For years, one of the reasons to pick up a pizza was to not feel obligated to give the delivery person a tip.   So, in our early visits to UJ's tipping was not a high priority.  I did, however, occasionally throw a buck or two in the jar when I had cash.  I soon noticed that, when you give a tip, the server hits one of those little bells with the push button on the top and all of the staff in the cooking area yells thank you.  I also noticed that a small tip gets one bell push and a modest thank you.  A good tip gets three bell rings and a hearty thank you.

Like Pavlov's dog, I have developed the habit of generous tipping at UJ's for the pure joy of hearing the staff call out Thank You.  How brilliant is that?  Create a way to attract attention to tippers and show them some appreciation, and you get money.  Wow!

Small gestures like thank you take so little effort and make such a difference.  Maybe one day when I am feeling down I will go to UJ's throw 50 in the tip jar and listen to them yell Thank You!!

Another wonder meal at Matt's in the Market

I will turn my back on the tremendous view from our hotel room at the Westin. The view of Elliot's Bay and Peuget Sound is ever changing and mesmerizing. A television is unnecessary in this room, unless, of course an Alabama football game is on.

Ginger was in town for work all week and I joined her for the weekend. It seems that the fabled Seattle rain always clears and we have beautiful temperate weather when we are here. Yesterday was certainly no exception. Clear blue skies and mid seventies temperatures were the conditions of the day. The perfect evening to visit one of our favorite Seattle eateries.

We have eased into Matt's over the years. Our first discovery was while visiting Pike's Place Market and looking for a place for a late lunch. Repeated visits for lunch or drinks and cheese have gradually shaped our view of Matt's as a place where you can always get innovative food served in a cordial atmosphere with fresh breezes through open windows and views of the market and the sound. On the upper floor of the building, directly across from the Market entrance, the place has an open warehouse loft feel and the large windows always seem to be flooded with light.

After much anticipation and walking around trying to kill a couple of hours, we couldn't contain ourselves any longer and showed up 20 minutes early for our nine o'clock reservation. Unfortunately, there had been some kind of snafu and we didn't actually have a reservation. They were definitely slammed, but the hostess was cordial and worked us in for a 9:15 reservation. We waited patiently and spent the time cruising real estate listings on G's iPad.

9:15 became 9:30 and we were called to our table at a window in the bar area, but all good. Our waitperson, Phillip, came quickly and was responsive and helpful without being pushy to get a drink order. We were quick, though. The last time we were here we had a cheese plate and G had a tasty cocktail, so that was where we started.

We also settled on our entrees before Phillip left the table. Matt's menu changes regularly based upon what is fresh. The menu is not expansive, with 5-7 choices in each of the categories (appetizers, salads, entrees, and desserts), yet it covers the range of food groups, such that whether you are in mood for fish, fowl, or beast, you can find something that looks good. Though I usually do not order halibut when out at a restaurant, because of the frequency and quality of the halibut that we have at home, the preparation with fresh corn, fava beans, and dashi broth sounded too good to pass on. I would have gone with one of my always favorites of seafood stew, but the preparation was with a coconut green curry broth and coconut is one of the few things that can spoil a meal for me. To my surprise G ordered the stew, so, I could, at least, sample it .

The cheese plate came, five cheeses arrayed on a piece of slate, each with a special accouterments of jam, ground nuts, home made corn flakes, etc. It was a mixture of Washington local cheeses and cheeses from France and Spain. It was also a mixture of cow and sheep milk cheeses that ran the gamut from brie to bleu. It was hard to choose the star of this array. Not usually a huge bleu fan the combination of a very mild bleu with a thin flat of chocolate with dried strawberries made that, I think, my favorite, but it was really like naming your favorite child. They were all special.

The Albarino that we had ordered was really good, pleasantly tart and paired well with the cheese and our entrees.

When the entrees came they were visually beautiful. G's seafood stew came out first and was overflowing with shellfish with nice pieces of salmon and halibut peaking out of the broth. "No way, are you going to eat all of that," I said. My halibut followed closely. It was perfectly seared (how do they do that?) and on a bed of veggies. When the server poured on the dashi broth I was assailed with a smoky aroma that set my salivary glands going. I definitely need to explore dashi as an ingredient.

I quickly snagged a mussel that was not deep in G's coconut infused broth. I could just taste the dreaded coconut, but the mussel was wonderful. G. dug in and the seafood flew, shells clattering into the discard bowl accompanied by appreciative expletives.

My halibut was wonderful. The preparation was fresh and nuanced. My first impression had been that the portion was a bit on the small side, but I found myself just barely able to finish. "Oh man!"

As we sat back to finish our bottle of wine, G. started surfing real estate listings again. Philip came by and, on a whim, I asked him where we might want to look for houses in the Seattle area. After a bit of back and forth, he pulled up a chair and talked with us about neighborhoods.

All in all, it was a great evening and really great food. Matt's is like any great thing. When the food, service, and setting are this good it is going to be discovered and known. We will return again and again, but so will others.

Friends, Food and Satisfaction

Good day family,

I meant to write up this tale and recipe last week but quickly became distracted by other life happenings. So without further ado I present: Friends, Food and Satisfaction.

Thursday, 5:30 p.m.

My friend Mckenzie arrives at my apartment for our weekly run. Quickly she changes and we set out towards city park. With Dante trotting gaily beside me she and I chat as we lightly jog the 3 blocks that stand between my place and the park. Once we arrive at the entrance to the park each of us open our gaits, lengthen our strides and breathe deep the cool spring air. “Today is the perfect day for a run” I think to myself as we make the first turn onto the path that borders the edge of the park. Quickly Mckenzie, who is a few inches taller than me, bounds ahead of me. I struggle to keep up feeling each foot fall against the gravel is not quite enough to propel me far enough forward in order to catch up. But I try. Within moments she is a good 50 feet in front of me as I huff and puff attempting to minimize the distance between us. I should also mention here that we were running uphill. As the terrain flattens I gain on her and feel my body relax into a rhythm.

Growing up Dad would often coax us kids into running or biking with him when he went on his weekend runs. At the time I remember feeling reluctance towards early morning exercise, but now, as an adult I am thankful for those moments and the exercise wisdom Dad passed on during those early morning sessions. As my body relaxes into the rhythm of running I can hear Dad’s breathing lesson echoing through my mind, “In, two, three, four…out, two, three, four”. As my feet land against the loose gravel my breathing begins to match my cadence. This is the space in which running becomes “easy” or as some people call it “the runner’s high”. Before long I am only 10 feet behind Mckenzie at which point she slows down to run alongside Dante and I. Towards the end of our run we crest one final hill and the city of Denver with the Rocky Mountains as a back drop lays before us in its entire spring glory.

After picking up a few items at one of the many grocery stores in close proximity to my place Mckenzie and I return to my place to make dinner. For this evening we have selected broiled brussel sprouts with salmon. When I chose this recipe I honestly didn’t think I would be as easy or delicious as it turned out to be. Below are the ingredients and directions needed to replicate this tasty dish:

Ingredients: - 14 cloves of garlic (I didn’t use this much but if you really like garlic this is a great recipe for you) - ¼ c of olive oil - 2 tbl sp of fresh herbs (oregano, basil, rosemary) - 1 tsp of salt - ¾ tsp of ground pepper - 6 c of Brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced (I just did enough to feed the two of us plus a little leftover) - ¾ c of white wine - 3 lbs of salmon fillet (I just picked up 1 lb for the two of us and I still had leftovers) - Lemon wedges

Directions: (as always this is a guide not strict directions) 1. Preheat oven to 450°F. 2. Mince 2 garlic cloves and combine in a small bowl with oil, 1 tablespoon oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Halve the remaining garlic and toss with Brussels sprouts and 3 tablespoons of the seasoned oil in a large roasting pan. Roast, stirring once, for 15 minutes. 3. Add wine to the remaining oil mixture. Remove the pan from oven, stir the vegetables and place salmon on top. Drizzle with the wine mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon oregano and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Bake until the salmon is just cooked through, 5 to 10 minutes more. Serve with lemon wedges.

After consuming a wonderful meal in the warmly lit courtyard of my apartment building Mckenzie and I sat chatting and laughing at life, love and the pursuit of happiness. It is these simple moments that make up a life worth living. If anybody ever tells you differently they are probably trying to sell something.

Foods that freeze well

I've been cooking fresh a lot more often recently thanks to Fresh 20 meal planning. The only problem is, even with the gift of meals for one (or two when I'm feeding Jarrod) and meals that use the same ingredients over several recipes, I end up with fresh ingredients that if left in the fridge will go bad. So, I've been freezing a lot. Please note, I cook with all of my frozen veggies. MMV on thawing out and expecting a grocery store fresh result. This is going to sounds dumb, but, been there done that. Cut up your fruit/vegetable/food item BEFORE you freeze. I once froze a bunch of apples and was very disappointed that I had frozen rock apples that I couldn't do anything with.


If you're a single lady like me, a great way to save money is to buy the family sized meat packs (think 5 lb. ground turkey) and cut into individual sized servings BEFORE you freeze. I like cut into commonly used portion sizes. For instance, a 5 lb. log of ground meat I'd cut up into 1 lb. serving sizes, package them in freezer bags and throw all the small freezer bags into a gallon size freezer bag.


Bananas - learned this from mom. Frozen bananas are great for use in breads and muffins. I imagine they'd also be good for smoothies, though I'm not really an at home smoothie girl.


Kale - cooked with some frozen kale the other day and it turned out awesome.


Onions - I always buy the big bag and chop up as much as I can and freeze. It sure beats having to chop onion every night.



All sorts of shredded cheeses

Add to the list! What do you like to freeze?

Jarrod's homecoming party food

At long last, Jarrod is home from North Dakota. His company is providing him with extra swanky housing in the River Oaks district. So what to do? Invite people over for a Jarrod's home/Olympic kick-off/Jason's birthday party!

Jarrod hates when I bring this up, but two years ago I was invited to Jason's birthday at Papasitos. Now, granted it was a big group of us and granted, I did have a date with me, but Jarrod put me on the pay-no-mind list! Back in those days I had a glamorous job at a newspaper so I regaled the gaggle of engineers with tails of crime and whoa. To no avail. I could not catch Jarrod's eye. Sigh.

It wouldn't be until months later that Jason would set Jarrod and me up on a semi-blind date. The rest is history. So they say.

Anyway, who cares about all of that, right!?! Let's get to the party food. Recipes brought to you by my boss Lonna.

Lonna's Baked Potato Dip


1 tub of sour cream 1 bag of bacon bits 1 bunch of green onion ( just use the ends, not the bulbs) 1 bag of shredded sharp cheddar sprinkle of garlic powder sprinkle of salt sprinkle of pepper


Mix it all together.

Lonna's Crock Pot Meat Balls


1 bag of frozen meat balls 1 jar of real grape jelly 1 bottle of barbecue sauce


Cook on low for 8 hours in the slow cooker and stir at the half-way point. Use tooth pics to serve.

Veggie shots


Chopped small strips of assorted vegetables (I used differently colored bell peppers) 1 bottle of Ranch dressing


Put about 1 tbsp of ranch dressing in the bottom of a small plastic shot glass. Garnish with chopped vegetables. Can be scaled up or down based on the size of your party.