A new take on meatless lasagna

April 23rd, 2013 at 12:18 pm by under Food Joy, Uncategorized
cornbasillasgna When it comes to weeknight meals, let’s face it – easy and quick often wins over complex and ultra nutritious.  So, when you find a recipe that comes together easily, tastes great and is good for you, you share it!   I set out to make this Sweet Corn and Basil Lasagna recipe from my Weeknights with Giada cookbook by Giada DeLaurentiis of the Food Network, but, as always, I improvised a little. Here’s the recipe my gal-pal-in-my-mind Giada and I came up with together:

Sweet corn, basil and ‘color-boost’ lasagna

Vegetable oil cooking spray
3 cups frozen corn, thawed
1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup (8 oz) Mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese
grated zest of 1 large lemon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 packed cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 cups (6 oz) shredded sharp Provolone cheese
6 no-boil lasagna sheets
Olive oil for drizzling
No-boil lasagna sheets (**key to quick dinner)
Olive oil for drizzling
1 cup packed spinach and or arugula
2 medium hot house tomatoes, sliced thinly

***I increased all of the ingredients by about 1/3 and made this a little larger in a 9 X 13 pan – just as fast, more lasagna to share!***

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Spray an 8-inch square glass baking dish with vegetable oil cooking spray.  In a food processor (**a second key to quick dinner), blend corn, heavy cream, and garlic until chunky.  Add the Mascarpone cheese, 1 cup of the Romano cheese, the lemon zest, sea salt to taste and pepper. Blend until smooth. Add the basil and pulse until just combined.  Spread one-third of the corn mixture on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with one-third of the Provolone cheese. cornbasillasgna2Place 2 lasagna sheets  for square pan on top. Here’s where I couldn’t resist adding some color, flavor and nutrition by layering spinach, arugula and thinly sliced hot house tomatoes to the layers.  cornbasillasgna3Repeat twice with the remaining 1/2 cup Romano cheese on top and drizzle with olive oil.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Cool for 10 minutes. Cut into 6 pieces and serve.

Dive in and enjoy!  cornbasillasgna4

Pretty salad perfect for spring

March 27th, 2013 at 10:07 am by under Uncategorized

eightWest fish fry 002 The sun is out and spring is here! Out with the heavy casseroles and all-day stews and in with the light, crisp taste of a new season for fresh eating.  I recently met up with registered dietitian and author David Grotto who wrote the “The 10 Best Foods You Can Eat” and one of them on his list is salmon, which inspired me to share a favorite recipe, perfect for healthy eating and colorful, flavorful Easter fare.

David Grotto





Give this one a try for your next gathering or quick meal with your family.  It’s from the “Weeknights with Giada” cookbook by Giada DeLaurentiis.  Enjoy!

Roasted salmon, snap pea and cucumber salad

1 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed
2 small Persian cucumbers, unpeeled, thinly sliced
1 cup (about 1/2 pint) cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 14.75 ounce can of boneless, skinless pink salmon, drained

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the snap peas and cook until vibrant green, 1 to 2 minutes.  You can also steam them for about 2 minutes instead.  Drain and transfer to a bowl of iced water to cool, about 2 minutes.  Drain and put in a salad bowl. Add the cucumbers, tomatoes, and chill, dill. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper until smooth.  Using a fork, flake the salmon into 3/4-inch pieces and add to the salad bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until coated.

Wintry March

March 20th, 2013 at 3:37 am by under Bill's Blog, Uncategorized

Local  The snow flurries/snow showers should increase as we approach daybreak.  The air a mile above ground is even colder today than it was on Tues.  In fact, the overnight run of the European model doesn’t take the temperature at 850 mb (just shy of a mile above ground) above 20F degrees in the next week!  The Euro. gives G.R. .03″ precipitation today (half an inch of snow), .02″ on Thu., .02″ next Monday and .02″ next Tue. and that would all be snow.  The GFS caribou gives G.R. 9.9″ of snow next Sun. to Mon.!  Here’s the 120-hr. GFS showing a snow maximum in Berrien, Cass and Van Buren Counties.  The European keeps most of the snow south in Indiana and Illinois and I’ll stick with that for now.    For current Michigan weather observations and wind speeds, click here. Here’s NAM model snowfall thru 84 hours, the GFS snowfall thru 120 hours and the HPC snowfall predictions. Here’s WOOD-TV Interactive Radar, looping radar. Check out regional radar, GRR radar, northern Indiana radar, Chicago radar and Milwaukee radar. Here’s the College of DuPage Radar Map, the local warning/advisory map and the National warning/watch/advisory map. You can checkout the latest Grand Rapids NWS discussion, the Northern Indiana NWS discussion (includes the Michigan Counties that border Indiana), the discussion for Northern Lower Michigan, and Eastern Lower Michigan. Here’s the Spyglass Condos Weather Station the S. Haven GLERL station, the Muskegon GLERL station, the Grand Haven Steelheaders webcam and weather station, and the weather station at Holland State Park. Check out the WOOD lightning tracker and U.S. lightning, the Maranatha Webcam at Lake Michigan and links to webcams. Here’s the infrared satellite loop (night) and the visible satellite loop (daytime), Lake Michigan water temperatures.       Also….does Harold Camping work for the Weather Channel now? (thanks to Ryan Maue for the heads up on this one).

Snow Cover

March 1st, 2013 at 1:58 pm by under Uncategorized

   Catchin’ some big time air at Pando (click the pic. to enlarge).  This will be a good weekend for winter sports (and this is about 5 generally good weekends in a row).  Here’s a look at how much snow there is on the ground Friday AM (which should last with temps. a little below freezing this weekend, esp. in the shade):  1″ S. Bend, 2″ Lansing, 3″ Ionia, 4″ Grand Rapids, Alma, 5″ Hastings, 7″ Muskegon, Grand Haven, 9″ Hart, Fremont, 11″ Nunica, Baldwin, 13″ Scottville, Houghton Lake, Lake City, 14″ Traverse City, 16″ Green Gardens (the LEAST amount of snow in the U.P.), 19″ Gaylord, 22″ Manistique, 25″ S. Ste. Marie, 33″ Marquette, Munising, 39″ near Houghton and Grand Marais, 43″ Hoist Basin.   It’s a dry weather pattern for the next week with very little snowfall in the state.  Temperatures will be cooler than average thru the mid-part of next week, then a little warmer than average toward the end of next week.

Big taste, lots of shortcuts

February 27th, 2013 at 11:20 pm by under Entertainment, Food Joy, Uncategorized

Putting a healthy and delicious dish on the table doesn’t have to take all night or become a major construction project.  This is a good, green go-to from my “Weeknights with Giada” cookbook, a Christmas gift that keeps on giving. (Thanks, fellow foodie Amanda Harper!)  Tonight’s fare – Ricotta Cheese, Lentil and Brown Rice Rolls.


Here’s what they look like in progress. Me and my new baking bestie Giada love that dark green good-for-you color of the Swiss chard leaves that form the wraps for this easy to put together palette please-r.  No need to keep you waiting. Here’s all you need to know:


5 large Swiss chard leaves
1 15-oz can cooked lentils, rinsed and drained.   Another option.  I cooked my own lentils, which took an entire 10 minutes.  Sort, rinse, boil, done.
1 1/2 cups ready cooked brown rice  Or – I am madly in love with my rice cooker and use it every weekend, so ready cooked brown rice?  Done.
1/4 cup (4 ounces) whole-milk ricotta cheese, at room temperature
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/3 cup plus 2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 packed cup (1 ounce) baby arugula leaves, chopped. This is when I miss my garden most.
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint. Again, the garden missing.
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon Kosher sale
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 jar (26 ounces) marinara or tomato-basil sauce  I used about half this much and was happy with the results.

Place oven rack in center of oven.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Butter an 8 X 8 baking dish and set aside.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Remove the thick stem from the center of each chard leaf.  Trim the ends to make each leaf half about 7 incheds long and 4 inches wide.  Here’s where I improvised a bit, having chard that didn’t seem to care how wide or long it was.  Add the leaves to the boiling water and cook for 10 seconds.  Seriously. This recipe says 10 seconds.  Not sure what kind of an oven timer you have, but mine goes off by the time I set it for 10 seconds.  I say, ‘boil quickly or until leaves become slightly limp’.  So, after you boil them, rinse them with cold water and let them drain on paper towels.

In a medium bowl, mix the lentils, brown rice, ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, 1/3 cup olive oil, arugula, mint, garlic, salt and pepper.  Spoon 1 cup of the marinara sauce on the bottom of the prepared pan.  Spoon a heaping 1/3 cup of the filling onto the end of each leap and roll up like a burrito, tucking in the sides as you go. Arrange the rolls, seam side down, in a single layer on top of the sauce.  Spoon the remaining sauce on top and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.  Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Slide the baking dish into the oven an bake for 25 minutes or until the cheese begins to brown and the rolls are heated through.  Cool for five minutes are serve.


Let’s Talk about Race

February 13th, 2013 at 9:12 am by under News, Uncategorized

I was at the Dominican Center for an event by the Partners For a Racism-Free Community. The lunch and learn speaker was Joe Jones and the topic was “Dynamics of Talking about Race.”  More than sixty people gathered to listen and contribute to this issue that is often difficult to talk about.

How do you begin to talk about racism? One of the tools discussed was about finding commonalities, shared values that unite rather then divide. Focus on solutions. We all look for opportunities and a sense of community. The discussion was spirited and everyone there seemed to be seeking some kind answer or direction through this tough issue. They spoke about knowing who you are and where we came from to help understand where we need to go. We all have our own story to tell. I walked away with the sense that we need to listen more and try to understand and not be so judgemental. What’s your story?  

Follow me on twitter @evaweva.

20″ of snow on the ground!

January 23rd, 2013 at 9:27 pm by under Uncategorized

    Viewer pic. of 20″ of snow on the ground in Cheshire Township, Allegan Co.  Second picture is radar storm snowfall from the GRR NWS and Bill Marino.   The winds are going NW to N and the heavier snow will shift to the SW corner of the Lower Peninsula.

Chill is here and the Soup is On!

January 18th, 2013 at 10:54 am by under Food Joy, Uncategorized

Nothing warms your body and your soul like a great bowl of soup!  That’s the power and the story behind the largest fund raising event of the year for God’s Kitchen, Soup’s On for All.  It’s not just about amazing soups made by some of the best chefs in the area. It’s an effort that involves thousands of people from kids in classrooms like Mrs. Tolly’s fifth and sixth graders at Forest Hills Central Woodlands to professional potters who lend their craft and skills to benefit the cause.  Painting bowls in a classroom or at Gallery 303 is a good opportunity for a Grandma on the Go to connect with grand kids and give back at the same time.

Here’s the recipe from the Soups On For All cookbook for you to try from WOTV4 Women’s Maranda.  Enjoy!

Recipe for Cream of Asparagus Soup
by Maranda, WOTV4 Women & WOOD TV
Serves 4 – 6

1 pound fresh asparagus, chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped
2 cups chicken broth, divided, plus additional, if needed
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 Tablespoon lemon juice, fresh
Fresh ground black or white pepper to taste
Freshly chopped chives for garnish

Place the asparagus and onion in a large covered saucepan; add 1 cup of the chicken broth, or enough to barely cover the asparagus.  Simmer over medium heat until the asparagus is just tender. Place the mixture in a blender and blend until  smooth, adding additional chicken both, if needed, to liquefy.  In a medium saucepan, cook the butter until melted;  whisking for one minute. Stir in the remaining cup of chicken broth and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until  the mixture comes to a boil.  Stir in the asparagus puree and milk.  Place the sour cream or yogurt into a medium bowl; ladle in about a 1/2 cup of the hot mixture to temper it and then slowly whisk this mixture back into the saucepan; add  the lemon juice.  Simmer on low heat, about four minutes – do not boil – or until warmed through, stirring frequently.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Serve each bowl topped with a sprinkle of fresh chives, if desired.

Chef’s Notes:
Not only is this soup a beautiful Spring green color, but it’s equally delicious when served chilled. It’s quite easy to turn this soup into a low-fat meal simply by substituting 2% milk and either low-fat sour cream or low-fat yogurt.  Take the time to ‘temper’ the sour cream by whisking in a little of the hot mixture first, as the recipe indicates, to avoid the  possibility of curdling the soup.


New in theaters/on DVD 10-12-12

October 12th, 2012 at 8:04 am by under Uncategorized

Seven new movies in West Michigan theaters this weekend…
New in theaters (Friday 10/12/12): “Argo”, “Here Comes the Boom”, “Seven Psychopaths”,  “Sinister”, “Perks of Being a Wallflower” (limited*), “Atlas Shrugged” (limited*), “Sleepwalk with Me” (limited*)
(video version from this week’s EightWest segment) (more…)

Beet Broccoli Bleu Cheese Kohlrabi Salad

September 3rd, 2012 at 4:36 pm by under Food Joy, Uncategorized

   It’s garden bonanza time!  On my latest trip to the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market, the stands were packed with just picked produce, some of the area farm’s finest, just waiting to become another great meal.  I went with some kind of salad in mind for a weekend family gathering and came away with a bunch of beets, bulbs of kohlrabi, bright green broccoli, crunchy carrots and a few other staples like onions and peppers of all varieties and some nearly end of the line blueberries and raspberries, too.  When I got home the beets seemed like the obviously place to start since they’re hearty enough to travel and get along so well with all the other veggies.  Besides, any member of the same flowering family of plants as the bougainvillea is beautiful to me.  They’re also low in calories, fat & cholesterol and loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber and anti-oxidants.  By mixing them up with a variety of more popular garden favorites, they will bring even the biggest beet-basher to the bright side.  In the a recipe I came up, I added kohlrabi for a more atypical crunch. Kohlrabi is kind of a cross between a turnip and a cabbage with a thick outer layer that’s best when it’s peeled away.  The insides can be cooked or eaten raw. There’s no need to discard the greens, either. They can be eaten as kale or collard greens would be.  For the recipe I came up with, I just used the bulb.   This can be served as a crunchy, sweet salad or a pretty side dish for whatever you have on the grill. Enjoy!

Beet Broccoli Bleu Cheese Kohlrabi Salad

5-6 beets, washed with the ends trimmed off
1 large or 2 medium kohlrabi bulbs, thick ‘woody’ outer coating peeled away
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 broccoli stalks with bulbs and stems, both chopped bite size or smaller
1-2 medium carrots, sliced julienne or chopped in small pieces
1 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts or pecan, toasted if preferred
1 cup bleu cheese
2- 4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1-2 Tbs white wine vinegar
1 Tbs honey
1 tsp. sea salt

Prepare the beets to your liking. They can be boiled, which is what I did.  I  just put them in a pan of water as my grandma used to and boiled them for about 20 minutes, until they were just tender, not mushy. The peels slip right off with a sharp knife when they are cool.  Beets can also be roasted, microwaved, sauteed, steamed or charcoal roasted.  To prepare the kohlrabi, cut away the thick, woody outer layer.  Slice then julienne the bulb, discarding tough stem area pieces if necessary.  Thinly slice the red onion, adjusting amount to your taste, depending on how strong the onion is – some have quite a bite!  Wash the broccoli and trim the woody end of the stem away along with leaves on the stem.  Chop the flowers and stem alike into bite slice or smaller pieces.  Peel and julienne a nice sized carrot or two, or dice them into small pieces.  Toss all the veggies in a large bowl gently with the raisins.  Add 1 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans, raw or toasted. For the pecans I added, I first put them in a Ziplock baggie with dashes of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and a pinch of cayenne pepper and shook them to coat.  Next I tossed them in a hot frying pan with a bit of sizzling butter and toasted them, turning often. I have also done this in the oven or on the grill.  When they cool off, toss them into your salad mixture. For the dressing, I’m really guessing at the measurements here.  You can combine the vinegar (use your favorite flavor for this – different vinegars can change the intensity big time), extra virgin olive oil (a lemon infused one works perfectly here) and the honey.  Taste the dressing first and adjust to suit your palette. Add the salt in the same manner.  When you have the right combo, gently toss your salad with your dressing. I add the bleu cheese very last, and some would prefer waiting until just before serving.  This salad ‘sits’ very well with the flavors meshing nicely over time in your fridge.  It’s light and inviting enough as a first course and satisfying enough to fill your plate next to a nice steak, salmon or chicken leg, fresh from the grill.