Gotta Get Me Going

I’ve made it to another Friday! In a short nine hours I will be in Chicago with some of my favorite girls in the world. I cannot wait!! Sushi, Indian food, Olympics, girl time.

I haven’t cooked much this week. Last weekend was spent chiefly in the kitchen (much to my happiness I’ll add). Instead I’ve been trying to find the perfect morning pump up music. Driving to work is a chore, despite the cup of coffee I’ve already downed by then. I need good music to get me going for the day. Something that I can turn up, sing along to, or just listen to and feel motivated. Sometimes I just scream loudly, but that makes my throat hurt. So far, I’ve found these bands to be successful.

Guster. Always Guster. Playing Lost and Gone Forever makes me feel home. It’s hard for me to recommend this band to you for any concrete reason other than they are awesome because they’ve just been my favorite for so long (10 years to be exact). I love how goofy they are, I love the drums, particularly the bongos of their earlier years, and how they’ve evolved with each album but not so much that they lose who they are. Here we have “Happier” from Lost and Gone Forever.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs have also been good pump me up music. Karen O is their singer. She’s awesome. They played at Lollapalooza last summer (a last minute sub for the Beastie Boys) and I fell in love. I might put that show in my top five. Very high energy, and of course being in downtown Chicago on a gorgeous summer night never hurts either 🙂 I love Karen O’s voice – powerful without getting out of tune. That girl can scream. Two songs here.

“Maps” on Fever to Tell

“Zero” on It’s Blitz!

So what gets you pumped up when you need a lift? I’m always looking for recommendations to add to my morning playlist.

I’m also going to mention the Broderick, a band from dear Bloomington. Four dudes singing solid rock. Check them out, they’re up and coming.

Now onto food! Last Thursday I made a black and white cappuccino cheesecake for our cheesecake competition at work. It was very tasty and made my stomach scream out in protest of too much cream cheese. Cheesecake is a lot of work though, and I think only appropriate for special occasions. So I’m going to give you a better and easier sweets recipe: Meyer lemon bars, which I made Friday night. Meyer lemons are smaller than regular lemons and sweeter, which I like because normal lemon bars can be a bit too tart for me. Between the lemon bars and the leftover cheesecake Adam and I had good Valentine’s dessert. We also had magical dinners. Sunday we made au gratin potatoes, the recipe for which I’ll have to post sometime, Dover sole two ways, and snow peas (mmm I love snow peas for their crunchy sweetness). Saturday night was the real star though in my opinion.

lasagna mmmmm

Lasagna. In a Dutch oven no less. I think you should ideally use a large and deep casserole dish of some kind, but I don’t have one. The Dutch oven worked just fine. The lasagna was flavorful, filling, and cheeeeesy!

OK, so what follows, in case you missed it from all that rambling, is Meyer lemon bars and lasagna.

Meyer lemon bars

(adapted from Smitten Kitchen as so much tends to be!)

You can easily use regular lemons instead of Meyers. You’ll probably need one or two less since they’re bigger.

For the crust:

1/2 pound unsalted butter, room temp

1/2 cup white sugar

2 cups flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

For the lemon layer:

4 large eggs, room temp

1 2/3 cups white sugar

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (about 5 Meyer lemons)

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (those 5 zested lemons plus one more lemon, so you’ll need 6 total)

2/3 cup flour

powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350° and grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.

Make the crust. Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Combine the flour and salt, and add to the butter slowly with the mixer on low, mixing until just combined. Put the mixture into your baking dish and gently spread and press it evenly over the bottom and a bit up the sides. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Cool on a rack and leave the oven on.

Make the lemon layer while the crust is baking and cooling. Whisk together all of the lemon layer ingredients (eggs through flour on that list up there). Pour over the crust and bake for about 30 minutes, or about 5 minutes past the point when the filling sets. I think I had to bake mine about 10 minutes longer than Deb recommends.

Cool the bars to room temperature. Dust with powdered sugar and cut into squares.


(based loosely on my dad’s recipe)


1 pound ground beef

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

8 ounces canned tomatoes

12 ounces tomato sauce (either a can of tomato sauce, or as we used, pasta sauce, which gives a little extra flavor)

10 mushrooms, washed and sliced

12 ounces lasagna noodles

2 eggs

3 cups ricotta cheese

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1/4 cup grana padano cheese, grated

2 teaspoons parsley, chopped

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 pound mozzarella, sliced thinly

Preheat oven to 375°.

Brown the ground beef in a somewhat deep skillet. Add the garlic, salt, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, and mushrooms. Let simmer, and cook the noodles until tender.

Beat the eggs and mix with the ricotta cheese, parm cheese, grana padano, parsley, and pepper. Put one layer of noodles down on the bottom of your casserole dish (or Dutch oven, as it may be). Spread a layer of cheese mixture over that, add a few slices of mozzarella, and enough sauce mixture to cover everything up. Repeat this layering process of noodles, cheese mixture, mozzarella, and sauce mixture until you have none left. You should end with the sauce mixture on top. Bake for 45 minutes. Let cool, and dig in!


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