Original White Lasagna 

Original White Lasagna

I created many original recipes when my kids were young. My younger daughter disliked tomato sauce, so I made this gorgeous baked pasta dish with fresh whipping cream. Below is my recipe. 

White Lasagna

Ingredients:

1 package dried no boil Lasagna 

15 oz.  whole milk ricotta cheese 

2 cage free eggs

1 pint organic heavy whipping cream

8 oz. mozzarella balls

1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest

Fresh basil leaves

Fresh grated Parmesan 

Salt and pepper 

Steps:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Whip eggs with ricotta by hand or with mixer.
  • Layer ingredients starting with cream on the bottom and ending with layer of cheese on top.
  • Cook until brown on top.
  • Allow to cool before cutting.
  • Sprinkle with Parmigiana cheese.

Sydney’s White Lasagna

Love and blessings to all.

Chicken Soup

Quick Chicken Noodle Soup

Because of the healing properties in chicken soup, I always make a version of one of many recipes when someone is ill.

I even made it for my dog Polly. She cut her paw open on a piece of glass walking through the creek with the kids when she was a puppy, and it refused to heal and became infected. She then had an adverse reaction to the anitibotics, so taking matters into my own hands, I fed her homemade chicken and brown rice soup and vanilla Greek yogurt.

Sometimes, I make my own noodles and you can do this with a simple pasta recipe, a rolling pin and a knife. This was fun for the kids when they were small, as making and handling dough is always high entertainment for children. Then, you simply cook the fresh pasta in the broth and vegetables. Or, I use orzo, or any kind of rice.

For myself, I like rice, tarragon, and lemon when I’m feeling under the weather. If I’m just hungry, I like to add bourbon and cream (see my recipe for Chicken, Whiskey and Wild Rice Soup here). 

My daughter wanted egg noodles and just carrots, so that’s what I made. I usually make my own broth, and this is obviously better, but time was limited, so I used this quick recipe instead.

It’s no secret that you can now buy excellent organic broth and pre-roasted organic chicken in most grocery stores, and although not made with fresh herbs from my own garden, they are not as bad as they once were.

Quick Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients:

2 cups shredded cooked organic chicken from Whole Foods

32 oz. organic chicken broth

1 cup diced carrots

1 package egg noodles

Sprig of thyme

1 teaspoon lemon zest

Salt and white pepper to taste

Steps:

  • Add diced carrots and broth and bring to a rolling boil to cook carrots.
  • Reduce heat, add noodles, and cook per package directions.
  • Remove from heat, add thyme, lemon zest and season to taste.

Love and blessings to all.

Margarita Pizza

Handmade Margarita Pizza
On Friday, I got the big guns out, after my daughter who recently had knee surgery refused to eat anything but, donuts and candy. My chicken noodle soup could not compete, so I had to get creative.

I made her favorite soup (recipe to follow), which she enjoyed for two seconds, and then went back to the pounds of candy delivered by friends. Being desperate to get her to eat something more nutritious I made her favorite pizza.  

Making pizza is fast and easy, but you do have to stay close to the kitchen, and keep an eye on it as it cooks. I had enough dough for two, so while they were baking I made her a white lasagna (recipe to follow).

Note: The oven must be well preheated and very hot. 

Margarita Pizza

Pizza dough (Whole Foods)

3 tablespoons tomato sauce (any kind)

1/2 oz. extra-virgin olive oil

2-4 ounces fresh mozzarella (small balls)

4 to 5 basil leaves

Instructions:

  • Let dough rest for half an hour in a warm place. In the meantime, preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Rollout dough with extra flour on stone. Place a pizza stone (or cookie sheet, but grease with olive oil) to warm in the oven.
  • Roll dough with a rolling pin into a circle. Spread the sauce using the back of a spoon evenly across the surface, stopping approximately 1/2 inch from the edges.
  • Cut each ball in half and place evenly and gently on the sauce. 
  • Place onto the heated stone or tiles in the oven. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling, approximately 4 to 8 minutes.
  • Add fresh basil. 

Make as many as you have time for, as these disappear magically. They can also be eaten cold, or reheated with excellent results. 

A Rich Full Life

Many people wouldn’t think of me as lucky from the outside looking in, but every single morning before I get out of bed, I count my blessings. And it doesn’t take very long for me to feel grateful for the many good things in my life. 

First of all, I’m in excellent health. On most days, if I’ve not burned the candle at both ends, which I often do, I feel fantastic. Then, I have my wonderful family, and in particular my spectacular daughters. Then, I have the most hilarious golden-doodle, named Polly, and her two side kicks the black and white cats, Dash and Jam. 

Next, I have friends galore. And make more everyday. I have been spending time with my sailing friends this week. Especially, my business partner, and my sailing instructor Tom. There is nothing like a common interest to connect and deepen ties with people.

But, I especially love my neighbors and my beautiful neighborhood. I have so much love and support here that I feel blessed everyday. My neighbor Sandy, who brought Paris’ bedding to her college dorm in LA after we forgot it, my dear friends Craig and Denise who help me with everything I do, including building Ocean SF. My husband’s three best friends, and their families, that are always here for us. And, my neighbor Alecia, who made me the beautiful pearl and rose quartz necklace I’m wearing above. And Barb, who I met when our daughters were two, who took me to the polo tournament where the above photo was taken a few weekends ago. 

Recently, one of my neighbors sent me the following note. It was so generous and kind it brought tears to my eyes. 

“Dear Sydney,

I have been thinking about you a lot over the last few weeks knowing that a year has passed since losing your husband. I have not seen you in years nor spoken, but I do want you to know that I have always admired the woman, and Mother that you are. You have been a true role model from the day I met you. My daughter, has always spoken of you with admiration and your unconditional kindness towards her made her love being in your presence. Both Siena and Paris are so fortunate to have a loving, attentive, involved, active and beautiful Mother who truly loves her children. I believe Paris must be heading off to a College, and that must be an exciting yet difficult transition after your past year. These next two years will be very special for you and Siena. Time is precious as you are aware, and it’s never too late to tell someone how wonderful they are. So before I turn in I wanted to let you know how much I admire you and if you ever need anything I’m here for you.”

People like this, and the precious town I live in, give me deep roots, and a priceless sense of security. 

Love and blessings to all. 

Whittier College 

Sydney & Paris, Whittier College

I am blessed to have my best friend in Newport Beach, so I was able to drop my daughter at college and then come back the next day when it was not so hot. 

We made friends over the summer with another student, Mckenna and her mother Debra, so we met for lunch and walked the beautiful campus together on Monday.

I peered into the bookstore, so many interesting books to read, topics like: social justice, politics, biology and philosophy. Many of them I’ve read, but I can see my daughter perched somewhere on this beautiful tranquil campus obsorbing the knowledge of the ages. 

Whittier is one of those rare places, where the architecture of the future has been perfectly melded with the past. Every nook and cranny is beautiful with graceful arches, red tile roofs, winding paths with white flowers along the logical shaded walkways. The trees are the work of a century of talented arborists, and the new buildings are deeply embedded in the landscape as if they were always planned to be built there, made of flat sandstone and thick green glass. Stunning. 

My daughter, calm and lovely, wearing a pink linen top, with her hair pulled back in a simple knot like a ballerina, sits on a park bench beside me, as if she were always meant to be there as well. 

I know there will come a moment when I have to say goodbye to her, and I’m not sure how I will feel. 

In the end, I hug her and tell her how much I love her, and then I drive away. 

After the year she’s had, there is no way that this is not a happy occasion. I think of all the ways this story could be different. I don’t know if I could lose my father, and be sitting where she is, only a year later. 

She told me she looked forward to the calm of college, and meeting new people, and having time to read. Few people go to college to be calm, but if that’s what she is looking for, then I think she’s found it.

Love and blessings. 

Performing Arts Center
Dorms for upperclassmen
Student lounges and cafeterias
Faculty housing
New Friends

College Dropoff & The New Normal 

Of course it took eleven hours to get there. The temperature was rising as we sat still on the scorching freeway, the car thermostat reading 116 degrees. 

Cars were scattered along the road. Break downs and accidents both. We stopped for dinner. My daughter was eerily agreeable to everything as she has been now for weeks. Every time she put her arms around me and thanked me for anything, I would think, this is going to be really hard. Very hard. 

After months of gathering items for her dorm room, we left arguably the most important things; her sheets, pillows and down comforter behind. My dear friend, Sandy drove them down to us the next day. Thank goodness for friends. 

By 11 p.m. we were passing hills that were burning. It was surprising that we could just drive by while they blazed. I thought, well, this is fitting.

We spent the weekend in Newport Beach with friends. We had done this so many times before it didn’t feel unusual. We made breakfast, walked the island, had friends for lunch, and went to the beach. Fun. 

On Sunday we moved her in.  It was 110 degrees outside and 120 inside.  

After, I headed back to Newport for a birthday party. Normal. The new normal. 

Cheese Stick Lasagna

photo 4

Mozzarella cheese sticks are a staple in most homes with small children.  So, one summer day I decided if my kids would eat cheese sticks all day long than maybe they would eat a cheese stick lasagna.  The recipe I had been using for classic lasagna was not up to the standards of my then very small daughters.   My kids loved this version, as did my friends and baby sitters who all begged for this recipe.  Nuts, no cook pasta, and cheese sticks gave this dish a wonderful crunch that is hard to describe.  It is the antithesis of that over cooked mushy lasagna our mothers, or at least mine, made.   This is wonderful reheated.

▪ 1 jar of marinara sauce

▪ 1 package lasagna noodles

▪ 1 handful of pecans

▪ 8 Mozzarella cheese sticks

▪ 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese

▪ 1 cup fresh Mozzarella  (small balls melt well and you don’t have to cut them or slice a larger ball)

▪ 1 small can of sliced olives

Preparation:

By using noodles that do not need to be boiled and cheese sticks, this dish has a layered quality that is not too wet.  The cheese sticks melt and harden a bit, making this lasagna full of flavor and unusual textures.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.   Layer noodles, sauce, cheese sticks and pecans, starting with red sauce on the bottom.  When all is layered, top with olives and fresh Mozzarella; Mozzarella melts well and is low in calories and has a fresh clean taste.

Bake for 35 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbling.

To impress, add fresh basil leaves as garnish, but make sure they are easy for small hands to remove.

Caprese Pasta Salad

This recipe is dedicated to Pauline, a little girl on our volleyball team, who loved this salad and asked me personally for the recipe (love that).  I am always trying to make yummy food for the parking lot where we congregate between games during all day volleyball tournaments.  Kids don’t typically love the traditional pasta salad recipe so I decided to try this instead.  I think it was a hit because of the simple fresh ingredients and the Gemelli (Barilla) pasta that stays al dente.

1 box or 16 oz of Gemelli (twisted pasta)

1 small basket cherry tomatoes cut in half

1 bunch fresh basil

8 oz package of fresh monzzarella cheese in bite size pieces

1/4 cup olive oil

Salt & fresh ground black pepper

Preparation:

Put pasta water on to boil and prepare as package directs.  Wash and dry tomatoes and basil.  Cut tomatoes in half and tear basil leaves from stems.  You will need a nice size handful of basil leaves.  Use a good size bowl so it will be easy to toss and coat each pasta piece.  I like to add my ingredients to the bottom of the bowl while the pasta is cooking so they can begin to incorporate.  So, add olive oil, halved tomatoes and a sprinkling of sea salt to the bowl.

Rinse pasta in a colander and allow to cool completely.  Add pasta to the ingredients in the bowl, then add the fresh monzzarella.  You can use smaller balls or chop a larger ball into bite size pieces.   Add fresh basil and another sprinkling of salt over the cooled pasta.

Gently toss all of the ingredients together as the basil and monzzaella can be very delicate If the pasta looks dry add another teaspoon of olive oil.

If you are serving this to young children omit the black pepper and just add it to the individual portions for the adults who will appreciate it.

This is delicious cold, naturally, but left overs can also be heated in the microwave for a light lunch.

If you are not doing a picnic you can serve this with a grilled steak.  It would be an easy dish to make ahead for company.