Call it what you want…
Food for the soul, food for thought, a fabulous piece of lasagna …wait, more about that later…or “Big Summer Potluck”. It was my very first time going to an “event” with fellow bloggers. Foodie bloggers to be exact. The title doesn’t really matter. What matters is, I walked in expecting that my brain be filled and walked out with my soul being fed.
Last weekend I was lucky enough to attend an event called “Big Summer Potluck” and let me tell you, it was all that and more. It was the creation of four lovely ladies, Maggy, Sharon and Pam of Three Many Cooks and Erika of Ivory Hut.
They decided to put together a day filled with information, inspiration and good old fashioned fun with the theme being “potluck.”
Brilliant, they are, seeing that we are all FOOD BLOGGERS and what do we love as much (if not more) than blogging? Well…yes, food.
I felt like “little grasshoppa”- I was excited, nervous, curious, anxious, nauseated, perhaps even a little bit bloated. But most of all, I was elated to meet a group of people who were just like me. People who were creative, innovative and behind a camera lens (and a computer screen) most of their day.
But once I walked in saw this room full of people…
I was instantly put at ease. Just look at all of those beautiful people (thanks to Erika of Ivory Hut for this fantastic photo)!
I even found Abby Dodge. Fellow Leo, lover of life. One of the many awesome demonstrators of the day. Oh, yea and former pastry chef, contributing editor of Fine Cooking magazine, author of 7 cookbooks…
Sheesh, maybe I was feeling a bit nervous again.
There’s just something priceless about being in a room full of people who “get it.” People who get the passion of cooking, creating, and sharing. Who get the hours of preparation, set up, grocery shopping, humongous messes in the kitchen and the lengths that you’ll go to carrying a plate of food around your house just to get the right “light” for the shot. It’s SO soul satisfying to see the understanding in their eyes and the willingness to share their stories as well.
So comforting that I actually found myself babbling about balancing my camera on my bosom to get the perfect shot while my daughters look at me as if I have lost my mind. Then I thought, wait a minute, DID I loose my mind? Am I really saying this out loud? Only to realize that heads were nodding and eyes were twinkling and I was not alone in my shenanigans.
It can’t get any better than that!
As I said it was a potluck and the food tasting took place all day in between learning. It was fabulous. Extra time at the gym for me, but totally worth every bite!
Along with the food, we all enjoyed wonderful demonstrations, intimate speeches, food styling and photography tips.
It was a five star day.
We even got goodie bags! Pam of Three many Cooks was kind enough to give us all a copy of her newest cookbook, “Perfect ONE -DISH Dinners”. This is Pam’s fifth cookbook just one of many successes of this dynamic blogger, food columnist for USA Weekend, contributing editor to Fine Cooking and Runner’s world magazine AND loving mother and wife. <whew> She really needs to do more with her life, dontcha think?
This gorgeous cookbook will be in stores mid September but you can buy it on Amazon now. Do yourself a favor and RUN don’t walk to get a copy. I poured over it the WHOLE drive home. I knew the moment I opened the book that it was imperative to myself, my family and all of you, that I cook a dish out of that book as soon as I stepped foot in the door.
And guess what? I did. And it was stupendous. So without further ado, I MUST share it with all of you!
I decided to make Pam’s Quick, Creamy Lasagna. And let me tell you, it was not only quick and easy, but it was TO. DIE. FOR.
The first thing you’ll need, Lasagna noodles.
Soak the noodles in salted, hot tap water for about 10 minutes until soft.
While the noodles are soaking, begin making the filling.
Here’s what you’ll need for the “dreamy, creamy filling” (as I now call it): cream cheese, dried basil, a jar of marinara sauce, chicken broth, Parmesan cheese, and grated mozzarella cheese.
And you’ll need 4 cups of chicken as well.
My Yanni had just grilled up some yummy chicken so I used that. Pam calls for shredded chicken, but I diced mine.
Mix your diced chicken, basil, cream cheese, and broth in a bowl.
And this my friends is the creamy, dreamy lipsmackingly incredible filling.
Once you have your filling mixed, it’s time to assemble the lasagna.
First spread 1/4 cup of marinara sauce in bottom of your baking dish.
On top of that, place 3 noodles, then marinara sauce…
The creamy, dreamy filling…
Sprinkle on the mozzarella cheese and then TOP that with Parmesan. I know can you believe it? I told you that this dish was divine!
Repeat these steps- noodles, sauce, filling, cheese, until you’ve got 4 layers.
When you’ve finished layering, you’ll top the whole thing off by slathering another creamy layer with the remaining cream cheese and 1/4 cup chicken broth.
Then sprinkle the rest of the mozzarella cheese topped with Parmesan.
Cover with foil (Pam suggests spraying the foil with cooking spray, she’s so smart) and then place into a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 40-45 minutes. Remove foil and broil for another 4-5 minutes until brown and bubbly.
This is what you’ll have as a finished product.
WARNING: Consumption of this dish may cause blinding euphoria and uncontrollable urges for more servings.
The recipes in Pam’s cookbook are easy, delicious and soul satisfying…which perfectly sums up my day.
I walked into Big Summer Potluck feeling like “little grasshoppa”…
And walked out to find this on my car.
Life is mysterious.
But as I drove away, with my mind full and my soul fed, I realized that I had indeed left that little grasshoppa behind.
Here is the recipe for Pam’s fabulous “Quick, Creamy Lasagna!” Thanks Pam!
Quick, Creamy Lasagna
Adapted from Pam Anderson’s Perfect ONE-DISH Dinners
(Serves 8 to 12)
- 15 oven-ready (rippled- style, such as Ronzoni) lasagna noodles (from two 8-ounce boxes)
- 4 cups (shredded) chicken
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
- 12 ounces cream cheese, softened, divided
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1 jar (25-26 oz.) good marinara sauce
- 4 cups (1 pound) grated mozzarella cheese, divided
- 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese divided
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat to 400 degrees. Dissolve 1 1/2 tablespoons salt in 2 quarts piping hot tap water in a 13-by-19-inch baking dish. Add noodles and soak until soft, about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander.
Meanwhile, mix chicken with basil, 8 ounces cream cheese, and 1/4 cup broth. mix remaining 4 ounces cream cheese with remaining 1/4 cup broth in a small bowl; set aside. To assemble, smear 1/4 cup marinara sauce over bottom of baking dish, then assemble 4 layers of each of the following: 3 lasagna noodles, a scant cup marinara, 1 cup filling mixture, 3/4 cup mozzarella, 2 tablespoons parmesan. Top with remaining 3 noodles, cream cheese-broth mixture, remaining 1 cup mozzarella and remaining 1/4 cup parmesan.
Spray one side of a large sheet of heavy-duty foil with vegetable oil cooking spray. Cover baking dish with foil, oiled side down, and bake until bubbly throughout, 40 to 45 minutes. Leaving lasagna on same rack, turn oven to broil. Remove foil and broil until lasagna is spotty brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Cut into squares and serve.