Three Fascinating People… & (Winter White) Lasagna

A recipe for a winter white lasagna is coming up…but first, I promised y’all (I wish I was from the South so I wouldn’t be looked at weird for saying that) I’d tell you about 2 special people that I met this year…but I’ve upped the ante to 3…Here goes!

1. Nigel Barker

Sexy, noted fashion photographer, Nigel Barker

What an epic experience. I’ve been a huge fan of America’s Next Top Model for many, many cycles (what are they on now, like 15 or something?), so I was thrilled when I found out Nigel was going to be signing his new book at a Macy’s in downtown Chicago. Fortunately, I had class downtown and his book signing was right before my class. SCORE! Meeting him was, in a word, magical. All joking aside, though, I got pretty emotional talking to him…thanking him for writing a book about beauty that comes from within, as opposed to outer beauty. I’ve struggled with loving my body and accepting me as me, so I actually started crying when talking to Nigel Barker. Crying. Haha! He was sooo nice to me, though, telling me I was a beautiful girl and to never define my beauty based on what’s on the outside. He SOOOO lived up to my expectations and even gave me a hug! (And yes, that British accent is as sexy in real life as it is on TV.)

His book...check it out!

Though I haven’t delved completely into Beauty Equation, I can already tell I’m going to love it. It features ANTM contestants from the past (among others, including his wife), who talk about the subcategories he believes equate to beauty. (In case you’re curious, his equation is: you + allure + confidence + compassion + spontaneity + radiance + health + honesty + charm + energy / humor = beauty.) I definitely recommend it! (I even got a copy for Layne for her birthday.)

Will. Cherish. This. FOREVER.

While I was crying...what a sweet guy!

2. Charlotte

I caught her when she was awake! 🙂

Alright, so this may seem like quite a downgrade in excitement level after NIGEL barker (sexy, noted fashion photographer), but Charlotte is one heck of an amazing woman. My Critical Ethnography class this past semester required each of us to choose a group (mine was the mostly-Jewish community at Park Plaza Retirement Center), and I fell in love with this woman. She made me laugh, she made me cry. I laughed because she could fall asleep during anything (including a jackhammer in the next room). I cried because she trusted me enough to tell me about her mother being killed in front of her eyes during the Holocaust. An inspirational woman with a love for sweets (but a hate for sandwiches) and an insatiable desire to live each moment to its fullest, sweet, Hungarian Charlotte is someone I’ll truly never forget.

3. Bill Clinton

Ahhh!!!!

 

If I could relive one day again this past year, this would be it. The day I met former President Bill Clinton. To make a long story short, I was given the amazing opportunity to intern at his foundation in Harlem this past summer. I worked in the Correspondence Department, basically helping him to keep up with all of his personal and professional correspondence. My duties varied, but regardless of what I was doing, I had to pinch myself each day as my aunt dropped me off to work and I walked the 10 minutes to the office. I am working for a former President of the United States. Is this real life? (Steph, reminds me of that one dentist YouTube video we watched on repeat in the computer lab haha.)

So the day this photograph was taken, all of the interns gathered in the conference room and President Clinton came in and talked to us for about 1/2 an hour about…life. About AIDS, about the conference he was just at, about peace. He made us laugh with his candor. And he made us 90 of the happiest young adults on the face of the earth.

When I went up to meet him, he was incredibly gracious and endearing. There wasn’t a lot of time to make small-talk (so…I play the saxophone to you know, Bill…), but when he said, “It’s nice to meet you, Anna. Thank you so much for your hard work,” you would’ve thought I died and went to heaven. This summer, I truly learned the incredible amount of love he has for people – people he’s never even met. I encourage you to check out the Foundation’s website. He’s changing so many lives…and in reality, he could be kickin’ back in Arkansas right about now instead of working almost every day of the year, flying to and from multiple countries in a matter of days…all to increase the happiness of those who share this planet.

Now…the recipe for WINTER WHITE LASAGNA

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/2 # fresh sweet or hot Italian sausages (remove casings)
  • 1 # button mushrooms, sliced
  • Salt & peppa
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 4 Tbsp. flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • (Dash of nutmeg, optional)
  • 1 box lasagna noodles
  • 4 cups shredded Italian 4-cheese blend or provolone cheese

1.) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2.) Cook the lasagna noodles. (Then drain.)

3.) In a skillet, crumble sausage in olive oil until golden brown, almost 10 minutes.

4.) Add mushrooms (to the sausage), cook 5-6 more minutes. Season with salt & peppa.

5.) In a large saucepan, melt butter. Add flour, stir, and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in milk and chicken stock, up to a bubble. Season with nutmeg (if desired), salt and peppa, and simmer to thick, about 3-4 minutes.

6.) Assemble lasagna by ladling about 1/2 cup sauce into the bottom of a 13 x 9 pan.

(You will repeat the following sequence 2 MORE times):

  • Lay 3 noodles over sauce
  • 1/3 sausage-mushroom mixture
  • 1 cup sauce
  • 1 cup cheese

Ready to go into the oven!

Top lasagna layers with the last 3 noodles, the remaining sauce, and the remaining cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly.

Look at that bubbly, cheesy goodness!

This was my first time making lasagna, and at first I was intimidated by all of the layering! (Sauce, noodles, cheese, sauce, noodles….) But in all honesty, this was a great “starter” lasagna recipe: but definitely keep in mind that it serves 8-10 hungry people. A great meal to make for when you want to impress your family or friends. (Or, once again, if you owe someone a favor or need to “kiss up.”) My whole family raved about it, and we all were definitely going in for 2nd helpings. It’s a great twist on lasagna (I mean, how many lasagna recipes do you know of that don’t have the traditional marinara sauce?)…you won’t regret making this! 🙂

 

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About ciaotochow

ciao to chow: initially created as a little spot on the web devoted to the "chow" I find while studying abroad in Rome. But really, ciao to chow is about my life: the day-to-day experiences, funny stories, moments of laughter, and the food...that continue to inspire me and make me grateful for each new day.
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6 Responses to Three Fascinating People… & (Winter White) Lasagna

  1. MareMare says:

    Anna, YOU are a fascinating person, every day! I’m glad you are grateful for having met some other fascinating people this past year. And, to all others, the lasagna was absolutely amazing (definitely worth a try) — thanks again for dinner, Anna! xxxooo

  2. Andrew says:

    Hi Anna,

    You are lucky to have met three fascinating people this year.
    Also, what is the holiday blog schedule looking like?

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