A Simple Lasagna Dinner

Do you enjoy a good Italian dish? Try this simple recipe for a hearty Spinach Lasagna with Walnut Pesto.

Lasagna Ingredients:

  • A little olive oil for the pan
  • 2 pounds fresh spinach, washed
  • 2 pounds nonfat ricotta cheese or nonfat cottage cheese
  • Walnut Pesto (recipe follows)
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup minced walnuts, lightly toasted
  • 1 (24 ounce) jar low-sugar tomato sauce (or your favorite sauce or even better, homemade with your own tomatoes!)
  • 16 fresh, uncooked green (spinach) lasagna noodles or, if using dried, no-boil noodles
  • 1/2 pound low-fat mozzarella cheese, grated

Walnut Pesto Ingredients:

  • 3 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 3 large cloves of garlic
  • 1/3 cup lightly toasted walnuts
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. If using fresh spinach, chop it fine. If using frozen, chopped spinach, make sure it is thoroughly defrosted and squeeze out all of the excess water.
  2. Place the ricotta or cottage cheese in a large bowl. Stir in the spinach, pesto, garlic, salt, pepper, half the Parmesan, and the walnuts. Mix well. Spread half the tomato sauce in the bottom of the pan. Place a layer of uncooked noodles over the sauce. Spoon about 1/3 of the ricotta or cottage filling in dabs over the noodles (you can spread it a little, but not too much) and sprinkle with 1/3 of the grated mozzarella. Follow with another layer of sauce, then noodles, followed by another 1/3 of the filling, and another 1/3 of the mozzarella. Repeat one more time, and then finish up with a final layer of noodles. You will have some Parmesan left over.
  3. If you are using fresh noodles, bake uncovered. If you are using dried noodles, cover the pan tightly with foil.
  4. Bake for 50 minutes, uncovering the pan (if applicable) during the last 15 minutes, during which time you can sprinkle on the reserved Parmesan. (In the case of the uncovered pan, if the top of the lasagna becomes as brown as you like it before the full baking time is up, cover loosely with foil and continue baking, so it wont get too dark.) Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.
  5. Walnut Pesto: Place the basil leaves and garlic in a food processor or blender, and mix well.
  6. Add the walnuts and continue to blend until the walnuts are finely ground.
  7. Keep the machine running as you drizzle in the olive oil. When you have a smooth paste, transfer to a bowl and stir in the Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. If you are not going to use the pesto right away, place in a container that has a tight-fitting lid. Smooth out the top surface of the pesto and pour on enough olive oil to cover it completely. This creates an air-proof seal that helps preserve it well. Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator.

 

This recipe makes 8 servings.

2014 Social Media Predictions

As social media continues to evolve and new social networking tools keep on rolling out in the marketplace, it’s interesting to think about how these platforms will impact marketing and advertising in the months ahead. A recent article in Forbes predicts which social media marketing trends will take over in 2014. One prediction featured in the article is that social media will no longer be a luxury; rather it will become a necessity for companies to invest in social networking platforms. We agree. Social media has become an integral part of our content strategy and we are seeing an increase in companies taking social media more seriously.

Here are our predictions for 2014:

  • Photo and video messaging will become more prominent. In today’s society we are constantly on the go and checking our mobile phones and tablets for updates on our social media channels. Therefore, short messages and visuals are essential to captivate today’s consumers.  With the launch of Vine and Instagram video earlier this year, we’re seeing more and more of these short, visual marketing messages take shape.
  • Pinterest will see growth in the business world and start to lose the stereotype of a site primarily for woman. We’re seeing Pinterest start to take steps in a new direction already with the recent announcement that the company will begin testing promoted pins.
  • LinkedIn will continue to gain momentum among B2B professionals. Company pages, networking groups and the new influencers program continue to boost the popularity of LinkedIn among professionals looking for new job opportunities or looking to gain insight into a particular industry.
  • More and more people are now joining Google+  and that trend shows no sign of slowing down.
  • Twitter will remain popular for B2B marketing.
  • Facebook will continue to lead the way in social networking however it will be interesting to see what innovations the company has in store for 2014.

Does your company have a social media strategy in place?

Sandy’s Perfect Puff-Pastry for Fall

With autumn just around the corner, indulge in these delicious Apple Walnut Gorgonzola Turnovers!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups peeled, cored, chopped apples (use a good cooking apple such as Jonagold, Pippin, Granny Smith, Jonathan, Golden Delicious, Gravenstein, McIntosh)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 7-ounce prepared puff pastry sheets (total 14 ounces)
  • 1 egg, beaten

Directions

1. Place chopped apples in a bowl, microwave on high heat for 5 minutes until apples are cooked through. Remove from heat and let cool. Drain excess moisture. Once cooled, chop further so that the pieces are between 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch square. (Note: you can skip this step if you want; the main purpose is to get the apples to release some of their moisture before cooking into the pastry.)

2. Combine apples, walnuts, gorgonzola, thyme and honey in a small bowl.

3. Preheat oven to 400°F. Working with one puff pastry sheet at a time (leave the second one in the refrigerator until using it) roll out the pastry to a size of 9-inches by 12-inches. Cut into 12 3×3-inch squares (a pizza slicer works great for this). Paint 1/2-inch of border around each square with beaten egg (this will help the pastry seal). Place a heaping teaspoon of the apple walnut mixture in the center of the squares. Fold over the squares into a triangle shape, stretching the dough if necessary to cover the filling. Use the tines of a fork to crimp the edges. Place triangles on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, with space between the triangles. Chill for 5 minutes in the refrigerator before baking, or chill while you prepare the second puff pastry sheet.

4. Whisk in a half teaspoon of water into the remaining beaten egg. Use a pastry brush to paint on the tops of the pastry triangles for a nice glaze. Place in oven and cook for 15-20 minutes until nicely puffed up and lightly browned. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Serve either warm or at room temperature. Can be made several hours in advance.

Recipe makes 24 turnovers
Note: If using prepared frozen puff pastry sheets, they should be defrosted in the refrigerator at least three hours before preparation.