Monthly Archives: February 2013

What’s your winter comfort food?

Lasagna

Click to Englarge

On a cold and snowy day, nothing is more comforting than a heaping plate of my homemade lasagna, followed by a fuzzy blanket, a glass of wine and a movie. And the best part is, there is enough left over for at least 1 or 2 more dinners or lunches.

Making lasagna takes a long time and can be intimidating, but anyone can do it – even you! Here are step by step instructions on how my recipe can warm you up on a cold day.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound Italian sausage cut into small pieces
  • ¾ pound extra lean ground beef
  • ½ cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 6 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 6.5 ounce cans canned tomato sauce
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons fresh basil
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons Chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon Cayane pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 12 whole wheat lasagna noodles
  • 16 ounces light ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ pound shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • ¾ cups grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Meat Sauce (1 ½ Hours Cooking Time)
1. In a large pot, brown sausage, ground beef, onion and garlic over medium heat.
2. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce and water and mix well
3. Add sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, Chili powder, Cayene pepper, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley
4. Simmer covered for about 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally

Noodles (20 Minutes Cooking Time)
1. In a large pot, bring water and salt to a boil
2. Add lasagna noodles and cook for 8 – 10 minutes
3. Drain noodles and rinse with cold water

Ricotta Cheese Mixture (5 Minutes Prep Time)
1. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, egg, remaining parsley and ½ teaspoon salt
2. Stir with a spoon until well mixed

Assembly (10 Minutes)
1. Spread 1 ½ cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9 X 11 or 9 X 13 inch baking dish.
2. Arrange 4 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce
3. Spread half of the ricotta cheese mixture over the noodles
4. Top with shredded mozzarella until covered
5. Spoon 1 ½ cups meat sauce over mozzarella
6. Sprinkle with ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
7. Arrange 4 more noodles lengthwise
8. Spread remaining ricotta cheese mixture
9. Top with shredded mozzarella until covered
10. Spoon 1 ½ cups meat sauce over mozzarella
11. Sprinkle with ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
12. Arrange last 4 noodles lengthwise
13. Spread remaining meat sauce over noodles
14. Spread remaining mozzarella until covered
15. Sprinkle remaining Parmesan cheese until covered

Baking (50 Minutes)
1. Cover baking dish with foil. Make sure foil doesn’t touch cheese.
2. Bake covered for 25 minutes
3. Remove foil and bake for an additional 25 minutes
4. Cool for 15 minutes and then serve!

What’s your winter comfort food?

2 Comments

Filed under Pillows & Potlucks

10 Things Aspiring Leaders Should Consider

Smart leaderLate last year, I had the honour and privilege to hear Jim Collins speak at a conference. If you’re a recent MBA graduate, I’m sure you’re very well versed in his work, and if you’re like me, you worship the man. No person has had more of an impact and influence on the evolution of business and leadership since Peter Drucker. And I’m not just saying that because I work for GE.

Hearing Jim Collins speak, I gained that much more respect for him because of his passion. It seeped out every pore of his body as he delivered his keynote. So I paid particular attention when he addressed the young aspiring leaders, like me, in the audience. And I’m pretty sure the subsequent 10 minutes changed my life.

He asked that we, as young and aspiring leaders, consider 10 things as they relate to our lives and careers. I have been considering, and continue to consider them, and on the heals of the best performance review I have ever received, I can tell you that they have had a profound impact on my life. Whether you’re running your own business, considering a new career path, or climbing the corporate ladder in an organization, I am certain, that if you consider these 10 things, you will set yourself apart as a GREAT leader.

10 Things for Aspiring Leaders to Consider

1. Build a Personal Board of Directors – Select 6 or 7 people from different walks of life, in different industries and professional careers to act as your advisors. But don’t choose them for their accomplishment or their ability to influence your career trajectory first hand. Choose them for their character. You don’t have to tell them that they’re on your Personal Board of Directors. You don’t even have to know them personally. In his speech, Jim Collins talked about how Peter Drucker was on his Board of Directors just through reading his books and teachings. He would always ask himself, “What would Peter Drucker do?”

2. Turn Off Your Electronic Devices – We are sooo consumed by devices and gadgets and social media. I checked my Facebook five times, Twitter three times and my e-mail twice while writing to this point in my blog. For many years, every hour and minute of my life was accounted for. But effective people take the time to THINK! Undistracted by anything. I’m now in the habit of protecting a pocket of free time in my daily calendar. I use this time to read, to reflect on the day or upcoming initiatives or to simply just BE and enjoy some quiet time in my otherwise noisy day and mind. I come out of this time with new perspective on things, innovative ideas and sometimes just renewed energy and passion to surge forward.

3. Work on Your “Three Circles” – Engage in non-judgemental, empirical observation of what you’re good at, what you’re passionate about and what makes you useful. Study yourself like scientists would study a bug. Get input from those who know and love you and use that information as “empirical data”. It’s where what you are good at, what you are passionate about and what people will pay you to do (three circles) intersect, that you will find the sweet spot which will propel your career forward.

4. Double Your Questions-to-Statements Ratio – During this part of his speech, Jim Collins recalled a time when one of his mentors told him that he spends a lot of his time trying to BE interesting when he should channel that energy towards being interestED. I’m sure you have all instantly thought of at least one person who does exactly this. The bottom line is, ask questions and learn from EVERYBODY you meet. One of my favourite Jim Collin’s quotes, is “The best students are those who never fully believe their teachers”.

5. What’s On Your “Stop Doing” List? – If you woke up tomorrow morning to the news that you have inherited $20 million, but also had a terminal disease with 10 years to live, what would you stop doing?

6. Action Your “Stop Doing” List – Life is just too short. And think about the amount of time this will free up for the things you WANT to do.

7. Unplug The Opportunities That Distract You – Take only the opportunities that fit with your value system and your plan. Just because something is a once in a lifetime opportunity doesn’t mean it’s the right opportunity for you. Make sure it aligns with your three circles.

8. Find Your Passion – Find something for which you have SO MUCH passion, that you’re willing to endure the pain.

9. Articulate the Values That You WILL NOT Compromise – Make this the guiding compass for all your decisions.

10. Re-frame Your Timing Expectations – Prepare to live a life where at the age of 65, you’re one third of the way through your work.

What’s your passion?

8 Comments

Filed under Careers & Cash

2013 Oscars Fashion Face-Off!

Oscar_5

More than 40 million people tuned into the Oscars last night – and yes… I was one of them… I don’t really tune in to see who wins – although I was really happy to see Argo, Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Lawrence take Oscar home. I tune in mainly to see the gorgeous gowns that I will never be in the vicinity of, let alone wear. Last night was no disappointment. There were some spectacular dresses!

I noticed three fashion trends:

1) Simple Solids –  Charlize Theron (Dior Haute Couture), Jennifer Aniston (Valentino), Anne Hathaway (Prada), Reese Witherspoon (Louis Vuitton) and Helen Hunt (H&M – Whaaat???) all elected for the simplicity and elegance of a solid, form fitting gown. I absolutely LOVE Charlize’s choice! She looks stunning in it and is being voted best dressed by many media outlets! I also love the classic style and vibrant colour of Jennifer’s gown.

Oscar Solids

Click to enlarge

2) Molded Metallics – Stacy Kiebler (Naeem Khan), Naomi Watts (Armani), Jennifer Hudson (Roberto Cavalli), Jessica Chastain (Armani Prive) and Halle Berry (Versace) all opted for extremely fitted metallic, full length gowns. My faves of this group are Jennifer Hudson and Halle Berry. Esepcially if Halle’s comes with her body. That would be nice…

Molded Metallics

Click to Enlarge

3) Feminine Flow – Amy Adams (Oscar de la Renta), Amanda Seyfried (Alexander McQueen), Jennifer Lawrence (Dior Haute Couture) and Zoe Saldana (Alexis Mabille Couture) all chose extremely feminine, flowing gowns with a bit of a whimsical flaire. I am absolutely in LOVE with Jennifer’s choice and think she was stunning in it! Even when she tripped on her way up the stairs…

Feminine Flow

Click to Enlarge

Who was your fashion favourite? Vote now!

Leave a comment

Filed under Fashion & Facials

Feeling stressed about the fact that you’re stressed?

Statue of Bouddha

I don’t know about you, but I’m always running a mile a minute. Stress is such a common aspect of my life, that I barely notice it anymore. And when I do, it’s more of a nuisance than the trigger for self-preservation that it should be. So I frequently ignore the warning signs and plow through life, determined not to let it get the better of me. But inevitably, it does… I hit a wall and quarantine myself for a few days to recuperate before repeating the cycle over again.

I was talking about this to a friend recently and through our conversation, it hit me… We cannot avoid stress; we cannot control or ignore it. But we can manage it effectively. The key is to pay special attention to our emotions or stress indicators, and treat them as a signal that something in our life is out of balance. Then determine what that is and address it in order to re-center.

Here are some stress management tips that may help you feel better and less stressed each and every day:

  • Accept that you cannot control everything and just let go – Easier said than done, I know… But breathe through it, imagine setting it sail on a paper boat in the ocean – whatever you need to do in order to relieve the anxiety and just let it go.
  • Maintain a positive attitude and outlook – It’s easy to get caught up in thoughts like “Nothing ever goes right”, “why does this always happen to me”, etc. Try to catch these thoughts in their tracks and reframe them with “I’m doing my best”, “How can I get some help” and just go into problem solving mode rooting yourself in the belief that a solution exists and you will find it.
  • Take a breather – if you’re starting to feel the stress bubbling up, stop what you’re doing and go for a walk. Take deep breaths and force yourself to smile. You will feel the stress dissipating immediately.
  • Set aside daily “Me Time” – I indulge in bubble baths just about daily. I find the warmth and candle light incredibly soothing and have come to view them as a reward for a job well done through the day. Find something you like doing and that gives you a sense of peace and relaxation and do it every day.
  • Get enough sleep! – Sleep is the single most powerful way to manage stress. If you are well rested, you accomplish more, maintain a positive attitude and persevere through difficult situations much more effectively.
  • Exercise regularly – Ok… I admit I’m bad at this one. I do better when I schedule workouts with friends or through organized sports. But since learning that about myself, I ensure I have a team sport at least once if not twice a week to make sure I get out there. And I always try unique exercise trends and try to make them into social affairs.
  • Eat healthy – I know… It’s hard to make nutritious meals all the time. I have used that excuse a million times… But if it only takes me 1 hour on a Sunday to prepare my lunches for the week and stick them in the fridge. And sometimes, I make some stews and crock pot recipes that I can freeze in single serve portions throughout the week. It is possible…
  • Get Social! – Nothing is more therapeutic during a stressful time, than spending time with loved ones that lift your spirits, can help you trouble shoot problems and just make you feel loved and supported amidst the craziness that life can be sometimes.

And if all else fails, pour yourself a glass of wine, snuggle up on the couch and escape reality for a while with a solid chick flick.

What are your stress management secrets?

4 Comments

Filed under Waistlines & Wellness