Sunday, December 29, 2013

La Dolce New Year 2014

Ring in the New Year Italian Style!
Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel hold the exclusive rights to the following copyrighted material. For permission to reprint or excerpt it and/or link it to another website, contact them at

There are lots of ways to ring in the New Year – from parties on the beach, dinner at fancy restaurants and going to entertainment events...

to watching a movie on TV or tuning in to Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.

For SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel, though, one thought came to mind – lasagna!

With a little nudging from us, Greg Kishel agreed to celebrate the New Year by making his time-tested lasagna, the first dish he ever cooked for Patti…and still her favorite.

One of the ultimate comfort foods, lasagna is perfect for when people get together because you can prepare it ahead of time and have plenty to share. And everyone loves it.
Greg’s co-chef in the kitchen is none other than culinary expert Betty Crocker. So, you know the lasagna will be a hit. Over the years he’s added a few touches of his own, but, for the most part, it’s pretty much the same as Betty’s original recipe – a classic in every way.

Greg jokes, “If I didn’t want to starve, I learned to cook.” And, fortunately for SurfWriter Girls, he learned very well. What’s more, he is willing to walk you through the steps of making your own New Year’s Eve lasagna dish.
“Just start with the meat, onions and garlic,” Greg explains. “Brown it together in a large saucepan.”

“Then add the whole tomatoes and tomato sauce, along with parsley flakes, sugar, salt and basil.”

“Heat the mixture until it boils. After that, let it simmer uncovered for an hour, stirring it from time-to-time.”

“If you’re using regular lasagna noodles, these need to be cooked and drained. With ‘oven-ready’ lasagna no boiling is needed. You can use them right out of the box.”

“While everything’s cooking, heat the oven to 350ยบ and get started on the cheese mixture, blending the cottage cheese and Parmesan cheese with parsley flakes, salt and oregano.”

“Add the shredded mozzarella.”

“Once that’s done, set it aside, along with a cup of the meat sauce. Now you’re ready to begin assembling the lasagna layers."

“In a 13x9x2” ungreased pan place a layer of noodles, followed by a layer of meat sauce, and a layer of cheese mixture. I put extra noodles on the bottom layer to make sure that the lasagna has a good foundation. And, even though the recipe doesn’t call for it, I sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on each layer because that gives the lasagna a better taste.”

“Repeat this three more times until you’ve used up everything except the meat sauce you set aside earlier. That goes on top now, spreading it evenly. Then you sprinkle on some additional Parmesan cheese so that it makes a nice crust on top and you’re ready to put the pan in the oven.”

“Bake the lasagna uncovered for 45 minutes. When it’s done remove the pan from the oven and let the lasagna stand for 15 minutes. That way it will be easier to cut.”

“Serve the lasagna with a side salad and some French bread and you’re all set,” says Greg.

“Add a glass of wine or, since it’s New Year’s Eve, pop the cork on some Asti Spumante Italian champagne and you’re ready to toast the New Year.”   

So you can have your own lasagna party, here’s a rundown of the ingredients:

24 oz. meat – beef and/or pork
¾ c. chopped onion
1 clove minced garlic
16 oz. can whole tomatoes
15 oz. can tomato sauce
3 T. parsley flakes
2 T. sugar
2 ½ t. salt
1 t. basil leaves
24 oz. cottage cheese
1 t. oregano leaves
8 oz. pkg lasagna noodles – cooked/drained or “oven-ready”
¾ lb. shredded mozzarella cheese
½ c Parmessan cheese
Then add one more ingredient – good friends and loved ones to share in your New Year’s Eve dinner.
Buon Anno!

Patti and Sunny

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

More Christmas Stocking Stuffer Finds

Celebrate the Season
in Old Town Seal Beach

(Part Two of a Two-Part Story)
Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel hold the exclusive rights to the following copyrighted material. For permission to reprint or excerpt it and/or link it to another website, contact them at  

With a pumpkin chai and gingerbread latte from Javatini in hand,

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel took a detour from our shopping on Main Street to check out the holiday gifts at The Little Shop, a short walk away on 700 Marina Drive.  

Mary Sell, who owns the shop with her daughter Taylor Sell, was eager to show us all the unique, handmade and vintage items on display. 

The first thing to catch our eyes was the felt animal ornaments – sharks, octopi, and other ocean creatures ($14.00) – hanging on a tree.

And there were all kinds of treasures to put in a stocking – from luxurious soaps ($6.50)...

to small ceramic bowls and vases – along with beautiful Christmas gift tags and cards for spreading holiday cheer. 

Making our way back to Main Street, SurfWriter Girls stopped in Yvette’s Bikini’s (113 Main) to see the latest styles, noting that a bikini would easily fit in a Christmas stocking.

The store was busy with people picking out swimsuits for winter vacation getaways. 

Home by the Seashore (217 Main) has all kinds of home and kitchen furnishings with beach images and sea colors. 

For under $12 SurfWriter Girls found ocean-themed potholders, kitchen towels..

throw pillows, painted light switch covers, coasters, and more.

Known for its surf and tiki art, the Picture Show Gallery (231 Main)

has coin purses, wallets, luggage tags and cell phone covers with beach scenes painted on them for under $20.

And be sure to check out the tiki mugs and hula girl dashboard “wigglers.”

Knock Knock Toys and Gifts (219 Main) has everything from card games and puzzles to stuffed animals – sea otters and sharks…

and action figures (skateboarders instead of soldiers) ready to drop into a stocking.

For a retro vibe, there are bags of marbles ($5.99) and jacks ($6.99) from childhood and multi-colored swirled lollipops for $1.99.

Owner Lisa McHenry’s cheerful presence makes the shop a special place for “children of all ages.”

In keeping with the Christmas spirit, peek inside The Angel Store (228 Main).

You’ll find all kinds of angels there…paintings and figurines.

The archangel stones ($6.99) are perfect for a stocking.

These small stones, engraved with angel wings, are meant to be carried in a pocket or purse for a spiritual connection.

If you’re in a hurry or wait until the last minute when all the shops are closed, there’s still one last option for your stocking stuffers – the gumball-style, dollar vending machines in front of the Seal Beach Liquor Store (112 Main).

You can choose from Hello Kitty charms and Angry Bird bracelets to skateboard erasers and candy.

Oh, and one more thing for your stockings – Surfrider Foundation gift memberships. Or a gift membership/renewal for yourself. Everyone can enjoy this all year and help the environment, too.

Then, after your shopping is done, stroll down to the Seal Beach pier and see the huge, awe-inspiring, decorated Christmas tree…and pause to reflect on the meaning of the season.

 Merry Christmas!

SurfWriter Girls Sunny and Patti

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