Recipe revamp: Pastitsio… or Greek lasagna

SAVOURY GOODNESS IN EVERY SERVING

Tired of the same old recipes for dinner? Switch things up with this Greek version of lasagna. Forgo the tomatoes for this one — béchamel sauce goes a long way in this meaty casserole.

Pastitsio: Greek lasagna | Sheknows.ca

Traditionally the Greek version blends a bit of tomato sauce into the ground meat mixture. But for this recipe, we’re going the Cypriot route and omitting the tomato.

Pastitsio

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 package Greek macaroni pasta (or penne if you don’t have a Greek market nearby)
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 litre warmed homogenized milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup Greek Mizithra (or Romano) cheese, grated
  • 1 egg (optional)
  • Salt, pepper and cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large pot, pour the chicken stock, and add enough water to boil the pasta. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, but keep the water-chicken stock mixture, and set it aside.
  3. Mix together the pasta, 2/3 cup of olive oil and half a cup of grated cheese. Spread in a smooth layer into a casserole dish.
  4. In a pot or Dutch oven on medium heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sauté the onions until translucent (about 2 minutes), then add the parsley, ground meat and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Brown the meat thoroughly, then turn off the heat. Spread a layer of the meat mixture on top of the pasta.
  6. In a separate pot on medium to high heat, add the butter. Once melted, add the flour, and whisk for a couple of minutes. Next, stir in the milk and egg. Pour in 2 cups of the chicken stock, and whisk the sauce until it begins to boil. Lower the heat, add half a cup of cheese, and continue to whisk until the béchamel is thick and creamy. If needed, add more flour to thicken it.
  7. When the sauce is thick enough that it sticks to your whisk, remove it from heat, and pour it over the meat in the casserole dish in a smooth layer. Garnish with cinnamon, and place in the oven for 45 minutes.

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Rising Canadian star: Q & A with Jordan Hayes

HOLLYWOOD’S NEXT SWEETHEART

Jordan Hayes as Doctor Sarah Jordan | Sheknows.ca

It’s perfectly fitting that my sit-down with Jordan Hayes is featured in this month’s Alpha Woman issue, because the born and raised Montrealer is bold and definitely getting noticed in 2014.

The Canadian beauty has guest starred on hits like Being EricaNikitaFlashpoint and many more. And now her breakout role as Dr. Sarah Jordan has her shining opposite Billy Campbell in Helix. The sci-fi series is about scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who travel to the Arctic to investigate the possibility of an epidemic.

Helix is helmed by Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica) and Steven Maeda (LostCSI: MiamiThe X-Files), among others. The first 15 minutes of the pilot were released earlier this week in the lead-up to its two-episode premiere on Friday, Jan. 10 at 10 p.m. EST on Showcase. And the ever-humble Ms. Hayes let SheKnows pick her brain about it all.

SheKnows: How did you feel when you got the call confirming you got the part?

Jordan Hayes: I was at a yoga retreat in Lake Tahoe when I found out… I had been in a very zen state of mind from all the yoga. But when I found out I got the part, I almost peed my pants. I called my mom right away, and she started crying. Then I started crying. Then we both laughed and screamed.

SK: Did you think you had gotten the role when you first auditioned?

JH: I had just moved from Montreal to LA about two months before I auditioned for Helix. When I got the breakdown, I had a conversation with my friend. I told him, “I’m not sure I should even audition. It means moving back to Montreal for five months, and I just moved here!” To which he quickly replied, “Slow down. You don’t have the part. You haven’t even auditioned.” (laughs) I just had a feeling that I was going to get this one. It’s a rare feeling. And moving back to Montreal turned out to be one of the best things in my life. I love this city.

SK: What a coincidence that your character’s last name is the same as your first name! If you could change your name to anything, what would it be?

JH: It’s funny. People would get confused on-set and never know what to call me. I think some of the crew may think my real name is Sarah. Growing up, I was self-conscious about my name, because people would always think I was a guy. But I’ve grown to love my name. I would never change it.

SK: There are some complicated-sounding diseases out there. Was it tough learning the “doc talk” lingo?

JH: Personally, I loved the challenge of the dialogue in this series. Memorizing the lines wasn’t that difficult for me. The difficult part was understanding exactly what I was saying. It was important for me to have a very clear understanding of the science I was referring to. Luckily I have a brother who majored in anatomy and cell biology. There were several nights where I would be up late with him, going through his old text books. Thankfully he was very patient with me!

SK: Would Jordan Hayes make a good doctor?

JH: My first year in college, I was in a pre-med type program. In a way I was on a path to doing something in the scientific world. However, after my first year, I transferred to the theatre program. I’m not sure if I would have made a good doctor, but I always had an appreciation for science and math in school.

SK: In an interview, you described Sarah as an overachiever. Is the same true for you?

JH: I think we’re very similar in that regard. I’ve always been ambitious. To give you an example, I grew up playing soccer. It was my life. When I was 10 years old, I was asked to play on a boy’s team. The league said girls could not play on boys’ teams. My mom took them to court, won, and I was the only girl playing in a AAA boys league from the ages of 13 to 16. Sarah wants to prove her worth — that’s definitely something I can relate to.

SK: What was the best part of working on this series for you?

JH: The best part of working on this series was getting to come back to Montreal. It really is the greatest city in the world. The other best part of working on this series was the crew. Montreal has the best film crews I’ve ever seen.

SK: What are you working on now?

JH: I just directed my second short film, Ten Speed. At the moment I’m knee deep in the editing process. It’s a short film that I wrote myself, and I’m very proud of it. I’m lucky enough to have the most amazing friends ever, who help me whenever I say, “Hey, guys! Let’s make a short film!”

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Photo courtesy of IMDB

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4 TV Series We’re Excited For in 2014

In cold months like January, there isn’t much to do unless you’re a winter sports enthusiast. In fact, I much prefer the activity of channel surfing. I’m already hard at work training for the upcoming television season, because I must be in peak physical form especially where Helix is concerned.

1. Helix

SOURCE: theverge.com

SOURCE: theverge.com

The new SyFy show is going to sweep the nation. The potential outbreak of a deadly virus will infiltrate the masses and I’m certain viewers will be consumed by the thrilling episodic. The Hollywood Reporter has already hailed Helix as the nextBreaking Bad, just sayin’.

I’m also going to say that the name Jordan Hayes is sure to be on everyone’s lips in the new year. The Montreal-born actor is no stranger to the industry though. She starred and directed the short film Lay Over which debuted at TIFF in 2013. Asides from appearing on many Canadian and American TV series, she’s also shared the big screen with Jennifer Lawrence and Daniel Radcliffe. I look forward to watching her fight for of mankind’s future, and you should too.

2. Girls

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SOURCE: People

It’s been quite some time since Hannah’s OCD came back with a vengeance, leading her to get a Q-Tip stuck in her ear. I, like so many other people, have been not-so patiently waiting for the return of Girls. The smartly directed and wittily written series comes alive in this ode to a generation. The HBO show has been referred to as the Sex and the City of today and, with some accuracy, depicts the complex relationships and inner dialogues that torment 20-somethings.

So, will Hannah and Adam get back together? Will Marnie finally find happiness? Will Shoshanna reunite with Ray? So many burning questions! I, for one, am excited to see what its creator and star Lena Dumham has up her sleeve this season.

3. Orange is the New Black

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SOURCE: screencrush.com

The Netflix original series Orange is the New Black took binge viewing to new levels. The realization of memoirist Piper Kerman’s novel-turned-series was an addictive force to be reckoned with on the subscriber service.

We will soon be reunited with the inmates of Litchfield Penitentiary for a second season, but perhaps not all of them. Just as a refresher, Piper’s TV counterpart, Piper Chapman, might have ended Pennsatucky’s Jesus preaching ways. Laaawd have mercy!

The insider look into a women’s prison thrilled viewers, and also inspired many a Halloween costume this year, including my own:

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4. The Originals

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SOURCE: vampirediaries.alloyentertainment.com

I must admit this viewer had her concerns about whether The Vampire Diaries spin off, The Originals would be able to follow in TVD‘s successful footsteps.

Without so much as a shirtless cameo from Ian Somerhalder how could the show survive? Well, Elijah (Daniel Gillies) took care of that qualm, or his dreamy persona and impeccable good looks did. And, the captivating plot twists & sexy secondary characters don’t hurt matters.

The mid-season finale had Cami & Davina coming together potentially to conspire against Marcel and Klaus. Hayley and Elijah looked like they are an episode, or two away from hooking up. And, I can’t wait for mid-january when the show returns from it’s mid-season break.

P.S.: The Originals is said to be The CW’s most successful new series which means after the second half of season one next year, we might have a season two to look forward to.

 

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Marshmallow snowman cupcakes

CUPCAKES THAT MAKE A GREAT CENTREPIECE

It’s that most wonderful time of the year again, and it’s only made better by these tasty snowmen. Sculpting an edible version of Frosty is super easy with this recipe.

Marshmallow snowman cupcakes | Sheknows.ca

Marshmallow Snowman Cupcakes

Serving size varies depending on cake mix used

Ingredients:

  • Vanilla cake mix
  • Vanilla icing
  • Marshmallows
  • Carrots
  • Icing scribblers

Directions:

  1. Bake the cupcakes, and allow them to cool completely.
  2. Cut the carrots into thin slabs; these will serve as the noses.
  3. Using a piping bag (or resealable bag), form concentric icing circles. Picture the base of a snowman, and create circles accordingly, with a larger circle at the bottom and smaller ones toward the top.
  4. Place a piece of carrot in the centres of the marshmallows, and use the scribblers to make the faces.
  5. Secure the marshmallow heads into the icing by pressing gently downward.

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5 Reasons Why We Miss The Originals

You know how a vampire feels when they’ve been deprived of blood for long stretches of time? That’s how we feel. Withdrawal is no fun. We need an Original family fix ASAP.

As you probably know, The Originals is on hiatus. A new episode will not grace our screens until mid-January, and we’re deeply saddened by this. Aside from awesome storylines, here are some specifics we miss about those sexy supernatural creatures.

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1. Witty repartee

Klaus has always had a way with words. A master of puns, we’re sure the memoirs he’s penning in the series is going to be a thrilling read. We wish the book was available to us on Amazon. I suppose, we’ll just have to settle on his weekly quotable quotes.

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2. Pretty boy

Elijah’s face is a work of art. A sculpture chiseled to the utmost perfection makes for a pleasurable viewing experience.

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3. Playlist love

The CW knows how to compliment a script with evocative tunes and indie hits!Gossip Girl and The Vampire Diaries blended music marvellously, and The Originalscontinues the tradition.

4. Forbidden fruit

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The tension between Hayley and Elijah has this viewer on edge. They’re clearly feelin’ it, but because she is carrying Klaus’ hybrid baby, there’s bro code etiquette to be followed.

5. Suave sinner

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Marcel is one smooth talker. It’s no wonder this beauty ruled the city of New Orleans as this ruthless leader knows how to take charge and make others follow suit. He has our vote any day!

 

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