I'm still alive...

Barely it seems some times, but I'm still here. I spent three great days in Flagstaff last and found a place. I had hoped for downtown, but after spending two nights down there, I think actually being away from downtown would be nice... kind of noisy. It's a condo/townhouse over in the country club part of town. It actually overlooks one of the fairways on the golf course. It has this great picture window from the living room that frames the San Francisco peaks unbelievably. I can't wait to get up there...

While I was there, I got in a couple of good rides. I had to do Mars Hill Wednesday while I rode around town. Since the first time I went to Flagstaff last September I've wanted to climb that hill. I hadn't been up there with a road bike and my mountain bike always longed for the mountains so the stars just had never aligned. Ugh is all I can say. It actually doesn't seem like that bad of a climb, except I haven't been on a bike that much recently, I definitely wasn't used to the altitude, and they were doing controlled burns west of town so there was a haze over the whole town. Yikes it hurt.

Thursday was spent house hunting and hanging out, Friday was spent hanging out, riding, and getting the paperwork signed on the place I found. Friday's ride included a ride out to and up to the Snowbowl. Considering I haven't done a 6+ mile climb on a road bike at altitude in, well, a few years, I was really happy with my ride. A around 48 minutes up for 6.5 miles and 2k of climbing. I'm pleased with it considering how my riding's been going recently. Based on what my times were on some of the Fountain Hills climbs earlier this year and where they are now, I'm thinking I'm in line for a sub-45 no problem once I'm on form again and possibly pretty damn close to a 40 minute. I'll post the MotionBased record of the ride as soon as I get around to uploading it.

Anyhow, I leave you with a chicken and spinach lasagna recipe:

  • 6 ounces or so of spinach chopped up (with a knife if you're like me and just like chopping, otherwise the food processor a time or two will do the trick)
  • Two chicken breasts
  • Mozzarella, cheddar, and parmesan cheese shredded (plus whatever else you want or have in the house)
  • Half a 15 oz. container of ricotta cheese
  • One cage-free, all natural (organic if you can) egg - that is the secret to this recipe
  • Some no-bake lasagna noodles
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic pepper (California style is great, with the crushed red pepper too)
  • Alfredo sauce - you can cheat and buy it at the store or make your own using this simple recipe

Get a pan (cast iron is great if you're a mountain biker because you're probably anemic from all the blood you loose on the trail) out and coat the bottom (maybe an 1/8th inch) with olive oil; sprinkle in some garlic powder depending on taste, thrown in a chicken breast or two (two works great for a 9" x 9" pan). You'll want to chop them up once they're done. While those are cooking, start shreading your cheeses because you know freshly shredded cheese tastes better :-) In a mixing bowl take your ricotta, mix in the egg and a handful of the various other cheeses you're using. Stir until it's will mixed.

Coat your baking pan with butter or a non-stick spray. Lay down a layer of lasagna noodles, then put your alfredo sauce, mix in some chicken, some of the shredded cheese, and spinach; then another layer of noodles with your ricotta sauce and spinach, then repeat starting with another of the first layers until you've used up all of your ingredients. Finish it off with some regular slices of mozzarella (enough to cover the top) and just a light sprinkling of spinach. Cover it, bake at 375 for 45 minutes, then uncover it and bake for another 5 - 10 (depending on how crispy you like your cheese). Let stand for 5 - 10 minutes (depending on how hungry you are), then chow down with a good glass of wine close at hand.

You can also do the same recipe with a tomato sauce instead of alfredo and any other type of meat you'd like (italian sausage is primo). The spinach might not go as well with the tomato sauce, but you can drop that if you want. The cheddar takes away from the truly Italian feel of this, so you might want to drop it with either sauce. These are going to become regulars at my dinner table.