Wednesday, February 22, 2012

La Romanella Oven Toasted Ravioli #LaRomanella Recipe

La Romanella Oven Toasted Ravioli
serves 4
1/2 bag La Romanella precooked frozen medium cheese ravioli (approx. 40 ravioli)
1/2 28 0z can La Romanella marinara sauce
3 eggs beaten
4 Tablespoons water
1/2 cup La Romanella Seasoned Bread Crumbs
2 cups First Street Panko Bread Crumbs
4 Tablespoons La Romanella Shredded Parmesan Cheese
Vegetable spray

Preheat oven to 450 f. Place a wire rack on a baking sheet and spray with vegetable spray. Boil a pot of water, when it begins to boil, put raviolis in stirring lightly to separate. Leave in water with heat still on for 2 minutes, drain. Rinse gently in cold water and shake colander to separate raviolis and to remove excess water. In shallow bowl, beat 3 eggs with 4 tablespoons of water. On a dinner plate, mix together both kinds of bread crumbs and shredded parmesan cheese.
Start you 3 step assembly line by taking a cooled ravioli, dipping it in the egg, and dredging it through the bread crumb mixture and placing on the wire rack. Tip: You may find that you will want to repeat the egg dip and dredge process once to allow the coating to cover the ravioli. Bake for 15 minutes or until crispy. Serve with hot marinara sauce for dipping.

One of my favorite dishes is Toasted Ravioli and I always order it at my favorite restaurant back home. Traditional Toasted Ravioli is fried. Frying is one thing I try to avoid doing. Not that I don’t love fried food…I just don’t like dealing with the cooking and the mess part of it! Whenever I can, I try to recreate the fried effect in my oven. I find that red sauce Italian food is particularly easy for this because breadcrumbs toast up nicely and flavorful sauces are the main focus of the dishes.

I was invited to participate in a campaign for Smart & Final for their La Romanella line of products. I love the La Romanella line, especially love the fact that some of their offerings are organic. Creating a recipe was my main task so I set about looking at all the offerings at my local Smart & Final. I found the items generally categorized in specific areas. Produce had sundried tomatoes and fresh basil, refrigerated/dairy had cheese and sliced meats. The main grocery aisles had pasta and sauces together. The freezer section had frozen pasta and bread and finally, in separate grocery sections I located olive oil and bread crumbs. While I was in the store, an employee told me that La Romanella products vary by location.

It seems that no matter how much I try to plan my day, I end up having the kids with me when I shop and underfoot when I try to cook. My goals were to get in and out of the store as quickly as possible and to have a recipe that would require minimum ingredients. I gave myself extra points for a recipe that could be prepared earlier in the day to be put in the oven just before meal time and one that easily allowed for leftovers. I do believe I checked off all of the above with my plan to make Oven Toasted Ravioli. I started in the refrigerator section where I picked up a bag of parmesan cheese, next I went to the freezer and got a bag of frozen ravioli. The aisle straight from the freezer shelf with the ravioli were the La Romanella bread crumba and The First Street Panko Bread Crumbs. I doubled back and pushed the cart, loaded with the kids, two aisles and pointed back to the front of the store stopping to grab a can of Marinara Sauce. I kept going and hit the check out, loaded the minivan and hit the gas. Everything else I needed, I already had at home. I have a Google+ photo album describing my trip, please take a look!

When you purchase La Romanella items from Smart & Final, you can go to between now and March 6, 2012, enter the code on your receipt with the purchase of La Romanella products. You will be entered to win some fabulous prizes! First Prize: a weekend trip to one of the most luxurious Italian inspired resorts in Las Vegas! Additional prizes include: (8) $50 SmartCash cards (2 per week given away) and (8) La Romanella Gift Baskets worth over $50 (2 per week given away. Also, when you are there, click the “recipes” button and you can vote for your favorite La Romanella blogger recipe!

This project has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for #collectivebias #CBias. All content is my own.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Suze Orman – America’s Money Class

SuzeAmericasmoneyclass I was thrilled to have the opportunity earlier this week to have coffee with Suze Orman at the OWN offices here in Los Angeles. This was the second time I met Suze, the first one being the time I interviewed her at Smashbox Studios two years ago. When you are in Suze’s presence, one thing that you can be sure of is that she is intensely present with you. I love that. The eye contact, the intensity, the fact that she OWNS what she says. My kind of person. The meeting took place in a small conference room at OWN and was comprised of OWN execs and LA bloggers. I got a kick out of the $$$ cake pops and gold coins they had out for us. Good way to set the tone.

The reason for the meeting was to promote Suze Orman’s “America’s Money Class” on The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). The class is actually a series of 6 shows each with a topic, guests with money issues related to the topic and audience interactions. The classes are: Money Secrets Revealed, Family & Money, Financial Disasters, Hidden Money, Money Mistakes You Can’t Afford To Make and this Monday is the 6th and final class airing at 9p/8p central time. After the show, a contest begins where one viewer will win $50,000 and five viewers will win $5,000. The contest is in the form of a “final exam” of 12 questions based on what you have learned watching the shows. The contest will be live starting a 12p eastern/9p pacific and will be up for 24 hours. If you have not been watching the series, don’t despair, there are lots of videos of the shows as well as supporting info to be found on the show’s site on Additionally, the entire first episode is available on the site, Money Secrets Revealed. I’m disappointed the shows aren’t available and guess what? Suze is disappointed too! She even said it during the meeting that she thought they should be online and free—this caused the OWN execs in the room to smile uncomfortably. But that is how Suze is. She freely shares her tools to help Americans learn how to take care of themselves financially. Also on the site, Suze is giving away subscriptions and free downloads, make sure to head over there to grab the codes now!

Ok, so, you know about the show and the contest. Before I headed to the meeting, I posted on Facebook and Twitter asking my followers if they had any questions for Suze. I tried to cover as much as I could. Here is what I learned sitting with Suze and what I can share with you: Suze Orman’s overwhelming theme is take care of yourself because no one else is going to. When saving for your children’s college funds, do that after maximizing your retirement contributions, having your debt paid off and an eight month cushion of emergency funds. When you have achieved your goal for saving for something, especially education, don’t “push your luck”, move the money into “safe” positions. Don’t rely on your portfolio’s plan to manage risk for you because a massive hit in the stock market could devastate your investments. When people lose their jobs, they do not make a lifestyle change to match the situation. You must cut everything down to the bare minimum and hunker down because you don’t know how long you will be out of work. Getting exercise is absolutely key to raising your mood and motivation. Set a regular time each day to move around…Starting with walking is absolutely fine. Take care of “needs” before “wants” and put “people before money and things”. She believes we are quite far from a housing recovery and that we have not seen the bottom in some markets. I got a lot of questions about asking Suze what to do if you are underwater in your home, whether they should rent or buy. Since I didn’t get to address specific areas of the country, I can’t answer those questions for everyone. Suze did mention an area where she owns property, Del Rey Beach, Florida and that condos in her community have gone down over $200,000. Have term life insurance and only term life insurance to cover the term during which you will have people dependent on you, ie: 20, 30 year term plans. You will be amazed at how inexpensive the rates are especially if you are under 40.

Another interesting theme that came up was her insistence on the “we” and not the “I”. Such as “we have 2 kids” not, “I have 2 kids”. I thought she might have been a bit intense about this with the people in the room. However, I understand her message. Managing your financial lives, especially when married and with young children, is a team effort. That means sharing the information about what is happening with the money, budgeting and being responsible together for managing your finances. Money secrets and money infidelity is something Suze has covered in this series. Several years of bad money management can be overcome if you tackle it as a team. If everyone is not on board, it will not work. A really powerful tool for people who have no savings is to get them on an automatic savings plan. If it can be deducted from their pay, great. But if they need to send it in themselves, getting into the habit has an amazing way of sticking. The middle class is shrinking. The poor are getting poorer. There are over 50 million Americans in poverty right now.

For investments that Suze recommends right now in the time of non-existent interest rates, Suze listed off some specific choices: Muni bonds (individual not funds), MLPs (Master Limited Partnerships), Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), Gold which she is predicting will be at $2100/oz in November, Revenue Bonds and General Obligation Bonds. This is Elizabeth speaking here: I have a background in investments and strongly urge anyone not familiar with the investments listed above to educate themselves thoroughly before putting money that they cannot afford to lose into them.

In closing, personal finance and investing has always been of interest to me. Money is something all of us need and therefore it means different things to different people. We all have our individual experiences that come forward when dealing with money. Suze’s message and one that I would echo to you as well is to take care of yourself and your own finances. There are plenty of people out there who will gladly help you part with your hard earned cash. Your future depends on you taking care of you. Now, go forth and prosper!

My friend, LA’s The Place, shot this video during our meeting. I thank her so much for doing this and graciously allowing me to share.

Family Getaway: Rancho Las Palmas

I'm on CBS Los Angeles with Family Getaway: Rancho Las Palmas