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Cooking Matters Michigan

Empowering families with the skills, confidence and knowledge to prepare healthy and affordable meals

Volunteer Spotlight: Andrea Fraser

Rebecca Blauw

Andrea Fraser

Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi! My name is Andrea Fraser. I'm 21 years old, and a full time student. Also a full time mother of two really cute dogs, Winston and Dudley. I'm close to finishing my Associates Degree in Culinary Arts from Oakland Community College. Cooking and baking are my biggest passions, and when I'm not doing that- I'm reading about it! I love to travel. When I graduate, I hope to travel and pick up techniques they just can't teach you in school!

What made you decide to pursue culinary arts?

When I was in grade school, my grandmother used to watch my sister and I until my parents got home from work. She wasn't a very big cook, she actually only taught me how to make one thing (apple pie), but she was really great at the next best thing- eating! I loved putting pantry staples together without using recipes. I would usually make pasta or some sort of questionable casserole, and made use out of canned goods and spices. No matter how bad or good it was, she always told me she loved it. Fast forward six or seven years and I've moved out of my parents house and I started cooking (for real!) and I haven't stopped since. I was one semester into a liberal arts degree when I knew it wasn't for me, so I high-tailed it to the nearest culinary school accepting immediate enrollment!

How did you get involved in Cooking Matters?

I was experiencing huge feelings of uncertainty that day- "How am I going to turn this into a career!?" "Am I good enough at this?!". It's easy to get overwhelmed when you don't have a mentor in the industry. Alexa Eisenberg came into my class and introduced the program, and it couldn't have been better timing. Cooking Matters encompasses everything that I'm passionate about. I'm honored to play a part in it.

What have you enjoyed most about the program so far?

I love how the program is set up. I think it strikes the perfect balance of being informative and fun. By far, the best moment for me was the last lesson with my first group. One of the participants surprised me with the fact that she had been a professional chef for 30 years!. She proceeded to tell myself and the rest of the coordinators how much NEW information and techniques she learned from us, seeing as healthy cooking was new to her. If a classically trained professional chef has something to learn from these classes, EVERYONE does!

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love being outside! I'm very active so you can usually find me running, biking, or golfing. I spend a ton of time cooking and entertaining friends and family as well.

Do you have a favorite recipe that you would like to share?

I love any recipe that I can give my own spin to. Lasagna is one of my go-to dishes for cleaning out the vegetable drawer in my refrigerator.

Veggie Lasagna- an adaptation from the "pinch of yum" blog. Enjoy!

Prep time:  10 mins

Cook time:  50 mins

Total time:  1 hour

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups chopped veggies of your choice ( I usually use some combination of mushrooms, butternut squash, zucchini, red peppers, or spinach. Don't forget that your freezer vegetables can come in handy here! Follow directions on package for defrosting)
  • ½ chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or canola oil
  • 1 cup low fat ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 12 uncooked oven-ready whole grain lasagna noodles
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese (part skim), shredded

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Chop the veggies. Saute the onion and garlic in the oil over medium high heat. Add veggies and saute until tender, reducing heat if necessary. Set aside and let cool.
  • Whisk egg into ricotta cheese
  • Pour a little sauce in the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan. Top with 4 lasagna noodles, 1/2 cup ricotta mixture, ½ of the veggies, and ¾ cup sauce. Repeat; top entire pan with noodles, remaining sauce, and mozzarella cheese.
  • Cover and bake for 40 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove foil and bake for 10 minutes more or until cheese is bubbly.

NOTES

*If I have zucchini or yellow squash on hand, I carefully slice it lengthwise- very thinly. I replace two layers of the whole grain lasagna noodles with the sliced zucchini.

*You can freeze this, too!