Cheesy Spinach Squares

Onto another one of Gram’s cook books.  This time, it was one she happened to have a few of her own recipes in. I’m fairly certain that it somehow was connected to The Shriners.  Both my grandfather (an actual Shriner, who also dressed up as a clown for many of their parades) and grams were involved in the Shrine.  I mean, she still has ticket stubs to the ‘ladies luncheon’ she attended as a book marker… leave it to grams to keep something from 1986 haha.


Delving through the treasure trove of cookbooks grandma left me is pretty fun.  It’s like a treasure hunt every weekend… looking for a new recipe that’s sucks me in.  This one is no exception.

Now, for those that know me, they know I’m a HUGE cook.  I’m always cooking and I’ve tried to recreate, remake, and frankly…. all around experiment with just about any food I come across.  This recipe is a first for me.  Seriously…. something I have never eaten or seen a recipe for.  This is like a combo of a strata… cheese bread… and appetizer.  It’s definitely unique and delicious.  The recipe is called Spinach Cheese Squares and it’s from Mrs. John Carter.


Now just to be honest, I messed up and mistakingly only got one package of spinach to make this.  In reality, I think that it is better with the one package.  But feel free to use two packages.  I also snuck in some garlic and onion powder to give it a little more flavor (and garlic makes everything better… duh) and I’m telling you… this is really good.  You could also totally add in some chopped onions or sautéed mushrooms if you’re feeling crazy.  I think either would be a winner. In reality, I don’t even know what I’d classify this as.  It could be an appetizer, but you could also serve it as a side.  Heck, if you’re not too hungry, it could be the main course. So without further ado, I give you…. drum rolllll… Spinach Cheese Squares.


Spinach Cheese Squares:

  • 4 T butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp salt (we added a little more, but this is more to taste)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 lb sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 or 2 pkgs chopped spinach (depending on your love of spinach), thawed and drained
  • 1 tsp of garlic and/or onion powder (optional)

First, make sure to pull out spinach to thaw. Preheat oven to 350°.  In a 9×13 pan, melt butter in oven and remove.  In a bowl, beat eggs, add flour, milk, salt, baking powder, and optional garlic/onion powder.  Mix well.  Drain spinach well.  I find the easiest way to do this is with a dish cloth.  Place spinach in the center, roll cloth around the spinach and squeeze until most of the liquid has been removed. Slowly add cheese and spinach, and make sure they are blending well.  Pour mixture into buttered pan, spread evenly.  Bake in oven at 350° for 35 minutes.  Remove and cool 10 minutes to set.  Cut into bite sized squares and enjoy!  The hubs and I both agreed this was better warm.  This also keeps in the fridge quite well and is easy to reheat.  You’ll thank me later.  This seems to be a good ‘veggie hiding’ recipe for kids too!







*For more info on the health benefits of spinach check out Helen’s article here!

Photography and writing by:

Alysha Yoder Photography

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(e) (p) 610.762.7810


New Orleans in Half a Day

So let me start off my saying… what a freaking 24 hours the hubs and myself have had.  If I can give advice to anyone, it would be that you should never.. ever.. EVER… even if the price is awesome… fly with Allegiant Airways.  Not only did we drive three hours to get to Pittsburgh, but upon arrival, got delayed, sat in the terminal for 2 hours and then were told our flight was cancelled.  No apparent reason was given, and we were given a crappy $8 voucher for food (which is like… half a beer at an airport) and a hotel room for the night.  We lost out on a whole 24 hours with my sister (who I only get to see twice a year), a corporate world vacation day, and all the money we had spent on a fancy hotel room.  It all sucked. The whole situation.  And in talking to the customer service line at the airport, they didn’t even know the flight was cancelled.  I’ve never dealt with a more incompetent business.

That being said, lessoned learned with Allegiant.  We did make the best of the whole situation and tried to remedy the night.  Being an ex-Pittsburgh native, I got to show the hubs a little of the city I love.  We got to go to the Andy Warhol Museum and a great restaurant called Butcher and the Rye. It did turn out ok in the end but we’re still bummed about what we missed.



We did make a lot of friends and comrades sharing in our misery at the airport.  I’m pretty sure we all would have rented a bus and pulled a 16 hour drive today if they had cancelled our flight again.  This picture says it all… we’re finally getting to board a plane.. the hubs still questioning whether we’re going to actually take off and me… happy that we’re on our way.


Buutttt we finally made it!  24 hours later then expected, but here!  Kate picked us up at the airport with a list of restaurant suggestions in hand.  These are moments when Yoder genes come out strong with our love of food and it’s wonderful!  Now, I’ve been here three times and New Orleans is just one of those destinations that you look forward to your eating.   Kate’s top pick and recommendation was K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen and man, I don’t know how anyone could be disappointed with a meal here.  I’m seriously still in a delicious food coma.  We had the most wonderful waitress named Sheila.  She gave recommendations (Kate asked her to pick her favorites and surprise her with dinner), showed us how the chef wanted us to eat meals and made the whole dining experience amazing.  Every time a new round of food came, forks were passed around with little bites of everyone’s dish.  I’m pretty sure we would have licked the plates if it wasn’t frowned upon.

If you had a gun to my head, I still probably couldn’t decide what I liked the best here.  The decision making process to even pick an item on the menu was hard enough.  See this intense pondering?

K-Paul’s is this wonderful mix of a little bit eclectic and a little bit classy.  It still has that Southern Charm too.  I loved all these illustrated recipes both framed on the wall and on the tablecloths.

So what did you finally decide on you ask?? Here was our lineup:

  • Apps
    • A bowl of rolls (yes, a bowl) with hot jalapeno cheese rolls, cornbread muffins and a sweet dessert muffin.
    • Rabbit and Veggie Sausage with Creole Mustard Sauce
    • Chicken and Andouille Gumbo
    • Cajun Jambalaya
  • Main Course
    • Blackened Stuffed Pork Chop Marchand de Vin
    • Eggplant Pirogue with Seafood Atchafalaya
    • BBQ Shrimp (and I honestly can’t remember the name of it but it came on a bed or rice, with sautéed veggies)

Our wonderful waitress, Sheila, showing us how the chef recommends eating these meals.  She was without a doubt one of the best waitresses I’ve ever had in my life.

  • Dessert
    • Sweet Potato Pecan Pie
    • Custard Marie Crème Brûlée with a Praline Bottom
    • Espresso

A few of you might ask, “Why the lemon rind?” Well, I have an answer for you on that. In America, serving Espresso with a lemon rind is often seen as a “classy addition” as well as a means to dampen it’s bitterness. It is served this way in North America and sometimes in France, but never in Italy. Outside of Italy, this is called an “Espresso Romano.” It actually does seriously alter the espresso flavor.  I haven’t decided if I love it one way or another.

Dinner was followed by a good stroll through the French Quarter.  Street performers, Pat O’Brians, people watching, and weddings.. yes, even weddings.  I can’t escape them, even on vacation.  What a lovely bride and groom though!  I loved their umbrellas, especially the ring bearers lol.

Here’s some New Orleans trivia for you.  Wedding and funerals typically have a “second line.”  This refers to the brass brand parades held for these events. The “main line” or “first line” is the main section of the parade, or the members of the actual club with the parading permit as well as the brass band. Those who follow the band just to enjoy the music are called the “second line.” The second line’s style of traditional dance, in which participants walk and sometimes twirl a parasol or handkerchief in the air, is called “second lining.” (source: Wikipedia)

Pretty cool right? Pat O’Brian’s was, of course, a place we always stop (and the husband’s personal fav), so we swing by to grab drinks before we continued our walking tour of the Quarter.

We stumbled across a street performer we had seen the last time we were in New Orleans.  This wonderful older gentleman who plays songs by request on various sized glasses.  He even got Kate in on the action, letting her play one and showing us how you can ‘see’ the tone of the glass in the water.  Certainly one of the more unique performers, but New Orleans is loaded with them.  There is no city like it and being a photographer, walking around taking photos at night, is a dream.



Our journey continues tomorrow!  We have high hopes that the rain will hold off and we’ll get to see one of the Easter Day parades here.  Fingers crossed!  I’ll then be taking a hiatus for a week, as we’ll be out of the country cruising.  So clients, have no fear!  I’ll get back to you as soon as I have internet access.  Until then, cheers from The Big Easy.  – Alysha

 Alysha Yoder Photography (b)

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Beth & David – 4.18.15

Beth and David, seriously one of the most unique and fun weddings I have photographed to date!  I mean, what a venue! The National Aviary in Pittsburgh is truly a hidden gem. How many photographers can say they’ve photographed weddings guests that included penguins, parrots and owls!  The best thing about this wedding was that it was very distinctly Beth and Davids. They swerved from your traditional and did something so true to them. Let me explain… they had met at a board gamy party that was hosted by a mutual friend. Their love of games and meeting one another was placed throughout the wedding.  They had a puzzle hunt where guests had to collect clues, board game center pieces decked out in bridal gear, and instead of a first dance they chose to play the Broken Picture Telephone game (basically everyone started with a ring a blank cards, drew a picture or a phrase, passed it to the guest next to them who had to either draw a phrase or figure out what the picture was and describe it).  The end results were hysterical!  Beth and David became ‘guest players’ at each table and injected their drawings or phrases in everyone’s cards.

One of the most unique things about the whole wedding day was their ceremony which took place in the Aviary’s Flightzone Theater.  There’s a huge tree in the middle, a big screen behind them (which they set as a night sky scene), and rock plateaus throughout.  They decorated it with candlelit lanterns and big vase bouquets.  It was stunning, like something out of a movie. Imagine getting married outside on a starlit night and voila! Beth and David’s ceremony.  They gave each of their mother’s flowers and had their family members do some wonderful (and funny) readings.  Everyone had a chuckle when they exited the ceremony to Star Wars (not once, but twice!) only to be greeted by a penguin named Goldie outside the theater.

Guests mingled through bird exhibits, signed a ‘jenga guest book,’ sang to the bride and talked to handlers about the various birds wandering around.  There were so many fun moments too.  Beth and David opted to do a first look before the ceremony (yes!) and the look on David’s face when he turned to see his beautiful bride was awesome (look for it below, it’s fantastical!). He could barely keep his eyes off her.  One of my favorite photos, is them walking through one of the bird exhibits.  Beth is looking at the different birds surrounding them and David is looking at Beth.  Such a serene moment.  David had even set up a special message delivery (via their adorable niece) to Beth.  The photo series for that puts a smile on my face every time I look at it.

What a wonderful and one-of-a-kind wedding this was.  Guests had a blast playing games, laughing and smile all night.  I’m so excited to be able to share it with everyone!  Enjoy!




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  –  VenueThe National Aviary  –  CateringAtria’s  –  Officiant – Larry Goyda of Meaningful Marriages  –

–  Flowers  –  Paulette of Posy  –  PhotographyAlysha Yoder Photography  –

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