Until Husband mentioned on Tuesday night that he bought the stuff for me to make this on Wednesday, I'll admit, I had never heard of this dish. Now after making it once, it's easy and delicious.
He was surprised I'd never heard of it and told me that it's pretty much the only thing he gets when he goes to Olive Garden. Then I reminded him that I've known him for 4 years and we've only been to Olive Garden once. And he ordered chicken scampi.
Our conversation when something like this: I bought yadayadayadayada tonight and all you need to do it blah blah blah. (those might have been his exact words.) Later I translated his words and made dinner.
Everything you need:
for the sauce: two cans of diced tomatoes, one can of sauce, Italian seasoning (I think I used about 2 tablespoons) and salt and pepper to taste.
for the sausage: 5 links of Italian sausage. (more or less depending on how much you love sausage
for the peppers: 3 cloves of garlic diced, two small onions (or one large) sliced, 3 bell peppers of various colors julienned. We had a small bag of sweet peppers from Sam's -- so I used 3 red, 3 orange, 4 yellow and there was a 1/2 of a green bell pepper in the fridge so I threw that in too
pasta: penne, I used a 1 lb box
1st I started the sauce so it had a lot of time to do its sauce thing. (when I make sauces I always add spices ONLY at the end. I think it makes the flavors bolder so I'm adding less spice overall.) So I cooked the tomatoes and sauce until the meat was browned ... let it bubble and boil then turned off the eye, added the seasoning, stirred it and covered it. 2nd I started cooking the sausage as soon as I opened the cans of tomatoes. (they take the longest to cook and I'm pretty paranoid about poisoning my family on raw meat) This is also the time to start boiling the water for the pasta.
3rd I cut all the vegetables and put them in the skillet with some olive oil. long enough to take the crispness out, but not enough to make them ridiculously limp. (I sauteed the garlic first before I added the peppers and onions because I love the smell of garlic) 4th when the sausage is cooked, let it rest and then cut it into medallions. (see I cut them all in half to make sure they were entirely cooked) next, add the sausage and sauce to the peppers. let it bubble. by this time the pasta should be ready or very close to ready. when the pasta is cooked, add it. I used the entire box of pasta because I have two kids who will eat pasta in tomato sauce like it's no body's business, but they aren't that interested in the sausage and peppers. There was enough that the kids ate all the pasta they wanted, Husband and I both ate our fill and there was a generous portion for Husband to have for lunch the next day. seriously, easy. brown meat, boil noodles, make a simple sauce, and cut up and saute some vegetables.
And it's pretty fabulous. I already told Husband I'd make it again this weekend for him.
remember summer days of playing in your underwear (or naked) in your blue plastic pool (with or without the slide) ???
man, I do. Son and Daughter enjoyed there own version of underwear play (later naked play for Daughter but I won't post those pictures)
She let me know early on that she would be in charge of the hose pipe. She was also in charge of keeping grass and leaves out. And spraying Son with water.
Here they are working together. Or at least she's not soaking Son with water.
He had a fun time. in his shirt and diaper.
She had a fun time being the boss. Bossy first born daughter strikes again. hhmm. I was afflicted with the disease too.
Side note: I KNOW my mother never did this because I remember sitting in my blue pool shivering because the water was so cold, but I brought some hot water out from the house so there water would at least be warmer that COLD. I'm too easy on these kids. I remember seeing my brother on the other side of the pool with blue lips. And we might've had as much fun as these kids. ;-)
Today is our date-a-versary. After asking me out twice and me turning him down twice ... I said, "yes" to a date with Husband.
We met at Bottega for dinner. He brought tulips. But instead of ordering food we just sat there and talked. and talked. and talked. Our waiter kept coming to check on us (i.e. trying to get us to order something). Finally after sitting there an hour and a half, we decided to order dessert. TWO.
We picked a chocolate cake and peanut butter pie. (and Husband ordered a cappuccino) The waiter brought both desserts and put them in front of me. I made a joke that I feel like with all this dessert in front of me I should just eat it with my hands. So, he said, "I dare you." (note: we're in a fairly nice restaurant and there are local celebrities sitting around us.)
he fell in love right then. We could've just headed to the court house and got married then. that's all it took.
While we were waiting on our check, I decided this date is going pretty well. I'm not ready for it to be over. So I tell him I have a place I'd like to show him. Husband says he has a place he'd like to show me. Through about 3 more minutes of back and forth we realize that "our place" is actually the SAME place. Georgetown Lake.
I left my car at Bottega and we head for Hoover. windows down. we stopped for bread to feed the ducks and then we were there. The Police made us leave at 11 when the park closes and we headed back to get my car. We had a great hug. (sorry, no kiss. He had to wait after four more dates for that.) Then he asked when he could see me again and made a joke about hoping he wouldn't have to ask me out three more times before I said yes to a second date.
I decided a fun way to celebrate our date-a-versary would be to recreate it. at home, of course.
Husband was going to be home late last night so I figured that'd be a perfect time to surprise him, because the kids would already be in bed when he got home.
I baked a chocolate cake, iced it. I made a peanut butter pie. I blew up the kids' wading pool and gathered up the rubber ducks.
Then I went about other business.
Later I discovered that Daughter couldn't wait to get her hands on that chocolate cake and I should've put it somewhere other than the counter.
this is what Daughter did to the cake. notice she used her left hand. see the thumb and finger prints. Luckily, I kept my cool. I said, "honey, remember I said we couldn't eat any of the cake until Daddy got home? This cake is for Daddy."
"sorry, mommy. big hug?" she was instantly forgiven.
Husband shows up unexpectedly without calling first (almost an hour earlier than I was expecting him!). I hear his key in the door and run to meet him. He has to stay on the porch until I cut the cake and pie and make the cappuccino.
This is what he had for me when I opened the door. Tulips. They weren't the same color as the first ones but they matched my shirt and I thought that was pretty neat.
Of course, I have to keep them locked in our bathroom so Gracie doesn't eat them. (sigh) they're beautiful and a super surprise.
Because Husband came home an hour earlier than I expected him, our favorite third wheel joined the fun. She even blew out the candle that I had on the table. She also kept wanting to clink glasses. It takes away a little of the romance, but it adds humor.
This is my recreation of Georgetown Lake.
It was a nice reminder of how much fun we had 4 years ago. It was a great first date and a fun story to tell about how I began to fall in love with my husband.
EDIT: ok, I've been giving the Brightening Eye Color and Eye Shadow Duo another try... because I really love the way they look, last and DO NOT CREASE. I must say, I love them now. I've gotten over the sponge applicator
With the Brightening Eye Color I've been applying it with my fingertips. It mutes the color a little, which I like. The colors are just darker than I'm used to if I use the sponge applicator. well, it IS "Brightening Eye Color" so I shouldn't be surprised.
With the Eye Shadow Duo I'm using the sponge applicator. It's taking a little getting used to because I've been using a brush for so long, but I like it.
Also, I'm getting 3 mineral eyeshadows soon. I'll let you know what I think of those too.
it's good. right? and tastes good too? um, I'm going to be honest. no. not always.
My friend, Lauren's Mommy, has been writing about making healthier choices at the grocery store, like switching from white bread to whole wheat and buying more fruit for snack time. GREAT choices. and while I'd love to say we only buy whole wheat, sometimes we buy white wheat. [it's true] we are pretty good about eating fruit fruit fruit. both kids love apples, blue berries, raspberries and peaches.
Another friend was having some prediabetic issues and had gained about 50 pounds. She eliminated white bread, pastas, rice and sugar and in a year has lost all the extra weight.
I love pasta, rice and potatoes. eeek. it would definitely be healthier if I served my family less of this stuff.
but seriously. give up white pasta, white rice, and white potatoes? ... oh and white flour.
sheesh. no pain, no gain. That's for sure.
Well, how about limiting our intact? I can do that. we can limit. cut back, restrict. yes. we can do that.
ok, well I need a first step. my first plan of action.
What do I eat the most of that I can cut back on first?
sugar. plain and simple sugar. not for my family. for me. sugar.
SUUUUUUUGGGGGAAAAARRRR ... in coffee.
two tablespoons of sugar and a splash of milk. in my big mug.
I went to the grocery store to look for a respectable substitute. Truvia won the grocery store challenge. made from the stevia plant. I'm familiar with it from my working days at a dietary supplements company.
This morning Husband made coffee and he decided he'd join me in the "eat less sugar challange" [He's even worse than I am because of his love for sweet tea] We got our mugs out, measured our Truvia, poured our coffee, added the milk, stirred, sipped.
yuck. Husband said it didn't taste that different, but he uses more milk and less sugar than I do. It left a bitter taste similar to Nutrasweet in my mouth. NOT AS BAD, but it was there.
I ended up adding one spoon of sugar to the coffee and now it tastes respectable.
For a positive spin on the situation I have officially cut my sugar in coffee intake in half! And that's a step in the right direction. ;-)
Daughter and I spend a lot of time outside while Son naps. I don't park my car under the carport so we have extra shade to play in. Yesterday, after sidewalk chalk fun, Daughter helped me water the two rose bushes and the purple flowers in the front yard flower bed.
filling up her watering cup
watering the purple flowers. I have no idea what they are, they came with the house.
one of the buds on the freshly watered rose bush.
Please don't get excited about my abilities to grow roses. These are Pink Knock Out Roses. Basically if you go to a nursery and say, "I'm a horrible gardener. What flower can I put in the dirt and never have to do another thing to again?" You'll hear, "knock out roses."
I don't know if that's actually true, but after after two years of doing nothing but watering them when it hasn't rained in a week and weed eating around them, they are still alive.
Daughter loves these little tasks. She gets such a kick out of saying, "I do all by self." And then telling Husband about it later. Yesterday she said, "Daddly, I wa-der pur-pul flours all by self." She also led him outside to see our sidewalk chalk drawings. She's fun.
Daughter and I went outside and made an entire zoo worth of sidewalk chalk animals.
NOT A PETTING ZOO. just a zoo.
She wanted me to draw
a bunny. check
a fish. check
an alligator. check
a dog. check
an elephant. check
a snake. check
yes, snakes are easy. I consider anything I draw to be a success if my daughter can identify what it is. She knew immediately this was a snake.
She also recognized this to be a friendly alligator with razor sharp teeth. And then she colored his teeth. blue-ish white-ish
After I drew all the animals I knew to be identifiable, I moved on to fruit. Daughter would not [WOULD NOT] believe this was a banana. She kept calling it "night time." She thought it was a moon. She was very sure it was a moon, in fact. ok, fine.
so, I drew a moon. She kept calling it a "an-anna" even after I added the stars. Finally, she got the blue chalk and added the sky ... THEN it was "night time."
I must take this opportunity to apologize to my college Astronomy Professor. He'd have preferred those stars be in some constellation shape. He also gave me a C. I cried.
Remember approximately three years ago when I got all hyped up about all these great classics I was reading and rereading? and then I just stopped.
I think I made it through 2 or 3 books. Since then I've read a lot of non-classics. Well, non-classics in the sense that they won't be on any Honors or AP English reading lists.
I've read/listened to on audio book the Harry Potter Series.
read the Twilight books.
read the Sookie Stackhouse series.
and about 2 dozen more various this and that books.
OH. I just remembered two worth mentioning by name: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver and In Cold Blood by Truman Capote [post to come later for ICB] Great books.
Anyway, today I bring you Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I read Jane Austen's original work in high school and will forever enjoy Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. so I definitely knew the story when I picked up this jewel.
I really liked it. Seth Grahame-Smith managed to seamlessly weave zombies into this classic so that I don't think I can read the original again with thinking of Elizabeth Bennet's amazing sparring skills (and not just verbal sparring this time). He did a great job of making these zombies so a part of the story, there's no question that they don't belong there.
Last Saturday we has a HUGE day of yard work planned. I thought raspberry sorbet would be a great treat after a hot day outside. And it was. The entire family ate and ate and ate --- due partly because I quadrupled the recipe!
I started searching online for recipes. and was grossed out when SO many of them contained corn syrup. Ya know ... feed your family whatever you want, that's your business. but there's something so unnatural to me about corn syrup (esp HFC) seriously, picture corn on the cob -- eating it and such, then picture corn syrup. now image what has to happen to that corn to turn it into corn syrup. yuck. I avoid it whenever possible. another reason whole foods are better than processed. (I digress)
Anyway, I compared/contrasted 3 recipes I found that DIDN'T include corn syrup and this is what I came up with:
5 cups of raspberries (fresh or frozen -- we used both because I found a great deal on fresh and already had frozen in the freezer. frozen is great too and much cheaper.)
4 cups of water
3 cups of sugar (or sugar substitute, if that's your thing)
6 teaspoons of lime juice (you could substitute lemon juice if you'd like)
heat the water and sugar until the sugar is dissolved and blend the raspberries and lime juice in the blender.
it took more liquid than just the lime juice to get my blender blending, so I added a cup of the sugar water. blend until smooth.
strain the raspberries to remove as many of the seeds as you can (or not, if you like seedy sorbet)
after strained combine the sugar water with raspberry puree. If you have an ice cream maker, SCORE ... you win the easy contest.
If you don't, follow me:
I put the mixture in a covered freezer safe bowl. Every hour to hour and a half I got it out of the freezer and stirred it. in about 5 hours I had made raspberry sorbet.
This was after we'd eaten about half!
loved it. We all did. I especially loved that it didn't have a syrupy texture like the kind I get at the store. It had such a fresh, light, clean taste.
Son is such an amazing person. He's so laid back and go with the flow. He loves riding in double shopping carts with Daughter. He loves swinging. He loves playing outside -- bonus points if water is involved.
He's got such a sweet, gentle personality. I love getting to know him as his personality emerges a little more everyday. And that smile. that smile melts.
I dug a mini square foot garden (3X3) for 9 strawberry bushes.
Husband put the dividers back on the main garden (enlarged last weekend from 2 to 3 squares) and planted it fully, PLUS he dug out 150 square feet in the back of the yard (or the front actually) for what we're calling the berry bed. He worked really hard. I'm proud of him and his blisters.
We still have to dig the holes for the remaining berry bushes and pumpkin vines, then put down the mulch around it. I decided on mulching it just so we wouldn't have to get in there with the weed eater and risk injuring the bushes/vines. (I'm hoping with the mulch, hand weeding will be doable.) It's something we should be able to knock out fairly quickly once we recover from sunburns, sore backs/arms, bug bites and blisters. Maybe one week night this week.
Here's the main garden. You can definitely tell the new wood from the old. And you can also tell that I didn't bother to clean up our yard 'stuff' before I snapped the pictures! Daughter and i have gotten into a decent habit of cleaning up after ourselves ... mostly.
Here's the strawberry square. There's 9 plants in there! I'm pretty proud of it because I did it all. except the nailing of the square together. Husband did it for the main reason that complete assembly took him about 3 minutes and it would've probably taken me 20! This is the berry garden at the top/bottom of the yard. notice the bags of mulch waiting to fulfill their destiny. I feel really good about the garden this year. More so than last year because I was either HUGELY pregnant or taking care of a newborn when the garden was planted last year, so I played a much smaller role. This year, I definitely did as much as I could and feel really proud of what we got accomplished. We didn't use any store bought plants again this year and I hope that ends up being a good decision ... only time will tell I suppose!
UPDATE: we planted the rest of the berry bushes and pumpkins today. mulch tomorrow after I water again.
Yesterday while the kids napped, Husband and I watched The Squid and the Whale. Because I'm pretty much unable to just sit in front of the television, I started to multitask.
Yes, with things I had in my craft box [clearance ribbon, clearance velcro, embroidery floss, an embroidery needle) and a leg from cut off jeans of Daughter's, I crafted a purse/bag for her enjoyment.
I just turned the leg inside out and closed the cut off part (to be the bottom), added the ribbon to the top for handles and the velcro so it could be opened and closed (like my purses that she's obsessed with).
I also got out a white paint pen and some green acrylic pant to decorate, but that turned out less than desirable so I'm not even going to discuss it further.
She's filled it with rocks, acorns, sidewalk chalk and crackers. All things that a 2.5 year old should always have on hand.
FEAR NOT: this ends the nativity scene series. Thanks for enduring through. I really enjoy each and every set, for many reasons and I loved getting to share them. Again, thanks for the indulgence.
This set I bought in Mexico and was carved out of bone. And then detailed with gold paint. It really is pretty cool to look at, albeit a little macabre.
This is the newspaper that they were wrapped in when I bought them. I was in Mexico on January 6(ish), 2005, so the paper was a few months old at the time.
the whole set, 11 pieces
This may be my favorite piece. A sheep, possibly. Well, a sheep that looks like a poodle. :-) This is a only markings on any of the pieces. I'm sure it's just a vendor identification from the market I bought it from. the end. Thanks for enjoying what I think is amazing art (and much more).