Oh, my friends...weren't things supposed to slow down once January arrived? I would love to complain about the weather but it rarely seems to affect me, I seem to be chained to my home by so much going on...as per usual. I just think February will be different and I will be droning on and on about books and reality TV shows and lame DIY projects. So for now, I'm dreaming about snowdrops and crocus, which are nowhere to be seen yet. :) Sorry for the tease pic.
You can see that Mary Clare is ready to have her baby soon. She looks SO beautiful!! We were all at her mom's house, Tuesday, Katie (her sister) was doing my hair. Their aunt was there as well as niece, Hannah. Katie had her little baby, Margot, along (hasn't she grown?). Their mom, Peggy, was working away at a wonderful Italian dinner, and the smells and laughter and good feelings touched me to my soul. Good times.
I couldn't get enough of holding this little cutie and it is making me inpatient for my granddaughter. 2 more weeks! I bet MC is happier than I am about this. ;-)
When you have a baby (or have gone thorough an illness or hard time), the dinners (casseroles, soups, sometimes even basic groceries) arrive. I knew Mary Clare and Kevin were trying to adjust to having meals while they both worked full time...MC will work right up to her due date.
I made a promise to Kevin to make a few meals before she had the baby, while they had to work and deal with being tired and a bit stressed out. These are the times that I feel so blessed that I don't have a job outside of the home, and that my kitchen is my favorite place in the whole house. Things have been bubbling away since I did a big shopping on Monday. This is a huge pot of soup of lentils, sausage and Swiss chard. Daughters Emily and Abby said, "Forget it, Kevin will never eat this." I said, okay, he can go to McDonald's then. Son Jeff said, "Make healthy 'stuff' for him'". They are going hiking in the spring for Jeff's bachelor party. Kevin has been running every day. We'll see.
Recipe links will be listed in a future post or if you follow me on Pinterest, you can find most of them there. More on that later.
Among a few things, I made stuffed shells. I think we have all made them at some point in our lives. They are time consuming...boiling the pasta, making the sauce and stirring up the filling. Not to mention stuffing those slimy noodles. Let me help a bit.
1) While you boil your shells, (1 lb.) in a sea of salted water, make your sauce. I use 2 jars of pasta sauce...I like to mix them..here I did an Arrabiatta (sp?) sauce mixed with Emeril's garlic marinara (he has super tasty red sauces). When I have time, I make my own sauces but for now...we do the convenient. Heck, I've made my own pasta as well, I'm not going to try to impress with this recipe! However, to this sauce I added one pound of cooked ground sweet Italian sausage, as well as 1 medium chopped green pepper and a handful of fresh basil. Let simmer on low for 1/2 hour to meld the ingredients.
2) Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together a 16 oz. container of Ricotta cheese, 1 cup of shredded mozzarella, two beaten eggs and two tablespoons of parsley.
3) Drain shells when just soft. Mix a tablespoon of olive oil into the colander and toss several times to keep them from sticking and to drain excess water from their folds.
4) Assemble a work surface. Spread out shells and have a 9x13 dish ready with a few spoonfuls of red sauce on the bottom.. Place a shell on a cutting board and with a teaspoon, add about two dollops of the cheese mixture. Use your (clean) fingers to sort of tuck that cheese in. Place into the dish. Keep repeating until you have two layers of shells. Don't try to be perfect. This takes patience. Enjoy the process, it's so worth it.
5) Spoon the red sauce over, top with about 1 1/2 cups of shredded Mozzerella, as evenly as you can...then give it a good sprinkling of Parmesan.
6) Bake 40 minutes covered with foil. Remove foil and give it a few minutes under the broiler, watching very carefully. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before you serve. Use a big old metal spoon. This should not be cut like lasagna, although it looks like it should.
I try to make recipes sound doable...maybe some look complicated in the crazy way I write them. I simply believe that when I was a young "cook", I shied away from recipes that had a mile long list of ingredients. Sometimes half of those involved spices. Still, it looked daunting. I try to make my recipes look and cook "friendly"...for all of you by listing the ingredients in bold. You can assemble them easily this way.
In addition to the many meals I'm making for Kevin and Mary Clare, a relative of mine was really impressed with the heart shaped sugar cookies I made for the baby shower. Very complimentary! She asked if I could make them for a wedding shower she is going to on Sunday. There will be 40 guests. Figuring 2 cookies per guests...I lost count of how many dozen. I will be making these tomorrow after I finish up the other stuff. Gee, I'm getting popular and I really am not that good at baking. So I'm not quitting my day job (of reading, dusting a little, and haunting HomeGoods). Ha!
I'm trying to work on my Woman Cave, although we are all so disgusted with that description, we are back to calling it the den once again. Emily is part of a buy/sell group on FB and the pieces are not going well as a whole. We are getting bids on them separately. I have no use for these relatively formal pieces that we were absolutely out of our minds buying in the first place. Thus, they have rarely been so much as sat on in 5 years. I want to use the money to have Charlie (my main man in removing stubborn wallpaper and painting uneven old walls) do his thing. And then I have to come up with the $$ to get (what I hope to be) a comfy chaise, chair, and 32 inch TV where I can be close enough to read the closed caption. Heaven. :) I'm saving my pennies!
As late as it is, I'm off to make one more dinner to freeze for my lovebirds, and the dough for the cookies. I simply feel alive, worthwhile and earnestly chuffed to do this.
I will see all of you soon. Many prayers for those on the east coast...we've heard of the treacherous weather coming your way.
I also wanted to mention that I joined Instagram, and you can find me here if you want to follow me. And you can also follow me on Pinterest here. No big deal, I think you might like to see some of my "found" recipes that are so Go To!!
Joining in with Thoughts from Alice