Friday, January 27, 2012

Double Eff.

Some new recipes, yo! It's been forever, so I'm sure you're all aching for some new foods, yes? ;-)

First up: Manicotti


Combine 1 container (16 ounces) ricotta cheese, 2 cups shredded mozzarella, 1/2 cup cottage cheese, 2 tblsp's grated parmesan cheese, 2 beaten eggs, and 1/2 tsp minced garlic in large bowl


Stuff mixture into uncooked manicotti shells, using narrow rubber spatula. Place filled shells in 13 x 9 baking dish. Preheat oven to 375

**I can't lie to you guys, the smallest rubber spatula I have is still too big. God graced me with fingers for such an occasion.


Cook 1 lb ground beef in large skillet over medium-high heat until no longer pink, stirring to separate. Drain excess fat. Stir in 1 jar (26 oz) spaghetti sauce and 2 cups water (mixture will be thin). Pour sauce over filled manicotti shells.


Cover with foil; bake 1 hour or until sauce has thickened and shells are tender.


Voila!

We went all Italian up in here! It was a pretty superfabulous pairing of the garlic breadsticks (and the green beans because such is the rule: a fruit with breakfast and a veggie with din din) with this meal, but I think next time I'll make garlic bread...where I make the bread and the garlic sauce. Stay tuned.

The Italian extravaganza continues: Fettuccine alla carbonara

minus the fettuccini, plus little squirly pasta. I think it's called Rotini?

Anywho.


While your 16 oz package of dried fettucini (or whatever pasta you want, really) is boiling away, slice 4 oz proscuitto, and finely chop enough onion for two tblsp's


As I mentioned up yonder, there's always a veggie with dinner, so I'm steaming broccoli. I get this going at the beginning of the prep and let it steam, on low heat, until I'm ready to serve so that it's outta the way. Make it a KISS operation, amiright?!


I've never cooked with wine before, so I had no idea where to find it. In our grocery store, for those not in the know like muhself, it's over there by the olive oils and maybe even the apple cider vinegar. Or, you could just completely tapout and ask someone right out of the gate. I recommend the latter if you're shopping with small children.



((I forgot to take a picture of cooking the 8 slices of bacon. I'm sure you can imagine such a feat ;-) But, cook the bacon in a large skillet until crisp and drain well on paper towels. Coarsely crumble the bacon and set aside ))

Back to the present: In a medium saucepan, cook onion in 3/4 c hot butter over medium heat for 4 minutes or until tender. Add prosciutto. Cook and stir over medium heat for 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Add 1/3 c dry white wine.



Return saucepan to heat and bring mixture to boiling. Boil gently, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Stir in the bacon, 1/2 c whipping cream, and 1/2 c milk; bring to boiling. Boil gently, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Stir in 1/4 c parmesan and 1 tblsp parsley (I didn't have parsley and this crap was still off the heezy, yo). Immediately pour sauce over pasta, stirring gently to coat. It's important to do it gently or the pasta might begin to tear. Evenly distribute another 1/4 parmesan amongst each plate served. Pepper to taste.

BAM--->



This dish was sooo good! Initially, when I poured the sauce, I was worried because, like other sauces, this carbonara sauce didn't coat like you'd anticipate; it seems as though it was almost absorbed by the pasta....with still wicked amounts of taste! Gary put it in the Top Five Dinner Rotation.

We get all official and shit.

And, lastly, Hamburger Cheese bake

Brown 1 lb ground beef and 1/2 c chopped onion.

I got this recipe from my allrecipes.com dinner spinner app, and it didn't say to drain the meat after browning; maybe they just forgot? Either way, I drained it and everyone survived.

And, bring a pot to boiling for 1lb pasta, whatever shape your little heart desires. Then, cook accordingly.


Return meat/onion mixture to the pan and add 2 8 oz cans tomato sauce, 1 tsp white sugar, 3/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp minced garlic, and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine 1 8oz container cottage cheese, 1/3 c chopped green onion, 1/3 c chopped green bell pepper (my store didn't have green onion so I just doubled on the bell pepper), 1/4 c sour cream, and 1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened.

Spread half the pasta in the bottom of a greased, 12 x 8 pan

Top with half the meat mixture

Top that with all the cheese mixture.

Then again with remaining pasta, then top with remaining meat mixture. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese--the recipe calls for 1/4 c parmesan, but I love parmesan in a bad way so I added it to our liking.

Bake, in a preheated oven, at 350 for 30 minutes. (I baked 25 minutes). Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Yum!!

The thing about this meal? You have to like the taste of cream cheese, as it's very apparent. That not one of our favorite flavors in the known universe, but we wouldn't have known unless we tried!

Deep, I am.

I'm a turd burglar, so I forgot the veggies I keep raving about, but gimme some slack! We JUST got back from California where my madre cooked everything I ate. Or In N Out did. Either way, this girl was taken care of!

If you don't know the incredible taste sensation that is In N Out run to your google box.

This is why we'll have leftovers right up until the zombie apocalypse.


Plusalso?? I found a natural bulk store last weekend that I swear on Bart Simpson has me giddy as a schoolgirl. So, guess what's happening soon? Homemade breads, homemade vanilla extract, homemade teas... You guys? OBSESSED. I could've dropped a paycheck in there. But, I probably won't. Oh, and the employees are deliciously hipster. The one with unintentional dreads referred to me as "Man" in his reply. As in, "Yeah, Man, the vanilla beans are in the corner"

Outstanding.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

BEST. DAY. EVER.

Last week, Jake had his first Kindermusik class of the semester and the experience, again, blew my face off with the awesome.

Jake, I love him to pieces, but sometimes this year of twoness can be a bit much. It was a few days of feeling like all I said to him was, "No, sir!" and, "No, sir...we don't pull Max's tail", and, "No, sir... we only color on paper" Ya know, the uje.

So, I was needing to pull out the reserves of really enjoying my boy again. Like, whoa.

We got to class early because we're still, relatively, new to the area. But, Jake? He's pumped from the word Go. I open the door to pull him out of his car seat and he's smiling like he's in on some joke. And, I? Was pretty ok with it. Totes.

He holds my hand as we walk up the sidewalk to the Kindermusik building and, as soon as we get inside the door, he's off like 3 foot rocket. He sees the teacher-- high-fives her real quick, sees the receptionist--throws her a spastically happy nod. Ya know. THE UJE.

He, literally, sprints back to the actual room where all the Kindermusikin' will be taking place and is, inordinately, thrilled about the big, colored squares that are used for kids' playrooms. They have those little bumpies on them so Jake exploded confetti all over the place. I mean, this kid was thisclose to roundhouse-kickin' his excitement all over town.

Miss Lisa puts out some toys for Jake, and the other kid/mama duo that got there early, so Jake takes a break from sprinting back and forth across his multi-colored wonderland, like he's on Baby Gap Crack, to take a look at these toys bestowed up on him. This is when my pride hit the ceiling.

The other little boy, who's much smaller than J--as most kids are, was playing with some weird learn-to-connect-stuff-to-other-stuff type toy, but Jake wanted it because obviously. All things are his. He's two. Anyway, he wanted to see it so Jake, my sweet little boy, walks up to him, very calmly, and tries to take it from him ever-so-gently. Not at all in the realm of, "GIVE IT TO ME! IT'S MINE! THIS. IS. SPARTA.!!!!" He was sweet and gentle and completely accommodating when I took the weird connector thing out of his hand and explained that we don't take things from other people's hands. For a brief moment, I considered ripping the chest of my shirt, like a bag of chips, beating my chest, and asserting my dominance in parenting. But, other people might've not taken that well. Psss, you know how 'others' can be...

More kids filtered into the room and Jake, who's not a daycare-goer or a sibling, acted like he's known these people his whole life. Other people want to play with the same toys he was? Ain't no thang. People in "his" space? The more the merrier. He was happy, and sweet, and completely fine with abundance of change around him. I fell so much deeper in love with him. I, literally, had tears in my eyes, and the biggest smile evah strapped to my cranium. It was intense happiness.

So, we spent our 45 minutes singing songs, and reading books, and learning that keys are wickedawesome instruments. It was fabulous. I'm pretty positive I imploded small puppies inside my heart.

We skipped out of there with irritating amounts of happiness, picked up a few things, and had lunch together, where he sat next to me like some big boy who's way too cool for school. It was the greatest day to ever exist. He should've asked for a pony. As for me? I cannot wait for next week's class!

But, one last interesting thing happened:
Whenever we were singing a song, or clapping in unison, or patting our thighs (to make the train sounds. Doiy), Jake needed to run around the room to participate. Doing so in my lap was too mainstream. But, the boy picked up a straggler along the way. Some little blonde girl, Sophia, followed him every place he went. I almost put this as my status on Fbeezy:

We just left Jake's first Kindermusik class of the semester and some little girl, with obviously impeccable taste, developed quite the crush on my boy and wouldn't leave his side.

So, I had to cut a bitch.

But, ya know, other people... ;-)

The point is: He got game.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Anatomy of change.

I briefly mentioned, in this post, that I had gotten sick while in California due to the fun of traveling. The complete story is that for a good 5ish days, Jake would wake up every single hour from about 10:30pm-5:30am, with wanting to begin our days around 6am. So, I caught a little something from traveling such a distance that was ridiculously extended by my body not being able to repair itself with sleep.

I was getting stabby.

He'd wake, from the pack n' play, in the most uber irritating way known to motherkind; he'd whimper and cry a bit in such a way that you're wondering if they'll work it out themselves or really need to be picked up and tended to. As I've mentioned, about 73 times, we're sleepers so this was not cool. All I could think was, at least if J were a newborn he'd be needing something. In those instances, though? I had no idea what the shit he wanted. To appease any curiosity, it wasn't just from being in a new place and we did find a solution. THANK YOU, JESUS.

A couple days into being sick, supa annoying especially since I'm never sick more than 24 hours, it was New Year's Eve and, short of projectile vomiting all over town, I was not going to miss a chance to date my husband on such a holiday! So, as my nausea and lightheadedness (I hope that's a real word) continued, my brother got me some Ginger Ale and my mom fed me oranges for the vitamin C. It was a joint effort to keep me from dying. At least, I was sure I was impending on my last few hours...

Although I felt like someone was stepping on my face, the subsiding of the other symptoms made me feel beyond elated! Hallelujah! I will, indeed, live to see my 27th birthday! That's totally a normal thought.

My dressed up husband and I headed out to dinner, feelin' pretty fly, obviously. I love to get dressed and look cute. I mean, how much of a go-getter do you feel like in your jammies when your hair's in a messy bun? NO DICE. So, I had the opportunity to get dressed up AND go out as just husband and wife, not mama and daddy. Yet, when I still felt off, I realized the changes motherhood has incurred:

I now believe...

*All clothing should have elastic.
As I sat at dinner with my husband, in my cute, pale-pink dress, brown leather jacket, brown leggings, and my boots, all I could think was "GAH! Being dressed up is such a pain in the ass!" It just doesn't seem functional. I mean, my hair's down AND curled so that's obviously some sort of hazard, I can't sit in my most-preferred unfeminine way, and I can't just wipe my hands down the thighs of my lounge pants should some sort of mess occur. It's really just illogical.

Now, now...not that I'm going to become that mama, who goes out in pajamas and doesn't bother to run a brush through her hair or shower, but, hey, I'm still going to stand by all those feelings. I just won't show it. I'm a jedi like that.

*Going out to eat is a presidential occasion.
We don't eat out much. I mean, eating here is so much healthier and, not to mention, less expensive--which my rational self thoroughly enjoys. Why eat out when I cook a wide range of foods at home, usually in some sort of elastic? See previous bullet point.

But, sometimes we do eat out and it goes like this: "Holy shit! Somebody else is going to clean up after little, ol' moi??" OKAY. Jake, feel free to sneeze with a mouthful of food, or dishes for our pre-meal bread? Sure, they're not going in my dishwasher. Of course, I don't mind when these things happen at home, I'm a stay-at-home-mama and I absolutely adore it, but the smallest of shortcuts feels like an epically, fabulous WIN.

*Cartoon characters almost become real people
I think Gary and I have at least one convo a day about Dora, and we know that Pablo from Backyardigans is a worrier.

Legit.

*Phone calls are for the freakin' birds.
If our conversation can't be carried on via text, it ain't happenin'. I have a pretty rad two year old who's always wanting to count, or read, or mirror me, or a number of other activities that are immeasurably exciting, so they take priority. And, I love it. Totes :-)

*Naps were designed for unbelievably large amounts of productivity.
When J was little, and Gary was deployed, I'd workout during his nap with my yoga and/or pilates DVDs; I'd get ready for our afternoon outing, so I don't have to look like I believe all the things in bullet point #1. Now, as Jake's older, I'll make his applesauce, or blog, or plan meals. Naps are God's gift; they're your 25th hour.

I think, above all else, motherhood has shown me that happiness is relative. I have friends who are also SAHMS and they don't dig it as much as I do. That's totally fine. Because you're not a nerd like me who loves to plan the menu for her boys, or gets a kick out of making her own laundry detergent....there ain't nothing wrong with that! To each their own. Totes magotes. I was told recently, by someone I just super adore, that "...motherhood fits you. It's like you were born for it". I want nothing more than for that to resonate within my little Jake. Him and his daddy completely do it for me xo

But, if there's a way to make elasticized clothing not only cute, but socially-acceptable I just might implode from happiness.

:::throws confetti:::

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Our family photo shoot!

My drive to get our family photos done was twofold: 1) I wanted photos of us for the Christmas cards. Which I never sent out. And, 2) We haven't had full-family photos since Jake was still on the boob.

A friend of mine recommended Allison Easterling and she is AMAZING!!! Not only did she understand the trials and tribulations of twoyearoldhood, she understood wardrobe malfunctions and how, as a mama, you don't always feel your sexiest. But, she was there for me, and for us, and will one million percent be hired again!! If you're in the Colorado Springs area...HIRE HER!!

She took a million, incredible quality photos, but here are my faves! Enjoy!















Wednesday, January 11, 2012

California, Part Tres: Jake's first trip to Knott's Berry Farm

I realize a lot of people reading this are probably thinking, "WHISKEY. TANGO. FOXTROT. is a berry farm??"

Well, my west-coast challenged friends, it's an amusement park that I've loved, nearly literally, my entire life!  And, we made sure to get Jake one of my favorite tastes of California while we were there! 







This is what passes for pictures with my son. Uncool, kid.


My 3 brothers and the husband...who all waited 2ish hours to ride an incredibly fast roller coaster!

 Love these men!




Because we're totes awes, we did YMCA for the picture we got on the one and only Log Ride. Colin, my youngest brother who happens to be in front of me, underlined us ;-)


Love this kid! xo

Yep :-D 




My parents offered to take Jake around the park so Gary and I could go have some fun, just the two of us, so I attacked that offer like it was my dying wish! It was soo fun to hangout as a couple again!

While Gary and I hung out with my brothers, sans child, I got this picture of Supreme Scream, a ride that drops from 30 stories high in 3 seconds. It ROCKED.  MY. FACE. OFF.

California is just as pretty as it is expensive ;-)

A picture of the whole clan as soon as we got to the park! Colin's outreached hand is holding Woodstock, one of the staple characters of Knott's. Cute, right?!

It was such an amazing time! As much as I loved showing Jake something that I've loved for years, it was so, so fun to hangout with my husband and brothers and just, kind of, roam free. I'm sure the parents out there get it!