Tuesday, August 25, 2009

An awesome surprise!

I surprised Mr. Wonderful on Sunday night...which is not an easy thing to do. For two reasons...one, I'm a terrible liar. I really am. Not only am I a terrible liar, but I'm also really bad at detecting lies. I tend to believe people which often makes me somewhat gullable. I would make a terrible cop.

"Oh, you didn't do it? I'm so sorry! I should have known. How could I think that. You can go, and please forgive me." See?

Anyway, WOW, that was a ramble~! I was talking about lieing, er - I mean surprising my husband. The second reason why it is not easy for me to surprise him is because he knows me so well. I had been planning this surprise for several days and the whole time I was trying not to let him see that I was up to something. It must have worked, because aside from a few things that made him go "hmm", he really had no idea.

And then there's a third reason why it was not easy.....I have the HARDEST time keeping a secret! I can hardly stand it! But this one was so worth it! Wanna know what it was???

It was this!
KANSAS played a free outdoor concert in Rochester, and they just happen to be Vince's favorite band! And he had no idea! You can read the details about it on his blog (we are blogging at the same time about it! Tehe) But let me just say this...it was so much fun surprising him with this, and just as much fun being by his side watching him enjoy the concert (I did too...Kansas is awesome!) It was a wonderful time....one that I too will treasure :)

Oh, and this was the spectacular view across the river of downtown Rochester, right behind us...

Friday, August 21, 2009

I'm still bitter about it

My favoritest restaurant of all time, OF ALL TIME ...


...closed in Rochester. So what that it's been about two years ago, I'm still bitter about it. Every time I go to Rochester, I remember that I can't eat this there anymore....


Penne Rustica. It's the bomb, people, THE BOMB TO END ALL BOMBS!! It is awesome beyond belief. And now that they closed their Rochester store (*insert huge sigh*), I can't remember the last time I've eaten there.
But know what? My wonderful husband (have I mentioned before that he is wonderful??) has made this dish for me several times and I have to say it's pretty dang close to the real thing! If you are ready for a flavor explosion like you've never experienced before, make this. But be prepared. Your house will smell incredible, and your arteries will begin to clog just by inhaling the fumes, but this you should ignore because it is so worth it.

Macaroni Grill's Penne Rustica
Gratinata sauce use 4 1/2 cups:

2 teaspoons butter
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dill
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
1 cup marsala wine
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
8 cups heavy cream

Penne Rustica:

1 ounce (or 4 slices) pancetta
18 shrimp, peeled and deveined
12 ounces grilled chicken breasts, sliced
16-24 ounces penne pasta, cooked
3 teaspoons chopped pimiento or roasted red peppers
6 ounces butter
1 teaspoon chopped shallot
1 pinch salt and pepper
1 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon paprika
6 sprigs fresh rosemary
For Gratinata Sauce: Saute butter, garlic, and rosemary until garlic begins to brown. Add Marsala wine and reduce by one-third. Add remaining ingredients, reduce by half of the original volume. Set aside.
For Penne Rustica: Saute pancetta until it begins to brown. Add butter, shallots, and shrimp.
Cook until shrimp are evenly pink but still translucent. Add chicken, salt, pepper, and mix thoroughly. Add gratinata sauce and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. Simmer until sauce thickens.
In a large bowl, combine shrimp& chicken mixture with the cooked pasta. Pour into a large casserole dish or roaster. Top with remaining cheese, pimientos/peppers and sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 475 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and garnish with fresh rosemary sprig.

What got me thinking about all this today, was my recent discovery at the grocery store...


HELLO!!!!!!!! There were three different flavors and I bought one of each, so guess what we will be having for supper in the very near future?! I think the Macaroni Grill people have been hearing me whining and crying and decided to create these dinners just to appease me. Yes, I'm sure that's why.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A wedding!

My mom got married on Monday!! It was simple and beautiful and so wonderful to see her so happy and in love. Just take a look and tell me if you see it too...


Friday, August 14, 2009

A rosey time

Wednesday evening, after dropping Nick & Vinny off at youth group, we took Hope and Kyle to the Rose Garden down by the lake. We took some lovely pics, and let the kids play (Kyle found an abandoned spatula and they spend about half an hour occupying themselves with it...and grass and dirt). We sat on this bench near the gazebo. It was a beautiful, relaxing time!

















Monday, August 10, 2009

Not My Blog!

It's time for another edition of "Not My Blog!" by.....me!

Ok, you simply must stop what you are doing, right now, and go over here and read this!!! I think Mckmama wrote this specifically for me today, but you are welcome to share in it if you'd like! Seriously, go read it. I'll wait...

I told you. Was that good or what? Now, if you are still hungry for more good stuff that people other than me have written, check out this thought provoking post at Stuff Christians Like.

And this one too...I couldn't decide if I should link to the one above or this one, so I'm going with both. This made me cry.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Living in the moment

I am a global thinker. I tend to think of things all at once...all the things needing to be done, the hugeness of a task...and I easily overwhelm myself. And when that happens I tend to do one of two things: I either go into hyper-overdrive and try to get it all done at once, or I shut down and don't do anything. While the first can be quite productive, it can also cause me to burn out and neglect other priorities (come on, fam, let's spend an entire Saturday cleaning the house!) Uggh!

God has been showing me lately (again) that I need to live in the moment. I don't know why that is so hard for me to do sometimes...most of the time actually. Whenever I sit down to relax, or to blog, or when I get the urge to scrapbook or whatever, I usually feel guilty because there is always housework or something else I "should" be doing. And I tell myself that when I get caught up, then I can do things for myself. Do you ever do that?

Hmmm.

Well, I don't know what was different about tonight, but I realized that if I wait until all the laundry is done, the house is spotless, and everything else is "caught up", I will never do anything fun! Such has been the case with our wedding scrapbook...I've had the pictures, the book, the papers and embelishments for a year now...a YEAR! And it's still sitting in my closet because I never have the time, or make the time to do it. How dumb is that???

So tonight I side-stepped the baskets of clean laundry on my living room floor, walked past my dusty dresser, and got my scrappin' stuff out and got started! Actually I didn't start on the wedding book, I started on another smaller project ~ a perpetual calendar, where you keep track of everyone's birthdays and anniversaries ~ it was fun! The wedding book will be next :)

Thursday, August 06, 2009

I'm getting better...

at this...


photography thing...

of course...
having the cutest kids ever...

...helps alot!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Oh, Nuts!

I love, love, LOVE peanut butter! I always have. My grandma introduced me to the all-time best peanut butter ever...Jif...when I was a kid. Even though she wasn't supposed to let me have any because I was allergic to it, she let me have a little taste of it now and again and then would tell me not to tell my mom. I don't know about you, but when my grandma told me not to tell my mom something, it was like locking it in a steel vault because no kid will ever throw grandma under the bus. It's not like she did that alot, or that she wanted me to be dishonest, it was just when she allowed me to stay up a little past bedtime to watch Lawrence Welk with her, or when she let me have a little treat that I wasn't supposed to have. Now that I'm a mom I would have a fit if my parents ever told my kids not to tell me something...but somehow when my grandma did it, it was ok and even kinda special.

Anyway, back to peanut butter. There is just something about human nature that makes us want what we can't have. As a child I was allergic to peanuts, oranges, and chocolate (gasp!). Can you imagine the horror of growing up not being able to have pb&j sandwiches? Ok - oranges I could live without, but chocolate chip cookies? Chocolate cake? Brownies? And for some reason my parents also thought I was allergic to Cheerios. Hmmph.

When you are told you can't have certain things, those are exactly the things you crave, and crave I did. They tried giving me substitutes like carob - which is a sick form of fake chocolate that really is not fit for human consumption. But I choked down a carob bar now and again and tried really, really hard to pretend it was real chocolate and that I liked it. My mom would make butterscotch chip cookies and "blonde brownies" for me, which were actually really good, but again - not chocolate. And my parents were really faithful about not having chocolate around the house so as not to make me feel bad. So everyone was deprived. (Now that I think about it, I bet they had a secret stash that I never knew about. I'll have to call my sister).

I appreciate all of their efforts to make up for my depravity, I really do. It really was thoughtful of them. Except for one thing. I found out a just a couple years ago when I went through allergy testing and they got the records from my childhood doctor, that I NEVER WAS ALLERGIC TO ANY OF IT!!!! The allergy tests I had done as a kid (and cried through because back then they put needles in your back) and the tests I had done as an adult both had the same conclusion: I was allergic to cats and trees. That's it. Cats and trees. Really?? Are you SURE??? I even asked for copies of both sets of tests and sho 'nuff, cats and trees. Everything else...negative.

What the heck?? After getting through the shock of it, I replayed all of the scenarios in my mind on the way home from the dr's office.....dumping out my buckets of candy on the floor every halloween night and trading all of my Snickers and M&M's with my siblings for their Smarties and those disgusting taffy candies in the orange and black wrappers...not joining "Brownies" as a little girl even though I really wanted to but I was secretly afraid that they would be serving brownies at every meeting and I would be too embarassed to tell everyone that I couldn't have any.

But I am over it now. I have let it go. And I realize maybe it's a good thing because at least 90% of the extra weight I have gained as an adult is probably peanut butter toast and various indulgences of chocolate. (The other 10% is butter, but we won't get into that right now). What if my chocolate obsession would have started in childhood? Gah!

Anyway, back to peanut butter. I read on one of my favorite blogs recently about a recipe for "nut butter" that had me salivating ever since. So the other night I bought the ingredients, modified the recipe a bit, and came up with my very own "Nutty Butter" and let me tell you..........it's AWESOME!!!

Nutty Butter
1 c. toasted almonds
1/2 c. toasted cashews
1/2 c. sunflower seeds
chop all these up well...
Mix together:
1 & 1/4 jars peanut butter (28 oz. jars)
1/2 jar cashew butter
1/8 c. tahini (sunflower seed paste)
2 (heaping) tablespoons Nutella
a big squirt of honey (prolly about 2-3 tablespoons)
Stir in the nut & seed mixture, and lick the bowl because it's THAT good!!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Birthday boys and the best rippin' green beans ever!!!

We've been having birthdays at our house! In addition to someone's big birthday that starts with a 4 and ends with a 0, we've also had two birthday boys! Kyle celebrated his 8th birthday a few weeks ago...


and Nick celebrated his 12th today!

Happy Birthdays, my sweethearts! Both boys had great birthdays. We always let them choose whatever they want for supper on their birthdays...Kyle chose (of all things he could have possibly chosen) chicken nuggets, rice and peas. Last year it was salmon and I have to admit, it was much more exciting, however it was Kyle's choice and we were happy with it.

Tonight, Nick chose Little Caesar's Pizza, which I don't particularly care for (aka...gross!) but the kids love it and for $5 I can live with it. However, Vince and I opted to make a "grown up meal" for ourselves and my parents, so it was steaks on the grill and THE MOST AWESOME RIPPIN' GREEN BEANS EVER!!!! And in the name of all things awesome, I am sharing the recipe with you - all 20 of you who actually read my blog :) You know who you are...

Herb Buttered Green Beans

1 bag frozen green beans

1/2 stick butter

add some water (about 1 cup)

1 heaping teaspoon fresh minced garlic

salt & pepper

1 big sprig fresh rosemary

about 5 sprigs chives

2 big basil leaves

I just threw in the herbs whole because I didn't feel like chopping and we picked them out before eating them. Everyone survived.

Boil beans until tender, stirring and smelling often because it is heavenly and you will feel like you are in an italian restaurant and may even start singing some Billy Joel because of it and you will pour yourself a glass of white zin because that's what the smell of italian food does to you.

Oh, and not to be overshadowed by the most awesome green beans ever, the steaks were pretty rippin' awesome as well! Vince grilled sirloins with house seasoning (the perfect blend of salt, pepper and garlic - I hardly cook without it) and greek seasoning. They were perfect-a-mundo! And we topped off the meal with a piece of "Better Than *Love* Cake" that was Nick's request. Don't you wish you ate at our house tonight? Me too!