Tuscan Pasta with Tomato Basil Creme Sauce

I may have mentioned this before, but I usually try and cook something (beyond hamburger helper, etc) at least once a week.  Sometimes it’s hard to cook just for one, but I really enjoy cooking, and I want to get better at it.  PLUS, then I have lunches and dinners for about the next 2 days (portion control has never been my strong suit ;]).

So tonight I made whats in the above title, and it was so so so good!  And it took (honestly) 20 minutes from start to finish!  WIN.

 

Tuscan Pasta with Tomato Basil Creme (follow link for original recipe)

What to gather:

1 (20-oz.) package refrigerated four-cheese ravioli

1 (16-oz.) jar sun-dried tomato Alfredo sauce

2 tablespoons white wine

2 medium-size fresh tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

What to do:

Prepare pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, pour Alfredo sauce into a medium saucepan. Pour wine into sauce jar; cover tightly, and shake well. Stir wine mixture into saucepan. Stir in chopped tomatoes and 1/2 cup chopped basil, and cook over medium-low heat 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Toss with pasta, top evenly with 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, and toss once more to mix.

Saucy…

Pairs nicely with wine and Ellen Degeneres’ show reruns on your DVR…

:]

The big 2-8

This past Sunday was one of my best friend’s birthdays… she turned 28.  She and I go way back; we were in the same sorority in college, about 98% of the vacations I’ve taken in the last 5 years were with her, and she’s been my wedding date/buddy when we were both otherwise flying solo for the many many weddings that have come up since we got out of college.

Circa 2008 at a Bachelorette Party (got a little of the Captain in ya?)

 

Same month and year, at the aforementioned wedding

We had a great time out to dinner in the southern suburbs, followed by drinks at a “Deer Hunter’s Widow’s Party” at a small town Bar and Grill.  I have to say, when you pair tiger print leggings (yes, really) with bright orange vests and camo, it’s hard not to have a good time. ;]

 

 

Happy Birthday B!

Boo Y’all

Don’t forget to turn your porch light on and light those Jack-o-Lantern’s!!  I’m up to only 13 kiddo’s here… we’re gonna have some candy around for a while (darn!) ;]

A closeup of my creation!

GPOYW!! (You’ll have to excuse me, I haven’t taught the cat how to take pictures yet.) My Halloween theme’d work attire!

 

 

Happy Birthday Mom!

My mom is the most awesome lady, and Sunday was her birthday!  So of course we needed to celebrate!!  As luck would have it, she had (and still sort of has) a nasty cold.  But that didn’t stop us!  A few shots from the afternoon…

Flowers…

Cake…

And a few family portraits:

 

 

The evening also included starting a puzzle that proved to be WAY too difficult, presents and dinner at a restaurant we’ve been meaning to try out for a loooong time!  (Verdict = it’s good!)

Scotcharoo’s!

Quick – don’t look at the title again… do you know what these are?

Or maybe this view will help?

These bars are are some of my very favorite.  They come out around Christmas, yes, but also when we’re just in need of a treat to bring to a pot-luck or just to have.  I’m pretty sure all recipes are really the same, but my Aunt gave me her’s as part of a housewarming gift last month.  I made them the other day… and lets just say that the whole pan is almost gone (new rule… don’t make them if you don’t have an event to take at least half the pan to!)

Chocolate Scotcharoo’s (or just scotcharoo’s) :]

What to gather:

1 c light corn syrup

1 c sugar

1 c peanut butter

6 c Rice Krispies

6 oz semi sweet chocolate chips

6 oz butterscotch chips

Cooking spray

What to do:

1.  Combine corn syrup and sugar in a large pan, and cook over medium heat until mixture begins to boil.

2.  Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter, mix well, then add Rice Krispies and stir until well blended.

3.  Press mixture into a 9 x 13 baking dish coated with cooking spray, set aside.

4.  Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips over low heat in a small pan, stirring constantly.  Spread evenly over Rice Krispie Mixture.

5.  Let stand until firm and then cut into squares… or you know… cut into two large pieces and just start eating.

Enjoy!

 

 

Adventures in Breadmaking…

There seems to be a trendsetter in my office (it’s not me).  One of my co-workers bakes her own bread, and recently brought a loaf as a contribution to our chili cook-off.  I didn’t have a slice that day, but most other people did, and just raved about it.  That spurred our boss to want to give it a shot, and then it wasn’t long before other people were out looking for deals on their own bread machine’s.

I’m normally not one to buy in to the latest health craze; I enjoy my Campbell’s Soup, and instant mashed potatoes (no lumps, yay!), thank you very much.  However, I thought to myself, “self, maybe you should put a bread machine on your Christmas List?  That might be kind of fun to have around!”

It turns out though, that you can get bread machine’s at many thrift stores for under $10.00!  So I present to you…

… my $6.99 Bread Machine!!

Now, I started with my co-worker’s recipe (spoiler alert, it didn’t turn out…).

Kathy’s Bread Recipe – Makes a 1.5 lb loaf

What to gather:

1 cup water, room temp

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 T honey

3 and 1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup vital wheat gluten

2 and 1/4 tsp yeast (active dry, instant or bread machine)

What to do:

Put the ingredients into the pan, into the bread machine, select the whole wheat setting and press start!

Now… I’d like to highlight the importance of the GLUTEN up there.  If you don’t add that, and you stick with regular flour (whole wheat or not), and don’t allow the yeast to bubble a little, you end up with a bread “loaf” that looks like this:

I found out after the fact that if you purchase actual bread flour then you don’t need to add gluten yourself, however if you use just plain ol’ Gold Medal Flour… you’re apparently missing the gluten.

So… onto try #2!

Best Bread Machine Bread – makes a 1.5 lb loaf

What to Gather:

1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)

2 tablespoons white sugar

1 (.25 ounce) package bread machine yeast

1/4 cup vegetable oil

3 cups bread flour

1 teaspoon salt

What to do:

Place the water, sugar and yeast in the pan of the bread machine. Let the yeast dissolve and foam for 10 minutes. Add the oil, flour and salt to the yeast. Select Basic or White Bread setting, and press Start.

And you know what…

This one worked!!

I still didn’t have bread flour, but had purchased whole wheat before the first endeavor so just kept using that.  The loaf above is pretty dense, but I attribute that to once again using regular flour and not adding gluten.  When this loaf is gone, I’ll be investing in some “bread flour,” and I have faith that it will turn out perfect!

I know this because I’ve seen the slices on my co-worker’s sandwiches at lunch… I should have assumed there’s a reason there are two separate products for regular flour and, you know… bread flour! ;]

Reblogging some great words of advice

I follow numerous blogs, and because of the awesome power of wordpress… even the ones that aren’t powered by wordpress itself, still show up in my “reader.”  (Almost like a wall of blog snipets for those who don’t know – very convenient.)  The only problem is… sometimes you don’t know which ones are from wordpress and which ones are not… which causes (in this case) a whole 5 minutes of confusion while looking for the like and reblog buttons. ;]

This was posted on one of the blogs that I follow, but alas, they are on Tumblr, and so I can’t actually “reblog.”

However here are some awesome words of wisdom on saying you’re sorry.  While I don’t believe I owe anyone an apology now (hopefully you don’t either)… these are still some great things to remember.

Wanted to share… :]

Adventures with Quinoa

Yes, my friends, I’ve decided to jump on the “health foods” bandwagon and give it a shot.  (I’m even taking the journey into making my own bread, but that post is coming later on.)  I have to say, from where I sit, the only downside is that little guy up there… is that it’s $5.99 at Rainbow Foods, and it was the cheaper of the two choices I had.  But nevertheless… it’s good for you (I think).

From what I hear, it’s gluten free, high in the good fats, whole wheat and packed with protein.  So here we go.

Tonight I made:

Carrot, Tomato and Spinach Quinoa Pilaf (original found on allrecipes.com)

What to Gather:

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 onion, chopped

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

2 chicken flavored bouillon cubes

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon thyme

1 carrot, chopped

1 tomato, chopped

1 cup baby spinach

What to do:

Heat the olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat; cook and stir the onion in the hot oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Lower the heat, stir in quinoa, and toast, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Stir in the water, bouillon granules, black pepper, and thyme; raise heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 5 minutes.  Stir in the carrots. Cover and simmer until all water is absorbed, about 10 more minutes.

Turn off the heat, add the tomatoes and spinach, and stir until the spinach is wilted and the tomatoes have given off their moisture, about 2 minutes.

I just eyeballed the measurements because I’m getting savvy like that ;].  (It turned out just fine.)  The verdict?  It’s good… like real good.  A keeper!

Mpls/St. Paul 2012 Zombie Pub Crawl

See above.  Nuff said.

What is the Zombie Pub Crawl you ask?  35,000 un-dead wandering the streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul on 10/13/12.

The history is actually pretty neat; it started as a group of a few friends organizing a pub crawl (as many groups of friends will do) and making it Zombie themed.  Over the years, it’s evolved in THE event of the Halloween season, and while many states and cities also do it… as of last year, Minnesota’s was the largest!

And so, a couple friends and I had to try it, if for no other reason than to say that we did it.

 

I thought our costumes turned out pretty well, you know, for trying to look ishy. ;]

Overall, it was a good time.  Considering the 35,000 people that attended, it was VERY crowded and so we didn’t last until 2:00am, but I don’t think we’ll forget the night anytime soon!

I mean how could you with… Brain Belt Beer?

Pardon my deer in headlights look… my eyes are pretty big naturally and when I try to look frightening, this is what you get!

 

Twin Cities Marathon

The reason I started this blog… the TC 10 Mile (and Twin Cities Marathon) took place last weekend and even though I didn’t participate, I still went to cheer on the runners.

The view from the finish line

I’ve been told that the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon is the “most beautiful urban marathon in the United States,” and I really believe it.  With the leaves at their peak of the color change, and the crisp weather, we have perfect running conditions and great views this time of year.

Maybe someday I’ll get that far with running, but for now, it was just awesome to be in the atmosphere. :]