Hi Readers! Are you enjoying the beautiful fall colors? The trees are bursting with fiery glory right now, and I love studying all the colors when I take my daily walk–it’s so gorgeous that it almost makes me sad, because I know those beauties won’t last.

 

There I go, doing it again: mourning the loss of something before it’s even gone. Gaa.

 

A few fall tidbits I’d like to catch you up on:

~ We didn’t go to Texas this past weekend. Miss D. caught a nasty cold and between that and all of the Ebola madness, we decided that it just wasn’t worth it. Instead, we spent the weekend doing family things: the Nature and Science Museum, the movie The BoxTrolls (cute), pizza dinners, and lots of swinging and jumping on the trampoline, as the weather was glorious. I’d call that a fair trade.

~ While we were wandering around the museum, I happened to catch Miss D. and Miss M. walking around hand-in-hand. This just melted me. The fact that my almost 13-year old will allow her little sister to still hold her hand in public is nothing less than huge.  My husband also overheard Miss D. telling M., “you’re the best sister ever.”  Of course, once my husband let her know that he heard, D. was mortified and made quite a show of being embarrassed. Ah, the teenage years. They’re such a treat.

~ We head to the middle school this week for parent/teacher conferences. Should be interesting–it’s always good to hear what teachers think of your kid at this age, and how they behave in school. They’re such mysteries at this point in their lives; extra perspective is always appreciated. I kind of feel like Miss D. is some exotic zoo animal, and I’m the keeper, looking through the glass. Is that weird?

~ Miss M. has TWO social events with friends this coming weekend; a birthday party and a haunted gingerbread house-making class. TWO! In one weekend! What a difference a year makes. It makes my heart happy to see her thriving in third grade.

~ I had to take our cat, Aria, to the vet yesterday. She’s been losing weight, and it kind of flew under our radar, until I went to pick her up the other day and realized that she weighs hardly anything and I can feel prominent ribs. We adopted her a year and a half ago, and she was a chunk back then, so it’s concerning. They’re doing a blood and urine workup, but while we were there, the vet felt a lump in Aria’s leg. She took an x-ray, and the bump was actually an old bullet lodged in her flank. That was crushing enough, but then she showed me the film, and Aria actually has THREE bullets in her body, two in her hind end and one dangerously close to her spine. Realizing that poor Aria had that in her past made me feel so sad for her, and so angry at humans. Who could be so cruel? I sniffled all the way home in the car and promptly fed her a can of premium tuna. It will be a few days before the blood results come in, but we’re hoping it’s nothing serious. That baby has been through enough!

^ back in the Chunk-O days

 

~ I made a huge pot of homemade marinara sauce this weekend. As the nights get cooler, my thoughts turn to more rib-sticking fare, and it’s always good to have a few containers of marinara in the freezer. If you recall, after this debacle a few years ago, I try not to buy the jarred stuff any more. This particular recipe is terrific because it makes quite a bit and it’s delicious! I used mine to make Portobello Parmesan, but this week I’m using it to sauce a batch of turkey meatballs.  What could be cozier than some pasta and meatballs–perfect for fall.

^ Cheesy mushroom love, right there.

 

 

Marinara Sauce

serves 8

1/4 cup olive oil

1 small onions, finely chopped

3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 celery stalks, peeled and chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 cup dry red wine

1 (24 oz) can tomato puree

1 (24 oz) can fire-roasted whole tomatoes, with juice

1 (4 0z) can tomato sauce

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

2 dried bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

optional: pinch of sugar

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn

 

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until the onions are softened and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, celery, carrot, salt and pepper. Saute 10 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook 1 minute. Add wine and stir. Cook a minute. Add all tomato products, bay leaves, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Simmer uncovered over low heat until sauce is rich and thickened, about an hour. Remove from heat and discard bay leaves. Let cool a bit and whizz until smooth with an immersion blender. Taste for salt and pepper. Re-heat over low flame. If desired, add fresh torn basil leaves.

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Birthday Boys

October 16, 2014

 

This is going to be a quickie drive-by kind of post, as I’m busy getting the family packed up for our long weekend in Texas–nothing like taking the girls to the only state boasting the Ebola virus, but hey…*

I just felt the need to make a toast ^ to my birthday boys, who both turned a year older this week.

Mozz man got spoiled rotten on his birthday with some King Salmon and homemade dog treats (which I did NOT take a photo of because they were ugly brown nuggety-things, but Mozz loved them). Recipe later.

I may have let him chase the cat a little more than usual, just to make his day extra special.

And hey, do you think we need to get some new trampoline pads when this winter is over? Umm, last year’s devastating floods really did a number on those suckers. Don’t judge.

Mozzy didn’t get any presents, and turns out, the birthday husband doesn’t get any either this year. Maybe because someone is getting a new car in a few weeks.

Hmph.

He’s already acting like he’s cooler than me.

 

But lucky for him, he’s also the kindest, funniest, whip-smartiest person in the whole world. And man, is he a kick-ass father. How he has the patience for this loony crew he has to share space with, I don’t know.

But I’m glad he’s mine. I’ll keep him.

Happy birthday, baby.

 

*Actually, as you read this, we’re waiting for the Dallas telecast today and will decide whether to travel based on that and some hours doing extensive reading. We may not be airborne, after all.

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Edamame-Orzo Salad

October 13, 2014

 

 

 

As I’ve mentioned before, I suffer from occasional side dish ennui. It gets to a point where I don’t want to look another baked potato, pot of rice or loaf of crusty bread in the face for a long, long time. Side dishes are–let’s face it–not really that interesting. They fill the hole in the belly but they don’t really excite. Well, unless they’re French fries, which always are reason for excitement in my book.

When I progress beyond bored and get to the bitterness stage re: my side dish options, I know it’s time to haul out the cookbooks and tackle my Leaning Tower of Cooking Rags. We needn’t become bitter about side dishes, for Heaven’s sake.  I need to save my bitterness for things I can’t control–like Miss D.’s pubescent sulking and moaning. Side dishes are something I can manage. There are interesting side dishes out there; it’s just up to me to find them.

I spent an hour or so flipping through pages, and found a few interesting things, but nothing that really gave me that, “Wow, I need to try this” feeling. What I ended up doing–and I find myself doing this quite a bit when I hit the books for inspiration–was taking a few different recipes and sort of mishmashing them together.

Does anyone else do this? I’ll see something interesting, but it’s just not quite right–maybe it seems too bland, or has an ingredient in it like fennel (which I loathe), or it reads a bit too fussy, so I toss it aside, but it’s still at the back of my brain. And then I’ll see another that doesn’t seem quite right, and I think, “What if we took the elements that worked from each of these suckers and threw a party?”

I’m happy to say that this one worked. It’s technically a salad, but I thought the flavors were more front-and-center when you served the salad at room temperature (I tried it both ways).  The second time I served it, I also threw in some feta for an extra salty bite, and if you are a feta fan, I recommend it.  This is a subtly flavored dish, but it’s perfect alongside an entree that packs a punch, like spice rubbed pork tenderloin.

When the potatoes and the rice get you down, consider making this pretty little substitute. It’ll liven up that weary dinner plate in no time.

 

 

 

 

Edamame-Orzo Salad

serves 4

 

2 cups frozen shelled edamame

1/2 cup orzo pasta

1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper

Vinaigrette:

1 1/2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons roasted walnut oil

 

1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley or basil or a combination of both

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, pistachios or pecans

2 oz. crumbled feta, optional

 

Cook edamame and orzo according to package directions.

Combine edamame, orzo,  and bell pepper in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together vinaigrette ingredients, pour over edamame mixture and toss well.

Before serving, toss with parsley and pine nuts. Crumble feta over salad, if using. Taste for salt and pepper.

Good both chilled and at room temperature.

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Chicken Marsala

October 9, 2014

The Sweetest Gift

October 4, 2014

The Shoes You Have To Walk In

October 1, 2014

A few Autumn changes

September 26, 2014

Curried Lentil Soup

September 22, 2014

New Jag Salad

September 15, 2014

Boom, Clap

September 9, 2014