Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Baked Ziti

There is nothing fancy about this dish. It's just a basic Baked Ziti, but it is my first time cooking it, so I figured I'd share it with all of you... (all four of you that I know read regularly. LOL)


I got this recipe from All Recipes, one of my most favorite recipe websites. Here is the recipe:


Ingredients

  • 1 (16 ounce) package ziti pasta
  • 24 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 (32 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and rinse.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix ziti, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, egg and 1 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  4. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish and spoon in ziti mixture. Top with remaining spaghetti sauce, followed by Parmesan cheese.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes; let stand for 15 minutes before serving. 
I had about half the amount of mozzarella cheese so I just added a little more ricotta. I pre-cooked and added some Johnsonsville's chicken sausage to it. 
Overall, it was pretty tasty, although it could have been a little more saucy. I'm sure it's a dish I will do again. It was really heavy so smaller servings are better with a small side salad (although, we didn't do the salad). I just served ours with a piece of garlic toast. 
 
 


Friday, January 13, 2012

The 16 Year Old Me

On the radio on my way into work Wednesday, they were discussing what they would tell their 16 year old selves if given the chance to talk to them today and it got me thinking.

Then I saw this pin on Pinterest:

 

And it dawned on me that I would definitely tell the 16 year old me exactly that and to not be in such a hurry to grow up.

When I was 16, I swore I would never be one of those adults that wished I was 16 again because, lets face it, being 16 was hard... but now that I am an adult, man what I wouldn't do to be 16 again. I was care free, no bills, no responsibilities. It was fantastic.

Sadly, when you are 16 you think you know everything and no matter who says it, you wont believe how great those teenage years are.

Even though I am positive my 16 year old self wouldn't listen to my 33 year old self, here are some things I would tell her:
  1. Don't be in such a hurry to grow up and enjoy these years. As difficult as they may seem now, these are valuable lessons you are learning.
  2. Listen to the adults. They know what they are talking about and are just trying to prepare you for life ahead. 
  3. Learn discipline at a young age... It will help later in life with more things than you know. 
  4. Go to college right away. Don't take "time off" after high school because it makes it harder to go back.
  5. Love and respect your parents. They just want what's best for you and one day, you will look back and realize that they were right.
For the most part, I don't live my life with regrets and I don't regret my youth. It has made me who I am today. I do think that if I had it to do over again, knowing what I know now, I probably would do some things a little different. Maybe that's the same thing as regret, but for me, I associate regret with resentment or a negative feeling. I don't resent my past decisions... I am at peace with them. That's why I believe I don't live with regret.

It's too bad my 16 year old self was such a know it all. Perhaps if she wasn't, things today would come a little easier.

What would you say to your 16 year old self?


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Changeable Fruit Basket


I have a candy dish on my desk that a few people know they can usually depend on in their time of Chocolate need. The candy dish just went dry yesterday, and this morning I had one of those few people come over and throw a $5 bill at me which was my clue I needed to restock. I knew I would be heading to Target on lunch.

Like most people this time of year, I have decided to try and start eating healthier, as have some of my co-workers. My friend L sits in the cubicle right next door and we have talked about instead of refilling the candy dish, we should get a fruit basket and keep fruit on my desk. It was clear that foregoing the candy dish all together wasn't really an option.

As I walked into Target, of course, "The Dollar Spot" is the first thing I come to. I think, I bet I can find something to act as a fruit basket in there! They had this cute fake wicker basket with a Valentine's Day themed cloth lining that would have been perfect. It was $2.50 though - as opposed to $1... so what, I'm cheap! Plus, I wanted something that I could either use year round or I could change it up for the Holidays/Seasons. Then I found these cheap white plastic baskets that came in a two pack.

I picked them up and assessed them. If I get these, I can decorate them as I see fit, I can change the decorations as I see fit, they're only $1 and the other one was $2.50, and I get two of them. SOLD.

I continued to look around for a fabric of some sort that I could just line the basket with. Nothing was jumping out at me. They had socks, but I would have had to buy 10 pairs just to have enough fabric to cover it, and I don't have a needle and thread at work... and even if I did, I don't know how to sew... Sooooo, the socks wont work.

Aha! I found a pack of scrapbook paper that had 12 different pieces in it for a buck. I could work with that! SOLD!

I got back to work and after reviewing my receipt realized the baskets were actually $2.50, but decided it was still a bargain so I started crafting away. It's certainly not my best work, but I think it's pretty cute considering what I had to work with.


















Basket(s): $2.50

Paper: $1.00

Free Choice: Priceless

Shirley Temple the Heroine Addict

I am a total and complete reality show junkie. This list of what I will watch is endless... Jersey Shore, The Real Housewives (all of them except Atlanta), Hoarders, So You Think You Can Dance (in my top three favorites), Fear Factor... After fighting it for years, I even started watching the Kardashians. But, one of my all time favorite, in the top three shows, is Intervention.


If you haven't seen it, it's a show about someone who is an addict of some sort who, "does not know they will soon face an intervention." They follow the addict and show real, raw footage of their usage, their highs, their lows, etc. They interview the addict and the family members to find out about the addict's story. What they were like growing up, what they were like before, what went wrong and what they're like now. It's great. I love the show and used to not be able to watch an episode without shedding a tear.

Anyway, this week was more comical than tear jerking. It was about a 21 year old girl who was addicted to heroine. They were doing the infamous family member interview and were talking to the girl's Grandpa. At one point he said when she was little, they called her Shirley Temple because she was so smiley and happy and cute. Later in the interview, he proceeds to say, "I never imagined my little Shirley Temple would turn out like this."

................ Ummm, can you please tell me WHAT person looks at a sweet small child (that reminds them of Shirley Temple, especially) and imagines them growing up and becoming a heroine addict? I felt terrible (ok, maybe not that terrible), but I couldn't help but pause the TV, make fun of him, and laugh a little before resuming the show.

There was another part with the Mom (who was also an addict and in total denial of EVERYTHING) that made me LOL. Apparently when the addict was younger, the Mom tried killing herself by slashing her wrists. The addict found her. :o( Sad, right? Totally. Anyway, they were interviewing the addict who was clearly still very angry and resentful about that whole situation. Then they cut to the Mom, who all monotone and non-emotional, says, "If I remember, she was a little mad about that." LOL! Perhaps it was a "you had to be there moment", but it was priceless. Of COURSE she was going to be pissed about finding her Mom in a tub with slashed wrists!!!

The girl ended up getting clean (and so did the Mom - thank gawd!). I think she'd been sober since July of 2011. Every episode you always hope they make it... That they don't go back out. I think one of the reasons I like the show so much is the intervention is an act of love (even though the addict certainly doesn't see it that way at the time), and it gives me hope. Hope for the addict to find a better path in life, hope for the family that they get their person back, and hope that love can conquer all.

Intervention can be seen Monday nights on A&E. Please check your local listings for the time.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mexican Casserole

Or Mexican Schlopp. At least that's what it looks like. Or White Person's Mexican Surprise. (You'll understand why in the ingredients.)*

I have also heard it called something like Enchilada Pie (which would probably be the more politically correct name.)

Whatever you want to call it, it is one of my most favorite meals. I don't cook it very often because it's too much for just two people and I am not good about freezing and eating later, so a lot of it tends to go to waste.

Anyway, here's a sneak peak and the recipe:


Ingredients

Ground Meat of some sort (I have used ground beef or turkey)
Taco Seasoning (I actually found some Jennie-O already seasoned ground turkey - fancy!)
8-10 Corn Tortillas 
1 can Chili
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup*
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup*
1 small can of Sliced Olives (optional)
1 can of Corn (optional)
1 jar (12 oz.) La Victoria Green Taco Sauce

Desired amount of the shredded cheese of your choice
Sour Cream

Directions

Preheat oven to 350. 
Brown meat and add taco seasoning according to package.
Cut tortillas into bite size pieces and throw in large mixing bowl. Pour all other ingredients except the cheese and sour cream into the mixing bowl. Stir together.
Put the taco meat on the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking pan and pour the mixture over the meat, spreading evenly.
Sprinkle desired amount of cheese on top.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden to your liking. 
Serve hot... garnish with sour cream and/or hot sauce if you so desire.

Like I said, this is one of my favorite meals. It's not the healthiest of meals, but it sure is tasty. I have spiced it up quite a bit and have considered adding rice to it, but I'm not sure if it would dry it out too much. I have even made this a vegetarian dish. So far, I haven't served it to anyone that didn't like it. 

* I don't know any true Mexican that cooks an authentic Mexican dish with cream of any kind of soup.

Bon Appetite


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ferdinand? Or Dennis?

Let's just start with the picture text I got this morning from K:

That's a 5 foot "cat tree" he knocked over.

"What happened," I say.


K replies, "Heard a crash. Then him flying under bed. He poked his head out, looked at me, and then followed me out to it. He jumped on it then looked up at me." 

I suspect he was thinking something along the lines of, "What ha-happened? Whatcha gonna do about it?" 

How did this cat knock over that tree? Sure, he's about 15 lbs of solid muscle, but seriously? SERIOUSLY?!

K then says, "Ferdinand the bull. I'm just saying."
And I replied, "Dennis the Menace. Just saying."

Quite frankly, I think both names are perfectly appropriate and we should seriously consider changing his name.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Bringing in the New Year

I haven't really gone out and "celebrated" New Years for quite a while. There always seems to be unnecessary drama that happens when you go out. Plus I would rather be safe at home with my family than driving home with all the drunks at 1 o'clock in the morning!

K and I usually like to bring in the new year doing something creative. Last year we did this amazing thing called a Bagua. It is more or less a Feng Shui map of the energies:

We saw an article in a magazine that turned this into an art project. We thought what a GREAT project to be working on for the new year. We will be focused on things we want in our lives and be putting energy out to the universe asking for those things in 2011. Here is our finished product:


It currently hangs above our bed. Some of it accomplished, most of it still left to be desired. We will leave it till we have it all!

That was the 2011 New Year. (Sadly, I can't really remember what we did for the 2010 New Year.)


This year, neither one of us have been feeling very festive and K woke up New Years Eve feeling terrible. So we never really made it to a craft store to find our creative supplies. We did go to Bed, Bath, & Beyond though and while we were there being overwhelmed by the endless possibilities of home gadgets and decor, we came across these Friendship Bracelet kits on clearance for like $2.

*Side trip* I used to love making these when I was a kid. My mean and torturous older sister learned how to do a new style bracelet and I wanted so bad to know how to make it. For weeks, maybe even months, I would ask her and she would tell me she couldn't show me because it was an ancient Chinese secret. I think it's hysterical looking back on it, but it was pure torture at the time.

Anyway, back on track. We grabbed a couple of those kits and headed to the cashier.

When we got home, I wasn't really feeling the friendship bracelets and could tell K wasn't really into it either. I bought a bunch of yarn before Christmas with the intent of crocheting some Christmas gifts and never really got around to it. I had seen this scarf on no where other than Pinterest and I really liked the stitch so I thought I would give it a try.

Here is the end result:



I will let you go to Jen Ozcan's blog for detailed directions. It's a beautiful stitch and would make an amazingly warm blanket.

So that was my creativity for welcoming in 2012. K made an attempt to get into the creativity a few minutes before midnight by cutting up all the orange and black string to make Giants bracelets. She finished about an inch of bracelet, which I think half of it was from me showing her how to do it. LOL Like I said, we just weren't feeling in the spirit this year.

I had to chuckle because someone posted something of Facebook about how you know you're old when you're spending New Year's Eve on Facebook playing Words with Friends. I just thought... how "old" does that make me then, if I am spending New Year's Eve crocheting a scarf? LOL