We do it up right.
Thursday, February 6, 2014
Every Wednesday night is pasta night in our house. We've followed a few different recipes, with one of our favorites being Lidia Bastianich's very simple and tasty marinara sauce. Recently, though, my husband found another recipe for roasted tomato sauce, which has moved to the top of our list. Sorry Lidia. We still love you.
Jason thinks he found the recipe on epicurious if that helps anyone who wants to find the original. But I am going to lay it out here for you in the way I was taught (just yesterday) to cook it, by Jason via google chat. Meaning, he was getting ready to make his way home from work yesterday and asked me to get the sauce started. So, he gave me the directions in a chat.
Now, I'm not a bad cook, but I'm not Jason. 1) I don't really enjoy cooking, probably because 2) I can't do more than one thing at a time in the kitchen like he can. So, we've agreed that he is the cook, and I am his helper and cleaner-upper. Though he is a great cook, he is also messy, so I'm not let off the hook that easy.
Jason's Roasted Tomato Sauce:
1 35 oz can peeled plum tomatoes
pinch of red pepper flakes to taste (some like it hot, be careful)
6-8 crushed garlic cloves
4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)
1/2 tablespoon oregano or Italian seasoning
9 x 13 glass casserole dish
immersion blender, optional
fresh or crushed basil, or basil paste
ground beef, seasoned to your tastes
ground turkey, seasoned to your tastes
peeled, uncooked shrimp
Directions, given via gchat:
dump the can of tomatoes into the large glass casserole dish
sprinkle in a good sized pinch of red pepper flakes
oh no. do I have to blend them?
(I don't get along well with immersion blenders.)
just use a fork to kinda cut/lightly mash them after you dump them in
(I actually used an old potato masher to just squish them up a bit.)
crush 6-8 cloves of garlic...no need to chop them
put them in w/ the tomatoes and pepper flakes
distribute 1/2 stick of butter w/ the tomatoes
give a sprinkle of the Italian seasoning
cook at 375º until I take it out and mix w/ the browned ground turkey (which I will cook when I get home)
you can give it a little stir after 30 min or so
it's pretty easy
Yes, I am here to tell you that it is the easiest and best tomato sauce, and the fact that it is roasted in the oven probably has a lot to do with its wonderfulness. Oh, and the butter. Though, if you don't want to use butter, I'm sure it will be just as good.
When Jason got home, the sauce had been cooking for about 30 minutes or more. He then took it out of the oven and used an immersion blender to break up the tomatoes a bit more. Not necessary, though. You can have them as chunky or as blended as you like. He then added about a tablespoon of basil paste to the sauce. He browned some ground turkey and then deglazed that pan with red wine and added the sauce to the pan.
We also change it up each week by using ground beef, ground turkey, shrimp, or my favorite, Italian Sausage. If you use shrimp you will put the peeled, uncooked shrimp in the sauce about 4 minutes before your pasta is done. Or, you don't have to use meat at all. It's a great marinara sauce as well.
Cooking the pasta:
A very important step we learned from watching the amazing chef, JacquesPépin, is to cook your pasta in salted water until al dente and not to drain it. Rather, scoop the pasta out of the water and into the sauce to let it finish cooking for a couple minutes. If needed, you can scoop a bit of the salted pasta water into the sauce.
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Both of us have been married before. Both of us are also introverts. Put those two things together and what do you get? A desire for a very intimate wedding, which was perfect for us. Just a few of our closest family and friends in relaxing and comfortable surroundings.
If anyone has seen the 1985 movie, "Fandango"*, that is what our wedding felt like to me. Everything came together perfectly, even with up to last minute touches with the help of friends and family. Things just fell into place without any drama. No bridezilla here.
(*No spoilers. I don't want to ruin it if anyone wants to see the movie.
It's one of my favorites, and the only movie in which Kevin Costner did a decent acting job. It's a great flick. I promise.)
Anyway, without further ado.
Our wedding ceremony took place here, in my parents' back yard under the awning of my father's workshop.
Tell me that's not the sweetest thing you've ever seen.
The two trees at the "altar" were my parents' Christmas tree and our Christmas tree. We also brought over our poinsettias from our house and stole two from inside my parents' house and sat them on some upturned logs. Jason's Mom called probably the day before the wedding and said she had some ferns we could use as well. The two shrubs at the bottom of the picture are from my sister, and after the wedding they were planted in my parents' yard. Jason's Mom also asked if we wanted to use some of her oriental rugs. I would never have thought of the rugs, and I have to say it. They really tied the space together. ;)
Big kudos to my sister for the idea of using her quilts on all the benches.
Those quilts along with the rugs give it a kind of rustic bohemian feel don't they? I love it.
The ceremony was short and sweet, and as you can see, very casual.
We found our preacher online and met him for lunch a few weeks before the wedding. Thank goodness we really liked him. Like I said, things just fell into place. The preacher gave us some sample ceremonies. I didn't like anyone of them on their own. So I tweaked them a bit, combined some, and added my own passages that I found online. He actually liked it so much he asked if he could use it as a sample. Is there money in wedding ceremony copy editing? I might have a hidden talent here.
I thought I'd share the text of the ceremony here in case anyone is looking for one that is religious, yet nondenominational, as well as short and sweet. I like a little bit of ritual and tradition, but I wanted readings and passages that actually meant something to me, and that people would actually pay attention to. It appears they did, because it was mentioned by a few of my friends how nice the ceremony was and they liked what the preacher said.
Click the link below to view and download a copy of the ceremony. The underlined passage within the text was found at another site, which I wish i could credit, but I don't remember where I found it.
We searched far and wide, browsing our extensive music collections and searching online. We kept coming back to, and finally chose, Storybook Love from The Princess Bride. We used the instrumental theme for the processional and the song for the recessional. As most of the world knows, it's a hilarious movie, but the music is very sweet and tender without being cheesy.
For the reception, Jason did a clever thing. He signed up for a 30-day free trial to spotify so we could listen to a playlist at the reception without interruptions from ads. Spotify is otherwise free on the web and mobile, but you will have ads play after every couple of songs. You just have to sign up for a free account if you don't already have one and you can check out our wedding reception playlist.
This playlist is almost 5 1/2 hours of music. At the reception, Jason connected his phone to my parents radio, put the playlist on shuffle, and voilà. I listen to this mix all the time.
Even if you don't listen to the mix, sign up for a free spotify account anyway. It's better than pandora because you can play what you want, when you want. And exploring new and old, and even obscure music is right at your fingertips. I love it. (No, I'm not getting paid to say that, but I will if they want me to.)
I have mentioned before that my family is very crafty, if you hadn't noticed so far. My Dad has been making rings out of coins for as long as I can remember. So, I knew he was the man for the job of creating our wedding bands. Jason's is an all silver 1964 half dollar and mine is an all silver 1960 quarter. The dates aren't significant except for the fact that anything after 1964 is not all silver. Now, what could be more special than having wedding bands made by your father? Not much.
And I have to mention....
....see that laptop on the ladder to the right above?
My niece and her friend skyped in to watch the ceremony all the way from Oxford, England where she has been living for the past few years.
Aren't they cute? They got all dressed up for the occasion, too.
They had the best seats in the house! =)
It was a perfect day.
Now let's EAT!
Since it was January, I was thinking, hmm, what do I normally want to do on a cold January day? Why, I want to cozy up to a warm bowl of soup, of course! So, what did we have for our reception, which was just a few steps away, inside my parents' house?
A soup buffet!
I can't remember exactly all the soups we had, but chicken soup and bean soup were among them, and some kind of chowder. My sister might chime in here to jog my memory.
I didn't want everyone to have to contend with soup bowls, so to simplify things, we bought about 15 big white coffee mugs to use as soup mugs. That way, everyone could reuse them as they went back and forth to the buffet to try out each soup. AND, they got to take them home as party favors.
The night before, I wrote out our initials, J + P, and the wedding date (Jason filled in my outlines) on the front of each mug with gold sharpie paint markers.
At the reception I just had to write everyone's name on the other side as they lined up before me, patiently waiting to get to the grub. Yep, I did arts & crafts on my wedding day. It was fun, and the mugs were a hit, as well as the soup buffet.
And the CAKE.
Most anticipated part of any wedding reception, right?
Jason and I made the snowman and snowwoman cake toppers out of sculpey polymer clay. Making the most out of what you have, we also recycled more of our Christmas decor and brought over the gingerbread houses we made. I didn't even know what the cake was going to look like. Jason's Mom ordered it from her favorite bakery, and I must say, it was perfect.
So, the honeymoon is over. We are no longer newlyweds.
As for how the first year has been? When something is meant to be, you just know it. Things really do fall into place and you have no feelings of doubt. As it should be. (And I'm not just talking about planning our wedding day. I'm talking about from the first day we met.)
It's been a great year, and I look forward to many more wonderful years to come with my best friend. aww. sappy.
Thanks for visiting.
(all photos above taken by my brother and sister)
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Happy New Year to you. I never make resolutions anymore, but sometimes in the back of my mind I might. I am kind of more laid back in my approach to the coming years. I just want to be happy and healthy, and for my family and friends to be happy and healthy.
I'm pretty easy to please in that regard.
Ok, that's not all true. I'd like to craft more, clean more, garden more, and lose a ton of weight.
There. We'll see how it goes.
There. We'll see how it goes.
I hope everyone has a happy and healthy 2014, and that we can all stick to our resolutions.
|made with paper by 53|
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Here is a little Christmas cheer that is going on around our house.
Jason decorated Gingerbread house. I approved. =)
I spy a little village peeking in the mirror.
This year's Dickens Christmas Village setup.
Jason made a starry night sky background that I am in love with.
I love our tree, but I felt like something was missing. Something from my childhood.
Then it hit me. Tinsel! I love tinsel.
I know I'm probably in the minority these days on the tinsel, but then I also love the big old fashioned colored lights on my tree, too.
A sweet little Christmas handkerchief my sister included in her homemade Christmas card.
I love poinsettias, and Jason found some at Lowe's last week for 0.62 cent a piece.
There is nothing better than the smell of pumpkin pie.
I don't even mind the cleanup. As long as Jason is doing the baking. =)
I hope everyone has a wonderful and peaceful Christmas this year.
For those going through hard times, be it health, family, money; I pray for better times for you and yours.
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
I have a little update on the hallway flooring project.
Being on a budget, we chose what we felt was the best looking flooring option that was also the least expensive. And that turned out to be these wood-"like" self-adhesive vinyl strips.
The first thing we had to do was scrape anything loose off the cement floor. The paint you see on the cement floor was not coming up, but I vacuumed and swept like crazy. In the laundry I had to pull up the old vinyl flooring, which left dry and flaky debris that I successfully cleaned with a scraper.
Then, we had to patch the holes made from pulling up the carpet strips. Once the cement patch dried we had to sand it down as level as possible.
Then, we had to prime the cement with latex floor primer. I can't remember the name of that product (really helpful, aren't I?) but if you go to Lowe's or any such home improvement store it's located by the vinyl tiles. If you can't find it on your own, definitely ask for it. It's a very important step if you want your tiles to stay put. It's a clear liquid that you mix with water, probably in a 1:1 ratio (but don't quote me on that) and you roll it on with a paint roller and let it dry as directed on the container.
Of course, we had to leave our mark.
I realized kind of late that we didn't stagger the planks as we were supposed to, so on every other row, the seams line up with each other. You might be able to see what I'm talking about in the above photo. It kind of looks like we did it on purpose, so I'm fine with it. We'll just keep that between us, though. =)
UPDATE: My sister left a comment with a tip from her builder husband that others might find helpful. "What you do is start at one side and go the whole way down then the piece you cut out at the end is what you start with back at the beginning."
The floor actually looks really good for vinyl tiles. It has a nice texture, and you can't even tell it's faux unless you get down on your hands and knees. Of course, it doesn't feel like a wood floor, but that's okay. That's what runners are for. =)
This is what it currently looks like. We placed stacks of books (and concrete cats) to make sure the seams stay down at the edge of each plank, as they have a tendency to pop up ever so slightly. Meaning, someone could shuffle along the floor and get their sock caught in it if they are not careful. It is recommended to use a 100 lb roller after the floor is placed, but we did not have one of those, and didn't want to rent one.
Now we just need to install some thresholds to the kitchen and in all the doorways. Some of the doorways go to carpeting, and some go to another tile floor, so we will need two different types of thresholds. Once we get the quarter round in it will look even better than it already does. The tiles already make the hallway look much bigger.
I am very happy with it. I love it, in fact, and I wish I had done it a long time ago. Which reminds me...every time we finish a project in this condo and I say that I wish I had done that a long time ago, Jason looks at me and deadpans, "I wish you had, too." Meaning, he wishes I'd done it before we met. ha! I've been working him hard fixing this place up.