Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Lasagna 2013

It's always this time of year, when my husband likes to make enough lasagna to fill our freezer for a few months.  On a previous post a blog reader, Leona, asked for the quantity of sauce, noodles and cheese he used to make all of this.  My husband doesn't really use a recipe to create his delicious lasagna, but I asked him to channel his inner Pioneer Woman to document his technique.

First, he browns two pounds of spicy sausage, two pounds of ground beef, one pound of Italian sausage in a large stock pot.
 Here's the meat after it's been browned and drained of fat.  (We're making a healthy lasagna!)
My husband adds one jar of his favorite pasta sauce for every pound of meat.
 Then you get a meaty red sauce. Salt and Pepper to taste.  We like our pepper!
Next, make your Ricotta Cheese mixture.  Five 15 ounce ricotta cheese containers, three free range/cage free eggs, and fresh chopped flat leaf parsley is what you need to make the mixture. 

Now, it's time to build your masterpiece...
Uncooked noodles go on first; this makes a less-liquid dish.  However, my husband's mother always says: for a faster cook time, boil your noodles first.
Add a little water to the pasta sauce jars, shake, and dump. (Waste not/Want not)
Add meat sauce.
Add ricotta mixture. (The flat leaf parsley adds so much flavor! I love it!)
Add Mozzarella cheese.
And then repeat (noodle, meat, ricotta, mozzarella) layers until you run out of room in your pan; the top layer should end with mozzarella without a ricotta layer underneath the mozzarella.  Every recipe has a trick, right?  My husband's trick is to add one sun dried tomato pesto layer on top of one meat layer.  Preferably in the middle meat sauce layer.

And since more cheese is always better, remember this is a healthy lasagna, on the final mozzarella layer...
...my husband likes to add an Italian blend of four cheeses.

Bake at 350 covered (with foil that's been hosed down with Pam) for 1.5 to 2 hours, until the cheese is melted...we usually heat up more red sauce to pour on top of each plated serving.
This recipe also makes enough for seven more loaf pans.  Make these and freeze them for a fast meal during the work week or give them away to friends. You can cook this lasagna frozen at a lower temperature for a longer amount of time.  Think 250 for 2 to 2.5 hours if they are frozen.  However, we usually move a loaf pan from the freezer to the fridge the night before, which will allow this to cook at a normal time and temp (350 for 1.5 to 2).

Monday, December 30, 2013

Two Favorite Moments

My two favorite moments from the time at my brother's house on Sunday?  One was reading Presley one of the books we gave the girls: Rosie Revere, Engineer, and the second was watching Paxten be Paxten.
After I read the title to my oldest niece she said: "I don't know what an engineer is?" I explained that an engineer is a person that builds, designs, improves, things.  I also informed her that my husband (her uncle) has his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering, but that's the kind of engineer that doesn't build things, and he can't even wire a house.  (Ha!)  

While I was reading to Presley I informed her when we reached the most important part of the book, and I read this line twice: "Life might have its failures, but this was not it.  The only true failure can come if you quit."  She looked at me and said: "I don't understand what that means."  It made me happy that she as a soon-to-be-six-years-old doesn't understand that line.  However, when she experiences a "brilliant first flop" in her life, I hope she'll remember Rosie Revere, Engineer: "Life might have its failures, but this was not it.  The only true failure can come if you quit."

My second favorite part of the time at my brother's house was when Paxten was performing for us all.
We love our nieces.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

What A Sunday

We made the rounds this Sunday.  We needed to experience our friends and family as my husband and I contemplated adopting a baby that is due in February.   Yes, a week ago a friend of a friend asked us to consider adopting her baby.  It was one of those moments in life when a bucket of cold water wakes you up from a nap; the shock and surprise was amplified because I was unaware until the cold water hit that I was napping.  We called attorneys.  We called some friends (Amy and Annie) who have adopted.  I started planning the decorating of the nursery.  We ran and reran budgets.  We'd need a nanny.

This Sunday we needed to make the rounds and talk in the car along the way.  We picked up an Uncle Julio's fajita pack at 11:00 AM for lunch with Adam and Eddie (and to see their sons), and then at 2:00 PM, it was a Sunday surprise, my cousin and her merry band of Georgians called to say they were stopping off in Dallas for lunch.  We sat with them at Company Cafe.  I might have had coffee and a slice of strawberry cake too.  Did I also mention that we're going back to Georgia in 2014, and we've already spent thousands of dollars on flights?!

After the Georgians moved on, they are always in motion, we loaded up our car with the last Christmas presents for my brother, my brother's wife, and our nieces.  Their house was flu free again, which meant it was a safe place again.

Our beloved little ladies seemed to enjoy the Madame Alexander Little Orphan Annie dolls we gave them...

But, it was hard to compete with the American Girl dolls with matching outfits my parents gave the girls...

The day had been joyous and when we returned home I made my mother's black beans and rice (comfort food for me) and a new recipe for black pepper and cheese cornbread.

Since we don't have unlimited money, adopting a baby in two months would delay our surrogacy plans for up to five years.  Both my husband and I want to prioritize surrogacy.  Also, 2014 is chaotic enough.  My husband has five more months of school, and his graduation will most likely change his career.  What does a career change mean for us?  We've already booked flights for weddings in February and a Georgian trip in May.  Also, I don't know if my work can be streamlined in two months to prepare for the six weeks away I'd need to take with the baby.  Yes, we could make this work.  However, the timing is off for us.  

Tomorrow I will call the mother and the attorneys and explain that the timing doesn't work for us.

What a Sunday.

Divine Oatmeal

My husband and I have concocted a divine combination of oatmeal, milk, honey, brown sugar, white sugar, vanilla, butter and salt.  It's the most delicious bowl of oatmeal you'll ever enjoy.  I like to add lots of berries to my bowl!  My husband likes his berries on the side.

We're rushing out the door to spend the late morning and early afternoon with our friends Adam's and Eddie's twin boys, but we slowed down enough to enjoy our morning breakfast.

Don't forget to slow down and enjoy your day!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

It's a Hard Knock Life

Our 5 year old niece, Presley, is a fan of the 1982 movie of the musical Annie.  Both Presley and her younger sister Paxten like to sing the songs from the movie.  This past Halloween Presley went trick-or-treating dressed as Annie.  For Christmas my husband and I purchased a Madame Alexander Annie doll, and I'm really looking forward to watching her open the gift.  However, today is December 28 and we have not exchanged gifts with my brother's family.  The flu is making the rounds in his household, which means I'm avoiding his address.  I hope my brother and Paxten get well soon.  I also hope Presley likes her Annie doll.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Pretty Kitty

Me: "Beverly, when I stopped by your dad's house there was the prettiest cat in the front"

Beverly: "That's Pretty Kitty"

Me: "Its name is Pretty Kitty?"

Beverly: "Yes"

Me: "Good name."

Home Again, Home Again

We spent a lovely couple of days at my parents house, which is in the town I grew up in.  My parents hosted Christmas lunch, but everyone brings a dish or two.  All my favorites were on the buffet line: turkey, ham, vegetable casserole, spinach casserole, creamed potatoes, dressing, scalloped oysters, broccoli salad, kale salad, cranberry sauce, yeast rolls, and giblet gravy.  And we had a whole table full of pies for dessert.

After the feast we played Catch Phrase.  My mother's team always won when we kept score, and on Christmas Eve when we didn't keep score my mother and my grandfather beat my husband and my father at catch phrase.  My mother claimed that she was keeping score in her head, but my husband doesn't agree.  It's fun drama.

Our children, Dooley and Trigger, spent a lot of time in time-out over the course of the two days because they could not learn to enjoy my parents chocolate lab Blue.  Trigger and Dooley aren't used to big dogs. They were nervous.  Blue is a very sweet dog.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas Eve!  My third (and final for 2013) batch of cinnamon rolls are rising on my kitchen counter.  At this time our kitchen is covered in a layer of flour, cinnamon, and sugar.  Dooley and Trigger are licking the wood floors.  The post-baking cleanup must beginning...after I finish this cup pot of coffee.

My cousin's 14 year old daughter, Addisyn, came over to help work over the dough.  She's a natural baker.  One interesting conversation we had, which made me feel sad.  Addisyn is a country music fan.  She started naming all the music she enjoys, and I asked if she also liked The Dixie Chicks.  She doesn't know The Dixie Chicks.  WHAT?!  I'm so mad at Natalie, Emily, and Martie.  They are so talented.  They need to put out more music.  Here's the truth: if someone with talent does not use that talent, then they have no talent.  Use your talents in this world!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Forty in the House

It was a rainy Saturday in Dallas, and we had forty family members gathered under our roof for a family Christmas celebration.  Our garage (with freshly painted blue floors) and our covered back porch were extensions of our house- we used all the space.  Since the kitchen is the smallest room in our house we had the food catered, which also gave us a tremendous amount of freedom to spend time with our family members.
The ages ranged from 10 months to 70+ years, and everyone seemed to enjoy the hours together.  The good news is that Trigger did not eat any children, and he found another friend in our cousin's youngest son.  It was a success.

Duck It

I had a crazy week at work, I had a bit of an illness, I was without an internet connection at home for a few days, and I we just had a busy weekend...but you don't want to read my excuses.  I have neglected this part of my life, but that all changes with this post!

Did you all read/watch about the Duck Dynasty drama last week?

In an interview in the January issue of GQ, Phil Robertson says homosexuality is a sin and puts it in the same category as bestiality and promiscuity.

"It seems like, to me, a vagina -- as a man -- would be more desirable than a man's anus. That's just me. I'm just thinking: There's more there! She's got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I'm saying? But hey, sin: It's not logical, my man. It's just not logical," he's quoted as saying.

Asked what, in his mind, is sinful, Robertson replied: "Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men."

He also made comments regarding race and growing up in Louisiana before the civil rights era.

"I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I'm with the blacks, because we're white trash. We're going across the field. ... They're singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, 'I tell you what: These doggone white people' -- not a word!

"Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues," GQ quotes Robertson as saying.

Duck Dynasty is on my DVR.  I'm a fan of the show.  And I was disappointed to learn about Phil's comments on homos, but I've been a homo my whole life and I'm used to people saying crazy things about guys like me.  I don't agree with him.  I don't hold it against him- a man is free to speak his thoughts.  I'm a little less excited to watch his show now.  Perhaps, me and a few homosexuals need to spend a week with Phil and the rest of the Duck stars?  It would show the world that while Phil and I will not share religious beliefs- we could at least share a meal and gain a better understanding of each other?

It would be impossible for Phil to convince me to literally interpret a book that was written (by men) thousands of years ago.  Just as it would be impossible for me to convince Phil that a literal interpretation of the Bible removes the focus of the most important parts.   After all, men do not have to agree on religion in order to be friends.  Focus on what's important.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Homosexuality is Criminal Again as India’s Top Court Reinstates Ban

In a huge blow to gay rights in the world’s largest democracy, India’s top court on Tuesday reinstated an archaic law that makes gay sex a criminal offense on grounds that it can only be dismissed by lawmakers in government.

Open Letter

Dear Husband,

Can we live in this house?  Isn't that a picture perfect house?



(I usually don't find much that inspires me from the pages of Architectural Digest, it's usually too high toned, but I love the outside of this house.)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ice Storm 2013: The End

Nothing lasts.  Dallas is still frigid, but it's not frozen.  The ice is moving again, and I must travel through the slush and return to the office.  Although, I will miss seeing my beasts trying to find the warmest spot in the house...