Tuesday, August 31, 2010

100th Post!

{Hey--did you know it's my mama's 100th post!}

{I think that's pretty cool}

As a present for you, here is my home-made spaghetti sauce recipie.  I think I might have gotten a little carried away with the pictures.  Sorry about that!

Start with a bunch of these:

I used about 20 and made 2+ quarts of sauce.  Wash the tomatoes and set aside.  Start a large pot of water to boil.  While you wait for the water to boil, heat 2 T evoo and 2 T butter in a large dutch oven.  While the oil and butter heat, chop a fennel bulb and add it to the pot to start to soften.  You could skip the fennel, but trust me, you don't want to.

Now, realize that you forgot to pick onions.  Go out to the garden and pick two (because they are kinda small).

Chop. Chop. Chop. Into the pot with the fennel.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

By now your water should be boiling so prepare an ice bath in a large bowl.  This is the quickest way to peel tomatoes.  If you want to make a vegitarian version, skip the next step.  Carnivors, follow me.

I like my pasta sauce with sweet italian sausage, but you can use spicy sausage, or ground beef or turkey.  If you use ground beef or turkey, I suggest adding additional salt and pepper at this point along with some oregano (about 1T) and 1 tsp fennel seeds.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the onions and fennel from the pot.  Slice the sausage length wise and remove the casing.  Roughly chop the sausage and add to the pot to brown.  You can add the onions and fennel back in when it looks like this:

Now the messy part: peeling and chopping your tomatoes.

Start by placing a thick kitchen towel underneath a cutting board near the boiling wather and icebath.  The towel keeps the cutting board from slipping around when the tomatoe juices start to run, and absorbs the tomatoe juices.  Also, have a colander on a bowl or in the sink.

Make a small "x" on the bottom of the tomatoes using the point of a paring knife and place them in the boiling water.

It won't take long to loosen the skins, maybe 30 seconds at most.  Scoop up the tomatoes with a slotted spoon and drop them in the ice bath.

After about 30 seconds in the ice bath they are ready to come out, and the skins should just skip off.


Now, chop your tomatoes up and put them in a colander in the sink or on top of a bowl.  This will allow some of the extra juice to run off so you don't have to cook the sauce as long to get to the desired thickness.  As you can see I used yellow and red tomatoes for my sauce.

 Pour about 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar to the pot with the sausage, fennel and onion and give it a good stir to incorporate. 

Once your tomatoes are all diced (I used about 20) add them as well. Add salt, pepper and crushed red pepper to taste.  Also add two handfuls of dried oregano.  Finally, grate in 2-3 garlic cloves using a microplane.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010

Holy cow are these ever cute!

And the fact that they are real leather is only slightly creepy.  Yikes.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Zucchini pizza

Please forgive my absence! I have been busy.
If you are like me and you have a garden you probably have zucchini and tomatoes coming out of your ears. Well, I have the answer. Today Zucchini pizza; tomorrow freezer tomato sauce.
I got the idea for this recipe here, but I made it my own.
I started by caramelizing some onions. I had 3 small yellow onions that I sautéed in 2 T evoo and 2T butter on medium-high heat. Make sure to add some salt (and fresh ground pepper), it helps the onions cook faster. Cook on medium-high stirring every couple of minutes for 10-15 minutes or until they start to brown and smell sweet and delish! Then, turn the heat to low and leave them to do their thing, stirring every two-three minutes until they are golden brown.
While the onions cook, get your ricotta ready. I took 1 c. part skim ricotta and added salt and pepper. Then I grated in 2 small garlic cloves using my microplane.
Next, grate 2 small zucchini, and mix with the zest from 1/2 a lemon (again with the microplane) and set aside (btw, I only ended up using about 3/4 of this mixture)
For the crust I used refrigerated crescent rolls, but if you are super ambitious like her, you could make your own. Spray a small cookie sheet with non-stick spray, then spread out the crescent roll on a cookie sheet and smoosh (that is a word) the perforations together and stretch it to fit the cookie sheet.

Cover the crescent roll crust with the ricotta mixture. Now, grab your onions. You didn't forget about them, did you? Fold the onions into the zucchini mixture and then spread on top of the ricotta cheese. Dot the top with fresh milk mozzarella and feta cheese. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes or until crust turns golden.

Look, Oliver liked it:

He liked it a lot, hence, the food coma. I think it's nap time!

Mama, I ate too much.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

sleep and awake

Two of my favorite times of day revolve around a single event: naptime.

I love when Oliver is ready for a nap, because he is such a busy-body that when he is ready for a nap, I'm ready for him to take a nap!

This is how I know its time:

Then, two hours go by and I start to miss my little man.  I start listening to the baby monitor to see if he's started talking to himself.  When he does, I go get him in all his post-nap cuteness and snuggle for a couple of minutes until he's ready to get busy!

Friday, August 13, 2010

What happens at daycare...

When Andy brought Oliver home from daycare today, he was not the same as when I sent him.  Take a look:

Can't see it?  Here is anoter clue:

Yes, that is nail polish. 

Apparently some highschool girls who live next door to our daycare provider are smitten with Oliver {who could blame them} and the girls know that Andy teaches at their rival highschool.  They thought it would be funny to paint Olivers fingers and toes their school colors.

Red and Yellow!  I think it is hilarious!  But I don't think Oliver got the joke, but then again, given that I did this to him, who can blame him.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Zoo-per fun!

Last Friday we went to the local free zoo with our buddies Colleen & Henry.

And here we are:

Henry is just 10 days older than Oliver, but he has a lot more hair! I actually did not know Colleen, despite the fact that she is my neighbor, until after Oliver was born.  Oliver and Henry (which sound more like two old men than two babies!) are best buddies, they love to wrestle, and take turns stealing from eachother.  This time it was Oliver's turn to take Henry's bottle, sippy-cup, food--basically anything within reach.

The boys had fun looking at the animals, these were some of their favorites:

We rented a double stroller, and at first I was a little worried,
but the boys were great and seemed to love it!

p.s.  can you tell I recently started using some free photo editing software that lets you make collages?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Bad influences

The naughty game we learned from Auntie.

Can you guess what it is?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

You Capture: Summer

My first thought, when I heard that this week's You Capture theme was "Summer" was BASEBALL!  But there were two problems, I don't have ticktes to a TWINS game, and I've done that one before.

So, as I stood in my kitchen thinking of what Summer means to me, I looked out my window and saw this:

{my unruly garden}

To me, summer is when I get to reap the benefits of all my spring-time hard work. 
Right now I have zucchini coming out of my ears, a two basil bushes that I can't keep up with and in about a week, I'll have more ripe tomatoes than I can eat. 

I'll be making a lot of spaghetti sauce.  Stay tuned for my recipie.

Now head over to I Should Be Folding Laundry for more "Summer" pics.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

To Grandmother's house we go.

This past weekend, we went to visit Grandma (my mom).  We went over the river and through the woods.  Then over the river again, up US 71, through a lot more woods, and finally arrived in Bemidiji, MN.

Despite the fact that Oliver was tired because he hadn't taken much of a nap:

 he was happy and excited to see his Grandma.

He showed off all of his talents, like clapping, waiving, the "no-way" headshake and giving kisses.  He has the.perfect.pucker.  See.

{how could you not kiss this face?}

We did lots of fun things when we visited Grandma.  Oliver's favorite part was the playground.

Ok, so at first, he wasn't that excited (see, he was a very tired baby--because he would.not.nap).  And it took a bit of convincing:

{you woke me up for this?}

Eventually, he warmed up to the idea and thoroughly enjoyed himself.

We also visited a well known Bemidiji landmark, Paul Bunyan.  Here is a picture of Oliver with Paul:

Oliver also really enjoyed eating out a lot. He had pancakes, eggs, and his new favorite, Pizza.  For the first time he had little to no interest in the baby-food we brought for him and wanted to just eat big people food.  He is growing so fast.  Sigh.