January, 2007

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Italian Sausage & Red Pepper Pasta Bake

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

The local grocery store had Italian Sausage on sale so I picked up some for our Monday dinner. I fixed a really yummy dinner, if I do say so myself.

6 Italian Sausages (sweet), brown in pan
1 medium onion, sautéed in the grease from the sausages
Slice sausages (1/2 inch slices worked well)
Add sausage to pan and then add:
1 can of Hunt’s Fresh Mushroom pasta sauce
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper (or more to taste)
Salt (to taste)
Onion Powder (to taste)
Garlic Powder (to taste)
Parsley Flakes (to taste)
Crushed Red Pepper flakes (less than ¼ tsp)
Mix with pasta (noodles of your choice)

Spoon mixture into a 9×13 pan
Place moderately thick mozzarella slices over the top and bake on 325 until the cheese melts and turns slightly brown (or darker, if you choose)

The sausage and red pepper flakes give this dish a hint of spice…not too much, just enough to make it really yummy!

Cape Cod and the Rest of the Weekend

Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

Dave took me on a little road trip on Saturday to Cape Cod. We had a great time driving around, visiting a couple of lighthouses, and dining. I had never been to Cape Cod before and it was nice to see the ocean too! Rhode Island has to be just the cutest little state ever…it took a whopping 40 minutes to traverse the entire state, on somewhat of a diagonal no less! That’s like driving between Peoria and Bloomington-Normal, with traffic. “The Cape”, as the locals call it, is pretty interesting. The lighthouses are really neat, the beaches are scenic and the ocean is amazing. I can only imagine how busy it is out there during the tourist season though so I am glad we went out during the off-season.

On our way home we decided to stop for a bite, but could not find a local seafood place. We drove into Hyannis and found every national franchise chain you can imagine, but we wanted something local and seafood. Finally, when we were about to turn around, we saw a restaurant called Clancey’s and decided to stop there. I had a cup of Lobster Bisque; Dave had a bowl of Clam Chowder. Then we had some yummy crab cakes and our entrée was called Scallops Monterey. The scallops were the ocean variety served over a stuffing/bread crumbs mixture with melted Monterey Jack over the top and it was scrumptious! So Clancey’s was a nice, out of the way find!

On Sunday, we went to mass, had breakfast at Dave’s parent’s house and afterward, Dave loaded the pick-up with firewood so we could keep nice and cozy during the next few weeks. We came home, unloaded the firewood and I took a long winter’s nap while Dave did computer work. We went back over to Dave’s parent’s house for dinner and had a really nice evening.

Well, I have household chores to accomplish before starting our dinner. Have a great day!!

Weekly Menu Helper Idea

Friday, January 12th, 2007

I have been trying to come up with a way of making weekly menus so that I can better shop for good sales at the grocery stores and the butchers. At first, I tried making menu rotations that fully listed what we are having for breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday. My theory was that I would shop according to what I was going to fix, but that didn’t make me flexible enough for the sales. So I think I have hit upon a better idea… I made a list of what basic meat product we will eat on each day.

Sunday = chicken
Monday = pork or sausage
Tuesday = fish or big salad
Wednesday = beef
Thursday = chicken
Friday = fish
Saturday = beef

This way I can just make sure I have enough of the base for the dinner meals at the beginning of the week; then I just fill in the side dishes & vegetables according to what is on sale. For example, on Wednesdays I am now flexible to make spaghetti, tacos, hamburgers, steaks or whatever depending upon what is on sale and what we feel like eating!

We will see if this plan works.

Tomorrow Dave is taking me on my first trip to Cape Cod! (We will post photos and things later.) And the weather sounds like it might be shaping up here in southern New England for us winter weather lovers. Sunday, Monday, & Tuesday forecasts are looking great!!

Granola

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007

Dave and I have been in our own home for a little over a month now and are starting to settle into a nice routine.
One of the routines is to eat breakfast together every morning before Dave leaves for work and I begin my day at home. Occasionally, I have made a hot breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast or French toast and sausage, but mostly we eat homemade granola. I wanted to not only save money by not purchasing expensive store-bought cereal, but I wanted us to eat something more healthy and tasty.
The original recipe was found online at Tammy’s Recipes, but I’ve altered it slightly. (The original is fabulous too though…I just altered it to our tastes.)
The sesame seeds in the original recipe seemed a bit bitter to the tongue so I substituted ground flax seed. You’ll want to use ground flax seeds because whole flax seeds need to be chewed individually in order for you to get the nutritious benefits; otherwise they go straight through your system adding no benefit.
Only once have I tried substituting maple syrup for the honey. That batch turned out fine, but a little overdone. The honey and maple syrup seem to cook at different temps, but I do want to try that once more because my husband is an absolute maple syrup connoisseur.
While pomegranates were available here in our local grocery store, we would add a few teaspoons of pomegranate seeds to our granola, but now we are adding dried cranberries.
Dave likes his granola with milk. I’ve been enjoying mine with vanilla yogurt; which is super yummy. Someday I’ll make my own yogurt too, but that’s another day!!
Soon I’ll write about my exploits with trying to master homemade bread…I never knew it was that hard…