Monday, February 28, 2011

Broth Bag

So...I am a saver of everything...I hate waste...but I must say, I get close due to things almost going bad before I use them. I keep a list of all the meats and such I have stocked in the outside fridge to make sure I am using them and not buying more potatoes when I have a bag in the fridge. I then came across this article for broth bag...what a wonderful idea. If you haven't started are the basics...copied from

Kitchen scraps aren’t just meant to be tossed in the compost. In fact, one of the best cooking staples is made from shards and leftovers of random food-stuffs. Easy and big on flavour, making your own broth is one of the best thing you can do in your kitchen creating.
Broth is one of those ingredients that can be added to anything.

Homemade broth takes it a step further. First, it contains no additives, and because you’re making it from scratch, you can control the sodium content, usually the main contender in what makes most store-bought brands not up to par. It also much more cost efficient, because you’re not spending any money on pre-made varieties, and you’re using every last bit of your grocery store purchases.

Tips and Techniques

* Use cold water when starting to make your broth
* Feel free to use additional seasonings, depending on the tastes you like best. Lemon peel, sage, and turmeric add a nice touch.
* Don’t use starchy vegetables like potatoes
* Always make sure that the ingredients are covered with water while they simmer. If it reduces too much, top with enough hot water just to cover it.
* Large chunks of vegetables with cut with large surface areas are best to use.
* Don’t use celery leaves – they are extremely bitter in broth making (along with cabbage, broccoli, and greens)
* If you want an Asian flavoured broth, add a small knob of fresh garlic, cut into 1” pieces.
* Cheesecloth is the easiest way to strain the broth; otherwise, use a fine mesh strainer.
* For a richer broth (without using scraps), first roast the vegetables until caramelized

The easiest and cheapest way to make your own broth is saving kitchen scraps in the freezer. And if you live in an apartment without a compost, or an area without an organic waste program, then this is a great way to reduce waste in your home, too. Adopt the idea of a Broth Bag, and you’ll find the convenience of having broth on hand adds a nutritious (and free) form of flavour that you’ll never want to be without again.

Basic Vegetable Broth (using kitchen scraps)

1 Broth Bag (see below)
8 cloves garlic
6 sprigs fresh parsley
6 sprigs fresh thyme
a few bay leaves
10 peppercorns (optional)
1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
2 quarts water

Broth Bag:
Whenever you peel any vegetables or chop off the ends, put the parts you’d discard in the Broth Bag. Include flavourful vegetables, like onions, celery, carrots, mushrooms, corn cobs, leeks, asparagus ends… Keep going until it’s full. Onions, carrots, celery and garlic are key.

Once it’s full, empty the contents of the bag into a large stock pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce and let simmer for about an hour. Strain, and freeze in portions.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Little Momma

I think I have mentioned what a little Mommy my Bluebird is...
She calls Buttercup "My Baby".
The other evening was a typical crazy one...feed kids, bath kids, and get kids to bed....
I had to interrupt feeding Buttercup because Boy needed strict discipline. I left her in her high chair and marched him to his room. When I returned, I found Bluebird sitting on a bar stool feeding her baby, she had picked right up where I left off.

Buttercup- messy but very happy!

Saturday, February 26, 2011


So....have you ever been in a situation where someone just completely railroaded you...and you tried to stand up for yourself, but they just wouldn't take no for an you just complied.
A few years ago I went into a little salon in s. Tampa. I was looking to get my eyebrows waxed...the lady was all fancy about it. She "took my measurements" so that they could always have my measurements "on file", blah blah blah. I went to check out and she said "that will be $62.00". OK...My mouth dropped! I could tell my all her fancy schmancy measuring that she would cost more than the usual $11, but I was desperate and figured at most, it would be 25 bucks.
I paid...I went to my car. I cried.
Why didn't I ask the cost ahead of time? Why did I assume it would be reasonable?

So...this month I have been dealing with a tricky situation that in hindsight reminds me of that day...but is so much worse. There was this lady that I scheduled an appointment for something else with. I asked for a quote and she was very reasonable.
I scheduled...but later she became associated with me in another way. I witnessed first hand how terrible she treated others. ..and I would listen as she berated other people, and would be impatient and down right rude.
A friend told me to cancel....that I did not want to get involved with this lady.
I wanted to cancel my appointment, but frankly, I was a little nervous, as I told my mom...she may be very rude, but I am not. So I will keep my appointment, buy a few products and not reschedule any future appointments.
Plus, I believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps the other situation was very stressful and she wasn't being herself.
So...I showed up and she was sweet as could be. Until I mentioned that I only planned to spend $100. "Well" she said matter-of-factly, "it will cost at least $500 to get all the products you need" I said "well, I will just have to buy a few things, because I will not spend that today".
I didn't talk about anything personal through the appointment. Can you imagine...I am usually such a blabber mouth about my kids and work and life? But I didn't want to mention my life, or our other connection because I just wanted to keep these things separate.
During the visit, I resolved to buy 3 things, and not go over $150 (notice, I am already giving in to her). After we were done, she sat me down and had a bunch of items (all without price tags)...all things that I could not do without. I said, "I am on a budget, I am a single income home with three children, a husband in college, a son that is starting school and a vacation coming, I can't buy all of this. I will buy these few things and I should not go over $200".
(yes, now I am up to $200)
She seemed completely put out by me. PUT OUT, because I was ONLY spending $200!!!! She told me that I wanted to get this because....and I quickly replied "I may WANT a lot of things, but I am not buying more than this". I quickly added that already, the fact that I was $100 over what I anticipated would cause me stress and aggravation.
This clearly didn't phase her...because frankly, she didn't care what I wanted, what I needed, or about me as another human being. She wasn't going to take no for an answer.
She said, when would you like your future appointment. I said "well, I am leaving town next month for a while, so I will need to get back with you. "NO", she said, "I need to see you before then". She handed me my purchases (and my $200 credit card receipt)...she said "Ok, I made an appointment for three weeks, before you go, the appointment then will be $85. I also gave you some additional products that you NEED in your bag and you will just owe me an additional $90 when you come to see me at the next appointment! I have it all in your file". -note to self: Beware of people who keep a "file" on you!
My mouth dropped. "No, I don't need these, I don't want to pay or owe you an additional $90 and I am not sure that appointment will work with MY schedule".
"Don't worry about it" she said. "I WANT to take good care of you because you have been so kind to us".

I left, defeated!

She completely disrespected me, she didn't care about me, my family, my financial life...all she cared about was getting what she wanted out of the situation.
And me...I disrespected myself for letting myself just get plowed down by her. I should have stood up and said "NO" and walked out (the way I tell Bluebird to behave when Boy torments her)...but I didn't.

For an experience that should have been relaxing and enjoyable and all about doing something for was ruined, and miserable.

And now, I have to figure out how to pay her what I "owe" her and cancel all future appointments....ans still manage to stay kind in our other association.
This I vow to you, friends...I will not go back there and let this happen again!!!

Frankly, I must admit....I was warned!

Heed your friends warnings in the future. Trust me.

Monday, February 21, 2011

What's Up Buttecup?

A typical conversation between Daddy and me:
Me: how does that "What's up Buttercup" song go?
him: I don't know that song.
Me: You do know (singing) what's up Buttercup...woooo-o-o-o-o-o-
Him: That isn't the song, its "Whats up Pussy Cat".

Wow, how did I get that wrong?


Anyway, here are a few recent pics of our Buttercup.


Tonight I bathed my pretty kids, I took Bluebird and pulled her curls into a clip, brushed her teeth...and then smiled at how pretty she looked.
Before I got her jammies on though...I caught her peeing on the rug with a handful of cat food in her mouth. Ahhh...the joys of parenting!

My Grill Pan

So...I love my cast iron skillet. I baby it. I keep it seasoned and beautiful. I see it as an item that my grand daughter will want one day the way I desperately desire to have my grandmother's pan (although its where abouts seem unknown at the moment...hmmm).

I have been wanting a grill pan, but was holding out for this fancy Le Creuset one in orange (I love these as well)...

Finally, since I am always on a budget...I caved and bought a cast iron grill pan from Walmart for $19.99


Yes, cast iron is harder to clean, but I quit using anything with a non-stick surface when I had children (only the best for them, haha)...

If you don't already have one...go spend 20 bucks and get one. You won't regret it. now a quick recipe to cook in your grill pan.

Flank steak....marinate it for two days in the recipe below, then grill a few minutes on each side, let it rest for 10 and cut against the grain....mmmmmmmm


handful of cilantro
3 whole cloves of garlic
1/3 c. olive oil
3 TBSP lime
2 chipotle peppers (from a can with adobe sauce)

throw it all in the blender (add water as needed) until you have a beautiful yellow sauce with green and red flakes...put it in a freezer bag, with your steak and put in the fridge for a day or two until ready to grill in your pan.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Always silly


Yes, Superman is a theme in my household and therefore, a theme in my blogs!

this boy, who used to wear cowboy boots and a hat all the time, traded his boots for a cape about 5 months ago. He will take Batman or Spider-man as a conciliation prize, but his true love is Superman. He wants to fly and wears his cape and pretty much thinks we are punishing him if we make him change out of a Superman shirt. (and I am somewhat lax on such things). He has several sets of Superman pajamas, Superman underwear, a few Superman shirts, a cape and Superman rain boots. He has a Superman pillow, and toys...but for the most part, Superman is not as popular as Batman and Spider-man, so we have to grab things up as we find them. I won't dare get him Superman sheets or he would not let me change them, and laundry is hard enough to keep up with since he never wants to change his shirt.

He recently told my cousin..."Got my Superman shirt, My Superman belt, My Superman Cape, My Superman Boots" and then he pulled down his pants and said "MY Superman underwear!"

We give him "Superman haircuts", and feed him "Superman foods"...and so it is only fitting we throw him a Superman birthday party.

I am trying to plan the best 4th birthday ever. The boy loves Superman and so I just want to saturate our home in Superman for a Superman party. I have been trying to find someone to make the most awesome Superman cake...and I am planning to dress both of my girls in Superman fabric, and even looking for a Superman shirt for myself.

My friend Mandy at Chaos and Loving It is always very creative and even though they live in Ohio, I look forward to getting her birthday invitations. I asked her for some tips to make this party truly Super.

Well, she more than gave me advice, she is even gung-ho about helping me make capes and favors and invitations and super hats!!! She said she WANTED to do all of this hard work and it would make her HAPPY and the only thing that would make her happier is if she could come help me clean my house for the occasion.

I must say, what would we do without friends? Only a friend would WANT to come help you clean your home. (it is easier to say that when you are in different States, haha), but she is helping me get all this cool stuff done and now I am getting so excited I can hardly stand it.

I need to get a cake, and a banner and food and a pinata and I think I will be good to go.

The plan so far:

Super invitations

Super Cake and Super Food.

A Banner that is made of the Superman symbol saying Happy Birthday.

Capes for all the kids (and encourage them to wear their favorite costumes if they have them).

Centerpiece of green rock candy (Kryptonite)

An obstacle course ("Super hero training")

A Superman pinata (but not one that is the actual superman because I don't want to be saying "knock his head off kids!"

Superman party hats

Party favors with Super hero stuff and glow sticks

Lots of red and blue balloons and plates and table cloths, etc.

If anyone else has any ideas, please let me know.

I am only bummed that I live so far from so many dear friends.

I mean, remember when we were all single or newly married and we lived near each other and saw each other all the time....and now we all have kids that are basically the same age, and we are scattered all over the country. It just doesn't seem right, does it?

OK, I will leave this with a few photos of our Superman insanity:

No Pwoblem!

So, Boy has recently started using the phrase "No Pwoblem".

The problem is, he doesn't really understand what it means.

I tried to tell him that "No Problem" means, "yes Ma'm I would be glad to"....and he adamantly replies:
"No Pwoblem".

Our conversations lately have been sounding like this:

Me: "Boy, you get in your chair and eat your dinner!"
Boy: "No Pwoblem"- as he stares at his plate

Me: "You need to take off your cape and get into the bath tub"
Boy: "No Pwoblem" - as he leaves his cape on and walks in the other direction

Me: "Boy, stop jumping on the bed!"
Boy: "No pwoblem" .leap.

Me: "Boy, give your sister all of your toys and a big kiss"

How is it that he can sometimes make being defiant kind of cute?

To ride or not to ride...

...that was the question...

So. The hubs got an awesome opportunity to speak at an arts conference in his old stomping ground, Seattle. We decided to take this opportunity to make a visit to Oregon as well because when else will we be able to save hundreds of dollars on a plane ticket (Clemson is buying his), and the reason we don't visit more often is because it is so expensive to fly across the country with a bunch of children.
We are very excited to spend a few glorious days with the Losinski crew! Oregon is also beautiful this time of year, I think.

I want to talk about my husband, my husband that I love because he truly always wants to do the "right thing"...he is good, he is honest. (I feel I need to say those things before I tell you this awful story, haha)

I get stressed about finances, I think of purchases in terms of how many hours of work it is worth (i.e. is this coffee worth my time in hard work?) and that makes me a really bad person for the job. So he handles that stuff for the most part and he was in charge of purchasing the plane tickets.
He called me the other evening of his way home and said he had bought the tickets and everything was all set, yea!!!! BUT, we had a slight "hiccup" that would work out just fine.
Naturally, a "hiccup" meant that he must not be sitting directly beside us on one of the flight legs...maybe he is behind me, or catercorner (is that the right word? I have never written catercorner before, and if that is right, I think I have been saying it wrong all my life....I say catty-corner). main squeeze tells me that the "hiccup" to which he was referring was that he was on a different flight than me in the kids on the 6 hour Seattle to Dallas leg. NOT EVEN ON THE SAME PLANE!!!
A HICCUP!!! A Hiccup.
Let me tell you folks, that is soooo much more than a hiccup! I think the words that came out of my mouth first were

"you clearly do not know me and you do not love me!"

In hindsight, it was probably my fault. I have bragged on my sanity skills because I flew to FL with all three kids by myself...but he clearly overestimates me if he thinks I would even be willing to have a layover by myself and fly SIX hours (well, I wouldn't be alone, I would have three small children with me)....I know I have mentioned being insane before...but I not walked over the edge yet.

Let me give him some credit, he did offer to take the baby with him on the solo flight.....because the baby was the one I was worried about flying with.....laughing out loud (yea, I hate writing LOL...I feel a fundamental cringe and don't want that to be what my blog is about....but really, I am laughing out loud. LOL.)

well, anyone reading this knows that this just would not work for me...and a few hundred bucks (and many hours of hard work) later, we have it all straightened out and we are all flying across country together.

I am realizing though, that many things in this life are funny in hindsight and not so funny at the time...we will need to work on that.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I know this is not the perfect way to followup Valentine's Day...but bear with may just expound on the Valentine spirit for the daily life.

What becomes of the brokenhearted? This question I am faced with daily.

love, loss, heart break.

When I went back to school to get my Masters, I decided I was done with cancer. I was going to focus on health. I had big plans to start a company that did employee wellness programs and I had a big focus on woman's health. Living in Tampa, I saw too may migrant women dying needlessly of cervical cancer, therefore I was going to offer free woman's health programs to the migrant community. I also planned to develop curriculum and teach a course on inter-cultural order marry my missions background with my nursing background. I had it all figured out.
Amazing, as I type all this...I become re-inspired toward this goal.

(My thoughts are a series of fleeting feelings, emotions, songs, quotes and ideas...)

So what happened to that dream...basically, Eliot was born sick...I took some time off, and when I actually sought after work, I was introduced to the Cancer Centers. I came here, and fell in love with the practice and was re-inspired towards this complex disease. I love working there. I LOVE my job.
That in itself is a true blessing. Many people go their whole lives without a job they love...and I get to work with some of the nicest and smartest people in the south.

But what do I do? I see heartbreak, love, loss and suffering every day. I see perseverance. I see strength, and I also see defeat.

I have probably mentioned before that I think of cancer as a blessing in many ways. We must all die...but my patients have the opportunity to make things right before they go. Not all of them do....but I think it is a blessing to know that the end is near, and to be able to prepare your family, and make sure people know you love them. My sweet grandmother died with all eight of her grown children in and around her bed. I think..."wow...that woman was so blessed. What better way to part this world!"
I wish we were all offered that opportunity. But, unfortunately, we are not. Even with that opportunity however, not everyone is ready to say good-bye. Goodbyes are hard. They are agonizing. They are unfair.

In just this day alone...I took care of a few people who will not see 2012, and who will probably not see summer. They are not just patients, but they are brothers, and sisters, and fathers, and mothers, and daughters and sons. I wonder what will become of the people who love them? The people who must live on?

What becomes of the brokenhearted?

I started thinking about the people of my youth...the ones who died young, the ones of us who may still die young. Malina has been dead 15 years already. Who would have ever imagined that Malina would die young? That Keith would go before her? What would they have done had they been given the opportunity to grow old together and have a family? What would they had done differently if they knew the end would be so near?
I think of a college friend who recently lost his little girl? Life will never be the same. Even in the face of the birth of their new twins...there will always be a place where she is not. They will always miss her life, and their life with her in it. Until one experiences parenthood, one cannot comprehend the risk we take every day. Every moment or life is full of risks and challenges, and we are not promised tomorrow.
God never promised our children would live long lives, that we would live long lives.
Good health, a blessing...not a right. So many of my breast cancer patients are perfectly good lives, eat healthy food, exercise...I look at their lab data and I say "perfect"...healthy person...a perfect way to start chemotherapy to kill the cancer that is stealthily taking over their body....and threatening to kill this picture of health. is a blessing. One which ends for all of us. The moment we are born we start dying...isn't that morbid? When I worked pediatric cancer, they always reminded us that death was an acceptable outcome.
Death...death too, is a blessing.

There are times when the idea of the unknown can almost be too much to bear. The risk of heartbreak too great. It can be overwhelming. Grief can engulf you and you can drown in sorrow. I cry a little every day when I think of Cameron and Rachel. Their grief is too much. I don't understand why life has to be so hard and why we can't just protect our children? Why so much is out of our hands? Why we have to just let go? Why we can't control the outcomes, no matter how perfectly we live this life?
No amount of money, no amount of wellness, no amount of church, knowledge, or faith will keep us safe...the end is imminent.

There was a innocent time...when it all seemed to be a fairy tale. When the sky was the limit. Youthful, thin, innocent and happy, laughing, dancing and singing. Our whole lives ahead of us. The sky was the limit. God was good and God had good things awaiting us all. Love, marriage, family, dream jobs. Before we had children, lost children, had love, lost love, had dreams, lost dreams.

I wonder what I would say to them if I could go back in time. Would I tell them that they really would get married to that guy they crushed over and live happily ever after? Or maybe never gave that love a chance? That they would develop a drug problem that would ruin all they had worked so hard for? Would I tell them they would end up having five children? Would I tell them that love would end in tragic divorce? Would I tell them that beloved child would die? Would I tell them that disease lurked around the corner?
If we knew the end, would we do it all again?
So many songs spring into my head right now and I hear them simultaneously....
Garth Brooks- "I could have missed the pain, but I would have had to miss the dance..."
Indigo Girls- "What I wouldn't give, to have the gift of the next ten years unfolding, but if I had my wish I'd be bored"...
Everything dies. Everyone dies. Every relationship ends...some tragic, some peaceful, all associated with heartbreak.
None of us choose to be born....and many of us unfortunately waste our lives. We get to the end and realize that we never accomplished anything, we didn't spend time with our children, we were hateful and mean and didn't nurture our love.I see this every day. Mothers and daughter who don't speak, spouses who argue, children who have been cut off. These people are dying and some still hang on to the resentment and hate and prejudice.
If I have learned one thing in this field it is this...we die in the way we live. We don't get to the end and suddenly start being kind to others and make everything right...if we are bitter and miserable in life, we will be bitter and miserable in death...if we are kind and gracious in life, we will die gracefully. It is an unfortunate fact. We have but one life...and one chance to get it all right and to get it together. How many times did I waste opportunity. Let friendships die. Never pursued that relationship. So many unknowns and should have and could haves.

A friend spoke today and spoke of her marriage in the most inspired way...she said, "marriage is a living thing, it must be nurtured and fed or it will die".

Our love of people, our love of ourselves, our love of relationships...they are precious gifts. Precious living things. Our energy and our time must be spent in loving and caring and nurturing them.

There is a word...a word a friend once introduced me too, and like all things, I obsessed about the word and its meaning. A German word, or a made up word, and rumored to be the final words of Einstein.
Erleichda, erleichda!!! Lighten up!
(Isn't that refreshing after the past Debbie Downer blog?)
Lighten Up!!!! Quit taking everything so seriously. Don't take it so personally.

I suppose that it one way to interpret this complex thought.

But the truth is...everything is personal!

Life is personal!

We were created in the image of God. We have more than a soul with feelings and the ability to co-habit. What separates us from our dogs is that we have spirit. We have the ability to connect intimately. We have the ability to connect with God and each other and to have faith and passion in this life we are forced into.

Erleichda- Lighten up. LIVE! Take it all....take this joy and passion don't waste this precious opportunity. Walk with integrity. Work hard and no matter what you do...embrace it and do it well. Know who you are. Live passionately.

This beautiful roller coaster of life. Days when you can't imagine feeling more alive. The birth of a child. A marriage. Falling in love. Laughing to tears with an old friend.

This life that has days that feel so low that you are not sure you can bear to go on. The death of a loved one. The loss of a pregnancy. Seeing a friend lose a child.
The ups and down of this world that are part of what living is your life in a way that you allow yourself to fully feel and embrace every part of it.

Erleichda. Be enlightened. Feel. Really feel. Not just the joyous things in this life...but also the unimaginable. The heartbreak. The gloomy days that show their face...even after a weekend full of sunshine.

with the words from one of our favorite children's books, Someday.

My dreams for you:

"that someday you will walk into a deep wood,

that someday you will dive into the cool clear water of a lake,

that someday your eyes will be filled with a joy so bright that they will shine,

that someday you will run so far and so fast, that your heart will feel like fire,

that someday you will swing high, higher than you ever dared to swing,

that someday, you will hear something so sad that you will fold up with sorrow....

(if you haven't read this book, it is so good that even Daddy cries when he reads it to the kiddos)

So...this is my wish for, laugh, cry, dance, sing. But whatever you do, do it it will all your heart. Lighten up...Be enlightened...Erleichda. I will go...because a sleepy boy just came downstairs and is asking me to "snuggle me" on the let me go live and enjoy every moment of this sweet blessing and opportunity we have been offered....

for as long as it lasts....


Happy Valentine's Day!

LOVE THIS AMAZING MAN!!!! I am very blessed!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Cumin, Black Eyes and Corn Salad- YUM-O

Looking for a quick dish to take to a super bowl party, pot luck, or just have at you go. At 200 calories per serving (1 cup) is perfect.

olive oil
1/3 c. raw pecans
2 large ears of corn (or a can- drained- if not in season)
2 15 oz. cans of no salt added black eyed peas (drained and rinsed)
1 small shallot
1/2 red bell pepper (seeded and diced)
3/4 tsp. salt
fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp EVOO
1 Tbsp maple syrup

Heat up your cast iron and add some olive oil...throw in the pecans and toast lightly - about 3 minutes(this is a must for the full flavor of the dish)
Add the corn, red pepper, and shallot
again...just toss for about 5 minutes (keep it crunchy)
then put it in a bowl, mix in the black eyed peas, and the seasonings... are done.
Chill until you are ready to serve.

It is soooo good, you won't even believe it!!!!

On the not as healthy side...for Superbowl...I am not making the above.
My diet is going on hold for a day and I am going to listen to the little sound of nachos in the you hear it?
well, check out these recipes and I am sure you will.

Beef fajita nachos:

Buffalo chicken nachos:

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Queen of the Block

So....I get a long email from my friend today telling me how she completely flaked out on taking a meal to the lady down the block who just had a baby. This "friend" is an acquaintance from her "high fa-luttin" neighborhood and now she feels like all the ladies will be judging her....

perhaps they may.

Of course, I sent her an email and reminded her not to get all worked up about what a bunch of bored snobby catty women had to say about her...she still had us...a group of friends so tight we can email back and forth about the wonders of Spanx and butt-less jeans all day...putting each other into fits of laughter during our work hours...

but, truth be known...even though it doesn't really also does. So, I wanted to put up a recipe to make when you have time, and freeze a pan or two...just to have on that you can always be able to rush a nice meal over for the casual acquaintance in need.

I found this in a Martha Stewart magazine...and it is tasty and easy and just as delicious after being frozen. Most ingredients should be in your pantry (if you stocked the fridge as mentioned in the previous blog)

FYI. You could also do this with a big pan of lasagna...and I will add that recipe another day.

Stuffed Shells

1 12 oz. box of jumbo pasta shells
3 garlic cloves
1 red onion
4 oz. prosciutto (but I leave this out)
1 head radicchio, cored and shredded (4 cups)
1 tsp red wine vinegar
12 oz. fresh ricotta cheese (1 1/4 cups)
8 oz (1 c) fresh mozzarella (cut into small cubes)
coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
5 c tomato sauce
(I make this with tomato sauce, tomato paste, oregano, basil, Parmesan cheese and fennel seed)
unsalted butter, for dotting
grated Parmesan cheese

Bring large pot of water to a boil, then add salt (I always boil my pasta in water that is as salty as salt water)add the pasta and cook for 10 minutes, drain, transfer to a bowl and drizzle with oil...then let cool completely

Meanwhile...heat oil in your skillet (I love my cast iron and cook everything in it)
add garlic, onion for 6-8 minutes until caramelized...(this is where the recipe also calls for prosciutto if you are using)

Add radicchio, cook about 4 minutes until tender but not mushy
Stir in vinegar until evaporated. Let cool slightly. Stir in ricotta and mozzarella...salt and pepper to taste.

Pour 2 c. of sauce into the bottom of a 8x12 baking dish x 2. Stuff 32 shells (pack 16 into each baking dish) with 1 heaping tablespoon of filling each. Cover with foil and freeze. Freeze remaining sauce in a jar (I keep the mason jars in stock)

Keep these pans in the freezer until you feel the need to take a meal to the lady down the block that just had triplets....

Then...take a pan out of the the shells with butter, bake covered at 375 for 40 minutes...uncover, raise temp to 450 and bake about 15 minutes more until gold and bubbly....heat remaining sauce and pour over shells...garnish with Parmesan.

...make a quick side salad and some garlic bread...if you are feeling really generous...a bottle of wine..or a gallon of sweet tea (if you live in the South).... you are Miss Congeniality. Miss Hospitality....or whatever kind of Miss you are aspiring to be.