Saturday, March 31, 2012

It's a beautiful day!

What an amazingly beautiful weekend!  Entirely too beautiful for the end of March.  This could only mean that it will simultaneously snow and blow dirt for the next 7 weeks....most of it on Easter Sunday of course.  But in the meantime, I intend to enjoy the heck out of this perfect and temporary weather.  I got to sleep in this morning.  Freakin' yay!!  And when I finally rolled out of bed, I went on a happy little run.  Yes.  I said run.  Stop laughing.  It was a crisp 58 degrees, the birds were chirping, and when I reached the park, this was my view...

It was much lower to the ground than this pic looked like it was going to land in the park.  I called Matt to tell him it was headed toward the house and to send the boys out to see.  In my mind I'm thinking, "What a majestic and peaceful way to start our Saturday morning."  When I got home later, Matt said Grant covered his ears the whole time.  When he asked Grant what he was doing, Grant said, "I'm pretty sure it's gonna pop!"  Jaden's observation of this glorious and rare moment was, "Oh man....I sure wish I had my BB gun!"


Once upon a time I got to ride in a hot-air balloon.  Dad got Mom a balloon ride for Mother's Day (I think?) in about 1987.  At that time in LRC, before the building invasion, there was a wide swath of land down by the lake, and in the spring, the local ballooners would come out almost weekly and take off from the spot.  So, early one morning we went down to the lake, Mom climbed into the basket of a red and white striped balloon, and off they went!  Dad and I followed the chase car which was of course in radio contact with the balloon crew.  Sometime into the ride, my mom talks the balloon driver (what do you call that guy anyway?) into trading herself out for me so I can have a ride.  At the opportune moment, the driver? starts bringing the balloon down as he approaches a fallow cotton field.  Dad stops the car and we both jump out and start sprinting across the rows trying to catch the balloon (those suckers move faster than you'd think).  The guy can't get it completely stopped so when he hits the ground the basket is dragging the field at a slight angle.  I finally get to the basket and jump on and Mom and the crew hoist me over the edge (I've lost Dad a half-mile back).  Of course, then we're too heavy so Mom has to get out.  Mind you, we're still blowing along, basket dragging across this dirt field at an the crew in the basket boost Mom up and over the edge.  Tumble, bump, splat!!  Mom hit dirt and the balloon took flight and all I could think about was how exhilarating the flight was!  To this day I have no idea how Mom made it back to Dad, or how they both made it back to the car to continue the chase.

Thanks Mom and Dad.  I didn't grasp the magnitude of that parenting sacrifice in 1987.  But I get it now :-)

And now back to the present...

Today we did a little skating...

And a little base balling...

and a little dribbling...

These boys are so good at the things they choose to do....I am utterly amazed by them every day.  I don't have an athletic bone in my body so I guess all their balance, speed, rhythm, and coordination must've come from Matt because it DANG sure wasn't me!

These last 4 aren't from today....I just like them.

I finally managed to take a pic of my tree in bloom!!  I want to plant one that blooms purple too!

The boys play basketball in every single spare moment over in the neighbors driveway...

Every once in a while I threaten all the boys with terrible consequences (hugs and kisses...though Matt is never as terrified by this as J & G are) in order to get a pic for posterity...

And the ever important self-portrait.  I wouldn't show up in scrapbooks or blogs at all without them...

Monday, March 12, 2012

Italian Pot Pies

This dish makes me so's pure comfort food with an Italian flavor.  I usually serve them with nothing other than a glass of wine (or milk if you're an underage little Potts).  There's carrots and tomatoes in there and the wine is full of grapes so surely that counts as a serving or two of fruits and veggies...right?  Right.

Italian Pot Pies:

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
coarse salt and pepper
1 lb ground beef
1 jar Mezzetta:  Napa Valley Bistro Roasted Garlic pasta sauce
1 cup flour
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
4 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 450 and put rack in lowest position.  Heat oil over medium heat and add onions and carrots, season with salt and pepper.  Cook until tender, about 7 minutes.  Add beef and cook until no longer pink, about 4 minutes.  Add tomato sauce, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until meat mixture has thickened, 8-10 minutes.  Set aside.

Whisk flour, parmesan, baking powder, italian seasonings and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl.  Make a well in center and add butter and milk.  Stir just until dough comes together.

Spoon meat mixture into 4 8-oz ramekins and mound dough on top.  Place on large rimmed baking sheet covered in foil.  Bake until topping is golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 10-12 minutes.

Stuffed Poblanos

Oh, what a pain it is to make these Martha Stewart peppers, but they will be worth the pain.  I promise.  Serve with roasted cauliflower and margaritas for maximum happiness.

Start with some gorgeous poblanos.  Try to find peppers that will leave you with deep pockets to fill when you cut them in half.  The peppers that grow more squashed and flat will be difficult to stuff.

Now stuff them and thoroughly cheese them like so:

And bake until bubbly and scrum-diddly-umptious:

Stuffed Poblanos:

28 oz whole tomatoes in puree
1 jalapeño chile, minced
2 cups chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, whole
2 garlic cloves, minced
coarse salt and pepper
19 oz black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
2 cups shredded cheddar-jack cheese
1 tsp ground cumin
4 large poblanos, halved lengthwise, stems left intact, ribs and seeds removed

Preheat oven to 425.  In a blender, combine tomatoes, jalapeño, 1 cup of onions, and 2 whole garlic cloves. Puree and season with salt.  Pour sauce into a 9x13 dish, set aside.

Combine beans, cornmeal, 1/2 cup cheese, remaining onions, minced garlic, cumin, and 3/4 cup water. Season with salt and pepper.

Stuff poblano halves with bean mixture and place on top of sauce in baking dish.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese, cover tightly with foil.

Bake until poblanos are tender, about 45 minutes.  Uncover and cook until sauce is thickened slightly and cheese is browned, 10-15 minutes more.  Let cool 10 minutes.

Roasted Cauliflower:

Toss one head of roasted cauliflower, cored and cut into florets, with a couple tablespoons high quality olive oil, paprika, salt and pepper.  Spread evenly on a baking sheet and roast at 450 until lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

Margaritas (please, I beg you, resist the urge to use tequila and a margarita mix.  just don't do it):

1 oz Jose Cuervo
1/2 oz Grand Marnier
2 oz fresh lime juice
simple syrup to taste (equal parts sugar and water brought to a boil until sugar is dissolved)

Serve on the rocks in a salt rimmed glass with a lime wedge.

Paccheri and Cheese w/ Peas and Mint

This lovely creation is not mine.  It's from Bon Appetit magazine and is unusual and tasty all at the same time!  I didn't have a spring form pan so I just used a casserole dish and it worked brilliantly.

Photo and recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit Magazine


  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter plus more for pan
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan, divided (about 3 1/2 ounces total)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup shredded Fontina cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound paccheri rigati or rigatoni
  • 1 cup shelled fresh or frozen peas
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped arugula
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • 1 cup ricotta (about 9 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest


  • Butter pan. Dust pan all over with 1/3 cup Parmesan. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour; whisk for 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a simmer, whisking often. Reduce heat to medium. Cook, whisking frequently, until sauce is thickened, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in Fontina and 1 cup Parmesan. Add egg; whisk to blend. Season with salt and pepper. Cover sauce and keep warm.

  • Arrange a rack in upper third of oven; preheat to 375°. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until almost al dente (pasta will continue to cook while baking). Using a large slotted spoon, transfer pasta to a large bowl. Add peas to pasta water; cook until just tender, about 1 minute. Drain peas; add to bowl with pasta. Stir in cheese sauce. Add arugula, 1 cup parsley, and 1/2 cup mint to pasta mixture; mix to evenly incorporate.

  • Transfer half of pasta mixture to prepared pan. Mix ricotta and lemon zest in a small bowl; dot half of ricotta mixture over pasta. Spoon remaining pasta mixture into pan and dot with remaining ricotta mixture. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan.

  • Bake pasta for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan. Bake pasta until top is golden brown, about 10 minutes longer. Let rest for 30 minutes; remove pan sides. Sprinkle with 2 Tbsp. parsley and 2 Tbsp. mint and cut into wedges.

Green Smoothie!

Okay now....stop scrunching up your nose and judging my smoothie.  I'd bet money you haven't even tried it yet!  If you mix 'em right, they actually taste fruity-liscious.  Aaaaannnnnnnd, they're power packed with more nutrition than most of us get in a week.  Try this one on for size:

Hearty handful of baby Spinach
Splash of orange juice to loosen it up

Throw it all in a blender and, voila!

If you're a big chicken and just can't seem to get past the color, trade out a couple of the fruits for blueberries and dark sweet cherries and....

Try a little plain, non-fat greek yogurt too for some protein.

My friend Elizabeth recently convinced me to trade out the sugar heavy OJ for plain water.  You really don't lose that much sweetness and you up the health factor considerably.  I'm on to trying all kinds of fruits now and moving in to trying some more veggies.

Now go!  Go blend up some spinach-y goodness and if you try it and STILL have a scrunched up nose, pour in some vanilla vodka and blend a little more.  VV fixes everything.