December 26, 2011

Spaghetti for Christmas... Sort of

We decided to make up a big batch of our spaghetti sauce on Christmas day.  The idea was to have a nice, filling dinner and plenty of leftovers to eat for lunches. 

I spent the bulk of the afternoon making the sauce, but late in the afternoon, Juli realized we didn't have any spaghetti!  When making the list for the previous day's shopping list, we'd made sure to list all of the sauce ingredients we didn't have on stock, but somehow we forgot to add spaghetti.

Thankfully, we did have some macaroni on hand, so we had our spaghetti sauce with macaroni.   This made for a good meal, though perhaps not quite as nice as if we'd had the spaghetti.  We served it up with garlic bread and a side Caesar salad.

All in all, this made for a good first Xmas dinner in our new home.

December 25, 2011

Soup for Christmas Eve

Yesterday (Christmas Eve), I was really in the mood for my Mom and Dad's Italian Vegetable Supper Soup.  I thought it would be the perfect light dinner to have after playing for the 6 PM service at church.

I went to our new neighborhood HyVee, and man, were people ever grouchy.  Not the clerks, mind you- just the customers!  And every employee I interacted with commented how grinchy people had been all day long.  So, I went out of my way to be pleasant, even when there wasn't garlic bread or Graziano's sausage left.  I just bought some French bread, and we garlicked it ourselves.  I also bought Hyvee's in-house Italian sausage.  Christmas was not ruined.  Heh.

I left Jeffrey cooking as I went to church, but he unintentionally didn't quite follow the recipe.  And now a new classic is born!  It's kind of like Jonas Salk discovering the cure for penicillen by accident.  But in our case, without the mold.  Serendipity!

Jeffrey's Italian Vegetable and Bean Soup
yield = 6-8 servings 

1                package (1 pound) soup bean mix
1                pound lean ground beef
1                tablespoon olive oil
1                large white onion, finely chopped
1                cup peeled, diced carrots
1                cup diced celery
2                cloves garlic, chopped
1/2             teaspoon dried basil
1/2             teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/2             teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2             teaspoon dried oregano
1/2             teaspoon thyme
1/2             teaspoon table salt
1/4             teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 
8                cups chicken broth or stock
1                medium unpeeled zucchini, chopped
1/2             cup small shell pasta

1.  Bring 6 cups of water to a boil.  Add beans, cook 2 minutes, then cover and remove from heat.  Let the beans sit for 1 hour, then drain.

2.  Brown and drain the ground beef.  Set aside.  Add olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat.  When shimmering, add the onion, carrots and celery and cook until the vegetables have softened and started to lightly brown (about 10 minutes).  Add garlic, spices, and seasonings and cook, stirring, 1 minute.  Remove from heat. 

3.  Add chicken broth or stock to a large pot.  Add drained beans, cooked vegetables, and ground beef.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook 1 hour.  Stir in zucchini and pasta and cook an additional 15 minutes.  Serve with warm, crusty bread and enjoy.

Notes:  This is a great, thick, chunky soup.  If you want to make it brothier, we won't tell.  We like it chunky, but to each his own. :)

December 11, 2011

Christmas Coffee?

We continue to work on the move from small-town Iowa to the Des Moines metro.  I was so pleased that Jeffrey brought me my coffee maker last night- but then this morning I realized there wasn't any sugar!  Kind of.  I had my choice of decorator's sugar in six different shades, or powdered sugar.  I went with the green sprinkles. Heh.

I'm trying to decide if it's worth putting up a Christmas tree when there are still boxes and their contents everywhere.  It would be my first treeless Christmas ever.  My romantic side says it's worth the time/money investment, my practical side says we've had enough expenses and wouldn't it be better to use that time to just put everything away?  Not sure yet which side will win.  I will put up my nativity set no matter what, and really, that's more important to me.

I hope to have pictures for you soon, we don't have internet set up at the Dollhouse yet.

December 06, 2011

Hoops Have Been Jumped!

And....the house is ours!  Wow, do we have a lot of kitchen stuff to move!  It will take us some time to get everything arranged to our satisfaction, and then we'll be back to blogging.

When my head stops spinning from all the details I have to remember, the bank accounts and mailing addresses to change, the things that we have to buy to make the house functional (like curtains, curtain hardware, towel rods for the bathroom, a mailbox....) I will have a funny story to tell you about prepping for the move.