Monday, January 26, 2015

Uncle Ken Cooking Challenge 2015--Chicken Carbonara 3/52

Hi Friends!

This week I tried my hand at an Italian classic:  Chicken Carbonara.  I found this recipe on the Food Channel—it’s from Giada De Laurentiis, so I knew it would be good.  It’s actually a pretty simple recipe and everybody (especially Jack!) enjoyed it.  I would encourage you to go ahead and do the garnish—the lemon peel and walnuts really added to the deliciousness of this recipe.  Ready for the recipe?  Here you go:


2 teaspoons olive oil
4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
8 large egg yolks
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 pound spaghetti
4 cups coarsely shredded chicken (from 1 roasted chicken)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel


Heat the oil in a heavy large frying pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and garlic and saute until it is brown and crisp, about 8 minutes. Cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cream, cheese, yolks, basil, and parsley to blend.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the spaghetti and cook until it is just tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Drain.

Add the chicken to the pan with the pancetta and stir to combine. Next, add the spaghetti and the cream mixture and toss over medium-low heat until the chicken is heated through and the sauce coats the spaghetti thickly, about 4 minutes (do not boil or you might end up scrambling the eggs). Season the pasta, to taste, with pepper and salt if needed (the pancetta will likely add all the salt you need). Transfer the pasta to a large wide serving bowl. Sprinkle the walnuts and lemon zest over, and serve.

As always—please let me know what you think if you try it!  I am loving this challenge so far! Hooray for trying new things!


Friday, January 23, 2015

Five For Friday!

(photo from here)

Hi Friends!

Hooray!  It's Friday--my favorite!!  This week has kind of been a mixed bag--some good moments and some not-so-good moments.  I'm ready for the weekend!

Here's some things I came across this week that are definitely worth checking out--enjoy!

1.  I'm pretty sure I'm not going to make it to any of these places in 2015, but it sure was fun to look through this list and dream a bit. Side note:  Cleveland made the list.  Cleveland?  Also:  Tulsa. Interesting.

2.  Jordan wants to host 52 dinner parties in 2015.  She's pretty much my entertaining hero, so I'm looking forward to seeing how she does each one.

3,  You've probably seen this Jimmy Fallon/Nicole Kidman interview already, but if not, it's worth watching.  Cutest and most awkward interaction between two celebrities, ever!

4.  I loved this post Lisa wrote about Loving Each Other in the Mundane.

5.  One of my favorite artists, Kal Barteski, worked her script magic on a few cakes.  I love the results.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!


PS  I know it's only January, but I am already dreaming about getting out on my bike.  Spring fever is a real thing for me right now.  Conversely, I'd love it if we had a gigantic snow storm.  Either one would be great.  Please and thank you.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Project Life 2015!

Hi Friends!

I am so excited to be back at it for another year of Project Life!  This will be my fourth year doing PL, and I am very excited about capturing all of life's big and little moments. Last year was filled with lots of big life moments. I ended up making a lot of scrapbooks for other people, which definitely affected my own books.  Over Christmas break I printed out hundreds of photos from 2014, and I managed to get them all into my album.  This year, I'm going to try not to let anything get in the way of my Project Life albums, but I'm also not going to stress if I don't have a layout for every week.  I'm planning on doing a hybrid book--some weeks' layouts will capture the entire week, and sometimes I'm just going to capture a big event that happened during the week.  I think the flexibility of this plan will help me stay on track in 2015.  The most important part for me is getting my pictures off of my computer and into my albums.

I started 2015's album with pictures from the New Year's Eve party, since the party extended into the start of 2015.
 The girls took a whole big bunch of photos, so I had plenty of good ones to choose from.
 Some highlights from January 1-4:
I also did a page detailing my One Little Word for 2015: Progress.  I decided not to do a separate album for my word this year, I'm going to just weave it into my PL layouts every now and then.
January 5-11 included Maddie's birthday and GG's big party.  I printed out the blog post I wrote for Maddie and included it next to the one and only picture I took of her on her birthday.  That week was also the week I resigned from my job as assistant coach at the high school.  I included a copy of the letter I sent to the team.
 John came home from Israel that week, so I included a portion of his airline ticket.  I wanted the actual ticket from Israel, but he didn't keep it.  I've got to remember to tell him to save all his future tickets!
I am working on last week's spread right now.  It is almost entirely made up of photos from my trip to Champaign last weekend.  It was such a great trip.  I will write about it in a separate post.

Hooray for Project Life!



Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Uncle Ken Cooking Challenge 2015: Rustic Italian Tortellini Soup 2/52

  • Hi Friends!

    I love, love, love week two's recipe--Rustic Italian Tortellini Soup.  I love it so much, in fact, that I've already made it twice in 2015.  There's something about the tortellini and all that garlic and the sausage and basil that makes this soup so darn good.  I also love the little kick from the crushed red pepper.  This soup will definitely warm you up on a cold winter's night!  Here's the recipe:
  • Rustic Italian Tortellini Soup
  • Ingredients:
  • 3 Italian turkey sausage links (4 ounces each), casings removed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1-3/4 cups water
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 package (9 ounces) refrigerated cheese tortellini
  • 1 package (6 ounces) fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons minced fresh basil or 3/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Dash crushed red pepper flakes
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese, optional


Crumble sausage into a Dutch oven; add onion. 
  • Cook and stir over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. 
  • Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the broth, water and tomatoes. Bring to a boil.
  • Add tortellini; return to a boil. Cook for 7-9 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
  • Reduce heat; add the spinach, basil, pepper and pepper flakes. 
  • Cook 2-3 minutes longer or until spinach is wilted. 
  • Serve with cheese if desired. 

Enjoy!!  As always, let me know what you think if you try this recipe!



Monday, January 19, 2015

A Perfect 100

 Hi Friends,

A couple of weeks ago John's grandma turned 100 years old!  All of us who have been blessed to be loved by her gathered to celebrate her amazing life.  One hundred years is a long time, and I can honestly say that John's grandma (we all call her "GG", which stands for "Great Grandma") has made the most of them.  She has touched so many people throughout her lifetime.
GG lived with John while he was growing up, and he will be the first to tell you that his life was better because she was a daily part of it.
 (GG with her four kids--John's mom is on the far right)

When I first started dating John, GG immediately welcomed me to the family.  I had an official family Christmas sweater by the first Christmas John and I were together.  I still have it and still wear it.  Fun fact:  my Christmas pattern matched the one she made for herself.  You can see it in the last picture of her on the cake.
 It was so fun to see all of John's side gathered together to celebrate GG.  Check out this picture of GG with all of her great grandkids:
 And I love this one of my three:
I think a lot about what I will be remembered for.  When I think about GG, I think about her card playing skills, all the loaves of fresh-baked bread she baked, clipping coupons, handmade sweaters, hats, and scarves, and the world's best pasta salad.   She taught us about the importance of putting family first.  Everything she does revolves around her family.  That's the best legacy of all, isn't it?
Happy Birthday to an amazing woman.  I love you, GG!



Saturday, January 17, 2015

Just a Peek

 Hi Friends!

Thought you might want just a little peek at what just walked out the door here tonight--aren't they all stunning?
 They are headed to Cotton Club--a dinner dance at the high school that has a vintage theme.
My girlie-girls are gorgeous, aren't they?!?!?