But on Saturday morning my mother in law, momma and I got up and did some thrift shopping at some garage sales/estate sales/thrifty stores. We found a few good things which mainly included fabric for some upcoming projects but the day was mostly just fun because we got to spend it together. After shopping we met up with the guys and had a little Mexican dinner at one of the O'Neal favorites, Mercados.
We made it back after a little more shopping after lunch and soon got started on dinner where my mother in law and I tried a new spaghetti sauce recipe that turned out quite yummy! As always there were a few changes since we just used what we had on hand being a last minute meal.
First off, we halved everything in this recipe. It makes a lot. We used ground beef instead of sausage. Added some bell pepper with the onions. Used stewed tomatoes (because it's what we had). Italian seasoning instead of just basil. No brown sugar. And simmered for about 30 minutes. And everyone seemed to like it. :)
Jo Mama's World Famous Spaghetti
- 1 small onion , chopped (optional)
- 2 lbs. Italian sausage
- 3 -4 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
- 2 (15 ounce) cans tomato sauce
- 2 cups water (for a long period of simmering for flavors to meld. If you don't want to simmer it as long, add less)
- 3 teaspoons basil
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
- 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh coarse ground black pepper
- In large, heavy stockpot, brown Italian sausage, breaking up as you stir.
- Add onions and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until onions are softened.
- Add garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce and water.
- Add basil, parsley, brown sugar, salt, crushed red pepper, and black pepper.
- Stir well and barely bring to a boil.
- Simmer on low, stirring frequently for at least an hour. A longer simmer makes for a better sauce.
Today we spend most of the day relaxing in Athens until Daniel and his Dad started working on trucks and chopping wood (such men, I love it :). Thanks to Daniel's parents we now have enough fire wood to last us through the winter. If we ever get one in Texas this year.
We made it back to Dallas and pulled into to our apartment and saw this little table just outside.Please excuse how frumpy our couch looks today, it needs a little fluffing.
But Daniel and I unloaded it (and all of our fire wood) from the truck and got the table all cleaned up to see it was from Pier 1, which means it was decently made and free. We'll take it! We weren't really looking/wanting a coffee table but it matched so nicely. We probably will sand it down (there are a few small chips in the wood on one side) and then re-finish it. But we like DIY projects around here, especially free ones.
We got settled back into the house and I started making manicotti, one of our favorite pasta dishes.
I use this recipe below and stick to it pretty closely. I do half the ricotta cheese and use fresh spinach and no parm cheese.
Ricotta & Spinach Stuffed Manicotti
- 1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese
- 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 1/2 cup minced onion
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 6 1/2 cups Classico® Tomato and Basil Sauce
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 (8 ounce) package manicotti shells
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- In a large bowl, combine ricotta, spinach, onion and egg. Season with parsley, pepper and garlic powder. Mix in 1 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan. In a separate bowl, stir together pasta sauce and water.
- Spread 1 cup sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Stuff uncooked manicotti shells with ricotta mixture, and arrange in a single layer in the dish. Cover with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.
- Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 55 minutes, or until noodles are soft.
Another recipe we tried earlier this week that we thought was AMAZING was Zucchini Rice Casserole! We left of the turkey sausage and kept it just a veggie meal and we used whole milk instead of low fat (we're whole milk drinkers at this house ;) We also used about half the cream cheese. We really LOVED this recipe! But I have to warn that it takes an incredible amount of time. I made it on a Sunday which was perfect. I wouldn't recommend it for weekdays.
Zucchini Rice Casserole
- 1 1/2 cups long-grain brown rice
- 3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 4 cups diced zucchini , and/or summer squash (about 1 pound)
- 2 red or green bell peppers, chopped
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups low-fat milk
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups shredded pepper Jack cheese, divided
- 1 cup fresh or frozen (thawed) corn kernels
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 ounces turkey sausage, casings removed
- 4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese , (Neufchâtel)
- 1/4 cup chopped pickled jalapeños
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Pour rice into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bring broth to a simmer in a small saucepan. Stir hot broth into the rice along with zucchini (and/or squash), bell peppers, onion and salt. Cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, 35 to 45 minutes more.
- Meanwhile, whisk milk and flour in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until bubbling and thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add 1 1/2 cups Jack cheese and corn and cook, stirring, until the cheese is melted. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add sausage. Cook, stirring and breaking the sausage into small pieces with a spoon, until lightly browned and no longer pink, about 4 minutes.
- When the rice is done, stir in the sausage and cheese sauce. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup Jack cheese on top and dollop cream cheese by the teaspoonful over the casserole. Top with jalapeños.
- Return the casserole to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Let stand for about 10 minutes before serving.