Friday, August 14, 2009

Romantic/GPS Picnic Idea

The Idea:

1st: Surprise husband at work with a romantic picnic. Made the food. Luckily, I called first and found that he was booked all week with business lunches.
2nd: GPS picnic: Use the geocache site to find some treasures on a river walk near our home. Add picnic items to our list of items to find hidden along the trail.
3rd: Deposit all picnic items around neighborhood using clues to find them. End up at a neighbors with a much nicer backyard for our picnic.
Reality: Severe sinus infection, high winds, rain. Don't want to waste my picnic. Simply laid the picnic out in the Family Room and watched Princess Protection Program with my babies and sweetheart.

Sometimes the best plans don't turn out. Oh well. I'll share some of my favorite picnic recipes with you all though.

Romantic Picnic Food

Strawberries Lemon Creme Blossoms Fabulous!

12 Strawberries, washed
4 oz. Cream Cheese, room temperature
2 T. Sour Cream
1 T. Lemon Juice
Lemon Zest

  1. Whip together cream cheese, sour cream, lemon juice and lemon zest.
  2. Slice off green at the top of strawberry.
  3. Cut strawberry in half almost to the base.
  4. Turn berry and cut crosswise almost to the base.
  5. With a spoon or pastry bag, pipe the creme filling into strawberry.
  6. Refrigerate till serving time.
Mellon Prosciuto Balls This is probably too grown up of a taste for little people. Mine ate it but I noticed that they didn't fill up on them.

1/2 cantelope
1/4 lb. thinly sliced prosciuto
1/8 cup lime juice
Mint Sprigs

Ball or slice mellon. I prefer larger slices to the smaller mellon balls. Pour lime juice over top and swish to coat. Wrap balls in 1/2 slice or slices in full slice of prosciuto. Secure with mint sprig.

Bruchetta on Baguettes From my friend Melanie. I eat so much of it, we call it Holly-Candy

Cream cheese or goat cheese
1 bunch basil, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
fresh ground pepper
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 small bottle capers, rinsed
1/2 tsp. olive oil
Parmesan Cheese

Brush baguettes with olive oil and a sprinkle of Parmesan. Toast in oven. Combine rest of ingredients (tomatoes, basil, capers, garlic, olive oil, and pepper) Let sit for a minute.

Spread goat or cream cheese on toast, then the bruschetta, or just serve with bruschetta on toast.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Barbarian Spagetti Dinner

The Story:

As a teenager, I hosted a barbarian dinner date for a group. A vague memory whispered we'd had a lot of fun. Of course, at sixteen, that usually has much more to do with who you're with than what you are doing. I wondered if it would still be fun, or if my kids might like it. Even more importantly, would itbe a good prequel for a manners dinner I might follow up with?

I covered the table with plastic wrap and taped it down. A dish towel was placed on the back of each chair to be tied around each diner. We ate spaghetti, green salad, and rosemary peasant bread off the table. No dishes, no utensils.

I got several squeals of glee as I plopped each serving in front of everyone. "But mom, I don't have a fork."

"Hmmmm. How can you eat it then?"

Some liked it. Some LOVED it and took full advantage of the opportunity to pig out. Sadly, Briz and I are past the time when this is true fun for us. We didn't love the feel of spaghetti slipping through our fingers or watching Little Mother's hair drip with sauce as she licked off the table.

To our credit, we kept our mouths shut and let our little ones fully enjoy the change of routine. When they were finished, we herded them giggling and skipping, straight upstairs into a bath.

Clean up was a breeze. I simply rolled up the plastic wrap and into the garbage it went. No dishes!

The Recipe:

Everyone has a favorite spaghetti recipe or likes to use Prego or Ragu. I still feel that this one is worth sharing. After years of searching and experimenting, this is the best recipe I've found. Everyone LOVES it. My husband prefers a version with meat, and I prefer it without so usually we have it with meat. Yep. I'm a sucker for my sweetie. The secret to a really great sauce is time. Great sauce is a product of time and patience. For those who work all day, the crock pot becomes valuable. For me, I put the sauce on to simmer in the early afternoon and by dinner time the flavors have melded amazingly. I really feel that this sauce is worth a try. Double it and you've got a layer for lasagna the next day.

Jo Mamma's Spaghetti Sauce- makes 2 quarts

1 lb Italian sausage, casings removed
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1 can tomato sauce
1 cup water (If you don't want to simmer it as long, add less
1 1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 Tbs. fresh basil (optional... I use when it's in my garden)
1 tsp. parsley flakes
3/4 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8-1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 cup red wine (if you use it for cooking. I rarely do.)

  1. In large heavy stockpot, brown sausage, breaking up as you stir.
  2. Add onions and continue to cook until onions are softened.
  3. Add garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water.
  4. Add basil, parsley, brown sugar, salt, and peppers.
  5. Stir well and barely bring to a boil.
  6. Stir in wine if you are using it.
  7. Simmer on low, stirring occasionally for at least an hour. Just be careful not to let it burn!If adding fresh basil, add it toward the end of cooking time. It keeps its fresh taste better.
  8. Cook spaghetti according to package directions.
  9. Spoon sauce over drained spaghetti noodles and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.