Saturday, October 24, 2009

Spaghetti Sauce 101

So, this is blatant copying. Well the format at least, the recipe is a family favorite. Pioneer Woman does it all the time, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. I wanted to share our family recipe for spaghetti sauce, or as some of those from Italian decent would call "gravy." The recipe comes from my step-grandmother, Nana Vita. She was a lovely old woman. Ok, perhaps she was a little crotchety. Alright, a lot crotchety, but the woman could could. Nana Vita would make this sauce all the time when we visited her house. As she was nearing the end of her life, my mom politely asked for the recipe, and Nana Vita would constantly rebuff my mom. Then my mom went to a little less polite and said, "If you don't teach me how to make this soon, you're going to die and your son will never eat his favorite meal again!" Way to make nice with the old lady mom. The tactic, however crass, worked and my mom was taught the secret recipe. She then passed the recipe to me. The key, I have learned over the years, is to be patient, and let this sauce cook, forever. I learned this during one batch I made one evening, and fell asleep while it was cooking. I woke up the next day to the house smelling amazing, and the sauce tasting the best I had ever made. If you want to eat it at night, you have to start first thing in the morning. I suggest even making it one morning, letting it cook all day, cool, refrigerate, and then warm it up again the next day. Then it is pretty close to amazing!

Enough blabber, let's get to the cooking!!

First, the ingredients.

Onion, garlic, olive oil, one large can of crushed tomatoes, one small can of tomato past, one small can of tomato sauce (my cans are bigger as I am making a double batch here), fresh basil, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley flakes, one package Italian sausage, and about 1 1/2lbs of ground beef. Not pictured are eggs, salt, pepper, oregano and sugar.

Dice the onion

Peel, then mince the garlic. For a single batch I use 3-4 cloves for the sauce and 3-4 cloves for the meatballs.

Saute onions and garlic in a good amount of olive oil (few tbls)

Them because Vita did it this way, as a heaping 1/3cup of sugar, salt, pepper and oregano to the can of crushed tomatoes (remember, I'm making a double batch).

After the onions and garlic are soft, add the crushed tomatoes with its extras, plus the paste and sauce to the pan. Then fill up the can from the crushed tomatoes with water, and put that in as well. Add about 7-8 basil leaves and bring sauce to a simmer.
Now it is time to get the meat ready. For the meatballs, to the ground beef add two eggs, the minced garlic, about a tbls or more of parsley flakes, 3/4c bread crumbs, 3/4c Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.

Mix with your hands until all the ingredients are distributed evenly, but don't overwork you meat as that will make the meatballs tough.

Sometimes I add a little water to my meatballs to make them nice and moist. By the end they should look like this.

While I am mixing the meatballs, I have generally already started browning the sausage in a generous amount of olive oil. I usually make a test meatball and fry it up, just to make sure my seasonings are good and everything tastes good.

Once the sausages are done browning on all sides, add then to the sauce.
Roll your ground beef mixture into the meatball size of your choice, I go kind of medium-sized.

The brown your meatballs in the same pan as the sausage.

Then add them to the pan.

When you are done, the pan is gonna be filled to the top. Don't worry, this will change. As it cooks down, you'll lose a couple inches, and that's what you want.

While you are cooking, you're going to notice some grease/fat accumulating on the top of the sauce.

Go ahead and skim that off with a spoon. In general I save the tomato sauce can for this skimming and often fill it up with excess grease.

Like, I said, this sauce needs to cook ALL DAY, for you to get the best results. See how it has cooked way down, concentrating the goodness of the sauce.

Boil yourself up a pound of pasta, my fave is is cavatappi, a curly pasta with a tube in the middle and ridges on the outside, because it holds lots of sauce! Today we only had rigatoni, which works just fine. It was actually more than fine - it was amazing!

He Needs to Grow a Pair of Balls

Ok, I know, terribly inappropriate. But the hubby put me up to it. And no, the title is not in reference to the hubby. We would be talking about Boo. Yes, I realize he is only five, and not expected to handle every situation like a man. The title was uttered by yours truly after my fourth or fifth trip to Boo's room in the middle of the night. Boo was just getting over being sick, and that night got up more times I than I could count. Each time with a different, tear-laden problem. "My legs hurts" "I hear a ghost" "I have to pee" "I'm so tired" To the last one I say no shit, me too. And after the last one, I huffed back to bed and said to the hubby, "He needs to grow a pair of balls." The hubby laughed and said, "I want that to be the title of your next blog post." Can't wait to get all the hits from the Google searches for this one!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Quotes of the Day

Guess who said the following quotes...

"You know, I make grown ups laugh!"

"I already passed flexible at school."


Monday, September 28, 2009


Boo came home last week from school to tell me about something he had learned today. It went something like this:

Me: How was school today Boo?
Boo: Good, we learned about buckets.
Me: Buckets? (wondering why my hefty tuition was paying for lessons on buckets)
Boo: Yes, buckets. There are two kinds of people, Mom - bucket dippers and bucket fillers. Bucket dippers are the kind of people who are always dipping into other people's buckets by saying mean things like, "I don't like you" or "you're not my friend." Bucket fillers are the kind of people who say or do nice things. They help you with your work or tell you "I love you" or "I like your orange shirt." And when they do these nice things they fill up the other person's bucket, but also fill up their own bucket at the same time. So we should all try to be bucket fillers.
Me: I love you Boo (and hugged him knowing that if it is just for this, the hefty tuition is more than worth it).

Last weekend I spent four days with many bucket fillers. Women and men (well one specific man) who have worked hard to help others, but at the same time have made their lives so much richer.

The Liz Logelin Foundation is a charity that hopes to assist widows and widowers with young children. Two events took place last weekend in beautiful Minnesota, events that raised thousands of dollars for families in need. The events also brought together a group of friends, who may have only met on the internet, but have friendships that will last for a long time. A few pictures from the weekend:

Lauren, Danielle, and I at the pool party.

One of my faves, Becky and the Wienermobile:
Kate, Me, Danielle:

All the girls plus Matt:

Thanks to everyone who made the weekend so memorable. And thanks to my hubby for holding down the fort while I was gone!

Monday, August 17, 2009


Someone landed on my blog from Nigeria. While I usualy adore the international crowd checking me out, he came here after googling "baby cannibalism". Now, yes, I do have a post titled Baby Cannibalism, but it was the I-love-you-so-much-I-could-eat-you kinda baby cannibalism. Not the I'm-really-hungry kind.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Glob = Magic on a plate

When we were young, my sister and I were latch key kids. My Mom worked all day, so after school (when we were old enough of course) we would come alone. Grandma Helen was just downstairs in her apartment, so it's isn't as if we were really alone, but we felt like it. My schedule consisted of finishing whatever homework I had, then settling in to watch that days episode of Days of Our Lives that I had dutifully taped. Around 5ish my sister and I would begin to prepare dinner for my mom, making whatever she had left instructions for. Though I know there were many different meals, the ones I vividly remember making were Glob and Hamburger Helper. Hamburger Helper is pretty self explanatory, but the following is a recipe for Glob:
2 cups elbow macaroni
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 can tuna drained
Cook pasta in salted boiling water, drain, add soup and tuna and mix altogether. Then spoon a "glob" onto everyone's plate.
I know you may be judging me, thinking that it sounds gross, but instead it is like magic on a plate. Last night when we had an unexpected long afternoon, the hubby took over cooking duties and my plate was filled with magic three times over. And it was so good.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Oh No She Di-int

This morning we were a little late getting out of the house for swim practice, what else is new. I was hurrying up breakfast and told Sister there would be no time for her usual two waffles with syrup. Instead I made this suggestion:

Me: Sister, I'll make you a PB&J sandwich on waffles, it is so good.
Sister: Have you had it before?
Me: Oh yeah, I used to eat it all the time when I was young.
Sister: They had waffles back then?

Yep, she went there.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Quote of the Day...Mom Style

The kids aren't the only ones allowed to say funny things. Tonight when I was requesting that Sister get out of the tub, I pulled out a doozy.

Sister: I can't get out of the tub without your help.
Me: If you can't out of the tub by youself at the age of seven, then I am going to have to take you to the doctor, and I'm sure whatever is wrong with you will require major surgery.

Score another one for MOTY!!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Quotes of the Day

"We like to eat wienies"

"Mom, how old will I be in the future?"

Bet you can't guess who said 'em!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Week in Pictures

It was quite a week, one that we probably won't forget.

It started with some hardcore, bedhead-inducing sleep.

Followed by a performance of Once Upon a Lily Pad.

With a little time spent with Grandma afterwards.

Then on to Monday's swim meet. Sister and Boo love the team spirit aspect of the meets. Mostly this includes writing "tattoos" all over each other, everyone's favorite being "Eat My Bubbles". The downside of having a bunch of six and seven years olds writing on your back...sometimes they misspell stuff - note Sister's back.

Boo swam in his first meet.

And was named Swimmer of Meet for his age group!

Tess-a-Bess played with her cousin's dog, dispelling the fact that all our children are afraid of dogs.

Towards the end of the week, we headed into the city partake in some downtown fun. We walked past Millennium Park to get tot he Taste of Chicago and saw this cute duck on a small park pond.

We ate lots of good food, and tried some new things (sesame beef on a stick was the big hit). Boo and Sister loved their treats from Aunt Diana's.

And Tess-a-Bess loved the pizza from Home Run Inn.

We checked out some sculptures at Millennium Park.

Posed for Mom

And pretended we were statues.

Then we all decided to get a little wet!

The week was rounded out with a little fireworks with good friends.

Other things that were not documents by pictures (mainly to spare you the gory details) was Tess-a-Bess's penchant for pooping in the tub. Three baths in a row we were graced by the sudden appearance of "floaters" in the water. Nothing makes for more fun than being home alone with three kids in the tub, when one of them drops a brick in the tub. You can imagine the shrieks and cleaning that follows.

Finally, while running on Monday morning, I helped another runner on the trail. She happened to have had a massive heart attack, and with the help of another woman, we were able to give her CPR and keep her with us until the EMS arrived. The last I talked to her family, she was doing well, but still had some recovering to do. I was happy to be at the right place at the right time. The experience has been another one that has helped me appreciate those around me and understand how truly great life really is!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I realize as the kids get older, they will come up with clever and crafty excuses to avoid punishment for their natty behavior. I just didn't know it would happen soon.

Yesterday, Boo comes up to me and Tess-a-Bess while we are playing. He has a Blue plush toy that he begins to tickle Tess-a-Bess with. After a few minutes of making his sister squeal with delight, he turns to me and proudly shows me Blue's head where he has written an "A" and a "R."

Me: Boo! What in the world did you do that for?

At this point his face drops. I love when kids proudly show you things that they shouldn't have done, clearly not knowing their mistake. Their faces go from pure joy to plain upset in 2.2 seconds.

Boo: I'm sorry Mom.
Me: Boo we only write on paper, nothing else. You are a big boy now, you should know this.
Boo: But I didn't do it today Mom, I did it when I was four!

See, Boo turned five last week. I, of course, thought this was genius, and had to turn away to hide my smile.

Kind of reminds me of the time when Boo and Sister went across the street to play with friends. The hubby and I were home playing with Tess-a-Bess when all of a sudden we hear the front door open. Boo comes strolling in without Sister. The hubby inquires as to who walked Boo across the street (being that he isn't allowed to cross by himself). Boo states that Tom helped him cross the street. When he saw the shocked look on the hubby's face, he quickly added, "Tom is old Dad, he's seventeen!" The kid's got a point.

If he is making these kind of excuses now, what do you think he'll come up with five years from now?!?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Freckle Faces

I love the beginning of summer. After a couple days out in the sun (even with proper sunscreen applied) everyone's freckles pop again. Everyone looks even that much cuter.

Sister has freckles everywhere, like someone sprinkled freckle dust all over her. She got her first freckle when she was 18 mos old, 4th of July weekend, on her arm. We point that one out to her all the time.

Boo has the best freckles on his face, like a Norman Rockwell painting. Not as much on his arms and legs, but he'll get there, he has no choice. His first freckle arrives around the year old mark, on his left cheek.

Of course you would think that being a baby, Tess-a-Bess would still have lily-white skin, with not a freckle in sight. But given my Mother of the Year status, she got her first freckle when she was 4mos old. Because despite keeping your baby in the shade during your daily trip to the pool, I guess sun still reflects off the pool and freckles are formed. Now, she has a light dusting of unbelievably adorable freckles across her nose and cheeks. However, she is a baby and apparently to busy moving for a close up.

My goal is to get that adorable freckle face shot before the end of summer...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Election 2044

Sister has stated many a time that she wants to be the president. I think she was inspired by the recent election and all of the Obama love. Though she will often use the line of, "I want to make a difference" Today at lunch, she laid out her campaign strategy...

Sister: I think I want to be president, but first I am going to be a clothing designer.
Me: Oh, and then when you are done, it's on to the presidency?
Sister: Yes, I mean I know plenty of people, so when they go to vote they see my name and think, 'I know that Molly, I guess I'll vote for her.' And then I'll win!
Me: Yep, I guess it will be just that easy.

Maybe we should give her some lessons on the finer points of campaigning and getting her name out there before actual voting day.


Do you ever had those awkward moments. You know the "why-the-fuck-did-that-insane-garble-just-come-out-of-my-mouth" kind of awkward moment. The ones where sometimes if when you wake up in the middle of the night and remember your awkward moment you spend an hour awake thinking about it and shuddering.

Yep, I have those moments often. It's part of my catch-phrasey way of talking, I think. I always have to have a nickname for everyone, or at the very least call them "hon" "babe" or "doll." I also hang out with three small children frequently, and have a tendency to refer to things in kids terms, "potty" "nappers" and positive reinforcement are frequent parts of my vocabulary. When you mix this all together and throw it in the adult world, sometimes awkward moments can occur.

Like the other day, I was at a friend's house with a few other people. Said friend's boyfriend asked me a question. I responded with "something, something, babe" Huh? No one looked up quickly in horror, so either they didn't notice or they are used to my idiot ramblings.

Even better was at work the other day. I was on the way out and the doc at work was telling me about he had made a command decision not to participate in some doctor event in the area that evening. My response, "good girl!" First the doc is a guy, second...good girl, are you kidding me. Want to know how I recovered? "Good boy!" Oh. my. goodness. Just kill me now, I hung my head in shame and walked out the door.

So, babe...what's your most awkward moment?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Party of Six?

Boo has an imaginary friend, Tom. Actually Tom is his imaginary brother. Here is what we have learned about Tom to date:

- Tom is 17
- Tom was given up by his original parents, at which time we adopted him
- Tom was in high school, but graduated
- Tom is currently working at Pizza Hut, he makes the pizzas in the back
- Tom rides a motorcycle
- Tom has a imaginary dog named Pumpernickel
- Tom will be attending college in the fall, at which time he will move out of the house
- Tom is inconsistent in his participation in family events - sometimes he joins us, sometimes he doesn't, sometimes he has this canny ability of suddenly popping up out of the middle of nowhere and continuing with us on our day

It is funny that at almost five Boo has dreamed up this imaginary brother. Though it may have to do with the fact that the baby is a sister, not a brother. To which many have said, "have another!' I think we'll stick with Tom...he's almost out of the house!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

What a Year

What a difference a year makes. What an addition a baby makes to complete a family.

Here's me a little more than a year ago:

Tess-a-Bess arrives:

She is loved by Sister:

And by Boo:

And Mommy (Daddy too!):

She gets clean (1 mos):

And sleeps (6 weeks - there's Daddy!):

And smiles (2mos):

And plays at the pool (3mos):

And has fun (4mos):

And plays (5mos):

And makes us laugh (6mos):

And gets presents (7mos):

And tries new food (8mos):

And plays at the pool (9mos):

And plays at another pool (10mos):

And goes to the zoo (11mos):

And plays outside (11.5 mos)

And celebrates her birthday (12mos!):

Happy Birthday to the best baby a family ever had, what would we do without our Tess-a-Bess. She is clever, sweet, smart, adorable, hilarious, easily entertained and just about the most squeezable thing you've ever seen. We love our Tess-a-Bess!