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Since I have finished with the first part of my college education, and I like to think that I have more spare time (which I’m not sure is an actual thing that exists), I feel like I should cook more. Reality is I don’t but when I do, I like to think it was a masterpiece. (Can it be a masterpiece if it’s someone else’s recipe? Like, a plagiarized masterpiece…)

So here is my new (hopefully at least) weekly blog: What’s for dinner? Cool picture header coming soon…

This specific night was to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday. Hope you enjoy as much as we did!

Main Dish: Four-Cheese and Pesto Italian Baked Spaghetti (Paula Deen)

1 pound uncooked spaghetti

1 pound ricotta cheese

Two 6 to 7 ounce containers prepared pesto

2 1/2 cups (3/4 pound) shredded mozzarella

1 cup (1/4 pound) grated parmesan cheese

1 cup (1/4 pound) crumbled goat cheese

Serves 6

1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Grease a flameproof 13 by 9 inch baking dish. Cook the spaghetti for 2 minutes less than the package directions specify. Drain the spaghetti well and transfer it to a bowl. Stir in the ricotta, pesto, 1 cup of the mozzarella, 1/2 cup of the parmesan, and the goat cheese. Toss the mixture well and transfer it to the baking dish.

2. Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella and 1/2 cup parmesan over the pasta. Bake until the cheese is melted, about 20 minutes. Turn the oven setting to broil and broil for 1 minute or until golden. Serve hot.

*After we tried this, we think there might be too much pesto as it seemed to overpower all the different cheese flavors. Next time we will try less pesto. Also, I recommend tossing the pesto and spaghetti first as doing it with the cheese was difficult and didn’t spread as well. We also added chicken that we cooked beforehand. But following the recipe was great too!

We served this with bread and sauteed squashes. Yummy!

Drink: Minty Southern Sweet Tea (Paula Deen)

Makes about 2 quarts

7 tea bags (black leaf, such as lipton)

1 small bunch of fresh mint, plus extra leaves, for garnish

1 cup sugar

1. In a large pot, bring 4 cups water to a boil. Add the tea bags and mint; stir. Let the tea steep for 1 hour. Remove the tea bags.

2. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 cup water and the sugar to a boil; simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, then pour it into the tea. Add 4 cups cold water and stir to combine. Transfer the tea to a large pitcher. Serve the tea over ice, garnished with mint leaves.

*I do recommend straining the mint out of the tea, unless you like to eat mint while you drink tea.

Dessert: Lemon Bars with Fresh Blueberry Sauce (Barefoot Contessa)

To stray away from a traditional birthday cake, we made lemons bars (store bought) and dressed them up with this delicious sauce!

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (3 oranges)

2/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon of cornstarch

4 half-pints fresh blueberries

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Makes 2 cups

Combine the orange juice, sugar, and cornstarch in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. When the mixture is translucent and thickened, stir in the blueberries and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes, just until a few berries have burst but most are still whole. Stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice and cool.

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Parenting was always something that worried me.  Having sort of rough examples growing up, I was not sure what parenting was supposed to look like. When I became a Christian I thought I had a better idea and through my many adventures as a nanny I thought I had an even better idea.  When our friends started having kids and I worked at a shelter for pregnant mothers I felt that I would have a good handle on what parenting is and how to parent well when we had our own. When I got pregnant that world was turned upside down with parenting theories, should’s and shouldn’ts being thrown at us and constantly conflicting advice. Now that Bella has been here for a while (9months! can you believe it?) I don’t really know that my mind is settled with how to parent correctly.  Of course, we have our ideas of what parenting should look like (we don’t care if she plays with our shoes, but I probably wouldn’t get a used helmet) but sometimes I am shocked by what shocks other people (playing with our shoes, I mean, she crawling on the floor anyway) and then shocked at what shocks me that other people do (never saying no or overly reasoning with a 5 year old). Through my extensive training (that sounds pretty good doesn’t it?) in parenting through school and various jobs, I feel confident that I can help a family in need of better parenting skills, but I still wonder if there really is one correct way to do things or at least one style that is better than the others (although we are all individual couples which would suggest we all have different styles…).

What are your thoughts?

“These raisins should be more juicy.” -Kyle

Yes, he did say it was an oxymoron but really, they should be…

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In other news, I might be reading the blogess too much because there are some things that are really frustrating me right now and I feel like venting about it in some mean sarcastic way, but then I realize they might sometime read it and that would be mean…

Maybe I should make a mean blog that I don’t tell friends about and then people could read it and think “Hey, that sounds sort of like something that happened to me” but not know for sure so it’s not mean directly but more indirectly so it’s ok.  

Anyways, it’s late, I should probably go sleep it off before the next thing happens and someone ends up with a lashing 🙂

as part of positive post tuesday i would like to introduce you all to kyle’s parents, my in-laws, my parents, our bell’s grandparents, tony and sheryl, the carpenters.

img_3353these people have been such an inspiration in my life.  they are great parents who love their kids so much and loved me like their own the first day they even met me.  i was instantly welcomed into their family before i ever became a legal part of it.  they have shown me real parents love and acceptance and support.  they are always willing to give themselves to help family or friends and just shine god’s love daily.  i would never have been able to move away from my family if i did not know i was going to have them close by.  they have a way of making everything ok and seeing them now with our daughter brings tears to my eyes, you can just see how much they love her, and how cool is that?  i appreciate all the help they give us now and have given us through the years and how much i know they will give in the future.  i could not have received better in-laws.  i am proud to say i am part of their family, and not everyone gets to say that.  thanks tony and sheryl, i love you guys!