Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Who Needs a Burger and Baked Beans Anyway?

     It was so hot here in Illinois on the 4th of July, that for the first time I can remember, we didn't grill outside. We use our grill all year long and I don't mind asking my husband to stand outside in the snow for a grilled chicken breast, but when the heat index is pushing 115-I just wanted him to stay inside. I decided to cook something completely not appropriate for the 4th and much more fattening than we usually have. According to my son, it was the best pasta he had ever eaten! No recipe...I was just "winging" it.


Ground beef (turkey or chicken would be fine)
Pasta Sauce (1 jar or same amount of homemade)
Low Fat Ricotta Cheese
Penne Pasta (or whatever shape you like)
Shredded Mozzarella

     In a skillet, brown the ground beef (I only used half of what was shown raw above) and drain. Stir in the jar of pasta sauce. In a separate pan, prepare the pasta according to directions. We like a lot of sauce in our pasta dishes, so I only used about half the box of pasta. Drain the pasta and add to the meat/sauce mixture.

     We love ricotta cheese, so I used a large spoon and placed "globs" of it over the top of the pasta. It almost looked like I was cooking dumplings.

Cover the top of the pasta/ricotta
mixture with a package of mozzarella cheese.

     Put the lid on your skillet and on low heat let the cheeses melt. We had ours with a salad and crusty bread. It is very easy and oh, so good!

     This is the pasta sauce I used. I bought it at Walmart and it did cost more than all the other sauces, but it was excellent and worth the extra money.

For dessert, I tried to keep it more 4th of July friendly.
I made my typical trifle. You can find the recipe for it here.
It is low fat to offset the pasta dish!

     I'm still trying to get into the mood for blogging. This heat and drought seem to have fried my brain. I don't feel creative and while I'm trying to get around to visit everyone, I am still behind on my visits. We have a trip coming up soon, so I may never get caught up...but, I'm trying! It was 104 today, our yard is dead and our plants are mostly gone even though we have watered them. Our fish died in our fountain (I think they cooked) and the cornfield behind our house is truly sad to see. I really feel for the farmers, the loss is major and the worst they have seen in many decades. I feel as if we should be stocking up on corn products now before the prices go up! I hope there is rain where you live!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Oh Yes She Did!

Who me?

     You may have noticed that I haven't been around lately...well, SOMEONE decided to snack on my laptop power cord and chew it in half. So, I had a dead computer. Living in small town USA, I had to order in a new cord and it just arrived, so I'm back in business. I hope to spend some time this weekend catching up with all of you! 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Food as Art

     We are in the midst of a major heat wave and drought here in South Central Illinois. I'm sure many of you are experiencing the same thing. We have had heat warnings for days and the current one runs until Saturday night. Last night we got about 10 minutes of a light rain, the first in weeks. It was funny to see the neighbors (including us) all go outside when the rain started just to enjoy the moment. I don't know about you, but decorating just isn't something I'm in the mood for right now. 

     After spending most of Saturday afternoon napping and reading, by Sunday afternoon I was stir crazy in the house. I decided to clean my already clean house just to have something to do and I put a few things away that I had sitting on the kitchen counters. Something about this weather makes me want a "less is more" look right now. We had made a trip about 30 miles away on Saturday morning for our first peaches of the season. I love how they look in my wooden bread bowl. I think the natural look this time of year is so much prettier and more artistic than anything you can buy at a gift shop. Plus, the peaches smell so good in the kitchen!

     A stop at an Amish vegetable stand Saturday and we had beautiful "tomato art" as well. There really is nothing like a fresh tomato to scream SUMMER!

     I didn't make a lot of changes in other parts of the kitchen. The cookbook is turned to a summer page, the towel has a beachy look and some colorful favorite cookbooks brighten a spot near the stove.

     You can see a couple Disney items (you can't have a daughter working for Disney and not have a little tribute to Mickey) along with signs my daughter bought me. We use the granite cheeseboard to hold some wine items. I have heat resistant cutting boards in a couple of locations in the kitchen. I don't like the look, but I do like being able to take things from the oven and have a place to put them. I also keep a few trays within reach, propped behind things during the summer months. I think summer should be all about easy. Grab a tray, grab a corkscrew, grab a little Mickey Mouse spredder knife...all within reach for a quick wine and cheese moment!

     My flowers are having a terrible time in the heat, even though we are watering daily. I love the look of a single gladiola on the counter. I'm also going to go out later and fill a vase with fresh basil, rosemary and mint...nothing smells better and it looks pretty too!

I am joining Marty @ A Stroll Thru Life for Table Top Tuesday
Kim @ Savvy Southern Style for Wow Us Wednesdays

Please visit our lovely hostesses!