Monday, November 30, 2009

Olive Garden Night! Plus, a few recipes!!

At work we found a cook book titled "America's Most Wanted Recipes." This is a fantastic cook book. It has recipes from Applebees, Benihana, The Cheesecake Factory, Chili's Olive Garden, Macaroni Grill, Outback, etc. Deron and I have been trying to figure out the recipe for the soup from Olive Garden, Zuppa Toscana, for a long time. Finally, this book has the recipe. So we decided that tonight we would make the soup and the bread sticks. It turned out pretty good. While obviously the real thing is still the best, this is definitely a close second. Here are the recipes!

Olive Garden - Zuppa Toscana (serves 4)

1 lb. Italian sausage
8 oz. smoked bacon, chopped
4 C. water
2- 14.5 oz cans chicken broth
2 lg russet potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 medium onion, chopped
2 C. chopped kale or swiss chard
1 C. heavy cream
Salt and Pepper

1. in a skillet over med. heat, brown the sausage, breaking into small pieces; drain and set aside (make sure to remove the casing)
2. in a separate skillet, fry the bacon until brown, drain and set aside. ( i used the same skillet)
3. combine the water, broth, potatoes, garlic and onions in a pot; simmer over med. heat until the potatoes are tender 10-15 min.
4. Add the sausage and the bacon, simmer for 10 min.
5. Add cream and kale. Season with salt and pepper to taste and simmer until soup is heated through. Do not allow to boil.

The soup turned out really good. We cut our potatoes bigger than what the restaurant does, but the flavors are still there. If you want it thicker, add a little cornstarch at the end.

Olive Garden - Bread Sticks

1 loaf frozen bread dough
Cooking Spray
Garlic Powder
Dried Oregano

1. Allow the dough to thaw at room temperature in a large greased mixing bowl.
2. When the dough is soft enough to knead, break off pieces and shape into cigar-sized sticks.
3. Places these 3 inches apart on sprayed cookie sheets. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour 15 min
4. Preheat over to 375
5. Holding the can of cooking spray about 8 inches from the sticks, lightly spray the top of each stick, dust with garlic powder and sprinkle with oregano.
6. bake for 20-25 min until golden brown
7. let cool on the cookie sheets for a few min. before serving.

The bread sticks were not the right shape, and we could not get them to be sticks. They were not greasy like olive gardens, but they were still good.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Skillet Bow Tie Lasagna

This is a great recipe that I found a while back. It is super yummy and very easy!

1 lb. ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 1/2 C. water
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
1 Tbsp. dried parsley flakes
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 C. uncooked bow tie pasta
3/4 C. small curd cottage cheese
1/4 C. grated parmesan cheese

In a large skillet, cook beef, onion and garlic until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add the tomatoes, water, tomato paste, parsley, oregano and salt; mix well. Stir in pasta, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring once. Combine the cheeses; drop by rounded tablespoon fulls onto pasta mixture. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

Serves 4

The cottage cheese replaces the ricotta that is usually in lasagna. We didn't miss the ricotta at all, and in fact, I didn't even notice I was eating cottage cheese.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Too Much To Do!

I have let blogger be my last priority lately, so I apologize to those of you who read my blog. We've just had so much going on around here, and my schedule at work has been so random lately! So, let the updates begin!

Liam had his first slumber party the other day. His cousin Aidan came over with his tent and spent the night. The boys had so much fun. Liam now has a thing for tents, so a certain little boy may be getting a little one for Christmas :) The boys ran all over the place getting into everything. They even watched finding Nemo on my laptop in their tent while munching on popcorn! It was a little difficult to get them to sleep. We could here them talking the night away over the intercom. Deron finally had to go and lay down with them until the went to sleep. This is how one of their conversations went:

Liam: oww
Aidan: what's oww?
Liam: oww
Aidan: what's oww?
Liam: oww
Aidan: what's oww?
Liam: huh?

Here are some pictures from their fun

Liam is continuing to get more and more teeth in. Right now he is getting in 3 of his 4 Canine teeth. So as you can imagine, we are having lots of fun with those :)

He still amazes us every day. He is learning so much and talking so much more. He copies a lot of what we say and do now. He also loves to do everything himself. He helps me unload the dishwasher, he loves to help me dust ( I think mainly because he wears a sock on his arm)

Finally he has started to give me some smiles at the camera. They may be a tad bit cheesy, but they are much better than the blank stares that we were getting before!

Ok, well that is not as many updates as I thought there would have been. I guess I just felt that I left a lot out! Hope everyone is doing well. We are definitely looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas! We cannot wait to see Liam's reactions to these holidays. They will be so different than last year!