Food + Family = Fun

Sorry I haven’t been around much the last 2 weeks. I was taking advantage of the warm weather and doing lots of clean-up around the yard. I’ve also been busy with the kids, Spring Break, and I got suddenly busy with design work, which is good for me but bad for the blog.

I don’t have a post prepared for today either, but I did find this old post from my previous blog. It made me smile and it comes with a yummy recipe that is perfect for the rainy, spring days ahead, so I thought it was worth re-posting here. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have any photos. This was written before I had a nice camera or even knew how to use them.

My son always frustrates me at the dinner table. There are very few foods he will eat. He won’t eat anything that looks “weird”. And he won’t eat anything that “his smell sensors” tell him are off. Last night I accidentally found a remedy to this situation.

A few days ago, while the kids were at school, I had an ambitious moment and decided to roll my own tortellini. I spent all afternoon in the kitchen making the pasta and strolling down memory lane. I remembered slurping tortellini soup in my grandmother’s kitchen when I was little. I remembered getting bags of fresh rolled tortellini from my grandmother to take back with me when I was in college. I also remembered a weekend I spent with my grandmother talking and rolling, stuffing and folding pasta. It was a fun and relaxing day. And so was this particular afternoon.

When I served up my labor intensive creation for dinner, my son responded with, “What the heck?”

“It’s tortellini soup.”

“It looks weird.”

“But it’s very good.”

“My smell sensors tell me it’s off.”

“Your smell sensors must be off then, because this is very tasty.”

“Delicious!” my daughter exclaims as she noisily slurps up the soup. At least somebody likes it. Joe on the other hand made himself a salami sandwich with some carrots.

Last night, I had some filling left over so I decided to make a batch of tortellini to freeze. Joe wandered into the kitchen while I was getting my pasta roller out.

“Wow! What is that?”

“A pasta roller.”

“You mean you’re going to make pasta? Without a box?” He was completely amazed that you could make pasta from flower and eggs and that there was no box involved. “Can I help?”

“Sure.”

We spent the next three hours kneading, rolling, stuffing and folding. And when all the filling was gone, but there was still dough left, we rolled out some fettuccine to dry for later. And then surprisingly he asked if we could eat some of the tortellini for dinner. “Sure, buddy.”

So while he went into the living room to work on his homework, I heated up some chicken stock and put into it the left over tortellini from the night before. I put our new tortellini in the freezer for another day. And you know he ate 3 servings of the same soup his “smell sensors” told him was off the night before. And now I know to have him help me make dinner the next time I serve something new. Maybe then his “smell sensors” will tell him its good!

And for the recipe:

For the filling I use:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb of ground turkey or chicken
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • oregano
  • basil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • You can also substitute portabello mushrooms for the meat for a vegetarian version.

Directions:

  • Heat up olive oil in a skillet and saute garlic just until you start to smell it. Add the meat and brown. Add oregano and basil. Stir for a minute more. Remove from heat. Add cheese, salt and pepper.
  • The filling needs to cool completely before you can stuff your tortellini.
  • I make the pasta dough following the instructions that came with my pasta roller. It’s never disappointed me yet. After I roll out the dough as thin as I can get it, I cut it once lengthwise down the center with a pizza cutter. Then I cut it into 1-2 inch squares.
  • You’ll need to get a little pastry brush and a cup of water for the next part.
  • In the center of each square, place a small amount of filling. You don’t want to over stuff them or they will fall apart when you cook them. After you’ve placed the filling on each square, brush the edges with a little water. Fold them into triangles and press the edges together. Then fold two of the points around your finger and pinch together.

(Here’s a trick I learned if you plan on freezing them – place all your tortellinis on a cookie sheet and put the freezer for about 20 minutes. Take them out and put in a freezer bag. Now they won’t stick together. They should keep in the freezer for about 3 or 4 months.) You can also use wonton wrappers instead of rolling your own dough. It’s not as good, but it works.

You can serve your tortellini with your favorite sauce. Or you can serve them my favorite way, in clear broth. Just before serving I throw some fresh parsley into the broth and serve with warm, crusty Italian bread.

Three Drunk Guys Walk Out of a Bar….

About a month ago, after I thought the kids were asleep upstairs in their rooms, dear husband and I were talking in the living room about politics and history. Something in the discussion triggered a memory of a passage in a book I once read about the American Revolution – unfortunately, I don’t remember which book the passage was from, so I can’t share it.

Anyway….the author speculated that maybe the colonists habit of meeting in taverns, where they drank liquor, may have emboldened some of them to confront the British soldiers who were hanging around. In particular, the author was referring to the Boston Tea Party and the Boston Massacre. The author’s argument was a little more thought out than that, and my husband and I were having a pretty involved and interesting discussion, but the tavern and drinking is what is important to my story, so I’ll spare you the rest.

“So,” I oversimplified, “I guess they were saying that some drunk guys walked out of a bar and threw some rocks and snowballs at the British soldiers, and a revolution was born.”

In walks my 10 year old with a goofy grin on his face. “Mom, I can’t sleep. Can I get a glass or water?”

He gets his water and I send him back up to bed.

Fast forward a few weeks…..dear son’s class is studying the Boston Massacre. Knowing he had some inside information, he raised his hand to share with the class. When the teacher called on him he blurted out, “My mom said that some drunk guys were coming out of a tavern and that’s why they threw the rocks and snowballs at the soldiers.” The class erupted into laughter, my son beamed with pride, and the poor teacher was lead down an unforeseen tangent about how drinking too much makes us do things we might not normally do.

When he came home and told me what he said, my first instinct was to call the teacher and try and explain that I didn’t really say that; there was more to the conversation and my son just overheard the tail-end of it. Instead, I just giggled and let it go. Knowing his teacher, he’s probably giggling too.

Handmade Holiday: Valentine’s Edition

My son made me a proud, crafting momma this weekend. He handed me his class list for the Valentine Party on Tuesday and said, “Mom, I think we should make our cards this year instead of buying them. They’re more special when we make them.” I couldn’t agree more.

 We got our inspiration from the Disney Family Fun site.

My daughter wanted to do flowers, of course.

My son chose a cell phone with lollipops for the antennae.

I think he had ulterior motives to his choice though. Almost the entire time we were working on them, he tried to persuade me that he needed one. He lost this round. In defeat, he and his sister made paper phones and iPods (he wants one of those too). Then they spent the rest of the afternoon playing pretend Angry Birds on their pretend BlackBerries, and loaded up their pretend iPods with pretend music.

But Who Made God?

The other day, my son came sauntering into the kitchen while I was cooking dinner. “Mom, do you believe god or a big bang created the universe?” he asked.

“Well….define god,” I answered.

“You know…a big, bearded man in the sky.”

“Well then, if by god you mean a big, bearded man in the sky, then I would go with a big bang. But, I think it might be a little more complicated than that. God means different things to different people. What do you think created the universe?”

“A big bang.”

“Why?”

And he went on to give a pretty through description of the Big Bang Theory for a 10 year-old; including little universes, explosions, atoms, and other things. When he was finished, I thought about what he said. I couldn’t really disagree with him, but decided to test his thinking and debating skills, because I know around here, he will be challenged on this and I want him to be prepared.

“Some people would ask who created those atoms that smashed into each other. They would say you are wrong because you can’t create something out of nothing. Maybe God created the atoms. What do you think?” I asked him.

He cocked his head and thought for a brief moment before he shot back, “Yeah but, who created God? Either way you look at it, something was created from nothing. That argument goes both ways, Mom.”

Check and mate. I had nothing.

Cheese, Glorious Cheese

I think I may have created a culinary monster in my 9 year-old.

Parmesan CheeseI made stuffed shells the other night for dinner.  I asked the kids if they wanted cheese on top.  “Yes, please,” was their reply, so I sprinkled some Parmesan cheese on top.  My son, who didn’t see the source of the cheese because it was not his turn to set the table, took 2 bites of his dinner, put his fork down on the plate, and asked, “Mom, you didn’t buy the cheap cheese did you?  This doesn’t taste like the cheese from Italy.”

I wouldn’t consider the cheese in question expensive.  But I also wouldn’t consider the cheese in question cheap.  While it was pre-shredded, at least it was not in a can with a shaker top.  The Italian deli wasn’t open, so I couldn’t get the real stuff.  I didn’t think the kids would notice.  Apparently, he did, and the middle-of-the-road cheese was deemed inferior according to my 9 year-old’s discerning palate.  He pushed his plate aside and asked for a replacement without cheese on top.   My daughter, who is a little less discriminating, happily ate all of hers and finished her brother’s inferior dish.

Goodness sakes, what have I done?