7.18.2017

What's for Dinner {42} - Spaghtetti & Meatballs with Bone Marrownara Sauce

So there was a time back in 2013 when Gspice and I went to Chicago with some friends. I had very recently found out I was pregnant with Owen and I was a hardcore debbie downer, not wanting to go out at night and do anything fun. On one of the nights I stayed in to watch Chopped, Gspice and friends went to Gilt Bar and he stiiiiiiiiiiill talks about what he ate there.......Bone Marrow.

Fast forward to a couple of week ago, when I saw this Tasty video on Facebook.


This video pretty much changed my life. I saw it and almost peed my pants because if you know me, I love a good meatball and red sauce, let alone a homemade red sauce. I showed it to Gary and he almost peed his pants because you know, the bone marrow. Just look at the bone we got from Fareway!


I really wanted to surprise Gspice when I told him we were going to have this so I did some digging to see if I could buy the marrow in Decorah. Turns out that Fareway has these huge bones, frozen in their meat department. Awesome! I bought two for less than $10. I let them thaw a little bit and then popped them in the oven for a few minutes. I can't remember what I had it set at but I may have cooked it a little long based on the video and what mine looked like once I scooped it all out. Oh well because..................................................................

Daaaaaaaamn, it was good. SO GOOD. It's seriously legit and I highly recommend making this recipe!

Spaghetti & Meatballs with a Bone Marrownara Sauce from Richard Blaise on Tasty/Buzzfeed


1 yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (28 ounce) can whole tomatoes and their juices
¼ cup red wine (we used a cabernet sauvignon)
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
8 ounces ground pork
8 ounces ground beef
3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh sage, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup chopped bone marrow
12 ounces cooked spaghetti
1 cup plain bread crumbs, toasted
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese




1. In a large pot over medium heat, mix the onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook until the onions start begin to soften, about 3 minutes.

2. Remove half of the onion/garlic mixture and place in a small bowl to cool. Set aside or refrigerate to cool completely. To the pot with the remaining onions/garlic, add the tomato paste. Cook the tomato paste, about 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, to caramelize the natural sugars in the paste.

3. Add the canned tomatoes and cook, stirring constantly, and scraping the bottom of the pan to make sure nothing burns, until the mixture comes to a low simmer. Break apart the whole tomatoes using a wooden spoon or squeezing with tongs.

4. Add the wine and continue to cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes to give the alcohol in the wine a chance to evaporate. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes longer.

5. In a medium sized mixing bowl, stir the ricotta with the reserved (and cooled) onion-garlic mixture. Add the ground pork, ground beef, basil, oregano, sage, rosemary, parsley, salt, and pepper. Gently mix together first with a spoon then going in with your hands. Shape the meat into ping-pong-sized balls and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Place the meatballs in the fridge if you will not be cooking immediately or if they have warmed from handling (they will keep their shape better if kept cold before cooking!).

6. Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches, sear the meatballs lightly on all sides until they begin to brown. They will not be fully cooked at this point.

7. Transfer the seared meatballs (and any accumulated juices) to the marinara sauce and add the bone marrow. Cover and let simmer for an additional 20 minutes to finish cooking the meatballs and allow the bone marrow to render its fat.

8. Add cooked spaghetti to the finished sauce and toss to coat. Serve garnished with toasted breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan cheese.

9. Enjoy!

**I highly recommend making the meatballs ahead of time! Our meatballs kinda fell apart in the cooking process but aren't they pretty?



7.01.2017

2017 Goals {4}

So where did the last two months go? Seriously!?!?! Unfortuately, as my work life got super busy, so did my personal life. Guess what I did? REVERT BACK TO BAD HABITS! Ugh. I don't have the best perseverance so it was too easy for me to fall back on all of the things I did to gain weight. Drinking too much, eating too much pasta, not getting great sleep, not drinking enough water, not working out. These are my daily challenges that I haven't been meeting very well lately. With that said, I'm ready to jump back in!

You can read up on my past 2017 Goals updates here: #1, #2, and #3. I'm really excited to get started again!


GOAL #1 - Read
The last time I posted, I had started The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying. Though I have managed to declutter quite a bit............(IE: Garage Sale: I got rid of a lot of baby clothes at our sale April and completely cleared out my dining room which still stands empty to this day... AND Sewer problems: We cleaned out our basement so there's literally nothing sitting on the floor!!!)...........I haven't gotten past the 1st chapter. It certainly is an interesting read so far and though I've heard mixed reviews, I'm interested to finish the book. Our home still seems to be in a constant state of disarray. I would love to feel like we have a place for everything and for it to all feel purposeful. Let's face it, we've got a lot of junk! I've thought a lot about the different problem areas in our home so now it's just about getting down to business! I'm hoping this book helps but I'll be finishing it later.

With trying to bring back some other goals, I thought some light reading would be appropriate for now. I went through all of the books I own (only because we needed to clean out the basement of course) and decided to re-read all of my John Grisham books before deciding what to do with them. I only have 6-7 of them so it shouldn't take me too long. I decided to start with the oldest John Grisham book I own, which is also the book I read the summer I met Gary in 2005. Crazy how time flies. I know that a photo exists of me holding that book in Miller Hall, but I for the life of me could not find it. When I do, I'll post it :)


GOAL #2 - Control Finances Better
The saga that is our basement is almost complete. We had a water line leak that did eventually get fixed, we got the exterior faucet replaced and we need to do minor repair to the sprayfoam or whatever it's called in the basement where our pipe connects to the wall. It's still leaking a little bit of water (not sewer) but not a terrible amount. Next up is to get the basement professionally cleaned (which was completed this week!!!), hence why we needed to declutter and get everything off the floor. The amount of boxes I held on to is absolutely ridiculous so that feels really good to be done with even though it had developed a bit of mold growth. #notfuntohandle! Once the space is clean, we also plan to get all of our equipment serviced - water softener, water heater, furnace, air conditioner, and the basement washer/dryer. I don't know how the sewer damage or mold growth may have affected all of this so it'll feel good to make sure they are all in tip-top shape.

Of course, I don't want to be done with home repairs yet! I also want to get our duct work cleaned because we've never done that since moving in five years ago. It's just nasty in those! Definitely time to get them cleaned and wouldn't it be nice if we found Gspice's wedding ring in the process.....

Also on the docket, landscaping! I'm so stickin' excited about this. We've got so many weeds and trees sprouting everywhere and our hardscape area is pitiful. I can't wait for it to be fresh and updated so we can use it better. The big weed garden by our carport will also be removed and that space with be leveled and reseeded so I think we'll plan to put the kids' toys over there. I suspect this will be completed within the next few months.

As you can tell, it'll be important for us to manage our money well. I've developed our plan for July so it'll take dedication to stick to the budget. Let's plan on weekly check-ins, okay, dear?


GOAL #3 - Cook more, Cook Smarter
My last post was all about how well I have been doing with this. Man, how different things look today! I've completely fallen off the wagon but reading through my last post is very encouraging. I bought a larger CSA share this summer and I plan to put that to good use - not only for me but for the boys too. They aren't huge fans of vegetables these days but they sure do love fresh green beans and sugar snap peas. I would also love to get other produce and add them to their favorite dishes to bring more veggies to the plate. I need that for me too because I'm pretty basic with my vegetable tastes. I'm eyeballing this particular recipe despite the summer season so we'll be giving that a try here soon.

I've also become highly addicted to fresh basil and green onions. I got my hands on them at the Farmers Market a couple of weeks ago and I now put them on everything I eat. SOOOOOO GOOOOOD! I got a new recipe from a meal I had in the Luther cafeteria just a few days ago that I plan to try out and you better believe it'll have some green onions on top :) I'll share the recipe soon!



GOAL #4 - Form Healthy Habits
Habits take time to form of course but breaking them is oh so annoying! I was doing so well the last time I posted so I need to get back to that. What's changed since then is that we are being a bit more intentional about getting all of the boys' energy out before their bedtime. We were battling the "I'm not tired because it's still so bright outside" for weeeeeeeeks and that meant they weren't sleeping until at least 8-8:30 but then waking up between 5:30 and 6 every morning. Talk about grumpy toddlers! It's rough when they don't get the amount of sleep they need! Well now, we just stopped fighting it.

After the boys eat dinner, we now go for a walk, go to the pool, go to the park or anything else active. It tires them out and they have been sleeping until last least 6:45 every morning. It's been great. I even got a workout completed one morning when our alarms went off early enough. If I can squeeze a workout in then, that would be great but that might not be an every day occurrence.

I also found a new workout geared for my arms and more precisely, my arm flab. I would love to make that go away so this is something I plan to implement on a regular basis. You can't beat a 12-minute workout!

As far as our 30 pound weight loss goal, let's see how far we can get before our September deadline!


GOAL #5 - Travel
After thinking about it for a month, we have confirmed with each other that we DEFINITELY still want to go to New Orleans. I just recently booked our hotel and am waiting to book our flights so if you have any suggestions on that, LET ME KNOW! I don't buy plane tickets very often. We haven't planned much else out but we do hope to do one of the haunted tours and try out a lot of different restaurants. I'll do more planning in the weeks to come!

4.11.2017

Jack {2 Years!}

It feels a tiny bit strange to say that Jack is a 2-year-old. The past two years have been a whirlwind of activity and change so it honestly feels like we've gone through at least three or four years, not just two! Luckily for us, we have a cool and calm little dude that is as sweet as can be.

When Jack was born, I remember thinking he was so snugly and goofy.



He'd rather give me goofy grins than drink from his bottle in the morning.



He liked to sleep on our chests if he woke up from naps. This hasn't changed a bit. Jack loves to sit very close to us and have our arms around him or just sitting directly on our laps. He'll get a little frustrated if you don't let him do either of those things. When he's upset or has an owie , Jack will also come running so he can get a hug or some snuggles to make him feel better.  And when he's feeling a bit goofy, Jack loves to make you laugh along with him.

Oh and he loves to give kisses and cheesy smiles. He's going to be a little heart breaker!

Unfortunately, it feels like Jack has been sick since the last week of December. This kid can't catch a break! Rashes, viral infection after viral infection, eczema and fevers. Good grief. On top of that, he seems to be teething too. The last teeth to come in are his second molars. Ouch! Thankfully, I feel like we are finally on the upswing with the sicknesses so let's hope that continues!

That being said, doctor visits are so easy with this kid which is a radically different experience than with his older brother. Jack had a suspicious rash pop up so we rescheduled his 2-year appointment at the end of February to a day earlier and with a different doctor. That didn't phase Jack one bit. He isn't ever afraid and just let's them poke and prod all they want. Even his finger prick for lab work didn't phase him at all. It took longer only because he was "too" calm! It's kinda nice though there are times I wonder if he doesn't feel pain....must have a high pain threshold...

Jack can be a bit cautious sometimes. Though he was totally fine last year, Jack ended up being a bit shy and nervous around Santa. It was pretty cute. He isn't normally afraid of much so this was funny to see. He had no issues showing Mrs. Claus his belly though!



Meal times are still pretty interesting these days. We seem to battle a lot with throwing their silverware and then sometimes their plates if we aren't paying attention. Jack will also just throw his food on the floor. Now that's just annoying! Don't ask me how clean our floors are....because they aren't! One cute thing he does is lift his teeny tiny pinky finger when drinking something. Oh so adorable!


Things Jack Loves
snuggling
kisses
saying "I love you" and pointing
getting water poured over his head during bath time
going on walks
sitting on the potty
reading books about cars or trucks
watching movies (Frozen, Secret Life of Pets, Zootopia were on repeat throughout the winter!)
Elmo
dancing/wiggling
giving high fives and knucks
pointing at birds
looking out our windows
string cheese
smiling for the camera


Now for my favorite part - Jack's Stats! I knew Jack was growing because he was eating soooooo much but I wasn't prepared for how much he'd gain! Still lacking in the height department though. Sorry, bud.

2-Year Appointment (2/22/2017)
Weight: 27.5 lb
Height: 31.75 in
18-Month Appointment (9/9/2016)
Weight: 22.5 lb
Height: 30.5 in

15-Month Appointment (6/14/2016)
Weight: 23 lb
Height: 30 in

12-Month Appointment (3/7/2016)
Weight: 19 lb 15 oz
Height: 29.5 in
 
 























3.31.2017

2017 Goals {3}

Anyone else find it hard to believe it's the last day of March? It's exciting that we are that much closer to nice, spring weather but it feels so crazy! Time doesn't stop!

You can read up on my past 2017 Goals updates here and here. It's really fun to see the progress I've made and cannot wait to continue! I suppose I don't want time to stop :)


GOAL #1 - Read
It has become more clear that I read faster when I am really interested in a topic. The second book I read was Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You'll Love by Holly Porter Johnson and Greg Johnson. It was a very quick, simple read and a lot of the information wasn't new to me. That being said, I really enjoyed it! The chapters were short, mostly to the point and had action items for you to do to overhaul your budget or debt repayment plans. The reason I read it was to gain more knowledge of a zero sum budget which is something we'll work towards when our debt is paid off. The premise is to put away enough money to cover the next month's expenses with last month's paychecks. It's pretty simple but you should wait until your debts are paid off so that you can devote your money to that versus saving it for a zero sum budget. You could certainly do it at the same time but we're doing fine with our current system so why rock the boat?

I've just started the next book and it's pretty interesting so far. April will be all about decluttering as I prepare for the garage sale so it's perfect timing!

And I of course have an update on my favorite author, Michael Connelly! His Amazon Prime show, Bosch, is releasing season 3 on April 21. I'll be binge watching that soon enough!


GOAL #2 - Control Finances Better
We didn't make much headway in the finances department, but we did finally get all of our exterior and interior plumbing updated. HALLELUJAH! Oh my goodness, that is probably the highlight of this month. It's been a long time coming and our basement is finally looking like less of a underground sewer. Yes it was disgusting. Now that it's been fixed, we'll be taking a hard look at our remaining debts to figure out a game plan. You know I love an aggressive reduction but it might not be as aggressive as I'd like. We'll do what we can.


GOAL #3 - Cook More, Cook Smarter
This has continued to be my most successful goal. I've had a lot of issues with eating well (proper portions, variety, etc) so it's been especially encouraging to see my commitment to this last. I didn't fair too well at the beginning of the month and it definitely showed. Gaining weight is so darn easy! I did however, jump right back in and feel great! I might not follow my prepping plan or eating plan 100% of the time, but I feel mentally stronger which is such a big thing for me. I feel better equipped to think about portion control or deciding it is in fact okay to eat a slice of cake once in awhile. I did switch it up a bit this last week. I was reading how someone had pasta for breakfast and was able to still lose extra weight after pregnancy. I latched on to that so fast because, heck yes, pasta for breakfast! I can eat it anytime.



For this particular week, breakfast was kale parsley pesto with whole grain thin spaghetti and lemon pepper rotisserie chicken, lunch was honey mustard chicken with steamed broccoli  and dinner was two eggs, turkey bacon and canned spinach. I've still been able to lose a little weight this week so that's pretty cool and I do actually like eating pasta for breakfast! I look forward to eating it right away when I get to work (I eat a little unsweetened applesauce before work). It keeps me full until at least noon-1pm which is when I typically like to take lunch anyway so it's worked out perfectly! Because I'm following the 21 Day Fix meal plan, I am only allowed 2 servings of carbs in addition to fruits (so I'm getting plenty overall for enough energy). However, I do feel a little limited if I eat both servings right away in the morning. I might change that up a bit or I might not. I like eating pasta for my carbs.


GOAL #4 - Form Healthy Habits
I've changed my whole outlook on this. I originally preferred to workout first thing in the morning and be productive during my lunch. I wasn't achieving either one and it was driving my crazy. I felt like a failure and then I'd just keep being a failure. I'd eat too much because I had already given up. I didn't workout because I'd rather do something else. Often times, I'd end up wasting my whole entire day. I feel at my worst when I am unproductive so this system was clearly not working for me.

Here's my schedule now: 
AM: I wake up whenever Owen decides to wake up, I get them ready, feed them a snack, get myself ready and eat a pre-breakfast snack/prepare our meals/snacks for work (yes, I said "our"! Gpsice is working out and eating better right along with me now!)

LUNCH: I eat my lunch, read for 30 minutes or more and often take a 30 minute walk around campus. I keep it inside if it's cold.

PM: We workout! I may get something else productive done or I might not but there is zero guilt!

I really like this schedule now because I'm being productive and/or efficient all day long! Productivity makes me happy, helps me feel whole so it's a win-win-win! I am eating well, I'm reading  more, and I'm working out more!

As I mentioned before, I didn't do so well at the beginning of the month. I had high expectations for myself, but I was seriously slacking. I jumped back on board two weeks ago and have done really well. On top of that, I've lost a total of 6.5 pounds! I've got a ways to go to meet my goal but that is such positive reinforcement. Gary is doing this with me too which is pretty exciting. He's been a great accountability partner for days I feel like wavering a bit. I'm letting him be a little more relaxed with his eating plan but it's what feels good to him.

We did come up with a pretty intense goal in relation to our birthdays though. From September 13, my birthday, to September 22, the day before Gary's birthday, we'll both be 30. So, we pledged together to lose 30 pounds (each) by September 18, the midway point between our birthdays.That was 26 weeks from when we decided to do this so that'd be about 1 pound a week. So far, we're doing well!


GOAL #5 - Travel
Can you believe I've changed my mind yet again? We have FINALLY decided that we are in fact going to go on a trip just the two of us at some point this year. We'll be taking the boys on a short overnight visit this summer which is probably as much as we'd like to handle in a hotel with them anyway!

What really swayed my decision was an adorable idea that Gary had. He wanted us to sit down and watch a bunch of videos on our vacation ideas. We then had to write down our likes and dislikes, review them, and then independently name our top 3 choices. We reviewed Charleston, Boston, DC, San Francisco, San Diego and New Orleans.

Our #3 was San Diego. We would LOVE to take the kids here someday too!

Our #2 was Boston. We would also LOVE to take the kids here. I'd love to go here now but it'd be much cooler with them so it's got to wait.

Our #1...........................................






NEW ORLEANS! 


Knowing how often I tend to change my mind on this issue, Gary said we had one month to think about this decision, come up with hesitations, and to fully commit. At this point, we're still holding strong so I think it's fair to say this is where we'll go! Perhaps we can time it to the end of our weight loss challenge!

3.19.2017

What's for Dinner {41} - Irish Nachos!

When Gspice came up with a fun date night idea, I started looking up recipes right away. His idea? Irish Night so we could celebrate St. Patrick's Day from the comfort of our own home. I thought it was such a cute idea and found a recipe we just had to try! We had also talked about watching a movie that would be appropriate for this particular day but when we sat down to eat, we decided a couple episodes of Better Call Saul would do just fine. So beyond the recipe we tried, there wasn't an ounce of Irish in there... We tried :)

The recipe we decided to make was so darn easy and delicious. If you're looking for a good appetizer or side dish, you should consider this! We paired it with some beer battered fish fillets.

Irish Nachos adapted from The Gluten Free Homestead

*We made only enough for us so our quantities are low. If you want to use this as a party appetizer, I'd definitely check out the original recipe or just pay attention to how many potato slices you have.

  • 3 medium russet potatoes, wash with a vegetable brush, sliced ⅛ inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 cup Sargento Mexican shredded cheese
  • 1 package turkey bacon, baked per instructions and cut up into pieces**
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • sour cream for dipping
  • Tabasco for dipping


  1. Preheat oven to 450℉
  2. Toss potatoes with olive oil and dashes of salt/pepper. Bake potato slices on a foil-lined baking sheet for about 15 minutes, turn over and bake another 15 - 20 minutes until golden and slightly crisp.
  3. Use any leftover olive oil to coat bottom of the pan. I didn't want ours to stick! In our case, we used a square cake pan lined with foil for more easy clean up!
  4. Make one layer of potatoes and top with cheese and bacon bits. Create more layers until the ingredients are gone. Season potatoes with salt and pepper. Bake for 5 minutes to melt cheese. Then sprinkle with scallions.
  5. Scoop up your serving and add a dollop of sour cream and even hot sauce for extra dipping!

**Gary also asked me to use this as the moment to declare that I liked the turkey bacon. I bought turkey bacon because I really, really dislike bacon but I knew we couldn't make this recipe without it. Though he would have preferred the real stuff, Gary said he's willing to forgive me that it was turkey bacon.

3.11.2017

Jack {21 Months!}

As I start thinking about writing the kids' next update, I always reference the last post or two to see what I wrote last time, to see what might have progressed since then or to reference any other changes. With Jack recently turning T-W-O (how did this happen?!?), I was desperately trying to find his 21-month update on the blog and his baby book. Well, I apparently didn't write one! So, here we are, a few months after I would have originally posted it!

Jack is still a very sweet, cuddly momma's boy which literally melts my heart. Owen is more independent and prefers his daddy so it's nice to have one prefer me just to even it out. Jack is so excited when you come into the room, will run up to you to give you a big hug. He'll give lots of kisses (which is probably why he and I get sick so often these days!) and high fives and knucks. I hope he stays this sweet forever! Jack would win over all the ladies if he does :)

On the flip side, Jack also has a tendency to freak out a bit these days. He still melts to the floor but not nearly as badly as he has in the past. Instead, he'll just scream at the top of his lungs. It's such a pleasant sound.....NOT! It sure gets his point across though so I'll give him that.

A perk of having two kids close together is that they will likely go through developmental stages in a similar time frame. As Owen has learned how to use the potty, Jack has definitely become more and more interested. We talked about training him but decided to wait until he was in the next classroom at daycare. At this point, that's only a little over a week away so we might start training in a few months after he's adjusted to his new routine! Diapers have never really bothered me but it'll be nice not to have to spend so much money on them.

With the weather being pretty nice from September-December, we had quite a few adventures during this time. I'm so happy I was able to be with the boys more after deciding to stop working my second job. It's provided so many great memories! 

As far as stats go, his next appointment was at his two-year well child check and boy, am I excited to share that with you! Until then, here are some photos from all of our adventures!