Simple Tomato Sauce: New Year’s Eve Dinner

We decided to end the year with one of Mike’s favorites – stuffed shells and meatballs.  The basis of all of this is a delicious tomato sauce recipe I found a couple years ago.

It’s been a while since I’ve made stuffed shells but I seem to remember the shells of my youth being much bigger.  The box says jumbo but I am skeptical.  This shell is next to a teaspoon for scale.

Everything turned out perfect especially the cheese filling which I always just sort of make up as I go. Our only error was that we prematurely meatballed the sauce and realized after that we hadn’t yet blended the sauce per the recipe. It was a bit chunky which wasn’t a big deal at all but I always like having a reason to use our immersion blender.

And the best way to wash down New Year’s Eve dinner is with some sparkling wine.

Love the bubbles.

Happy New Year!


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

I have been wanting to bake something for a few days now. I’m on vacation and have a lot of free time but I feel like we ate so much last weekend it seemed dumb to bake something when we were sort of fooded out.

This morning I finally decided that I had to do something and looking at the ingredients I had on hand, I decided to make Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread.  I looked around online and found this recipe. It was so easy to put together and made two loafs – one for now and one to freeze for later.

I think it turned out great and it was cooled in time to sample for brunch.

It was moist and soft inside and the outside had a little crunch to it.

This recipe is definitely a winner and it’s nice to have another bread to use in the future to bring somewhere or just have for ourselves if we decide we need something sweet.

A sweater that I can actually wear

Back in November I talked about needing to finish a few projects that are long overdue. Well, last week I finally finished and blocked my first sweater, a Lady Kina.

I thought this sweater was going to be too small for me but the perfect size for my mom.  After blocking it and sewing on a button, it looked bigger so I got nervous that it would suddenly be too big for her.  And she tried it on and it was definitely too big on her but now it fits me perfectly!  I was a little disappointed because I was excited to give it to her, but I am also looking forward to wearing it myself.

I knit this with Classic Wool by Ella Rae in the plum colorway (#45) and it looks great. I have no idea what this button is from but it seemed to be the best button in my stash.

The sleeves are a little snug but I think I’d rather them a little snugger than too loose considering the body of this is so swingy and I wouldn’t want to be pulling them up all the time.

As I was knitting this I decided that I am not a sweater knitter. But after putting it on, I think I’m changing my mind.  There were a lot of long purl rows on this project, but maybe a pullover would be more my speed. It might have taken me over a year to make this, in actual knitting time it was fairly quick.  I can’t wait to wear this.


Lazy Matzo Ball Soup

Tonight’s dinner was planned around a jar of homemade chicken stock that Mike’s friend gave him.  So while the base of the soup was homemade, all the work that went into that stock (and boy did he work for it – he raised that chicken) was done by someone else.

We decided to turn it into matzo ball soup and we really cut corners. First, I bought pre-cut onion and celery at the grocery store. Also, I didn’t see actual carrots in the produce section. (I must have been temporarily blind?  How could they not have whole carrots at Giant, a normal grocery store where I buy carrots all the time?) So I bought those carrots in the bag that are cut with ribs and they worked out great once Mike chopped some of the larger pieces.

See that browned chicken piece?  That’s because we used a rotisserie chicken.

We even used matzo ball mix but we don’t keep matzo meal in the house so it’s almost the same thing. Matzo balls are really easy to make, mix or not.  Mike seasoned the soup with some poultry seasoning and garlic powder.

Don’t let the lazy fool you. This soup was good.  It only took about an hour total of prepping and cooking time, but this was so warm and cozy and it tasted like Sunday night.  And there is a ton so we’ll have it for leftovers this week.

I’ve got a few more inches to go on my cardigan and I’m trying to make up for not knitting at all last week.  And I have many other projects in my queue that I want to tackle as well.  I hope it’s a productive week!


Baked Barley Risotto with Butternut Squash

This week has been so busy.  This was the first night we actually cooked dinner since Sunday. The other days were filled with easy salads and sandwiches and last night we had family in town and enjoyed a wonderful dinner out.

Tonight we decided to make Baked Barley Risotto with Butternut Squash which was in a recent issue of Real Simple.

This was incredibly easy to make and the result was rich and creamy. After it bakes, you stir in some butter, Parmesan cheese and spinach. Unlike the picture in the recipe, just stirring it up mashed up our squash but it still tasted wonderful.