Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage

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When the sales were on before Thanksgiving, I had picked up a few cans of Pumpkin.  Admittedly, I did not but it to make pumpkin pie.  I bought it because I had seen Rachel Ray make this pasta recipe once that had sausage and pumpkin.  It sounded interesting to me and I’ve had it on my list to make since before the holidays started.  Last week I finally had most of the ingredients on hand and the time to cook, so I gave it a shot.   I made a few changes to the original recipe to suit what I had on hand and also to change those ingredients I did not wish to use.  I have included a link to the original recipe so that you can refer to that if needed.   As a side note, this cooking experiment also began with a brilliant plan to take pictures of the dish as I was cooking it and then as the finished product.  In true YTM fashion, I managed to burn my pinky fairly early on this process and honestly forgot all about taking pictures!  I have included a picture from the Food Network site to give you a sense of what the finished dish might look like. My husband LOVED the dish.  I liked it but I like the taste but would have preferred more sauce.  If I make it again, I would adjust the recipe further to have more sauce.


Picture of Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage Recipe


Pasta With Pumpkin and Sausage Courtesy of Food Network


RECIPE: Pasta with Pumpkin & Sausage (as made by Yankee Texan Mom)

Original Recipes Courtesy of Rachel Ray via the Food Network

Ingredients


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage4 cloves garlic, cracked and chopped1 medium onion, finely chopped1 bay leaf, fresh or dried4 to 6 sprigs sage leaves, cut into chiffonade, about 2 tablespoons**2 cups chicken stock, canned or paper container1 cup canned pumpkin1/2 cup (3 turns around the pan) milk1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, ground or freshly gratedCoarse salt and black pepper1 pound pasta of your choisee, cooked to al denteRomano or Parmigiano, for grating**I used dried sage as that was what I had on hand. 


Directions




  • Heat a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and brown the sausage in it. Transfer sausage to paper towel lined plate.


  • Drain fat from skillet and return pan to the stove. Add the remaining tablespoon oil, and then the garlic and onion. Saute 3 to 5 minutes until the onions are tender.


  • Add bay leaf, sage, and 1 Cup Chicken Stock to the pan. Reduce by half, about 2 minutes. Add remaining stock and pumpkin and stir to combine, stirring sauce until it comes to a bubble. Return sausage to pan, reduce heat, and stir in milk. Season the sauce with the cinnamon and nutmeg, and salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer mixture 5 to 10 minutes to thicken sauce.


  • Return drained pasta to the pot you cooked it in. Remove the bay leaf from sauce and pour the sausage pumpkin sauce over pasta. Combine sauce and pasta and toss over low heat for 1 minute. Garnish the pasta with laots of shaved cheese and sage leaves.

Enjoy!  Please let me know if you try this and what you thought.


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The Irony of the Blogosphere: What’s Behind the Curtain?

Did you ever have one of those days?  One of those days where in the course of trying to do a good deed, you end up getting kicked in the gut instead?  That was my day yesterday.  The details are not important and they are not for public consumption, but I am, like so many others, tired and frustrated.  So, for a few moments, the product reviews, giveaways, deals, blogging tips, and more have been put aside.  It’s time for this woman to vent before I just lose my mind.


As a blogger I have seen the good and the bad side of bloggers.  Sadly, I’ve seen more of the bad side lately and some days I want to throw my hands up in the air and yell “uncle”.  Fortunately or unfortunately (it depends on your point of view), those thoughts are usually followed by the thought that I will not let anyone get the best of me.  I suppose it’s my Irish ancestry that throws down the proud and stubborn card.  I suppose it is that thought that I will not go quietly that keeps me in this blogging game.


Still the irony of the blogosphere has hit me like a ton of bricks today and I just cannot bite my tongue one more time.  I’m going to rant and if you are offended, so be it.  What I have to say does not apply to everyone, so there’s no need to feel personally attacked unless you feel that I have described you.  I have met and made friends with some fabulous women who happen to be bloggers.  But, being a blogger does not make you a fabulous woman and those who do not fall into the fabulous category make a bad name for all of us!


Today I realized that I am entrenched in a community that spends a great deal of time writing in the name of supporting women but is filled with those who have no intention of being supportive to other women.  Blogs filled with tips about raising children, saving money, saving the planet and offering to make your life easier are often run by women who would just as soon shut the door in your face as look at you.  Think of it like the man behind the curtain in The Wizard of Oz.  The legend is far more impressive than what you find when you move back the curtain.  I have encountered bloggers who own and maintain frugal living blogs who do not cut coupons.  Women who write tips about how to keep your house clean and organized who haven’t taken their own tips.  Individuals who write about the importance of building strong relationships with your children who may need to take their own advice.  Bloggers who espouse to be more honest than the rest of us because they tell you exactly what each offer posted earns them even though they are dishonest in their dealings with others.  That is the irony of the blogosphere for me.


It would be so refreshing if we would all just tell the truth.  The truth that some days are better than others.  The truth that some days are homes look like a tornado came through.  The truth that some days we don’t have it all together.  The truth that we sometimes spend more than we should and behave less well than we report.  The truth that sometimes we do or say things to others that are less than supportive.  Basically, I wonder why don’t we tell the truth that we are human.


As I write this, I wonder if I tell the truth and I would like to think that I do.  I am not perfect – far from it to be honest.  I am a forty-year old woman, wife and mother who continues to be a work in progress.  I have days when I think I need to be better wife, mother, cleaner of the home, organizer of the life, saver of the money, blogger and overall person.  I have days when I have a sense of accomplishment and I do relish those moments.  I have other days when I could spit nails and God help you if you are in my path.   I have moments when I it seems like all is in sync and moments when nothing seems to be going right.  I try not to verbally “throw up” on my blog on those days, but maybe I should.  Maybe we all should once in a while.


Here is where it comes full circle for me.  Women bloggers are women and women, in my experience, slap a happy face on it and pretend that all is well.  Sometimes women hide behind all that is good in their life and pretend that the bad doesn’t exist.  Well, right up until you anger one and then they will tell you all that is wrong in their life so that you can feel even worse for whatever crime you may have committed.  I have encountered very few women who will just say “I’m sorry” or “I was wrong”.  Instead, it is “I’m sorry” that, but let me tell you everything that is going on in my life that justifies my poor behavior.  Funny, if we would just be honest about what’s going on, we probably wouldn’t have to justify our bad behavior after the fact.


So, here is my truth.  I have three blogs – Yankee Texan Mom, Mama’s Money Tree and Mommies Vote Too.  I have three because I have a lot to say and because I am desperately trying to earn an income to help our family come out of a mountain of debt from a failed business.  I am married to a wonderful man who tells me every day that I am beautiful and that he loves me.  That does not mean that there are not days where I want to literally just smack him upside the head.  I have a 3-year-old daughter who is my world, but there are times when I would kill for 5 minutes of peace and quiet.  I have a 16-year-old stepson and 12-year-old stepdaughter whom I love very much, but there are days when it can be a struggle to be a stepmother.  I turned 40 this year and when I look back at my life, there have been highs and lows, successes and failures, great choices and horrible mistakes.  I have been blessed with great friends and family, but I’ve not always done a great job of being a great friend or family member.  I can be a wonderful person and I can be a complete bitch too.   I am a work in progress who, at the age of 40, has realized that life is what you make of it and that there is no reward for creating a facade to hide behind.


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I’m a Mom – It’s Not About Me

Earlier this week, our three year old princess went to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for a whole day and night.  I was presented with 24 hours child-free and had visions of the multitude of things I would accomplish.  I had a doctor’s appointment early in the day, a meeting for some volunteer work in the afternoon and date night with my dear husband at night.  On my list I had included reviewing the Walgreen’s and Kroger flyer’s, matching up my coupons, making my lists and shopping at both of those stores.  I also thought I would complete a few days worth of blogging, organize my to-do list for the blogs, do some research for future posts, and more!  It didn’t stop there.  Somehow I thought I would find the time to clean out the refrigerator, pack up the remainder of my Fiesta Ware for sale, post the ad on Craig’s List, do the dishes, wash the kitchen floor , pick up the house and maybe do a load of laundry. Last but not least, I intended to get my eyebrows waxed before someone takes my woman card away!   Just a few things right?


As I write this, I realize how utterly ridiculous it is to think that I would accomplish all of that in 24 hours – especially if I intended to sleep at some point.  I also didn’t account for anything going wrong – which it did.  For some reason, I always think that the moment my child leaves the house, I develop super powers that will allow me to be three times as productive as when she is here.  I think that there is a special time warp and that I will be like a highs-speed bullet train!  Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some things that I can do faster when I am alone.  Blogging is a bit easier when you are uninterrupted; it’s easier to write when you can string two thoughts together at one time.  Other things such as the laundry or the floor can be easier to do when the house is empty, but it still takes a certain amount of time for the washer to run or for my to make my way across the floor.  Why I think this is not so, I do not know.


I started to think about this because my dear girl will be starting preschool this year and I imagine I will have to be a little more realistic in my goals for the hours she spend in school.  She will be there for 10 hours a week, but I will try to schedule in 30 hours worth of tasks.  Again, why I think this will work, I do not know.   I do know that I learned to maintain my home and my blogs with a child at home.  We have our little routines and they work for us.   It took me some time to adjust to motherhood and to being a SAHM.  Now that she is starting preschool, it is almost as if I have to be reprogrammed for how to function without her.  I heard it once in a movie and did not understand it until recently.  In the Bridges of Madison County, Meryl Streep’s character Francesca explains it like this:



“You don’t understand, no-one does. When a woman makes the choice to marry, to have children; in one way her life begins but in another way it stops. You build a life of details. You become a mother, a wife and you stop and stay steady so that your children can move. And when they leave they take your life of details with them. And then you’re expected to move again only you don’t remember what moves you because no-one has asked in so long. Not even yourself. “


In one way that may seem sad and I imagine to some extent it is.  No one tells you ahead of time that being a mother can consume the woman inside of the mom.  Marriage changes your life, but becoming a mother transforms it in a way that cannot be described.    I would not trade being a mother.  The rewards far outweigh the sacrifices.  Still, I do know that as she grows, we will gradually spend less time together and I will find myself on my own more often.   There have been times I would have traded my right arm for the chance to pee in peace, but someday she will be spending hours in the bathroom showering and doing her hair – telling me to leave her alone.  Each day she will become more independent so that someday she will stand on her own two feet.  It will mean that we have done our job as parents and we will be proud.  However, the woman inside of me will be forever transformed and will have to learn how to function without her.  I know this because this post started about me, but in the end, is about her effect on me.  She has changed me.  Seeing the world through her eyes has made me a better person and I am grateful for that.  There is no doubt that I will be the one crying on that first day of preschool and she, in all her 3-year old independence, will be ready to take on the world!

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Sometimes, We Are All Still Children

A strange thing happened to me yesterday.  I’m almost embarrassed to share, but why not?  A random stranger mentioned me via Twitter to let me know that there was no such thing as a “Yankee Texan”.  This woman, apparently a native Texan, was apparently insulted by the mere suggestion.


I could have and should have chosen to ignore the Tweet and move on with my day.  I did not.  A few Tweets back and forth quickly showed me that this woman had dug her teeth in and wasn’t going to back down.  A suggestion to “agree to disagree” was rebuffed.  Humor was also not a response that was accepted.  A hint at her bully tactics was denied but her Tweets told a different story.  She informed me that she was simply “giving me knowledge of who I was, a damn Yankee.” In the end, I blocked her from my Twitter and moved on with the rest of my day.


This little exchange made me think.  As I have gotten older and more self-aware, I try not to engage with these types of individuals.  I have tried to learn that my identity is my identity.  A random stranger cannot change that.  Still, something in me wouldn’t let her comments pass.  I was compelled to respond.  It was not until her opinion could not be influenced that I realized the sheer insanity of the exchange.


It was as if I were back on the playground facing down the bully.  Only now I am older and can fight back.  Halfway through, I realized that I was giving this woman power simply by responding.  That’s when I picked up my toys and left the fight.  A few clicks, a blocked user and the power was back in my hands.  Her opinion is her opinion.  It does not change who I am.  Thank God the adult took the brain back over and figured that out.

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Focus, Plan and Get Back on Track. How?!?!

Have you ever had one of those days?  Actually, have you ever had one of those weeks or months?  The one where it seems like you are running around with a chicken with its head cut off and accomplishing very little?  That is how my life has been for the last 4 or 5 weeks and I am slowly trying to take back control.  In this case, slowly would be the understatement of the year.  At least, if you are me and you have no patience.  If you are someone else, you may think that I’m a bit of an overachiever and really just need a good dose of reality.  That may be your version, but I’m going to stick with mine.  Not only am I going to stick with it, I’m going to tell you about it.  Maybe you have some suggestions and right now I could use them.  Maybe you feel the same way and you don’t realize that someone else feels that way too.


I started blogging about 6 months ago and have started to have some success.  I really felt like things were going in the right direction.  I have three blogs – Mama’s Money Tree, Mommies Vote Too and Yankee Texan Mom.  I love them all and was managing to post fairly regularly to each of them.  I also had the bright idea that becoming an Independent Tupperware Consultant could me merged with blogging, so I signed up.  Then July and August hit and the plan, well it fell apart like a house of cards.


If you have been reading this blog, you may recall that I am a mom and a step mom.  Our daughter Gwen is three and is here with us all of the time.  My stepchildren – Dillon (16) and Samantha (12) – live with their mothers and are here on particular weekends.holidays.  Each July, they spend the month at our house.  I love them both dearly, but I would be lying if I said that going from a one child house to a three child house didn’t change things.  In fact, for those of you with more than one child, my hat is off to you.  I do not know how you do it.  Gwen and I had a bit of a routine and I had learned how to blog around it.  With three children in the house, it became more difficult.  Someone always wanted my attention and, therefore, I did a lot of late night blogging.  Well, it pains me to admit it, but I am not as young as I used to be and all of those late nights caught up with me.  I tried to ignore the fact that I was sick and, for you reference, I dont’ suggest that. By the end of August, I was at Urgent Care being diagnosed with bronchitis.  Antibiotics and cough syrup helped me shake the bronchitis but it has taken weeks to get my energy and strength back.  Adding to that, this last fight with the bronchitis wore me down and I quit smoking.  (I have not had a cigarette in 17 days.)  All in all, it has been weeks since I felt like I had some sort of routine going and, as a result, all of my blogs have suffered.


This past week, I started to see some light at the end of the tunnel and no longer feel like it is an oncoming train.   Gwen started preschool this week so I will now have time on Tuesdays and Thursdays to blog, clean the house and/or run errands.  I am trying to be realistic about these newly found 10 hours and not try to cram 50 hours worth of “to do” into them.  I have also had to realize that when you get this far behind, you can’t get caught up in a day.  So, each day I do something around the house and something on the blogs to feel like I am getting caught up.  I remind myself that I am only human and that my most important job is being a mom – everything else is secondary.


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