Thursday, January 12, 2012

Rigatoni with Crimini Mushrooms, Red Peppers & Baby Spinach

I haven't posted a recipe in quite a while, so I figured it was time.  Trust me, it was worth the wait.  This pasta dish is hella good and you can put it together quickly with minimal prep work.  Take a look at this beauty:

So what? So let's dance! (Name that movie and score 3 points for Gryffindor).

2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter
2 fat cloves garlic, minced
1 (8 oz.) package sliced crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, sliced into matchsticks
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 to 3/4 cup heavy cream
Salt & pepper to taste
3/4 lb. rigatoni
5 oz. fresh baby spinach, roughly torn
1 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese (use the good stuff!)

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet (large enough to hold the pasta) over medium heat, add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds after it starts to sizzle.

Add mushrooms and peppers and cook for about 10 minutes or until softened.

Add wine, turn up heat to medium high and cook until the alcohol burns off and the liquid reduces by half (about 2 - 3 minutes).

Reduce heat to medium-low and add cream.  Cook for a few minutes until sauce thickens slightly, add salt & pepper to taste, and reduce heat to low.

In the meantime, cook rigatoni according to package directions until "al dente". Add the spinach to the pasta pot during the last 2 minutes of cooking.

Drain pasta and spinach in a colander and add to the sauce in skillet.

Add half of the cheese and gently combine pasta, cheese and sauce over low heat for about 5 minutes until the pasta absorbs some of the sauce and thickens.

Serve with remaining cheese and ENJOY!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

My Pity Pot Runneth Over...or Does It?

Lately I seem to cry at the drop of a hat.  A sad song, an SPCA commercial (you know the ones with Sarah McLachlan), anything.  Naturally I thought it might be early menopause, but it can't be because I'm only 29.  Alright, 35.  Fine, 40, but I look like I could be as young as 35... if that 35 year-old never wore sunscreen and smoked a lot (of crack).  But I digress.

After some careful introspection, I've decided that I've hit a midlife crisis.  Indeed, 40 is middle aged and I need to own it, baby.  I think when a person reaches "half time" and reflects on his or her accomplishments and goals, it's natural to panic (or in my case, become weepy) over what dreams may have been left by the wayside and how little time, if any, is left to fulfill them.  Growing up, I knew exactly what I wanted to be (an actress/model), who I was going to marry (John Taylor from Duran Duran), where I was going to live (New York City), and even the names of my children (Julian and Kayleigh).  As I grew older my dreams changed, but no matter what they were, everything always seemed so possible.

I think for many people, the way life really turns out is something quite different from what they had imagined.  I could never have imagined the path that led me to where I am now, doing what I do, with the family that I have.  I am blessed and grateful beyond words, proud of my family and the things that we have accomplished, yet lately I feel a nagging sense of something unfinished.  Something I should have done.  But I'm not sure what it is.

For the past 13 years, I have had the privilege of being my son's cruise director on his voyage here on Earth.  As any mother will agree, it is the greatest and most rewarding job in the world.  But lately, each day I wake up, my son seems to have grown a foot taller and another mile away. He'll be off to college (we hope) in a few short years and he will become his own man.  I will always be his mother, but my place will move to the background as an observer, no longer fluttering around him trying to keep him safe.   I know that it is the natural order of things,  but as he gains independence, I feel like I lose purpose.  It's at times like this when I totally get why Michelle Duggar has 19 kids.  By the time the last one's out of the house, she'll be damn ready.

So I think my problem is that I'm having trouble coming to terms with the fact that my kid is growing up and  my services are becoming less and less needed.  He has been my life's work, and this "project" is in its last phases of development.  So what's a mom to do?  I've still got time to fulfill some of the dreams that I once had - aside from becoming a supermodel and marrying a rock star, but it's funny how the passing of time dulls your passion for the things that once seemed so important.  (Yes, I know there are people out there livin' the dream every day, with careers and adventures that most people only read about it.  Well, good for YOU.)

As usual, I didn't have a New Year's resolution for 2012. I just never believed in forcing myself to do something simply because it's the first day of a new year.  But now that I think about it, I really should.  I just turned 40 and it's a brand new year with endless possibilities.  What better time than now?  So this year, my resolution will be to find my bliss.  I am going to step outside of my comfort zone and try new things, start a new hobby, put myself out there. Who knows?  I may surprise myself with what I find.  And of course, I'll chronicle my journey on the blog.  Hey, at the very least it'll be great material!

Is it too late to join the circus?