I’ve been away for a week, returning to San Diego late yesterday afternoon. Dennis and I went to Wisconsin to visit my Mom and my sister and her husband and my niece and nephew. We also went back home for a wedding on Dennis’ side of the family. Dennis’ cousin, Carol is one of my favorite people. I actually met Carol before I met Dennis – I worked for Carol’s dad, Uncle Randy. He was my first boss when I worked at the local grocery store in the town I grew up in. That store was called Rooney’s Supermarket and is where I met Dennis the summer after my junior year of high school. Carol’s beautiful daughter, Katie, was getting married and we were thrilled to be able to celebrate with her and her new husband, Josh.
Carol’s brother, Greg, has a daughter that got married in the beginning of summer. We couldn’t attend Melissa and Mitch’s wedding because it was the same week as our daughter graduated high school out here in California. We were thrilled to meet Mitch as well. Uncle Randy and Auntie Kathy have gained two wonderful grandson-in-laws in just a couple of months. I had the best time ever dancing with Mitch and Melissa and Melissa’s brother, Jake. Greg and his wife, Laurel, were on the dance floor all night. We started out dancing to “YMCA”. I have great memories of dancing to “Sweet Caroline” with everyone! Carol has two other brothers, Mark and Matt. Mark was also on the dance floor for most of the night, he had a ball. I was finally able to meet Mark’s wife, Jen and their son, Preston. Matt’s wife was unable to attend the wedding, but I was able to meet his two wonderful sons.
Dennis’ Auntie Joyce and her son’s fiancé, Diane, were seated at our table for dinner. We had such a great time chatting and catching up and it was wonderful to meet Diane as well. She was wonderful to chat with and we really enjoyed hearing about her three children. Auntie Joyce shares a love of books with me … she was a librarian and worked at Barnes & Noble. We get along quite well! Those that know me, know how much I enjoy my three book clubs.
On Friday, my Mom and I went to breakfast with Dennis and then her and I did some shopping.
Dennis hung out with his cousin, Greg, and they had a great day catching up.
(Dennis on the left, Greg on the right. Greg is probably the most fun guy I know!)
On Thursday evening, my sister and I headed out to take a ride to Madison. My niece, Maggie, and nephew, JP, both attend college there. My sister and her husband, John, also went to Madison (that’s where they met). Dennis loves to hang out with John, they get along so well … we always have such great times together. I have a memory from 20 years ago where John and Dennis are sitting on the couch in our family room and they are singing “Low Rider” by War. It’s one of my favorite memories of the two of them.
Cher and I were heading to Madison to pick JP up and bring him home for a dentist appointment. We didn’t make it to Madison, however, because we ended up hitting a deer on the freeway. Cherie and I were having a great converstation, as we always do and really enjoying our ride, when out of nowhere, a deer appeared in front of us. Cher’s car is quite damaged, but is able to be fixed. After the state patrol came to check on us and help us out, we took a ride to the nearest gas station to assess the damage ourselves. We couldn’t get out on the freeway, so the first time we saw the car was under the light at the gas station. Boy, were we surprised! We each ended up buying a lottery ticket and said we’d split whatever winnings had. Turns out my ticket was a winner … we won $4! I’ll be sending Cher her $2.
On Friday evening, my Mom took the family to a restaurant she really enjoys called The Sawmill. We all had a wonderful time. Maggie and JP both came to town (by bus for JP since Cher and I didn’t make it all the way to Madison. Maggie drove down with her friends to attend a concert). We had a great evening catching up. I loved spending time with Maggie and JP.
On Monday, Dennis was able to visit with his aunt’s on his mom’s side of the family, as well as their husbands. I didn’t get a chance to visit with Auntie Gloria and Uncle Tom or Auntie Terry and Uncle Dick. I spent a wonderful day with my mom. We took a ride to a wonderful little town called Port Washington. There is a store that she loves there called Duluth Trading Company. My mom loves beautiful clothes and she really wanted to take a ride to get some things before the snow starts to fly. The ride we took was absolutely beautiful. We laughed the entire way and had a great conversation. I loved Monday, it was such a fabulous day! The fall colors were gorgeous!
Dennis had a fabulous day with his aunts and uncle as well. He really enjoyed visiting them each in their homes and catching up.
We look forward to our next visit to Wisconsin to see everyone!
We missed Kylie and Remington like crazy, and face-timed with them every night.
Last night I decided I wanted to make a pasta with bacon and spinach for dinner for tonight. I wasn’t quite sure how I’d make the sauce, but as I walked into my pantry this afternoon, I realized I had two jars of low sugar apricot jam so decided to incorporate that into my sauce. I made a sauce of olive oil, butter, onion, garlic, white wine, chicken stock and the apricot jam – yum! I sautéd half a sweet onion that I cut into 1/8 rounds into olive oil and butter that I melted together. I let the onion caramelize a bit and then added 3 cloves of minced garlic.
I added 3/4 cup of moscato wine, a cup and a half of low sodium chicken stock, 3 tablespoons of apricot jam, and a quarter teaspoon of red pepper flakes and let it simmer over medium heat until my noodles and spinach were done. I wanted to have a bit of heat with the sweetness of the jam. I added my noodles and spinach to boiling, salted water and cooked them together.
Before I cooked the noodles or started the sauce, I placed 16 ouces of applewood smoked turkey bacon on a sheet pan and cooked it in a preheated 375 degree oven for 35 minutes.
I always buy my turkey bacon at Trader Joe’s.
I cut the bacon in half lengthwise and then in 1/2 inch pieces.
Once the noodles and spinach were cooked, I added them directly to the sauce pan and tossed them with my apricot wine sauce.
I rarely drain the noodles. I usually add them directly to the sauce, this way I can preserve pasta water to loosen up my sauce. I did add 3/4 cup of the pasta water to the sauce once I added the noodles.
I tossed the pasta with the sauce and then added the bacon that I cut up and tossed it all together.
I added a half cup of grated romano parmesan and then tossed everything again.
This was a hit with both Dennis and me. Dennis has already packed up some of the leftovers for his lunch tomorrow.
We served this pasta with a crusty ciabatta bread that I heated in the oven for about 10 minutes.
16 ounces applewood smoked turkey bacon
1 package spaghetti
3/4 cup white wine
1-1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
3 tablespoons apricot jam (I used reduced sugar)
1 package fresh spinach
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 sweet onion, sliced into 1/8 inch rounds
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup grated romano/parmesan blend
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Cook bacon on sheet pan with a rack for 35 minutes.
- Boil water with salt and pepper.
- Cook pasta per package directions, adding spinach to the boiling water and cook together.
- Melt olive oil and butter together.
- Add onion and cook for 5-7 minutes until onion starts to caramelize.
- Add garlic and cook for another minute.
- Add wine to pan and scrape up any brown bits.
- Pour chicken stock into pan and add apricot jam. Add red pepper flakes and stir. Let cook over medium heat while the pasta and spinach boil.
- Add cooked pasta and spinach to sauce and toss, adding 3/4 cup of reserved pasta water.
- Add romano/parmesan cheese and toss again.
Until next time, Kris