Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Bella Notte

My sister-in-law took the kids out last night. This was my special request. I love that she is willing to come over and watch them. But that involves me leaving. And lots of days I just don't want to fool with makeup and ironing and all of that, but I do want the peace and quiet of a night with just George. So Katie took the kids to the mall for dinner and Build-a-Bear and then to the pet store. And I stayed home in my slippers and straightened up the house a bit while George heated the spinach lasagna I had frozen a couple of weeks ago. While we waited for it to finish cooking, I read Persuasion aloud to Elspeth and George worked on his fantasy baseball roster. It was so nice. Like I can't even begin to tell you how nice. It was quiet. And when Elspeth was ready to sleep (which didn't last in the end) I picked up a magazine. A magazine, people! Remember how I love Real Simple and Cook's Illustrated?! Because I had forgotten. They were all sitting in my magazine rack, still in the plastic. Poor, neglected subscriptions. Anyway, it was crazy having leisure time. I felt that the only way it could have been any more perfect was if we had a fire place and if we had wine. Well, we did have wine, but I knew the future dehydration (due to nursing) was not worth the degree of romanticism it would add so I opted to do without. But it was like being in a movie. Really. I felt like a real live human being! I think most moms will know what I mean by that. For everyone else, it was just that I was a me and not a someone else's mommy for a few hours.

We didn't think ahead on the whole lasagna thing so we were cooking it from frozen solid. After a while we decided we might could use a little appetizer so I made parmesan dip which didn't actually finish cooking until about the same time as the lasagna. Oh well, that made it an even more delightful meal. Katie brought the kids home all tuckered out during the last few minutes of cooking and got them ready for bed. We went in and kissed them goodnight and sat down to our yummy dinner for two, still in quiet. It was super tasty, especially without all of the "stop whining" and "get back in your chair" and "let's finish up, now" though we probably would've had less of that then usual because everything was so delicious. I am posting the recipes for both. I am fairly certain neither is a repeat, but sorry if these are not new.

After supper, we watched Stranger Than Fiction with Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, and Queen Latifah. Omigosh! It was so good. It was not silly if that's what you think of when you think of Will Ferrell. It has Emma Thompson in it. So right there, there you go. Added to my list of jobs I would not be good at, film reviewer. But there's all these elements- likable characters, likable situations (no one is a diner waitress in the desert or something depressing like that), a literary quality, humor, a fresh and unusual story line. Ugh, it's too hard to explain why it is so good. Maybe I'll make an attempt another time. But it was just a really good movie. Like I think I will probably watch it again before we take it back. Anyway, the recipes. And do I need to remind y'all how I feel about real Parmigiano Reggiano? At least use something close. Please don't make these with the shaker can of Kraft parmesan or any variety of Kraft for that matter! I am far from a cheese snob, but seriously!

Parmesan Dip (serve with a sliced warm baguette)
1 c. light mayonnaise
1 c. sour cream
1/2 c. plus 1T grated parmesan
1 small thinly sliced onion
optional- sliced mushrooms (none for me, thanks) or sundried tomatoes
-mix ingredients. sprinkle 1T grated parmesan over top. bake at 350 for thirty minutes.

Spinach Lasagna
Jar of Spaghetti Sauce (Sorry, not one of those from scratch recipes where you make your own sauce. We love Newman's Own sauces and they have way less sodium than other brands. So why not?)
2 eggs
15 oz. ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
10 oz.package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 pound sliced or grated mozzarella
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 pound uncooked lasagna noodles
-beat eggs in a bowl. add ricotta, salt, spinach, and 1/4 c. parmesan.
-lightly grease bottom of 9x13 pan and place small amount of sauce in the bottom.
-layer noodles, half of ricotta mixture, half of mozzarella, then half of sauce. repeat layers and sprinkle the top with remaining parmesan.
-cover dish tightly with greased foil. bake at 350 for 1 hour or until noodles are done. let stand 10 minutes before serving


Matt Churnock said...

I have been trying to put into words how I feel about stranger than fiction for our blog, but I can't do it. I thought it was wonderful.

that's all i have to say about that.

oh, and give those easter dresses hell! (that was encouragement by the way)!

Jandy said...

I guess I need to rent Stranger Than Fiction and see it again. I was underimpressed--but then, probably my expectations were way too high. The concept was so amazing, but I just wanted it to follow through more on the theoretical boundary between reality and fiction, and the philosophical implications of that boundary being violated. Also, I didn't think Maggie Gyllenhaal's character would have fallen so hard for Will Ferrell's so quickly after their antagonistic beginning. Maggie's awesome in everything, but I didn't feel like the role gave her enough to work with.

But I know a lot of people who really loved it, so it must be due for a rewatch on my part. ;)

Abby said...

Thanks Matt! I don't understand the tire swing guy for your picture. I just want everyone else to know that Matt is not like that guy in the picture. What's up with him anyway?

Jandy, you have amazing insights on your blog all the time and are really good at being critical and explaining why. you are over my head a lot of times- used to that because George is too! I don't think George loved the movie like I did, so it may only hit a certain person's mark. I have only like a handful of movies that I love. I don't really love movies. But George and I think you really love movies and all that goes into them, so I'm thinking in a lot of ways, y'all might have higher standards, all of which I mean as a compliment! I hear what you're saying about Maggie's character maybe not falling for Harold so quickly. I think it helped him out that he was so different from what she thought- the tax man, apparent skirt chaser, etc. Of course, we knew he wasn't like that, but when she found out, it was an exciting surprise. Maybe? I would have fallen for Harold, but I am nothing like her- except the baking thing :) But I am planning on re-watching it myself and may have more of a chance to be critical now that I know the storyline.

Matt Churnock said...

That man in the tire swing is none other than the one, the only, Senior David Hasselhoff. He's dreamy!

Jandy said...

Abby, well, thank you. Sometimes I'm just making up things to try to make myself sound smart, just so you know. ;) But yeah. I really think Stranger than Fiction was very good, but my expectations were unreasonable. And re: Maggie's character. I think it was the guitar. I mean, how stereotypical is it for a girl to dislike a guy, and then she discovers that he plays the guitar and writes songs, and oooh. All of sudden. (I think I'm remembering that part correctly...)

Matt Adair said...

Abby--real parmesan, YES!! Nothing against my upbringing, but I was raised on the metallic green Kraft can and just realized a few years ago that I've been LIVING A LIE. Real parmesan tastes so different. I'm not a cheese snob either. Just a huge fan of the real thing! :-)
Also, Cooks Illustrated ROCKS!

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