Say Hello To My Little Friends

Dearest Boo,  this is one of my favorite Walt Disney Productions “The Lady and The Tramp” and I don’t think you have ever had the pleasure of watching it.  However, I am sure that you know some things about it and are familiar with some of the songs.  One of my favorite is “Were Are Siamese If  You Please” sung by those nasty little cats, Si and Am.  Do you remember the musical that your Youth Group Minister, Chad, wrote for the group to sing for Easter your junior year?  It was so much fun for you and your friends, but I was miserable, hot and sweaty.  I was the Light Director, which meant that I had to climb up one story to the catwalk and man the lights.  Since we blackened the windows it was hot, hot, hot up there.  You little darlings never knew, so I must have done my job.

There was one song that Derrick and Stuart sang.  The words were different, but the tune was “We Are Siamese If You Please”.  That musical was the best!  I wonder if I can find the tape of that performance?  It would be fun to be able to watch it again.  I really enjoyed the time we had with Chad.  He was so dynamic and caring for our youth.  I loved the fact that he brought all of us, the youth and parents, closer to God.  I remember the wonderful song he wrote about LeAnne for her funeral.  He was a wonderful addition to our youth group.  I miss him and wonder how he is and what he is doing.

But what does this have to do with the little dinner above?  And what the heck is the title about?  First the title, it’s what Tony Montana (Al Pacino) said as one of his last lines in “Scarface”.  The bad guys had just killed his love and he was going to get revenge.  He was out numbered, but that did not matter.  He needed to avenge the death of the woman he loved.  Aw…..romance.  Which brings me back to the video clip, romance.  Lady is having a lovely, romantical dinner with Tramp.  This film was from 1955 and I am pretty sure we did not see it at the movies, so it had to be on television when I first saw it.  Doesn’t matter when I saw it, the fact of the matter is that I did see it and that scene set the tone for what I would forever consider a romantical meal.  Spaghetti and meatballs.

In your father’s family there is the legend of the “Spaghetti Eater”.  This legendary eater could eat one platter, not a dinner plate, but a serving platter of spaghetti in one sitting.  The way the story was told to me that the spaghetti was heaped up on the serving platter.  Can you imagine it?  It must have been more than a pound of spaghetti eaten by one person.  Mind you, I have been in the presence of this person and asked myself if the story was true – it is.  I asked, I begged, I pleaded to have this feat recreated in front of my eyes.  Please, please, please.  I have never seen anything like it before and I desperately wanted to see it for myself.  But it was not to be.  This was a once in a lifetime and I missed it!  And now you may be wondering who is this Legend?  Could it be Lowell, but no.  Could it be your Grandfather, but no.  Could it be your father, but no.  Who, who is this person.  Why, it’s none other than Stuart’s mother, Edie!  I’ll bet you were surprised by this disclosure.  It’s true, I begged her for over fifteen years to eat another platter of spaghetti, but it never happened.  Oh, we ate spaghetti together, but it was only the normal, every day serving size.  I am not giving up hope, perhaps someday I will be a witness to this feat.

Let’s get back to my romantical dinner.  I have the pasta figured out.  I have the marinara sauce figured out.  What I was missing, to make this dinner perfect, was meatballs.  Oh, I could make meatballs.  They just were never “pasta worthy”.  They never seemed to be as good as my pasta and sauce.  I was a failure.  I would measure, mix and shape those little suckers only to have them mock me with their mediocrity.  So, I resorted to using the pre-made meatballs that I found in the freezer section of our grocery store.  Not that they were “pasta worthy” either, but they took zero effort on part.  However,  now I have achieved greatness all thanks to you.  Your Christmas present of “Ad Hoc At Home” by Thomas Keller has given my “Spaghetti and Meatballs” the greatness it deserves.  This meatball recipe is truly “pasta worthy”.  Joy Rising!!

Ad Hoc At Home Meatballs

Prep  Time: 30 minutes

Cook  Time: 15 -18 minutes  at 425 degrees

Source: “Ad Hoc At Home”  by  Thomas  Keller


  • 2 T oil
  • 1 c chopped onions
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 12 oz. ground beef
  • 8 oz. ground pork
  • 8 oz. ground veal
  • 1/4 c bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 oz. mozzarella cheese


  1. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and garlic.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Reduce heat to low and cook gently for about 20 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and set aside.
  6. In a large bowl mix together the meats, egg, bread crumbs, and onion/garlic mixture, using your hands.  Gently incorporate evenly; do not overwork the mixture.
  7. To check the seasoning, put a small patty of the meat on a plate and cook in the microwave for 30 seconds, then taste.  Add more salt and/or pepper as desired.
  8. Divide the mixture into 12 equal balls, using a scant 1/4 c for each.
  9. Cut the cheese into 12 cubes, about 3/4″.
  10. Shape the meatballs, stuffing a cube of cheese into the center of each one.
  11. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  12. Set a cooling rack over a jelly roll pan (the pan will catch any grease).
  13. Put the meatballs onto the cooling rack and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until cooked through but still juicy.
  14. Remove from the oven and let the meatballs rest on the rack for a few minutes.
  15. You can either add to your marinara sauce or place several onto cooked spaghetti to serve.


Who’s Your Mama??

Dearest  Boo,  I know that you wish that Giada De Laurentiis was your Mama, but sadly no.  I have one of her cookbooks, but not her body.  Sorry, not your Mama.

Then maybe Lydia Bastianich might be your Mama, but, again, no.   I have her body, but not her cookbook.  Sadly, not your Mama.

How about Mario Batalia, but no.  We are almost batting .1000, as I have one of his cookbooks, his orange Crocs, and his body, but my brain process equally well between the right and the left hemisphere (one of the big differences between men and women).  So, thankfully, he’s not your Mama.

Or  how about Fabio Viviani, could he be your Mama??  Who cares??!!!  I would just love to have him in my kitchen cooking for us, listening to his fabulous Italian accent, and hearing all the stories about “Top Chef”.  He was so much fun for us to watch compete during his season.   I wonder if we would ever tire of Italian meals?  Again, who cares??  He would be amazing to watch.

And finally, we have one of your favorite books from childhood asking the question….

and we know that is not true………..or is your Mama……

Sorry, I was on my rhyming kick and wanted to find something to rhyme with llama…..Obama.  Get it??  Okay, I’ll stop.

You love anything “pasta”.  I feel pretty certain that if I were to smash up peas (your most dreaded vegetable) and shove them inside of a pasta shell or a manicotti you could and would eat a plateful.  And if I were to toss it with your favorite marinara sauce and a good helping of Parmesan cheese you would think that you were eating “ambrosia”.  This is not a problem for me, as I, too, am a big pasta fan.  I have been more mindful of the “dangers” of pasta, so I have made sure that I am buying whole wheat pasta.  By doing this I am easing my guilt just a bit.

When you were little if we gave you a plate of spaghetti plain, no sauce, no meat, just the noodles, you would very quietly and methodically eat each and every noodle.  You were focused on that pasta and no one had better try to take away your plate before you were finished.  It’s just about the same today, only you do want the sauce (tomato or cheese) and/or the meat.

The only other “food” that has had that same hypnotic effect on your are potatoes.  Again, pretty sure that I could cover anything with potatoes and you would clean your plate.  However, you have been known to “play” with your potatoes.  One time, you were about two, and we were in Omaha visiting with my family.  At that time the only other young person was your cousin, Patrick, but since he was five or six you were not that interesting to him as a playmate.   We adults were all laughing and talking and, much to your dismay, not talking to you.  At one point during the meal your Aunt Izzy burst out laughing and pointing in your direction.  Your precious little hands had smeared your mashed potatoes all over your adorable sweet face!  When I was able to stop laughing and tried to clean you up, you were not at all pleased with me.  You wanted me to stop messing up your “make-up”.  Gracious Child!  What must I have been putting on my face that you thought looked like mashed potatoes?  This explains your aversion to make-up to this date.

It is so true, and so scary, that our little ones are constantly watching and listening to us.  And most of the time we are not aware.  Another time that this was brought smack dab into my face was when you were about nine or ten.  We were in Omaha visiting with another couple for the day.  Your father and Steve were out playing golf and we girls were off on a day of shopping.  Steve’s wife and I were in the front visiting and chattering away, while you were very patiently sitting in the back.  Waiting, just waiting for us to come up for air and you could join in on the conversation.  When we did you jumped in with the words “my mother could have had an abortion and I would not be living today”.  Utter silence.  I mean, what else could we add?  Ever since you were a wee one I have always shared with you that you were adopted and any details that I knew about your birth parents.  Although I don’t remember talking to you about abortion, I must have.  Or you heard about it at school………..yes, that’s right.  You did hear it at school.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Twenty-ten years ago a stranger gave me the most precious gift for my first Mother’s Day.  She gave me you.  Every Mother’s Day I think of her and her sacrifice.  She gave me a treasure more precious than silver or gold.  I would like her to know that you have been the greatest blessing of my life and I will always love you with all my heart.  You are a gift that I can never repay.  Your birth mother choose the harder path and one that showed you how much she loved you.  I hope she finds comfort in knowing you are deeply loved and cherished.

On this Mother’s Day, as on every other day, I would like your birth mother to know that I understand  it was a terrible decision to have to make, but one I am eternally grateful she made.  I hope it’s some comfort to know that she made a mother of someone who otherwise would never have been one. And that choosing to give the gift of life is amazing and one of God’s blessings.  Thank you, and God bless you.

Now, I know that your “other Mother”, Giada, would gladly make this for you any night of the week.  And know that I do, too.   Joy Rising!

Pasta Ponza

Prep  Time: 20 minutes

Bake  Time: 30 minutes  at  375 degrees

Source: Giada De Laurentiis’ “Giada at Home”

Makes 8 servings

  • Unsalted butter for greasing
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) red cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) yellow cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
  • 4 slices of bacon, cooked and broken into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 cup Italian-style seasoned dried bread crumbs
  • 1 pound ziti or other short tube-shaped pasta
  • 1 1/4 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves


  1. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter an 8-by-8-inch glass baking dish. Set aside.
  2. Combine the tomatoes, capers, olive oil, salt and pepper in the prepared baking dish. Toss to coat. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the tomato mixture. Drizzle the top with olive oil, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the top is golden. Cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but still firm to the bite, 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water. Transfer the pasta into a large serving bowl. Spoon the tomato mixture onto the pasta. Add the cheese and toss well. If needed, thin out the sauce with a little pasta water and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley, bacon, and serve immediately.

Gotta Get Me Some!

Dearest Boo,  what a roller-coaster day today is.  Thirty-five years ago today Omaha had it’s largest tornado ever.  And, the most amazing part is that only three dearly loved people lost their lives.  According to the article in the Omaha World Herald newspaper “In the 1970s, the weather service issued warnings on fewer than two of every 10 tornadoes that occurred, said Harold Brooks, research meteorologist at National Severe Storms Laboratory at the University of Oklahoma.  Today, the weather service succeeds in warning the public about seven or eight of every 10 tornadoes, Brooks said.”   I know that when the sirens go off you sometimes get frustrated at the frequency, however, once you experience a tornado like the one in 1975, you count your blessings that we are getting the warning.

At that time we didn’t have “spotters” who are able to quickly phone in the information or Doppler radar that detects air movement, allowing meteorologists to pinpoint areas of intense rotation or weather computer programs that are more sophisticated and display in nearly real-time what is happening in a storm.  At that time the only “advanced” help the gentleman working at the National Weather Service office in north Omaha was working with was rejiggered surplus military radar left over from World War II.  He said  that all he could see on the screen were differences in precipitation — where rain or hail was heavy, where it was light.   He further compares the changes in technology to the difference between a Model T and a Lamborghini sports car.

At that time your dad and I were working at the Med Center.  The warning sounded at about the time we were to get off work, so we headed out to the parking structure where our car was parked.  We had to take an underground tunnel under the street to get to the four story parking structure.  Our car was parked on the top story, so that was when we were able to see what was happening to the weather.  The sky was a dark gray, almost black, but there was not rain so we were able to see pretty far into the horizon.  Looking to the west we were able to see the tornado and the debris and destruction in it’s path.  From this vantage point we were able to see at least four miles on the horizon.  It was the most frightening thing I have ever seen in my life.  However, the scariest part for me was the fact that is did not appear to be moving either to the left or the right.  It was growing larger, not larger because the tornado was filling up with “stuff” like in “The Wizard of Oz”.  It was growing larger because it was moving towards us!  Lord help us – the only thought that crossed my mind was that I was going to die before I became a mother.

The skies opened and the freezing cold rain started to pour down upon us.  It was raining so hard I was having trouble catching my breath.  Your father decided that we should get into our car and drive to our duplex.  That seemed to be not the smartest thing we should be doing at this point.  First, we could just run back down the stairs and get into the underground tunnel.  Pretty safe place I was thinking.  Second, and most important, this was not a smart idea as our duplex was located between the Med Center and the path of the tornado.  I thought that if we got caught in the tornado, the tornado would win and win big!  If this happened today I am pretty sure I would tell your father to have a nice trip and I would run like a crazy woman back to the tunnel.  However, thirty-five years ago I was a stupid, young woman in love and I followed my husband where ever he went.  Dumb, dumb, dumb.  Once we were in the car we could not even see past the front of the car, as the rain were coming down so fast and hard.  And still your father drove on.  Dumb, dumb, dumb.  I have never prayed so hard in my life and if I could have gotten down on my knees to do so I would have.  The winds were so strong our car was rocking back and forth.  We could see nothing, so I was sure that the tornado was ready to toss us aside like a used toy.  Purely by the grace of God we made it home and to the safety of our basement.

That night we were blessed to know that all of our loved ones made it safely through the storm.  The worst damage anyone experienced was broken tree limbs in their yards.  We compounded the idiocy of our lives further the next day by driving to and through the damaged area.  The path was ten miles long, destroying about 300 homes, damaging another 4000 homes, and was on the ground about 45 minutes.

Four years ago my brother Al died.  He was so young and just starting his life with his two young sons.  He was a very creative and talented man.  I still have the wooden goblet he made for me while in high school.  However, I am sure that he would tell you his best creations were his two boys.  When I look at his oldest son I can see so many of my brother’s mannerisms that I find myself just looking/watching him and drifting back in times when we were all younger.  The youngest son, on the other hand, has my brother’s dry wit.  He can just whip out these great observations and one liners that you have a hard time believing would come from this young soul.  They are a wonderful combination of my brother.  And a big thank you to your Grandmother for stepping in to raise them.  Not an easy thing to do after thirty years of not having that responsibility.

Also today, drum roll please, is your Aunt “Izzy’s” birthday.  Growing up I would have never thought that I would say it, but she has turned into a strong, capable, independent woman.  She did an amazing job of raising your cousin Patrick, with very little financial and emotional help.  Now she is able to kick back and enjoy the life of being a doting grandmother.  This is a role that she was created to play.  At the drop of a hat she is there with her support and love.  It is wonderful that she is just a short drive from them, so they are able to grow up knowing her and experiencing her unconditional love.  All grandbabies need this type of grandmother.  We sister/aunts tease her almost too much, but she is a good sport and takes all our jabs.

I knew that I wanted to make her something special to celebrate her day, but what oh what?  She has some dietary restrictions that hampered my decision.  Nothing that would need refrigeration as it had to be shipped.  Nuts – out; chocolate – out; pepper – out; remember to check to be sure the ingredient was not processed in the same plant as peanuts……….head scratching time.  I know that she loves to be able to share with her fellow co-workers, so I wanted to make something that she could take to work and would be something that they could easily eat on the run.  Teachers just don’t have enough hours in the day!  I came up with four ideas and could not settle on one, so I did the smart thing.  I made them all!  That is where my smart stops, as I totally spaced out getting pictures of the finished goods.  Rats…………….!  What I made was Lemon Poppyseed Muffins, Orange Crescent Coffee Cake, Boo Bread (your all time favorite) and Cinny Sticks (mini Cinnamon Rolls on a sucker stick).  The Boo Bread was your favorite, but to be honest I would have to pick the Cinny Sticks.   Any food on a stick is just so gosh darn cute that it is automatically a winner.

Since I don’t have pictures I will post the bread dough recipe that I used for the Cinny Sticks and the Orange Crescent Cake. I was able to get about 40 Cinny Sticks and one 9×13 pan of Orange Crescent Coffee Cake.

To make the Cinny Sticks I cut the dough in half and made those into cinnamon buns.  I used 1/2 c brown sugar, 1/2 stick softened butter and 1 1/2 T of cinnamon for the filling.  I made sure to roll it up tight and then rolled it to be long and thin.  Then I cut it into 1/2″ slices and place it into my mini muffin tin.  Once it finished baking I pushed a sucker stick through each roll.  Ta-Da!

The other half of the dough I cut in half again and rolled each half into a circle.  The filling for the coffee cake is 1/2 stick softened butter, 1 c sugar and the grated peel of one orange.  I then spread half of the filling on each circle, cut into six triangle shape and rolled up into a crescent.  Place the rolls into a greased 9×13 pan in two lines the length of the pan.  Just thought of this, but it would also be very pretty if you would use a cake pan and place the rolls into the plan like petals of a flower.  You can drizzle on the coffee cake, while it is still warm, a glaze of 2 1/2c powdered sugar and the juice of one orange.  Anyway…………along with the dough, Joy Rising!

Yummy for Your Tummy Dough

Prep  Time: 15 minutes; 2 1/2 hrs for the rising

Bake  Time: 8-10 minutes for mini Cinny Sticks;  25-30 minutes for Coffee Cake

Source: Lisa Poulsen



  • 2 c milk
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 c oil
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 6 c flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 pkgs instant, rapid rising yeast
  • 1/2 c warm water

Filling for Cinny Sticks:

  • 1 stick room temperature butter
  • 1 c light brown sugar
  • 3 T cinnamon

Filling for Orange Crescent Coffee Cake:

  • 1 stick room temperature butter
  • 1 c sugar
  • grated peel of one orange

Glaze for Cinny Stick:

  • 1 c powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2T-3T milk

Glaze for Orange Crescent Coffee Cake:

  • 2 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • juice of one orange


  1. Stir milk, sugar, oil and salt until sugar is completely dissolved.
  2. Add 2 c of the flour and beat well.
  3. Add 2 eggs and stir in completely.
  4. Dissolve the packages of yeast in the warm water.  Let “bloom” about ten minutes.
  5. Add yeast/water mixture to the flour mixture.  Stir in.
  6. Mix in the remaining 4 c of flour.
  7. Sprinkle small amount of flour onto either a pastry board or counter and knead until dough is smooth and not sticky (more flour may be added if dough is sticky).
  8. Put dough into a greased bowl and let rise until double (about one hour) in a warm place.
  9. If making just the Orange Crescent Coffee Cake; divide into six pieces and roll into a circle.  Spread each circle with one-sixth of the filling and cut each circle into 8 wedges.  Roll each into a crescent shape and place into pans.  Cover and let rise at least one hour more in warm place.  Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  Pour on glaze when rolls are still warm.
  10. If making just Cinny Sticks:  divide into fourths  and roll out into a rectangle shape.  Spread with one quarter of the filling (you can double the filling if you want “oozy” filling). Starting at one end of the longest side, roll the dough into a snake-like form.  Pinch and seal the edges so that the roll will hold it’s shape once it’s cut.  Cut each roll into 1/2″ slice and put into the muffin pan.  Cover and let rise at least one hour longer in a warm place.  Bake 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes.  Invert pan onto counter or pastry board and insert sucker stick into each roll.  Glaze when cool.