The week I was in Nebraska, I missed both the Bachelorette and MTV’s latest addictive train-wreck, The Challenge. In fact, I turned on the television once in 8 days as entertainment while I was doing situps. What does that mean? It means I was extremely busy back in the Big-O.
I know what you’re thinking: It’s Nebraska, how much could you possible have to do?
Well first off, shame on you for being so judgmental dear old Nebraska. Omaha is a very happening place. You should go there for vacation. Let me know when you plan the trip, and I’ll make some recommendations…
A Kitchen as Big as My Crib
My NYC kitchen is, as I always say, is small, but mighty. It’s very tiny, but pretty useful for the purposes of my “complicated” recipes.
Still, the sheer size of my mother’s kitchen amazes me almost as much as the giant-sized bags of cereal at Walmart every time I come home.
And every time I come home, my mother and I fight about me messing up her kitchen. This is how it usually goes down:
- Mom: Jamie, please, please I beg of you, don’t mess up my kitchen while you’re home. I just cleaned it, and it would be so nice if it could stay this way.
- Me: Ugh, Mom! What do you want me to do? Not eat?! Just tell me where the cleaning supplies are, and I’ll take care of it.
- Mom: NO! No, please, Jamie. Just tell me when you are done eating, and I’ll come clean up after you. You don’t know how to clean like I do. Where did I go wrong? Oy.
So, you can imagine how excited she was when I announced I’d be cooking spaghetti squash casserole for family dinner while I was home. I invited Jamie and Emily so that she wouldn’t be able to say no. I couldn’t wait to get cooking in my mother’s giant, perfectly clean kitchen! I just knew all of the space would elevate my food to another level of deliciousness…
The Cooking Begins
With Jamie and Emily attending plus my mother and father and leftovers for Becca and Rory (who needed to put baby Brody to bed so couldn’t make our dinner time slot), I was cooking for 7 people – my biggest audience YET!
This was a big test – I had to be prepared, so I made a few trips to Hy-Vee to ensure I had all of the key ingredients. I swear I visited that store no less than 20 times when I was home (what can I say, I’m a sucker for extra-large ice cream sections).
Anyway, the first thing I did was lay out all of the ingredients on the giant counter, because this seemingly routine activity is one that I don’t get to do here in New York…I don’t HAVE a kitchen counter in New York.
Next, I decided upon the ingredients for my two-ingredient cupcakes and got to work on those first. Since everything was so inexpensive, I bought a few options and decided to make a gametime decision:
With the “pressure” on, I finally settled upon Yellow Cake Mix + 1 Can of Low-Sugar Cherry Pie Filling…
And Chocolate Cake Mix + 1 Cup Greek Yogurt (and 1 cup water). This was a special request by Becca, so of course I had to bake these.
With the ingredients mixed, I popped my “Cupcake Couples” into the oven at 350 degrees and baked them for about 30 minutes.
Multi-Tasking in the Kitchen
While the cupcakes, baked away, I was a very busy little lady.
First, I had to cook and shred 3 whole spaghetti squash (7 people is a lot). I microwaved each for about 10 minutes and shredded while each one baked.
And after my mother’s relentless attempts to help me, I finally took her up on her offer to chop the vegetables for the filling (I usually buy my veggies pre-chopped…my knife skills are are rather unimpressive).
We cooked the veggies (green/red peppers, onions and mushrooms – about 3 cups) on the stovetop with ground turkey and some Italian spices (no salt – my mother insisted I keep this meal low sodium for Sometimes Healthy Dad).
The filling took about 20 minutes to cook through, and my mother stayed nearby to ensure I actually cooked it and didn’t give anyone food poisoning. Thanks for the vote of confidence, mom.
Next, it was time to mix the filling with 1 can of pizza sauce.
From there, I layered my faux lasagna. First spaghetti squash.
Then mozzarella cheese and sauce.
AND, last but certainly not least, the meat filling.
After 2 times of this rotation, I had a very heavy casserole…
Which I promptly put into the oven.
Next, I made some garlic bread using butter spray, mozzarella and Fiber One Buns. I also put some lightly sprayed pita in the oven at the same time.
Not the Typical Sometimes Healthy Meal
Before I put in the lasagna, I removed my cupcakes from the oven.
My mother made me put them on a pretty serving tray…I tried to tell her that tupperware would suffice but she said, “No, Jamie – this is a REAL dinner you are hosting- you can’t plop things on a plate and spill them all over like you usually do.” Aw, thanks for taking away all the fun, MOM.
As everything else cooked away in the oven, I made myself looked presentable, while my mother set the table. What a peach! This is NOT how I serve dinners at the casa in NYC.
She also made us a little salad. What would I do without her??
Of course, I was impatient per usual and had to take a peak to see how my masterpieces were coming along…
And once everything was ready, I got to play with the coolest tool in my parents’ kitchen: the heating drawer! I just put everything in the drawer and it stayed heated until dinner!
Wow, kitchen technology has really come a long way, my friends.
Finally, Jamie and Emily arrived. Both had to work late that night, so I was excited to serve them a hearty meal after a hard day’s work.
We enjoyed hummus and southwestern dip with toasted pita, carrots and celery. My mother tried to stop me from devouring all the celery, but I just couldn’t help myself.
While we had girl talk, my poor Sometimes Healthy Dad threw in a word or two whenever he got the opportunity. Poor dad, surrounded by 4 women – where’s Brother Bear when we need him?
Dinner is SERVED
Finally, it was time to chow down on my gigantic casserole.
I served it up as everyone held their breath to see if I’d drop it.
Check out the pretty table full of delicious food.
I was so nervous! Apparently, so was Jamie.
Can you see the enthusiasm in her eyes as she served it up?
I helped myself to a generous portion of the spag squash, along with some salad, fruit and garlic bread.
As we ate, my mother and father caught up with Jamie and Emily, since they don’t see them that often. The conversation was mixed with me asking everyone, “Do you want some more spaghetti squash?”
My mother informed me it’s not polite to host a dinner and force food down everyone’s throat. So, when all was said and done, there was still lots of Spag Squash left for Becca and Rory.
Next up, it was time for dessert. I informed Emily and Jamie they had no excuse not to eat 10 of them since they hadn’t overdone it for dinner.
While skeptical about the spaghetti squash, even they had to admit that the cupcakes looked delicious.
That didn’t stop me from force-feeding them ;-).
They loved their cupcakes so much that they even took some leftovers home without me offering…
Okay, slight exaggeration. My mother and I packed up cupcakes for Emily’s coworkers, Jamie’s brother and Becca and Rory. I told Em and Jamie if the cupcakes went in the trash, I’d find out….
After a bit more girl talk, it was time for them to head out, because they had work the next day. AND, we all had something exciting planned for the next night…
A Snoop D-O Double G Concert!
I alluded to the concert in my Thursday Theme Day post that week, but never had a chance to recap. Since this post is getting long, I’ll keep the recap short.
The venue was amazing.
Snoop was on point.
I had no idea how many Snoop Dog songs I actually knew! Drop it like it’s hot anyone?
There was a lot of dancing.
And a few of these too (Hey, it WAS a rap concert).
The crowd was a good time, and we had a great crew.
I knew the concert would be an unexpected good time, and I was right. Between the cool outdoor venue (which created just a bit of a problem for my dress blowing up), the quality music and of course the quality people, this was one of my favorite concerts ever.
Nothing beats dropping it like it’s hot with your best friends at an outdoor concert during the summer. So glad we went.
PS – It was so nice to get home after a late night and raid my parents’ super healthy kitchen. Yep, my drunk food was, you guessed it, a giant slice of Spag Squash Lasagna
All in Good Company
I had just as much fun at the Spag Squash dinner as I did at the Snoop concert, because in the end, it was really more about spending time with my closest friends and family. It didn’t matter what we did.
It was nice going back in time to that trip, because I’m still a little homesick.
BUT, I don’t have any time for such nonsense, as I am currently in Philadelphia with some very talented and impressive women at Healthy Living Summit!
I figured I’d get up a nice long post to keep you busy because I’m not sure how much time I’ll have to write while I’m here. I’m more interested in meeting new people and learning ways to make my blog even better.
More pictures to come but here’s a preview….we just happened to see some pretty well-known reality tv stars while out on a late night fro yo run!
They’ll be plenty more highlights to come…hopefully, just as exciting as the above pic!
Have a great weekend everyone!