My mind wanders so much during this season ... its as if I'm on stimulus overload. The changing leaves, the painted skies ... the textured grounds ... the cooler air - - all call to me in soothing waves of inspiration.
My hands are busy with the preparation of a special wall hanging.
A few weeks ago, I had the loveliest day meeting and creating with a group of the sweetest ladies at a nearby retirement home.
They captured their favorites of autumn on canvas squares using acrylics. I have taken their beautiful paintings and have been creating a collective wall hanging to feature their work.
I'm hoping to have it all together today ... it's been a LOT of blanket stitches! But, I am anxious to finish and send it on over to their home for display :)
Doesn't that picture just make you want to toss on a cozy sweater, take a stroll through the fallen leaves and head home to cook up something warm and comforting?
I give you a homemade macaroni & cheese meal to fit that bill!
Cheesy Roasted Campanelli &
Seared Turkey Sausage
1 pkg. campanelli pasta, cooked and drained
1/4 c. butter
3 T. flour
1 t. mustard powder
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. ground black pepper
2 c. milk (1% can be used)
3/4 lb. sliced cheese (Land O Lakes American Cheese)
1 pkg. smoked turkey sausage, sliced on the bias
1 T. olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray cooking oil to prepare a 9x13 casserole dish for baking.
Prepare a saute pan with olive oil and heat on medium heat. Add smoked turkey sausage to pan and sear on both sides for approximately 2 minutes, until a slight char is evident. Remove pan from heat.
In a separate medium saucepan, melt butter and whisk in the flour, mustard powder, garlic powder and black pepper. Simmer mixture on medium heat for approximately 2 minutes. Wisk in milk and heat thoroughly. Thereafter, stir in slices of cheese, reserving 10-12 slices for layering.
Once sauce is together, place a single layer of cooked and drained pasta in casserole dish. Add sausage. Then place strips of cheese overtop. Drizzle half of the sauce mixture on top of layers. Add a final layer of pasta, cheese and the remaining sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Served with some fresh veggies or a side salad.
Sidenote: Other cheeses may be substituted for this recipe; however, it is my opinion that if American cheese is used, Land O Lakes American cheese is the best option. I tend to shy away from the American cheeses that are prepackaged in plastic ... as it seems that the cheese takes on its packaging - - plastic-looking cheese that is gummy instead of crumbly. Of course, this is just my opinion.
TO THOSE WHO ARE LOCAL TO ME -- Our Giant Eagle apparently carries TWO DIFFERENT TYPES of Land O Lakes American Cheese. One, that they refer to as the "block cheese" which is my top choice -- and another that is referred to as "presliced cheese" which can be compared to Kraft slices in plastic. Now, here's the best part ... they are SAME PRICE!! My complaint is that there is NO reference to give notice to the customer of the difference in qualities on the Giant Eagle labels ... and of course, I feel that the price should be cheaper for a lesser quality item. So, just a forwarning, should you grab a pound in the display cooler that the deli has offered for convenience and you grab a package (wrapped and bagged just as if it had been handed to you from a deli clerk) of Land O Lakes American Cheese - - be WARNED. You may find that when you bring it home ... you have just purchased shiny, plastic-like cheese - minus the perk of a cheap price.
On a brighter note ... the temps will be falling through the weekend and I'm thinking ... apple dumplings!
"Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power, has that ability to comfort."
In my daughter's eyes, I am a hero -- I am strong and wise, And I know no fear.
But the truth is plain to see, She was sent to rescue me.
I see who I want to be,
In my daughter's eyes.
In my daughter's eyes, Everyone is equal ...
Darkness turns to light,
And the world is at peace.
This miracle God gave to me,
Gives me strength when I am weak, I find reason to believe, In my daughter's eyes ...
And when she wraps her hand around my finger,
How it puts a smile in my heart. Everything becomes a little clearer, I realize what life is all about.
In my daughter's eyes, I can see the future. A reflection of who I am and what will be ...
And though she'll grow and someday leave, Maybe raise a family.
When I'm gone, I hope you see, How happy she made me ...
For I'll be there,
In my daughter's eyes.
~ performed by Martina McBride
written by James Slater
(photo: a message from my daughter :)
You inspire me, Emme ...
... and, I couldn't be more proud of you - - the beautiful, young lady who shares so much of her life with me. Your insight, compassion and creativity never ceases to astound me. You gave me the greatest gift in life ... you made me your mom.
Here is a perfect soup for those chilly fall days when you're short on time ... It's our go-to "soup for supper" meal that's ready in pinch (as long as you start your water for boiling, first thing!).
2 cans Campbell's Tomato Soup
1 can water
1 can milk (2% or whole)
3 gloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
1 lb. frozen tortellini
Prepare water to boil in a stock pot for tortellini - - follow package direction for cooking. Mix the soup, milk and water in large saucepan and heat thoroughly. Add minced garlic to soup and simmer while tortellini cooks. Drain tortellini. Wisk in Parmesan cheese and stir well. Add cooked tortellini .... and serve!
A nice compliment to the meal is a loaf of crusty bread from the bakery or even -our favorite - baking up Pillsbury Country Italian Bread - - that way you get a Box Top, too!! (for those parents out there with elementary-aged kiddos!) :)
It is impossible to think of any good meal, no matter how plain or elegant, without soup or bread in it.