Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Easy Crab Pasta with Cheesy White Sauce

While Bryan was on his business trip, there came a night when I had nothing planned for dinner.
I was tired and achy--meaning I had no desire to venture out of my comfy home in search of vitals.
Nor did I desire to spend a long time on my feet cooking something.
It was quite the conundrum lol.

I started rummaging around in my pantry, and found the rest of a box of bow tie pasta.
In the fridge there was my favorite pre-cooked, imitation crab meat, and little else.
I also had a left-over bag of frozen green beans, and enough raw ingredients to whip up some white sauce from scratch.
I ended up with pasta mixed with a yummy cheesy pasta sauce and crab meat, with green beans on the side.
It was wonderful!  And only took about 15 minutes total to make!

Pasta (either bow tie or, as seen in these pictures, penne)
Imitation crab meat, chunk style
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoons flour (I adjusted this measurement from the original to get a thinner pasta sauce)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 dash of pepper
1 cup milk
Shredded Mexican or Mozzarella Cheese

The first step is to fill your pasta pot with water and set it to boiling.
Once the pasta water is boiling, melt the 2 Tablespoons of butter in the sauce pot on medium low heat.

Once the pasta water is boiling, dump the desired amount of pasta into the pot.  I always put in more than I think I'll need--leftovers are wonderful things!
The pasta will take 7-12 minutes to cook (depending on the type of pasta you're using).
Make sure you stir it occasionally, otherwise it gets all clumped together.

Once the pasta is settled in its boiling water, it's time to turn your attention to the pasta sauce.
As the butter finishes melting, gather your dry ingredients (1 Tablespoon flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, dash of pepper).

Once the butter is completely melted, add the dry ingredients and stir it all together.
In the original recipe for the sauce, you stir until you get a paste.
Well, in this adjusted version (less flour), you won't get a true paste, so just mix everything together until it starts to thicken up a bit.

Let the sauce sit while you measure out a cup of milk.  This is also a good time to give the boiling pasta a stir.

Pour the cup of milk into the sauce pan all at once.
Stir everything together for about 3-5 minutes.

Now let it cook for another 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently but not constantly.
The sauce will thicken quite a bit, but still be liquidy.
Once it starts to bubble on the edges and develop a sort of skin on the top when left alone for a few seconds, it's pretty much done.
Stir the sauce well to mix the skin back in, and then add your mix-ins!

Once again, I added garlic powder (until it tasted sufficiently garlicky) to the sauce, stirring it in well.

This time, I added Mexican cheese a little at a time, stirring each addition in completely until the sauce reached my desired thickness.

About now is when the pasta should be done.
Put a lid on the sauce and turn the heat down to low.
Using a collander, drain the pasta.
I always put 1 Tablespoon of butter in the bottom of the now-emptied pasta pan before pouring the pasta back in.
Once the pasta is back in, I add another Tablespoon of butter on top, and the stir it all around so that the pasta gets equally buttered.

Once the pasta is done, pour it into a big bowl.
Add how every much imitation crab meat you desire.  

Next, the pour the sauce on top.
Using a big spoon (I prefer a wooden mixing spoon) thoroughly mix the pasta, "crab", and sauce together.
Ta Da!  It's done and delicious--especially with steamed veggies on the side!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Victoria's Bridal Shower

Last weekend at this time I was on an airplane heading to Dallas!  Though I normally love airplane rides, last weekend was a hard one to take because Bryan had just arrived home the night before.

However, last Sunday was also my best friend Victoria's DFW bridal shower!
As her matron of honor, I wanted to be there to celebrate with her, and her DFW friends and family.
So, with Bryan's support and understanding, I flew up Saturday night and back Sunday night.
Talk about your turn around trips!

It was totally worth it though.  Vic and I stayed up Saturday night talking on her couch, and then woke up Sunday morning she made waffles, and we had cantaloupe on the side.  Yummy breakfast!
Then we got all prettied up to go over to her soon-to-be sister-in-law Stacie's for the brunch shower!

The house was beautifully decorated.  

The girls had paid attention to every detail, including Marissa (the other soon-to-be sister-in-law) creating a throne corner for Victoria by decoratively hanging beautiful fabric behind the white "throne".

The brunch was delicious.  There were small bread pieces with a special cheese spread and Nutella for which I will post the recipe at a later time.  They were phenomenal.  
There was also fresh fruit, a breakfast casserole, asparagus wrapped in ham, mini muffins and chocolate chip-centered croissants.

Oh, and most importantly, there were delicious MIMOSAS!!!

Many family members and friends came to the shower.  

We all ate, mingled, and watched Victoria open all of her presents.

After the shower, we spent time with Philip's family and closest family friends until Victoria took me to the airport.  My plane was delayed, but I still made it home by 8 pm...to find my wonderful husband waiting by the baggage claim to take me home!

While it was hard leaving right after Bryan returned home, the weekend was a ton of fun and I wouldn't have missed Vic's shower for anything!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A New Hobby!

I have lots of hobbies.
I like to read, write, and watch TV and movies.
I also enjoy cooking, baking, gardening and water aerobics.
This gives me an acceptable combination of sedentary and active hobbies, as well as physical and mental.

Lately, I've also enjoyed playing with interior design-type tasks.  For example, I love the way our guest bedroom turned out!
I also arranged a fake dried fruit basket centerpiece for our kitchen island.  I decided it was time for some sort of accent color to go with all of our greens and browns--and red it is!  (For now :-D).

However, there is one type of hobby I have never tried.
I have never attempted to be "artsy craftsy"--mostly because my few ventures into that arena have ended in catastrophic failure.  
I don't consider the fake dried fruit basket to be craftsy because, well, I didn't actually make any of it--just arranged what was already there.
I've always wanted to be able to engage in some sort of craft, but I could never find one for which I had some talent.

Until now!
I am so excited!  I found a craftsy thing I like--flower arrangements!
I've always enjoyed buying fresh flowers and arranging them in a vase on our breakfast table.
However, the one vase I had was too high-profile for that particular table, and the flowers made a huge mess as they started (or rather finished) dying.
So I decided to take a different approach.

I went to Hobby Lobby and bought a small, round vase on sale for 50% off.
I also bought Craft Water, and some fake flowers by Fresh Picked.  The flowers were also 50% off (I love Hobby Lobby), even though the Craft Water was not.
I came home and got to work on my very first flower arrangement.

My first step was to gather my materials.
I place the Craft Water and tongs on the cabinet next to the stove.
I then placed the Craft Water bottle in a pot, and filled that pot with water until the bottle was 2/3rds covered.  I turned the water on high heat.  I let the water boil for 15 minutes so that the Craft Water gel turned into a liquid.

While the 15 minutes were passing, the flowers went on the island.  I used the vase as a measurement tool and proceeded to trim the flowers off their main stems, keeping the leaves and stems needed.

Once 15 minutes had passed, I used the tongs to remove the Craft Water bottle from the boiling water and set it on the counter.  Using hot pads, I poured the boiling water down the sink and killed the fire under the burner before returning the pot to its original place.  Next, I placed the vase in the still-hot pot.  This allows the vase to come up to the same temperature as the Craft Water.  I then carefully poured the liquid Craft Water into the vase and let it sit for 10-15 minutes (this makes all the bubbles go away!).

After the time had passed, I carefully removed the vase--succeeding in only burning myself once!
I then had fifteen minutes to get my flowers arranged as I desired. 
Then I let the vase and arrangement set for another 20-30 minutes to make sure the Craft Water had set.

Finally, my first arrangement ever took it's place on our breakfast table--and when my husband got home, he thought it was real!
I'm very happy with the way it turned out, and glad I stepped outside of my comfort bubble and gave this craft I try--I now have a new hobby!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Just Something God Did

"It's just something God did."

I've come across this statement several times during my life.
 Generally, it's used as an explanation for something happening that seems unexplainable or unfair.  It could be used to explain a Bible story, or some sort of interpreted stricture from the scriptures.  Or it could be used to explain a current event, or an occurrence in an individual life.

There was a time when I could just shrug this statement off as someone trying to turn to their faith to explain what seems unexplainable.
I can no longer just shrug.

Using a personal example, I was told recently that my rheumatoid arthritis was "just something God did."

Blaming God for my RA seems unfair to God.
 Let me first say that I believe God gave mankind free will.  Otherwise why do we have the choice to believe in Him or not? 
(And yes, I believe we do have that CHOICE, not that we are predestined to choose one way or another.)

Back to rheumatoid arthritis. We don't yet know what causes RA, but the theory that best fist my situation is a genetic predisposition coupled with some type of physical stress.  So, let's dissect this.

Is it God's fault that my genetics are what they are?
(I ask that question realizing what a can of worms it could open; however, I'm going to stay focused on the implications it has for me, personally.)

If God is responsible for my genetics, then that means He controlled with whom my forebeares reproduced.  But God controlling my genetics implies that my fore-bearers had no say in whom they chose as a mate, and that conflicts with freewill.  
That doesn't work.  

Therefore, my genetics are a result of the choices my fore-bearers made, and aren't something God "just did".

So, if God's not responsible for my genetics, and I'm just lucky in that regard (*sarcasm*), did He cause the physical stress that triggered my RA onset?

Let's examine what I believe was that stress.  Due to some extreme upsets in my personal life, I loss 60 pounds in three months.  I'd call that a physical stress!  The RA onset was a bit offset from those three months, but I still believe that the aftereffects of losing that much weight in that short of a period were the trigger.

Did God make me not eat?  Absolutely not.  I couldn't eat because of my emotional upset, but God did not cause that either.  The emotional upset resulted from individual choices, both on my part and on the parts of others.  I could have eaten if I wanted to, but I didn't want to. 

So the physical stress was a result of individual choices and was not something that God "just did".

I definitely do not rejoice in having rheumatoid arthritis, and I'll admit that, on occasion, I give in to the "why me's?". However, that question is counterproductive to getting on with my life, and I don't see the point of asking it often.  I realized when I was diagnosed that I could either let this disease beat who I am, or not. 
I choose not.  
I also hope that my having RA means that the genetic marker will skip my kid(s), and hopefully will have skipped all my younger cousins as well.  I know there's no guarantee of that, but I sure do hope.

However, even while dealing with the sadness and worry that sometimes comes during my journey with this disease, I realize that my rheumatoid arthritis is a result of personal choices--both mine and those of others--that, unfortunately, culminated in my genetic predisposition being triggered.  I don't blame anyone--there are too many contributing factors for my RA to be any one person's fault.  And as with the "why me's?" blame would be counterproductive to me living my wonderful life.

And if I don't blame those who made the choices leading to my rheumatoid arthritis, never could I blame God.  

My RA is not His fault, and definitely not something He "just did".

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Almost A Month!

I know, I know...it's been a really long time.  I have a lot to catch up on, both activity-wise and life change wise.  In my defense, my hubby has been gone since August 24th on a business trip, and just got back last night.  Which also means my laptop just got back last night lol.  

I promise lots of updates this coming week!  Y'all can look forward to:
Stories from a kickass bachelorette party and the shower I'm heading to this weekend.
School happenings.
Health and life updates.
A super-easy, super-yummy recipe.
A new hobby that I absolutely love!!!

For now, I'm going to go enjoy having Bryan back until I have to go to the airport tonight!  Hope everyone is doing well!


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