Monday, August 20, 2012

Mmm, Mmm Monday - Crock-Pot Ravioli Casserole

Once school starts, I am on the hunt for quick and easy recipes. If it can be done in the crock-pot, I love it even more. While this recipe was delicious, I wouldn't say it necessarily needed to be done in the crock-pot and it isn't one I would be able to throw together in the morning before school. This would make a great weekend meal to come home to though!

Crock-Pot Ravioli Casserole
Recipe from Becoming Betty

1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (15 oz.) can stewed tomatoes
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed (I used fresh spinach)
16 oz. bowtie past, cooked
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded

First set of ingredients

Brown the ground beef with onions and garlic.

Put in the crock-pot and add the sauce, stewed tomatoes, and seasonings. I did this step the night before. The next morning, I cooked it on low for 6-7 hours.
The second set of ingredients.  I also cooked the pasta the night before.
Add the spinach, pasta, Parmesan and 1 cup of the mozzarella. Mix well and top with the remaining cheese. Turn on high and cook for 30 more minutes. I cooked mine a little longer to make sure my cold noodles were thoroughly warmed.

We served ours with warm, crusty bread.
Reviews from The Peanut Gallery:

Me: 4 out of 5 stars. This was really good, but could have been done without the crock-pot. When cooking crock-pot recipes, I'm a "throw it all in" kinda girl. I really loved the addition of the fresh spinach and stewed tomatoes. I love sneaking in those veggies!

Andy: 5 out of 5 stars. He has already requested that this be made again.

This recipe has meat and offensive noodle shapes. She ate it, but not without some drama. Normal kids would love it, though.
She ate it up without complaint. She tried to pick the spinach out, but chopping the spinach up prior to adding it would be an easy fix.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Hellos, Good-Byes, and Fishies

Golly, it's been a crazy week! I've been back at school for two weeks now and a week ago I met my sweet students. I've been busy getting to know these kiddos and trying to keep my head above the back-to-school paperwork. Every time I think about sitting down to blog, I remember something else I need to do for school. Needless to say, my last post was a LONG time ago.

We also had a very sad day this past Friday. Our sweet kitty, Sasha, got very sick and stopped eating.  She's had problems with her kidneys for a long time and her little body just couldn't keep up anymore. After 15 years of love and friendship, my precious baby lost her battle.  Heartbroken doesn't even begin to describe my feelings. My girls don't quite understand, but they do miss her terribly. She was loved by all of us and will be very, VERY missed.

Last week, we took the girls to the aquarium. This is becoming somewhat of a back-to-school tradition! We have a great aquarium in Gatlinburg and I wish it was closer, because I would go every weekend, if I could. The girls had the time of their lives! Both kids were everywhere and loved every.single.thing! Andy and I both said that it was hands-down our favorite trip so far. The girls are at such fun ages right now!

I'll let the pictures do the talking...

Little Miss all set to see some fish!

Someone please teach me how to take pictures in an aquarium!


Looking for penguins.

A huge "Rosie!"

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sophia is Halfway to Two!


You are 18 months old today! I can't believe that you're halfway to two years old. You are such a bright spot in our lives and you make my heart so incredibly happy. You are such a character and have an amazing sense of humor for an 18 month old!

You have your 18 month wellness check next week, and I'm guessing you'll be about 20 pounds. You've really slimmed down because you do NOT sit still. You are always running, jumping, dancing, and chasing Emma.

You love listening to music and can't hear a song without dancing to it. You love musical instruments and often make your own out of whatever is handy. One of your favorite things to do is plop yourself down in the nearest lap with a book. Your favorite books are The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Baby's First Colors, and Counting Kisses.

You are still a great eater, but have recently stopped liking bread as much as you used to. Your favorite foods are spaghetti, turkey and cheese roll ups, peas, corn on the cob, and all fruits, especially watermelon, cantaloupe, and berries. You have finally developed a taste for milk, but water is still your favorite. You want to drink out of a big girl cup and throw an absolute fit when we give you a sippy cup.

In the past few weeks, you have really discovered how to talk. We've hit a language explosion around here! You say a lot of words and phrases now. Some of the things you say are: Mama, Dada, Emma, Nana, Mimi, Papa, cat, TaTa (Sasha), more, water, up, hi, bye-bye, no, yes, uh oh, oh no, I don't know, night-night, and you recently said "Bye-bye llama llama!"

Tonight we celebrated your half-birthday with a half-birthday cake and you got to blow out the candles.  You loved your cake even though most of it ended up in your hair. 

Emma enjoyed her cake too.  ;)
I have absolutely loved spending the summer with you and I am so sad to see it end. I am amazed at how much you have grown in the past couple months and it makes me sad to think of where you'll be next summer. You're growing so quickly and are learning so much. I am so, SO proud to be your mommy, Bug. I love you!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Circle G Safari

My summer vacation is almost over! I'm in denial that the fun times I've had with the girls this summer are quickly coming to an end. On Tuesday, I'll be back to being a working mom, trying to squeeze in as much time with the girls as I can between meetings, lesson planning, and getting organized for the new school year.

We wanted to have one last family adventure before the craziness began so we took the kids to a drive-through safari at Circle G Ranch. I have to admit that when my sister first suggested we go, I was a little apprehensive. I didn't know what type of animals we would encounter and I certainly didn't want to drive my car by lions and rhinos. Luckily, the animals are smaller and very well trained. We bought a bucket of feed for the tour and set out on the track. Right away, the animals began to flock and I was SO thankful that Andy was driving. I would have been a nervous wreck, thinking I would hit some poor animal. We left the girls' windows up for the most part, but we let ourselves get a little more up close and personal. And get up close they did!

Some animals were a little shy.

And some, not so much.

There were some animals that made me second guess our decision to drive our car. I'm happy to report that aside from many (MANY) licks, our car made it out perfectly safe.

The girls were so exited to see "Llama llama (even without his red pajamas). When we drove away, Sophia said, "Bye, Llama llama!"

After the safari, we enjoyed the petting zoo and a picnic lunch.

Now, THAT is a pig!

This camel cracked me up! First, he wanted to taste my sister's hair and then he tried to take Kimi's feed bucket. He wasn't shy!

After lunch, we went on some animal rides. Sophia and I rode a camel, but Emma wanted no part of that. She played it safe and rode the pony instead. 

We had so much fun today! This place was amazing and so unlike anything we had done before. We can't wait to go back again soon!