The Plague of Three Courses

Three Course Sunday Dinner Made Easy (But Doesn’t Sound Easy ;)):

Roasted Chicken with Thyme, Garlic, and Lemon, Crab Meat Gnocchi with Melted Havarti and Gruyere, and a Spinach Pear Salad with Honey Dijon Dressing

Sunday Dinner: Oven Roasted Chicken with Thyme, Lemon, and Garlic, Gnocchi with Melted Havarti and Gruyere with Crab Meat, and a Spinach and Pear Salad with Dried Cranberries and Shaved Almonds

HOW TO BE CREATIVE WITH MEAL PLANNING FOR A PARTY…

I usually don’t post three different menu items at once…but I realize that you all may have encountered many times before…

Have you ever been plagued with indecision when it comes to entertaining your guests? Which appetizers and entrees should you prepare that will blow them away without blowing your money? If you’re preparing a three course meal, you need to coordinate all your meals and make sure it doesn’t feel like a sloppy hodgepodge. Oh yeah, and the dreaded “wine pairing…”

Honestly, for someone like me, it takes me a solid hour to decide (usually) what I want to prepare. I always want to go all out for guests, as if it were a holiday.

I will read food blogs and scroll through Food Network like many of you. Pinterest always makes me feel like I am lacking creativity, and I never want to fall short–ever.

So what is my advice to you? Feel free to galavant via the internet for inspiration, and whatever you do, stick to these cardinal rules…

1.) Create dishes that are familiar classics…

2.) But figure out a twist.

Use your mind to think about traditional meals you personally have enjoyed in your life. Stick to what is comfortable for you. For me, pasta is always my safe haven. So I knew yesterday that I wanted to incorporate pasta.

So then I thought of using gnocchi (Italian dumplings.) When Cassandra and I went to Europe, we had the most delectable homemade gnocchi that it truly brings me back to Venice. It’s the best of the carbohydrate world: potato and pasta. Finding the balance between the two is tough when creating your own, so if you’re not feeling particularly rebellious, you can use Giovanni Rana’s–it’s a great pre-packaged substitute.

Once I decided on gnocchi, I knew I had to incorporate two cheeses that would complement the outrageously expensive crab meat.  When I thought about my adoration for cheese–yes–I thought of Kraft Mac and Cheese (God forbid), I knew I wanted to present comfort food but in a way that would be distinguishable. I thought about the rarity of a blend that could be the most joyous union: Havarti and Gruyere. Both cheeses that are relatively affordable, but they are not as common as say Sharp Cheddar and Swiss.

To up the ante, I decided to make it a seafood delight by adding succulent crab meat. Why crab meat, you may ask? It’s one of the best seafoods out there, and I know of only few people who say they “distaste crab.” Usually, it’s getting the crab out that makes it a deterrent for people to eat it. Again, realizing it’s not too cost effective to pick the meat myself, I purchased the jumbo lump crab in a  container. No judging–I picked good quality, and you know what? When my guests came over, I could actually socialize. This side dish came together swimmingly like a casserole.

In my mind, I thought to go with what everyone loves: macaroni and cheese, but add a twist by adding crab and better cheeses. I’m sure some adult won’t admit they love macaroni and cheese, but to me, this is the upscale version of a classic dish that is unarguably perfect.

This same process went for the Spinach Salad with Pears and the Roasted Chicken with Lemon, Garlic, and Thyme. Stick to what you love, and make it uniquely your own.

And if you’re too scared to go out and venture in your world, follow the following recipes to a T. I literally prepared all of these meals in under an hour:

Appetizer: Spinach Pear Salad with Dried Cranberries, Shaved Almonds, and Honey Dijon Dressing

Cast of Characters:

Salad

4 cups of Baby Spinach

1 cup of Dried Cranberries

1 Bosc or Anjou Pear (sliced thinly)

1/2 cup of Shaved Almonds

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

Stage Directions: Wash your spinach greens and make sure they’re dry. Pour the cups of dried cranberries and almonds on top. Slice the pear thinly along the edge of the core and mix lightly in the salad. Next, make your dressing by whisking the above ingredients all together. Serve the dressing on the side, and make sure you adjust the dressing to your taste (i.e: more vinegar, more honey, etc.)

Entree #1: Crab Meat Gnocchi with Melted Havarti and Gruyere

Cast of Characters:

2 pounds of gnocchi (I like Giovanni Rana’s)

1 pound of crab claw meat (It’s cheaper and still good quality than a $40.00 can of lump jumbo crab meat)

3 cups of half and half

8 ounces of Havarti (shred on your own, if possible)

8 ounces of Gruyere (shred on your own, if possible)

1/4 cup of all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups of Panko bread crumbs

3 Cloves of Garlic (mince on your own–don’t use minced!)

7-8 Tablespoons of Butter

Zest of Half of a Lemon

1 Teaspoon of Salt

1/2 Teaspoon of Pepper

1/2 Teaspoon of Nutmeg (I put a little more!)

(Optional: Grated Parmigana Cheese–if you add this to the bread crumbs and a bit to the mixture, it takes it to new levels!)

Stage Directions: Pre-heat your oven 350 degrees. Fill a medium pot with water and kosher salt. Boil the water; when the water is ready, put in the gnocchi (one package at a time–it only takes 2-3 minutes to cook!). In 2-3 minutes, the gnocchi should float which means they are done. Drain in a coriander and once drained, pour gnocchi in a 13 X 9 pan. Repeat this process for the other bag. Once both pounds of gnocchi are poured, open the pound of claw meat and spread throughout (without shredding) with a fork. Meanwhile, melt five tablespoons of butter and once melted, pour in minced garlic (that is minced yourself), and lemon zest. Slowly incorporate flour and whisk throughly. Then pour in (slowly) three cups of half and half. Throw in the cheeses and stir occasionally until fully melted. You should have a medium heat, and then bring it down to thicken the cheese mixture. Once smooth, pour over the gnocchi and crab. In a small sauté pan, melt three tablespoons of butter and mix lightly with panko bread crumbs. Once lightly brown (not burnt), pour on top of mixture. Bake 20-25 minutes or until the panko is browned.

Entree #2: Roasted Chicken with Thyme, Garlic, and Lemon

Cast of Characters:

1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme, plus 20 sprigs
1 lemon, halved
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
Half a stick of butter melted
1/2 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
1 bunch of green beans (optional!)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions: Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees. In a roasting pan, coat with olive oil. Wash your chicken (if you just bought it, try to let it rest/thaw for an hour before using) and pat it dry with a paper towel. Open the cavity and take out the giblets (which could be in a bag or out in the open–either way, man up and remove them!)  (Side note: if you can, leave your chicken out overnight uncovered so the skin becomes crispy). Apply liberally kosher salt and pepper to the outside of the chicken and the inside the cavity. Cut a lemon into four and shove it in the cavity.  Cut garlic crosswise and shove it in the cavity whole (no need to peel the layers.) Next, place a bunch of thyme sprigs (save some for the veggies) inside. Melt half a cup of butter and once melted, brush the butter all over the outside of the chicken. Again, liberally salt and pepper the chicken. Cut up the carrots and half an onion into long, thick slices, and once cut, place around the chicken. If you have green beans, cook those in the microwave (usually can be microwaved with a forked bag), and put the cooked green beans all throughout the pan. Pour a little bit of olive oil all over the vegetables, and mix the assorted vegetables with hands. Put the chicken in the oven for an hour and a half. To make sure the vegetable don’t burn, use tongs to mix the vegetables while the chicken is cook. There is no need to baste this chicken. It just works.

Bon appetit!

 

 

Influenster VoxBox #2: Reese’s Spreads in Peanut Butter Chocolate

IMG_8464I’ll admit it: at 8 months pregnant, I was pretty excited to receive this Influenster VoxBox. It’s like Influenster read my mind and said, “Here, have a Happy New Year.” And I did.

As a very health conscious eater, the odds that I would seek out and buy Reese’s Spreads in the store are slim, but after trying out the product I have to say I’m much more likely to pick up Reese’s Spreads and recommend them to my family, friends, and, of course, my loyal audience. And, truthfully, the nutrition information on the back of the Reese’s Spreads is not so scary – it’s actually comparable to other chocolate nut spreads and definitely A-OK for a cheat day or chocolate craving.

And, bad mom alert: I totally let my toddler try some on an apple and he was not complaining. So, there you go – the picky toddler stamp of approval.

You can buy Reese’s Spreads at most supermarkets for less than $4/jar ($3.89 to be exact), and there’s no wrong way to use Reese’s Spreads. ;) IMG_8465

I opted for a somewhat healthy approach by dipping apple slices in the Reese’s Spreads Peanut Butter Chocolate Flavor, but some other great ideas include:

  • Pita chips
  • Vanilla wafers
  • Banana chips
  • Pretzels
  • Fruit
  • Bacon

Basically, my verdict is you definitely must try the Reese’s Spreads. They’re the best thing since, well, Reese’s.

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Is the Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play Safe for Overnight Sleeping?

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When looking for an affordable sleeping option for newborns, many first time parents hear that the Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play (RNP) is great for use as a bassinet. But is it? In recent years, there have been quite a few recalls on the RNP, but this fact has left die-hard RNP fans undeterred. I’ve encountered parents who swear by the RNP and witnessed firsthand their cult-like obsession with pushing the product on new moms and dads.

The huge problem with the RNP cult following is that they’re uninformed (or willfully ignorant) about the dangers of the RNP as an overnight sleeping device. Leaving newborns and infants to sleep on an incline, unless specifically advised to do so by your pediatrician, is very risky. Although RNP fans insist that the incline is a benign design, research has shown that newborns and infants should be lying flat on their backs, with no incline, to reduce the risk of SIDS. The only time an incline is advised is in severe cases where a newborn or infant has digestive issues that warrant the need to be inclined, thus reducing their own personal risk of choking on vomit or decreasing reflux symptoms. There have been many pediatricians who have advised against using anything other than a bassinet or crib with a firm, flat surface for sleeping.

Natasha Burgert, MD wrote a fantastic article in 2012 on why Fisher Price needed to stop marketing the RNP as a great option for overnight sleep. Burgert is a pediatrician who cites the guidelines set forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics in her article. Burgert also explains how the RNP can cause physical deformities such as a flat head.

Although all the research from AAP, pediatricians speaking out against the RNP, the recalls imposed by the US federal government, and the fact that Canada has banned sales of the RNP has no effect on diehard RNP fanatics.

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Above is a collection of comments from a couple BabyCenter Community discussions about the RNP. Those who are fans of the RNP seem to be anti-information and stubbornly against AAP guidelines and actual research. Despite the AAPs guidelines for infant sleep being easy to find, these parents insist they know better than the experts (board certified pediatricians) when it comes to where their babies should sleep. Suggesting a specific model of the RNP with more padding and a softer surface, in fact, makes the RNP even more dangerous than just the incline alone. It seems that some of the RNP fans have read the warnings and disregard current research. It’s scary and sad that these parents and parents-to-be would knowingly put their child at risk just to get some more sleep. Fact: most infants/newborns do not sleep through the night. Fact: most infants/newborns wake up several times throughout the night. Fact: most infants/newborns wake when they’re hungry and need to be fed. Fact: SIDS is real and increasing your baby’s risk for SIDS is a serious issue.

I firmly believe the RNP should be taken off the market because it has been proven to cause deformities and its very design increases the risk of SIDS. Fisher Price will continue marketing and selling the RNP as long as consumers will buy it, but with the RNP being such a dangerous device (and parents clearly ignoring all the research) I believe the US should follow Canada’s lead and take the RNP off the shelves. Bottom line: don’t buy a RNP because the potential reward (an infant sleeping through the night) is not worth the risk.

1. “Fisher Price Recalls to Inspect Rock ‘n Play Infant Sleepers Due to Risk of Exposure to Mold.” United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. <http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2013/Fisher-Price-Recalls-to-Inspect-Rock-N-Play-Infant-Sleepers-Due-to-Risk-of-Exposure-to-Mold/>

2. “Dear Fisher Price.” KC Kids Doc; Doctor Natasha. <http://kckidsdoc.com/dear-fisher-price.html>

3. “Reduce the Risk of SIDS.” healthychildren.org <http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/sleep/Pages/Preventing-SIDS.aspx>

4. “Sudden Infant Deaths in Sitting Devices.” National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=.%20Côté%20A%2C%20Bairam%20A%2C%20Deschenes%20M%2C%20Hatzakis%20G.%20Sudden%20infant%20deaths%20in%20sitting%20devices.%20Arch%20Dis%20Child.%202008%3B93(5)%3A384%20–389>

5. “AAP Expands Guidelines for Infant Sleep Safety and SIDS Risk Reduction.” American Academy of Pediatrics. <http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/AAP-Expands-Guidelines-for-Infant-Sleep-Safety-and-SIDS-Risk-Reduction.aspx>

How to Pick the Best Baby Sling for Nursing

babyslingfornursingThose who know me know that while I love my toddler, I am not a fan of mainstream “mommy” culture. I don’t like my home to look like the inside of a daycare, and I’m not into dressing like a frumpy cupcake. So, when I began my search for a baby carrier/baby sling for my soon to arrive newborn, it wasn’t long before I became frustrated with the limited pink, flower-patterned options. In February, we’ll be welcoming a baby girl to our little family. My toddler will be 19 months old, and I anticipate the need to wear my infant a lot while chasing my little monster around. I already have a Beco Soleil baby carrier, but that’s not ideal for nursing (and, truthfully, I think that particular carrier is better suited for my husband, not me). After much research, I came across a few possible options that would work for me.

My criteria:

-Adjustable

-Nursing-friendly

-Washable

-Neutral colors

The Peanut Shell 

The first option, The Peanut Shell Baby Sling, does not meet all the requirements. It fails the adjustability test, as it comes in specific (and limited) sizes.

It does come in several neutral color options, it is nursing-friendly, it’s washable, and it’s definitely easy to use. You simply slip it over your head and under one arm, then tuck the baby into the sling. The Peanut Shell is available for about $50.

theBabaSling

This sling is available in “one size fits all”. While I’m somewhat petite and would probably have no issue using this sling, I highly doubt my husband, who’s a foot taller than I am and possesses much broader shoulders, would comfortably be able to use the same sling (translation: we are definitely not the same size).

However, theBabaSling is supposedly adjustable, so perhaps it would work. It’s a sling style, so it’s nursing-friendly and meets the rest of my requirements. On Amazon, though, theBabaSling is priced from $65 – $370. I’m not really interested in spending hundreds of dollars on a sling, so I don’t think this is the one for me.

Traditional Baby Ring Sling

A ring sling is super duper simple. It adjusts easily for infant positioning in the hammock style and hip-wearing. You can find tons of styles and fabrics on sites like Etsy. My main concern with the ring sling is safety, but based on the reviews I’ve read it seems like ring slings are a very safe option. Ring slings are also budget friendly at $40.

There are a few other popular sling/wrap options I’ve left off of my list. For example, the Moby Wrap is very popular, but is way too complicated for my taste. I want something that’s super easy – ideally just one or two steps – that I’ll be able to use with a toddler in tow.

babyslingpin

Happy Just Another Day – New Year’s Day 2015

Nothing makes you realize how truly trivial the holidays are like death – or having children.

Last night was New Year’s Eve. Not a single fuck was given by my toddler, who decided he would break the mold and fall asleep early last night. This also led to me falling asleep early. I didn’t see the ball drop, and today’s just another day filled with demands for bottles, juice, and phone thievery.

Clark, at his grandparents house, stealing grandpa's phone.

Clark, at his grandparents house, stealing grandpa’s phone.

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Although I’m not one to romanticize a “new year”, I do have a lot to look forward to in 2015. We’re expecting baby #2, a girl, in February. It will definitely change the dynamic in our household. I’m kind of terrified, but mostly excited. We have a lot of other things on our plate, too, but I’m mostly focused on not being pregnant anymore. Have I mentioned I hate being pregnant? Because right now I do. I really, really hate it. I’m ready to just be sleep deprived – not sleep deprived, in pain, with heartburn.

I also want to blog a lot more in 2015. The past few months have been very busy for me, and I’ve definitely neglected my soapbox for far too long. If there’s one new year’s resolution I’ll make, it’s to blog more. I’m just going to pat myself on the back right now for clearly keeping up with that resolution already. ;)

All I Want For Christmas: Nutella Cookie Recipe

nutellapinfinal

If you have never heard of Nutella, I am pretty sure you live under a rock. It’s the best known spread next to peanut butter. Nutella started as a breakfast condiment in Italy; however, it has become a staple in pantries worldwide. It tastes like a melted Ferrero Rocher. It’s great any time of day. Kids, adults, and elderly alike are all infatuated with this chocolatey, hazlenut-y spread.

If I had nothing better to do, I would make something with Nutella each day. But for now, one recipe is enough.

When I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed last night, I noticed my friend’s mother (who is always baking) was making a rendition of Giada’s Chocolate Hazelnut Drop Cookies. I saw it and instantly said–I need to make this–now.

 

Cast of Characters:

1 cup of butter (two sticks of butter)

1/4 cup of confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar) for the mix

1 cup of confectioner’s sugar for the rolling

1/2 cup of Nutella (DO NOT USE ANY OTHER BRAND!)

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

2 cups of all-purpose flour

nutella1

Sidekicks:

Kitchenaid or otherwise reputable stand mixer

Paddle attachment

Spatula

Cookie scooper or teaspoon

nutella3

Stage Directions:

1.) Preheat the oven 350 degrees. Place your oven rack in the center.

2.) While your oven is heating, get your stand mixer out. Make sure you have a paddle attachment. It looks like this…
nutella2
3.) Slice up two sticks of butter into one tablespoon slices. Once the butter is room temperate, throw it into the mixer bowl and pour 1/4 cup of powdered sugar on top.
nutella5
4.) Once fitted with the beater attachment, beat the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy for approximately 2 to 3 minutes. It looks beautiful! Feel free to stop the mixer and scoop down the sides of the mixture to ensure that all is being mixed together. Fold in with a spatula as needed.
5.) After the two minutes, beat in the vanilla. With the machine running, gradually add the flour until incorporated. I put the flour in a 2 cup mixing cup and slowly pat the bottom of it. Do not throw it all in at once–it will make a mess and ruin the consistency. After the flour is in, scoop out the Nutella with a spoon and beat in.
nutella6

Using a small cookie scoop or a tablespoon, drop 12-18 small balls of dough onto each baking sheet. Bake until the bottoms of the cookies flatten out which should be about 10 minutes. You can do about thirty seconds to a minute less depending on desired consistency. Cool for 5 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely for about a half an hour. DO NOT ROLL INTO SUGAR UNTIL COOLED! THE SUGAR WILL MELT!Place approximately 1 cup of powdered sugar in a medium bowl. In batches, roll the cookies in the sugar until coated. Feel free to shake it around, flip the bowl, or slightly toss. Have fun!

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Nutella Cookies

Delicious chocolate hazelnut goodness.

         Nutella Cookie
Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of butter (two sticks of butter)
  • 1/4 cup of confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar) for the mix
  • 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar for the rolling
  • 1/2 cup of Nutella (DO NOT USE ANY OTHER BRAND!)
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour

Inspired to Give – $400 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

 

 

In addition to the awesome Christmas Keurig 2.0 Giveaway, bottlesoup.com is also participating in the Inspired to Give holiday giveaway, which offers two chances to win a $400 Amazon Gift Card!

inspired-december-giveaway

The bloggers of the Inspired Bloggers Network have gathered to add some SPARKLE and SHINE to your December with TWO $400 giftcards to Amazon!

Giveaway Sparkle

I am excited to be on the SPARKLE team with these other awesome bloggers:

 

 

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Be sure to enter the giveaway from Team Shine!

And check out all the wonderful gift ideas below…

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Disclosure: No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Amazon gift card is valued at $400 USD. Giveaway expires December 15th at 11:59 PM Central. Winner will be notified by email within 24 hours of the giveaway closing and have 48 hours to respond before the prize is forfeited. Thanks for participating. Good luck!

BOTTLESOUP’s Christmas Keurig 2.0 Giveaway – November 30 through December 6

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For some reason, Keurigs make me think of the holidays. There’s something magical about the ability to make  yourself a single cup of coffee with minimal effort. That and my mom, aunt, and grandmother have Keurigs, so maybe that’s why I make this association.

This year, I’m very excited to be giving away a Keurig 2.0 with a few special surprises. The total prize value is $300, and you can enter below by using the Rafflecopter widget starting November 30th. Some options offer multiple entries for an even greater chance of winning! Good luck and happy holidays!

 

CHECK BACK NOVEMBER 30th FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN! 

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*This post contains affiliate links and advertisements. The BOTTLESOUP Christmas Keurig 2.0 Giveaway is not associated with or sponsored by Keurig or its parent company in any way, shape or form, and the views expressed on bottlesoup.com are solely my own.

Why The “Tolerance” Argument Does Not Apply to The Duggar Family

duggarpinRecently, TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting matriarch Michelle Duggar has come under fire leading to a growing petition requesting the removal of 19 Kids and Counting from television. The reason for the sudden backlash is the Duggar’s stance against the LGBTQ community, which is a much more active, concentrated Duggar priority that previously believed. Anyone who has watched the TLC show knows that the Duggars are conservative Christians who apply very strict Biblical views to their daily lives. They’ve been known to use code word “Nike!” when a less-than-modestly-dressed female passes the men in the family, alerting the boys to avert their eyes and look at their shoes instead. People who aren’t religious, at all, find the Duggar family entertaining because, well, “Nike” is ridiculous, the girls had 80s hair well into the 2000s and wear old, tattered clothes that are a headdress away from a burka, and, in the nicest way, the rest of society sees the Duggars as zoo animals: very interesting from a cage, but not something you want to see in the wild. For some reason, conservative Christians seem to think that 19 Kids and Counting is helping them spread the “word of God” to new people, but, really, the majority look at the Duggar family as a freak show, and that’s why they’ve been on TV for so long (is this really a surprise? They’re on the same network as Honey Boo Boo, Extreme Cheapskates, I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant, the list goes on…).

Now, conservative Christians (who still aren’t in on the joke) are upset that society is being “intolerant” of the Duggar family’s discriminatory, hateful views of the LGBTQ community. They’re speaking out against the Duggar “haters” and insisting that the Duggar family continue to hold a seat at the public table. They cry for “tolerance” for their Christian views, but what they don’t realize is that the “tolerance” argument does not apply to the Duggar’s point of view, and here’s why:

1. The Duggar Family, and those like them, want their values to be more important than those with different views.

Unlike the LGBTQ community, who have offended the Duggar family by requesting protection from discrimination when using public toilets, the Duggars and likeminded religious individuals are suggesting that the laws in our country should be in line, only, with the conservative Christian values the Duggars follow. In the United States, we’re supposed to have this thing called freedom of religion, which does not mean “freedom to trample others with your religion” or “freedom to impose your religion legally on others” or any variation of the sort. It means that you are free to practice your religion – just as free as someone who does not want to practice a religion or who practices a different religion.

2. Persecuting the LGBTQ community by denying legal rights is ignorant and intolerant.

The Duggar family and its faithful fans believe that denying political and legal rights to the LGBTQ community is an appropriate stance to have, but, historically, denying political and legal rights to people, no matter their background or beliefs, is a very, very ugly thing. We’ve seen it with civil rights movements in the past, and, interestingly, it never ends with the grumpy, anti-progress agenda winning the argument. Time and time again, history has proven that persecuting a group of people by discriminating against a community is wrong and won’t be tolerated. We have laws about civil rights, hate crimes, and discrimination. Those laws will continue to grow in order to ensure that hateful, ignorant people cannot use the law in order to punish people for the way they were born or the harmless, different choices they make.

3. No matter what happens to the LGBTQ community or 19 Kids and Counting, the Duggars are still free to practice their religion.

This seems to be a huge part of the “tolerance” for the Duggars movement that is overlooked. No matter what happens to their television show or how the LGBTQ community is affected by laws, the Duggar family is not at risk of having its religion taken away. Also, the Duggar family will not be losing any legal or political rights at all by being told to leave the network. The Duggar family is not entitled to have a TLC show; they’ve been graced by a loyal following, creating great ratings for the TLC show, and that’s why they’ve been on television for so long. If the ratings are going to suffer, the network will cut the deal. It’s business.

 

The way to get ahead in life is not to push others down in order to pull yourself up. There’s no need to deny another human being the same legal rights that you enjoy in order to keep yours. There’s room at the table for everyone, but this idea of tolerance seems to be lost on the Duggars and other conservative Christians. Their insistence on taking away or withholding rights from the LGBTQ community, women, and people of other religions is what’s hurting them – it’s not a lack of tolerance from the public for the Duggars, it’s intolerance from the Duggar family that has created this backlash.

So, if the Duggar family can teach us anything, let it be this:

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Tolerance has been shown to the Duggar family for their views, and it’s time that the Duggar family, and those like them, demonstrate tolerance for other people’s views, too – especially the LGBTQ community.

When I was in college, I took a writing class and met a classmate who was transgender. He was undergoing a change from biological female to male, and he was “passing” (as in, I thought he was definitely, always a man, not born a woman). There was nothing “evil”, “perverted”, or “demented” about him – he was just a normal college student struggling to find his place in the world. This is something we can all relate to, and although I was born a female and continue to identify as a female, that did not prevent me from relating to my classmate on an honest, real level of friendship. During this writing class, my friend was working on a memoir while writing an active blog about his transgender journey. He wasn’t making such a drastic change to his appearance on a whim; he had struggled with his gender identity his entire life. His own family didn’t understand him at first. It took a long time for them to come around and accept him for who he was, which, really never changed: he was their child, their sibling, their cousin, their love in motion. I’m happy his family finally found a way to once again share the love they’ve always had for him, but many people aren’t so lucky. Their families don’t understand, or even try to understand, their struggles with sexuality and gender. Their families and their peers make their world a cold, unloving place by continuing a cycle of ignorance. Sadly, many members of the LGBTQ community end their own lives. In fact, children and teenagers, in grades 7-12, who identify with the LGBTQ are twice as likely as their peers to commit suicide. Tolerance and love can change this; hate and fear mongering cannot.

We need to stop allowing intolerant people to decide what society tolerates. 

PS: If you don’t realize how hateful the Duggar & friends camp is, please feel free to read their petition here. The Duggar family, and the conservative Christian camp, think that they are “defending traditional family values” by fighting the LGBTQ community. This type of rhetoric is hateful, discriminatory, and ignorant.

UPDATE: If you don’t understand just how disgusting the #DefendtheDuggars movement is, here are a few Tweets from Duggar supporters…

Yeah, because “murder gays” is totally tolerant and acceptable…NOT.

Yeah, last time I checked, public restrooms and public dressing rooms have private partitions. What’s the big deal? Also, civil rights.

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Again, people, civil rights. You can’t “discriminate against someone on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender or sex”. No one is attempting to create laws that discriminate the Duggars – they’re creating laws that protect people from discrimination because of their gender identity.

Pasta Fazool (Fagioli) a.k.a. Pasta Frugal

 

pfpin

“When the stars make you drool just like a pasta fazool,
…that’s amore!”

Dean Martin said it, so it must be true.

The Dean Martin Variety Show

I cannot tell you how delicious Pasta Fagioli is. It reminds me of my childhood. It reminds me of my grandmother. It reminds me of why I fell in love with cooking in the first place.

This is a sentimental, classic dish for me.  I did not grow up with a lot of money, but I can promise you that I not once felt deprived. This dish may cost a whopping $4.00 for 4-6 servings.  In addition to being extremely cost effective, it’s absolutely delicious and a keepsake in my family. And although my grandmother likes to keep all her recipes secret…

I cannot hold it in! I want to spread the word to everyone. And I really feel like I am doing society a favor. You see, when I do a simple search for “Pasta Fagioli,” I don’t get the images of my grandmother’s kitchen. I get a glorified bean soup. And if you’re looking for a soup, don’t use this recipe. My family’s version of pasta fagioli is truly a creamy pasta dish. It’s decadent, rich, and hearty. It’s seriously the best ever.

Some of you may think it has a reminiscence of Penne Alla Vodka; you’re right in it’s orangy, cream display, but I assure you–there’s no vodka (damn it!) or heavy cream.

What gives my family’s Pasta Fagioli the gold medal is…

1.) Taste

2.) Healthfulness

3.) Frugality

4.) Comfort

And did I mention it’s not really at all hard to master? Ladies and gents, I present to you…

Pasta Frah-guhl (Pasta Fagioli)

Cast of Characters:

Four (or five!) cloves of garlic, minced (I use a garlic press–why stink your fingers?)

Two cans of Cannellini (White Kidney) beans

Two cans of Tuttorusso Sauce (or your favorite red sauce)

1 yellow onion (diced finely)* (Optional, but it tastes great! I almost think it’s necessary)

3 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or more–who’s counting?)

1/2 cup of parmigiana cheese grated (but probably more!)

1 box of Penne/Rigatoni (the mini penne is good for this too, or any other favorite pasta)

Two empty cans filled with water (use the old sauce cans)

Tablespoon of basil (dried)

Tablespoon of oregano (dried)

Four leaves of fresh basil** (Optional, but amazing!)

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1.) As in all things Italian, put olive oil in a sauce pan and put minced garlic (FRESH!) at least four cloves–five if you dare. If you desire, dice up onion and saute garlic in the same time. Your pot should be at a medium heat (don’t go too high!)

pasta12

2.) If you feel inclined, start boiling your pasta water. If not, get your water ready in a stockpot , and salt it generously.

3.) While the garlic is browning (NOT BURNING), open both cans of cannellini beans.

4.) If you’re my mother, you won’t rinse the beans. If you’re me, you will. It’s your call.

5.) Half of the beans you will leave whole, and the other half you will mush up into a paste by using your fork. Make sure you mash it well–this is what makes it creamy and lavish as opposed to soupy and dull.

pasta10

6.) Stir the garlic and onion in the pot to assure even cooking. When the garlic is starting to caramelize and not BURN, pour two cans of red sauce into the sauce pan.pasta8

7.) Stir occasionally, and in about five minutes, pour the whole beans and the bean paste. Please drop carefully–don’t plop it in! You’ll notice it’s starting to turn orange. Who would have thought that red and off white would make an orange color!? Then when all is simmered calmly, fill two empty tomato sauce cans with water and add to the mix. You may only add one if you want it even thicker–you could hold off on the one can to see the consistency.

pasta9

8.) For about a half an hour, stir occasionally. At this time, you should add your spices and fresh basil. Do not forget to stir! Wipe down the sides as the beans can coagulate on the sides of the pan. Make sure the heat drops to a low simmer to thicken.pasta3pasta5

9.) As it becomes more orange, add a half cup of parmigiana cheese. Make sure you stir occasionally so it does not stick even further. While doing this process, your water should be boiled (or parboiled if you picked the earlier option of doing it ahead of time). pasta6pasta2

10.) At this point, taste and season to appease your senses. Add more cheese (like I would) until it has that perfect balance of savory and salty. Drain your pasta when it’s al dente, and pour into the stock pot. Mix well, and serve immediately.

pasta4

Please sprinkle more parmigiana cheese on top. It’s your civic duty!

P.S: This tastes EVEN better the next day, so don’t be afraid to make it as a make-ahead. :)

Bon appetit!

 

 

 

 

Pasta Fagioli Recipe

Super easy and super cheap, pasta fagioli is a dish the whole family will enjoy!


Ingredients:

  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • 2 cans Canelli (White Kidney) beans
  • 2 cans Tuttorusso Sauce (or your favorite pasta sauce)
  • 1 yellow onion (finely chopped)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated parmigiana cheese
  • 1 pound box of Penne or Rigatoni
  • 2 cans water (empty from beans or sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 4 fresh basil leaves (optional)

Instructions:

      1. As in all things Italian, put olive oil in a sauce pan and put minced garlic (FRESH!) at least four cloves–five if you dare. If you desire, dice up onion and saute garlic in the same time. Your pot should be at a medium heat (don’t go too high!)
      2.) If you feel inclined, start boiling your pasta water. If not, get your water ready in a stockpot, and salt it generously.
      3.) While the garlic is browning (NOT BURNING), open both cans of cannellini beans.
      4.) If you’re my mother, you won’t rinse the beans. If you’re me, you will. It’s your call.
      5.) Half of the beans you will leave whole, and the other half you will mush up into a paste by using your fork. Make sure you mash it well–this is what makes it creamy and lavish as opposed to soupy and dull.
      6.) Stir the garlic and onion in the pot to assure even cooking. When the garlic is starting to caramelize and not BURN, pour two cans of red sauce into the sauce pan.
      7.) Stir occasionally, and in about five minutes, pour the whole beans and the bean paste. Please drop carefully–don’t plop it in! You’ll notice it’s starting to turn orange. Who would have thought that red and off white would make an orange color!? Then when all is simmered calmly, fill two empty tomato sauce cans with water and add to the mix. You may only add one if you want it even thicker–you could hold off on the one can to see the consistency.
      8.) For about a half an hour, stir occasionally. At this time, you should add your spices and fresh basil. Do not forget to stir! Wipe down the sides as the beans can coagulate on the sides of the pan. Make sure the heat drops to a low simmer to thicken.pasta3pasta5
      9.) As it becomes more orange, add a half cup of parmigiana cheese. Make sure you stir occasionally so it does not stick even further. While doing this process, your water should be boiled (or parboiled if you picked the earlier option of doing it ahead of time). pasta6pasta2
      10.) At this point, taste and season to appease your senses. Add more cheese (like I would) until it has that perfect balance of savory and salty. Drain your pasta when it’s al dente, and pour into the stock pot. Mix well, and serve immediately.

Please sprinkle more parmigiana cheese on top.

Serves 6-8

Preparation time:

30min

Total time:

1 hour

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