Sunday, February 24, 2013

Craving Broccoli Rabe with Sausage and Orecchiette Pasta

Broccoli Rabe with Sausage and Orecchiette pasta is pure comfort food for an Italian family like ours.  The slightly bitter broccoli rabe sauteed with garlic and sweet sausage has a wonderful enticing taste, and the orecchiette pasta (which translates from Italian to English as "little ears") holds the juices like little cups and lets the flavor of this dish explode in every mouthful!

Broccoli Rabe or Rapini (also known as cime di rapa or broccoletti) is a common vegetable in the cuisines of southern Europe.  Despite its name, it is not related to broccoli, but rather is related to the mustard plant. It is a favorite vegetable of my husband and me and also my son-in-law. We found it easily in Brooklyn, NY, in most of the local supermarkets or green-grocers, but when we moved to Colorado it was not as readily available. The more we couldn't find it, the more we craved it!

Our local supermarkets have wonderful varieties of fresh fruit and vegetables, and, as you can see in the photo above, almost every ingredient necessary to make authentic Mexican cuisine, but our favorite vegetable, broccoli rabe, was nowhere to be found!  Thankfully, when asked, the produce manager told us they could order special order it for us, and about once a week we will finally have a supply to cook.

Preparing this dish is really easy...I slice about a pound of sweet Italian sausage and saute them in olive oil in a skillet until cooked. Meanwhile, I begin to boil water for the pasta. I wash and drain a pound and a half of broccoli rabe well and cut off the ends and any hard, woody pieces of the stems, and then chop it well. To the cooked sausage I add chopped garlic to taste, a few tablespoons of Italian seasoning, salt, and black pepper to taste, and about a teaspoon of dried red pepper. Next, I add the broccoli rabe and a few extra teaspoons of olive oil, if needed, and saute till the broccoli rabe is cooked and tender. I add the orecchiette pasta to the boiling salted water and cook as per directions on the package. When cooked al dente I drain the pasta, but reserve about a cup of pasta water. I now add the pasta to the skillet and mix well over medium heat.  Add the reserved pasta water, (you can also use chicken broth), as needed, to moisten the entire contents of the skillet

Serve with grated Parmesan cheese on top and enjoy!

Our little granddaughter is already two weeks old and is beginning to open her eyes and be more responsive.  I think she is beginning to look more and more like her Mommy. She definitely has her pretty dark eyes. It is a wonderful joy to hold my grandbaby and watch her grow!

My daughter and I decided to go out for lunch together this past week and I treated her to something she has been craving but was not allowed to eat her entire pregnancy.....

Sushi can contain raw fish, so pregnant women are advised not to eat it, but now my daughter has the green light to indulge in it if she wishes. We tried some special rolls, including the decorated Dragon Roll which made us smile!   We really enjoyed this delicious platter and even more so having some quiet girl time together.  It's one of the joys I have now that we live close to each other again!
Of course, another joy I have is also having my two grandboys and their parents close by!  The boys are fascinated by their cousin, but until she is able to run and play with them their moments together are just quick looks, touches and questions.

Our community had some snowfall last week, like so many other areas in the US, and it made everything look so beautiful and magical. I love the blue cast the snow gives to the foothills. I think many people think there is snow on the ground here all the time, but the weather has been quite mild, for the most part, this winter. There is always a concern in Colorado about drought, which could lead to summer forest fires, and so far the snowfall has been below average. The snowpack is so thin in parts of Colorado that the government has declared an “extreme drought” around the ski havens of Vail and Aspen.  So, as much as I love the sunny blue skies we have here most of the time, I am really hoping that the snows and rains increase as spring approaches!  It is snowing again as I write this...let's hope it's a good, deep drought quenching one!

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

February Note Card Party

It is time for the monthly Note Card Party event, hosted by Vee from the blog A Haven for Vee. Each month she asks us to chose four photos that we previously published on our blog that we feel would make nice note cards and showcase them on a new post and link up to her party. I missed out on joining in the last few months of the Note Card Party, as I was preparing to move. I left where I lived my entire life, in Brooklyn, New York, to move to a suburb of Denver, Colorado. The best part of the move is that my husband and I now live closer to our children and grandchildren. We feel that this has been one of the most exciting adventures of our lives!  We love it here and I decided to choose four photos from my area that will show some of the beauty of my new neighborhood in Colorado.

This first photo was literally taken in my backyard.  It is one of the mule deers that visit almost every day as they make their way down from the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

This is a view of South Valley Park which is in walking distance of my house. I took this photo in the summer, but I also blogged about hiking on a trail in this park recently on this post.

Another deer that was walking in the park and the very blue mile high sky. There is lots of wildlife here!  Besides deer, there are elk, mountain lions, black bears, coyotes, rabbits, groundhogs, hawks, eagles, grouse, wild turkeys and many different kinds of snakes, including rattlesnakes. There is definitely a lot I have to learn about living in such close proximity to nature.

Colorado's big sky and a view of the some of the ancient red fountain formation rocks in the open space of our community. I took these photos while walking on a private trail that only residents can use. You can see some of my neighborhood's houses in the background.

As you can see, I left the excitement of life in the big city for life on the beautiful front range. It is a big change, but one that has filled me with joy.  I love New York and I love Colorado!

Be sure to visit Vee and see her note card photos and links to all the others participating this'll be glad you did!

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Pink, With a Bit of Tiffany Blue!

Our sweet baby granddaughter came home last weekend and we have all been in baby bliss ever since!  Is there anything more precious in the world than a newborn baby?  They are truly a gift from God.  As the poet, Carl Sandburg so succinctly said: “A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on.” Thank you all, for your wonderful comments and congratulations to myself and my family over the birth of our granddaughter!  I read and appreciated every one of them!

 Our baby "J" came home to much fanfare as her dad decorated their house with balloons and signs welcoming her and her Mom home.  Her beautiful room was all tenderly set up and ready for her.  She is our special little Valentine today! We love her so much!

Since this was our last Christmas season living in New York City, her grandfather and I decided we wanted to buy a special keepsake for our expected first granddaughter, so we took a trip to the Tiffany and Co. flagship store, located on Fifth Avenue and 57th Street in Manhattan, to buy her a gift.  The store was decorated beautifully for Christmas and was doing a brisk business, as many were shopping on its multiple floors for silver, gold and diamond treasures for holiday gifts.

The baby gift department was on one of the top floors, and we "oohed and aahed" over many delightful choices before selecting one we thought would be perfect for baby "J"! Here it is in the Tiffany signature turquoise blue box and white ribbon:

Can you guess what we chose?

Yes, we purchased a sterling silver baby spoon!

I think we've all heard the expression: "Born with a silver spoon in his/her mouth." and decided to make this come true for our granddaughter in a fanciful way. We had her initials monogrammed onto the handle so it will become a family heirloom for her to cherish.  Hopefully, one day in the future she will be able to pass it on and tell the story to her own grandchild of how the spoon was given to her as a gift by her grandparents when she was born.

 "J" will certainly be rich in love and attention from her extended family for her whole life.  She is our priceless treasure and one of the many wonderful reasons we recently moved to Colorado.

Before I finish this post I have to ask all Nikon camera owners if they ever had this problem? I was taking photos of the baby with my Nikon D 60 camera when it froze and the message in the photo above came up. No matter what I tried the shutter release would not work and I could no longer take photos. Thank goodness I have a "point and shot" back up camera to use until I can get my camera repaired.  I'm wondering if this problem will keep cropping up and if there is a way to fix it myself in the future?  Any help in this matter would be appreciated!

Also, IBM has invited me, along with other bloggers, to participate in a groundbreaking campaign called #MySmarterCommerce in which I was invited to share my personal story, around how the roles technology and social media play in my life. I will share different aspects of my story for the next 30 days on facebook, twitter, and Pinterest.  I hope you, too, will share your story of the role social media plays in your lives. I know that as a grandparent I often relied on social media to see videos and photos of my grandchildren and keep in touch with my children. The video chats of SKYPE were a wonder that helped me keep in touch in a personal way with my grandsons that live here in Colorado while we lived in New York City. I also enjoy keeping in touch with family and friends on Facebook and seeing special offers and coupons on the facebook pages of brand companies. Of course, the biggest and best aspect of social media for me has been through blogging. How else would I have met all of you, dear readers? I feel as close to many of you as dear friends, and I value your comments to me and all your wonderful blog posts.

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

She's Here!

Our sweet baby granddaughter "J" was born yesterday!  This photo was taken just moments after she was born.  Yes, she came into this world very alert and with a smile on her face!

Both first time Mommy and baby are doing fine and learning about each other.

Daddy could not be more proud and happy!
Grandpa and Grandma are overwhelmed with joy to have their third grandchild and first granddaughter!
Aunt "V" and Uncle "V" and cousins "L" and "M" were excited and happy to meet their first niece/cousin! It was also my son's birthday -- he made me a mother for the first time the same day, over 30 years before, and we celebrated by singing "happy birthday" and enjoying cupcakes!

Through all the excitement sweet baby"J" slept!

Welcome to the world dear granddaughter! 

You are a gift from God and a blessing to us. You have made your parents a family and you will be loved and cherished by us all! We can't wait to watch you grow and become the person God placed you here to be. May your life be long, and full of love and joy!

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Monday, February 4, 2013

Coyote Song Trail


About a mile's walk from my home is South Valley Park - a portion of Colorado's Jefferson County Open Space.  South Valley Park is a 909-acre park with approximately 6.8 miles of natural surface trails and 1.2 miles of hard surface trails. Recreational activities include picnicking, hiking, biking, horseback riding and of course, wildlife viewing. This past weekend my husband and I decided to take a break from unpacking and organizing our house to take a walk along the three-mile loop trail in the park called the Coyote Song Trail.

My husband and I walked up a moderate hill at the beginning of the trail closest to our neighborhood...

...and once on top, we saw this beautiful view of the trail meandering out towards South Park Valley! It always takes my breath away when I see this!

South Valley Park is a dream for geologists and archaeologists. It's solid rock monoliths and walls exhibit both the Fountain and Lyons Formations that are between 290 and 296 million years old. Archaeologists have discovered evidence that suggests the South Valley was inhabited by hunter-gatherers 12,000-10,000 years before present.

There were remnants of snow from a few days before, but the day we hiked the temperature was sunny and in the high 50's.

It was fascinating to see all the different beautiful red sandstone rock formations along the trail and to think how old and enduring they were.

They stood like proud monuments to a different time.

I imagined that the Native Americans had names for them as they once lived in the shelter of many of these monoliths.

The trail path winds at slightly different elevations around these formations but is not too strenuous to walk if one is used to the slightly higher than a mile altitude...

This mother was carrying her young son on her back, as he had tired out from the hike.

At one point on the trail, there were a few placards with descriptions of how the Fountain Formation in the distance was formed. It described how five foot long millipedes and dragonflies with 30-inch wingspans were once common in this area 300 million years ago! (If you click on all photos in this post once they will enlarge, click on them again to see them even larger. Use your browser's back arrow to return to this post.)

To preserve their integrity, no climbing is allowed on the rock formations in the park.

We really enjoyed our hike!

I could not stop smiling, as I was in awe to be walking in such a beautiful place...

...and of course, I could not stop taking photos!

I know we will be back to walk this, and other trails, many times in the future.

This area is so close to Denver and accessible to all! If you love nature it is a wonderful way to spend some time in South Valley Park.

The sidewalk path in our neighborhood we took home after leaving the trail. We really do love where we live and I can't wait to show you more about our area and all we see in Colorado! Meanwhile, our baby granddaughter will be arriving this week!  We are all very excited and can't wait to meet her--stayed tuned!

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