Saturday, October 19, 2019

A Change Needs to Come

I was sitting in my kitchen this morning, eating my breakfast when my kids started talking about an issue that occurred at their high school this past week. A situation I was quite shocked to hear about. I won't go into specifics but a student posted a photo on social media that was incredibly derogatory and racist. I believe she thought she was being funny, but no one else saw it that way. My first reaction, however, wasn't to be angry at this child. My first reaction was to feel sorry for her. I can't imagine what things she may have been exposed to that brought out this kind of insensitivity. Racism, in my opinion, is learned. You know what else is learned though? Hate.

The backlash from this, according to my children, has been ridiculous. They could be hearing only rumors, so I take it all with a grain of salt, but that doesn't change my message. According to my kids, the student that posted the photo has since endured bullying. So much hate directed her way. My children also said that they heard that she had been jumped and that she also tried to commit suicide. THAT makes me angrier than the actual racist photo in itself.

How is responding to racism and ignorance with hate going to help anything? Why is it so lost on people that using these situations as teachable moments is completely possible? This is why we are failing as a society. Everyone is too busy being a right fighter and a bully to take a second to simply teach. It's almost condoned to hop on a computer, hide behind our keyboards, and trash people. Bring each other down. What message is that really sending? I'll tell you a secret... it doesn't send any message. Not a useful one. If anything, it tells the recipient of the hate that they don't deserve to be a member or society. Which results in people secluding themselves. People becoming more angry. Suicide attempts.

WHY ARE WE NOT TEACHING OUR CHILDREN BETTER? Yes, this student screwed up. Big time. But that does not invoke some kind of human right to turn into bullies. It just doesn't. Quite honestly, if I were the principal of the school, the first thing I would have done would have been to hold a school-wide assembly to talk about the situation. Let students know that they can be angry or disappointed that something like this occurred but that the answer isn't to get online and become the same kind of ignorance they are so angry about. That instead they need to try and be empathetic and have compassion, no matter how hard it is. When my kids come to me with this kind of thing, that's exactly the message I try to send them.

The sad thing is that I see this all too much even in my own social media world. Someone comments on a photo or says something unkind and the entire internet "comes to save the day". Harassing that person with negative comments, calling names and basically trying to make them feel like scum. Maybe they are scum but does that really make you feel better? Why not use that as a teachable moment? Why do we give other people so much power? Why not explain to that person that what they did or said was wrong and explain why? They will get it or they won't. But we get no where when we return bullying with more bullying. It doesn't make you a better person.

We need to do better. We need to teach our children better. There's already too much hate in this world. If people just started taking that hate and tried to teach instead of spew more hate... just think of the impact it could have. That's the world I want to live in. It's the world our children deserve to live in.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Tasty Rigatoni Dish

Hi! I've had a few folks ask me for this super tasty Olive Garden knock-off recipe that I made the other night, so I thought... blog time!

I had a teeny-weeny momcation probably a month ago. I online ordered a dinner for myself from Olive Garden which was pretty local to the hotel I was staying at. I picked out their Five Cheese Ziti Al Forno and it was sooooooooper tasty. Oh my gosh, it was so good! I knew that I just had to figure out how to make it myself. It's actually something I love doing. I mean, I really like to cook, but I also love figuring out how to make my favorite dishes myself in my own kitchen!

Photo Courtesy of Olive Garden - This is their Five Cheese Ziti Al Forno

That's where the Googling began! I came across a blog called 'Dinner Then Dessert' where the author walks you through a copycat version of Olive Garden's tasty dish. I did do a few things differently though! Mostly because I can't ever find all of the ingredients I need at my local stores.

Photo Courtesy of Dinner Then Dessert

I don't care though because my version was bangin'!

Unfortunately, ziti was not an accessible ingredient to me. So I decided to go with rigatoni. It was pretty entertaining explaining that to my daughter who thought I was talking about a character from The Incredibles.

The right "Toni"

The wrong "Tony"

Either way, any like pasta will work for this dish. I really wish I had taken photos while I was cooking. Or at least of the final product. It looked so damn good.

Something to know about this dish is that it involves two different sauces. You'll need an alfredo sauce and a marinara sauce. I've bought jarred alfredo sauces before and they've always been pretty terrible. The author at 'Dinner and Dessert' linked to an alfredo sauce she uses for the recipe and it's the one that I used as well. It comes from a website called 'The Recipe Critic'

For the marinara sauce I would have normally bought Barilla, however, my local store was out of it. I ended up buying two jars of the Prego Farmers' Market Classic Marinara. In the future, I'd definitely like to try and make my own but the Prego option worked out quite well!

Alright... so... the recipe! I'm not good at writing recipes so if you have questions, feel free to ask!

I started out by preheating the oven to 375 degrees and then boiling water for my noodles, a 1 pound box of rigatoni. I cooked the noodles a couple of minutes under their normal doneness time. While that was going, I began working on my alfredo sauce.  Here are the ingredients/directions for that:

Alfredo Sauce Ingredients

1/2 cup salted butter
2 cups heavy whipping cream
4 oz. cream cheese
1 garlic clove (minced)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp ground thyme
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup grated parmesan

Cooking Instructions

1) In a medium/large saucepan melt together the butter, heavy cream and cream cheese.
2) Add minced garlic, garlic powder, oregano, basil, ground thyme, salt & pepper. Whisk until smooth and then add the parmesan cheese.
3) Simmer until the sauce thickens

Photo Courtesy of The Recipe Critic

Ziti (Rigatoni) Ingredients

1 lb Ziti or Rigatoni
2 - 23.5oz Prego Farmers' Market Classic Marinara Sauce
Entire Alfredo Sauce Recipe from above
1/2 cup Ricotta Cheese
1/2 cup Italian Blend Shredded Cheese

2 cups Mozzarella Cheese
1/2 cup panko or plain breadcrumbs
1/4 cup Italian Blend Shredded Cheese
1 garlic clove (minced)

Cooking Instructions

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2) Cook pasta two minutes under normal cook time and according to box directions. Drain.
3) In the same saucepan as the pre-made alfredo sauce, add cooked noodles, two jars of marinara sauce, ricotta and 1/2 cup Italian Blend Shredded cheese. Mix well.
4) Add mixture to a large skillet or large baking dish (I used a 10"X 13" glass baking dish).
5) Mix topping ingredients together in separate bowl and add over the top of the pasta.
6) Bake 30-35 minutes uncovered until golden brown and bubbly.

See? Super easy! And SUPER TASTY! I actually microwaved some of the leftovers for dinner tonight and it was still delicious!

One thing to note, I made this meal for 7 hungry bellies. AND there were leftovers. If you aren't feeding as many you can definitely cut this down. You can always make a full batch of the alfredo sauce and jar what you don't use as well

There you have it! If you have any questions, feel free to leave them! I hope you enjoy your friggin' delicious ziti (or rigatoni) as much as we did!!