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Letter to my 45 year old self…

Hello everyone!!I’ve been hearing a lot lately about people writing letters to themselves. You can open it up a year from now or 5 years from now or even 10 years from now. The letter should be something uplifting for your older self. Something you think you might need to hear at that time. I wish I could write a letter to my younger self and have my younger self read it and learn from my older self, but I just haven’t found a way to do that yet. 😉 So until then, this will have to do. I think I know what my older self will need to hear in a year so I’ll try for something like this…Dear Charlene,Read this when you are 45.So here you are, 45 years old and you’re wondering where the time has gone. Please don’t sell yourself short. You have accomplished so much in your lifetime more than you know even though it doesn’t seem like you have. You have lived in 5 states, been married 3 X, divorced twice,have a beautiful 8 year old and a beautiful 6 year old. By now you probably have your real estate license, and you’re helping your husband run a business. It might be starting out slow or you could already be very successful, but what you need to realize is that you are already successful. Having and caring for your children is a success. Providing for them is a success. Taking care of your husband and your family is a success. People need to realize that we need to celebrate the small successes and realize that is what matters in this life. You might also be working a full-time job and that could be taking away from the family. Just remember it’s temporary. Nothing lasts forever. You might be missing your family as well. Just know that they are always thinking of you, and always pulling for you and in your corner. Even though it might not seem like it at times. Be strong.Hopefully the business is booming, and you are looking for your forever home. As soon as you get this forever home I think you should get a puppy. Or even a kitty. Animals fill a void nothing else can. I know there is an empty spot in your heart that Hunny has left. She was the best dog ever. I know you are skeptical if you will find a pet that is as special as she was, but I know you will because most dogs and cats are pretty special. God will be looking out for you and he will match you with one that needs a home just as much as you want to give one to him or her.I’m pretty sure you also went back to school, most likely for general education. Keep your eye on the prize and realize that this is something you were always meant to do. Teaching others, guiding them, inspiring them to do their very best and becoming who they need to be. This is how you will make a difference in the world.Be the change you want to see.I have to go now spend time with your 7 year son and your 5 year daughter. I think some Play-Doh is on the agenda. Remember they are only little for a little while. Enjoy them and their sweetness and innocence.Love your 44 year old self!CharleneI encourage you all to write letters to your future self encourage them, and congratulate them. This life is pretty tough but we should be easy on ourselves, always. Xoxo

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cooking, Dinners, food, Recipes

Macaroni Grill Copycat Pasta Pomodoro Yummmm

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Here is how I made this awesome, beautiful copycat version of Macaroni Grill’s Pasta Pomodoro. This dish only has 5 ingredients! It would be amazing and very impressive for a date night. Pair this with a simple salad like a Cesar and some crusty french bread and you just can’t top it. A nice Chianti or red wine would pair nicely with this rich, red sauce.  It’s my go to pasta dish when I want something quick and semi healthy! 😉

So here we go:

Pasta Pomodoro
Ingredients:
4-6 fresh tomatoes, chopped (I used 4 small campari tomatoes and 1 heirloom)
2 Tablespoons of fresh garlic, chopped (or less if you’re not a fan)
1 small bunch of fresh basil, chiffonade
1/4 cup of your favorite marinara or tomato sauce
1/2 – 1 pound Angel Hair Pasta
Other pantry ingredients: good olive oil, kosher salt or any sea salt

Start a pot of boiling water for the pasta and while that’s going, start on your sauce.

Start with your pan on medium heat and add about 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil. Also add the garlic at this time and WATCH it. Stir often and watch it soften for just about a minute or less. You do NOT want to brown it. Browned garlic is bitter and not good.

The garlic will infuse the oil and it will make this dish YUM! After about 30 seconds to 1 minute swirling the garlic around, add the tomatoes. You can stir occasionally. We are just trying to infuse the tomatoes with the garlic oil and break them down a little so they are soft and flavorful.

After about 5 -8 minutes you can add the marinara/tomato sauce. This helps the sauce to have a richer flavor.  If the tomatoes look like they are drying quickly, turn your heat down and add the sauce sooner. I personally LOVE the Victoria Trading Company Marinara Sauce Old World Style. This is an AMAZING sauce! If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it! Here’s a picture:

Victoria Marinara Sauce Old World Style

After adding the sauce, you can add 1/2 of the basil so those flavors can meld together. Add the pasta to your boiling water and after about 7 minutes it should be al dente. Use tongs to add the pasta to your sauce and toss. Also at this point you can taste your sauce to see if it needs any salt.  Top and mix with the rest of the fresh basil. (Optional: add some fresh grated Parmesan or pass it at the table) – I don’t think it needs it, but hey, if you like it that way, go for it!

Serve with your side of salad and a warm french bread! This is also a terrific side dish for Chicken Marsala or Chicken Piccata.

This takes me back to when my sister and I would go to the Macaroni Grill for lunches and get the 1/2 and 1/2. I think my recipe is pretty darn close to the real thing!

I hope you enjoy it and please give me a shoutout or comment if you try it!

Happy Cooking & Mangia!

Charlene

 

 

 

 

Breakfast/Brunch, cooking, food, Recipes

Fig, Arugula & Carmelized Onion Flatbread Recipe

Hi my Lovlies!

I got these beauties at the Farmer’s Market, as you can see from my below post. If you are lucky enough to find figs, I would suggest a Fig, Caramelized Onion, Arugula & Feta Flatbread!  With homemade flatbread of course! Here are the recipes that I used…and if you don’t like arugula, use spinach! If you don’t like feta, use brie! You can customize it however you like!

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I stumbled upon this lovely flatbread recipe that worked great in the oven!  – If you don’t have Pinterest, here is a link to her recipe on her blog.

Once I rested the dough, I floured a surface and rolled it out. I cut it into wedges as shown here and put it on my lightly oiled Pampered Chef Large Bar Pan. You can rise it again since it is a yeast dough, but I wanted it pretty flat and I knew it would puff a little in the oven. I flipped it halfway through baking. I believe I used 350 degrees for about 10 minutes a side. Times and ovens vary, so I would just experiment with it.

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While my dough was cooking in the oven, I was sauteing my sliced onions in a little butter until they were very soft, then I added a pinch of salt and continued until they were nice and caramelized! At the same time I also roasted the figs. To prepare those, I sliced them at about 1/4″, lightly oiled a baking sheet, then topped with a little more olive oil, honey and a sprinkle of brown sugar.

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After that I assembled the ingredients back on the flatbread and popped them back into the oven for about 10-15 minutes. Just until the cheese was melted and the ingredients melded together.

Here’s how I topped them: I brushed them with a good Lebanese olive oil, sprinkled with feta cheese, layered on the onions, then the sliced figs, fresh arugula and then more feta. I left a couple pieces of flatbread plain for the kiddos. (they LOVED it)

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Here are slices of my amazing, delicious finished flatbread! I loved the savory of the onions and arugula with the sweetness of the figs. The cheese was mild and brought it all together! I shared this as kind of an appetizer with my mom friends while our kids played at our apartment complex park. They raved about this! A couple of them are borderline vegans, so it was divine for them. You could even drizzle a little truffle oil on top to be extra decadent! ❤

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Hope you give this a try and love it as much as we did!!

Happy cooking!