It's a lazy Sunday after a hectic weekend. I have known for a week now that my parents were going to stop by this morning on their way back home from Oklahoma. I have put off cleaning my house all week. And instead of cleaning all day yesterday, we took the kids to dinner and a movie. On a side note, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules is awesome. I think it's actually better than the first one. Loved it. Had Olive Garden for lunch (also loved it) and then to the movies. I actually think Olive Garden saved us some money at the movies. Normally we spend $30-40 on movie food and drinks. This time, we splurged on OG instead of Chinese buffet and the carb overload kept us full through the entire movie. I didn't get hungry for dinner until around 8pm and then I only ate a little.
Back to the story...we cleaned until in the evening, even the kids. Around 11pm, I started getting a migraine (frequent side effect of going to the movies--I blame the flashing lights). I took my medicine and dashed off to bed. The husband and kids kept cleaning and when I woke up, my house was mostly clean. I'm very impressed. I did have a little urchin in bed with me who snores almost as much as his daddy. But he cuddles so sweet when he's sleeping.
So now the parents have come and gone, they only stayed about an hour. At least my house is clean now! And we were able to exchange Christmas gifts for the kids finally. We didn't get to go home for Christmas because my husband (D) had basketball tournaments all through break. We only got 2 days off at a time and that's not enough time to make the almost-5 hour trip and visit my family and his family and then come home. Our intentions were to go home in January, when things slowed down a little. D ended up in the hospital the 1st week of the year and we've been sidelined ever since. I took off quite a few days when he was in the hospital and really can't afford to take off too many more. After years of going to see them, we are insisting that they come see us for now.
I made a great, yummy casserole for lunch. I found the recipe on www.allrecipes.com and modified it a little to fit our tastes and what was in my pantry. It was so good that I'm eating leftovers for dinner!
1 lb ground beef
1/2 lb Italian sausage (I used Johnsonville Mild Italian Sausage that I had a free coupon for!)
8 oz rotini (I used 9 because I discovered boil-in-bag 3 minute rotini and I used 3 3oz bags)
2 cups Italian cheese blend
1 can Ro-Tel (I use mild because I'm the only one in the house who likes spicy stuff)
1 can tomato sauce
1 onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese (I used more because there wasn't much left in the bag after I took out 1 1/2 cups)
Brown the beef and sausage together. Add onion and pepper and cook 5 more minutes. Add Ro-Tel and tomato sauce, stir well and set aside to cool. Boil rotini. Place cooked and drained rotini in a well-greased 9x13 pan. Top with all the Italian cheese. Pour the meat mixture on top. Cover tightly with foil and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Remove foil and top with cheddar cheese. Bake 5 more minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before eating.
Disclaimer about the Johnsonville Italian Sausage...I am a member of a community called She Speaks that provides products for free in exchange for my honest feedback. I may feature many products in my blog that I've gotten free in return for my feedback and promotion (if I like the product and choose to share it). I will ALWAYS be completely honest in my reviews and let you know the good, bad and ugly. That said, on to my Johnsonville spill...
I've never cooked with Italian sausage. Never. I think of pizza sausage when I think of Italian sausage and I picture caraway seeds and I hate the taste of caraway seeds. I was given 2 coupons for free Johnsonville sausage and my task was to try it and see if I liked it. I'm already a fan of Johnsonville's Beddar Cheddar smoked sausage so I was tempted to use my coupons for something I knew I liked. I stopped myself though. The point of the She Speaks campaign is to get people to try the Italian sausage. And I would have never paid $4+ for it if I wasn't sure I would like it. The good: I was really surprised how it added a depth to my casserole. Just 1/2 pound mixed in with the ground beef added such an interesting flavor, it gave it a little kick. Not a spicy kick, but just more depth. Yes the casserole would have been good with just ground beef but those bits of sausage just enhanced the flavors. The bad: I didn't buy bulk Italian sausage, I bought links which meant I had to cut the casings off to get to the sausage. It was a little weird so I made my daughter do it. She's less squeamish than me! The ugly: Nothing ugly, but I can't say the good and bad without the ugly. It just feels incomplete. So there you have it. I'm now a bigger fan of Italian sausage. I'm not sure if I would eat them like I do hot dogs but in my casserole, it improved it. My next effort with Italian sausage is meatball subs later this week. Stay tuned.