Friday, January 30, 2015

Recipe: Pasta with Sausage & Mushrooms

There are so many times when I get unexpected company for dinner.
That is not a complaint!  I love to have guests.
That being said, I feel the constant need to be prepared.
That means, always having bacon in the house just in case someone stops by for breakfast.
That also means, always having a good bottle of wine and necessary ingredients for a yummy dinner on hand.

This recipe for Pasta with Sausage & Mushrooms is something I invented on accident.
…and am I glad I made that mistake!  It’s a family dinner time favorite and very quick to prepare.
I’ve made it for several different guests on different occasions, and I always get sincere compliments.
This is a definite do for unexpected dinner guests.
Just don’t forget to take the sausage ring out of the freezer as soon as they show up!

Pasta with Sausage & Mushrooms

(1-1/2) Pounds Cheese and Parsley Sausage Ring (Cut into bite size cubes.)
(2) Packages Cleaned & Sliced Baby Bella Mushrooms
(1) Can Diced Tomatoes
(1) Cup White Cooking Wine
(1) Large Onion (Diced)
(1) Cup Olive Oil
(1) Tbsp Garlic Powder
(1) Tbsp Dried Basil Leaves
Salt & Pepper to taste
(1-1/2) Pounds Barilla Medium Shells Pasta
Pecorino Romano Grated Cheese

In a large skillet, heat up half of the olive oil.  Add the onions and cook until they are translucent.  Add the mushrooms to the onions and cook until half the natural water evaporates (about 10 minutes on medium heat).  Meanwhile, in a separate pan, heat up the second half of the olive oil and brown the cut up sausage.  Shut off the flame and let sit on the side.  Add the white wine to the mushrooms and let cook for about 2 minutes.  Mix the sausage into the large skillet and add the can of diced tomatoes (drained) and all of the listed seasonings.  Let cook for an additional 15 minutes on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.

In a separate pot, boil the pasta until it’s al dente.

Mix together and serve.  Garnish with a sprinkle of Pecorino Romano grated cheese on top.
Hint:  Scoop from the bottom of the serving bowl to evenly distribute the juices.

What is your go to meal for unexpected dinner guests?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

List: How to deal with change.

I am one of those people that does not deal with change well.
You all should remember my anxiety issues from this post.
I get excited for the idea of change, but when it comes to acting on it, I panic!

Currently my life is all about change.
I recently resigned from my place of employment and will begin a new career venture next week.
I also started a new class last week that will be taking up massive amounts of time.
Not to mention, I’m on my way to becoming a married woman in less than half a year!!  Gasp!
These may all be positive adventures, but change is still overwhelming.

How To Deal With Change Well Better

1.  Take a deep breathe.
This sounds simple enough, but a lot of anxiety stems from simply forgetting to breathe.
I mean, think about it!  You get so excited over something that breathing is no longer priority.

2.  Change with the change.
Everything is a little less scary when you're in control.  Gain control by changing what you can.
New job? I dyed my hair and got a more professional wardrobe.  I changed for the change!

3.  Prepare for an easy transition.
Being proactive is such a vital trait to adopt.  It helps prevent mistakes and makes change easy.
The longer commute is sure to stress me out.  I'm preparing by having dinner pre-made and frozen.

4.  Talk it out.
Sometimes all you need to relax is to be able to hear the situation out loud.
Say it to yourself in the mirror, to a friend, or even to a counselor if it helps.  Talk, talk, talk!

5.  Distract yourself from unnecessary worry.
Your brain can develop crazy theories and scenarios that will freak you out if you let it.
Read a book or put on a TV show to help distract your thoughts before you sky rocket your anxiety.

6.  Make a list of all potential positive outcomes.
Most people initiate change for a reason.  Make a list reminding you why the change is good!
Changing my career may be scary, but it means more money and more room to grow.

7.  Remember the constants in your life.
Just because one thing is changing doesn't have to mean that everything will change.
I take comfort knowing that at the end of the day I'll still be coming home to my amazing family.

8.  Celebrate the change.
Setting a positive mental outlook on something will help eliminate anxiety and welcome the change.
I think a new job should mean a congratulatory dinner with a nice bottle of wine.  Yum! 

9.  Make a schedule.
Change is scarier when it's a surprise.  Work a schedule or appointment that's comforting to you.
Having an actual "start" date is way easier for me than not knowing when or if i'll start.

10.  Focus on what actually matters.
Anxiety means worrying about every little thing that doesn't even directly effect you.  Don't do that!
I need to focus on what effects me directly:  My paycheck, my family, and my life!

How do you deal with change?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Jax Seal of Approval: Cream Cheese & Guava

My family background is 100% Sicilian descent.
That means lots of meatballs and even more pasta…
My fiancĂ© was born and raised in Cuba.  He proudly became an American about 5 years ago.
That means lots of beans and truck loads of rice…
Mixing both cultures together has turned my kitchen into a fun Italian-Cuban fusion café!

Some of the things he introduced to me I loved and others I didn’t like at all.
I think yucca is one of the yummiest things I’ve ever had and I love me some fried plaintains!
…but flan is something I will never understand.  Bleh…

I thought that I tasted the majority of the different Cuban flavors, until he showed me this.

Cream Cheese & Guava


Before him, I've never heard of guava.
In fact, I'm still not even sure what it looks like as a whole fruit!

It has a sweet taste but a different consistency than anything I've ever had before.
Smearing some cream cheese on top compliments the fruit so well.
I'm giving cream cheese and guava the Jax seal of approval on the grounds of being so yummy!

Have you ever had or will you try cream cheese and guava?

Friday, January 23, 2015

List: Reasons to consider a career change.

As I have previously mentioned on R&W, I have been on the job hunt.
My current job is being centralized and I will soon be reassigned to something tedious; collections.
I used to manage a credit, and collections department.  When did my career start the nose dive down?
I immediately began to apply for jobs and interview.
That’s when I learned how employers discriminate against mothers as discussed here.

Recently I got a job offer for a position that is much different than anything I’ve done before.
While I thought I would be ecstatic to get an offer, I found myself in the midst of an internal debate.
$10K salary increase, more time off, and job security?  Helllooo, Jax, wake up!
Instead of thinking positive, my anxiety kicked in and filled my brain with all the negatives.
A much longer commute, more expensive healthcare, and I’ll be a whole county away from my Mushy.

That’s when I decided to put my big girl pants on and focus on all the reasons why I should do this.
After thinking long and hard, I ultimately decided to accept the offer.
I bet you’re all wondering what changed my mind!  And, no, it wasn’t all about the money.

Reasons to consider a career change.

1.  You are no longer challenged.
If your current job doesn’t challenge you, that means that you have potential to grow.  The perfect job should always make you think a little.  If you can do your job blindfolded, maybe it’s time to utilize those learned skills and move up the corporate ladder.
Who doesn’t want a more notable title with a closed office and a significant pay check!?

2.  You think of work as a form of torture.
I’m not saying everyone is going to love what they do, but you should at least be content with your position.  If you find that you need to force yourself into the office every day, maybe it’s time to find a similar position elsewhere.  If it’s the job itself you hate and not your employer, then maybe it’s time to consider a complete career change.
Once you pinpoint what it is you dislike, it’s so easy to make a realistic plan for change.  I promise.

3.  Your bills are always late.
If you eliminated all the “extras” from your budget, and your income still doesn’t cover your expenses, it may be time to job hunt.  You can always ask for a raise, but fact is, the biggest raises are usually received when moving into a new position.
Please don’t wait for your lights to be shut off to start moves.  Be proactive!

4.  You can pay your bills, but you want more.
If your current job is paying the bills but doesn’t allow you to move out of your one bedroom apartment, maybe it’s time to let your career grow with your dreams.  Maybe you are happy with your lifestyle but are lacking the extra cash to travel or to enjoy nights out on the town.  Whatever the reason, you shouldn’t let your job limit your life.
My dream is to own a house one day.  If I don’t increase my income, that will be just a dream forever.

5.  Your job doesn’t let you live.
Unless you want your job to be your life, you need to find a company that is sensitive to its employee’s needs.  If you feel that any type of restraint isn’t for you, maybe a proposal to open a successful business should be in your future.
Evaluate your priorities and see how much of your life you are willing to give.  It is your life after all!

6.  You are being harassed, demeaned, or disrespected at work.
No matter what your job title is, there is never any excuse for you to be put down.  You deserve respect.  Don't let your job make you think low of yourself.  If this is your situation, stop reading this article and start applying for other jobs.  You deserve better.
Bullying and harassment does not end in school.  I see it all the time in the workforce.

7.  Your pay doesn't match your work load.
Employers will always want to get the most out of their employees, and that is 100% understandable.  It's when employers want more than what they are willing to pay for that it becomes a problem.  If you find that your boss keeps dumping new tasks onto your lap but isn't reciprocating with dumping more cash, it's time to look elsewhere.
Years ago, I saw 3 people quit.  Their work was dumped on me without any extra pay.  Um, not ok.

8.  There is no room to grow.
If you look around and see nowhere to go, then you should consider moving to a place where you aren't pigeon holed.  People should never limit themselves.  Most people want to grow in their careers, but choose not to because they are comfortable.  Some people feel like they can't better themselves because their education or skills limit them.  Don't limit yourself unless you believe that you reached your maximum potential.
As long as you are willing to make moves,  your career will move with you!

9.  You have no job security.
There is nothing worse than living with the constant fear of not knowing how long you will have a job for.  When a company starts to downsize, outsource, or centralize their jobs it may be time to start worrying.  There is never a guarantee that you will keep your job forever, but there are certainly companies that are way more secure than others.
Pay attention to the career red flags.  The red flag system is for more than just relationships!

10.  You just want better.
There is no shame in being perfectly content in your current position, but still wanting more. 
I mean, who doesn't want to go from happy to happier!?

What would make you consider a career change?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Happy Birthday: The Viking

Today is The Viking's birthday!
Or, tomorrow, depending on what day you're reading this.  It's January 22nd.

He will enjoy one of our favorite recipes; Rachel Ray's Super Shrimp Scampi with pasta.
You can find the recipe here.  It's all done in one pot.  So quick, easy, and yum!

We will be celebrating with an ice cream cake from Cold Stone Creamery.
...and, oh, how I love me some Cold Stone...
I invited friends and family over to enjoy the cake.

Happy Birthday, Viking!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Discussion: Selfie Stick

We are currently living in an age where people do and have things that I just don't understand.
I mean, do you remember planking or owling??  No?  You must read into it!

The newest fad that I don't understand to hit my generation is the art of a “selfie”.

Selfie:  A close up picture of yourself taken at a flattering angle typically via cell phone.
Because, you know, cameras are so out of date!  Sigh…

My cousin is obsessed with taking selfies.
She snaps them every chance she gets and loves to share them on social media.
If we plan a girls night, she will respond with, "We have to take selfies!".
I hate taking selfies.  They are never flattering for me and usually make me want a nose job!

For Christmas, my uncle (Cousin's father), bought her the best gift ever!
He bought her a selfie stick.
Yes, that has really been created!

Selfie Stick:  A long stick with a handle on one end and a clasp to hold your phone on the other.  Its purpose is to take selfies with maximum flatterization*.  All you need to do is adjust the clasp to fit your cell phone, set the camera on a timer, angle the stick, and smile!
*Yes, I know flatterization is not a real word, but neither is selfie!!!

I've walked through Manhattan and seen groups of people blocking walkways huddled under a selfie stick.
I've seen girls sitting on benches posing for their selfie stick like paid models.
I've seen my cousin making kissy faces to her inanimate selfie stick and giggle at the result.
I'm all for capturing memories, but this is just way too funny!

What do you think about the Selfie Stick?  Is it a selfie do or don't?

Friday, January 16, 2015

List: Important Lists

R&W visitors quickly learn that I have an ongoing love affair with lists.
There is nothing I enjoy more than the neat and organized means of communicating via a list.
Not to mention my OCD seal claps every time I see one!

Despite the fact that some of history’s greatest accomplishments were lists, I still get smack.
I mean does The Ten Commandments or People’s Sexiest Man Alive list ring any bells?  Sigh…
At the ripe age of 26, I decided that it’s time to stand my ground and defend my lists.
Since so many of you like to poke fun, I’d like to make a bet that you all utilize lists frequently.

Jax’s List of Important Lists
Yea, I went there…

1.  Grocery List
This is my favorite type of list!
A grocery list is the best tool to use to walk out of a store with only necessary purchases.

2.  Pros & Cons List
I do this all the time!  In fact, I just did it yesterday when deciding between two job opportunities.
This is a wonderful tool to use when making difficult decisions. 

3.  To Do List
You just have to make sure your To Do list doesn’t end with writing the list…
Making a To Do list helps people to remember and to prioritize the tasks at hand.

4.  Budget List
Everyone should have a budget otherwise you’ll never know where you stand financially.
A budget list could be anything from a simple list of your expenses to a detailed financial summary.

5.  Medication List
My anxiety believes that a list of all medications a person takes should be accessible in case of an emergency.
Your medication list could be noted on an index card in your pocketbook or wallet.

6.  Invitation List
This is the first step to planning a party.  Then you create your food list, to do list, etc…
I have a list I keep handy with names and addresses to the people I invite for my baby’s events.

7.  Emergency Contact List
My anxiety feels the same way about this list as it does the medication list.
You should have two people briefed with your medical history that can be contacted in an emergency.

8.  Packing List
This can mean either a list of products in a shipment, or a list of things you need to pack.
Before traveling anywhere, everyone should make a list of things they need.  Then check it twice!

9.  Christmas List
This is a real fun list!  I mean, who doesn’t love to brainstorm all the things they want?
Every year I create an excel sheet with a list of all the people I need to buy for and what I plan to get them.

10.  Bucket List
Everyone has a list of things they want to do or places they want to see before they die.
There is no better way to celebrate your life’s hopes and dreams than to put them in a list!

What are your favorite lists?

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