Three and a half weeks ago on June 14, Robert and I celebrated our first anniversary.  Robert planned a fantastic romantic weekend staycation in Fort Worth to celebrate the occasion.  The weekend began on Saturday at 1 when we pulled away from our townhouse and headed West to the Kimball Art Museum in Ft Worth to view the Art & Love in Rennaisance Italy exhibit. 

Having studied art history in Italy in the summer of 2004, I found the content of this exhibit particularly interesitng as it contained a far broader scope of artwork than one typically sees when discussing Italian Renaissance Art.  The exhibit displayed common pieces of furniture, dishware and other elements that would have been given to a husbamd or wife for one reason or another.  It was really neat to gain a deeper insight to some of the practices and traditions that existed in Italy during this time.

From the Kimball we headed to downtown Fort Worth to check into the Worthington Hotel where Robert had arranged a delivery of chocolate truffles to be delivered from a local chocolate factory.  They were positively delectable and our room had a stunning view of downtown.  At about 6:30pm we walked two blocks to have dinner at the Riata Steakhouse.   We had an excellent, quiet table in the corner that allowed us to really enjoy our dinner and conversation.  Here a few photos taken at dinner.

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After dinner we walked a few more blocks to the Bass Performance Hall for the Metropolitan Classical Ballet’s Summer Repertory performance.  I had not been to a ballet since I went to see the Nutcrakcer with my mom and grandparents when I was a child and Robert had never been to a ballet so it was a real treat for us.  There were three different performances, each with their own personality and flare.  The first ballet was traditional in nature and told the narrative of a troubled musician and composer who struggled between his muse and darkness to acheive greatness.  The second was a modern peice performed by a husband and wife duo that was quite spectacular albeit different.  The final was also traditional in nature although it was more of an exhibition peice rather than a narrative ballet.

And that conclude our celebration weekend.  I’d like to end this post with a few pictures from the past year.  As you can see, we’ve had a fantastic first year!

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Overlooking the island of Virgin Gorda, BVI

Overlooking the island of Virgin Gorda, BVI

At Bitters End Yacht Club in Virgin Gorda, BVI

At Bitters End Yacht Club in Virgin Gorda, BVI

Dressed up as Cowboys for the 2nd Annual Thanksgiving Murder Mystery Dinner

Dressed up as Cowboys for the 2nd Annual Thanksgiving Murder Mystery Dinner

Robert get's his Aggie Ring!

Robert get's his Aggie Ring!

Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year!!

Skiing in Utah

Skiing in Utah

Well, it looks like that’s all the photos I have from this past year.  As you can tell, we’ve definately enjoyed ourselves!  And the years ahead are bound to provide even more great memories.

Today’s recipe is another jewel from the Food Network’s Giada De Laurentis.  Before I begin, let me just say that I LOVE the food network.  How did people cook without being able to access fabulous recipes for FREE at the touch of a button??  I tell you, pretty soon kitchens will have a computer monitor with internet access mounted in the backslpash as a standard appliance for the kitchen.  Oh but I digress…

This recipe of Giada’s is called Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables.  Robert and I have been trying to incorporate more fresh vegetables into our meals.  And when you come from a meat and potato family like I do, it’s not always easy finding exciting ways to incorporate vegetables beyond just canned green beans or steamed asparagus!  Needless to say it was the large volume of veggies that attracted me to this delicious meal.  I’ve left Giada’s recipe pretty much in tact outside of changing the way some of the veggies are cut and reducing the amount of salt and pepper.  So without further adieu, let’s get started.

Ingredients:
2 red bell peppers
2 zucchini
2 yellow squash
10 small cremini mushrooms
1 medium yellow onion
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp dried Italian Herb Mix
1 pound penne pasta
1 jar (about 3 cups) of marinara sauce (any kind from the store or homemade if you have it)
1 cup grated fontina cheese
1/2 cup grated smoked mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Core red bell peppers and cut into 1-2inch rectangles, peel the yellow onion and cut to the same size.  Cut the squash and zucchini in quarters lengthwise and cut into 1 inch cubes.  Cut the stems off the mushrooms and cut into quarters.  If you have two 9×13 baking dishes, use one for roasting the veggies and one for the pasta.  If you only have one, a regular cookie sheet will work, it just makes it a little trickier getting the veggies in and out of the oven.  Toss the bell peppers, zucchini, squash, mushrooms and onions along with the olive oil, salt, black pepper and dried herbs together in the pan or on the baking sheet until well coated.  Put in theoven and roast for 15 minutes.

Veggies ready for roasting in the oven

Veggies ready for roasting in the oven

While the veggies are roasting boil the water and cook the penne for about 6 minutes.  This will cook the pasta just enough so that it’s not overcooked once it’s done baking in the oven.  Drain and put aside. When the veggies are done roasting, toss the veggies, pasta, marinara sauce, fontina, mozzarella and peas gently mixing until pasta is coated with the sauce and all other ingredients are combined.

Pour the pasta mixture into a greased 9×13 inch pan and top with the 1/3 cup of parmesan cheese.  Bake in the oven until top is golden and cheese is melted, about 25 minutes.  When you’re done, here’s what it should look like.

Baked pasta fresh out of the oven

Baked pasta fresh out of the oven

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That’s it! Real easy and so tasty. Robert thinks it smells and tastes like pizza.  I just think it tastes great!  I love the veggies.  (as if you couldn’t tell)  I’d like to take this moment to promote my new favorite marinara sauce company.  For years I’ve used Ragu for all my marinara needs, not any more.  I’d like to introduce to you Cucina Antica.  Their sauce is great, you look at the ingredient list and it only contains about 7 items!  All of them what you would include if you were making it yourself.  No preservatives, no bad stuff! And it tastes great!  My favorite so far is the Spinach Marinara.  As you can tell from this photo of the jar, last night I used their Tomato Basil Marinara. 

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Many of you who have cooked with me, or watched me cook, know that I can tend to be a cooking purist, preferring to make my sauces and such rather than buy it premade.  I think this sauce has changed my tune, at least where mariniara sauce is concerned.  I get mine at Central Market, and I’m not sure how wide their distribution is, but if you can get it try it!

Ok, that’s all from me for now.  Ciao!