40 year old blessings

Celebrated my little sis’s 40th b’day last night by cooking her dinner…

She sat at my kitchen counter, as I enjoyed puttering around in my kitchen.  I tried a new recipe (see below) and a mini layered chocolate cake with vanilla bean buttercream, covered in chocolate ganache (check out the link below to see the adorable inspiration for this one…mine did not look quite as cute, but was TRULY delicious-imagine this cute little cake with a layer of ganache over the top.)

The food was fun and delish…but the conversation and time with my sis was the best!  Our conversations are the “spaghetti type” that are so interwoven, you are not exactly sure how you got to the topic of the moment.  We discussed our kids and marriages, we talked about the deep stuff of life that matters (no time for idle chit chat about nonsense.)  We made plans and dreams for our next steps in life…we considered the value of making a difference in the world.  My little sis is married to her high school sweetheart, has four amazing kiddos, is surrounded by great friends, and is pursuing her dream to open Celebrate preschool this fall.  I am proud to be her big sis.  I am thrilled that she has invested in my daughter’s life all these years.  I am happy to be celebrating 40 years of a life well lived…looking forward to the fun of the next 40+.

Farfalle with Mascarpone, Asparagus, and Pistachios

  • 4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, chopped
  • 2 pounds slender asparagus, trimmed, cut on diagonal into 2-inch lengths (about 6 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound farfalle (bow-tie pasta)
  • 1 8-ounce container mascarpone cheese
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup pistachios
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • Parmesan cheese shavings

In a large saute pan, brown pancetta on medium high heat until crispy.  Remove from heat. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place asparagus on prepared sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat; spread in single layer. Roast until asparagus is tender, about 10 minutes. (Can be prepared 2 hours ahead; let stand at room temperature.)

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking water. Return pasta to pot. Stir in mascarpone, grated Parmesan cheese, pancetta and asparagus. Toss over medium-low heat until pasta is coated with sauce and mixture is heated through, adding reserved pasta water by 1/4 cupfuls if dry, about 3 minutes.

Mound pasta in large shallow serving bowl. Sprinkle with pistachios, chives, and Parmesan cheese shavings.

(Adapted from epicurious.com and Bon Appétit  | April 2004)

Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream (and a choc ganache over the top)


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