Archive for October, 2022

The Perfect Halloween Dinner

Every Halloween in years past, I have made the family favorite  –  Blood and Guts.

It’s a fabulous dish of white cheesed filled extra-large pasta shells swimming in a sea of marinara.

Some people call it stuffed shells. On a cold Halloween night, after hours of traversing the streets in search of candy, our kids find it to be the warming dish of their dreams.

A few weeks ago, two of our four kids were home. When the menu choice was released, a third one somehow made it home for supper.

It is a meal I make occasionally because it is a lot of work. I don’t make the sauce from scratch but I do stuff the shells individually. That can be close to 70 shells.

So where do I start? I get the ingredients. This is for a smaller batch but you can double it if desired. I normally start by making the filling.

16 oz Ricotta

2 cups Shredded Mozzarella

1 cup shredded Parmesan

1 package cooked spinach (thaw and drain of extra liguid. Squeeze water out if necessary)

2 eggs

I mix these together in a bowl by hand. You can refrigerate and use the next day. I tend to make it the same day. You need to squeeze the spinach because the freezing process leaves a lot of water. You don’t want the filling to be too watery. I get it about half squeezed out.

½ pound of ground meat or Italian Sausage

1-2 16 oz jar of marinara – your choice.

I tend to fry the meat while getting other parts of the meal ready but not the filling because the hands get too messy. I get the water for the pasta going. I open the marinara jar(s). I get out the 13×9 pan(s).  I pour just enough marinara in my first pan to cover the bottom. Then I scatter the cooked meat on top of that marinara cover.

1-2 boxes of Barilla extra large shells.

Here is where the magic happens. Pre-heat the oven to 350. Once the water is a rolling boil, I start by putting in 10-12 shells in at a time. Boil them for six minutes, just enough to soften. Put them in your colander after 6 minutes. While they are cooling in the colander, put 10-12 shells in the water. Add water as needed.

While those shells are boiling, start filling the shells that have been cooling. I use a teaspoon to ease the filling into each shell. Some will be tighter than others. Nor do you want the shells to be too soft. Once filled place each shell in your pan. I like to make a tight fit as I fill the pan.

Keep boiling and filling until you have no more filling. If you have more filled shells than will fit into one pan, prepare another baking dish that will fit the amount you have left. If you make a double batch, you are going to fill another 13×9. If not, you might be doing a 9×6.

Once all the shells are filled and in the pan, use your marinara to cover each shell. You can do this as thick or thin as you like. The more you put on, the more sauce you need on hand. Sprinkle mozzarella on top.

Place in the oven for 30 minutes. You can make the salad, get your garlic bread ready, force others to set the table. This would be a good time for a glass of wine if you so choose.

Once those thirty minutes are up, remove the pan(s) from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. I place the pans on the table with trivets or hot pads underneath. While the blood and guts are cooling, I get the garlic bread in the oven. My husband will cut the bread when it’s ready.

Now you get to eat this concoction. It is messy and tasty. Some people put on a little more parmesan at the table, others do not.

Sometimes I play with the recipe and add garlic powder or other spices to the mixture. Most of the time I eyeball the mozzarella. No matter what, this is the most asked for dish for Halloween besides my Chicken Riggie. Yes, it takes time – -about an hour for the stuffing alone.

But it is one of those dishes that is always worth it and seldom has leftovers.


1. The Mask Lawsuit

During the Pandemic Bailey filed a lawsuit against the State (Pritzker) to have the mask mandate removed. Bailey believed he was saving the entire state from a mandate he felt was unlawful. However, the judge deemed that Bailey’s lawsuit was justified – for Bailey only. This lawsuit would not apply to the rest of the state.

If a person fails his objective in such an epic manner, he has made some bad decisions either in going through with the lawsuit or picking lawyers to go through with the lawsuit. If you cannot make good decisions regarding a lawsuit to get a mask mandate removed for all, how do you expect us to believe that you can run a multi-billion dollar economy?

2. Abortion

Bailey is in favor of making abortion illegal in Illinois with no exceptions. We have seen how this works in other states that have outlawed abortions.

Women who are having miscarriages cannot get the care they need because their doctors don’t want to be prosecuted for performing an abortion.

Women who are having ectopic pregnancies cannot get needed healthcare because their doctors are afraid of being prosecuted for performing an abortion.

Women in need of Rheumatoid Arthritis medication are being denied their medication because one of the side effects is miscarriage of pregnancies.

If there is no regard for women’s healthcare, that women are turned into suspects because their bodies fail to carry a pregnancy (which happens in 1/3 of all pregnancies), is outlawing abortion a good idea? If making this man our governor makes it more dangerous for women to get their healthcare needs taken care of during their fertile years, why are we voting for this man?

3. Donald Trump

This man supports Donald Trump, a man who lost the 2020 election but refused to publicly acknowledge it. For months before the 2020 election, Trump stated if he lost then that meant there were voting irregularities. However, 60+ court cases and republican-led voting audits not only did not find more votes for Trump, they did find more votes for Biden.

Now Bailey is stating that he loses, he believes it will be due to voting irregularities. And he plans to have 6000 poll watchers on election day to make sure all goes well. All this is a page out of the Trump playbook. Does he plan to have fake electors as well?

4. Highland Park 4th of July Shooting

I had forgotten about this incident until I saw a political commercial today. Within hours of the shooting at the 4th of July parade in Highland Park, Bailey appeared upset that the parade he was going to be in had been cancelled. He tried to sound calm as he expressed sympathy and concern for the people of Highland Park. But then he stated that we need to get over the events earlier in the day and celebrate our country’s birthday. Yep, he said that on the same day, minutes after expressing sympathy. I heard him say this. Tone deaf much? Unable to actually express sympathy without moving away from his policies is inexcusable. Will he continue such behavior as governor?

5. What has he actually accomplished in the State house? I have seen many, many commercials from Bailey’s campaign. I have heard people talk about his farm experience showing he knows how to work. I have seen his commercials against Pritzker, striking fear about mis-interpreted laws bringing more violence and crime into our lives. I have seen Pritzker ads showing Bailey’s views on abortion and the no-votes for bills that would have help first responders and women dealing with domestic violence.  I have not heard a single commercial touting what he has done that is good for the state.

6. Bailey hates Chicago and has never hidden his feelings. But now he is renting an apartment in the former John Hancock building on the Magnificent Mile because he wants to get to know the city. What he does not realize is that every neighborhood is like a small town. Each neighborhood has its own flavor and dangers. Does he think that working class through upper-middle class Chicagoans are going to be fooled by this stunt? We all know that what he is signifying is that he will be available to the power brokers of the city because he has a place in the city. Until I see him actually visiting the best and the worst neighborhoods of Chicago, this feels like a stunt to me.

7. Pritzker may not be perfect, but he has been a good leader for the state. Our bond rating has improved. He is working at the deficit governors on both sides of the aisles built. And during the Pandemic, he was willing to make tough decisions. Even when that meant going against the President who was hell bent on denying the virus even as it killed tens of thousands of people.

Both men are rich although Pritzker is super rich.  I will take a productive blowhard like Pritzker over an unproductive blowhard like Bailey. This is a man who criticized Biden for giving handouts but took a PPP loan of $231K, and then gave $150K to his campaign a few weeks later while claiming a big loss on his taxes. ( And we are supposed to believe he is a simple farmer who knows the value of hard work.

These are the reasons why I am voting my conscious and not voting for Darren Bailey to become the next governor of Illinois..

Jumping into the Mosh Pit

Jumping into the Mosh Pit

Two of my sons are in bands. They love Punk and Screamo and Heavy Metal. Their music is filled with hard driving bass lines and pounding drums and solid guitar work.

It is not always my favorite music, especially when the F-word is tossed around carelessly. Use that mo-fo for its full effect to shock and disturb by sparingly using it.

But I digress.

The thing that always seems to happen at their concerts is The Mosh Pit.

You know what it is – a bunch of young people slamming into each other with all their might.

Image from Stolen Space Gallery

I watch my sons and their friends pound into each other. Sometimes the girlfriends join in as well. I see them working out anxiety and frustration and fear. Whatever that is going on in their lives, in their minds, that causes this frustration can be expressed. And released. Its not sexual touch but emotional touch. One of camaraderie and knowing that the other person knows its not about vengeance.

In the next moment, they smile and laugh with each other. They help each other up and glory in the pounding they just took. They are not here to literally beat the crap out of each other. It is that need to touch in the most masculine way possible.

It reminds me of the movie Crash, in which car accidents happened constantly for no apparent reason. And yet, it is stated that people crash into each other because they want connection. Even if it was a negative connection. Reminds me of kids wo act out in bad ways to get attention because negative attention is better than no attention.

A part of me wants to join in. I mean this nearly 60-year-old wants to ram just as hard as these guys. I want to release these emotions and frustrations of life along with these young people. I see myself doing it.

But I don’t. Or, more truthfully, I can’t. As a diabetic, I know I could get a serious injury to my feet. I know I could get bruised or injured that won’t heal quickly. I have doctors who would hit me upside the head for such reckless behavior.

So I watch from the sidelines; far enough away that no one will slam onto my feet and cause injury. I smile at them and enjoy their laughter. All the while, wishing I could slam into the group as hard as I can.