April 25, 2014

Spaghetti Carbonara and Roasted Balsamic Asparagus

Children are incredible. Is there anyone else in the world that can take you from "who in the heck ARE you and where did you COME FROM!?" to a warm, gooey pile of parent-ly mush in 2.7 seconds quite like children? They don't even have to be yours! I've heard the same sentiments from teachers, babysitters, relatives, anyone who has the care of children on a regular basis. They can be the most incredible, insightful, caring, genius little people, then morph into sticky, screeching, lunatics over whether or not they got to push the buttons on the microwave. Everything comes in phases. If your kids are in the middle of one, hang on, ride it out, it will pass. But relish the peaceful times in between, when you recognize that loving little toddler you once knew, because the phases don't ever seem to end. They just change.
"Candy Sale: Available in prices of dimes, nickles, and pennies"

My little Stephen has been in what we like to call "The Brainless Stage". My parents refer to it as "Being Eight". Whichever. It's like his brain just leaked out of his head one night about a year ago, and he woke up with a blank stare and a complete disregard for the world around him. He's a brilliant kid, really, but even going through his homework was a struggle. Every. Single. Night. His hands had a mind of their own, and would just wander around aimlessly, sticking themselves in your food, breaking things for no reason, picking up every piece of produce in the store... Generally making us want to tear our hair out and trade him for cheap patio furniture. But somehow, over the past week or so, my Stephen has re-emerged! He's helpful, and sensitive, and grateful, and brilliant again! He has spent hours on catch-up homework from our trip to DC every night this week, with no complaints. He cares again! This is my Stephen. The kid I remember. This is the stuff that makes being a Mom the only job I have ever wanted.
Spaghetti Carbonara (adapted from Gimme Some Oven)
Printable Recipe

1 lb. spaghetti
1/4 yellow onion, diced
1/2 lb. bacon, diced
5 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup Parmesan (or more)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
olive oil

Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil on the stove. (We're talking 1-2 tablespoons, depending on the size of your pot!)

While waiting for the water to boil, place the bacon in a large skillet over medium-heat and cook until it is nearly crispy, stirring every few minutes. Drain most of the bacon grease, leaving about a tablespoon, and add the onion to the skillet, and continue cooking until the bacon is crispy and the onion is translucent. Remove onions and bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel covered plate.

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, milk, Parmesan, salt, and black pepper until well-blended. Set aside.

When the salted water boils, add the spaghetti and cook until al dente. (Usually about 9-10 minutes.)

When the pasta is ready, quickly drain out the pasta water, and return the pasta to the hot pot immediately. Turn the heat down to medium. While stirring the pasta with one hand, use the other to pour the egg mixture into the pasta and continue to toss until the egg mixture thickens and coats the pasta. (It will look like a light sauce and leave a trail when a spoon is dragged through the bottom of the pot) Add in the bacon and onion mixture and toss until mixed. Taste and add more salt if desired.

Garnish with extra Parmesan and/or chopped fresh parsley. Serve immediately!
Roasted Balsamic Asparagus
Printable Recipe

about a pound of asparagus
balsamic vinegar
fresh ground black pepper
kosher/flaky salt
olive oil

Rinse and snap ends off asparagus. Toss with 1-2 Tb olive oil. Spread in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Turn your broiler on to high. Sprinkle asparagus with salt and pepper, and drizzle with 1-2 Tb balsamic vinegar. Less is more! I apologize for the lack of specific measurements, I usually just wing it.

Place baking sheet on the highest rack in your oven, right under the broiler. Broil for 10-15 minutes, until the asparagus have nice, roasty brown spots on them. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with freshly-grated Parmesan cheese (if desired, but totally yummy!) and serve immediately!
The Geologist hates asparagus, so I don't get to eat it nearly as much as I would like. This method actually made him enjoy eating asparagus! Well, it worked once anyway. And made it bearable the next time I made it. And the boys and I LOVE asparagus cooked this way! The tangy vinegar brings brightness out of them, while the salt, pepper, and roasting brings out the rich savoriness of these earthy veggies. Doesn't hurt that it's awfully quick and easy!
I admit, I overcooked the carbonara just a little, so it clumped. Have no fear if you do the same, it tastes just as yummy, I promise! If you'd like a stronger flavor, you can replace the onion with a few cloves of minced garlic, but we loved the milder, sweeter onions in this recipe. We had a carbonara recipe that we made all the time years ago, but it always ended up too sharp. I love the simplicity of this recipe!
 Salty bacon, lightly creamy "sauce", rich and nutty cheese, comes together in a snap and is delicious! A fantastic weeknight dinner. I will say the leftovers aren't quite as awesome though, this meal is lots better the night it's made. And most of the ingredients are probably hanging around your house anyway!


  1. I think your boys are just the greatest April. Love them to bits. They have such wonderful personalities, even when they are being stroppy. Mind you I can say that because I am thousands of miles away. WE have an elder here at the moment from Colordado Springs. Your pasta looks fab as does the asparagus. Serious scrum! xx

    1. I wish you could meet them, they love you too, from afar. :) No way, Colorado Springs?! Small world!! Send him over when he comes home!! This post is right up our kindred spirit alley, isn't it??


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