Monday, June 2, 2014

Happy Birthday, Lainey!

On June 7, 2013, our first baby was born...but I didn't meet her until a few weeks later.

Our chocolate lab, Lainey, is turning 1 on Saturday! 

Here she is at 3 weeks, with her sister, Nestle.  We can't say for sure, but the fact that the one on the right is trying to escape and blurred...we guess that one is Lainey.
The hubs and I are huge dog lovers.  He has grown up with labs and I am the type to cry at the ASPCA commercials.  Once our relationship got serious, many moons ago, we knew Lainey would be a part of our future.
So, last summer, after getting settled in our first home...Dan and I, along with Dan's sister and her family, decided we were going to adopt sister labs.  We were thrilled when they were born.  We picked them up from a farm 7 weeks later and "oooh'd" and "ahh'd" the whole way home.  She was so small and sweet and sleepy.
Not. For. Long. 
Lainey gives Marley (yes, that Marley) a run for his money.  She started out with chronic bladder infections, which in turn, will cost us quite a bit more to get her spayed.  Then it was puppy city.  She has chewed up countless area rugs, scratched repeatedly at our (no longer) new couches and furniture, knocked over and broke plenty a' vases, and more.
Once we covered our pool last fall, she didn't get the memo.  She gave us heart attack upon heart attack when she would continuously leap over the many barricades we would create and run around on the pool cover. Thank goodness we caught her in time before she disappeared into one of the (many) holes she put in that thing.
Eventually, she found her voice... and hasn't been able to keep quiet since.  Waking me up at 5:30 on the dot every Saturday and Sunday.  Barking at every leaf or bird that flutters by our window.  She prefers toilet water over any other
I have threatened to take her "back to the farm" a thousand and one times.  She is the definition of a terror.  But yet, here I am feeling sentimental about her upcoming birthday. Sigh.
Despite her craziness, irrational behavior and sometimes downright stubbornness...we still love her. She really has come a long way and is finally starting to be a loving dog.  We knew going in...labs are tough.  They're puppies way longer than other breeds and they tend to be three times as mischievous.
Lainey, we are loving watching you grow and learn.  Even though sometimes it might not seem like it, we love you and you will always be our first baby.

And now, for a pasta salad recipe.
I made this for my mother-in-law's birthday party this past weekend and it was delish!  I love pasta salads because they are so versatile.  You can use whatever you have on hand.  Also, they have a tendency to get even better the longer they sit.  Here's this one:
1 pound tortellini (I try to always use fresh!)
cherry tomatoes
1 can black olives
1 wedge of Romano cheese
1 cup ricotta
2 T basil
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
extra virgin olive oil*
balsamic vinegar*
salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot of salted boiling water, add the tortellini.  Like I said, I always use fresh. It REALLY makes a difference!  Buitoni is a common and easy to find brand.  Since it's fresh, it only takes a few minutes to cook.
Chop up cherry tomatoes, black olives, and Romano cheese into similarly, bite sized pieces.  The amount of each really depends on what you like (see? versatility!)  Chop up basil and add.  Add ricotta.  In a small, dry pan toast pine nuts.  Add to salad when cooled.  Add salt and pepper to taste (I used about 2 teaspoons of each).  Give it a big mix.
The consistency at this point is pretty dry.  Now you will need to add your EVOO. I didn't measure, but I probably wound up using almost a half cup.  As for the balsamic, I didn't measure that either...but I would say I used several tablespoons (that is vague, I know...but I basically sprinkled it around the bowl 3 times.  Again, big mix.
Next, let it sit in the fridge and let those flavors mix for at least an hour.  Taste it then and you can make the decision of what it might need.  I tend to like things I added more balsamic.  But you may find you want to add more ricotta to mellow the flavors.  It's important to let it sit for a bit just to really bring out it's true flavor.
Happy Cookout Season! 

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