I had dinner last night with my sweet almost-adopted daughter, Dr. DeAnna Carter. She’s not only my vet, but she’s one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. She is also my hero. She is such an inspiration, proving if you want something bad enough, you can do it. It ain’t easy, however.

She worked as a lab tech while she went to vet school. She did this as a divorced mom of baby twins. She did have some help from her wonderful real mom, who baby-sat for her. But even so, she worked hard for what she had always wanted. Love her to pieces, and her twin sons — Dillon, who is a husband and father (like when did that happen?); the other half, who is the youngest by several minutes, Blake, is out of state right now.

Of course, if I have adopted DeAnna, the boys come with her. Double glad to have them.

I wish I had her drive when I was young enough to do something about it. She is my “sheroe for sure!” Tell your kids they can do whatever they want to do if they are willing to make sacrifices and have tunnel vision. It will be worth it to get out of bed in the morning and go do something you really love. In DeAnna’s case, she loves what she does, even though sometimes it is so very hard. She makes a difference and gives the title of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine a whole new meaning.

And let me add real quick, I’m so proud to give a plug to the kids I gave birth to. I want them to know it was very hard labor, but a labor of love! (A little guilt trip there that isn’t going to work.) But they have a great work ethic, and I’m so proud of them for succeeding in what they do and doing a good job of it, too!

Besides that they are good to others.

Well, let me just cut to the chase and say they are “perfect” and I love them all very much more than they ever thought about loving me. Their motto is, “Get up in the morning and be the best person you can be.” I love it!

n n n

I’m through with all the mushy stuff, so now let’s get into another kind of mush — food for the soul and body!

Here are some easy recipes from our good friends at Pillsbury. That’s a name we all know and trust, and besides, they have given me permission to use all of their recipes that I want. That makes me love them even more.

Easy Baked Spaghetti

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 jar (25.5 ounces) Muir Glen classic marinara pasta sauce

1 pound uncooked spaghetti

1 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced

Sliced fresh basil leaves

Directions

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 13-by-9-inch (3-quart) baking dish with cooking spray.

In 10-inch skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat; add one yellow onion, diced. Season with salt and pepper; cook about five minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion starts to brown. Add 1 1/2 pounds ground beef; sprinkle with more salt and pepper. Cook five to six minutes, stirring frequently, until browned. Stir in jar of Muir Glen classic marinara pasta sauce; heat until warmed.

Cook and drain 1 pound spaghetti as directed on package. In a baking dish, mix cooked spaghetti and pasta sauce mixture. Top with 1 pound sliced mozzarella cheese.

Bake about 30 minutes or until bubbling and cheese is melted. If desired, set oven control to broil for one to two minutes until cheese is browned. Top with sliced fresh basil leaves for serving.

Expert tip: If broiling, be sure to keep a close eye on the dish so the cheese doesn’t burn.

Roasted Garlic Spaghetti

Ingredients

1 garlic build

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 pound uncooked spaghetti

1 cup (4 ounces) Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves or fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley.

Directions

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Carefully peel paper-like skin from around bulb of garlic, leaving just enough to hold garlic cloves together. Cut 1/4- to 1/2- inch from top of bulb to expose cloves. Place cut-side-up on 12-inch square of foil. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons of the oil; wrap securely. Place in pie plate or shallow baking dish.

Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until garlic is tender when pierced with a fork. Cool five minutes. Gently squeeze garlic out of cloves onto cutting board; finely chop. Set aside.

In 4-quart saucepan or Dutch oven, cook spaghetti as directed on box; drain. Return to saucepan; toss with roasted garlic, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese, salt, red pepper flakes and basil. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Expert tips: Serve this roasted garlic spaghetti with an Italian tossed salad. Roast the garlic ahead of time, and refrigerate until ready to use.

This is from me, Gin: I would add some shrimp to this dish or not. Just remove the shell and sauté in a little olive oil then add. I wonder if you can tell I’m really a pasta freak.

If you have recipes or tips to share, or a request, please send to: Conversations with Gin, P.O. Box 334, Clute TX. 77531, or email to: ginscolumn@hotmail.com.

(0) entries

Sign the guestbook.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.