Momma Told Me

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What I'm Streaming: Casual A Hulu Original (Seasons 1-2)

Casual a Hulu Original, Streaming Seasons 1-2 Now on Hulu
Momma Told Me: Humans, by nature, are complicated.

I took almost 3 months off from television this year-

When I say 'television' of course I mean 'streaming' programming, as you may recall our family does not have traditional cable. The only time I get to watch something 'live' is at a viewing party or family get together, so I am typically behind at least several episodes on my favorite shows. My purge, of sorts, really wasn't a conscious decision. I simply found that I didn't have the physical or emotional time to invest in TV while I sorted through some big life events in the first half of 2016. In a sense my life became the drama I was hooked on, and I couldn't handle that of anyone else, even if they were fictional.

But now Summer is here- and I have cleared my schedule to do nothing but relax. Okay, blog and relax- I have some recipes and projects I look forward to tackling and sharing in my own time. But the truth remains- streaming, and binging is back in my life and I look forward to sharing some of my finds!
Casual a Hulu Original, Streaming Seasons 1-2 Now on Hulu
I started high school at a very young age, which just so happened to be around the time Gilmore Girls had just begun airing on the CW. It was my mother, actually, who insisted I watch the show, and instantly I became hooked. Well, we became hooked, as we'd tune in every week to see the latest saga of Rory and Dean or Loralei and Luke. I've always been drawn to shows with quirky characters that seem to have a myriad of personal life obstacles, yet still manage to great each day with enthusiasm, no matter how calamitous the outcome.

Casual, a Hulu Original, reminds me very much of classic Gilmore Girls mixed with (Amazon Prime's Original) Transparent. It is a modern family tale of a single mother, recently divorced and moved in with her emotionally complicated (yet brilliant) brother whilst navigating the complicated world of casual relationships. And, if you think 'Casual' refers merely to one night stands and hook-ups, I have to say that the show's title really covers a wide range of human relationships and the complicated struggles to maintain them.
At the core of Casual there are 3 strong lead characters- Valerie (Michaela Watkins) and her extremely raw, but endearing relationship with her high school aged daughter Laura (Tara Lynne Barr) and Valerie's brother Alex (Tommy Dewey) the online relationship mapping tech startup failure (think Match.com) with emotional insecurities and destructive behaviors. Much like Gilmore Girls, viewers are drawn into the unique and impressively symbiotic relationship these three characters build, as each learn from and grows with each-other while tackling sticky family issues.
Casual a Hulu Original, Streaming Seasons 1-2 Now on Hulu
However the show is NOT a family program- and should be enjoyed by adults. While it does stream on Hulu as an Original series there is ample 'Sex And The City' style content covered through the adult cast's various escapades into single-dom, parenting, and beyond. While recently divorced, one love of her life, Valerie is awkward and even clumsy in her dating story, bold and modern Alex is inquisitive and exploratory in his. At the end of the day, Casual wraps the calamities and trials with raw insight that truly mirrors the struggles of what it means to be human, and searching for companionship (whether connecting with a new friend, or looking for a long term relationship) in this complex modern world.
Casual a Hulu Original, Streaming Seasons 1-2 Now on Hulu
If you enjoy shows such as Parenthood and Transparent, give this show a go. Some of the scenarios may seem outright shocking, while others all too relate-able, and it's almost impossible not to begin building your own relationship with the characters. Casual is currently in it's second season- which means you can stream all of Season 1 on Hulu now (binge time!) and catch up to the first half of Season 2 before it ends.

P.S. Season 3 of Casual begins streaming next week (May 26, 2017)!


What Daughter Says: 'Casual' much like 'Normal' are settings for clothing and the dryer. Every relationship is richly complex- that's what makes life so enjoyable!

The Lost Post: Homemade Tortellini Minestrone #Recipe

This hearty homemade Tortellini Minestrone features handmade spinach ricotta tortellini and a feast of fresh harvest vegetables sure to comfort in any season.
Momma Told Me: Life seldom goes as planned.

Growing up, Momma often told me "Life seldom goes as planned-" Now, this may seem like a bleak sentiment for a child, but I've come to learn it doesn't always have to carry a sense of the foreboding. Life is full of surprises, good and bad. It's one of the things that makes life worth living. And, while we are just in the 5th month of 2018, this year has proven an exemplary case.

Naturally, the true value in these unscheduled twists and turns is how we choose to view the circumstances. I'll be the first to admit the cacophony of events that have unraveled this first quarter have had me looking and feeling quite glum. I strive myself on being a very vibrant, positive, person- but even Piglet puts on Eeyore's clothes for a day when the scenery begins to look glum.

For example- when I was rear ended, at a dead stop, and my car was totaled on St. Patrick's Day I was devastated. Everyone I ran into insisted the experience should be positive, "Well, hey, you get to buy a new car!" they'd exclaim with a smile. But my back was a mess, and the insurance wasn't about to give me enough to replace my car with one of equal value, I now had no transportation to go and shop for a car, and there was the fact that my car was my baby- where was I going to find another Purple Turbo PT Cruiser? For weeks I let the negativity stack- January had been black mold, February was the great hard drive crash of 2016, March my car was totaled, and in April my grandfather was hospitalized in a stay he still continues. When will life stop raining on me?

For weeks I was very solemn. I slept strange hours or not at all. I felt no inspiration to create or write. And the lack of transportation had me feeling completely isolated and helpless.

But life seldom goes as planned-

And then I opened my laptop, to sort through the recovered files from my hard-drive back for family photos I could print and send to my father as a sign of support. And I found this folder of recipe shots from February 2nd. A post I had originally planned to share for Tortellini Day (February 13th,) edited and just sitting in a file in a subfolder on an external drive.

I can't claim that I had en epiphany over soup photos, I mean, they are nice photos- but something inside me kicked up that old phrase from my mother. The second half of her advice. "Life seldom goes as planned- the only thing you can control is how you choose to deal with it." Ironically, this goes hand in hand with one of her other favorite phrases- "It is what it is." A phrase I've come to adopt more recently. Sure, I could sit around feeling sorry for myself, or brewing negative thoughts in my head- but the only thing I'm really doing is punishing myself.

So, if you happen to be having a tough day, week, month, or year (like me) maybe Momma's advice can help. After all, you never know when the next very pleasant surprise is just around the corner....

And, without further ado- I present to you the 'Lost' Tortellini post-
I've never made pasta before.

In fact, it's something I can confidently say I felt rather secure in saying I never wanted to. I watch plenty of foodie shows, from professional cooking to home cook competitions and I know all to well, much like a soufflé, one tiny error in timing or measurement can be the difference between a hot mess or a hot success.

So, naturally, it was a silly national holiday- Tortellini Day that inspired me to try 2 things I'd never done before- homemade pasta (stuffed pasta at that) AND a homemade minestrone.
If you're like me and you've lived a life intimidated by the prospect of fresh made pasta, I'm here to say it is entirely doable. I did it on the first attempt.

Granted, I did cover my entire kitchen counter with flour and egg on my first attempt to 'hand mix' the dough. But, hey, I sure felt authentic pouring that egg into the center of a volcano of flour! Yes, your fingers will get impossibly sticky- keep at it, the mess will turn into a lump of dough. And, with proper kneading, you will actually be able to roll it out by hand.

If you're feeling a bit unsure just make sure to don an apron, and watch an Alton Brown video or two- you'll be rolling out fresh pasta in no time.
Of course you can choose to stuff your tortellini with a variety of things- In my world a stuffed pasta without cheese is no pasta at all- So I went with a delicious ricotta-parmesan spinach variation that will perfectly compliment the minestrone soup recipe I've paired with them. This makes the perfectly soft, creamy, tortellini texture really pop in the hearty vegetable soup broth.
I was again intimidated by the prospect of folding my pasta- First I decided on the proper size round cookie cutter and cut a few test circles out. I quickly learned I was not rolling the pasta thin enough- and my circles were not big enough to properly make the seams required to keep my filling from bubbling out when cooking.

A word to the wise- if you let your pasta sit out it will begin to dry and get 'scaly'- it's still edible, but might cook tougher or be hard to fold. To avoid this I cover my pasta dough/cutouts/sheets in a bowl with a damp towel.
homemade spinach ricotta tortellini
To fold a tortellini is actually quite simple. 

Place your filling in the center of your pasta disc leaving about 1/2" from filling to edge. Dip your finger in egg wash and run it along the exposed edge of pasta. Fold your pasta in half to form a semi circle, pressing the seam together, using the egg wash as a binder. Next, pinching the two corners fold the corners in towards each other to form a crescent. Tuch the corners into the very middle- the outer edges should have naturally curled up to form a 'lip'.
The rest is pretty easy-

Whether you choose to cook your minestrone in a pot or a slow cooker, you'll want to store your tortellini in the fridge until about 5-10 minutes before serving. Since minestrone is a slow simmer soup- I enjoy making this recipe on a lazy afternoon, when I can take my time and really fill my home with amazing smells.
chicken brothchicken broth
This hearty homemade Tortellini Minestrone features handmade spinach ricotta tortellini and a feast of fresh harvest vegetables sure to comfort in any season.This hearty homemade Tortellini Minestrone features handmade spinach ricotta tortellini and a feast of fresh harvest vegetables sure to comfort in any season.
Here in Southern California, we've already had several "Summer" days, where the temperatures have kissed 100F. So it might seem odd that I'm sharing this Fall soup recipe- remember, this was supposed to go live in February. No worries though, it turns out the winds have been unusually cold here on the SoCal coast and I'll actually be making this recipe again this week. I'm sure plenty of my readers are wishing they had Summer weather- and this soup will come as the perfect cold weather comfort.
This hearty homemade Tortellini Minestrone features handmade spinach ricotta tortellini and a feast of fresh harvest vegetables sure to comfort in any season.
This hearty homemade Tortellini Minestrone features handmade spinach ricotta tortellini and a feast of fresh harvest vegetables sure to comfort in any season.
I do wish I'd made the broth a little thicker- and think I might add more tomato next time to really simmer down my stock base- thankfully there were plenty of fresh farmer's market veggies in the pot to really give this dish a  hearty, comfort food, feel without the weighing down of other dishes. Best of all, you can really customize the veggies to your family's personal preference, or simply what's freshest in season. The tortellini may seem like the star, but the flavors pop so much, every spoon really is a treat!
Homemade spinach ricotta tortellini
So there you have it- my first try at homemade pasta, ever.
 
It didn't turn out bad at all, I'd say. And the minestrone made more than enough to share with some family and friends- that's true comfort cooking at it's finest!

What Daughter Says: When life gets messy, make pasta!



This hearty homemade Tortellini Minestrone features handmade spinach ricotta tortellini and a feast of fresh harvest vegetables sure to comfort in any season.
Homemade Tortellini Minestrone
***Click here for printable Tortellini Minestrone recipe

Banana Split Strawberries Recipe

Banana Split Strawberries
Momma Told Me: Taste the season.

When I was a young girl we'd overnight strawberries to my grandparents in Massachusetts. This might seem like a silly thing to do, but I've heard all too well the plight of over-priced, over-ripe, tiny strawberries on the East Coast. See, I grew up quite literally walking past the strawberry fields to school, and my little Southern California town is known as one of the strawberry capitals of the country. We even hold a massive strawberry festival each Spring. A life without fresh, ripe, dippable, bursting with flavor strawberries never occurred to me as I was painting my shirt, fingers, and face with strawberry juice as a child.
Banana Split Strawberries
I've had many tell me that my local strawberries are some of the best they've ever had. I suppose I take it for granted when I can walk to a stand several blocks from my house and pick up a fresh (picked that morning) flat for just $6. And for those not savvy with the market lingo- a flat is many many baskets- 8, to be exact. Yes, I know, you probably pay $5-6 for a pint even in season, if you live in a cold climate state.
So what does all this have to do with anything? Am I just rubbing my beautiful berry fortune in your face? Well, yes, and no. Strawberries simply are a staple here for most of the year. We don't have groves of fresh peaches, and the corn is often lacking, but every Spring and Summer we feast on the most beautiful, delicious, berries. And, with an entire flat on the kitchen counter, I come up with a lot of creative ways to serve and enjoy them.
In the Summer anything frozen is a hit- But I try not to keep ice cream on hand- or it'll get eaten and,  nobody needs that temptation around. Needless to say, my favorite, banana splits, are reserved for ice cream parlors and special occasions. That's where the genius of these banana split strawberries come in- a healthier version of a classic treat in a single portion, bite sized package. They're especially great frozen and thawed at room temperature for 5 minutes, or served fresh at a Summer party.
So this recipe, needless to say, is insanely simple, requires no baking, and can be made in about 30 minutes with some ingredients most people have on hand already. Since I'm watching my sugar, I even found a delicious sugar free pudding mix to use as the base for my pineapple banana filling- and it chills to the most wonderful texture, thanks to the artificial sweeteners.
Of course anybody can core out strawberries and fill them with deliciousness- who am I to judge if you just straight up nozzle some whipped cream in the center and call it done? The sentiment is still there- banana splits IN strawberries. And these pack an adorable punch at that. But I do have to say, the creamy, fluffy, pudding filling is the perfect companion to the crunch of the chocolate dipped shell and the gooey chocolate fudge.
Most recipes that require coring use a melon baller. Well, I don't own one, and most berries are going to be too small for one. I actually used a sturdy teaspoon measuring spoon to carefully carve out the center of my berries. It worked perfectly!  You'll also want to cut just the tip of the strawberries off to help them stand after being dipped. Be careful though, these will be top heavy when filled- when in doubt, cut a little extra off. The filling is thick and shouldn't leak or run through.
Banana Split StrawberriesWho doesn't love a chocolate dipped strawberry? Well, those who don't like strawberries I suppose- but then, you wouldn't be reading this, would you? Prepare your gorgeous strawberry split vessels by dipping them in a thinned chocolate solution. I like to use a little bit of coconut oil, rather than butter, to give my chocolate a quick melting, even consistency. The trick is to get the chocolate just thin enough to begin running down the sides when you place it on your resting tray.
A banana split isn't complete without all the trimmings, so you'll want to dip those chocolate dipped berries in some chopped nuts if you're a fan of the full split experience. Make sure you send your dipped, filled berries to the freezer for about 5 minutes to properly chill and set them before you move on the my favorite part- the hot fudge drizzle.
Banana Split Strawberries
Banana Split Strawberries
Hot fudge, sprinkles, and a cherry on top complete the split experience and make these quite literally a bite of banana split at your fingertips! Every time I see one of these beauties it makes me smile and reminds me of wonderful childhood memories scarfing down a sundae or split in my pajamas on a Friday night. Even better, I can enjoy 1 or 2 in a sitting without feeling all the guilt of a heavy ice cream treat!
Banana Split Strawberries
So that's what I've been nomming on in my kitchen- Is there a seasonal fruit or veggie you have local that you just can't get enough of in the Summer?



What Daughter Says: Strawberries mean Summer in my little hometown- and it just wouldn't be Summer without them!

Banana Split Strawberries
Banana Split Strawberries 
***Click here for a printable Banana Split Strawberries recipe