Spaghetti Pie with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Meatballs, and Basil...a leftover treat while packing the suitcases again

We're all getting pressed for time as the holidays loom, aren't we?  I can certainly feel them coming now...the town has already put up the holiday lights!  

I love it when the winds blow strong and wild...and the pace of life seems to match the season.  We're packing up again.  I'm pulling out thick wool socks, leather boots, piles of scarves and hats...lovely warm winter clothing.  Riley and I are headed out Oregon, for 2 1/2 weeks.

Leftovers have become the glamorous word around here.  Quick meals hastily pulled together is the menu pace as we pack up school material along with those piles of winter coats and get ready to fly out.

I'm going to make a huge pot of soup tomorrow with more of our leftovers and divide it into jars for Patrick to enjoy while we are gone.  

It seems I find myself often tossing out leftover spaghetti.  I ran across this quick menu idea for how to make a quiche-like/frittata dish out of spaghetti and thought that would be a nifty way to use up leftover pasta.  

This was a surprise hit at the dinner table.  A spaghetti pie is rather fun to pull together and basically anything leftover that will give it flavor can be thrown into the mix...a bit like a frittata.  I cut up the leftover meatballs, added extra tomato sauce for added flavor and mixed in shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheese to hold everything together.  Not only was the dish fun to cut into wedges, but it is super simple to pull together.  It reminds me of a macaroni dish I ate as a child that was reserved only for children, so this spaghetti pie gives one an excuse as an adult to indulge in something similar.

Aren't November skies beautiful?  The winds stretch and pull the clouds out like sweet taffy over the brilliant blue sky.  Also, the early morning sunrises are moody and captivating. Because it is flat here in Texas, the sky seems to be stretched out forever.

We made an impromptu trip up to Austin to see Madeleine since we won't be altogether for Thanksgiving this year.  Austin is such a fabulous college town and each time we explore the city we seem to find something new, some things a bit weird, but always fun things to discover.

We had a terrific lunch with the kids at a delicious restaurant in Austin called "Torchy's Tacos".  I love seeing Madeleine "in her element" and choosing restaurants she hopes we will enjoy.  This is her city. I had the "Mr.Orange" taco which is described as "blackened salmon topped with grilled corn and black bean relish, queso fresco and cilantro, drizzled with avocado sauce."  Delicious!!

Riley shadowed his big sister around campus for a day, checking out libraries, dorms, classes, and cafeterias.  Cute to see her being very protective of her brother with a touch of seasoned authority now that she is a big sophomore in college.

On campus, a recycling awareness group was building the largest box fort in the U.S.  She helped out as a volunteer and it was wonderful to see so many kids engaged in recycling.  The fort was huge and was made out of all of the boxes used on the campus that had been set aside to be recycled.

Patrick and I found ourselves with a free afternoon.  We rolled down the windows and wandered around a favorite neighborhood in the Hyde Park area.  The houses there are story book cute with charm and character spilling out of flowered window boxes, delightful gardens, and cozy little porches.  We stopped at the one (above), sighed and declared it our decided favorite.

We seem to find ourselves repeatedly sucked into a bakery in Austin called "Quacks" that is becoming quite the waist expanding tradition.  It is a rambling little building with tables that spill almost into the neighborhood tucked away in the heart of the charming Hyde Park area.

They make the most deliciously thick and flavorful gingerbread cookies.  This month their gingerbread cookies were cut out in fall leaf patterns with a beautiful pulled color design on them.  

Cookies from "Quacks" Bakery; my fisherman friend; Chester; strolling light

The fall changes here in Houston are subtle but nonetheless noticeable.  In Michigan, as well as in New York, the colors were vibrant and gorgeous.  I'll be curious to see how Portland changes wardrobes during the month of November.  We crave the dramatic change in seasons we became accustomed to in the north before moving down south so Riley and I are looking forward to the shift. 

Off we go!  I'm excited about photographing a different part of the country.  I'm going to be spending time with an active bundle of almost 2 year old energy on this trip.  I feel rather like Nanny McPhee in that marvelous children's story.  I'll save up the details about him to share until I snap photos of cute toddler fingers and chubby toddler toes.  Right now, I'm just trying to remember the days when food was cut up into tiny little bits, how to button up tiny little buttons, and the joy and purity of tiny sweet toddler smiles.

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