Penne with Sausage and Sun-Dried Tomatoes and the Ramblings of a Sad Mother





After shopping practically all summer then packing for weeks, we moved our baby girl into her dorm last Friday.  She started her freshman year of college on Monday.  She has worked hard and she is ready for this change.  That does not change the fact that she has grown up way too fast and I do not think I am ready.  Where did the time go?  Why wasn’t I warned about “mother guilt”?

My son started his third year of college, but he is living at home.  I was not prepared for these desperate feelings.  Maybe guilt isn’t the appropriate word here.  Maybe I should say sadness because time has gone so fast.  When the kids were growing up I spent all of my time with them.  I quit work to be a stay-at-home mother.  Both my mom, and Greg’s mom, stayed home when we were growing up and after examining the budget and daycare cost we felt that we could do it.  It was not always easy and I have had occasional odd jobs, but nothing that has taken me away from the house when they were home.  They were my life!  I have not made a decision in 21 years when it did not cross my mind how it would affect them.  Even my own medical exams and dental appointments were made during the school year and during the school day.  Every recipe I have made for 21 years has been a recipe that I thought they would like.  Every family vacation has been to a place they would enjoy the most.  When they were younger I spent every summer planning activities they would enjoy…crafts, putt-putt, painting pottery.  What am I to do now?  The day before we moved her out I sobbed all day.  I kept thinking that maybe I could have been a better mother.  Maybe I should have read a few more bedtime stories, rocked my babies one last time, tucked them in a few more times.  I was overcome with guilt/sadness.  Then I realized as much as motherhood is a blessing I have had these feelings on different levels throughout their lives.

Maybe these feelings are normal…maybe they are not.  However, I think mothers have always felt guilt/sadness about something.  It starts when you are pregnant.  You are comparing yourself to other mothers…natural birth vs. epidural, then breastfeeding vs. bottle, natural homemade baby food vs. jarred, stay at home mother or mother with a full-time job in an office and at home, your baby started talking before my baby (what have I done wrong), your baby started walking before my baby (what’s wrong with my baby), and the list changes as they grow but it still goes on and on.

At this point, I’ve done what I have done.  I pray it was enough.  I hope my kids are not on some talk show one day blaming their mother for everything!

I have great memories of growing up.  Times were different then.  My mom did not  plan activities for us, we didn’t go to the movies (although I do remember seeing Jungle Book at the theater), or have play dates, no pottery classes, or summer camps.  However, my childhood was perfect.  I played outside everyday with my brother and cousins.  We rode bikes, climbed trees, made mud pies, and recorded ourselves singing on an old cassette recorder.  I never had a video game.  It was enough though.  It was more than enough.  They loved me and gave me a great childhood.

Maybe that is it.  Love…maybe that’s all they need.  Lord knows I have done that.  Yes, they have made me mad occasionally but I have never stopped loving them.  It has been a blessing to have these last 21 years with my children.  I am so thankful that God chose me to be their mother.  They are wonderful kids and they have made my world complete.  How easy will it be to figure out this next phase of mothering?  Changing diapers was easy, the adolescent years were a little more challenging, adult mother/child relationship…I’m just beginning to figure out.

If you have an opinion on this I would love to hear it.  Maybe it can help me in this adjustment period.  For now, I know you didn’t visit NJSD to read the ramblings of a sad mother so I’ll tell you about this recipe…

On Savannah’s last night at home she requested her “last meal”.  A pasta dish that I cooked for the kids often in Florida, but had not prepared since we moved to Georgia, five years ago.  Pasta is not high on Greg’s list of favorites.  Over the years, if he was traveling for work, I would cook a pasta dish or order pizza.  The kids and I would throw a blanket on the living room floor, then sit on the floor for dinner and a movie.

I’m not sure why I’ve taken a five-year break because this is an incredible dish!  It is from an old Giada De Laurentiis cookbook.  The original recipe calls for two (8-oz.) packages of frozen artichoke hearts, thawed, to be added with the garlic.  My kids have never cared for artichokes so I leave them out.  Also, you may notice that there are no chunks of sun-dried tomato in my photograph. If you don’t like to bite into a sun-dried tomato, which a few in my family do not, you can find sun-dried tomatoes made with crushed tomatoes.  The brand that I found near me was “Bella Sun Luci“.  It is an 8.5-oz. jar labeled Bruschetta with Italian Basil Sun-Dried Tomato and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  The extra basil will be fine in this recipe.


5.0 from 1 reviews
Penne with Sausage and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Serves: 6
  • ¾ c. drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, sliced, 2 tbsp. of oil reserved
  • 1 lb. Italian hot sausages, casings removed
  • 2 lg. garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1¾ c. reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • ½ c. dry white wine
  • salt
  • 12-oz. penne pasta
  • ½ c. freshly shredded parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • ⅓ c. chopped fresh basil
  • ¼ c. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 8-oz. fresh mozzarella, drained and cubed (optional)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat the oil reserved from the tomatoes in a large, heavy frying pan over a medium-high flame. Add the sausage and cook until brown, breaking up the meat into bite-size pieces with a fork, about 8 minutes. Transfer the sausage to a bowl. Add the artichokes and garlic to the same skillet, and sauté over medium heat until the garlic is tender, about 2 minutes. Add the broth, wine, and sun-dried tomatoes. Boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce reduces slightly, about 8 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook, stirring often to prevent the pasta from sticking together, until tender but still firm to the bite, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta (do not rinse). Add the pasta, sausage, ½ cup of the Parmesan cheese, the basil, and parsley to the wine mixture. Toss until the sauce is almost absorbed by the pasta. Stir in mozzarella, if using. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve with additional Parmesan.





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6 thoughts on “Penne with Sausage and Sun-Dried Tomatoes and the Ramblings of a Sad Mother

  1. I felt exactly the same way when my kids left home, “had I been a good enough mother?” “Did I make enough memories with them?”. And just like you I too spent my life revolved around my kids, but I spent a year crying every time I was in the car by myself because that was the only place I could let go. I thought people with strong marriages didn’t have “empty nest” but they do.
    But it’ll get better life changes, and it gets better. By the way the recipe sounds delicious !

  2. I absolutely can’t wait to try this recipe Amye! It looks and sounds very tasty!
    From my experience, it was hard on Momma when I left home…it still is she tells me. Just know that you’re not the only one missing a child that has left the nest. Also, know that your sweet Savannah will be missing you too!

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