Make Your Own Gnocchi

Disclaimer: I do not order gnocchi at restaurants so I had no idea what they were supposed to look like! So don’t judge my funny looking gnocchi ๐Ÿค“

So, I have wanted to make gnocchi for awhile now and I finally did it tonight! I love anything that is simple yet sounds impressive. This recipe is literally 3 ingredients and 2 of them are staples in my kitchen. Let’s get to it!

Gnocchi

2 russet potatoes
1-2 cups flour 
1 egg
s & p

First, boil your potatoes. Stick them whole in a pot, cover with water, add salt and walk away. I suggest doing this way ahead of time so you can get them cooked and cooled. Mine took 45 minutes or so; just keep pricking them with a fork until you can slide it in easily. Set potatoes aside to cool.

Once cool, peel potatoes and mash in a bowl. Mix in one egg, then add flour. I used 2 cups but it’s really dependent on the size of your potatoes. Add s&p to your liking at this point as well. Honestly, you could add anything you want, like dried herbs or Parmesan. You want a crumbly, shaggy dough. It’ll look like this: 
Dump it onto a floured surface and knead it together until it’s not sticky and comes together. 
Next you are going to grab a handful of it, roll it in a bit of flour and then roll it out into a long snake. 
Maybe it’s supposed to be thinner? I really should’ve done some gnocchi research before I made them…once you’ve got your snake, cut it into 1/2 inch pieces. Mine were more like an inch. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ 
Looks kind of like a spinal cord! ๐ŸŽƒ Set them aside until you’ve snaked and cut the whole mound. Some people press or run a fork into the pieces because classic gnocchi has lines? I couldn’t figure it out. Maybe next time ๐Ÿ˜‰ When ready to eat, drop them into boiling water until they float to the top, usually about 3 minutes. I used them in this recipe, switching out parsley for spinach and adding lemon juice. ๐Ÿ‘…
If you only have 2 mouths to feed like me, you will have leftovers. Lay them out on a sheet pan covered with lightly floured parchment paper and let them air dry for an hour. Then put in freezer until frozen solid (45 min-1 hour) before throwing them in a freezer bag for storage. 
Little potato dumplings! Did you know you could make it with ricotta too? Yum yum! Such an easy, fancy-sounding food. ๐Ÿ˜„

Love,
Feisty

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Easy Recipe of the Week: Roasted Tomatoesย 

  To all my readers and friends, I’ve been wanting to tell you all the ways I’m in a different place than I was two weeks ago.  Two weeks ago to this day, Nick and I packed our endless amount of stuff into the truck (down two flights of stairs no less), raced to South Boston, then emptied the entire truck into our new house! 

Since then, the house is laid out the way it should. In two weeks, we got a lawnmower, tv stand and a 9′ x 12′ rug for the living room (all hardwood floors). I enjoyed laying low for a week, reading this great book my sister gave me for my birthday (The Girls), but alas, a girl needs a job. I walked into Bistro 1888 looking to be a food runner, but they were so over the moon about my bakery experience, Chef Margaret has decided to ‘show me how to make everything on the menu.’ In short, it’s prep work, making dressings, sauces and marinades, and eventually, desserts. ๐Ÿ˜ One of my tasks included peeling and chopping roasted tomatoes, and it looked so tasty I decided to make them at home! 

This is easy easy, and the possibilities for them are endless. Eat it on toast as bruschetta or mix it into risotto, like me!

Roasted Tomatoes

Roma Tomatoes
Olive oil
S & P/other spices as desired

Start by chopping your tomatoes in half lengthwise. Cut a ‘V’ in the top of both halves to core the tomatoes.   
Place tomato halves cut side up on an oiled rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and spices. I added dried thyme, and dried basil or oregano would work as well.

Bake at 400* for 30-40 minutes, depending on how much you have. I did 5 total, 4 homegrown (smaller), and unfortunately my new oven burns much hotter than its reporting to me. I put them in at 375* for 35 minutes and didn’t think much until my husband walked past and asked what was burning. No worries, the tomato skins got black but that’s exactly what you want!
 
Let cool completely, then remove skins  (should be very easy) and chop. Cook it into tomato sauce, fold into dinner dishes, eat alone on toast with olive oil and basil. Yum yum!

Love,
Feisty

So You’ve Bought a Whole Watermelon…

Now what are you going to do?! If you’re in a small household like me, you quickly realize that a whole watermelon gives you A LOT of fruit. How could you resist though? If you love summer and low prices as much as I do, you’re going to say What the hell! and figure it out on the way. ๐Ÿ˜‰

 My first step was chopping up as much of it as I could want for future snacking. You could also throw it into a salad! Add some feta and arugula and you’ll have yourself a nice summer meal.  Once you’ve gotten through about 1/3 of it, chop up the rest and blend it for juice!

To get that sweet sweet juice, blend watermelon chunks (I used my Nutribullet, you could use a food processor as well), then transfer to a mesh strainer over a bowl. Press the pulp with a spatula to get as much of the juice as you can!  With the juice you can make…

Gummies
  
Making gummies is simple when you have the right equipment. I will say that these don’t have the chewiness I want in a gummy but they still taste good; they’re more like little jello bites.

Add 1 cup of watermelon juice to a small pot and sprinkle 3 packets (3 T.) of unflavored gelatin over. Allow the juice to solidify for a few minutes until gelatin is no longer visible. Heat pot over low heat to melt the solid juice and take off heat when it is a smooth liquid. Whisk in 2 T. honey.  Add a 1/4 c. of lemon juice for sour gummies. Skim off the foam from the top.

Now this is the trickiest part. You will need a silicone mold (I used this one), a trustworthy baster/pipette (depending on the size of your mold) and a cutting board. Place the silicone mold on the cutting board for easy transport. Fill your baster/pipette with liquid and drop into silicone mold until it’s slightly overflowed but holds together because of surface tension.

 Try to avoid air bubbles if possible, they add a weird mouth feel to the gummy. When your mold is filled up, put it in the fridge to cool and solidify for 30 minutes. If you have leftover mixture, simply pop out your molds when they are done and reheat the mixture until it is smooth again. I found whisking softly really helped to smooth it out. I did this 4 times to get as many gummies as I did!

Dranks 
This alchie knows that fruit juice + mixer + liquor is an easy way of making a delicious drink! I added vodka and ginger ale, but tonic water could also work. Or take out the alcohol and make watermelon lemonade! 

Popsicles 

Please forgive my phallic shaped popsicles, they are actually crayon shaped but when it’s pink and shaped like that…I’ll just have to keep it in mind if I’m licking it at my family’s next get together. Still, it’s watermelon juice! And it’s frozen! Maybe use it as a stirrer for your watermelon lemonade. Keep it cold and watermelonlicious.

As you can probably guess I am now sick of watermelon but my taste for it will return! I would suggest not eating and drinking all these things in one day…like I did. 

Love,
Feisty

Easy Recipe of the Week: Fish Tacos!

 
Fish tacos. Are. AWESOME! The flakiness of the fish combined with creamy avocado, crunchy cabbage and the irresistible sourness of fresh lime juice is one of my favorite things. And when my husband and I planned on spending the day at Kings Dominion, I knew I needed a simple dinner that was as delicious as it was easy.

Fish Tacos 
Serves 2

2-3 white fish filets
2 limes
2 avocados
Mayonnaise 
1 small head red cabbage
Various seasonings
Corn tortillas

Here’s how I did it: the day before, chop up half a head of red cabbage (green would work too but it’s not as fun!). Mix mayonnaise (enough to reach a dressing consistency) and juice of one lime in a bowl before adding cabbage. Cover and store in fridge.

When you’re ready for dinner, rinse your fish filets (tilapia, catfish, even frozen & thawed–any white fish will do), and season them with a bunch of seasonings! I added garlic powder, red pepper, cumin, ginger, oregano, salt and pepper, basically whatever I have on my spice rack.
Heat pan on medium high heat, add olive oil and/or butter and sautรฉ fish for 3 minutes on each side.

Meanwhile, wrap corn tortillas (I do 3 per person, 6 total) together in tinfoil and place in oven. Preheat oven to 300 degrees to warm them up. Grab 2 avocados, cut them open and scoop them out. Slice each one into thin pieces and place on a plate; squeeze with half a lime.

And that’s your dinner! Cut the last half a lime into 2 wedges and put one on each plate. Perfect for hungry and sore roller coaster riders! ๐Ÿ™‚

  Nick and I at Kings Dominion ๐Ÿ’

Summer Sweetness

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Its Summer!!!!ย  Which I realized the other day means I can wear minimal clothing and still be comfortable in air conditioning (because I certainly wasn’t missing the humidity).ย  But it also means that fruit is ripe and plentiful!ย  I have already been enjoying loading up my meals with vegetables but fruit was always more of a snack for me, besides the occasional breakfast banana. Its a slow process to work it into dinners, but I’m getting there.ย  Sure, two of them were breakfasts but breakfast for dinner is a perfectly acceptable way to combine dessert and dinner. ๐Ÿ˜€

French Toast with Blueberries and Peaches

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French toast for dinner is fun, and easy. Its a great way to get rid of bread that you don’t want to eat in a sandwich.ย  Crusty bread is the best bread for french toast, but this particular dinner was just regular ole Nature’s Own Honey Wheat.ย  The easiest, least stressful way to make french toast is to do it in batches, and as they finish, you throw them onto a foil-wrapped tray in a 200 degree oven.ย  They stay warm until mealtime while you take your sweet time.ย  And once they’re finished, why not throw a little butter on the pan and toss peach slices and blueberries over medium heat until they get nice and soft. Sprinkle with cinnamon and then serve on top of french toast. Its so much more dynamic than just eggy bread.

Pork Chops with Rice and Pineapple Mint

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I have a perfect pork chop recipe, but its not quite an exact science as my perfect chicken recipe.ย  For 1″ – 1 1/4″ thick, cook 5-6 minutes on each side. For thinner pork chops, cook 4 minutes on each side, medium high heat for both. Sometimes they come out browner than other times (I think my gas stove runs hot), but the greater the sear, the juicier the meat!ย  The mint was from my growing container garden, and as you can see I couldn’t resist buying a whole pineapple to cut up. Saute the pork chops using the loose recipe above, and when its time for them to rest, throw the pineapple and mint in the pan to get them nice and soft.

Blueberry and Strawberry Pancakes

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Patriotic pancake batter!ย  This one is real easy.ย  Use your favorite pancake batter (I’m partial to Martha Stewart’s recipe), and when it’s ready, dice up a bunch of strawberries as small as the blueberries and toss them all in.ย  I ended up saving some of the fruit on my cutting board to throw it onto the pancake batter rounds, since heavy fruit can sometimes sink to the bottom of the thin batter.ย  Do the same thing with the pan in the oven as the french toast and it gets even simpler.

 

Fruit is fun and delicious, and it provides your body with the good kind of sugar.ย  Always balance it with other healthy items of course — balance is the key to life!

 

Love,
Feisty

Never Give Up, Never Surrender!

20141111-164734.jpgAs I found while preparing to make macarons for my mom last Christmas, the Internet is filled with FAQs and guides on making macarons. To many it is not an easy task, and I found this out the hard way as I practiced the recipe for her present. Time and time again, they didn’t look right. The ones I ended up giving her still didn’t look right:
20141111-165156.jpgIt was enough to make me reconsider my chosen career! This year, with half a bag of almond flour still in my fridge, I decided to try again using a different recipe. It made all the difference! I’m proud to say I didn’t give up, and now feel like I’ve mastered macarons. It just goes to show you,
never give up, never surrender!!

Love,
Feisty

Edit: I’ve made them since with mixed results, so I finally decided to get Mad About Macarons and made these pictured below! Haha, MASTERED. ๐Ÿ‘

 

Bake at a Moment’s Notice

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It all started with the egg yolks.
A few days ago, I was commissioned to make a pan of s’mores fudge bars by a lovely co-worker of mine (my first sale!), and the recipe uses egg whites to make the marshmallow topping. I absolutely hate wasting ingredients, and I wondered what I could do with the 2 egg yolks left over. A cake, perhaps?
So I went to work looking for a recipe. Apparently, I’m not alone in not wanting to waste ingredients. Cakes weren’t a prevalent choice of recipe, but here was mini eclairs for two! Was this something I really wanted to take on? I scanned the recipe and, what do you know? I just happened to have the exact amount of heavy cream it called for, another ingredient I was trying to find a use for! From then on, it was pretty much kismet. ๐Ÿ˜‰
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Mini Eclairs
makes 6
For the pastry cream:
3/4 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. sugar
2 T. flour
pinch of salt
2 large egg yolks
1/2 tsp. vanilla

For the eclair:
1/3 c. water
3 T. unsalted butter at room temp
1/3 c. flour
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 large egg, beaten

For the glaze:
1/2 c. chocolate chips or chunks
1 tsp. vegetable shortening

First make the pastry cream. In a small pot, heat the cream until the tiniest bubbles appear at the edge. Do not boil.
Meanwhile, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Add egg yolks and whisk together. The mixture will be crumbly. Very slowly pour the warm cream into the yolk mixture while continuing to whisk. This process is called tempering the eggs, and you pour it slowly so that the yolks don’t cook while their temperature rises to that of the cream’s.
Pour the entire mixture back into the pot over medium heat. Whisk constantly while it starts to simmer. Once it noticeably thickens (bubbles will have a hard time getting to the surface), continue to cook and whisk a few more seconds. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. I whisked it in, which ruined the beautiful texture…but I’ll get to that in a sec. Scrape into a bowl and press plastic wrap directly to the surface of the cream. Chill in fridge for at least 3 hours.
After I added the vanilla, the mixture started to come apart. When I was pressing the plastic wrap to the top, a butter-like liquid was soaking through and I freaked out. I combed the web for tips on what to do; most people said to just wait the three hours to see if it thickens. So I did. And it worked! So don’t freak out if your cream separates.
Now, the eclair dough! In a small pot, stir together butter and water over low heat until butter melts without boiling water. Remove from heat and add flour, sugar and salt all at once. Stir until combined. Put pot back on burner (over low heat for gas stovetop, heat off for glass) and stir until dough pulls away from sides of pot, about 1 minute. Scrape dough into a bowl and mix on low until it’s only warm. Or let it sit out until warm…that’s what I did! Add egg and beat until dough turns pale yellow, about 2-3 min. Lay some parchment paper, or a silicone baking mat!, onto a cookie sheet. Put in piping bag and pipe 6 mounds, about 2 inches lengthwise with a 1-in opening on the bag. Alternately, you could use a spoon, but the piping bag is much easier and makes the mounds prettier!
Bake at 400* for 10 minutes, then open the oven door for 5 seconds and change the temperature to 350*. Bake another 18-20 minutes. When done, turn oven off and remove pan. Use a thin knife to poke a hole in the side of the eclair to release steam. Return to oven and let cool for 30 minutes with the oven door ajar. (I used a strategically placed wooden spoon.)
Next, slice eclairs in half horizontally. Fill with chilled pastry cream. For the chocolate, place chocolate chips and vegetable shortening in a small bowl. Microwave in 10 second intervals until melted, or set up a double boiler using a metal bowl and a small pot of water. Carefully dip tops of eclairs into chocolate. Chill until set for 15 minutes. Voila! A lot of words, an easy recipe and 6 delicious mini eclairs you just made yourself.

Love,
Feisty

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