Frozen Food

No not Lean Cuisine or Digiorno’s (though I’ve got both in the freezer right now, sometimes a girl needs a break), I’m talking homemade food. It is my new favorite thing to freeze food I’ve made. Generally a recipe yields more than me and my man will eat at one time, and gone are the days of forcing yourself to eat the same thing 4 days in a row! 
Here’s what you could make & freeze right now:

Pulled pork– unsauced, measure 1 cup into each bag. BTW, I use sandwich bags. Probably not great super long term but it’ll be fine for a month or two. I’ve never posted a recipe because it’s so damn easy. Pork shoulder or butt in the crockpot, add liquid (chicken broth, Dr. Pepper, beer, etc.), then on Low for 8-10 hours. Then shred and remove fat and bone. So yum!

Biscuits– I have made biscuits for years (my recipe post from 2012!) but it didn’t occur to me until recently to freeze the dough! I would leave it in the fridge, it would get gross, and I would be sad. No more! Replace milk with buttermilk in that recipe for buttermilk biscuits. 😀 Anyway, once you roll it out, just cut out biscuits and place them on a tray covered with wax paper and place into freezer until solid, then throw them into a bag. Ahh biscuits for LIFE. (Bake 5 min longer if from frozen)

Gnocchi– Yes, I just posted this here, and I still have some left over! I already made one dinner with it and it was arguably better because after I boiled the gnocchi until it floated, I threw it in with the tomato sauce pot and it soaked up the sauce so wonderfully. Maybe I just really love tomato sauce…

Pierogies– My love, my ultimate comfort food, the pierogie 💕  I used to gorge myself on Mrs. T’s Pierogies as a youngun, and then I grew up and found a recipe that is now my New Year’s Day tradition (little purses!). I’ve never posted my recipe and maybe I will try to do that the next time I make them.  Time consuming but so worth it.

Love,

Feisty

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 🤓

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. 🤷🏻‍♀️ 
Looks kind of like a spinal cord! 🎃 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 😉 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. 👅
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. 😄

Love,
Feisty

Try Try Again

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This, my friends, is the time I tried to make a cake using almond flour. See, I bought this bag of almond flour back in December to surprise my mom with Christmas macarons (seen here, 4th food photo down). I made macarons three times before making her gift, and every time I got it wrong. Even the end result was far less than perfect (as you can see!); no matter what I did, I could not make them look the way they were supposed to look. Since then, the almond flour has been sitting around in the fridge, wasting away.  So I decided, the hell with macarons, I’m going to make a cake! I read online that you could replace the flour in any recipe with it, but it’s heaviness required more of the rising agent….so I used my favorite yellow cake recipe and doubled the baking powder (2 tsp instead of 1). Ka boom! Bad idea.

After the cake mess, I started feeling like a failure, and I started to worry that my future endeavors would have the same sad ending.
I know there are tentative chefs and bakers out there who might see their failure as a sign they aren’t cut out for making food. I felt that way with macarons! I tried and tried and tried, and it broke my heart to see website after website showing off their perfect macarons.  The only way to move on is to realize your strengths.  I make dynamite pies, and countless other things that have had people clamoring for a taste.  So what if macarons aren’t my forte?
I also realized that others fail too, all the time, even successful chefs that I admire.  Working as a baker, more than anything I have learned that we learn from our mistakes, and that I am still so young in my quest to be a great chef.  It is part of the human condition to compare our lives to others and wonder why we don’t seem to be doing as well.  A quote I have heard around the interwebs says it succinctly:
“One reason we struggle with insecurity: we’re comparing our behind the scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel.”

So that night, after I cleaned up the cake pans and scraped the cake off the cookie sheet, I pushed on and made dinner. Pasta with homemade Caesar dressing and homemade croutons!
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Then I wondered if maybe I’m just better at cooking than baking. After all, cooking is an art, while baking is a science. But what’s more scientific than homemade marshmallow creme???
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Mmmm, s’mores sandwiches for life!!!

My point is, we have to keep trying. Try, try again. And again and again! Only those who never give up succeed.

Love,
Feisty

The Poor Girl’s Guide to Shrimp

I love shrimp. The whole world knows I love shrimp, and there’s even a famous fight in my family history about shrimp (me vs. my mom). Unfortunately, it isn’t the cheapest ingredient to work with. If you buy raw, shells on shrimp you can reduce the cost. I bought a bag of frozen raw shrimp with the top and bottom shells on for $17 at Kroger (cheapo grocery store in Richmond/southern Va), and was able to make 3 meals out of it, for 2 people each time. 6 meals overall, making the cost less than $3 a meal. Pretty good right? And then I found this recipe, which uses by products of the recipe as ingredients (meaning you don’t have to buy them!). This recipe is super cheap to make (minus that initial cost of shrimp) and more importantly, it’s delicious. It will make you feel like a seasoned chef too. 🙂
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Shrimp Pasta

6 garlic cloves, pressed or grated
2 lemons
5 T. olive oil
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
21-25 shrimp, deveined & butterflied
1/4 onion
3/4 lb pasta (I used bowtie)
2 T. butter (I cut this in half, using 1 T.)
salt & pepper

In a bowl, combine garlic, zest and juice of one lemon, olive oil, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. Remove shells from shrimp and save, and add shrimp to bowl. Set aside to marinate.
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In small pot, add shrimp shells and onion; cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. You’ve just made a shrimp stock. 😉
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Strain into a bowl and discard shells and onion. Bring a large pot to a boil and add pasta, cooking as directed. The original recipe called for linguine, I used bowtie; you can use whatever your heart desires. Also, for 2 people I’m not sure if I used 3/4 lb, just use what you need.
Drain pasta and reserve half a cup of the pasta water. Heat a skillet over high heat. Remove shrimp from marinade, saving the marinade, and add them to the skillet. Cook until pink and caramelized, stirring regularly. Remove shrimp to a plate (try not to pop too many into your mouth) and add the marinade to the skillet. Let cook a few minutes, then add 1 cup of the shrimp stock and 1/2 cup of pasta water. Continue to cook until sauce reduces by half (took about 15 min for me).
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Add zest and juice of second lemon, butter and salt and pepper to taste. Add in shrimp and pasta and toss to coat. I find it easier to toss them together in the pasta pot.

And there you have it! Lemony, slightly spicy, and full of shrimp–who could ask for anything more? 😉

Love,
Feisty

Stamp it

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Hey, so I know this is primarily a food blog, but occasionally I stumble upon a bit of knowledge that I must share despite it being inedible, whether its an easy Halloween costume for work or a yummy way to scent the house.
Yesterday, I did a demonstration on block printing at my work (art supply store), which required more “homework” than I was expecting.  I wanted to have a certain number of blocks prepared that people could play with, or at the very least view the prints I had made with that block.  Having not used linoleum block since college, I wanted to do something detailed and well drawn with the 4×5 block, and had the idea to transfer an image printed from the computer.
I originally had thought you could transfer the image via a warm iron, but that ended up being for the Speedball “Speedy Cut” rubber block (which was bullshit anyway).  Looking online, people suggested using a damp sponge.  Nope.  Some guy said pouring white vinegar over the drawing on the block would transfer the image.  NOPE.  I mentioned to my boss how I needed carbon paper to transfer the image, and she gave me this excellent alternative.

HOMEMADE CARBON PAPER
You will need a piece of thin paper (regular printer paper or drawing paper would work fine) and a pencil, preferably one sized higher in the B’s (2B, 4B, 6B, etc).  I imagine a regular pencil would work, but I can’t attest to that (a regular pencil is usually size HB).  Okay, this is what I did:  Fold your paper around the area you plan to transfer the image to, so that you have clear sides.  (Or outline the area onto the paper.)  Now cover the area with pencil.
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Tape the paper with the pencil side down onto the area the image will be transferred to.  Grab the image you want to trace and center it, then tape it to the paper.
*Remember that when using it to make a print on paper, the image will be reversed.
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Go over the lines of the image firmly.  I did this with a pencil, which is fine, but in hindsight I wish I had used a pen.  All you want is a stiff point, and I kept having to sharpen the pencil, which makes it shorter and shorter…:)  Once you have drawn over every line, remove the paper.
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Voila!  An awesome laser printed image has been transferred for carving a stamp.  Of course, carving takes a bit of talent I suppose 😉 but its nice not to be required to draw a perfect picture to get a perfect stamp.
This worked great for the linoleum block, and I’m sure it would work great for a number of other things too.  Homemade carbon paper, as easy as mindless pencil shading.
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