Drunken Tuscan Pasta

Hello friends! May I first apologize for the tardiness of this post, as I meant to post it a week ago, but somehow life took over and didn’t leave me much time with my computer. I’ve been doing training all week for my job, and I have been apartment shopping, so time has been sparse. I hope you all enjoyed your pasta from my last post, and are ready to make more to go along with this week’s recipe, which I am calling The Drunken Tuscan! Continue reading Drunken Tuscan Pasta

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Fresh Garlic Basil Pasta

Today I want to talk about bravado. Specifically, bravado in the kitchen. When it comes to cooking, I like to think my skills aren’t too shabby. I come from a father who was good at pretty much everything he tried on the first try, and a mother who is a wiz in the kitchen. So naturally, when it comes to cooking, I have a lot of confidence in my ability. That being said, today’s recipe may have knocked me down a peg.

I have always wanted to make my own pasta. I know that fresh pasta always tastes better than the boxed pasta we can all run down to the grocery store and buy. I have watched so many cooking shows about making pasta that I certainly felt like I was going to able to make it with no problems. It looks so simple, and in some ways it is! But a sense of false confidence made my first attempt a huge mess. Today, I am going to make sure you do not make the same mistakes I made!

The first step is to use a food processor (or a ninja blender) to blend the eggs, olive oil, garlic, and basil until you end up with a slightly green liquid that doesnt have any chunks in it. I’m talkin’ smoooooth.

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Next create your flour mound. Put all of your flour into a mound on a smooth surface (preferably not wood since it can hold onto your dough). I used my granite countertop as you can see here. Next, create a well in the middle of your flour big enough for the egg mixture. Here is where I messed up. I did not make my well large enough. The trick is that you need it to be high enough so that when you pour in your egg mixture, it doesn’t go flowing across your countertop and into your sink and on the floor and a little into the carpet in the adjoining living room. Don’t be like me! Be sure to make your well large enough. I used the back of my measuring cup to create the well. Here I am using a smaller measuring cup, but a 1 cup measuring cup should make a large enough well. Just play around with it until you’ve got it.IMG_6291

Slowly pour the egg mixture into the middle of the well. Be extra careful to not allow the mixture to overflow, because I can say from experience that the liquid sure does move quickly. In the blink of an eye, you might have most of the egg mixture on your shoes. If you have more egg mixture than there is room for, save it for the next step.

IMG_6295Careful not to spill the liquid outside of the well, use a fork to bring some of the flour into the center well and mix it into the eggs. Continue to do this until you have a thickened egg mixture. Now is the time to add the rest of the egg mixture

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Continue to incorporate the flour into the eggs until you have reached a dough like consistency. Don’t be afraid to add more flour to your smooth surface in order to keep it from sticking too much.

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Add more flour to the surface, and work your dough by kneading it. If you have never kneaded dough, it is kind of like pushing the ball down using the heel of your palm. Then you fold it over back on top of itself and start the action over again. Continue to kneed your dough until it is toughened. Then form it into a cute little ball and wrap it in a kitchen towel to rest for 30 minutes. (The kitchen towel is to make sure it doesn’t dry out in that 30 minute resting period.) IMG_6275IMG_6282IMG_6285

After your dough has had a little time to rest, cut it into fourths and work one fourth at a time. Put the other pieces under the cloth again to keep them from drying out. Sprinkle more flour and begin to roll out the dough into a thin sheet. IMG_6329IMG_6334

Roll the dough so thin that you can kinda see your hand through the dough. If your dough is too thick, your pasta will be strangely thick. Add flour as necessary to avoid your dough  sticking to the rolling pin or the counter.

Once your dough is a nice thickness and it has been sprinkled with flour, fold the dough as if you are folding a letter. The flour is important here to make sure the dough does not stick to itself. IMG_6340

Slice the dough into strips that are anywhere from 1/4 of an inch to 1/2 an inch, depending on how wide you want your noodles to be. If you aren’t super consistent with your sizes, that’s ok. It just adds character to your noodles!IMG_6346IMG_6347IMG_6355

Unfold the noodles and toss with, yep you guessed it, more flour! You can swirl the pasta into individual portion sizes and freeze them for later. You can also boil the pasta right away if you would like! Fresh pasta takes much less time to cook than box pasta. Boil until al dente and serve with your favorite sauce. I suggest a homemade sauce and not a bottled sauce. The reason I say that is because you just spent so much time making a fresh pasta and you don’t want to ruin it with a less than awesome factory made sauce! IMG_6357IMG_6360


Fresh Garlic Basil Pasta

  • Servings: 4-6
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Everyone loves pasta, and this recipe for fresh pasta will be sure to impress.

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil
  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • extra flour for handling dough

Directions

  1.  Blend eggs, basil, and garlic in a food processor until mixture is smooth and has a green tint.
  2. Pour flour onto smooth surface and create a well using the back of your measuring cup.
  3. Pour egg mixture into the well. Using a fork, incorporate some of the flour into the egg, until all of the egg and flour is combined to create a dough.
  4. Roll dough into a ball, adding flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to your hands or your flat surface.
  5. Place dough ball under kitchen towel and allow dough to rest for 30 minutes.
  6. Cut dough ball into four even pieces and work with one section at a time. Store other sections under kitchen towel.
  7. Sprinkle flour on surface and then use rolling pin to roll out the dough. You should be able to see your hands through the dough. Sprinkle with more flour. Fold dough like a letter.
  8. Cut dough into 1/2 inch thick strips. Unfold strips to reveal long noodles.
  9. Toss noodles with some flour. Do this with each section of the dough. Section noodles into serving sizes and freeze or cook immediately. Noodles cook in boiling water for 3-6 minutes until al dente. Serve with favorite pasta sauce.

Sweet Potato and Parsnip Mash

Now that it is officially fall, I feel the need to make everything autumn inspired. My goal this week was to make an autumn inspired vegetable tian and I found this absolutely stunning recipe for a fall inspired Sweet Potato and Parsnip Tian from Epicurious. When I went to make the tian, I realized that it would look a little silly since my sweet potatoes are nowhere near the same circumfrence as the parsnips I found, so I decided to take the flavor profile of the Epicurious recipe and turn it into a delicious autumn mashed potato! I hope you all enjoy this twist on the traditional mashed potato. IMG_6249

First I skinned the parsnips and the sweet potatoes, and sliced them into easy-to-boil pieces. Here, you can see that I sliced them thin for a tian, however, you certainly do not have to slice them into thin pieces. Bring about 4 cups of apple cider and 4 cups of chicken broth to a boil and add the parsnips and potatoes. Boil the vegetables until they are tender and easy to prick with a fork. The parsnips will likely take a little longer to become tender than the sweet potatoes. Reserve about two cups of the boiling liquid to add to the mash later.IMG_6257

Pour the vegetables into a strainer after saving two cups of boiling liquid. In a saucepan, add four tablespoons (or half a stick) of butter, four sprigs of thyme, and two garlic cloves and brown the butter over medium low heat. Once you have browned the butter, remove from heat and add only the butter (not the thyme or garlic) to the vegetables. Using a hand blender, I blended the vegetables into a puree, adding about half a cup of the boiling liquid until it was able to blend smoothly. I used roughly about a 1 and 1/2 cups.

*If you would like to make this recipe dairy free, substitute the butter for your favorite dairy free spread. I really like to use Earth Balance. Coconut oil is often a great substitute for butter, but for this particular recipe, I think coconut oil might add too much sweetness to an already sweet dish.
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After blending the parsnips, potatoes, liquid, and butter together, be sure to taste your mash. You will want to add salt and pepper to taste. For me, I ended up adding about 3 teaspoons of salt. I wanted to balance out the sweetness. In the Epicurious post, they used Aleppo pepper, but since I couldn’t find any aleppo pepper, I used a little smoky cayenne pepper and some round nutmeg to round out the flavors. I didn’t want to make it too spicy, but I wanted just enough to give a little kick.

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Be sure to taste your mash as you go, so that you can be sure to find the perfect balance of flavors. These flavors are perfect for an autumn dinner. Hopefully you will enjoy them just as much as we did!

IMG_6266To finish, give a light dusting of ground nutmeg for a little bit of a garnish and serve hot as a side. Enjoy! Be sure to share your photos of your creations on Instagram with the hashtag #MyDinnerDesigner , and as always, have fun with it!  Make the flavors your own and enjoy your autumn feast!


Sweet Potato and Parsnip Mash

  • Servings: 8-12
  • Print

If you've got a craving for a delicious autumnal spin on an old favorite, this sweet potato and parsnip mash with apple and nutmeg flavors will certainly hit the spot.

Ingredients

  • 5 sweet potatoes
  • 5 parsnips
  • 4 cups of apple cider
  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • fresh thyme (about 4 sprigs)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled whole
  • -3 teaspoons of salt

  • 2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • -2 cups of the boiling liquid, reserved

     

Directions

  1.  Bring apple cider and chicken broth to a boil. While brining the liquids to a boil, peel and chop the parsnips and sweet potatoes.
  2. Add potatoes and parsnips to the boiling liquid. Boil until they are tender and easy to prick with a fork. Reserve 2 cups of the boiling liquid.
  3. Drain potatoes and parsnips, return to pot off of the heat.
  4. Over medium heat, brown the butter with the thyme and garlic cloves in a small saucepan. Add only the butter to the vegetables. Add 1/2 cup of boiling liquid to the mixture at a time as you puree them. Continue to add the liquid until the mash is evenly blended.
  5. Add the salt, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper. Be sure to taste your mash and add seasonings until you’ve reached the balance you prefer.
  6. Serve mash while hot with a sprinkle of nutmeg for a garnish.

Sweet Tea Chicken

First dates are always a little overwhelming. Theres a little excitement, a little nervousness, and a whole lot of “what if”s floating around. About two months ago, I went on a first date to a restaurant I have loved for a long time: Tupelo Honey.Tupelo Honey is a fantastic little place where southern meets gourmet, and nothing on that menu exhibits that blend as well as my dinner that night. I was both excited and intrigued to order the Sweet Tea Chicken. Despite the fact that I have eaten at Tupelo Honey countless times, I had never seen Sweet Tea Chicken on the menu. The curiosity was nearly unbearable, and I knew I had to experience chicken and sweet tea in one dish. Move over Bojangles, theres a new, more sophisticated, southern duo in town.

Continue reading Sweet Tea Chicken

Sweet and Savory Chicken Salad

 

There are a few recipes in my household that we make every two weeks or so. They are staples in our meal plans and they last us at least a few days. One of those staples is chicken salad. By itself, in a sandwich, on a salad… we love chicken salad. Last year I got into the habit of making chicken salad whenever a snowstorm rolled through, so now I associate chicken salad with snowflakes and the beautiful soft white light that comes with a snowday.IMG_6090 Continue reading Sweet and Savory Chicken Salad

Real-Deal Beef Stew

Come one, come all, and marvel at the first recipe I am here to share with you. In a sea of InstantPot, Crockpot, and all-around “easy” beef stew recipes, I am here to present a not-so-easy beef stew that will be sure to tantalize your tastebuds. Continue reading Real-Deal Beef Stew

Welcome to My Dinner Designer

IMG_6085Picture this scenario: A very important someone is coming to dinner at your house this week. Maybe it is your boyfriend’s parents. Maybe it is your boss, and you are looking for a raise. Maybe it is your new in-laws. Maybe its a government official, I don’t know! No matter who you are picturing in this scenario, you want to impress them with your food skills, right? Theres just one problem…cooking impressive meals can be daunting.

Not anymore! Continue reading Welcome to My Dinner Designer