Another Beet Recipe: Beet Gnocchi

Gnocci Board 2

I got another UKG. It’s a gnocchi board. I say it’s a UKG because my grandma always just used her finger for homemade gnocchi, but I wanted ridges. Could you use a fork to make the ridges? Sure, but why wouldn’t you want a little gnocchi board? Plus you can flip the board over and it’s a mini cutting board (at least that’s what I tell Matt). After spaghetti, gnocchi is my favorite pasta. Hopefully that means I’ll put this UKG to good use!

Gnocci

I decided to satisfy a beet craving and try something different by making beet gnocchi. Making vegetable pasta isn’t hard. You just have to puree or mash your vegetable of choice and add it to the recipe. If your dough is too watery, then just add more flour. For hard root vegetables like carrots and beets, you have to cook your veggies before pureeing them, but if you want to make something like spinach or kale pasta, no pre-cooking is required. My recipe below is **Bonus UKG!!!! Aside from the fact that this is a delicious recipe, the most exciting part about my post is that you can use two UKGs in one recipe: the gnocchi board AND a potato ricer! From this recipe, I was able to have 4-7oz bags of frozen gnocchi and one 4oz serving for myself to eat right away.

Finished Dish

Ingredients:

3 large beets
3 large potatoes
2-3 cups flour, plus additional for rolling
1egg
olive oil, salt, pepper to taste

 

Dough:

  • First roast equal amounts of beets and potatoes with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. I always peel my beets before roasting them. Some people do it after, but I always have to eat a few right out of the oven and am too impatient to wait for them to cool. Tip: peel beets under cold running water so you don’t stain your hands.

Peeled Beets

  • After they’ve cooled, pureed the beets.

Beet Puree

  • Mix beets together with the potatoes in potato ricer**. I used the ricer twice to be sure the two veggies were incorporated well together. If you don’t have a ricer, you can use a masher, hand mixer, or puree everything again.

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  • Mixed one egg and flour to form the dough. Start with 2 cups of flour and if it’s too sticky, add more. I used about 2.5 cups total for the dough.

Add Flour

  • Roll dough into a log and sprinkle it and surrounding area with flour.
  • Cut about an inch off the dough log, and roll that piece into a long rope.

Dough Log

  • After rolling a few ropes, line them up together and cut ½ inch pieces of gnocchi dumplings from the dough ropes. After rolling all the ropes and cutting the gnocchi dumplings, it’s time to use the gnocchi board!
  • Using your thumb, gently roll each dumpling against the grooved side of your gnocchi board. I find having the board at a 45° angle is easiest, so I prop the board up on the inside of a bowl and let the gnocchi fall into the bowl
  • After ridging all the gnocchi, you can cook or freeze.

 

  1. To freeze gnocchi, lay all the pieces in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze for 4 hours or overnight. After gnocchi is frozen, transfer into freezer zip baggies for storage.

Ready to Freeze

  1. To cook gnocchi, just add to salted, boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes or taste test until done. The gnocchi will float when finished.

Beet gnocchi is very subtly sweet and delicious. I didn’t want to overpower the taste, so I sautéed cooked gnocchi with some chopped sage leaves in butter and olive oil and sprinkled some goat cheese on top. This would also work well with a really light cream sauce too. Yum! My new favorite gnocchi! If you have any other ideas on how to dress the gnocchi, let me know!

 

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My New Favorite Kitchen Gadget: Pineapple Corer and Slicer

We have a small red hutch in our kitchen that houses what Matt likes to call UKGs, or Unnecessary Kitchen Gadgets.
Some gadgets he just doesn’t understand, like what a baster is.

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Or why we need a happy face pizza cutter when we already have a regular one (because the kids like it, and sometimes I use a pizza cutter to cut dough and the regular one is in the dishwasher 😜)

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Other gadgets I can’t deny have little use. I don’t really eat grapefruit, so a grapefruit spoon isn’t necessary (let alone 4). But then again one who knows. I might use them to scoop out citrus fruits for a salad or dessert or something.

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But for real I found an extremely necessary gadget this time. It is a pineapple corer and slicer. It does exactly that, cores and slices pineapple.

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So easy!

OK, so in all honesty I could take or leave pineapple. But you know I’ll be eating a lit more if it with this! My first time using it I accidentally went all the way through the pineapple, making a hole in the bottom.

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It wasn’t really a problem, but this summer I’ll need to avoid doing that. I see myself filling the cored pineapple with some frozen drinks (virgin drinks for me for this summer).

I saw this at Bed Bath and Beyond for $20, but then I checked online and Amazon Prime had this one for $6.99! I obviously went for the $6.99 version.

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I’ve gadgets and gizmos a plenty, and I love them all, necessary or not. I don’t know why, I just do. If you have a favorite gadget, let me know about it!

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Beets for Breakfast, Beets for Lunch

Most people who know me know I love beets. I know, that’s a really weird thing to know about a person, but I feel with a love that is more than love for beets. I’ve been known to persistently push the purple wonders on people, and I may have even chased my former boss into her office while forcing them on her. (No, that isn’t why she’s my former boss, although I can see why someone would come to that conclusion).

beets

Doug understood me

I can eat beets every day and never be tired of them. My favorite way is to dress chilled sliced canned beets with oil, red wine vinegar, and some oregano. They’re probably my favorite food, and I only say probably because it’s hard to make a whole meal out of beets. But I do have a few beet based recipes that can be meals. A beet smoothie for breakfast and a beet spinach salad for lunch.

The smoothie is not my recipe . I found it on the blog We are Not Martha

This is, by far, my most repinned pin. I sometimes get several emails a day notifying me it had been repinned or liked. As much as this has been pinned, I have never tried to make it, mainly because chia seeds scare me. I hate slimy foods, and I didn’t know how quickly chia seeds slime. I finally decided to give it a try, and if you drink the smoothie right after making it (which you would anyway) the seeds stay crunchy.

The original recipe is here

        The only changes I made was I used half a can of sliced beets, and low fat dairy milk instead of soy milk, because I don’t like soy milk. After tasting my version, I realized why you would use flavored soy milk for the recipe.

Blender

My beet smoothie

Even though beets are sweet, this is pretty bland. I added a spoonful of sugar, and it did the trick. It was delicious and really filling. I’m not sure what the difference in sugar content is in sweetened soy milk vs regular milk and a spoon of sugar, but I guess you can pick your poison.

Smoothie

Yum!

Now there were lots of halves used to make the smoothie, so I became resourceful and used the ingredients for breakfast in lunch. Using the spinach as a salad base, I added a few strips of very thinly sliced onions, the beets, avocado, and some crumbled goat cheese.

Beet Avocado Salad

Use smoothie ingredients for lunch!

I’ve also made a similar salad for family dinners, so here is my “bulk” recipe:

Salad
1 package mixed baby greens
1 package baby spinach
1/2 an onion, thinly sliced
2 cans quartered beets
1 can half pears, drained and cubed
4 oz dried cranberries
4 oz candied pecans
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled

dressing

Use fresh herbs for dressing

Dressing:
1 part olive oil
1 part balsamic vinegar**
1 splash of orange juice
a few leaves of fresh basil and oregano
**I used pear cranberry white balsamic, but regular balsamic is good too

dressing

Dressing ready to go!

Beet salad is an awesome lunch, side, or add some grilled chicken for dinner. MMMmMm beets all day!!

Salad

Beet, Pear, Cranberries, & Pecan Spinach Salad

Baby Food Recipes

Baby Food

So I think I know why baking has become so “meh.” I found something else I love to do in the kitchen: making food for Giacomo. I stocked up and made over 30 pouches of baby food.  I still buy baby food, especially when it’s on sale, but I like knowing I have my homemade options too.

baby foods

I made:
Beets, spinach, and blueberries
Tropical fruits: Banana, pineapple, peaches, apricots, and mango
Sweet potatoes, apples, cinnamon, and blueberries
Butternut squash, peaches, pears, and apricots with ginger
Mixed veggies with garlic.
Sweet potatoes, apples, bananas, and cinnamon
Carrots and Peas

Not pictured here is peas and carrots. I forgot I reheated those in the microwave.
Baby Bullet

Making baby food is super easy. There is little to no cooking required. I used my baby bullet. Do you need a baby bullet? No. A regular blender or food processor will do. I even use an immersion blender for bigger batches because I know it won’t all fit in the bullet. The baby bullet is what my husband would call a UKG. Unnecessary Kitchen Gadget. It’s unnecessary because a regular blender or a hand blender will do just fine.

Hand Blender

But let me ask you this: does a regular blender have an adorable smiley face? Does it come with tiny food containers who also smile at you?

Baby Food Bottles

No. It doesn’t. So I relish in my UKG!

Another kitchen gadget I use (which even Matt agrees is totally necessary) is the Infantino squeeze station. I love this thing. It’s so much fun squeezing the food into the pouches. I label and freeze the baby food and Jack’s set for a while. The only foods I haven’t made yet are meats, and that’s because I have my own meat aversions.

Pouch Maker

Plus, Jack has a tooth! He’s eating soft rice, cereal bites, and pastas now, and it won’t be long until he’s done with purees. I’ll still make him fruit purees and pouches though for a while. They’re a great snack. I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of the Infantino either. My friend Maureen had a great idea for another use of them: Adult fruit pouches spiked with the alcohol of your choice! I’ll definitely try those one day, but probably not until I’m sure I won’t, in a crazy mom rush, accidentally give Jack a boozy fruit pouch!

Recipes:

For all recipes that require cooking, cover food with water just enough to cover food. Cook until soft enough to blend.

Cooking Food

Cook food before pureeing and cool before packing.

To save time, I used the pre peeled and cubed sweet potatoes and butternut squash. I also used some canned food to save time, but you can definitely use fresh. You just need to peed and cube everything before cooking if you use fresh. Generally, I’ve noticed about 3-4 fruits = 1 can. Rinse any canned fruit that is packed in syrup or juice. Don’t use fruit sweetened with artificial sweetener. If you prefer fresh fruit, simply prepare as directed above.

Beets, spinach, and blueberries

1 can sliced beets, drained & rinsed
1/2 a bag of steam-in-bag spinach
1 cup blueberries

Steam spinach in microwave (use the other half of the bag for another recipe).
Blend together fruits and vegetables until desired consistency. Add water by the tablespoonful if needed.

Tropical Fruits

1 1/2 banana
1 mango
1/2 can of peaches, drained & rinsed
1/4 can of apricots, drained & rinsed
1/2 can of pineapple, drained & rinsed
1/2 can of pears, drained & rinsed

Blend fruits together until desired consistency. This should be soft enough, but add water if needed.
Tropical Mix

Sweet potatoes, apples, cinnamon, and blueberries

1 cup sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 1/2 large apple, peeled, cored, and cubed
1 cup blueberries
dash of cinnamon

Cook apples and sweet potatoes. Add blueberries and cinnamon and blend to desired consistency.

Butternut squash, peaches, pears, and apricots with Ginger

1 1/2 cups of butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1/2 can of pears, drained & rinsed
1/2 can of peaches, drained & rinsed
1/4 can of apricots, drained & rinsed
Dash of ginger

Cook squash. Add fruits, ginger, and blend to desired consistency.

Mixed veggies with garlic.

1/2 bag of spinach
1 1/2 cups butternut squash
1 cup sweet potatoes
1 cup baby carrots
1 cup peas frozen
1 medium or 2 small cloves of garlic

Cook all the veggies and blend to desired consistency

Sweet potatoes, apples, bananas, and cinnamon

1 cup sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 1/2 large apple, peeled, cored, and cubed
1 1/2 bananas
dash of cinnamon

Cook apples and sweet potatoes. Add bananas and cinnamon and blend to desired consistency.

Peas and Carrots

1 cup baby carrots
1 cup frozen peas

Cook and blend to desired consistency.

For those of you who know me well, you know one of my favorite foods is beets. I have been known to force them on people, and now I am starting the brainwashing process for my son. I don’t seem to have to try to hard though. He loves beets already!

Jack likes beets!

I Should Start Baking Again

My mom’s birthday was recently, and I did something I haven’t done in a really long time. I baked. I used to bake all the time. It was a very soothing hobby. Cakes, cupcakes, cookies, brownies, pies, pastries, buttercream and fondant icing all made from scratch. I’ve baked one or two things in the past few years, but it’s been a few years since I really got down and dirty in the kitchen. At the height of my baking, I was baby-free and I worked part time, but I can’t really blame the baby or work for my lapse.

Baby Shower Goodies

The funny thing is that I worked at a bakery all through high school and a lot of college and never baked or decorated while I was there, but I did grow a bit of an aversion to cakes and cookies. That happens when your hair starts to smell like cookies and you dream of the holiday rush.

baking

Afterwards,  I spent to spend so much time perfecting recipes and piping icing, and I rarely ever ate any of it. Instead I’d find people to pawn my hobby off on. Eventually, though, everyone else started to become bored of cakes and cookies, and it all started to go to waste.

fly cake

I was looking at some older pictures and I realized I need to get back into the baking game, at least a little bit. I made so many cute things for everyone else, and now I have to make sure I can make something adorable for Jack. Plus, everyone has been deprived of baked goods for long enough. It’s time to re-introduced them.

Birthday Cakes

For my mom’s birthday I thought about baking a from scratch, I really did. But then I got into the kitchen and felt really “meh” about the whole thing. It wasn’t the same. I just didn’t feel like lugging out the mixer, and my mom doesn’t like sweet icing so it seemed like a waste to make butter cream. Instead, I jazzed up some box cake and made a cake and cookies. Super easy to do! For the cake, just replace water with orange juice (or whatever juice you like), add a splash of vanilla extract, and your cake is instantly flavored and more refreshing. I added a few raspberries to the batter before baking too.

Orange Raspberry Cake

The cookies are easy also. Add 2 eggs, 1/3 a cup of dried cranberries, 1/3 a cup of candied pecans, and 2 tbsp of orange juice to boxed cake mix. Scoop batter onto parchment lined trays and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

Cake Box CookiesCake Box Cookies

I filled the cake with banana pudding and iced it with whipped topping. I didn’t get a chance to take a pic of the cake or cookies  because they were torn into pretty quickly, but I guess that’s a sign of how tasty they were. *Note to self, take pictures of everything before you go over mom’s!

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Giacomo Loves Food

My Jack is a big boy. Unlike his super short mom, Jack is in the 99th percentile for height, and thus in the 78th for weight. I still nurse him, but the boy has one big appetite. He always seemed hungry, so we got the OK from his pediatrician to start on solids at 4 months.

Jack Eating at 4 Months

Jack Eating at 4 Months

I started making some of  Jack’s baby food as soon as I started feeding him solids. I want to do my best to make sure that Jack isn’t a picky eater, although I’m not sure how much of that I can control.

I was a picky eater as a kid, but I was the good kind of picky. I was a food snob.  My grandmother raised me homemade food and vegetables straight from our garden. I turned my nose up at canned tomato sauce and ready-made meals and openly called foods gross (which is an interesting trait, considering my line of work now). It got to a point where I was embarrassing my mother when she took me to non-family members houses who didn’t cook up to my standards. Then I became a novelty to her friends. I must have been between 4 and 5, but I clearly remember a few different occasions when I’d be at one of my mom’s friends’ house with a plate of pasta before me and a group of adults standing around waiting for the tiny critic’s review. If I liked the food, I’d keep eating and the host would wear a proud smile, sighing of relief. If I didn’t like the food, I’d scrunch up my nose, grunt a little, and say I wasn’t hungry. Mom would then smile and say “told you” to her friend. She told me she’d only let me eat at someone’s whose food she already tasted and thought I’d like, and the times I didn’t eat the food were times when people didn’t believe her that a kid could really know the difference between homemade and jarred sauce. They basically put me in blind taste test with homemade sauces vs jarred sauces, and I could always tell the difference. I’m sure sauces are a million times better now than they were when I was a kid, but I haven’t tried any to be sure.

Mama's Homemade Cavatelli and Sauce

Mama’s Homemade Cavatelli and Sauce

I’ll never be the chefs my grandmother and mother are. My garden outside is not nearly as abundant as Mama’s (whose is though. You should see the stuff she grows!), and I do take advantage of frozen vegetables, especially when it’s not the season for fresh veggies. Even still, I think I fair pretty well in the kitchen. I know that if I expose Jack to different things now, he’ll have a wider palate and enjoy more foods. That’s really important to me because, hey, I AM Italian, and to us food is love. If I can nourish him and make him healthy and strong with what I feed him, it’s just another way of showing him how much I love him.

That’s part of why I’m so glad I’ve been able to nurse as long as I have. My goal was 6 months, and I made it! Jack is a healthy 6 month old baby! Now everything else is a bonus. I try to eat as healthily as I can and a wide variety of foods. Some flavors do transfer to breast milk, so I’m hoping that Jack will develop a taste for lots of foods.

What a wonderful 6 months it has been!

What a wonderful 6 months it has been!

Jack loves his oatmeal and fruits (especially bananas), but he’s not too keen on green vegetables. I have to mix his peas with carrots or his green beans with sweet potatoes or fruit for him to eat it without a fuss, but he’s getting there.

Now that I know he’s not allergic to a lot of foods, I’m making his meals more interesting. I started playing around with spicing up his food choices this weekend.. Yesterday I added garlic to his green beans and guess what? He liked it! I didn’t have to mix any sweet fruits or veggies in with them. So my persistence paid off! Today, he had some oatmeal mixed with sweet potatoes, apples, and cinnamon. Yum!

He's becoming a much neater eater!

He’s becoming a much neater eater!

I don’t solely use homemade baby food. I just don’t have time for that, but I do make foods in bulk and freeze it. Along with the green beans and garlic and sweet potatoes with apples and cinnamon, I also made carrots with peas amd butternut squash with peaches, bananas, and ginger. So far he likes them all! My freezer is now filled with baby food and breast milk. My how life has changed.

Lots of baby food!

My Goonies Pirate Paaaaaarty

My birthday was a few weeks ago, and my niece turned 10 two days before my birthday, so I decided that I was going to revolt against being an “adult” and have a joint themed party with her. My favorite movie also happens to be 30 this year. When I say it’s my favorite movie, I mean I’m a little obsessed:

My Car

I went pirate crazy. I got hats, eye patches, paper goods, and toys for the kids to play with.  We served The Kraken’s Special (spaghetti and meatballs) with Sloth’s Salad (antipasto salad).

 The Kraken's Special

For dessert, there were Canon Balls (Oreo balls), Mermaid Pearls (White Sixlets), Fratelli Pops, Swashbuckler Cookies, The Flying Dutchman’s Delight (cheesecake), and One Eye-d Willie’s Rich Stuff (Devils Food Cake).

Rich Stuff Canon Balls and Mermaid Pearls Swashbuckler Cookies

I’m not sure why I bought so many table cloths (2 red, one black, and several Jolly Rogers), but I quickly realized I did not need them all.

I decorated the tables with “treasure” and used the red for our dinner table, black for the dessert table, and I hung the Jolly Rogers from my mom’s deck and we used it as a backdrop. The pictures were great!

Pirate Party Pirate's Life for Me IMG_8178

I like to think this was a practice run for when Jack get’s older and asks for a pirate party. Because of course he’s going to want a pirate party. I already decided that this will be his toddler bed.

Little Tikes Pirate Ship Toddler Bed - Little Tikes - Babies"R"Us

After diner, there were sword battles, face painting, treasure hunts, and presents.

Everybody's a Pirate

IMG_8269 Face Painting

Sword Fighting

Sword Fighting

Birthday Ladies

Olivia loved her vanity set and I was treated to a Patrick Kane Team USA shirt. We all know I love the New York Rangers, but my favorite hockey player isn’t actually on the Rangers. Why? This is why. I happen to really wish that Patrick Kane would decide that he loves New York and would get traded to my team. I don’t see that happening (the Blackhawks would be fools) so instead I root for Kane only once every 4 years, during the Olympics.

The “grown up” portion of my birthday was celebrated with surprise tickets to see one of my favorite writers, David Sedaris. It was the first time since we had Jack that we went on a real date. It was a very strange feeling. I kept wondering what he was doing (as if a baby does much), but it was nice to spend time with Matt and share with him something I enjoy so much. David Sedaris can have a whole audience in stitches, on the brink of tears, and back to laughter in under a minute. It’s a talent that I’m so happy he didn’t just save for his own inner circle. I know that I’ve looked like a schizophrenic person reading his books in public. So if you haven’t yet, read yourself some Me Talk Pretty One Day or my favorite, When You Are Engulfed in Flames.

LETS EXPLORE DIABETES WITH OWLS

Jack’s Christening

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Since going back to work, I really have been working for the weekend. I always thought I was busy all week, until I had someone else to care for everyday. I can’t imagine how people with more than one child do it, let alone people with twins! We christened Jack 2 weeks ago, and I figured that I did a lot of baking and crafting for all my nieces’ and nephew’s parties, I should at least make some favors for my own baby’s party. In order to do any of it I had my nieces come over and entertain him. (Something I never thought about needing to do before). The girls were great. Jack loves them. They played and danced with him while I filled chocolate molds and baked and decorated cookies.

Jack and Nancy_Christening

Our family’s tradition is to have the baby’s godmother bathe and dress the baby before church, so Nancy came over and immediately started yelling at me and Matt because we weren’t ready either. I’m no fool. If she was going to get the baby ready that meant I’d have more time for myself. 🙂

Christening_1

At our church, they christen several babies at once. Jack was the loudest baby there. He DID NOT like being so hot in his outfit, or the fact that his bottle wasn’t warm enough the whole time. Surprisingly, he didn’t cry at all when he was being baptized. He loves baths, and I think he was expecting to be allowed to jump into the water. It was a lovely ceremony and my niece was picked to help the Deccan.  We were so happy to celebrate afterwards.

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For his party I wanted a lamb theme. It was so close to Easter, so there was a lot of lamb baby things around, and it’s a nice, neutral baptism theme. The girls were able to help me make the centerpiece for the favors (apothecary jar filled with yarn balls), and they made the centerpieces for everyone’s dining tables. These cute lambs doubled as a kid craft and a party piece. The girls were entertained and knew they helped with the party. A win-win!

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For favors, everyone helped themselves to a variety of treats. I Made lots of chocolate crosses and a tall jar of white and blue sprees and whoppers for people’s treat bags, and I made 3 different kinds of cookies. I decorated chocolate covered Oreos with a blue chocolate cross. The lamb cookies were basic cream cheese cookies iced white (royal icing) with some white edible pearls. I added cinnamon, nutmeg, and some black pepper (just a touch)to the cream cheese dough to make the cross cookies.  I decorated them with royal icing and a lamb chocolate mold.

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The non-edible favor was tiny finger rosaries. They were so sweet! Instead of a cross, they have an angel. I twice the amount needed so everyone could take more than one (which everyone did). I put a set on my car’s emergency brake for luck. I ordered them from this Etsy shop. I love them!

It was Also Angelina’s Birthday. She’s 14!!!!!!!!! I can’t believe how time flies!!IMG_7710

Halloween Week

Happy Halloween everyone! This is a favorite holiday of mine. I love Halloween week, especially!

I’m trying not to watch scary things while I’m so pregnant (I don’t want my heart racing too much), so we’ve been watching more fun Halloween movies. Nightmare Before Christmas, Hocus Pocus,  and all the fun Halloween TV show specials. Matt did try to sneak in one of the Friday the 13th movies, because I’ve never seen them, but I couldn’t stand how cheesy it was. I’m more into psychological thrillers like The Shinning or Psycho, or ghost/possession stories. Not so much the gory slasher stuff. They are always too corny. Last night we watched Adams Family Values and put together our crib, and I was thrown a work shower, complete with crafty decorations from my buddy Meg. This baby is starting to feel more and more real!

Work Shower

I worked from home on Halloween, so I was able to see all the trick-or treaters. I was surprised how many little kids loved my address pumpkin!

Address Pumpkin

Obviously I didn’t go out this year, but it didn’t stop me from dressing up. I used a Styrofoam sheet we got from the packaging from a crate to make my costume. I just cut a hole in the middle, measured out my belly, and then cut the edges in a sloppy circle shape to be an egg! I used Lilu’s costume from last year, a piggy, so we could be ham and eggs together :). If Matt didn’t have work, I’d have made him be a slice of cheese (aka himself). I made my nieces and nephew special little cauldrons of candy, complete with ghost pops. All you have to do is wrap some tissue paper around a lollipop, tie with some curling ribbon, and draw a ghost face. Aren’t we a cute bunch?

Halloween_2014

Tuesday was the season finally of my favorite (and very Halloween-esque) show, Face-Off. If you don’t watch it, you should! It’s a movie makeup competition show but with no drama or negativity, and based solely on the talent of the contestants. They even help each other even though they’re competing against each other. For the occasion, I made dinner with our baby wine.

So what’s baby wine? For my bridal shower, my bridesmaids gifted me a basket of wine. Each bottle had a special label designating the bottle for all out “first” occasions, including Christmas, new year, dinner party, anniversary, Valentine’s Day, and our last bottle, our first baby.

Here’s the poem written on our baby bottle if you want to recreate it:

“The news that a baby will soon share your life
will make you a mother, not only a wife.
You’ll see it through good times and sometimes through bad,
Angela the loving mother and Matt the dearest Dad.
Sadly Matt must drink this one alone and Angela with an empty glass.
Sit back and relax; nine months will quickly pass!”

Baby Wine

Since I can’t drink the wine, and Matt didn’t want to drink the whole bottle alone and on a work night, I finally busted open our baby bottle to use in my FaceOff dinner.

I don’t really measure, but I don’t think you could mess this up.
I first sautéed spinach with a little bit of olive oil, salt, and a few cloves of diced garlic. When the spinach is nice and wilted, remove from the pan and add some more oil and a few pats of butter. When the butter us melted and hot, add a diced onion and LOTS of diced garlic. I probably used 9 maybe 10 cloves. After the onions and garlic are sautéed, add in frozen shrimp and cook until they are almost done, then remove from pan. Add about half the bottle of wine, a ladle of pasta water, and some some oregano, basil, parsley, salt, pepper, and bay leaves.

Baby Wine Dinner

Simmer away until the alcohol is burned off. Put in the pasta, shrimp, and spinach back into the pan and toss it all together with a handful of breadcrumbs and another handful of Parmesan cheese. The shrimp should finish cooking in the sauce, and you’re ready to chow down! We had some fresh mozzarella with balsamic on the side, and I pretended to be fancy with my water in a wine glass. It was great food, a great finale (my favorite contestant, Dina, won!), and a great Halloween week.
Baby Wine Dinner 2

MmMmMm Stuffed Bread

So I’ve had this post written for a while and never posted. I guess I’ve been busy (with slight baby brain). My niece Jenna’s Birthday was several weeks ago when I originally wrote this. She’s twelve. TWELVE! Her last year as a tween, and she’s still as sweet as ever. She loves typical tween things (1 Direction and soccer), and I was both sad and excited to get to buy her birthday clothes in the juniors (instead of the kids) section. Now two of my nieces are middle schoolers, and I feel old.We celebrated Gi’s birthday at her house, complete with a soccer and 1D themed cake.

Happy Birthday Gi!

I brought some stuffed pepperoni and cheese bread for a side dish to the birthday dinner. It’s a pretty simple recipe, but before I give it I should warn you that an ingredient may be a bit of a surprise. Therefore I think I need to give some background on my stuffed bread expertise. I worked at a bakery all throughout high school and college. Every weekend, the bakery sold stuffed breads, and pepperoni and cheese always sold out quickly.
In spite of the fact that we always called it “pepperoni and cheese bread,” customers always asked for “pepperoni and mozzarella.” We never corrected them, but really the bread was NOT made with mozzarella. Think about melted mozzarella’s texture: it’s stringy, not gooey. What made our pepperoni and cheese bread so good was that the cheese was gooey. So here’s the big secret; we used White American Cheese.

Don’t get scared or grossed out! I promise white American and pepperoni is delicious. I’m sure yellow American is just as good, but I think people are freaked out by the fact that yellow cheese is so clearly not mozzarella.

So, stuffed bread is pretty simple. If you have a recipe for bread use it, but I make things even easier by using pre-made dough.

Steps to Make Stuffed Bread

Split the dough with a knife and spread it out. Put down a layer of cheese, a layer of pepperoni, and another layer of cheese. Is this a lot of cheese? Yes. Will cheese ooze out when you bake it? Some of it will, so it’s better to be safe with extra cheese ;). Roll up the bread and cut a few venting slits on the dough. Bake the bread until it’s golden brown, let it cool enough to touch, and slice it up. People kept sneaking a slice, so my bread didn’t even make it to the dinner table. Take a chance and try it!

Finished Product

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