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.

IMG_5434.JPG

  • 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!

 

Advertisements

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.

image

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 😜)

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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!

image

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

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

April Fool’s Day/Chicken Day for Mom!

In case you didn’t know, one of my many jobs is an English Professor, so I love the fact that April Fool’s Day could be traced back to one of Chaucer’s most popular Canterbury Tales, The Nun’s Priest’s Tale, about a fox who plays a trick on a rooster.  You can check out the real version here or the Spark Notes here. The best part about the fact that the original April Fool’s prank was on a rooster is it perfectly aligns with my April Fool’s joke on my mom. This year, I completely bombed her house with chickens.

Image

 

Giving my mom a chicken has been an ongoing joke between me and my sisters for the past 15 years or so, and not just on April Fool’s Day. Whenever my sister’s an I would go out shopping (a considerably often occasion) we would always ask my mom if she wanted to come. If she didn’t come along with us, she’d yell from her room “No, but bring me back a surprise.” My sisters are very sweet to my mom. They’d always bring her back a cute kitchen decoration, a picture frame, or some candy. I’m a little different from my sisters. I love my mom to bits, and I like to show it by busting her chops.

Image

So during one of our shopping trips, I noticed at this particular store, we had already “surprised” my mom with most of the nicer trinkets.  Then I saw it. It was the ugliest supposed-to-be-a-chicken-decoration I have ever seen in my life. This was no French country style chicken statue or Easter chick. It looked like a 4 year old made it at day care: basically a Styrofoam ball with black and red feathers glued all over it with googley eyes. It was perfect.

“She’s not going to want that! It’s ugly,” they told me.

“That’s the point,” I said, “she knows we have better taste. It’s a real surprise.”

It took a little convincing (and some snacks to make up for the trick), but they agreed to let me get the ugly chicken and present it to my mom.

At first she didn’t say anything because she thought we were serious, but once she saw that we couldn’t hold back our giggles she let us know how ugly she thought it was. Ever since then, she’d tell us to “bring back a surprise. And not a chicken!” But we always did bring back a chicken. Eventually, my mom had enough chickens to redecorate her whole kitchen and half her house. She didn’t like them, but she rarely threw them away. She would always joke that when she’d finally “buy a cabin in the woods, the house will already be decorated with all the chickens.”

Image

Last year on April Fool’s Day, I was in Home Goods and saw a glass chicken statue and thought “I should get that for mom today!” Then the whole idea struck. Instead of giving her the chicken that day, I decided to stock up on chickens and roosters and bomb her house with them  this April Fool’s. So for the past year, I have been buying, crafting, and stocking up on all the chickens I could find. The chickens took over our spare bedroom.

Image

I printed lots of chicken pictures and taped them over all the pictures in the house, and I took video of our family doing the chicken dance and played it on loop in the living room.

Image

I put some chickens outside.

Image

I made this planter at ceramics.

Image

And these statues

ImageImage

I even made some chicken quilts and pillows for both living rooms.

Image

And as much as I’m teasing, it’s all in fun. To us, food is love, so along with my chicken house bomb, I made everyone lots of chicken themed dishes. Egg salad, chicken salad, deviled eggs, rotisserie chicken, chicken bites, chicken shaped cookies, and chicken cakes.

Image

When I was getting some things ready for the Chicken Bombing, some people asked me if my mom would get mad. I’m glad I have a mom who can take the joke, because it seems like it’s a rarity. The amount of people who were sure my mom would be furious about the prank made me appreciate her sense of humor. I knew she would pretend for a half a second that she was mad, but I knew wouldn’t actually be upset.  I was right. She thought it was hilarious. She didn’t even want me to take everything down just yet.

Image

 One of the most important things my mom has taught me is not to take myself too seriously. She was always playing jokes on as when we were kids, and it taught me to laugh at myself (and to question everything). My mom loves mysteries anyway. She’ll spend money on “mystery bag” items, even if she knows it’s junk, just so she can have the suspense before she checks the bag. So in my mind, that equates to her loving surprises, and thus not minding about my prank. So thanks for being a good sport, Mom! I think from now on, you can expect a chicken every April Fool’s! xoxo

Image

Home Is Where My Pumpkin Is

It’s finally December, and that means fall is officially over (in my book anyway). I started to pack up all my pumpkins, leaves, scarecrows, and various autumnal decor to replace them with pine trees, holly berries and all my winter decorations. But before I finished I had to use my pumpkin soup bowl.

When I brought our pumpkin bowl out, Matt had me promise that we’d actually use it this year, so I made some broccoli and cheese soup to serve in it. We’ve had this pumpkin serving bowl for years.  When Matt started his graduate program at Rutgers, Camden, we rented an apartment in Collingswood. Matt never cared too much for decorations, but I was always brining new pictures or dishes or something superfluous to “homey up” the place. Matt usually thought my decorations were unnecessary.

I had the intention of attending Rutgers for my Master’s in English, but was offered a partial scholarship to Monmouth University. So instead of joining Matt at our new apartment, I stayed home to avoid the long commute. It was hard not seeing Matt every day, like we were used to, but we did see each other at least once a week.   A few months after Matt was fully moved in, I bought the pumpkin. I thought it was so beautiful. It wasn’t something from Target or IKEA, this was the first “real” and “adult” piece of decor I had ever bought; college kids have no use for soup serving dishes, after all. I spent something like $30 on it, which at the time I thought was very expensive for a serving bowl.

I brought it to the apartment a little embarrassed, knowing Matt wouldn’t like it and wouldn’t like my spending money on the apartment. My embarrassment must have shown on my face, because when I showed Matt my bowl, instead of rolling his eyes, he told me how nice he thought it was. He kept it out on his table all year because he said it was so nice and I was right, it did make the place feel homey.

Of course, it wasn’t the pumpkin that made the apartment feel homey. I always felt at home in that tiny, one bedroom apartment because Matt was there. It didn’t matter that the appliances always broke or that the kitchen was too small for two people. It was where my Matt lived, and where I wanted to be. I like to think that he kept the pumpkin out because my decorations, as unnecessary as he claimed they were, reminded him that I wanted him to feel comfortable and cozy even though I couldn’t be there.

 

Image

 To this day Matt says the pumpkin bowl is his favorite piece of decor. I know he doesn’t care either way about my bowl or other decorations (and I have A LOT of decoration), but I love that he pretends to. This year, he made me promise to actually USE the pumpkin bowl. After so many years, this actually was the first time I used the bowl! Don’t worry, now that it’s officially broken in, I’ll use it every year.

 Broccoli Cheese Soup Recipe:

4 tbs butter
1 onion
1lb bag frozen cut broccoli
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
1lb processed cheese
1/3 cup corn starch

Melt butter in a saucepan and sauté onions.
Add broccoli and cook with onions until defrosted.  
Add 3 cups broth, milk and the cheese and let the cheese melt.
Dissolve corn starch in the remaining 1 cup of chicken broth.
Add cornstarch mix into soup and heat through.
Yum!

“Gorgapalooza”

My grandparents came from the same small Italian town, Gorga. I’ve been there once, and it is a beautiful, quaint place. I would love to post photos of when I went to Gorga, but I went 10 years ago (before digital cameras and before my parents’ house fire). I have to work on restoring the pictures and saving them digitally. I hope to go back soon, but in the meantime the annual Gorga picnic will have to do.

4 Generations

 Every year the immigrants from Gorga and their families try to get together for a day. Because Gorga is a small town, most people know each other or are cousins of cousins. I love it because I get to see my Grandmother and Grandfather’s families and all the other gumbas and paisans in one venue.  ❤ This year there was at least 4 generations of Gorga descendants. We even have a celebrity in our mix: the former bassist of Blondie.

Starstruck. Baby could you blow my heart up?

Now, if you’ve never been to an Italian family picnic, the menu may shock you. I am to understand that a regular American picnic consists of sandwiches, cold salads, chips, cookies, maybe some burgers and hotdogs and some other easily transportable munchies. I assure you, all of these food items were in attendance at our picnic, but they aren’t enough. Antipasto, garden vegetables, lasagna, mussels marinara, eggplant parmesan, sausage & peppers, sautéed pork chops, chicken cutlets, meatballs, biscotti, cake, and cupcakes were some of the foods I saw, but not all. Is it practical? Of course not. We have to lug coolers and sternos and other catering utensils with us the whole way. Is it worth it? Absolutely.

S'mors!

Of course, we worked off the calories with a dance party.

Dance Machine

I brought one of the more “Americanized” dishes…super easy, yummy, and perfect for potluck picnics. I bring croissant pinwheels to potlucks all the time, and they are always a hit.

Roll out the croissant dough
Spread a thin layer of horseradish sauce on the dough (optional)
Lay about 4 pieces of roast beef, leaving about 1/2 inch at the bottom with no meat
Lay down 2 pieces of Swiss cheese, also leaving space at the bottom of the dough (this ensures that the filling doesn’t squeeze out once you roll)
Roll the entire roll top to bottom
Place on a cookie sheet, seam side down
Refrigerate about 20 minutes (this makes it easier to cut)
Cut the roll into 8 slices
Bake in a 350° oven until the tops are golden brown.

If you don’t already make croissant dough pinwheels, it’s time you start. They are the easiest things in the world, and you can fill them with anything. For this picnic, I also made pepperoni and mozzarella rolls. Ham and American cheese is the most popular roll I make.

Image

Happy July 4th Weekend!

Happy Independence Day, and happy long weekend to some of us. This is one of our favorite holidays. We get to spend time with our friends and family and enjoy the weather with no pressure of having to buy gifts and no one judging you for slipping into hot-dog induced comas.

One of the dishes I made for the day was pulled pork. The recipe is super easy, and thanks to my Aunt Barbara. All you need to do is put some pork shoulder in the crock pot (fat side up) and cover with root beer. Cook on low overnight (8 hours). Pour out the rootbeer and shred the pork with a fork. This part is basically effortless at this point. After you’ve shredded, add in a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce. Tada! Perfect pulled pork.

Image

It’s O.K. to let the dog have a small piece before you add the sauce. Don’t judge me, with eyes like that, who can say no?

Image

For the 4th, we celebrated at my sister Maria’s house. I thought it was “just us” and a few friends, but I always forget how many people that actually turns out to be. At one point we counted 90 people. Holy crap. That’s a lot of people, and that’s a lot of food. I think the grill was on for 6 hours straight, then we gave it a break for about an hour and turned it back on. We stopped cooking around 10pm. It was wonderful.

Image

I also brought some festive, Red White & Blue sangrias. Most people don’t know that the great state on New Jersey isn’t all manufacturing and  actually beautiful, and yes, there are farms and wineries here!  Blueberries and cranberries are two major fruit crops in New Jersey, and Valenzano winery uses them to make some tasty wines.

Image

Base Sangria:
1 cup juice
1/2 cup rum or brandy
1 bottle wine

Fruit:
1 pear
2 oranges
1 nectarine
1 apple
lemon
lime
frozen berries and grapes

In the “Red” sangria I used Cranberry wine, cran-grape juice, and Captain Morgan rum. The “White” sangria was made with white wine, white grape juice, and Cruzan Mango rum, and the “Blue” sangria was made with blueberry juice, blueberry wine, and blackberry brandy.

Image

Make the Sangria at least two hours ahead of time and chill. Use the frozen berries and grapes instead of ice.  Be careful; this stuff creeps up on you!

Today’s the last day of the long weekend, and we’re celebrating at Mom’s pool. Oh how I love the summer!

Image

Texas Craft House

blood, sweat, and glitter y'all