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Archive for August, 2011

A lot of people have been surprised by my first couple of posts because everyone assumed I would start with one of my  family’s most simple and beloved recipes – homemade pasta. Growing up in an Italian family, family gatherings always includes pasta, tomato sauce, and eggplant parmesan (although I think the eggplant is only because my grandmother knew it was always my favorite dish growing up). Needless to say, I spent many hours rolling out pasta or making gnocchi. There was even the annual day spent making enough tomato sauce to supply our whole family with homemade tomato sauce for a year. Although, before you try making your own homemade pasta, be warned that regular, boxed pasta will never taste as good anymore!

Homemade pasta is a lot easier to make than it sounds. It only requires three items that almost everyone always has on hand: flour, egg, and water (and a pasta machine; you can order one online for $20-25). For any homemade pasta first-timers I always recommend starting with the simple combination of 1 cup flour, 1 egg, and 2 T water. Once you master these three ingredients, you can then add almost any other items to your pasta dough (pumpkin, spinach, lemon chive, basil, etc.). Follow these simple steps to making homemade pasta:

  1. Measure the flour onto a counter and create a well in the middle of it. (In terms of flour, Durum flour is probably best for pasta, if you don’t have this bread flour is your second best option. All purpose flour will work as well but may not have the ideal texture or flavor)
  2. Add egg and water to the middle of the well ensure items do not overflow from the middle well.
  3. Slowly mix the flour into the egg mixture until the dry and wet ingredients are combined.
  4. Knead the pasta dough until it is smooth and slightly firm to the touch. You may have to add more water if the dough is crumbly and not coming together. Similarly you may have to add more flour if the dough is too sticky.
  5. When you’re done kneading, let the ball of dough rest for at least 5 to 10 minutes.
  6. Cut the pasta dough into sections and then roll out the dough in a pasta machine to your desired thickness (Note: you make have to fold in the sides of the dough while rolling out the dough to ensure uniform texture). At this point, you can use the dough to make lasagna or raviolis. If you would like to make fettucine or spaghetti, you will then need to roll the dough through the appropriate section in the pasta machine. Make sure at the end of each step, you sprinkle flour over the dough to keep it dry and  from sticking to each other.
  7. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and then cook the pasta. But be aware that homemade pasta only takes a couple minutes to cook.
  8. Add whatever you want to your pasta or just keep it simple with olive oil and garlic and enjoy!
One of my favorite combinations with homemade pasta is roasted butternut squash, although I can argue that butternut squash works with almost any dish because I love it so much! This week, Lacie gave me a butternut squash from her garden and I was so excited! I cut and roasted this butternut squash at a high heat with just olive oil, salt, and some onions, and then mixed it into the pasta with a little more olive oil and it was DELICIOUS! It is amazing how just a few simple ingredients can make the perfect dinner. Hope you enjoy!

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So I’m sitting on my sofa watching an awful movie called Country Strong when I realize…”OH, no I have nothing for lunch this week.”  As my co-worker, Jaclyn, could tell you…this is nothing new.  Some weeks I either skip lunch or go grab a smoothie because I’d forgotten to get lunch food that weekend.  Well not this weekend…I remembered.  But what to make?  Well this weekend Brett and I made the expensive journey to Sam’s Club.  I normally avoid bringing Brett grocery shopping because I hear a lot of this “Are we done yet?  Can I get Bagel Bites?  Are we done?  How much longer?  My feet hurt?”  but I needed him because my membership had run out and if you are a student at Sam’s you get a free 15 dollar gift card with membership…so basically for $25 dollars you get a year membership to awesomeness.    So while we were there we stocked up on; paper towels, toilet paper, detergent, oxyclean!!, and meat!  Boy we got a lot of meat.  We like to stock up on all the meat we could need (except those special steak/fish occasions) for the next four months.  We got chicken breasts, thighs, strips, ground beef, ground turkey, and steak (just a four pack :)).  I bring these all home and package them in individual bags of our portion sizes (i.e. two breasts, five thighs, etc)

Anyway the point of the story is…while organizing the freezer I found that I still had a 2.5lb pack of ground turkey from the last Sam’s trip.  What to make, what to make???  Then I found this recipe for meatballs

http://foodisluv.blogspot.com/2009/06/swedish-meatballs.html

I’ll be honest…my meatballs weren’t really rollable but that’s probably my fault for not draining the meat after defrosting.  But i just made this recipe and it’s delicious.  Super excited for lunch this week :).  No Smoothie King for me 🙂

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Another post about earrings. Last “E is for Earrings” post contained a few pictures of the earrings that I had been working on…but this post includes the ENTIRE Inventory. Feel free to offer feedback or favorites.  The two wire pair with the circular theme were made this past weekend when I had a monster cold of some sort.  Nothing like a fever to get the creative juices flowing. I really like working with wire…its a new medium and offers up plenty of challenges (for example should a piece get bent one too many times…it falls apart 😦 ) Its still fun working with different types of materials. I had a awesome tutor who was willing to show me a few tricks of the trade for which I am undoubtedly grateful.

Jaclyn and I are hoping to get a website running soon where you can purchase our wares. I’m hoping to work on that this weekend so hopefully we will have an update about that next week.  Exciting! Also exciting, Jaclyn has promised to make me some sort of treat this week that involves cinnamon which is like one of my favorite flavors.  I’m betting there is a post involved.

Also upcoming in the next few weeks (fingers crossed), is a trip to the bead store!!! In which case I’m hoping to do a little before and after post which I think will be super interesting.

Earring Info

– the copper hoops are made with citrine stones

– the brown/teal stones are blue sky jasper

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Inconceivable!

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Axel and The Front Yard

So I decided today that I’d put Axel in the front yard just for a little while so I could watch him easier.  When I study in the living room or craft in my office upstairs, its so much easier to see him if he’s in the front yard.  For some reason, unknown to me, Axel loves the front yard.  You put him in the front yard and he just walks around and has such a happy time…he never barks.  However, in the back yard the dog is content for five minutes (long enough to pee all over his area) and then he barks and barks and barks…and then barks some more…to the extent that I feel guilty leaving him out there longer than thirty minutes because I know he must be bothering the neighbors.  Its frustrating during the workweek because I get home at 6 (having gotten off work around 5:15ish and then usually have some errand to run afterward)  Then I fix something to eat and let dog out on lead so I can start studying….then a couple minutes later I have to go get him to put him in his crate because he won’t hush-up.  There’s no way I could study with him being out…our dog is a little devil and would end up hitting me with his toy relentlessly.  But anyway today he was outside for three hours and didn’t bark once…everytime I looked out he was just sitting and watching the neighborhood.  AND no holes.  So I think this week i’m going to put him out front but as soon as he starts digging…in the crate he goes for the night….no front yard holes.

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Hi y’all,

Growing up, my Momma dressed me up everyday.  I was usually decked out in a homemade dress (normally one that could be twirled) or some other very colorful outfit. And I always, always had a big bow in my hair.  Example below 🙂

Then in middle school, I went through a phase of Christmas curling ribbon in my hair..tons and tons of curling ribbon.  Through high school, I made an attempt at being cool by always wearing a ribbon around my pony tail.  Clearly none of those options was appropriate for the workplace, so I needed a mature hair accessory.  I found my first bow flower at Maurice’s when I needed something to wear to my bridal shower.  Then I realized, hey I can make these.  That was the start of my hair accessory obsession. These are a few hair accessories I’ve been working on over the past few weeks.

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Wedding Photo SneakPeak

Yay I finally got my wedding photos :).  So I’ve got my thank you notes ready to go and I’m getting ready to print some photos to work on my “mother’s scrapbooks” that I posted about earlier.  I don’t want to spoil the surprise too much so I thought I’d just share a few photos from the Wedding.

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For Lacie’s birthday, I offered to make her any dessert she wanted (other than cupcakes, because you will soon find out that she is the queen of cupcakes and I didn’t want to compete). Her request: homemade cinnamon rolls. The past month has become the quest to find and make the best cinnamon rolls. Step 1: I found three varying recipes and tried one each weekend; Step 2: I combined my favorite elements of these three recipes into the perfect cinnamon rolls; Step 3: Brought them in to see if they surpassed the birthday girl’s expectations! I like to think it was a success, although I am hopeful that I can continue to tweak my recipe to make it even better.

Some helpful tips I learned when making cinnamon rolls:

  • Instead of mixing cinnamon and white sugar together for the filling, switch the white sugar with brown sugar! This switch makes it so much richer and a stronger flavor.
  • Prior to baking, make a glaze combining: vanilla, butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar and spoon the glaze on top of each cinnamon roll. This extra topping really makes the cinnamon rolls stand out and brings out the extra flavor of cinnamon. I think with a lot of homemade cinnamon rolls the dough is the overpowering element rather than the cinnamon and this really highlights the flavor.
  • Once the dough rises the first time, cut it in half before rolling it out to make mini cinnamon rolls rather than super large cinnamon rolls. I would mainly do this for any parties, because it is always easier to for guests to snack on mini cinnamon rolls rather than huge ones! However, some lazy mornings are best served with a big cinnamon roll! 🙂
  • If you are making these cinnamon rolls the night before, do not use packets of yeast because it will not rise in the fridge and no matter how early you pull it out before baking, it still doesn’t seem to rise every time. Instead, use bread machine yeast as this yeast will allow the rolls to rise in the fridge making the rolls flakier and the dough lighter! (Learned this trick the hard way from three failed attempts of overnight cinnamon rolls.)
Hopes this helps and saves you lots of calories from trying multiple cinnamon roll recipes!! Enjoy!!

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