Thursday, April 25, 2013

fresh homemade pasta

I have been intending to make homemade fresh pasta for some time now. Unfortunately, I do not have a pasta machine, which is the main reason I have been putting it off. Today, though, I was thumbing through The Silver Spoon: Pasta, an Italian cookbook given to us as a wedding gift, and decided tonight was the night. The original recipe I was going to use from the book called for two kinds of flour that I don't have, so I abandoned that track and went in search of a simple "how to" online. What I found was a tutorial on a blog that will probably now be one of my absolute favourites, mostly because I adore Italian cooking.

The Italian Dish has a great post about making fresh pasta, along with a short video. The nice thing about making pasta is that it's not quite an exact recipe, which makes it perfect for me. Basically, it's a ratio of flour and eggs, plus a little water if needed. And there is the possibility of adding other flavours, like tomato or spinach. I decided to make the tomato-flavoured pasta because I had leftover tomato paste from the other day.
See, flour and eggs. And a food processor because that was less messy than mixing by hand.

I'm rather proud of my dough.

Look at the ickle noodles!


As you can probably see from the photos, the noodles aren't uniform and are rather thick. As a result, they had the texture of over-cooked pasta, but they still tasted excellent with the sauteed veggies (green and red bell pepper and shallots) and homemade meatballs. This meal went really well with a glass of red wine.

blessings amidst the clutter

Ah, blogging.
It's fantastic and sometimes not.
It can generate jealous and envy quicker than you can snap a finger.
(Pinterest has a way of doing that, too!)

Not that I am super prone to feelings of envy, but they can sneak up on me.
All of a sudden I look around my tiny and always cluttered home and sigh.
Why don't I have a beautiful kitchen?
Why can't the walls be free of scratches from previous owners?
Why this?
Why that?

But really, it's not such a big deal. Yeah, it may take me almost the whole week to clean up after our friends visit on the weekends (just in time for them to show up again, haha), but we spent that time with our friends. It's not our things that matter.

Obviously, I take pride in a clean house and yard and stuff.
But if when I wake up in the morning I give thanks to the Lord for all I have been given, clutter included, then I remember I am blessed.

Though you're still not seeing photos of the house on here when it's a wreck.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

curry is my favourite

For as long as I can remember, I have loved the taste of curry. At least since I was about seven or eight years old. I seem to recall eating it for the first time as a leftover because we were in a hurry to get to church on Christmas Eve for the children's service. I could be completely wrong about that and have two memories mixed up in my head, but at any rate, curry is my favourite. My mom makes an excellent chicken curry that I have made a few times, but never without her supervision. It's just one of those things I can't separate from my family. One of these days, I will make it here for Nate and me.

Tonight, though, I decided to try another chicken curry recipe I came across in the Taste of Home Cookbook. I don't use this cookbook much, but there are a few gems in it. One of them being the recipe I am about to share with you; it is super easy and can easily be made in 30 minutes if you have all your ingredients right at hand. This recipe calls for canned coconut milk and spinach, two things I thought I might never get Nate to consume. Not that I'm a huge fan of coconut milk either, but I do love spinach.

This curry is kind of incredible. Or at least I thought so. And Nate ate two full plates! With rice! Yeah, I was more than a little excited about that. Like I said, curry is my favourite. I don't know what I would do if he didn't like it, too.


curry chicken (adapted from the Taste of Home Cookbook) 

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tsp curry powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 small onion, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 cups fresh baby spinach
1 cup chopped tomato

Sprinkle chicken with curry, salt, and pepper. In a large skillet, saute chicken and onion in oil until chicken is no longer pink. Stir coconut milk and tomato paste into the chicken mixture; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until thickened. Add spinach and tomato; cook 2-3 minutes longer or until spinach is wilted.
Serve with white rice.

Notes: The original recipe called for canola oil, but since I don't use that, I substituted olive oil. I also didn't really measure my spices, but that's obviously up to you! And I added one extra spice into the sauce; Berbere Seasoning from Penzeys Spices, which is super spicy but with only 1 tsp it added the perfect kick.

apple-almond teacakes with vanilla cream

Other than Monday, this week has been rain. I don't have another word for it. Water, water everywhere. So anyway. All this rain put me in a baking mood, but I didn't get around to actually baking until today. And then of course when I decided I wanted to bake something, I was out of eggs, so had to run to the store, etc.

What to bake, though? Cupcakes were what I was most craving. So I planned to make a recipe out of this book (which is a totally different cover than mine...hmm):


When the subtitle says infinite, it's not kidding. This book is so cool and I can't believe this is the first time I've actually baked any cupcakes from it. The issue was usually that I didn't have the right type of sugar, but I fixed that last week while grocery shopping, so....

I knew I wanted apple and almond flavors together, which was convenient because there is a recipe in this book for just that! So I started mixing the batter and went in search of a muffin pan (already had the cupcake liners out). Somehow I don't own a muffin pan. Well, that was frustrating. But I did unearth my heart-shaped doughnut pan. Ah well, better than nothing. So I made baked doughnuts which actually turned into little cakes with a heart-shaped depression in the center because I filled the pan too high. But I didn't care because once topped with oodles of freshly whipped cream with vanilla and sugar, the cakes were delicious. Oh, and they totally didn't look like hearts anymore....

Yeah, I already ate three of them.
And finished the leftover cream.


Apple-almond cupcakes (adapted from 10,000 Cupcakes by Susanna Tee)

1 apple
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup superfine sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 extra large eggs
1/2 cup plus 2/3 cups self-rising flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with 12 cupcake liners. Peel, core, and finely chop the apple. Combine butter, sugar, and almond extract in a bowl and whisk until light and fluffy. Add the eggs carefully and whisk well. Sift in the flour and baking powder; fold in. Stir in the apple. (Don't use an electric mixer for the apple!!) Spoon into the liners and bake for 20-25 minutes until firm to the touch. Cool on a wire rack.

Vanilla cream

2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp superfine sugar

Combine ingredients in a large bowl. Using an electric hand mixer, whisk together until the cream is thick and holds its shape. Use to cover 12 cupcakes, either with a pastry bag and tip or just using a knife.

Monday, April 15, 2013

has spring arrived at last?

Happy Monday! And Tax Day!

On second thought, that's not very happy for most people. And even though I don't work outside the home right now, I hate Mondays as much as everyone else. Partly as a leftover feeling from my college days.

But this morning I took my coffee outside on the deck and almost started crying because it feels so beautiful outside. It even smells like spring. At last. The sun is shining, the river is flowing, and my tulips are poking out of the ground. I noticed my tulips last week and got so excited, but now I'm ecstatic because the weather is lovely. I'm crossing my fingers that it stays that way.

This is a short post to welcome spring officially (I hope!), and to let you all know that I now have a camera!! One of my dearest friends was so kind to sell her old one to me at a discount price. It's not new, but it works perfectly, and besides it is new to me! I haven't taken many photos yet, and the ones I have taken are of my cats and my feet, but perhaps I'll have some photos of the yard to share in the near future. :)

Now, rather than going to the gym to workout this morning, I am going to put on my gardening hat and muck boots and get some yardwork done!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

an in-between time

The snow still covers the ground, which is fine with me, but I also would like to get outside without having to wear winter boots. That would be nice. The air is slowly warming up, and it did rain over the weekend. But it snowed again yesterday. Ah well. Such is Wisconsin!

My blog is suffering in this in-between time, as we transition from winter to spring. Not having a camera really doesn't help. I seriously hate posting without pictures, especially because many of my post ideas need pictures. I entered a giveaway over at Mommypotamus for the Canon T3i, which is the camera that I've been drooling over for a long time now. The giveaway ends at the end of the month, I think. Crossing my fingers and hoping hard! In the meantime, we have some spare cash, so maybe I'll just bite the bullet and buy an inexpensive point-and-shoot camera. Or go for the all-weather one from Nikon since that'd be apropos for our lifestyle. Hmm. Decisions.

At this point, I'm planning out the vegetable garden, ordering seeds, basking in every little bit of sunshine there is (speaking of which, be right back!), mourning the melting snow (yes, I really do like to hang onto winter; besides, melting snow makes me sad), and mentally planning the camping trips that we'll never get to take.

So, back to my cup of organic coffee and my seed catalogs.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

tea tuesday: Teavana Earl Grey Creme$slge$

When I first tasted tea as a child, I had a cup of some french vanilla tea. It was delicious. But then I had a cup of Earl Grey. It was even better.

Since that moment, nigh on 18 years ago, Earl Grey has been my favorite tea. My tea tastes have broadened considerably since then, of course. I can't recall a tea I didn't like.

But anyway. Earl Grey. What a stately name. There are many versions of Earl Grey out there. Nearly every tea company produces one. I guess that shows how popular it is. One of the best that I've ever tried is the Earl Grey Creme from Teavana. First of all, Teavana only sells loose leaf tea. That automatically makes their tea better than some other companies. Yes, I'm a tea snob, though you wouldn't know it from looking at my tea cabinet -- most of the tea in there is in teabags.

Earl Grey Creme is a black tea flavoured with bergamot orange. Bergamot is an acquired taste, I think. I know that my Grandma, who of all people ought to love Earl Grey, says she does not because of the bergamot. Ah well, more for me!

Here is the description from the Teavana website:

High tea is further elevated with tart bergamot orange tastefully tempered by creamy Madagascar vanilla then blended with the classic pomp of an Earl Grey black tea. A majestically smooth confection that is now available any time the senses desire. Sprinkled with sunny yellow marigold petals, this full leaf wonder is divinely delicious with a silky sweet finish. 

The tea that I have doesn't have the yellow marigold petals, so this must be a recent addition. The photo above doesn't really show those, either. One reviewer on the page said that it doesn't taste quite the same, so I guess we shall have to see.

But if you're looking for a stately and delicious cup of tea, try Earl Grey. It's delectable with a splash of cream and two lumps of sugar. And don't forget the scones!