Fresh Pasta

DInner, Uncategorized

fresh pasta / forkful of awesome

When I sat outside at a picnic table eating this heavenly pasta, I was in a state of euphoria.  The expression, “I couldn’t be happier” came out of my mouth repeatedly.  It was the truth.  I was totally consumed by the present moment.

It wasn’t until half way through my plate of pasta that I took a moment to look at my surroundings.  Here I was on my friend’s farm.  We sat under a walnut tree, looking out over the pond.  The sound of her chickens and donkeys was in the background.  Her children, busy in the kitchen, rolling out remnant pieces of pasta dough.  In front of me, the most delicious pasta and across from me, a wonderful friend.

ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME!?  No, I’m not.  This for real happened.  Yesterday.  Now, lest it get too blissful for you, I’ll keep it real.  Have you ever been in such a state of peace and happiness that you yank yourself out of it?  Do you start thinking, “I still have 50 other things to accomplish today, I really should be at work, do I deserve to be doing this right now, damn I forgot to email that person back”…? And on and on it goes.  I started doing that yesterday.  And then I stopped.

I’m over it.  I’m over the rat race, the never-ending quest to get ahead, the excess, the over-consumption, over-stimulation, over-scheduling.  These thoughts have been swirling around in my head for some time.  And yesterday, just a simple plate of pasta that my friend and I made by hand confirmed what I already knew.  Enough is enough.

That one plate of pasta taught me a lot.  Maybe it can do something as amazing for you.  Enjoy!  xox

fresh pasta / forkful of awesome

Fresh Pasta

serves 4

Special equipment: you will need a pasta maker.  Hop on Amazon and have one at your door in 2 days.  Bam.

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 extra large eggs

 

  • Put flour in a large pile on a clean work surface.  Make a shallow well in the flour, and add your eggs.  (You really do want it to be shallow.  My first try, I made more of a volcano shape, and those eggs were erupting!)
  • fresh pasta / forkful of awesomeWith a fork, gently whisk the eggs, and then slowly begin to incorporate the flour into the eggs from the edges of your well.  Be patient, it will soon come together in a shaggy mess.  Once this happens, begin to knead the dough in the flour.  Continue kneading until all the flour is incorporated and you’re left with a smooth ball of dough.  If it’s too sticky, add more flour.  If it’s too dry, wet your hands with some water.  Knead for about 3-5 minutes.

fresh pasta / forkful of awesome

  • Wrap your dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for 20 minutes.  Follow your pasta maker instructions to roll out your pasta into your desired shape.
  • fresh pasta / forkful of awesomeCook your pasta for just a couple minutes in salted water.  Top with olive oil, parmesan cheese, and fresh cracked black pepper.  Eat and be happy.

Scottish Oatmeal Scones

Breakfast, Uncategorized

Scottish Oatmeal Scones

I can’t remember a Christmas morning without my mom’s scones.  I don’t even think Christmas would exist without these scones!  Everything would just fade away, and that would be the end of that.  Goodbye sweet world- nice knowing you.  These are the first scones I ever ate, and to be quite honest, I believe they’re the only scones worth eating.  Those other scones you buy in a coffee shop aren’t even in the same category as my mom’s scones.  In fact, I hate that these are even called scones.  I don’t want my sweet, delicious, moist scones associating with “that” crowd.

You really just have to make these to believe how bomb-ass they really are.  To be honest, if I saw this simple ingredient list, I would think, “Ehh, nothing special.  Moving on.”  And I would be horribly wrong.  No exotic spices.  No fancy fruits or flours.  No extra trips to specialty markets.  I think the simplicity is what makes these so good, yet they don’t taste simple.  Sweet mysteries of life.  Oh, for crying out loud, just make them so I can say, “I told you so.”  And then we can do our “jumping for scones” dance together.

These are the perfect weekend treat and not to be reserved for just Christmas morning.  The recipe can easily be doubled if you’re feeding a crowd.  Make this fritatta with the scones, and you have a perfect brunch menu. Oh, and mimosas.  Always mimosas.

Scottish Oatmeal Scones

Servings: 6

Adapted from my mom’s recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, diced
  • 1 cup oats, quick-cooking or old-fashioned
  • 1/4 cup currants, raisins, or dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tsp coarse sugar (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Mix on slow speed until combined.
  3. Add the cold butter and mix until it resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. Add the oats and currants and mix to combine.
  5. Slowly add the milk and mix just until the dough comes together.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and form into a 8-9 inch circle.
  7. Cut into 6 pie wedges and separate onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  8. Brush the top of the dough with the melted butter, and sprinkle with the coarse sugar.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes until just golden around the edges.
  10. Devour.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Spicy Sausage, Sweet Potato, and Fig Skewers

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sweet potato sausage fig 1

When my bestie called me last week and asked if I could cater a real estate brokers’ open house, I literally jumped up and down in my kitchen for 5 minutes straight.  I was all like, “Hold up, you’re telling me I get to do what I love AND make money doing it?  Hells yeah!”  And then after I chilled out, I realized, “Oh crap, now I actually have to work.”

So, I made 4 lovely appetizers for the evening, and man, it was fun.  I had the luxury of hanging out with adults only for 3 hours, feed them, and drink the home seller’s delicious wine.  Can’t beat it. These spicy sausage, sweet potato, and fig skewers were definitely the highlight of the evening, and thus, I will share with you lucky folks.  I was inspired by a recipe from Yotom Ottolenghi’s book Jerusalemwhich is a sweet potato and fig salad with a balsamic reduction.  I decided to make it into an appetizer, and it works… really well.  And it’s simple too.

Spicy Sausage, Sweet Potato, and Fig Skewers (with a balsamic jalapeno reduction)

Makes 48 skewers

Ingredients:

  • 6 spicy sausages, each sliced into 8 pieces.  Use something that won’t fall apart when sliced.  I used Aidell’s Habenero Pepper Jack Sausage.
  • 2-3 sweet potatoes, cut into about 1 inch cubes
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt
  • 12 fresh figs, quartered
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced into thin rounds
  • 48 small skewers

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, toss together your cubes of sweet pertater, olive oil, and a good pinch of salt. (Side note- to get even cubes of potato, I usually slice off the 4 rounded sides of the potato, as well as the tips. Then I’m left with a pretty decent rectangle of tuber.)
  • Bake the sweet potatoes for 15 minutes.  While the sweet potato is in the oven, put your sausage on another baking sheet and spread out evenly.
  • Once the 15 minutes is up, turn your sweet potatoes and put back in the oven, ALONG with the sausage for another 15 minutes.
  • While everything is cooking, you can make the balsamic reduction to drizzle over the skewers.  Yum.  In a small saucepan, add the balsamic vinegar, sugar, and jalapeno.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 3-4 minutes until it’s the consistency of honey.  Remove from the heat.
  • Once your sweet potato and sausage have cooled enough to handle, put a piece of sweet potato, a piece of sausage, and a piece of fig onto a skewer.  Plate and drizzle with the balsamic reduction.
  • Eat.  Then notice the sound of angels singing your praises.
"Lalalala"- that's the angels singing.

“Lalalala”- that’s the angels singing.

Thanks again Erin Lewis (my bestie) and Missy Walden, for offering me this fantastic catering opportunity!

xox.

Anytime, Anything You Want Frittata

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Wanna impress the husband, the children, the in-laws, the whoevs?  Make this frittata for breakfast.  It’s so easy because there are only a few rules to follow, and the rest is up to you.  You basically use whatever leftover veg you have in your fridge that you’ve forgotten about, any random leftover sausage, grilled chicken from the night before, or no meat if you swing that way.  Then find a sliver of cheese in your deli drawer.  Have some fresh herbs floating about?  Great, throw that in too!  Pour some eggs over it, throw it under the broiler, and voila, a beautiful breakfast.  Now, use this as a form of bribery to get a loved one to finally clean out the gutters.

My recipe will be what I created this one particular morning.  However, I’ve never made the same combination more than once.  And that’s the beauty of it- something new every time!  Also, this is the perfect quick lunch or dinner too, accompanied with a simple green salad.

If you are feeding a large group, just add more filling and eggs.  A general rule would be 2 eggs for each person.

cooked frittata 2_Fotor

 

Anytime, Anything You Want Frittata

Feeds 2 greedy individuals

Special equipment: A oven-safe frying pan

Ingredients: (Remember, this is more of a guideline than a recipe)

  • 1-2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 2 spicy andouille sausages, sliced thinly
  • 1 jalapeno, finely diced
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • salt
  • cheese, shredded
  • cilantro, chopped

Directions:

  • Preheat your broiler to low.
  • Melt the butter in your pan over medium heat.
  • Saute your onion, pepper, and jalapeno until softened, about 5 minutes.  Season with a pinch of salt.
  • Add the sliced sausage, and cook until browned, about 3 minutes.
Mmm, fillings cooking nicely.

Mmm, fillings cooking nicely.

  • Season your eggs with some salt, and pour evenly over the veg and meat.
  • Sprinkle the cheese over, and let cook on the stove for about 2 minutes.
Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

  • Transfer that thang under the broiler and let it cook until the eggs are set and the top is golden, maybe 4-5 minutes.  Keep a close eye on your frittata while it’s cooking!
  • Remove from oven, and top with cilantro.  Serve with some hot sauce and maybe some sour cream.
  • Also, please please make sure you keep your oven mitt on the pan handle so you remember the handle is blasted HOT!  I learned my lesson the hard way, and I shouted lots of bad words.
Bribery in full effect.  Bwahahaha!

Bribery in full effect. Bwahahaha!

 

Thumbs up to you frittata.

Thumbs up to you frittata.

This is as much excitement you’ll get out of me in the morning.

Enjoy!  xox

 

Cream of Many Mushrooms Soup

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I have been given the honor and privilege to cater lunches for  Willowmere Weekends, conducted by my lovely friend Jen on her gorgeous farm.  Each month, Jen hosts a weekend retreat designed to help you grow, learn, evolve, and create.  This past Sunday, I was so fortunate to attend one of Jen’s retreats called “Get Your Joy On”.  And man, did I ever get my joy on!   Joy like not having to share a bottle of Veuve Cliquot champagne.  And then I got to serve lunch to some fantastic women!  And no kids around ALL day. Can’t beat that kind of Sunday.

So, here is le menu from Sunday:

Starter: Cream of Many Mushrooms Soup with Sage Croutons

Main Course: Winter Salad with a Goat’s Cheese Mousse, along with homemade french baguette

Dessert: Clementine Almond Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting

It was the perfect meal for a cold, rainy day.  Very nourishing for the body and soul too.  Here is the recipe for the Cream of Mushroom Soup.  It is all mushrooms, with a splash of liquid to make it an actual soup.  Umm, so you gotta like mushrooms to like this recipe.

Cream of Many Mushrooms Soup

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen‘s recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 oz dried mushrooms, any variety will do
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 springs of rosemary (thyme will work here too)
  • 4 springs of sage
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lb. white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 lb. shitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced (I think cremini mushrooms will work here too)
  • 1/2 cup dry Marsala wine
  • 6 cups vegetable stock, chicken stock, beef stock, or water
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp butter

Directions:

  • Soak the dried mushrooms in 1 cup hot water and leave soaking until needed.
  • Heat 1/2 cup olive oil over medium heat in a large pot.  Yes, it sounds like a lot of olive oil, and you’re welcome to cut back some if you’d like, but it’s a lot of mushrooms that need to be sauteed!  Let those mushrooms have some olive oil love!
  • Tie together the rosemary and thyme sprigs with some kitchen twine, and drop into the hot oil.  Let it bubble in the oil for a minute.
  • Add the onion and garlic to the pot, along with a large pinch of salt.  Cook until the onions are softened, about 5-6 minutes.
  • Turn up the heat to medium high and plop in your sliced mushrooms.  Saute for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms have released their water and have a nice brown color to them.
Saute those mushrooms.

Saute those mushrooms.

  • Once your mushrooms are nice and browned, deglaze the pan with the Marsala wine.  Marsala wine is found in any grocery store, usually located around the sherry or port in the wine section.  It’s not the end of the world if you don’t have Marsala wine, but if definitely adds the element of depth to your soup.
  • When most of the Marsala has evaporated, add the stock or water, the re-hydrated mushrooms, and the mushroom tea they were soaking in.  Simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Add the heavy cream and butter.  Once again, I think the heavy cream is crucial to give the soup it’s velvety, satisfying texture and taste, but you’re welcome to add less heavy cream or none at all.  (Don’t be a chicken, go for the cream)  Remove the bundle of herbs.
  • Put the soup into a blender and blend until creamy.  This will have to be done in a couple batches since it’s a big old amount of soup.  Or, you can use an immersion blender and skip the blender.
  • Serve the soup warm with a dollop of sour cream, some browned sausage, and/or these yummy croutons.

Sage Croutons

  • Trim the crusts from 3-4 slices of white or sourdough bread.  Cut the bread into cubes.  Heat a saute pan over medium heat along with 1-2 tbsp olive oil or butter.  Add the cubed bread to the pan along with 1/2 tsp dried sage and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Saute until the bread has nicely browned.
I served the mushroom soup in a jam jar.

I served the mushroom soup in a jam jar.

Time to dive in.

Time to dive in.

Make a batch of this hearty soup this week and let me know what you think.  It’s the best I’ve come across, and I hope you agree.  Oh, and it only gets better the next day, so it’s the perfect entertaining meal since you can make it a couple days in advance.  More retreat recipes tomorrow!  xox

Roasted Apples and Figs Compote

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It’s fall, and it’s rainy and cold.  You need to make this compote.  It’s freaking amazing.  Put it on ice cream, yogurt, french toast, oatmeal, or eat it plain by the spoonful.  End of story.  You’re welcome.

Roasted Apples and Figs Compote

Ingredients:

  • 4 large or 5 small apples, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 7-9 fresh figs, quartered
  • 3/4 cup orange juice (I think apple cider would be amazing too)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup raisins (golden raisins would be lovely.  Dried cranberries too)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 lemon, zested
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • slight pinch of ground cloves (optional)
  • 1-2 tbsp butter, diced
Diced apples

Diced apples

 

Quartered figs

Quartered figs

 

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Heap all ingredients except butter into a casserole dish.  Mix together with a spoon.
  • Scatter diced butter on top on mixture.
Ready to go in the oven

Ready to go in the oven

  • Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and give a good mix.
  • Bake another 30 minutes.
  • By now, your house will smell like fall heaven.  It’s a good idea to have friends over so they can marvel at the smell.
  • Then, scoop some vanilla ice cream or salted caramel gelato into small bowls. Spoon hot compote over ice cream, and commence having a mouth orgasm.
Finished compote

Finished compote

Compote with homemade yogurt

Compote with homemade yogurt

 

 

Sunday Eat Some Chili Funday

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Sunday Funday Chili

Sunday Funday Chili

The leaves are falling, the temperature is dropping, the husband is glued to a football game.  And that means, it’s time to pull out your large dutch oven (go ahead and laugh about dutch oven…  I’ll be waiting.  In fact, the only reason I’m writing this post is so I could use the word dutch oven. Okay, done?) and make a big pot of hearty chili.

I’ve been making chili since I first got married, almost 11 years ago.  And why not?  It’s easy, filling, fast to assemble, and you can eat the leftovers for several days afterwards.  So, when the husband asks what I think to be one of the worst questions in the world, “What’s for dinner?”, you can say “Chili!  Again!  For the fourth night in a row!”  And if you’re going to be eating that much chili, it better be good chili!  Here’s a picture of Taylor the Husband during our first year married.  He is obviously super excited about the chili on the stove top.  Isn’t he so lovable?

It's chili time!

It’s chili time!

I got my original recipe from my father-in-law, and it has since evolved into it’s own being.  This is the basic recipe.  Almost every time I make chili, it is some variation of this recipe.  For example, I may fry up some slices of bacon and use the drippings to cook my vegetables in, reserving the bacon to garnish the chili.  I may use different beans depending on what’s in my pantry.  I have many times used a bottle of marinara sauce in place of the diced tomatoes, and it turns out brilliant.  You can make it spicier or not spicy at all.  Whatever makes your tail wag.  And try to go for nice happy grass-fed meats and organic veg and beans.  So have fun, make it your own, and don’t let your significant other dutch oven you after eating your chili!

Sunday Funday Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, yellow, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, green, yellow, orange, or red, diced
  • 1 jalapeno ( more if you want more spice, or you can omit)
  • 1 lb. ground beef (you can also use ground bison, turkey, or venison)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp  ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika or regular
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes or to taste
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or to taste
  • 2 15 oz. cans diced tomatoes (fire roasted is great)
  • 2 15 oz. cans chili beans (mild or medium)
  • 1 or 2 15 oz. cans black beans (you could also use kidney beans too), drained and rinsed.
  • 1 can corn, drained (frozen, defrosted corn is cool too)
  • 1 bottle of beer, whatever kind you have (you can also use chicken stock in place of beer)
  • Garnishes such as avocado, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream or plain yogurt, cilantro, diced red onion, and tortilla chips

Instructions:

  • Heat olive oil over medium heat in your dutch oven or large soup pot.
  • Add onion and pepper and add a pinch of salt.  Cook for 5 minutes until softened.
  • Add diced jalapeno and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Crumble ground beef into the vegetables and brown.  Season with salt and pepper.  Let the meat get a nice brown color- this means flavor.
  • Now mix in all the spices and let the spices warm and develop flavor for 2 minutes.
Spices Lineup

Spices Lineup

  • Add the tomatoes, beans, corn, and beer.  Bring the chili to a simmer and continue to simmer for at least an hour.
Chili simmering away.

Chili simmering away.

  • Garnish with whatever you please and enjoy!
The chili is done when it's thickened and turned a rich red color.

The chili is done when it’s thickened and turned a rich red color.

And look, Taylor the Husband still likes it after 11 years!

He likes it, he really likes it.

He likes it, he really likes it.

The Comfort of the Chocolate Chip Cookie

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It was a rough weekend.  Usually a family get-together is something to be happy and excited about.  Well, not this time.  We were all together in Pittsburgh to celebrate the life of my grandfather.  Rough stuff.

Sometimes you need comfort in the worst way.  Besides a bottle of champagne and a Xanax, I can’t think of anything more comforting than the humble chocolate chip cookie.  And no, I’m not talking about a store-bought, hard, processed cookie (that rhymes with Lips Oh Boy), or a vegan faux chocolate chip cookie made with chick peas and kale.  I’m talking about a huge, homemade, buttery, soft, warm, chocolate chip cookie.  With a tall glass of cold milk.  I swear, I can feel my muscles relax and my blood pressure drop 10 points just thinking about it.  Who needs Xanax when you have cookie nirvana?

And whoever says that you shouldn’t seek comfort by way of food is a twat.  But, that’s just my opinion.

The following recipe is not my creation.  It’s from America’s Test Kitchen.  I made these cookies for a dinner party, and that was the end of that.  I burned all other chocolate chip cookie recipes in a blaze of glory.

A couple notes: 1) If you’re so inclined, you can add raisins, nuts, shredded coconut, whatever to these cookies.  I am not inclined.  I love the pure simplicity of this recipe.  When it’s good, don’t mess with it.  But don’t let me tell you what to do.  2) Make the dough ahead of time, portion out, and freeze.  Then, have a homemade chocolate chip cookie whenever the urge hits you.  Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake for 25 minutes.

Big and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 20 large cookies (depending on how much cookie dough you scarf down)

Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 16 tbsp or 2 sticks butter, melted and cooled (I always use salted, use what you prefer)
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 12 oz. or 2 cups bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chip cookies (quality counts)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.  Set aside.

Beat the cooled butter and sugar using beaters or an electric mixer for 1-2 minutes.  Then add the eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla and beat for about 30 seconds.

Add the flour mixture to the eggy, sugary mixture, and mix until just combined.  Mix in the chocolate chips.  Eat a piece of cookie dough.

Either use a 1/4 cup measuring cup or an ice cream scoop, and portion dough onto 2 baking sheets, lined with parchment paper.  Space about 2-3 inches apart.  Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until the middles are still soft and puffy.  The worst thing you want to do here is over bake your cookies.  When you look at them and think, “Hmmm, maybe a couple more minutes”, that’s when you take them out.  Do it!

Big balls of chocolate heaven.

Big balls of chocolate heaven.

 

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes and then transfer to wire cooling racks.  Let cool as long as possible, until you can’t stand it anymore.

Pour a tall glass of milk, put a cookie on a plate, crawl into your bed, and yummmmm.  Go get another.

Stack of comfort.

Stack of comfort.

 

Box up some cookies and share with people you REALLY love.  Only the ones you really love.  Spread the comfort.  xox

Kids and cookies.

Kids and cookies.

 

Homemade Yogurt

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Ugh, it just sounds so pretentious doesn’t it?  “Well…… I only eat fresh, homemade yogurt that I then lovingly feed to my super-wholesome family.”

But you see, I have a very hard time finding decent yogurt in your everyday grocery stores.  Do you know what the ingredients are for yogurt?  Milk and cultures.  Or, if you’re making it homemade, the ingredients are milk and a spoonful of yogurt.  Doesn’t get more basic then that.  But have you looked at the ingredients label of flavored, fat free yogurt?  It’s long and scary.  Why are there so many ingredients?  Well, you try making a tasty non fat, no sugar, artificially sweetened yogurt and see how many ingredients you need to make it palatable.

I decided enough was enough.  I was tired of driving 30 minutes to a decent grocery store just to find some acceptable yogurt.  I called up my most amazing friend Jen and begged for her yogurt recipe.  She graciously shared.  I discovered Jen’s yogurt when I went to her house for lunch a couple weeks ago, and she was kind enough to share her precious yogurt with me.  And it was a spoonful of heaven.  You know when plain yogurt is quite sour and makes your face do this?

Sour face.

Sour face.

Well, this yogurt doesn’t have that bitter, sour flavor at all.  It’s honestly great just plain.  That said, it takes it to a whole new yogurt level with a drizzle of honey.

Please please use whole milk to make this recipe!  And organic if you can splurge.  And if you wanna be extra crazy, buy a share of a cow on a participating farm (at least here in VA) and get fresh milk directly from your cow every week.

One last note- the yogurt must sit in a cooler filled 1/2 way up your jar with your hottest tap water for 7-9 hours.  This is a long time, so my advice is to let it sit overnight while getting your much-needed 8 hours of beauty sleep.

Homemade Yogurt

Ingredients:

  • milk
  • plain yogurt, room temperature

Other tools:

  • non-reactive pot, such as stainless steel or enameled
  • food thermometer

Instructions:

Begin with a very clean, non-reactive pot.

Milk warming, slowly, very slowly.

Milk warming, slowly, very slowly.

SLOWLY heat your milk, uncovered.  How much milk?  That depends?  How much yogurt do you want to make?  I used 4 cups, or 1 quart of milk. Do not let your milk boil.  Continue to heat up the milk until it reaches of a temperature between 180-185 degree F.  This will take about 20-30 minutes, but it doesn’t need much attention.  You just need to stir every once in a while and check it’s temp.  Meanwhile, look up pictures of Ryan Gosling on the computer.

Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling

Okay milk is hot (and now so are you after your Ryan Gosling fantasies).  So, remove the pot from the heat, and let the milk cool to 110-115 degrees F.

Meanwhile, make sure your jar or container is very clean too.  Put 2 tbsp. plain yogurt per quart (4 cups) of milk into your jar.  So, if you’re making 2 cups of yogurt, add 1 tbsp. yogurt.  Yay math.

Pour your warm milk over the yogurt and seal tightly with your lid.

Place your jar in a cooler, and add your hottest tap water 1/2 way up the side of the jar.

Goodnight yogurt

Goodnight yogurt

Let it sit in the cooler for 7-9 hours, then refrigerate and enjoy!

Yogurt heaven

Yogurt heaven with honey

Zucchini Salad with Comte Cheese, Pine Nuts, and Herbs

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Hurry!  Make this!  I see autumn food on the horizon, encroaching quickly!  If you have any zucchini left in your garden, or if you come across some at the Farmer’s Market, grab a few and make this for an easy. fast, fresh lunch.  I came up with this recipe a couple weeks ago when I had zucchini overtaking my garden.  I had to get creative with how to use it all without overdosing on zucchini bread.

You will need one special tool for this recipe, but it’s cheap and you can get one at any kitchen supply store.  It’s called a julienne peeler, and it’s what makes your ribbons of zucchini for your salad.  And this is how it works…

Just run your julienne peeler along the zucchini.

Just run your julienne peeler along the zucchini.

And then you end up with beautiful "zucchini spaghetti".  Lovely.

And then you end up with beautiful “zucchini spaghetti”. Lovely.

So here’s the recipe:

Zucchini Salad with Comte Cheese, Pine Nuts, and Herbs

Serves 1 very nicely, or 2 people if you’re serving as a side dish

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 large zucchini or 2 small
  • 1-2 oz. Comte cheese (or a chunk of Parmesan, or Swiss, or even goat’s cheese.  Whatever you have.)
  • a handful of toasted pine nuts (toast in a dry skillet for a couple minutes, but watch!  They burn quickly.)
  • a couple leaves each of mint and basil, chopped

Dressing:

  • a squirt of Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Instructions:

  • Right, super easy.  Julienne your zucchini(s) into your serving bowl, just as shown above.  I like to julienne the zucchini until you get to the seeds in the middle.  Then I just rotate the zucchini and continue peeling on all 4 sides.  You’ll be left with a skinny, floppy middle that you can feed to your guinea pig.
  • Crumble your cheese into the bowl.
  • Add the pine nuts and herbs.
  • Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Want it sweeter?  Add more maple syrup or honey.  More piquant you say?  Get generous with the mustard.  You get the idea.
  • Pour dressing over the zucchini, smulch together, and voila- lunch fit for someone as fab as your bad self.

Here is my experience eating my zucchini salad.  Enjoy.

Stuffing my face with delish zucchini

Stuffing my face with delish zucchini

Happy yum.

Happy yum.

Oh crap, last bite.

Oh crap, last bite.

Now I'm sad it's all gone.

Now I’m sad it’s all gone.

Oh wait, I have wine- yay!

Oh wait, I have wine- yay!