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Eat Your Greens Pasta

7 Aug

Here’s something about me you might not guess from all the baked goods I make: I like to eat healthy.  I exercise a ton, take omega-3 supplements, am always trying to eat enough greens (thus my daily kale smoothies); you get the picture.  I also like things to taste GOOD. I mean it – I LOVE food. I love eating.  I also love eating out, which often presents a decision crisis for me: do I eat healthy or delicious or sacrifice a bit of both.  There are the occasional restaurants where this conundrum doesn’t present itself, but the easiest place to eat is my own kitchen.

Greens

This homemade pasta fits the bill – it’s packed with greens (basically as much as I could fit in without the pasta falling apart) and tastes amazing.  Like homemade pasta should.

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I cooked it up with more veggies (surprise!) and made an awesome pasta primavera.  Just some green onions and an assortment of yummy veggies sauteed together, topped off with white wine, lemon zest, parmesan, and a little pasta water (not to mention the ubiquitous S&P). Oh yum.

Veggies2

You will need a stand mixer for this and either a pasta attachment or a hand-crank pasta maker. Alternatively, you can do this without a mixer, but I read somewhere that you have to knead so hard/long that your butt will sweat.  I recently experienced this making a batch of bagels without a mixer and it wasn’t pretty.  My arms were sore for days (we won’t even discuss the state of my clothing).

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Homemade Cocktail Bitters

10 Jan

I have a secret: I want to be a bartender.  (I even took a week long bar tending class but left after day 1 – long story but I don’t think it would translate well to text. ) Only I don’t like to stay up too late, am often called shy, and sometimes like to mix in my pjs. So for now, my home bar will have to do.

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I must say, I can’t complain.  Hubby and I have collected a number of different things that fill out our bar nicely.  And mixology is a lot like cooking – you can experiment with quantities and mixtures quite a bit to find tastes that suit you.

Two things that help with this are special liqueurs and cocktail bitters.  Both of these can turn an ordinary rye or vodka drink into something far more complex. And since you can make bitters at home, I did.

Bitters are relatively simple to make, but they involve some funky ingredients (bitter spices) and time.  Not hands on time, but storing jars in your closet and shaking occasionally time. They are worth it though. Your cocktails will thank you and so will your friends – bottled up they make excellent gifts.

Bitters

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Pumpkin Puree (and Pumpkin Seeds)

28 Dec

Making your own pumpkin puree is pretty easy and completely worthwhile – pumpkin treats made with homemade (rather than canned) pumpkin are amazing.

Ingredients:

one sugar pumpkin (at least 2 lbs)

for the seeds, use whatever seasoning appeals to you: salt, cumin, chile powder, cinnamon, sugar, etc.

Directions:

Cut pumpkin in half using large, strong knife.  Scrape out insides, reserving seeds. You can then cook in either the microwave or the oven.

To cook in the microwave, put half of the pumpkin in a microwavable dish with a lid. Add about 1 inch of water and microwave for about 10 minutes, until soft.  Set aside to cool and repeat with second half.

To cook in the oven, put both halves cut side down in a baking dish.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 mins to and hour, until soft and easily pierced with a fork.  Let cool.

Once pumpkin halves are cooled, remove skin and puree in a food processor.  Use in any recipe that calls for pumpkin puree.  If you have extra, you can freeze it for later use.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Remove all pulp from the pumpkin seeds and rinse.  Dry with a towel and put on a baking sheet.  Season liberally and bake at 200 degrees, tossing every 15 minutes until crispy and golden – about 1 hour.

I used cumin and red chile (my favorites flavors) and a bit of salt.  The seeds also taste delicious with cinnamon and sugar.

Pie Dough

28 Nov

I strongly believe that if you have some extra time, you should make your pie dough from scratch.  It is relatively easy and can be made up to 2 months in advance. If you have a food processor, it is a complete cinch – if not, you just have to sweat a little more.

This first recipe is for my favorite all butter recipe – Martha Stewart’s Pate Brisee.   I have also adapted it to make a vegan equivalent. No matter which one you choose, THE KEY to a flaky crust is keeping it cold and not overworking it.  The reason you cut the fat (butter or shortening) into small pieces it to leave small clumps of fat that can burst in the oven and create layers (or flakes) in the crust.

Both crusts make enough for two 9″ pies or 1 two-crust pie. They can also both be used for savory or sweet pies. Yum!

Ingredients for all butter crust:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small 1/2 inch cubes, then frozen until ready to use
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
~~~~~~~~~
 Ingredients for vegan crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 sticks Earth Balance, chilled, cut into small 1/2 inch cubes, then frozen until ready to use
4 tablespoons ice water

Directions (for both types of crust):

FOOD PROCESSOR:

In the food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar.

Add butter (or butter substitute), and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.

While the machine is running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together – it shouldn’t be wet or sticky. Try not to pulse for very long, as the longer your work it, the warmer the butter gets. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is too crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Divide dough into two equal balls.

Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 2 months.

When you are ready to use the dough, roll out between two sheets of plastic wrap, flipping occasionally as needed. Roll until the dough is roundish (can fit into bottom of pan) and is evenly 1/4 ” thin.

BY HAND:

Combine dry ingredients using a fork.  Add butter and mix using a pastry knife or two knives to blend in butter/butter substiute.  Stop when it resembles small peas in the flour.  Try not to overwork, as you want the butter to stay COLD.  Add the water a tablespoon at a time, using the pastry knife. Then, follow the rest of the food processor steps…

Homemade Tomato Sauce

9 Nov

Once I discovered how simple it was to make a delicious, homemade sauce from scratch, I (basically) stopped using sauce from the jar.  This is a simple, spicy tomato sauce that can be used over pasta, in baked dishes, or even used as a pizza sauce. I have about a billion variations on it and will change the seasoning depending on what I have fresh or how I am feeling.

Ingredients:

1-2 TBSP olive oil

small onion, diced

2-3 cloves garlic, crushed and sliced thinly

32-oz can diced tomatoes

2 teaspoons fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried)

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary (or 1 tsp dried)

Red pepper flakes (to taste – I, obviously, use a lot)

S and P, to taste

Tomato paste (optional, only if using for pizza)

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