happy holidays!

cookies

As always, it’s been a while! But, I just wanted to wish everyone happy holidays! 2013 has been a busy, but great year and I hope that 2014 brings everyone luck, love, & joy!

Here are some holiday season highlights…

treePresents under the tree on Christmas Eve

sushiFirst attempt at homemade sushi for Mike’s family Christmas party- made by myself & Mike’s mom!

mike family christmas eveMike & I being cheesy on Christmas Eve ❤

IMG_2533Alex making brie baked in puff pastry with raspberry jam, basil, & bacon – an awesome Christmas Day appetizer!

dessertsChristmas Day dessert table – brownies, seven layer bars, Oreo truffles, peanut butter cookies, chocolate covered pretzels and German apple crumb cake.  Later joined by a homemade birthday cake. My family isn’t really into dessert… uhhh NOT.

alex birthdayOut to dinner on the 26th for Alex’s 21st birthday!

There were plenty of delicious & wonderful memories not included in this post and I just want to thank all my family & friends for such a wonderful holiday season!

It wouldn’t be a real post if I didn’t share recipes, so here are the links to some of the recipes that I followed this holiday season:

Seven layer bars (made without walnuts)

Peanut butter cookies with Reese’s cups (definitely my favorite new cookie recipe!)

Oreo truffles

Homemade California rolls

Brie baked in puff pastry

Happy New Year! 

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fresh year; fresh pasta!

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Happy 2013! Most people start the new year on a health kick, but in my family January 1st is a day to enjoy yourself.  Why not start the year with a dinner you actually want to eat!? You can begin being health-conscious on January 2nd!

Last year I took on beef bourguignon, this year my endeavor was homemade ravioli with a sweet tomato sauce.  I always talk about making fresh pasta, but never actually have.  But my brand new, old-fashioned pasta machine which was given to me for Christmas by my parents (thank you!) finally gave me the push to do it!

pasta machine

As I was slaving away making way more ravioli than was needed for 4 people, I realized a normal person would start with an easier pasta such as spaghetti or fettucine, or even lasagna, but of course I had to go big. So, I’ll warn you, you will spend about 2 to 2-1/2 hours making these ravioli, but it’s so worth it!

Homemade Ravioli with Ricotta-Basil Filling

Ingredients (serves 6 hungry eaters)

For the dough:

  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 4 cups flour

For the filling:

  • 1-1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh basil
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper

Method

First, make the filling. Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl.  Then, make the dough.  Pour flour into a large bowl, making a well in the center.  Add eggs to the well and mix with your fingers until dough comes together.  If dough is too dry, add a tablespoon of water at a time until it is no longer crumbly.  If dough is too wet, add flour.  The dough should stay together, but not stick to your fingers.

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Turn dough onto a lightly floured board and knead until completely consistent. Place dough onto a damp cloth and cut into 1-cm thick pieces – this will prevent it from drying out while you are rolling out the pasta sheets.

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Before using the pasta machine, wipe it down with a dry cloth to remove any dust or oils. Then, roll a small piece of dough through several times to clean the rollers.

To start making the pasta, take a piece of dough and roll through the machine on the 1st and thinnest setting.  The dough will not be consistent the first time through. Fold the dough over and roll through again.  Then place machine on desired thickness and roll through a few times until desired consistency and thickness. Ravioli dough should be relatively thin (I used setting 2).

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Lay the sheets of pasta onto a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal.  Take spoonfuls of the filling and place about 1-1/2 inches apart about halfway up on the sheet.  Fold dough over and press out any air bubbles, starting close to the spots with the filling and working your way out.  Then, if you have a “pasta bike”, cut the ravioli and trim the edges.  Or, you can cut with a knife and crimp edges with a fork if desired.

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When you are on the last sheet, bring a pot of water to a boil. Boil ravioli for 5 minutes and remove from water with a slotted spoon so they do not break.

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Ravioli can also be frozen on the baking sheet and transferred to a bag to be stored in freezer.

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Sweet Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil

Method

Coat the bottom of a large saucepan with olive oil.  Over medium heat, sauté the shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add white wine and reduce by half.  Add the tomato pasta and stir until fully incorporated.  Add the crushed tomatoes, pinch of sugar, salt, pepper, and chopped basil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for at least 30 minutes. Serve hot.

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How I eat it: with a lot of sauce and Parmesan cheese

Happy New Year & Enjoy!

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