Monthly Archives: December 2010

Handmade Christmas Pasta


Tradition is something I cherish. It’s the one thing you can count on to be constant when life is always changing; whether its making my mother’s cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, or starting my own baking tradition, like chocolate cranberry biscotti. I love the comfort that comes with knowing au gratin potatoes will grace our dinner table every year (thank you, Ryan, for making a fuss that one year so that mom will forever make them), and the spiral ham my dad’s company sends home on Christmas Eve. It makes Christmas, Christmas. I love Christmas Eve service, singing carols and praise by candlelight.. and although its not really a Christmas movie, I have to watch While You Were Sleeping every December.

Gift shopping is such a challenge though. What do you buy adults who can shop for themselves?? I started hand-making gifts several years back–tamales, cookies, candies. This year I decided on hand-made pastas. Ravioli is my favorite, but since gifts had to be shipped, I needed a simpler pasta. I still wanted them to be more than egg noodles though. So after surfing the internet I had an idea: flavor infused pastas: cocoa, arugula and lemon!

Handmade pasta really is a  labor of love. Rolling out dough is time consuming. It takes patience, but at the end of the day, nothing brings more joy than watching people devour the fruits of your labor, making it all worthwhile. Italian women traditionally get together before the holidays to make pasta for Christmas.. lots and lots of it. It can be a whole day affair. Sometimes I romanticize about the day I’ll be able to roll out pasta with my daughters. A tradition I will no doubt incorporate into my own family holidays.

Photo shoot..

Adding lemon juice and zest to the mix

Keeping bow ties shapely was a tedious task

I should have asked for an Imparia for Christmas. I cut pappardelle noodles using a pizza cutter

Overnight drying

Cocoa orrecchiette & arugula farfalle

This batch didn't turn out, but I still thought it was a pretty picture 🙂

Getting down to business

Personalized recipe cards

Lemon Farfalle

Cocoa Pappardelle

Want my recipe for handmade pasta? Stay tuned. I’ll post recipes later next week. In the meantime, have a very merry Christmas. I hope your day is filled with joy, spent with family and friends in remembrance of the Lord’s never ending blessings.

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Country Apple & Fennel Galette

The rustic look of this cold-weather galette totally appeals to me. No fussing over crimped pie crust.. just roll, fold, and call it good. It may be slightly indulgent, but, tis the season. And what could be more wintery than apple and fennel? Roasted apple, fennel, with caramelized onions and a tangy blue cheese crumble.. all blanketed into a whole wheat pastry crust. Yum. Its like dinner and dessert.

However, I was hardly in the mood for rolling out dough after all the Christmas baking I’ve done these last 48 hours. but a girl has got to eat, and since I did buy groceries for such an occasion.. Fortunately there wasn’t toooo much preparation, and the meal was well worth the effort. I adapted the recipe from Healthy-Delicious blog, and found the whole wheat pastry crust here.

Country Apple & Fennel Galette
2 apple–cored, peeled and cut into wedges
1 fennel bulb–cubed
1/2 onion–chopped
1 T olive oil
2 T crumbled blue cheese

Crust
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
6 T Earth Balance soy “butter”
1/4 cup nonfat milk

In 1 T olive oil saute onions until they start to brown, add apple and fennel and continue to cook over medium heat until soft. Meanwhile, sift dry ingredients for crust. Cut in butter, and add milk slowly until dough is formed. Roll out on floured surface to 1/8″ thick and transfer to a baking dish lined with parchment paper. Pour filling onto pastry dough and fold edges over to make a 1″ crust. Bake on center rack at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with blue cheese and bake another 5 minutes.

Well I can finally say I AM ready for Christmas! All the baking, wrapping and packing.. after sprawling out on the post office floor taping all my boxes up.. gifts should arrive by Christmas eve. Thank goodness all those sweets are out of my house. Sharing is caring. 😉 I think my body needs to be reacquaninted with whole foods. Hello broccoli. Cheers!

Questions:
Do you have a fab recipe for a whole wheat pastry crust? What about using olive oil?
Are you ready for Christmas??

2 Comments

Filed under Healthy Cooking/Eating, Indulgences, Recipes

Apple & Butternut Squash Soup

There is nothing quite so soothing as a bowl of soup on a rainy day. And with typical Seattle weather, I have had plenty of opportunities to curl up with a blanket and a hot bowl. This weekend I was busy crafting Christmas gifts, writing holiday cards, and soupin’ it up. After scouring the web for a healthy, broth based (not cream and butter) recipe for butternut squash soup, I decided on my own. And here it is. Enjoy.

Apple & Butternut Squash Soup
1 Butternut squash–peeled and cubed
3 Apples–cored, peeled, cubed
1 Sweet onion
3 Cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Ginger
1/2 ts Ground coriander
2 cups Vegetable broth
2 cups water
3 T Olive oil
1/4 cup Pepitas

Toss squash and apple cubes in 2 T olive oil and bake at 350 degrees until tender (30-40 min). Sautee onion and garlic in 1 T olive oil for 10 minutes. Add stalk and spices to onions. Simmer. Add roasted squash and apples and simmer for another 10 minutes. Puree. Add water until desired thickness. Dry roast pepitas in Cayenne and Cumin in a non-stick skillet until they start to pop. Sprinkle over soup.

Aside from cooking, I really enjoyed catching up on my blog reads over the weekend also. As I prepared this week’s #MeFirst newsletter I stumbling across a couple food blogs that I recommend you add to your Google Reader:

  • Mango & Tomato— a spunky recipe tester and food photographer
  • Memorie di Angelina— hearty Italian dishes, each with a bit of history to go along
  • Annie’s Eats— astounding creativity in the kitchen with some of the most beautiful photos

Now its time to kick it it into high gear and finish up my holiday shopping baking. What’s last minute baking are you doing?

1 Comment

Filed under Healthy Cooking/Eating, Recipes

Spin Class Means Business


Its good to change up the ol’ routine once in a while. I am all for cross-training, especially when the hours of daylight are whittling away and the only fitness option is the gym. So spin it was, and oh. my. goodness. That’s exactly what my thighs were saying after 60 minutes of intense (and I do mean intense) spin class.

It has been a while since I’ve done spin. I forgot how hardcore it is. Even though I can run forever when I’m outside, its usually at an aerobic pace, not anaerobic. We were off our seats pumping against high resistance, then down on our seats and spinning 135 RPMs. Back and fourth, back and fourth. My mouth never closed for the entire hour. When I left I had to hold onto the wall to hold myself up all the way to the locker room. Yep, it was that good.  And today? Today I feel fantastic!! You know that good kinda pain that makes you feel like you just might be the buffest chick alive? I’m there. Thank you, endorphins. And then my friend Gene, @boutdrz, reminded me of a this quote, “pain is only weakness leaving the body”.

With all the holiday parties, at-home baking, and office goodies around, it’s important to keep to a fitness routine. This may not be the best time of year to lose weight, but it’s always a good time to consider your health. I hope you slow down to enjoy the holidays. Eat those little treats that come but once a year, and then go spin till you drop… literally!!

What are you doing for your body this week?

6 Comments

Filed under Fitness

Annual Cookie Exchange & Maple Pecan Cookies

Last weekend my girlfriends and I had our annual cookie exchange. I always get really excited for it, and love pouring over holiday recipes, but even more than the swap, I look forward to the dozens and dozens of sugar cookies freshly baked just begging to be decorated. From snowmen to Christmas trees and mittens to gingerbread men.. we frost, slather and sprinkle to our little heart’s content… but then the question is, who is going to eat all these??? So I’ve decided cookies are perfect for re-gifting. A cute little box, a personal note, and bam, thoughtfulness on a dime.

As for my maple pecan cookies, deeeelicious! When I moved last month, I discovered a stack of photocopied recipes that seem to have been forgotten (too many recipes, too little time). Among the pile was a recipe in Relish Magazine for Vermont Maple Pecan Cookies. Don’t mind if I do. And then I did. And they were amazing!

Vermont Maple Pecan Cookies
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup shredded coconut
2 2/3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 T light corn syrup
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup boiling water
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups toasted pecans

1. Preheat oven to 300F. Combine oats, coconut, flour, salt, cinnamon and brown sugar in a large bowl, whisk to blend. In a saucepan, combine butter, maple syrup and corn syrup. Heat until butter melts. Separately, combine baking soda and boiling hot water. Once baking soda is dissolved add to maple syrup mixture. Add in vanilla extract. Stir into dry ingredients. Add pecans and mix thoroughly. Place small spoonfuls of dough balls onto cookie sheet about 3″ apart and flatten slightly. Bake for about 18 minutes.

Now before you go substituting butter with yogurt spread and whole wheat flour for all-purpose, keep in mind that the best treats are the indulgent ones. Enjoy. Rather than cutting flavor, compromise by enjoying bite size sweetness. And then remind yourself that you’re getting a little whole grain with that old-fashioned oat. 🙂

Merry Christmas. What did you bake for this year’s cookie exchange? And what do you do with all those cookies??

2 Comments

Filed under Indulgences, Recipes

Eating Out in Seattle

What’s that like?? Someone recently asked me what my favorite restaurant in Seattle is. I thought about it for a minute, realizing that I mostly eat at home, and I have no idea. Nor can I answer the question, what is my favorite food to cook. I can only say that I love having a good meal just as much as I love preparing one. That said, I enjoyed a fabulous dinner at The Walrus and the Carpenter last night. This new little hot spot in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood has been on my list to try, and now that I live within walking distance it was a must.

Entering the restaurant is fun, as you go through a bicycle shop, down a large industrial hallway with cement floors, and miraculously arrive at this happening little haven. The atmosphere is cozy. It has an open kitchen, with half the seating around a L-shaped bar.. fun for watching the chef in action. Beth didn’t mind me taking photos this time either. 🙂

The menu consists of small plates, and all the oysters you can handle. We indulged in a little bit of everything: a cheese plate, sardines in a citrus oil, steak tartar, and locally harvested oysters. What I love about eating out is trying foods I don’t typically make at home, hence the steak tartar and sardines. I’ve done sardines before and they just taste fishy, but these were really fresh and citrusy. And the tartar, well I can’t bring myself to eat raw food at home, but this was phenomenal. I only wish the presentation were different. Served with a farm fresh egg on top, it slightly resembled meatloaf.

After a long evening of wining and dining we bundled up and headed home, but not before taking this glamor shot..

Me with my wine stained lips and hair fluffing gone wrong. Definitely a night to remember. What’s the last noteworthy food you ate out?

2 Comments

Filed under Eating Out in Seattle