Charlie Rocks His New 'Stache

Monday, December 28, 2009

This was our first Christmas with having Charlie as a part of the family. As silly as it may be, I was so excited to wrap up a present for him under the tree (a big bag o' bones, of course!).

But, of course, Charlie helped me with some of the Christmas wrapping for Steve. He's always happy to lend a paw.

But, never did I guess that my sister would complete out-do me and buy Charlie a way cooler present! He was presented with his very own handlebar mustache.

The mustache is actually a toy to play fetch with as it's attached to a rubber when Charlie grabs the ball, it looks like he grew a fancy schmancy mustache.

Unfortunately, our photo shoot with the mustache was a wee bit trying. Charlie would much rather try and chew on the ball than look at me like a goof. So we gave him a little extra help in the posing department!

Doesn't that mustache perfectly enhance Charlie's big foxhound shnaz?

We had such a fabulous, relaxing and snowy Christmas. I hope you had the happiest of holidays and that Santa brought you something just as fabulous as Charlie's mustache!

Fresh Ravioli in Sage & Black Pepper Butter Sauce

Saturday, December 19, 2009

One of the items on our registry that I was dying for was the KitchenAid Paster Roller attachment. Now, mind you, this only rolls out the pasta - I could have gone wild and crazy and registered for the set that included the different pasta cutters as well. But that just seemed far too extravagant and I couldn't imagine that anyone would end up shelling out for the whole set just so I could make fresh fettucini.

All-in-all, I love the roller. It's SO easy to use and great for making lasagna noodles, ravioli, and even just long pasta sheets that you hand cut yourself into noodles.

Awhile back I decided to be a good wife and make dinner for my husband. I rarely cook, unless you define "cooking" as microwaving, as Steve is far more gifted in the kitchen. But, I decided I could easily tackle this ravioli recipe I randomly found online.

Since I was home alone, there are no pictures of me using my pasta roller. You'll just have to imagine how magical and wonderful this experience was. Within a matter of minutes, I had four sheets of pasta!

I was making a basil and two-cheese filling ravioli, so I layed everything out...

And using just a round cutter, turned each into a cute little noodle-y package (note: my dough could have been rolled a little thinner).

I feared that as I dropped each into the boiling water, they'd explode into a gooey, globby mass of ricotta. Instead, they cooked up perfectly.

I made up the sage and black pepper butter sauce while the cooked ravioli was covered to stay warm. Making the sauce was by far the most stressful part of the whole process. Anything that includes a hot pan and oil terrifies me (but notice our new FANTASTIC Calphalon pans?!).

And, voila! A little shredded parm on top and we were in business. Steve came home right as I plated everything up. I like to think he enjoyed coming home to a dinner cooked up by yours truly, although I'm pretty sure he'd tell me is was fantastic no matter what. He's nice like that.

Basil & Two-Cheese Ravioloni in Sage & Black Pepper Butter Recipe

For the fresh pasta dough:
2 and ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for the counter and trays
¼ teaspoon salt
3 large eggs

For the basil and two-cheese filling:
2 cups fresh whole-milk Ricotta (I used part skim)
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Grated zest of 1 small lemon
24 large, perfect basil leaves, stems completely removed

For the egg wash:
1 large egg, beaten to blend with 3 tablespoons water

For the sage and black pepper sauce:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
16 sage leaves, cut into fine strips
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To cook the ravioli and serve:
2 tablespoons salt
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

How to Make

Make the dough:
Mix the flour and salt on a counter and shape into a mound. Make a well in the center and add the eggs to the well. Using your fingertips, work the flour into the eggs, then gather into a dough and knead by hand; add a little water if the dough is too dry or a little flour if it is too moist. Knead for 10 minutes, or until smooth, then shape into a ball, wrap in plastic, and let rest 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling:
Combine all the ingredients except the basil in a large bowl. Set aside.

Assemble the ravioli:
Cut the dough into 4 pieces. Working with 1 sheet at a time and keeping the others covered, roll each piece out into a very thin sheet using a pasta machine; the sheets should be nearly transparent after rolling (the thinnest setting on the pasta machine is suitable for this). Be sure to lightly dust the sheets of pasta with flour every time you roll them through the pasta machine or they may stick or tear.

Brush 2 of the lasagna sheets lightly with the egg wash. Arrange the basil leaves on the brushed lasagna sheets, pretty side down (be sure to COMPLETELY remove the stem from the basil leaves or the sharp stem end might pierce the delicate ravioli dough) about 4 inches apart, and top with equal amounts of the Ricotta filing (about 1 tablespoon each). Top with the remaining 2 lasagna sheets. Cut into 4-inch circles using a round cookie cutter. Press the edges of each ravioli to seal well. Spread the ravioli out on a lightly floured tray in a single layer and cover with a clean, dry towel.

Make the sauce:
Melt the butter in a small pan and add the sage leaves, salt, and pepper. Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes, or just long enough to infuse the sage aroma into the butter and lightly crisp the sage leaves.

Cook the ravioli:
Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Drop in half of the ravioli and the 2 tablespoons of salt and cook until al dente, about 3 minutes. Remove to a heated platter with a slotted spoon, placing the ravioli with the basil leaf facing up. Repeat with the remaining ravioli.

Reserve ¼ cup of the pasta cooking water. Add the reserved pasta cooking water to the butter sauce and swirl once or twice to combine. Pour the sauce over the ravioli, sprinkle with the Parmigiano, dust with additional pepper, and serve immediately.

DIY Christmas: Mix in a Jar

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Here's a top secret little fact about newlyweds....ssshhh...chances are we don't have any money. Yes, I spilled the beans. But, what can you expect after months upon months of spewing money just to create one special day?

One of the many downsides of being newly married and broke is not being able to give great gifts to friends and family during the holidays. After so many people have showered you with well wishes, not to mention pots, pans and gift cards, it feels kind of weak to show up for the holidays empty handed.

Never fear, I've got you covered: the jar o' baking mix!

There's no need for you to have a crafty bone in your body to create this do-it-yourself present. All you need is a 1-quart jar, some baking ingredients and a tag or sticker for instructions. If you really want to dress it up, add some fabric on top.

Have friends who don't bake? This gift is foolproof - dump contents of jar into bowl. Add a couple of other ingredients (most recipes I found call for eggs and butter or oil), mix together. Bake. And, voila! Your friends and family have homebaked goodies without even having to lift a measuring cup.

I picked up 12 1-quart Ball canning jars from Amazon for $11 plus shipping and used leftover wedding supplies (cardstock, fabric, string) to decorate.

Cranberry Walnut Bliss Cookies

5/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Layer the ingredients in a 1 quart or 1 liter jar, in the order listed.

Attach a tag with the following instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  • Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.
  • In a medium bowl, beat together 1/2 cup softened butter, 1 egg and 1 teaspoon of vanilla until fluffy.
  • Add the entire jar of ingredients, and mix together by hand until well blended.
  • Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets.
  • Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until edges start to brown. Cool on baking sheets, or remove to cool on wire racks.

These are so easy to whip up and you could really give them at different times of the year. You could really do mixes for anything (brownies, hot chocolate, quick breads, etc). Just keep some jars on hand and you will always have a gift on hand when you need it!


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hi there, I’m Laura. After getting engaged in March 2008 I quickly fell down the rabbit hole of wedding planning and haven’t quite climbed my way back out. I even chronicled our wedding on Weddingbee as Mrs. Stiletto, where I hemmed and hawed over incredibly important decisions, such as should our cake be short and wide or skinny and tall, and what exactly is the perfect damask pattern?

Fortunately, through all of the madness my better half, Steve, stuck with me and we celebrated the most wonderful day ever in September 2009. Don’t we clean up nice?

Now, we're parents to an adorable baby girl and still loving life with our sweet pup, Charlie. I blog about all kinds of things mommy-related over at Hellobee as Mrs. Hopscotch. Every day, I enjoy our kooky little life!