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Tasty, Travels

Cooking Class

August 22, 2013

*There has been some issues with my website transition, so please click here for the full post!

I was excited to check off the 2nd item on my Summer To Do List (slow and steady wins the race… right?), when J and I were lucky enough to attend a cooking class hosted by one of our good friends!  The class took place at a local Italian restaurant – Il Fornaio, and we had a blast drinking great wine, spending time with friends and learning to make gnocchi! Here were some of the highlights:

I had no idea gnocchi was so easy! Here is how we made ours…

Gnocchi Recipe

  • 2 large russet potatoes
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • pinch of salt
  1. Boil potatoes like you are going to make mashed potatoes (45 minutes or so or until they are tender)
  2. Once they are ready, strain and put them through a ricer and let them cool to room temperature
  3. Create a mound of potatoes and hollow out the center (make a little crater)
  4. Pour egg and flour into center of mound and start folding dough until well incorporated (don’t over knead)
  5. Once mixed (should feel like a soft pillow and only takes about a minute), roll dough into a thick log and cut into one inch sections
  6. Roll each section into a skinny rope and using a butter knife slice into bite size/gnocchi sized pieces
  7. Pick up each gnocchi piece with your thumb and index finger, holding it on the cut sides. Place it on the end of the fork closest to the handle and roll it in a forward motion to the front of the tines.  Repeat on all pieces.
  8. Boil the gnocchi about 2 dozen at a time (don’t crowd!). After they float to the surface, count 20 seconds, lift them out with a skimmer/strainer.
  9. Add some reserved pasta water to a frying pan and then add whatever sauce you are going to coat your pasta with.  Warm it up and add pasta to coat.  Enjoy!
  10. I also would recommend pan frying them in olive oil after boiling them to create a crunchy bite, then adding to sauce (Note: I’ve never done this… I just think it would be a good idea*)

Quick Tips – Household Edition

August 15, 2013

Here are some things I’ve researched lately and wanted to share:

1. How do you store your linens and keep them fresh?

  • Wash your sheets and fold them. Insert them into a pillowcase of the matching linen set. 
  • Store in a bedroom or hallway closet (or somewhere dry).
  • For added freshness place a dryer sheet inside as well.

mld106561_0111_bedding1_hd image via Martha Stewart

2. Do you need to buy a sifter?

  • Save your money and whisk your dry ingredients instead.  It should aerate everything sufficiently. 

whisking-dry-ingredients image via Once Upon a Chef

3. How often do you have to replace your cutting board?

  •  1st it’s best to keep one cutting board for meat and one for fruit/veggies (some even suggest a separate board for chicken). The meat boards should be plastic and a bamboo board is fine for produce.
  • It’s a good idea to replace plastic boards once they have deep grooves in them, because it’s a great place to harbor bacteria.
  • I recommend washing your cutting board then sanitizing it in the dishwasher.  Also, it’s very important that your cutting board is 100% before you put it away.

cutting boardimage via Food52

4. How do you keep your hands from getting sticky when rolling cookie dough?

  • I have a couple tips for this – 1. don’t use your hands and use an ice cream scoop like this (it helps to keep measurements the same also!)
  • Wet your hands before working with dough (this is also great for making meatballs or anything that requires you manipulate sticky dough)

Homemade chocolate chip cookies.

image via Ann Street Studio


Pimm’s Cup

June 21, 2013

Pimm's Cup

Now this is where I am kicking myself for not being more tech savvy, because this post calls for a video tutorial.  Why you ask?  Because today’s guest blogger is none other than my English pal Craig Hughes aka he has an English accent and therefore would make a pretty awesome narrator for this post. He is going to teach us how to make the famous English drink – Pimm’s… it is the most refreshing drink and is the perfect thing to whip up for your summer parties… so grab a pitcher, Pimm’s, and let’s get mixing! By the way, Craig originally was claiming this was a TOP Secret family recipe and couldn’t be coaxed into sharing it… but a couple glasses of Pimm’s later and he spilled the secret!

PS Don’t forget to read this with your best accent 🙂  Take it away Craig!

Pimms Cup

I have absolutely no clue about quantities… But I make it as follows:

  1. I put in enough ice to fill 1/3 of the pitcher.
  2. I tend to put about 1/2 a bottle of Pimm’s in there (that takes up 1/3 of the pitcher covering all of the ice).
  3. I then put in a bunch of fruit  (I use: 6 strawberries – the number of my position at rugby, an orange that is cut into 1/8’s, a lemon cut into 1/8’s, half a cucumber – sliced, a handful of mint leaves).
  4. Then, fill that bad boy up with Sprite.
  5. Now here’s the key move in this whole process:  Stir slowly for 32 seconds (not a second less or more).
  6. I’d then leave in the fridge for 30 mins so that the concoction can fuse together (I’d personally recommend watching cricket or rugby at this point whilst discussing the royal family).
  7. Now it’s time to serve.  I’d recommend putting ice in each glass before pouring.  I also would cut up more fruit that was not used originally in the pitcher and place that in the glasses (sometimes you don’t get a piece of every fruit you want when you pour… we don’t want to leave anyone disappointed).
  8. Grab your best mate, clink those glasses, say ‘Tally Hoeeee’ and you are away!

When There is No More Sugar…

June 20, 2013

Every time I go to cook I’m guaranteed to be missing something – I ran out of sugar, I don’t have enough cream, I forgot to buy buttermilk… so I’ve become gifted at making substitutes for some of my standard “missing items.”

Cooking Substitutes

Now I’m sure the real thing is best… but here are some tips for when you’re in a pickle (or all out of them):

Now baking is tough because as they say it’s “a science not an art,” but for the most part you can substitute these healthy options in most recipes:

  • Applesauce: in place of butter, oil or sugar
  • Avocado: in place of butter (while I do cook with everything on this list, I must admit this is one I haven’t tried yet… but am going to! I want to try this recipe asap)
  • Greek Yogurt: in place of sour cream or mayo (I make aioli with it, put it on baked potatoes, pretty much use it for everything)
  • Rolled Oats: in place of bread crumbs (just whirl in your blender to create a fine powder and use on breaded chicken, etc.)

What substitutions do I need to add to my list?!