Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Best Meal I've Ever Made

Well I must say, it’s been awhile since I last/first blogged.  I’m going to have to work a little harder at this! I blame it on the FABULOUS Fall we’ve been blessed with!

First a little update about my globetrotting, lifesaving, making a difference sister. Carla has been in Ethiopia for almost 6 weeks now. She currently lives with a family outside the capital, Addis Ababa. She is spending her days learning all about Ethiopia and learning their language.  After her 3 months with this family, she will be moving to Korem, Ethiopia in the Northern part of the country to start her service.  I love hearing about her journey, if you’d like to read about it you can visit her blog at

Beautiful fall colors along the Mississippi River

Ah, fall: my favorite of all the seasons. The pristine beauty the trees offer us almost makes the cold to come worth it.  The cooler days, bright sunshine, golden, fire colored leaves, pumpkins, bonfires, apple orchards, and the oh, so wonderful comfort food all contribute to the wonderfulness of this beautiful season. Of course I would have to say my favorite part of fall is the transition from light healthy meals on the grill, to roasting veggies and homemade pastas… comfort foods.  At the top of my comfort foods list is my latest endeavor, butternut squash ravioli with a brown butter sage sauce. Yes I know it sounds good, but really you have no idea how heavenly it actually tastes! All I could really say was WOW. It deserves a blog post dedicated to it. Lucky for you I am willing to share this recipe with you all, not only because I’m nice, but because I just got it from Emeril’s site in the first place.  The absolute BEST part of this recipe: it only takes an hour.

9 Tbs butter (mmm butter!)
3 Tbs minced shallots (I probably did more)
1 cup roasted butternut squash puree (I of course did more and pureed it in the food processor)
Freshly ground white pepper
3 Tbs Heavy cream (Again… of course I added a little more)
3 Tbs grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus 2 ounces (need I repeat myself again?)
Pinch nutmeg
1 recipe pasta dough, rolled out into wide ribbons, about ¼ inch thick (are you kidding me Emeril… a ¼ inch!! I don’t think so… I just went to the second to last setting on the pasta machine and even that was a little thick. You want it just thick enough that it doesn’t tear)
12 fresh sage leaves
1 Tbs finely chopped fresh parsley leaves (I of course did NOT add this since I am not a fan)

Directions: In a large sauté pan, over medium heat, melt 1 Tbs of the butter. Add the shallots and sauté for 1 min. Add the squash puree and cook until the mixture is slightly dry, about 2 to 3 min. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the cream and continue to cook for 2 min.  Remove from the heat and stir in 3 Tbs cheese and nutmeg to taste, season with salt and pepper. Cool Completely.

Cut the pasta ribbons into 3-inch squares.  Place 2 tsp of the filling in the center of each pasta square.  Bring 1 corner of the square to the other, forming a triangle and seal the pasta completely.  Add the pasta to pot of boiling salted water.  Cook until al dente, about 2 to 3 min or until pasta floats and is pale in color. 

Remove the pasta from the water and drain well.  Season the pasta with salt and pepper. (I don’t know if this is really necessary)

In a large sauté pan, melt the remaining 8 Tbs of butter.  Add the sage to the butter and continue to cook until the butter starts to brown.  Remove from the heat.

Place some of the pasta in the center of each serving plate.  Spoon the butter sauce over the pasta.  Sprinkle the 2oz of cheese over each plate and garnish with parsley (or not).

Heaven on a Plate.  YUM!

For help with making fresh pasta: (I also add a Tbs or 2 of Olive Oil to the mix)

I promise I'll try to add more than just a recipe (well, its not JUST a recipe) on the next blog post! Snow is coming, which means more time to write!

Bon Appetit!

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Journey: Through the Tomato Forest

Having never blogged before, I figured now was a great time to start! I want to start this new journey by dedicating this blog to my sister, who will soon be heading off on one of the greatest adventures of her life, the Peace Corps in Ethiopia! Come October 3, she will be hopping on a plane to go save the world, well part of it. J  I want this blog to be something she can turn to and read so she can feel like she’s right there with me as I explore what Minneapolis has to offer as well as my adventures in traveling, cooking, gardening, yoga, and photography (I’m a woman with very specific interests!).

So what to talk about in my first blog? Perhaps a little bit about myself?  I am a true Minnesotan.  I don’t go around saying “You Betcha” or “Don’t cha Know”(of course emphasizing the ‘O’), nor do I participate in such insane activities such as ice fishing or the infamous ‘Polar Bear Plunge’,  but I do love the outdoors, a good plate of Walleye, anything on a stick, and can’t even begin to imagine calling home to anywhere else.  Now, just because I call this beautiful state home, doesn’t mean I don’t want to escape this frozen tundra of a place 8 months of the year! I am a traveler. With that comes an appreciation for everything natural (gardening), the food I find along the way (cooking), a calmness and peace within myself (yogaing), then photographing all of that. While at school I was lucky enough to get a taste of world traveling. A taste can be dangerous though. I have the bug… the travel bug. Some of my big trips have included England, Greece, India and most recently Paris and Barcelona! Throughout this blog I’m pleased to share that I have plans to visit Southern Germany and its surrounding areas as well as (crossing my fingers) a visit to see the sis in AFRICA!!! You may be wondering how a 24 year old with a pretty crappy paying job pays for all these wonderful trips… she SAVES! Screw America’s failing economy! I’m throwing my money at the airlines and straight into overseas tourism! They need the money too right? 

Touristy photo of Joel and I on top of the Arc de Triomph

Since I have no good travels or adventures to speak of at the moment, let’s start this off with an introduction to Joel and my garden! For the few of you who don’t know, Joel is my wonderful, awesome, kind, patient boyfriend. He puts up with my crazy remodeling, gardening and travel ideas almost on a daily basis. The garden, currently in its second year of experiments, resides at Joel’s amazing work in progress home in South Minneapolis. After few true triumphs last year, we've stepped up our game and researching this year which has resulted in well… results! By starting this blog right before fall, you've luckily got to miss out on all my babying, obsessing over and sometimes even talking to the seedlings.  As Joel would say, “You’re a little too attached.”  In my defense, a little babying and sweet talking goes a long way! Check out the Tomato FOREST!

FOREST of Tomatoes!

Beautiful results!

That’s right, forest. I know what you’re thinking, “why on earth would you plant 7-8 tomato plants in that tiny little area, and next to the cucumbers!?” Well, if I had a quarter for every time I was asked THAT question I’d be heading to Africa sooner than expected! To answer this growing ever so annoying question, I never believed my little seeds would ever grow into THAT, and produce that much PRODUCE! In my very few years of attempting to grow edible results I have never had a successful tomato plant!  This year has come with many successes and very few failures. Successes include raspberries, peas, carrots, green beans, establishing strawberries, cucumbers and green onions, while unfortunately the failures include sweet onions and corn.  I’m still waiting for the peppers which are just starting to produce so we’ll see in a couple weeks where to put those guys on the list.

Now, what to do with a whole bowl of tomatoes? Of course I’m going to make one of my favorite tomato-y recipes! From the oh so amazing Williams Sonoma recipe books, Penne alla Vodka!!

It’s delicious! Just be warned, when pouring vodka into scalding hot Olive Oil, take it OFF the heat for a bit before slowly pouring the vodka in.  Mix it in, and then you may put it back on the heat. Just saying, after a few oil explosions and even one flame you become rather cautious.

Until next time, Bon Appetit!