Adventures in Cooking – Week 7

Since Dad’s birthday was last weekend, all of us girls went down and spent a fun afternoon at the movies and at Pizza Hut to help celebrate.  While I was there, I was able to sneak in eating a plate of my mother’s lasagna.  I’ve tried many lasagna’s, but I will always love my mom’s recipe the best.  When I came back home, I was still craving pasta so I decided I would try using up the tofu in my fridge by making ravioli completely from scratch.

The tomato sauce and the ravioli recipes I based my recipes are both by Fabio Viviani from Chow Ciao!

Tofu and Ricotta Stuffed Ravioli

Tofu and Ricotta Stuffed Ravioli

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large pinch salt
  • 1 large pinch fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup herb and garlic tofu (yum!)
  • 1/4 cup ricotta

Instructions:

  1. Add 4 eggs, the olive oil, salt and pepper to a food processor with the blade attachment in it and pulse a few time to combine.
  2. Add 1/2 cup flour to the processor and pulse until well mixed, test for the stickiness of the pasta.  Gradually keep adding flour (about 1/4 cup more) to the processor and pulse until well mixed and the pasta is no longer sticky.  You should start to see a small dough ball form in the processor.  Remove dough and form into a ball.
  3. If you have a pasta machine, roll out the dough to flat sheets, dusting with flour to help flatten.  If you do not have a pasta machine, tear off about 3 tbsp of dough and flatten into a rectangle using a rolling-pin until the past is thin enough.
  4. Mix together the tofu and ricotta.  Dollop 1 tbsp of the mixture per ravioli on the sheet of pasta.  Brush the edges of the pasta sheet with water, fold the sheet over the ricotta and press down seal.  Cut a circle around each dollop using the rim of a glass or jar.  Shape the ravioli as desired and set aside.  Make sure to keep the pasta covered by a moist towel so it does not dry out!
  5. While waiting on a pot of water to boil, start on to the tomato sauce below.

Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 28 oz jar of fire-roasted whole plum tomatoes (packed in only tomato juice).  You can usually find this at your local Whole Foods.  I recommend never using canned tomatoes because of the higher BPA levels.
  • Seasoning mixture – I use a mixture of basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, and marjoram.
  • Salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • Grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Smash 6 cloves of garlic with the back of a knife.
  2. Over medium heat, cook garlic in 3 tbsp of olive oil until golden brown (not dark brown!)
  3. Add tomatoes, seasoning, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper.
  4. Cook until thick ( about 8 to 10 minutes) and no longer watery in consistency.  Start cooking the ravioli in the boiling water.  They should only cook for about 2 minutes each.
  5. Add 4 more tbsp of olive oil and turn up the heat to high.
  6. Crush the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon.  Start adding the cooked pasta to the tomato sauce so that it can soak up the flavor.
  7. Cook until the oil turns red; this will tell you the sauce is done.
  8. Serve the pasta garnished with parmesan.

Because of the tofu, I can only have about 2 or 3 ravioli before I am full so prepare for lots of leftovers!  The sauce is very yummy and I use it for various other dishes so you might want to make a big batch and can the rest.  Enjoy!

Advertisements

Welcome Quinn

Emily, 20 weeks pregnantI can still remember laying my small hands on my mommy’s belly and feeling the strange movements of the life growing inside. I remember my parents bringing her home, and then a few weeks later, boarding a plane to travel overseas. I remember her drooling all over the place, biting my right eyebrow (I still have a scar), and dragging her around like she was my own personal doll. How strange that the little girl I remember is now expecting her second child, a little girl named Quinn. It’s so precious to welcome the first girl of this generation, knowing that Quinn and her mommy will do all sorts of fun things, just like my sisters and I got to do with our mom growing up. Emily will get to have mommy and daughter tea parties, play dress-up, and put Quinn’s hair in pig-tails for her first day of school. They will go shopping together and argue about clothes, make-up, and curfews. I giggle when I think about my brother-in-law Mark’s reaction when his baby girl starts to date. And then one day, in the not to distant future, Emily will open a worn, tattered jewelry case and remove a beautiful stand of pearls, given to our nana from our granddad when she gave birth to their little girl, our mom. She will place these pearls on her daughter’s neck on her wedding day, just as her mother did for her, and her mother did for her.

So you see, the whole “girl” thing is a big deal in our family; in fact, Emily and mom went shopping for girly things right after the sonogram. Being the mother of 2 boys, I was extra excited to make something girly for the newest member of the family (boy things just aren’t as cute). I have always knitted blankets for my nieces and nephews, but wanted to try something new with this baby. I decided to make a rag quilt, and originally found this cute Baby Rag Quilt at Do It Yourselves Divas. I liked the concept, but wanted to change it up a bit to fit my needs. Here’s what I came up with.

Pinkalicious Baby Blanket

Supplies:

  • 7 coordinating colors/patterns of flannel. Choose the 1 pattern that you like the best – you will need 1 yd of this. The remaining 6 patterns, you will need 3/4 yd each.
  • 2 yds white flannel
  • sewing machine
  • coordinating thread
  • scissors
  • pins
  • measuring tape
  • washable marking pen
  • Iron/ironing board
  • Optional: rotary cutter, quilting ruler, rotary cutting mat

Total Time: 1/2 – 1 day (depending on sewing skills)

Directions:

1. First, make sure that your fabrics are folded in half lengthwise (selvage to selvage) with wrong sides together. Many fabrics are approximately 45″ wide, which leaves you with a span of fabric around 22″ after it’s folded in half. For my quilting ruler of 24″, this is just perfect. Iron fabric smooth, ensuring no wrinkles between the two layers. Square up the left end of the fabric so that it’s at a 90 degree angle from the fold.

2. Start with the fabric you like the best (the ones you have 1 yd of). For our purpose, we will call it your main fabric. With the fold closest to you, measure 6″ from the left edge of your fabric using your quilting ruler or measuring tape. Make sure that your left and bottom edges of your fabric line up with the horizontal and vertical markings on your ruler. You can mark this with your marking pen and then cut with scissors, or just use your rotary cutter. Personally, I use the marking pen and scissors. I know, I know, it takes more time, but a rotary cutter accident years ago left me a little nervous, and I’ve refused to use them ever since. If you do want to use a rotary cutter, here’s a video on how to cut strips. You will need a total of six 6″ strips.

3. Repeat the same cutting steps with your remaining 6 fabrics, cutting three 6″ strips from each fabric.

4. Now, take one 6″ strip from each pattern. You will fold each strip in half lengthwise (making sure edges are together) and cut the strip in half, leaving two 3″ strips. You can also use your rotary tool and quilting ruler to cut your 6″ strips in half using the same method you did earlier. This will leave you with four 6″ strips and two 3″ strips of your main fabric, and two 6″ and two 3″ strips of your remaining fabric. Place 2 strips of same fabric and width together for a set. At this point you need to decide which fabric will be your binding fabric. I choose the light pink you see below. Pull that fabric out and cut the 6″ strips into 3″ strips and set aside.

5. Next, you will need to cut eleven 6″ strips of the white flannel. Cut four of these strips into 3″ strips. You will have a total of seven 6″ strips and eight 3″ strips.

6. Take 2 strips of 6″ coordinating fabric and 1 strip of 6″ white flannel. You will place one piece of printed fabric facedown, place a piece of white flannel on top of that, and then place the coordinating fabric face-up on top. This will make a kind of flannel sandwich with your fabric. Next, pin your fabric together and sew a straight line down the center of your strip (3″ for 6″ fabric, 1.2″ for 3″ fabric). This will hold your fabric sandwich together. Note: at this point you can sew all your strips into fabric sandwiches and then lay them out in a pattern you like the best before sewing them all together to create your quilt. I like to just fly by the seat of my pants with things like this and see what I create, so I just made the strips and quilt as I went. Choose whatever method works best for you.

7. Choose a 3″ set that will coordinate well with the 6″ strip you just finished. Make another flannel sandwich using the white flannel. Sew a straight line down the center of your strip. On the 3″ strips, you will sew 1.5″ from each edge. Next, take your 6″ strip and your 3″ strip and place them together. It doesn’t matter what side at this point, because the right-side of the fabric is facing out on both strips. Pin them together lengthwise and stitch together using a 1″ seam allowance.

This is what the back side of your sewn strips will look like

8. Next, you will flip your blanket over so that the seam allowance is facing up. Take your scissors and cut small slits in the seam allowance, about 1/2 inch apart. Make sure that you do not cut deep enough that you cut through the stitches that you just made.

This is what it will look like when you place the quilt on it’s back.

9. You will continue a 3″-6″-3″-6″-3″ pattern until all your strips are used. When you are sewing your strips together, you will need to be aware of which way your seam allowance is facing. For this blanket, the seam allowance should always face to the front. The last

Brown set (to be sewn on) is added to blanket on the back side (wrong side) of the blanket on top. Note that the seam allowances are not seen.

Printed set (to be sewn on) is under brown set (on wrong side/back of blanket). Note top of blanket (right side) with seam allowances showing.

Here’s what it looks like when your done piecing the blanket together.

10. The next step is to bind the edge of the quilt. I admit, this is not my favorite part and if I could find a binding fairy that would do this for me, I would happily pay for it every time. The first step is to square your corner and cut off any extra fabric from the sides (note the uneven edges of the strips in our almost done quilt above). Trust me when I say this step is essential and must not be skipped. After you have trimmed your quilt, it is now time to bind. Take the two 3″ binding strips that you set aside earlier and place them together (do not put white flannel in between strips at this point. Next, sew ends together so that you make one long 3″ strip. At the seam, fold the edges together so that they meet. Pin in place. Now you need to get out your iron. Carefully fold edges together on your entire strip, and iron in place, pinning together as needed. You will need two 3″strips that are not sewn together and two of the longer 3″ strips.

Binding after ironed

11. Next , take your binding material and place on one edge of your quilt as shown below. Personally I chose to do the top and bottom edges first and then finished with the sides. For the top and bottom, use a binding strip that has not been sewn together, for the sides, use the longer sewn together strips. Next, you will fold the binding material in half and sew the binding to the quilt, as close to the edge of the binding material as possible. Note: Do not sew 1/2″ from each edge. The binding will be longer than the quilt on the edges, so don’t worry.

12. After you have sewn the binding to the quilt, it is now time to finish the edges. First, you will need to trim the edges of your binding till they are leaving only 1″ from the edge of the quilt. Then you will fold it over until it is even with the edge of your quilt as shown below, folding the side edge first, and then the top/bottom edge (see below).

13. Pin the edges together and sew the edges together diagonally as shown.

Quilt edges ready for sewing

Finished binding edges

That’s it. Your done sewing. Now all you have to do is throw the quilt into the washer and dryer. Note: the first time you wash and dry your quilt there will be LOTS of string left over in your washer tub and dryer vent. Trust me when I say your should not wash it with anything the first few washings.The more you wash and dry your quilt the more the edges will fray and the cuter it will be.

The finished quilt

Don’t you just love it!!! I think it turned out really cute and I can’t wait to see my new little niece wrapped up in it. It’s so quick and easy and such a great gift for any new baby. If you decide to make one, I would love to see pics.

Happy Birthday Dad

Today is our dad’s birthday and to celebrate, we thought it would be fun to reminisce about our favorite dad moments. Happy Birthday Dad…we hope you enjoy it!

Dad and Emily on her wedding day

Our dad was a typical dad of daughters.  He nurtured our love for sports and dug his heels in while being dragged to our “girlie” activities where he was a grown man cheering on teenage girls jumping around and high kicking.  I think by the time I started cheerleading in high school, he realized that these girlie activities were not going to stop any time soon.  We always knew dad enjoyed attending basketball games more than cheerleading competitions because there was something for him to watch.  Of course, he would watch with a careful eye and smile on his face as we performed but he sure was glad when the game play started again.

Sometime around my junior year of high school, my mom and I were watching a cheerleading competition on ESPN.  My dad enters the room and, of course, makes a snide comment about how there must be some football on TV somewhere.  Mom and I pay no attention and keep discussing the routines.  About 10 minutes later, an amazing squad is performing some really cool stunt sequences.  My mom and I discuss what ideas we could take from it and still be legal in the state of Missouri.  We start talking about a specific move and in chimes my dad “That stunt is illegal due to the flyers feet leaving her bases hands”.  My mom and I were stunned!  After all of those years being exposed to something that we thought he knew nothing about and he surprised us.  Somewhere along the way he gained the knowledge to officially be called a “Cheer Dad!” and never have I been so proud to have him be MY dad!

God chose our dad to be the father of four girls, and he couldn’t have picked a more perfect guy.  He always knew exactly what to say when our hearts got broken and knew when the topic of our worry would be better suited for mom. 🙂  He was protective, yet allowed us to grow and make mistakes.  He is still the most wonder father and grandfather and I can’t wait to see him with his first grandaughter!

Wow!  When you’re asked to put into words a memory of your parent that you cherish, you think “where do I start?”  Once you get started you begin to think “where do I stop?”  So, because I couldn’t sit down and focus on only one memory that I have of my father, I’m going to share a couple of memories with you!

Dad and Tory playing in the snow

Since this post is so close to Valentine’s Day, the first thing that popped into my head was how much of a romantic, caring man my father is to this day.  I remember, starting in middle school and continuing through high school, all of us girls receiving roses on Valentine’s Day from our father so that we felt special and loved even though we might not have had a special someone at the time.  I remember dad handing us girls $50 dollars and telling us all to go to the movies so that he could spend an evening alone with my Mom.  I remember him always calling Mom and us girls beautiful, even when we didn’t feel that way.  Through all these memories and many more, my dad has taught me and my sisters through example, how every man should treat the women in his life–with love and respect.

Then I started to remember some of the more amusing memories I have of my father.  Once, while riding in the car with my father on Thanksgiving morning, he accidentally hitting a quail that had flown onto the road.  Now most people would keep on driving and hope that the car wasn’t damaged, but my father decides to stop the car and check on the bird.  He determined that while it was definitely dead, it was still in decent enough shape for human consumption.  So he throws the bird in the back of the truck and proceeds to take it home so that we can enjoy a meal of quail on Thanksgiving.  My mom threw a fit when he brought that home!  She absolutely refused to prepare the bird for dinner.  Determined to have his quail on the dinner table, my father cleans the bird himself and pops it in the oven to cook.  Come dinner time, the quail had its own serving dish right next to the turkey!  I can’t remember all the details, but I believe he and I were the only ones to actually eat that particular dish.  Even though it may have looked and smelled delicious, that fact that is was roadkill prevented the rest of my family from trying the dish.

While there are too many wonderful memories to share in one post, there is always a consistent theme of love, acceptance, and laughter in all of them.  Happy birthday dad, we love you!

Our father is amazing and just picking one memory to talk about is extremely hard to do!  I can say that when I needed my father, whether I knew it or not, he has always been there for me.  When I started singing in front of the church, I was so nervous about every song that I shared, but he was always in the back and in my line of vision with a giant smile on his face.  I sometimes couldn’t look at him because I would either start laughing or crying based on the song and his expression.

Katie and Dad at the bowling alley

Most of my favorite memories always happened at his office.  My father owns his own veterinarian office and, when I was growing up, I would spend a lot of my time with him there.  He taught me to tie my shoes on a stack of chairs while he was waiting for an emergency to come in.  I was his little helper at work and I loved just spending time with him.  While the animals were under anesthesia during surgery, he would let me hold the tail of the dog or cat so it wouldn’t get in the way.  I was young and I didn’t know what anesthesia was, but I was right there standing still, holding that tail like it was the most important part of the surgery.

Throughout the past couple years I have had many struggles that, at times, made me want to give up.  When I thought I was at my end, daddy would send me a letter, card or a simple text telling me how proud he is of me and how I am so strong because of all my troubles.  He would say that I am beautiful and that no matter what would happen he would always be there for me.  His uplifting words kept me going, because with him just saying how proud he is of me, I would want to try even harder to be the women he knows that I can be.

Daddy,

You are my encourager and my support system. God has blessed me so much with two amazing parents that would do anything for anybody.  I don’t know how you both do it, but I know that I would not be the person I am today because of you!  I love you both with all my heart!

One of my favorite memories of my dad is also one of my earliest. When I was little, about 3 years old, I got hungry one day and decided to make myself a snack. I laugh because as a mother of 2 boys, I know that no good can come of a 3-year-old making themselves a snack. Anyway, I went to the kitchen to make my favorite snack, applesauce and bread (hey, don’t knock it till you

Hilary and Dad

tried it). I gathered the bread and jar of applesauce, and gracefully placed it all on the coffee table in the living room (I wanted to eat my snack and watch my cartoons at the same time). Well, needless to say, a few minutes later, my mom comes in, sees the mess and immediately sends me to my room….WITHOUT my favorite applesauce and bread. Sitting on my top bunk, I sat and cried and cried, “I’m so hungry. My tummy hurts!” I don’t know how long I cried, but as I lay facedown on my bed, crying into my pillow, I heard someone come in my room. Looking up, it was my Daddy. He gently whispered, “Don’t tell Mommy”, placed something in my hand and snuck out of my room. Surprised, I looked at my hand to discover the holy grail of snacks…Vienna Sausages. Quickly, I opened the can and gobbled them all up. I don’t remember what happened next, but I’m sure I fell asleep, dreaming of my knight and shining armor, who saved the beautiful princess with a can of Vienna Sausages. From then on, I always knew that no matter what, my Daddy would take care of me.

Dad, as I write this, I can’t help but think about all the times you came to my rescue. Thanks for always being there for me. I love you.

Adventures in Cooking – Week 6

Happy belated Valentines Day! This week, many Americans celebrated this holiday devoted to love with romantic dinners, flowers, jewelry, etc. I did not have a significant someone this year, so I celebrated the day with a pint of gelato and Fox’s comedy lineup of Glee, New Girl, and Raising Hope. At work, we had some fun activities and contests to celebrate as well. A couple of people decorated valentine mailboxes and handed out cards. I didn’t really feel like participating in those specific activities since I kept feeling like we were reverting back to grade school. Though I did get a few cute cards! One of the guys at work brought in small skittles packets with stickers that his daughter placed on each one (so cute!) and my favorite card of the day was a Big Bang Theory card (shown above).

In addition to the mailboxes and cards, we had a baked goods contest. Since I have this weekly challenge, I thought it would be a perfect time to try a fudge recipe I found on Pinterest. I won third place! The original recipe called for rainbow sprinkles, but in the spirit of the holiday I chose to use red and white balled sprinkles and heart-shaped sprinkles instead.

Funfetti Cake Batter Fudge

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 1/2 cups (28 oz) white chocolate chips
  • 3 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 tsp Almond Extract
  • Decorative sprinkles

Instructions:

  1. Pour milk and white chocolate into a microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 2-3 minutes, or until white chocolate is almost completely melted. DO NOT OVERHEAT. Stir until chocolate is completely blended, melted, and smooth.
  2. Immediately add vanilla and almond extracts and combine thoroughly.
  3. Add a handful or so of decorative sprinkles and fold in quickly, because they will melt.
  4. Transfer to an aluminum-foil lined 8×8 inch baking pan for very thick fudge, or a 11 x 7 inch pan (recommended). If desired, take another handful of decorative sprinkles and distribute evenly to the tope of the fudge. Press the sprinkles into the fudge.
  5. Let set at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Once set, cut into cubes. Store leftovers in an airtight container in a cool place.

I think they turned out pretty well and this recipe can easily be used for any holiday or occasion. Just add food coloring or change-up the decorative sprinkles. The possibilities are endless!

Add Another Item to List of Titles!

20120216-213136.jpg

Receiving my Bachelor's degree!

My current list of titles (in no particular order):

  • Wife
  • Mother
  • Baby-Grower
  • Sister
  • Daughter
  • Chemist
  • Friend
  • Dog Owner
  • and many others!

I’m so excited to be adding another to this list: student!

I’ve been down this road before. During my 4th and final year of my undergraduate program, I decided that, along with entering the working world, I would also enroll full-time in a graduate program studying forensic toxicology. I loved the coursework! It was very interesting and my coolest assignment was observing an autopsy at the local morgue.

I soon realized that while I enjoyed this line of work and study, there are very few job opportunities and this would not work well with my husbands’ line of work. There is also very little room for advancement. So, after completing half of my necessary coursework, I decided to stop working towards that degree. It has taken me 6 years, three jobs and lots of tears before deciding exactly what my next move in my educational path would be.

So far, my work experience has strictly been in a laboratory setting. If you would meet me in real life, you would understand that this is not the best place for me. I’m an extremely social person and get so much joy out of working face-to-face with coworkers and customers. I know that I need something more; I’m burned out. That excitement to go to work and get my hands dirty just isn’t there anymore and quite honestly, hasn’t been there for a while. I’ve been lucky to have great coworkers that make my work day easier and it’s, in part, due to them that I chose Occupational Safety as my degree focus. Every person deserves a safe working environment where their concerns are heard and handled appropriately.

I’ve found an amazing school that allows me to take eight and six week courses, completely online, and I am hoping to complete my degree in about two and a half years. I’ll only be taking one course at a time so that the focus is solely on that one subject. It is geared toward working adults and, although a lot of hard work is in the future, I can’t wait for it!

I’m so excited and nervous about starting this new adventure. I realize that most people will think I’m crazy to do this when I’m about to have second child but I can’t think of a better time. (Ask Hilary, she did the same thing.) I can tell my kids just how hard mommy worked to take care of them, get that advanced degree and how much it paid off! I have an amazing and supportive husband here to help me as we tackle these challenges as a family.

I’ve got my thinking cap on and I’m ready!

 

%d bloggers like this: