Monday, January 31, 2011

Recipe: Gnocchi and Pesto

This weekend I decided I wanted to make gnocchi.  Yes, there is a perfectly good prepared kind that you can buy at Trader Joe's but I wanted to cross "make homemade pasta" off my to do list.  I looked up a number of recipes and decided to go with this one from  I had this fear that the gnocchi would just disintegrate upon hitting the boiling water but they all held it together!  The pasta turned out really well although I want to try again and aim for a "lighter" pasta.  Maybe more potato and less flour?

homemade gnocchi before boiling

I also made homemade pesto to serve with the gnocchi.  I like to make a big batch of pesto and either freeze some or set some aside to make a pesto dressing.  My friend Erin also posted a pasta recipe on her blog and I think her sauce would also be really tasty with gnocchi. 



Big bunch of basil (I use an entire container from Trader Joe's)
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1/4 cup pine nuts or almonds
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
olive oil

Place a small skillet on the stove over medium heat.  Toast garlic, unpeeled, until fragrant and the garlic starts to brown.  Remove the garlic from the pan, let cool, peel and set aside.  Put all ingredients, except for the olive oil, in a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground and all ingredients have blended.  Continue pulsing while streaming in olive oil to your desired consistency.

Place a few spoonfuls of pesto in the bottom of a large bowl and toss in warm pasta of your choice.  If needed, add a little bit of pasta water to help the pesto combine with the pasta.  Add more pesto as needed.

Pesto dressing: Combine 4 tablespoons of prepared pesto with a splash of red wine vinegar.  Whisk in olive oil to your preferred consistency.  This dressing is particularly good on a chopped romaine salad with pepperoncinis, sliced green olives, artichoke hearts and thinly sliced salami.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Recipe: 5 Ingredient/Minute Berry Pie

A few years ago, I was working with a middle school group and one of the students was asked the following question during an activity: "If honesty is the best policy, what is the second best?" Without hesitation, she said "pie."  True story.

Also a true story, this is the easiest pie I have ever made.

5 Ingredient/Minute Berry Pie

Servings: 8
Cook time: 5 minutes

  • Pie crust, baked and set aside
  • 2 cups fresh berries (I used blueberries.)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup water*
  • Whipped cream

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch and water over medium heat.  Stir until well combined.  
  2. Bring the mixture to a simmer and continue to stir for 3 minutes until thickened.  
  3. Add berries to the saucepan.  Simmer and stir for 2 minutes. 
  4. Pour berry mixture into pie crust and refrigerate until cool.
  5. Slice and serve with whipped cream.

* I didn't count water as one of the ingredients because it is water.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Pro-choice does not equal anti-life

Today marks the 38th anniversary of Roe v Wade and I am grateful for those who continue to fight for reproductive freedom and women's rights. 
Thank you. 

"Reproductive freedom is critical to a whole range of issues. If we can’t take charge of this most personal aspect of our lives, we can’t take care of anything. It should not be seen as a privilege or as a benefit, but a fundamental human right."  - Faye Wattleton
I believe in the full spectrum of reproductive freedom -- the right to comprehensive sexual health education -- the right to have access to a variety of birth control options -- the right to decide whether or not to have a child in the first place -- the right to high quality health care for all women, regardless of race, socioeconmic status, education level, etc. -- the right to make personal decisions around when, how and with whom a child will be conceived -- the right to end a pregnancy -- the right to not end a pregnancy -- the right to determine how and where a child will be born -- all of these and more.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Read More (Resolution #2)

My second resolution of 2011 is to read at least a book a month.

The first book I completed was Daniel Woodrell's, Winter's Bone.  Set in the Ozarks, the story centers around Ree, a 17-year-old hunting down her father who has skipped bail on charges of running meth labs. She must find him in order to ensure that her impoverished family, consisting of her mentally incapacitated mother and younger brothers, retain their home.  It was a powerful and quick read.  I realized how well the author described the Ozark winter environment when I had to put on a sweater.  The film adaptation won the Sundance Film Festival and I want to see it now that I have finished the book. 

My second book of 2011 is Wes Moore's, The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates.  I have only read the intro but so far it is an engaging story and I am eager to learn more about the lives of both men.

I have a few other books in my "to read" queue but if anyone has any recommendations, I am making a list of other books I want to read this year.

My Kitchen Essentials

My friend Erin posted a fabulous article on her blog, Our Pandemonium Paradise, where she shared her kitchen essentials.  Naturally, I decided to steal the idea.  Below are my kitchen essentials.  I could go on and on but decided to limit myself to five of my favorites.

Dutch Oven.  We got ours (the 6 quart Mario Batali one in the picture) for Christmas from my cousin James.  We have used it at least once a week since then.  I'm not sure how I survived without one until now.


Baking mats.  These magical mats are great for using on the counter or in the oven and make any baking pan nonstick.  I particularly like using one to roll out pizza dough, easily transferring the crust to a baking stone.

Hand blender.  Just a few uses for this wonderful gadget are: whipping cream/eggs/etc., pureeing soups in the pot and making salad dressing/pesto/salsa/etc.

Good knives.   Must. Have.


Prep bowls.  I have a set of six from Pampered Chef.  The bowls measure one cup to the rim.  The bowls are microwave and oven safe to 350º F.  The bowls and covers are dishwasher safe.  I use them all the time while cutting up and holding ingredients and for storing leftovers.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Recipe: Egg Bake

I spent this past weekend with a group of fabulous ladies.  For breakfast on Saturday morning I made an egg bake that I have made for a number of get togethers and it is always very popular.

This is a perfect make ahead recipe because it needs to chill overnight in the fridge.   It is best served warm from the oven but is also good at room temperature.  I have only made it according to the recipe below but have plans to throw in some spinach the next time. 

I have to give a shout out to my wonderful honey because, even though he hates eggs, he got this recipe for me from his coworker after it was scarfed down at a work potluck.

Egg Bake

Egg Bake
Servings: 8 - 10
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Rest time: Overnight
Cook time: 30 minutes


  • 9 slices white bread, crusts removed and cut into large chunks
  • 1.5 cups shredded swiss cheese
  • 6 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 8-ounce package sliced mushrooms
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 8 eggs
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cooking spray


  1. Place the bread in the bottom of a large greased baking pan.
  2. Top bread with shredded cheese.
  3. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and cook bacon until brown and crispy.  Drain on paper towels and set aside.  
  4. Carefully wipe out bacon grease from the skillet and add the olive oil.  Add green onions and mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are browned. 
  5. Layer the cooked veggies and bacon on top of the bread and cheese.
  6. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour egg mixture into the baking dish and cover with saran wrap.  Place in the refrigerate and chill overnight. 
  7. After the dish has rested overnight, bake in a 350º F oven, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until the top starts to brown.  (The eggs may still be a little wiggly but will firm up when cooling.)
  8. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


New Year's Resolution #1: Try at least four new recipes each month.  

I'm already off to a good start (see Day 196 of my Project 365) but it IS only the first week, after all.  I promise to try and post the particularly delicious recipes here. 

One thing that I utilize in my work life that has translated perfectly to my personal life is setting S.M.A.R.T. goals.  In case you are not already familiar with this framework for goal setting, I want to share because when I take the time to think about goal setting in this way, I set myself up to be far more successful.

To be S.M.A.R.T. a goal should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.  My Project 365 is a good example of a S.M.A.R.T. goal.  I will know when I have been successful because it includes specific benchmarks, it is something I have the capacity to do and it has a clear start and end point.

Oh, and every time I think about S.M.A.R.T. goals I also think about The Simpsons. "I am so smart.  I am so smart.  S-M-R-T."