Life is busy…

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It’s been just over a year since I last wrote here…that’s terrible!  2016 was a business & family focused year…and honestly, I’ve missed playing with my food!  😜 I didn’t spend much time trying new recipes either, but instead just kept plugging along with our usual favorites.  Sometimes that’s just the easiest route, you know?  This year however, I have decided we need to thin out the freezer storage, so I have been making inventory lists and planning out our meals in advance.  That can be somewhat tricky, because you have to make sure someone is checking that calendar BEFORE you head to the grocery store!  And you know, sometimes you just don’t feel like what you had planned for that night, so the plan gets ditched.  But the last time I looked at our deep freeze, I could actually see parts of the bottom, so we have definitely made some progress!

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One of the things I really want to start doing is cooking from the cookbooks crowding my shelves at home.  Last year I added too many to that collection, with great finds at the thrift store, etc.  Who can resist a bag of cookbooks for $3.00!?  So I may implement a day once or twice a month where we pick something from a cookbook and give it a try.  Then I can share it here with you! Win-win!

2017 dawned as the year I would FINALLY lose those 15 stupid pounds I have been dragging around with me since my babies were born.  I decided in December that I needed to stop convincing myself I “wasn’t a runner” and just give it a try.  We have a treadmill just collecting dust, like many of you I am sure!  So, I started slow…and am still taking it slow, but I am trying to at least run five days a week, for a minimum of 30 minutes each time. Now, don’t be thinking I am running that whole time…oh no, I am not there yet.  I walk a bit in between but try to run as long as I can go.  My goal is a 5K in April, so if I can at least get myself to be able to run that far without keeling over, I will feel successful!

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I have also stopped drinking alcohol. during the week and cut way back on my carb intake.  I thought both of those would be hard to do, but it’s been a lot easier than I thought it would be.  The cutting back on carbs is easy, because I have always enjoyed protein, so I just make sure I am getting enough of that and I don’t feel deprived. The no-vino part…well, it depends on the day.  lol!  So far I have lost about five pounds, so for a bit over a month, that’s pretty good.  And helps to keep me encouraged and motivated.  I can’t wait until I can run outside…treadmill running is so boring!!! And I really think I will be able to lose the final amount quickly at that point.

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Are you starting to make your menu for the “Big Game” this coming Sunday? I have come across a few things we might try this year.  We’ll have the usual Chicken Wings, because my son can’t live without those. And I am ALWAYS craving Chicken Nachos…so there’s that.  But I did come across this recipe collection and these Loaded Nacho Skins look pretty delish, right?!  And I shared these adorable Baby Blooming Onions on Facebook today…wouldn’t they be fun to make?!  I will have to run for like an hour that morning just to counter-balance the calories I am sure I will be ingesting! But a little splurge now and then is a-okay!  All good things in moderation! 😍

I promise to not stay away so long next time…until then, Cheers! ❤️

 

 

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Summer Favorites…

Blossums

Hello lovelies!  I’ve missed you!  I have been busy with Real Estate and with the end of the school year, which for some reason, is always nuts.  Is it that way at your house?  It’s the last week of school here, and for one kid, it’s all play…the other kid, all tests!

Hammock time

After the Winter that we had, Spring finally arrived with brilliant blue skies & delicate blossoms everywhere!  Things heated up quick, making the need for Summer to arrive, stronger than ever!  I actually love having the kids home in the Summer.  I know alot of parents dread the break, but for me, I enjoy it, because I get to spend more time, especially time not rushed, with my kids.  Hanging out on the hammock, going to the beach & the park…hiking, biking, camping and just slowing things down.

Gets me thinking about all the things I love about Summer!

Fresh Herbs

Fresh Herbs and the Garden springing to life!

Summer Salads

Summer salads of all kinds…my favs…fresh Caprese…Roasted Beet salad with Goat Cheese, fresh Chives & a Balsamic syrup (Trader Joe’s-get yourself some quick!).

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Mojitos & Margarita’s of many flavors…Sangria, Pisco Lemonade (with fresh Basil!), Sun Tea…and cold, crisp Wine on hot days!

Harvest

Garden harvesting!

Grilled anything

Grilled anything! (yes, that’s Watermelon…try it!)

Zucchini

Zucchini everything!

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And probably every Minnesotan’s favorite…SWEET CORN!

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Oh and more cold drinks… 🙂

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What are some of your favorite Summer delights?

So here’s to hoping the week will go by fast, the Sun will stay out and you’ll get lots of your version of “hammock time” in soon! I am going to try and add more posts over the Summer to my “Summer of Salads” and “Summer Sippers” series, so stay tuned for that!  Until then, ❤ ~Shawn

 

My March Madness…

Happy Spring foodie friends!  Yes, I know, if you live in Minnesota, it isn’t feeling much like it yet…

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Even Augie says “I’m outta here!”   You know it’s been bad when the cats want to migrate south….

It’s been a crazy ‘mad’ month for me… the hubby flew out of town twice this month…it’s tax time, as you know…which always makes me a little psychotic!

Oh and this is happening at the end of the month…

Store closing announcement!

Yep, ten+ years of basket-making, all coming to an end on March 31st.  Don’t be sad for me; in fact, that reaction is so strange to me!  I am THRILLED and excited and optimistic and THANKFUL that I have been able to do it for so long!  Last year, after getting my license as a Realtor® I decided the time had come, to say goodbye to that chapter and to move on to the next!  I am totally loving Real Estate and decided it was time to devote my full attention to it.  Now, if the snow would just melt already…

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I have had a little fun this month; one of the association’s I am on the board of, MPI MN, hosted it’s monthly lunch meeting at the Hilton Minneapolis-Bloomington last week and the lunch was amazing!  The room was a gorgeous Spring setting, the meal was completely gluten, dairy & nut free!  The dessert was my favorite…Coconut & Kiwi Panna Cotta…oh my!  It is quite the challenge to undertake, for an entire meal and they killed it!  They brought their A-game, just when they needed to, for a crowd full of Meeting Planners who, I bet, will be looking to book events there very soon!  But my favorite part, was a video the hotel had made, a parody on one of my favorite songs “Don’t Stop Believing”…I will edit this post and include a link to it when I get access to it.  It was GREAT!  I love it when organizations think totally outside the box for getting their message out into the noisy world.  And people, if you haven’t figured it out yet, VIDEO IS KING in marketing right now!

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As you know, the other big fun in the month of March is St. Patrick’s Day.  I am Irish, yes, so I feel obligated to join in the fun, although I will admit to not having a green beer for quite some time, happily.  And yes, I know, Rueben’s are not necessarily eaten in Ireland, but it’s the tradition my family loves.  The first day, we have our Corned Beef, Cabbage, Carrots & Potatoes…it’s really hard not to polish off the entire hunk of meat!  Day two, brings the Rueben…ahhh, I just love this sandwich!

Corned Beef

The hubby has to help me slice it thin…he’s way better at that then I am!  And I love watching him cut things…is that weird? 🙂

Frank's Kraut

Oh, and don’t skimp on good Kraut.  Frank’s is always the one we grab…not just for Rueben’s, but for Hunkie Ribs as well.

Homemade 1000 Island Dressing

I also like to make my own 1000 Island Dressing.  We hardly ever eat that kind of dressing, so if we buy it, it literally will sit in the fridge for an entire year.  Gross.  Making your own is SUPER easy, and you probably have all the ingredients on hand.

Homemade 1000 Island Dressing:

1/4 c. Mayo

1 T. Ketchup

Splash of Worchestshire Sauce

Pickles, chopped (as small as you want)

1/2 t. Sugar (or more to taste)

Optional:  dijon mustard, garlic powder, salt & pepper

Mix all ingredients together and adjust to taste.  We also make the Rueben’s and then put the dressing on the side…just easier to eat that way.  This time, we decided to have Onion Rings with our Rueben’s 🙂  They were Alexia brand, and SUPER tasty!

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As I write this, the birds are heavily chirping away in my backyard.  I hope it’s a sun-chant.  Poor things, they have got to wonder what is going on!  The weather forecast calls for warmer temps by the weekend…keeping my fingers crossed for that!  Think Spring – Think Spring – Think Spring!

See you next time lovelies!

❤ Shawn

Where’s Waldo?

Where's Wally scene

A favorite book series to many, the story of Waldo (known to the rest of the world as “Wally”), lost in a sea of people & things.  Your challenge, is to find him.  Always dressed in a red & white striped shirt, with goofy glasses & hat.  Can you find him?

I’ve been feeling a bit like Waldo this past month.  This time of year always kicks my a**.  It’s the end of the school year and I am gearing up for a manageable summer with the kids & two jobs.  It’s a juggling act for three months, but, I am looking forward to spending more time with my kids.  Last summer, I was still working at the hotel so they were on their own for the better part of the day, four days a week.  It broke my heart everyday, leaving them.  I want to get them out this summer; to the park, museums, the beach etc. but know I have to balance that with work.  And this blog!  I am super excited to share my two summer blog series with you; “Summer of Salads” #summerofsalads & “Summer Sippers” #summersippers, hopefully both will begin this week!  Today, I just wanted to share some delicious & fun things I have squeezed in the past month or so.  Enjoy!

Tucci Benecch  Homemade Ricotta in the making!

Homemade Ricotta with Balsamic Syrup  Chef Donald & Chef J.D.

Oh my gosh, people, have you ever made your own Ricotta Cheese?  It’s ridiculous!!!!  Both in taste & ease!  (see top right pic) I’ve been seeing posts for the past year about homemade Ricotta cheese and kept telling myself to try it.  Then one night, after watching Chef Donald Gonzalez (shown bottom row, right, with JD Fratzke of the Strip Club in St. Paul) from Forepaugh’s Restaurant, (owned by the company my hubby works for, Taher Inc.) win the Minnesota Monthly Local Chef Challenge (and the $10k prize!), we decided to get dinner at our favorite MOA restaurant, Tucci Benucch.  We had this Ricotta cheese appetizer that was TO DIE FOR.  (see pic top left) It had lemon & fried Rosemary (um, yum!) and was served with these delicious little toast points.  Sadly, it was a seasonal appetizer, so don’t get mad at me when you go and they don’t have it.  But keep an eye out for it and be sure to go on a Sunday or Monday night, for  half-priced bottles of wine!  Yea!  And then go home and make your own Ricotta cheese!  Do you want me to post a recipe/how-to on it?  It’s super easy, but I certainly can, along with some great ideas of how to use your fresh Ricotta.  Tell me in the comments below!

Hummus!  Hummus Kawarma2

Speaking of my husbands employer, every year, they send the Taher Chef Council, (a group of chefs from within the company) on a trip somewhere in the world.  Yes, he’s very lucky, and no, I don’t get to go along.  This year was Jerusalem and he came back eager to make Hummus & this incredible dish shown on the right, Hummus Kawarma.  O M G…make it!!!  Find the recipe in the cookbook Jerusalem.  I checked out a copy at my local library but you can buy one here on Amazon.  Do you like to make your own Hummus?

Treats from Cat  Cat Cora cooking demo

And speaking of chefs, I was excited to meet Iron Chef Cat Cora at Byerly’s earlier this month.  (she was so tiny & awesome!) I joined my blogging lovelies, Kate from Kate in the Kitchen and Rachel and her very own adorable Cora, from The Realistic Housewife. Chef Cora did a cooking demo, highlighting her new product line called Cat Cora’s Kitchen.  Hey Byerly’s, where’s that recipe for her Olive Oil cake?  I did bring home some of her olive tapenade, in addition to her new cookbook and had that one day on my homemade Ricotta, obviously. (see picture above with Ricotta) YUM!  🙂

Stuffing for Pork Chops  Stuffed Pork Chops

I have been obsessing about Pine Nuts lately.  Yeah, why can’t it be with a less expensive nut…anyway, I’ve been bored with our typical Pork Chop preparations lately so one day, I decided to stuff them.  The recipe has herbs, cheese, zest, garlic, pine nuts & golden raisins in it, and was from Fine Cooking.  You can find the recipe here.  Have a good Pork Chop recipe?  Share it below!

Chai BellaVitano  Radisson Blu Social Media event  Turkey Tetrazzini

A few other random fun things…I finally found the Chai BellaVitano cheese from Sartori.  I LOVE Sartori cheeses, especially the BellaVitano line and this one was as good as the rest!  A new food blogger friend Chris,  who writes the blog, Wedge in the Round,  just returned from cheese-making with Sartori.  LUCKY!  Read about his adventure here.  My favorite Sartori cheese is a tie between the MontAmoré and the Espresso BellaVitano, but this Chai variety had such a great flavor of the spice blends in Chai.  Find it!  Try it!  Also shown above, some delicious nosh I enjoyed at the Radisson Blu Mall of America recently.  I was invited to attend a Social Media special event there and in addition to the delicious food & drinks.  Those little new potatoes were stuffed with creme fraiche and topped with caviar!  I was also given a great tour of this incredible new hotel.  The rooms are amazing & they even have a salt water pool!  I am staying there at the end of the month, for my first board retreat with MPI MN.  Can’t wait!  And last, I made Turkey (Mushroom) Tetrazzini.  Yep.  Never made it before.  Super easy, super delish!

Bacon Pancakes!

And last, I made Bacon Pancakes on Mother’s day.  With chocolate chips.  For myself.  Then later, the hubby made me Eggs Benedict for dinner.  It was all about breakfast that day!  YUM!  If you are a Mom, I hope you had a delicious day as well.  My kids made me the CUTEST things as well.  I have to share!

Dominic - Mother's Day 2013

This was from my son…please note that I am “Fabulous” and that he likes my hair because “it’s curly & fresh” OMG, I died!

Gabby - Mother's Day 2013

And my daughter made me a video, which I posted on my Vine account.  You can watch here.  Again, the cuteness!

Until next time,

Cheers!  Shawn

Whew…well that was fun!

Gotta love the Charlie...

Today is 12-21-12 and I am thankful to be alive.  Not just because I woke up today…(Mayan Calendar and all) but because I have survived the past two weeks!  For those of you that don’t know, my “day job” finds me running, the White Bear Gift Basket Company.  As you can imagine, I’ve been busy with holiday basket orders.  And not just busy, but so busy I barely had time to eat, shower, breathe most days this past week.  I’m not complaining (very much) don’t get me wrong, I am THANKFUL for every single order I had this year!  I just got my butt kicked…in the nicest way possible 🙂  So this post isn’t really food-related, but more of a peek inside my world the past couple of weeks, with a sprinkling of food throughout!

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A little background on the past two months of my life; previous to November 28th, I was working a part time job at a hotel in St. Paul as a Sales Manager.  This part time job was to become full time in the New Year, which I wasn’t able to do, so I decided it was time to quit & plunge myself back into full time baskets.  I’ve been promoting my business quite a bit these past 6+ months so I think that helped with my holiday business levels.  At the time I left that job, I was preparing for holiday orders…ordering product, getting organized etc. I decided to set a sales goal for myself.  I set this goal pretty high, because what’s the point of setting a goal that’s easy to achieve, right?  So, needless to say, (secretly), even I didn’t believe it to be possible.

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Boy was I wrong!  In the past two and a half weeks, I have shipped out (at least 100+ gift packages this year!) and locally delivered 261 total baskets, of every shape, size & cost, to destinations like Canada, Germany, the Netherlands…and many states in the good ol’ USA.

A little taste of Minneasota(1)

Our most popular design this holiday, surprisingly, was our most popular gift year-round, the Little Taste of Minnesota.  Popular add-on’s to that gift were Minnesota themed playing cards, our Minnesota Passport & several “UFF DA” themed gift items!

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We had fun with lots of custom designs this holiday, including a few that ordered custom logo ribbon which always add a great look to any gift!

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And basket-making craziness aside, who can’t forget the snowstorm we got this month…15.5 inches of the gorgeous white stuff came to our house!  It definitely made getting product from my vendors a bit delayed, and getting to and from the Post Office & my courier’s warehouse a bit more tricky.  But we all wanted a white Christmas!  Enjoy it Minnesotans!  😉

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I did manage to continue to eat (and obviously drink) pretty well, although I admit I might have sampled a few too many Knudsen Caramels, Pearson’s Nut Goodies and other treats in a desperate attempt to stave off hunger for a couple hours.  Living for a couple weeks on mass quantities of sugar & caffeine is okay once in awhile, isn’t it?  Thank goodness I had stock-piled leftovers in the freezer for quick lunches and my darling husband made his way into the kitchen many nights to create nourishing & comforting food to keep me fueled.  And we treated ourselves to a Carpet Picnic night last weekend…Pate, SalamiCaramelized Onions, roasted Tomatoes, roasted Garlic etc….always a favorite night at our house!  I managed to relax a little while watching a movie (Elf of course!) with the family.  (not pictured-gobs of cheese, Brie & Camembert and a giant loaf of Ciabatta!)

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A couple other fun things that happened during the past couple of weeks…I got a new iPhone 4S…it was totally on sale and no, I didn’t think the iPhone 5 was worth the extra money and my hubby had just bought me a really cool Pad & Quill iPhone holder that I wanted to use for awhile.  Seriously though, what ever did I do without Siri & navigation!!!  Love that phone.

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And, I won CHEESE!!  Yea, perfect for us, right!?!  Sartori Cheese had a contest (during their 12 days of Christmas Facebook promo) one night and I won nine different cheeses!  My husband insisted I stop what I was doing and enter.  So, we can thank him for that!  I love Sartori Cheese and if you haven’t had it yet, GO!

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My favorite has always been the BellaVitano® Espresso, but I got a sample of the MontAmore when I was at Kowalski’s buying the BellaVitano® Cognac I’ve been dying to try, and I really like that!  Speaking of the BellaVitano® Cognac, it’s just a mear $75 a pound that cheese….and they only make a very limited amount each year.  It’s aged for at least 18 months and then soaked for 7-10 days in Rémy Martin Cognac.  Who would have thought…Cognac & Cheese…a decadent & delicious splurge indeed!

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And we won’t ever forget the horrible tragedy the families & our nation faced last week in Connecticut…

That day, I was so consumed with myself and getting my work done.  I had to cancel the kids piano lessons because I was stuck in Minneapolis at a client’s office helping get her holiday order shipped out.  I was annoyed about having to drive home, the third day in a row, in rush hour traffic.  And then, on my way home, my husband on the phone told me what had been unfolding that day…it was almost too terrible to believe.  I got home, turned on the TV and sat there, crying.  So sick & senseless.  I am sure I am not alone, when I say that I took a close look that weekend at my family & how I treat each day I have with them.  I have always tried to live each day to the fullest, letting everyone I care about know how much they mean to me.  Life is a gift.  But, as I settle down on Christmas Eve with my family, I will remember those who have presents under a tree that won’t be opened by their child this year, or any, ever again.  My heart goes out to them…may they be surrounded by friends, family, love & support and know as a nation, we mourn with them.

Holiday Tree

Happiest of Holidays to all of you!  This weekend I will get my Christmas on, by baking….& wrapping…watching some White Christmas and listening to some Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole and maybe a little Jimmy Buffett’s Christmas Island.  I will be sleeping in, wearing my pj’s maybe all day if I want to…drinking egg nog…and even possibly enjoying a cocktail during the day…just straight up kickin’ it with my family is all I wish for this weekend!  I wish for you to have a delicious & wonderful Holiday as well!  I will check back in before the New Year….

Cheers,

Shawn

Beer for a Year, month seven…

Rhubarb Beer Jam & dinner……

Hey beer lovers!  This months beer is Summit Sága IPA described by Summit as a beer with “Epic hop character”.  I love anything that is referred to as “epic”!  Usually I am not a fan of big hoppy beers, but this one is so clean & bright & fresh, that the first sip I had, I knew I liked it!  Further description from the Summit website says “Named after the Norse goddess Sága, drinking companion of the God Odin. With a divine tropical fruit hop aroma and clean, assertive bitterness.”  Assertive indeed!  Give it a try, it’s a great beer for summer!

In scouring the internet for recipes that contained beer, I came across this one, on the Tasting Table website but originally adapted from the Paul Virant’s cookbook, The Preservation Kitchen that had another of my favorite things…Rhubarb!  And, since last weekend I cut my teeth with my first jamming experience, I thought this would be a great idea!  But what to use this jam with?  I can’t just give you the jam, with no direction as to how to use it, can I?  So, I started thinking about dinner.  I knew this jam, no matter how much sugar went into it, would be more on the savory side.  I wanted to use it as a sauce more so than a jam.  And I wanted Pork.  We actually had some Pork Tenderloin, in the freezer, leftover from the gorgeous Crown Roast we had for Christmas dinner.  All I did to prep the Pork was tossed it in Olive Oil with salt, pepper & garlic.  I then threw it on the grill.

So I mentioned I was thinking about dinner…this week we picked up our first CSA share from Natura Farms.  In that share we had baby Rutabaga & Garlic Scapes, amongst other things.  I was super excited about the Garlic Scapes as I keep hearing about people using them for a variety of things, even pickling them!  I tweeted out the other day questions as to what to do with the Rutabaga and Garlic Scapes we had received.  The lovely Emily Anderson said I should try pesto with the Garlic Scapes (as did a couple other food friends) and maybe a Gnocchi with the Rutabaga?  Oh yes, that sounded wonderful!  So those were the two other additions to this meal, not to mention the Brown Butter Ice Cream with candied Raspberry Chipotle Bacon that I made…but that’s another post!

Okay, so first let’s talk about the Jam.  Now, I said that I wanted it more sauce-like right?  So yeah, I basically did my own thing with this one.  If you read the original recipe, you’ll see they strained the mixture, but I like texture and left mine a little chunky.  I used the same ingredients, but I didn’t can it.  I put it in a jar, planning to use it for dinner and try freezing the rest for a future meal.  So here’s my recipe:

Rhubarb Beer Jam

2 cups of Rhubarb, diced

1 cup of Summit Saga IPA beer

1 1/2 cups of Sugar

1 tablespoon lemon zest

The juice from 1/2 of a lemon

1 tablespoon of butter

First thing you’ll do is clean & cut your Rhubarb, into a small dice.  Place that into a saucepan and add the beer.  Get this going good and hot and then add the sugar & lemon juice, zest & butter.  The butter helps with reducing the amount of foam the mixture creates, but because I didn’t make an actual “jam” I didn’t really need to use it.  It was also not in the original recipe, but I remember doing that with my Strawberry Jam session last week.  I LOVE butter and will use it any chance I get!  Alright, moving on.  So your mixture should come to a small boil (enough to encourage the mixture to reduce, but not enough that you can’t get anywhere near it for fear of being splashed) and from there I just kept using my potato masher and smashing the mixture down and let it reduce by almost half.

This makes about a cup and a half so you really have almost three meals use out of it, if you aren’t canning it.  Otherwise, I would recommend using the smallest jam jars you can find.  That way you aren’t pulling a big jar out and then having to use it all up over the course of a week.  The original recipe also talks about the red hue in the end result.  Mine obviously wasn’t that color but I think that is because I used a more greener variety of Rhubarb.  I also thought that some herbs would be good in the jam, maybe Thyme (I love Lemon Thyme) or Tarragon?  I kept those out, the first time in, but might do that next time around.  I also think a heavier beer would work great too.  In keeping with the Summit theme, their Horizon Red Ale would be great with this.  The original recipe used a wheat beer, but didn’t say what brand.  I think this jam/sauce would be great as a base for a unique flatbread or bruschetta.  Have fun!

Okay, so let’s talk about the Rutabaga Gnocchi!  I have never made Gnocchi.  Yep, I can’t quite believe that myself! But this isn’t your usual Gnocchi.  It’s actually a very delicious way to use Rutabaga!  I found the original recipe on a food blog called Food and Passion.  I also found another recipe for Turnip Gnocchi on a food blog called Well fed, flat broke that sounds really good!  I might try that one this fall.

So the original recipe called for Spinach, but I decided to use Mustard Greens.  We have this flourishing in our garden right now and I am trying to use it as often as possible.  I’ts heartier than Spinach, so it might need to cook a bit longer than if you were to use fresh sautéed Spinach.  The original recipe used frozen Spinach.  Here’s what you’ll need to make this:

Rutabaga Gnocchi:

1 cup of finely grated Rutabaga (I used a “baby” Rutabaga about the size of an orange)

1 cup of flour

1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese

1 cup of Ricotta cheese

2 cups of fresh Mustard Greens (washed thoroughly) or Spinach, finely chopped

2 eggs

1/2 nutmeg

Olive oil, salt, pepper and a bit of fresh chopped garlic for sauteeing

You’ll start by grating the Rutabaga, because it’s somewhat like Zucchini in that it will release a bunch of water, you’ll also want to squeeze it all out.  I used my box grater to grate the Rutabaga, but the original recipe said to use a Microplane if you have one.  I do, but didn’t know how to change the blade…  Set the grated Rutabaga aside once grated.  Take the Mustard Greens or Spinach and remove any longer stems.  I chopped mine up, as small as I could, so that you don’t have huge chunks of it in your Gnocchi.  Get a sauté pan going on your stove and when hot, add a drizzle of Olive Oil and throw in your greens.  Spinach won’t take but a minute or two to cook, but you’ll want the Mustard Greens to go a bit longer.  Just before you pull it off the heat, add the salt, pepper & garlic.  Set this aside for now.  You’ll want to get a big pot of water going on the stove for boiling the Gnocchi.  Once it’s up to a boil, carefully add a good handful of salt tot the water, just like you would do with pasta.

In a larger mixing bowl, add a half cup of the flour, the eggs, ricotta, parmesan, nutmeg and a bit of salt & pepper.  (you could even add in any fresh herbs you have like basil & chives) Now back to the Rutabaga…take a couple of paper towels and wrap the Rutabaga in it.  Squeeze to release as much water as you can.  Then place it in the bowl with the other mixture.  Once the greens have cooled, you can try to chop them up again if you feel you they are still too big.  Add this into the other mixture as well.  Once you’ve mixed everything up real good, grab a plate and put the other half a cup of flour on it.  Using a teaspoon, make small balls out of the Gnocchi mixture and place onto the floured plate.  Roll them around so they are fully coated in flour and carefully place five or so into your boiling water.  They are done when they pop to the top of the water.  Use a slotted spoon to remove them and set aside.  Looks like alot of work, but its really very easy!

The original recipe said to top the hot Gnocchi with Olive Oil and more parmesan cheese, but again, I wasn’t about the take the easy way out with this either!  In our recent CSA share I mentioned we got Garlic Scapes.  I decided to make a Pesto out of that for the sauce of the Rutabaga Gnocchi!  Many of you might be asking what Garlic Scapes are…you are not alone!  In the past, most people have thrown them away.  They are the curly tops that grow out of the garlic planted in your garden.  Don’t throw them out anymore!  Make this instead!  Anyway, I found this recipe here, on the Epicurious website, and doctored it up to my liking.  There were quite a few Garlic Scape Pesto recipes out there when I googled the name.  I found recipes made with almonds, pine nuts, walnuts…I chose the recipe here because it had Pistachios, one of my very favorite nuts!  Plus, I think it added to the bright green look to this pesto!

Garlic Scape Pesto:

10 large Garlic Scapes, diced (remove & discard the top seed pods)

Fresh Basil (as much as you want to add or leave it out)

1/3 cup Pistachios

1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon of Lemon juice

1/3 cup Olive Oil

Salt & pepper

Place all ingredients, except Olive Oil, into a food processor and puree.  Once mixture looks like the picture above, and while the food processor is running, add in the Olive Oil.  Taste the mixture and add salt & pepper as needed.  You’ll end up with about a cup and a half of pesto that should keep in the fridge for about a week.  Now, the original recipe (man I’ve said that a million times in the post…) used this with pasta, and added about a cup of pasta water to the mixture.  I took some of the water I boiled the Gnocchi in and used that the loosen the sauce a bit.  If you use it on pasta (it would be great as a dip, or again as a base for flatbread or Bruschetta) just be sure to add a bit of the pasta water to make a sauce.  Isn’t it a gorgeous Pesto?!?!  It was really good on the Rutabaga Gnocchi!

There you have it!  I was a whirling dervish in the kitchen today and managed to use four new recipes, that’s a first for me!  I hope you’ll try at least one of these!  Today I will finish up that Brown Butter Ice Cream with candied Raspberry Chipotle Bacon that you’ll see in a post next weekend that highlights my #OinkOuting adventure earlier this month.  If you are liking what I am making these days, post a comment and share this blog with your friends!  I am going to be adding a Facebook Page for my blog later this week as well!

Until then,

Shawn

Food, 2011

I’ve been wanting to make a photo collage of my best food moments of 2011…wondering what all that food together would look like…I did that tonight and boy, did I eat good last year!  Wow, and I’m surprised I only put on an extra 5+ pounds this past year…good eats!  Food trucks, Minnesota Food Blogger events, Fondue-Sushi-Carpet Picnic nights all at home, new restaurants, new friends, awesome family…it was a great year indeed!  I could have picked another twenty pictures to share-an amazing Pastrami sandwich at Katz’s Deli in NYC, Nant Nannies Lasagna in PA, Ice House Cheesesteaks in Pottstown, gorgeous Tomato Pie at Nannie Carol’s….only wishing I would have photographed those better and they would have made the cut!  Looking forward to even more amazing eats in 2012!

Salivate away friends!

Cheers,

Shawn