fresh pasta

for valentine’s day, chris got me this beautiful pasta maker.

oh my goodness was i excited when he gave it to me.  i have wanted a pasta maker for so long.  i originally looked at the kitchen aid attachments but they were just so gosh are expensive.  so i put the idea aside and made pasta by hand.  okay, i only did it once and it was terrible so i never did it again.  but with this amazing contraption, i am finally able to make my own pasta.  yayyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!

chris and i tried out the pasta maker for the first time a few weeks ago and made some fettuccine.  it was divine.  so different from dried pasta you buy at the store.  the texture is so light and delicate and just amazing – i don’t know how to describe it.  we served our fettuccine with a homemade roasted garlic and sausage sauce.  yum.

you know what i was most surprised by?  making fresh pasta isn’t as hard as you may think.  if you have a pasta maker it is really pretty easy.  plus it only calls for 2 ingredients!  yes only 2!  just flour and eggs.

so to make the pasta, just pour the flour on to a clean surface (i used an amazing roul’pat – similar to a silpat but made just for rolling out dough.) and form a well in the middle.  then add the eggs to the well.

then scramble the eggs with a fork.

that’s not scrambled!  this is scrambled.

now slowly start incorporating the flour into the scrambled eggs.

keep going until the flour is mixed in.

it will look like a big ol’ shaggy mess.  don’t worry – it’ll be okay.

knead the dough with your hands and magically it starts to form a cohesive ball.

keep kneading the dough until it’s a smooth ball – about 3 more minutes.  once the ball is “elastic and a little sticky” knead 3 more minutes.

then wrap the ball in plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes.

now it’s time to make the pasta.  just follow your pasta maker’s instructions and roll out the dough to your desired thickness.  here are some pictures of tammy and i rolling out pasta for our three cheese ravioli (recipe coming soon!)

then you can make any kind of pasta from fettuccine like this (don’t you like our makeshift pasta drying rack?  haha.  i just ordered real one and i can’t wait to use it).

or ravioli like this.

lots more pasta recipes will be coming up.  i know i will be making good use of my pasta maker.  thanks chris!!! <3

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apple pie dip and cinnamon chips

growing up, my family never watched any sports.  well maybe we watched a little college volleyball but that’s about it.  so when i started dating chris, i had no idea what football was about.  but he was an avid patriots fan (don’t hate ;-)).  he watched football all day on sundays and i would do my homework (i was in grad school).  at first i didn’t pay much attention but slowly but surely i started getting into it.

i asked chris a million questions about what was going on (i’m sure he was sick of me and my questions) and i started playing fantasy football in my office’s league.  this really helped me start understanding more and more about the game.  now i can’t get enough of football and i am a big redskins fan!!!  my poor parents now have to endure hearing me talk about football and it’s especially hard on sundays when i tell them i need to go because the game is about to start or something exciting happened in the game so i need to go watch.  oops!

anyway so how does football related to this apple pie dip and cinnamon chips?  well, i made them for a superbowl party we went to this year.  it was a great addition to all of the other dips and finger food you typically see at superbowl parties, but i loved that it is a lighter, healthier dessert option after all of the usual cheesy, fried food.

start off by making the apple pie dip – it’s super easy.  just some chopped apples, a little brown sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice.

mix it all together and simmer until the mixture is boiling and a bit of the liquid is released from the apples.  remove from the heat.

then combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and pour into the apple mixture.

stir to combine and then return the saucepan to the heat.  cook until the sauce thickens a little bit.  set aside to cool.

now it’s time to make the cinnamon and sugar tortilla chips!  i used whole wheat flour tortillas to make them a wee bit healthier.  first, brush the tortilla with some melted butter.

then mix up the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl…

and sprinkle an even layer on to the tortilla.

now cut the tortilla into chips.  i cut each tortilla into 8 wedges.

place the tortilla wedges on a parchment paper or silpat mat lined baking sheet and bake them at 400 degree F for 6-8 minutes.

once they are baked transfer, them to a wire rack and allow them to cool completely.

repeat until all of the chips are made.  now that the dip is complete and the chips are made put it all together in a lovely serving platter.  i love this dip and chips bowl.

the cinnamon chips and apple dip are a great combination but i have to say, i loved the cinnamon chips on their own.  i may just make the chips from time to time as a great healthy snack. :-)

for the recipe, please visit pennies on a platter.

spinach and ricotta stuffed shells

sorry the picture above is not all that pretty.  but you know what the one downside with food blogging is?  having to wait to eat dinner because you’re trying to style your food just right so that you can take a pretty picture to post on your blog.  poor chris has to wait all the time – just one more second and we can eat, i promise!  a million seconds later and it’s finally time to eat.

well sometimes, i’m just so hungry that i’m not able to take all the time i would like to make the plate of food pretty.  this happened when i made these spinach and ricotta stuffed shells for dinner.  it was already past our dinner time and when i’m hungry, i get just a little cranky.  so i just plopped a few of the shells on a plate, snapped a couple pictures and we dug in.

so please forgive me for the less than beautiful pictures, but please don’t let that keep you from trying out this recipe – because it’s amazeballs.  yes, that’s totally a word (anyone else watch giuliana and bill?).

anyway, i stuffed the shells with a flavorful mixture of spinach, ricotta cheese, garlic, onions and herbs and then topped it all with some crockpot bolognese sauce and melty mozzarella cheese.  if you don’t happen to have bolognese sauce on hand (but who really does?  we only had some since i was on a crockpot/slow cooker kick) just use a large can of diced tomatoes or a large jar of your favorite pasta sauce.  the original stuffed shells recipe i used had sausage in the stuffing mixture, but i took it out since the bolognese sauce already had meat in it.  but if you plan on using just diced tomatoes or pasta sauce, i would definitely suggest adding the sausage back in.

start by boiling the shells.

once they’re done, rinse and drain the shells well and set them aside to cool.

then make the filling mixture.  saute some onions and garlic in 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  once the onions are translucent, turn the heat off and allow the onions and garlic to cool.

in a large bowl combine the ricotta cheese, spinach, parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, breadcrumbs, egg, salt, pepper, and basil.

then add the onions and garlic.

now the filling mixture is ready to be stuffed into the shells.

get ready, this is going to make a lot of shells,  so get 2 pans ready one 9 x 13ish and 1 8/8ish pan.  spread a little bit of the sauce on the bottom of each pan.

then start stuffing the shells and line them up in the pan.  big pan done…

and the little one.

now spread some bolognese sauce over the shells.

cover each pan with foil.

then bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes.  take the foil off and sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the sauce,

and bake uncovered for another 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

i’ll warn you, it’s going to smell really really good and you’re going to want to dive right in.  once you try it, hopefully you won’t blame me for not wanting to wait and take pictures and you too will want to just gobble these spinach and ricotta stuffed shells up.

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black bean cakes

so remember how i made a big ol’ batch of slow cooker black beans not too long ago?  well one of the reasons i made some beans was because i wanted to try out these black bean cakes that my coworker told me about.

she found the recipe in cooking light and absolutely loved it.  i love cooking light so i knew it was going to be good.  she actually told me about the recipe a while ago, but finally this past weekend i got a chance to make some.  the bean cakes are full of flavor with cumin, cilantro, and green onion and a big plus is that they are nice and healthy for you, packed with lots of protein.  served over a bunch of field greens (plus some condiments like avocado, sour cream, and salad) and you’ve got a delicious, healthful meal ready to go.

i planned on having them for lunch this week but we had some other leftovers that i needed to get through first.  but today i have them waiting for me in the fridge and i can’t wait to eat them.

first, add the beans, a little oil, egg, cilantro, and green onions to the bowl of a food processor.

pulse until the mixture combined and the beans turn into the roughly chopped paste (paste, yum).

then add the garlic, salt, pepper, and cumin.

along with the panko breadcrumbs.

mix it all together and the bean mixture will tighten up a bit.

pour a bit of panko into a bowl or plate.  form 1/4 cup patties of the bean mixture and coat the patties in the panko.  i didn’t end up taking pictures of this process because it was quite messy.

but here are the cakes ready to be fried up.

heat some oil in a large sautepan.  cook the cakes for 2-3 minutes on one side…

flip them over…

and be sure to not to be like me and get distracted by your absolutely adorable puppy and allow one side to cook a bit too long and end up more toasted than you would like.

oops!

then serve it up with some salsa or sour cream or avocado or all three!

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crockpot butternut squash risotto

whenever i think of crockpot or slow cooker recipes, i automatically think of cooking some kind of meat whether it’s chicken, pork, beef, whatever it may be.  but i had no idea that you can make so many other things in the slow cooker like desserts and even risotto!

if you read miki’s kitchen regularly, you know i love risotto – and now i may love it even more knowing that you can make it in the slow cooker!  i had resigned to the fact that in order to have risotto i had to stand in front of the stove stirring and stirring and stirring.  not anymore!!!

although it’s not authentic risotto because it isn’t made on the stovetop with lots of stirring, it still is perfectly creamy and amazing just like stovetop risotto.  this risotto is full of tender butternut squash and a sprinkling of peas.  isn’t it pretty! i just love the beautiful orangey-yellow color of the squash and the bright green of the peas.

if you’re looking for an easy and actually relatively quick slow cooker meal (it only takes a little more than 2 hours, compared to most slow cooker meals that take 4-6 hours), please try this crockpot butternut squash risotto.

of course, the risotto starts with the butternut squash.

peel and chop that bad boy up.  i ended up getting about 5 cups of chopped squash from mine, so i saved some of it for later.

set the squash aside and saute the onions and garlic in the melted butter.

once the onions are translucent, add the arborio rice.

cook for a few minutes, making sure each grain of rice is covered with the butter.

then add the white wine (i was actually out of white wine, so i added the same amount of chicken broth).

stir constantly for about 5 minutes until all of the wine or broth is absorbed.

pour the rice mixture into the bowl of your crockpot/slow cooker.

then add the chicken broth and chopped butternut squash.

mix it up and put the cover on – then set the cooker to high and cook for about 2 hours.

after about 2 hours, it ends up looking like this…

you should take a closer look.  checkout how creamy it is, even without the cheese and even without being made on the stovetop!

so now, add the frozen peas and stir to incorporate the peas throughout the risotto.

allow the risotto to cook for another 5 minutes or so.

turn the crockpot off and add the cheese, salt, and pepper.

mix and it’s ready to eat!

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crockpot italian turkey meatballs

and i’m back in the game!

does anyone recognize that quote?  it’s from one of my favorite movies, 10 things i hate about you.  you remember the part when joseph gordon-kevitt’s (the guy from (500) days of summer) character kisses larisa oleynik’s (alex mack) character and then she gets out of the car and he says, “and i’m back in the game!” and then he hits the steering wheel.  i used to watch it on vhs over and over again when i was younger.  sooo good.

anyway, we’re back to slow cooker/crockpot recipes with these crockpot italian meatballs from skinny taste.  i hadn’t ever made meatballs in the crockpot before – i used to just bake them.  but after trying this recipe, i think this may be the only way i make them.  the turkey meatballs were so tender and flavorful.  plus the tomato sauce was equally delicious.

(uncooked meatballs)

since the recipe makes quite a bit of meatballs, we had them 2 ways – first we made meatball subs and then we just had the meatballs and sauce over some pasta (i forgot to take a picture.  sorry!)

first up, the  sauce.  just pour the crushed tomatoes into the slow cooker and add the roasted garlic and bay leaf (i also may or may not have added about 1/4 cup of red wine too).  mix to combine.

now, the meatballs.  put all of the meatball ingredients in a large bowl – ground turkey, egg, parsley, parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, and italian seasoned breadcrumbs (i didn’t have any in my pantry so instead i used panko breadcrumbs and 1/2 tsp of italian seasoning).

mix everything together…

and form the meatballs.  i used about a rounded tablespoon of the ground turkey mixture of each meatball.  then plop them into the sauce.

set the slow cooker to low and cook for 4-6 hours.  once the meatballs are done, add salt and pepper to taste along with some chopped basil (i used my trusty basil in a tube).

if you want to make some meatball subs like we did, all you need to do is put about 4-5 meatballs on a sub roll.

then sprinkle some mozzarella cheese, garlic powder, and italian seasoning on top.

finally, broil the sandwich until the cheese is melted and the bread is toasted.

nom nom nom.

for the recipe for these simply delectable crockpot italian turkey meatballs, please visit skinnytaste.

ranch blt pasta salad

we take a break in your regularly scheduled programming, you know, our slow cooker/crockpot series, to bring you a nice, fresh salad!

my colleague and friend first made a similar pasta salad for an office potluck and i just couldn’t get enough of it.  i made sure to pin the recipe so i could make it later.  finally, i had a chance to whip some up for lunch this week.

this pasta salad is full of bacon, tomatoes, and cheddar cheese, then it’s all topped with ranch dressing.  served over a bed of lettuce or field greens, it mimics all of the flavors you would find in a blt served with a salad with ranch dressing.  okay so that’s not really a thing, but believe me – all the flavors come together beautifully.  i also love that the lettuce lightens up the salad a bit, so i don’t feel as bad eating bacon and cheese and carbs and dressing.  oops!  still it’s delicious and that’s what matters right?

but you know what is good about this recipe, it makes a bunch so chris and i have lunch ready for most of the week.  all i have to do is put some greens in a container and top it with a couple scoops of pasta salad.  done and done.

this pasta salad is super duper easy.  first, get your ingredients prepped and ready to go.  fry up some bacon.

drain the tomatoes (i used fire roasted tomatoes which is why there are little black flecks on the tomatoes – try them.  they are sooo good!)…

then cook the pasta, rinse with cold water, drain well, and pour it in a large bowl.  allow the pasta to cool completely.

then add the shredded cheddar cheese,

the bacon,

the tomatoes,

and finally the chopped green onion.

mix it all together.

then take some ranch dressing, like this:

and pour 1/2 cup over the pasta mixture.

mix until all the pasta, bacon, cheese, tomatoes, etc. are covered with dressing.  then sprinkle on a little pepper, to taste.

let the pasta salad chill for a bit to allow the flavors time to meld together.

serve the pasta salad over a bed of lettuce or field greens – it’s scrumdiddlyumptious!

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slow cooker black beans

next up in my slow cooker/crockpot series is slow cooker black beans!

making black beans in the slow cooker couldn’t be easier.  this is awesome because cooking your own beans from dry beans is sooooo much cheaper than canned beans.  plus you don’t have to worry about all of the sodium they add to canned beans.  awesome!  so i picked up a huge four pound bag of black beans from the grocery store.

it was only a little over $6.00 for the whole bag and i will actually be able to get the equivalent of 12 cans of beans out of that.  usually a can of beans is about a $1 so that’s a 50% savings!!!  do a dance!  this is exciting stuff people! :-)

now i’ll be able to make all kinds of recipes that call for black beans like this southwestern quinoa

and this crockpot turkey taco chili

to make the slow cooker black beans, all you need to do is sift through the beans in a baking pan or cookie sheet.  just make sure to get rid of any debri or rocks or any other yucky stuff.

then pour the beans into a colander and rinse them off.

put the beans into the slow cooker and then pour 6 cups of water over the beans.

cook the beans on high for 4-6 hours.  it took a full 6 hours for my batch of beans to be nice and tender.

then give them another rinse and they are ready to use.

1 pound of dry beans makes about 6 cups of cooked beans and 2 cups of cooked beans equals about 1 can of beans.  so i divided up the beans into 3 bags with 2 cups of beans in each.  i put 1 bag in the fridge because i plan on making black bean cakes this week.  the other two bags went into the freezer for later.

i haven’t tried this technique with any other kinds of beans but i’m guessing it would work?  i quickly googled it and this post doesn’t say anything about needing to use a specific kind of bean, so you should be okay… oh and i know some people do like to soak their beans overnight but it’s all personal preference.  now go make some beans and remember…

beans, beans, they’re good for your heart
the more you eat, the more you fart
the more you fart, the happier/better you feel
so let’s eat beans with every meal

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crockpot bolognese sauce

i have a problem.

i am officially obsessed…

obsessed with my slow cooker.

since we got a new slow cooker from our dear friend tammy, i have made a ton of different crockpot recipes.  it makes cooking soooooo much easier!  i can make a big batch of whatever it is and have some for a couple of meals through the week, plus a bit to freeze for later.  i have made everything from meatballs to black beans.  i’ll be posting all of the recipes slowly but surely and first up is this absolutely divine, crockpot bolognese sauce.

although it’s not a completely authentic bolognese sauce, it is completely delicious and perfect over a bowl of rigatoni pasta topped with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.  i also used this sauce to make stuffed shells which i will post about soon.  plus i saved a few cups and froze it so we can enjoy a quick meal in the future.

this sauce is full of vegetables, ground turkey, tomatoes, and even some bacon.  really, you can’t go wrong.  so bust out your slow cooker and whip up a batch of this crockpot bolognese sauce!

first up, the vegetables.  i used my small handy dandy food processor/hand blender to mince a bit of onion, carrot, and celery.

next cook some pancetta… i used bacon because i didn’t have any pancetta on hand.  be sure to cook it until it’s nice and crisp.  i failed to do this and there were still bits of bacon fat even after being in the slow cooker for hours.  boo.  oh well you live and you learn.

then add the vegetables and about a tablespoon of chopped garlic and cook for a few more minutes until the vegetables are tender.

ready freddy…

now add the lean ground beef or turkey.  i used turkey because i happened to have a bunch in the freezer.  also sprinkle on some italian seasoning.

cook until the turkey/beef is browned and then drain off the excess fat.  i actually used a baster to do this which worked really really well.

then add some red or white wine and cook until it reduces down a bit.

finally, the meat and vegetable mixture is ready to go into the slow cooker.

okie dok…

pour the crushed tomatoes on top of the meat and also add the bay leaves and some salt and pepper.

mix everything together and set your slow cooker to low.

cook for 6 hours.  p.s. i just love the fact that my slow cooker has a way to program it to cook at a certain setting for a certain amount of time.  when the time is done, it automatically switches to warm.  amazing!

once it’s done, add some basil.  i used my good ol’ tube of basil…

and a bit of half and half and some parsley.

mix it all together…

and it’s ready to eat!

since i didn’t make a ton of drastic changes to the recipe, i’m going to send you over to one of my new favorite blogs, skinny taste for the recipe.  just be sure to add about 1 tablespoon of chopped garlic to the pancetta/bacon and vegetable mixture, 1 teaspoon of italian seasoning to your ground beef/turkey, and about 1 tablespoon of chopped basil to the finished sauce.  

pork hash

this year for new year’s, chris and i had a couple friends over for a lovely asian/hawaii food feast.  it was the perfect low key night we were looking for after traveling to maine for christmas.  we enjoyed a great night with awesome friends and delicious food.  for dinner we made mochiko chicken, crab mandu, chinese chicken salad and pork hash.  pork hash is a local favorite that’s similar to shumai or gyoza.  we actually bought some while we were in hawaii and planned to bring it back with us but i forgot it in the freezer!!!  ahhhhh!!!!  we were really looking forward to eating the pork hash, so i had to make some of our own.

i found this recipe online and though it wasn’t exactly the same as the kind that we get at home, it was still pretty tasty.  plus i got a chance to use our new bamboo steamer, which i absolutely love!  i can’t wait to use it again.

the pork hash starts with the filling.  it includes ground pork, chopped water chestnuts, green onion, sesame oil, oyster sauce, egg white and some other seasonings.

mix it all up.

then take your round won ton or mandu wrappers…

and put about a tablespoon of filling in the middle of it.

now place it in your hand,

and then gently form the wrapper around the filling, like this…

fold the pleats in the same direction and the pork has is assembled!

repeat until all of the pork hash are formed.

arrange the pork hash in the bamboo steamer.

now cook them for 30 minutes.

and they’re all pau! [don't mind the missing one in the middle.  i had to do a taste test ;-)]

i served the pork hash is a simple sauce of soy sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, and green onion.  but i didn’t really measure the ingredients while i was making it, so here’s a recipe you could use.

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