Monday, October 12, 2009

Fresh Pasta: I Double Dog Dare You

Have you seen one of these beauties before? I found this one at the Williams Sonoma Outlet in Leesburg, and had to buy it. The good thing is it was only $25-ish, so it was a good girl splurge. *pat on back*

Anyway, yes! You guessed it. A pasta maker!

It has sharp, shiny teeth for making spaghetti and fettucini. And cutting fingers. Don't worry- that was last time, and it's been disinfected.

Now. You best get excited, because I'm about to show you how to make your very own fresh pasta.

You're welcome!

Take your rings off. This is going to get messy.

I won't bore you with pictures of making the dough, because it's super-duper simple. Here's how:
1. Get out your food processor

2. The ingredients are just eggs and flour. For every cup of flour, add two eggs. Two cups of flour makes 1 pound of pasta, which feeds about four people. Or two if you're really hungry.

3. Process the flour and eggs until they come together in a big beautiful dough ball.

4. Knead the dough with plenty of flour until it comes into a nice smooth ball. You'll find that the dough is wonderfully stretchy and sticky.

5. Let the dough rest for at least 1 1/2 hours. You can leave it overnight if you want. Put it in an airtight container, or cover it in plastic.

When you're ready to make your noodles, pull it out, and it should look like this:

Cut it into four pieces.

Begin rolling it through your pasta maker by starting on the widest setting, and gradually getting smaller. Sometimes I'll roll it through on the same setting a few times to make sure it's smooth. You'll want it to be well-floured so it doesn't stick.

You'll end up with a bunch of sheets that look like this. You could stop here and make some Manicotti (my fave!) or cut some circles and make tortolini or ravioli. The possibilities are endless.

This picture just makes me laugh. Justin took it without telling me I was in it. I guess some day I'll look back and say I wish I still looked like that, so to heck with feeling embarrassed about a bad picture for once. It's funny because I look so bored, but my hand is obviously turning that pasta maker at an incredible rate. I'm awesome. And this is more exciting than I make it look.

Then you cut the noodles. For me, the fettucini setting is the way to go. It's easy, yummy, and it always turns out. 3 times out of 4 the Spaghetti turns into a glob on its way out, so I avoid that frustration.
Also, this is the part where you must fend off the husband, who happens to have an affinity for any kind of dough, in order that you might have some pasta left over for, say, dinner.
Did you know I'm a contortionist too? Just kidding. Totally.
You'll want to separate the noodles out to dry a bit while you aren't using them. I suppose that you could just throw them right into the pot if you wanted, but I've always let them dry out a bit first. It would help if I had a rack to dry it on, but I don't, so Justin spread them across the counter, and I flipped them over a few hours later so they could dry on both sides. By the time I got to this point, we both decided we weren't really hungry, so I'll just dry them out and use them for dinner tomorrow.
So there you go! Homemade fresh pasta. It's good. Different then store bought, and definitely worth the effort. And the effort is sorta minimal if you have a pasta maker... and even if you don't, it's not that bad. Justin's mom used to make pasta, and he talks about it all the time. He loved it as a kid, and it brings back good memories for him now, so it's very fun for me to make for him.

By the way... do you have one of these? If not, please treat yourself to one. It's the miracle of the kitchen.
Now, cleaning up flour is easy, and it doesn't ruin your sponge.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Chocolate Cupcakes with Meringue Buttercream

Everyone loves a chocolate cupcake. I made these to take as a dessert to some friends, and they are honestly SO GOOD. You can't go wrong with chocolate cake, but when it's paired with swiss meringue buttercream and a raspberry on top, it's definitely to die for!!

and cute too.
You can just bake whatever kind of cupcakes you're in the mood for (I think this would be good with lemon or vanilla as well!!) but the secret is the buttercream, so here's the recipe:
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Makes 9 1/2 cups

2 1/2 cups sugar
10 large egg whites
2 pounds (8 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, softened
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Put sugar and egg whites in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer, and set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved, and mixture registers 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.

Transfer bowl to an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until fluffy and cooled, about 10 minutes. Continue beating until stiff, glossy peaks form.
Reduce speed to medium-low; add butter by the tablespoon, beating well after each addition.
Beat in vanilla.
It's a little work, but SO worth it. Here's the only thing. Don't even TRY to refridgerate this stuff. The original recipe says you can, but every time I've tried, it's ended up in a globby, separated mess.. Don't do it, unless you want frosting that looks like ricotta cheese. Use it right away, or chill it over your AC vent in your house, covered of course.
P.S. Notice the recipe makes 9 1/2 cups. For cupcakes, I do 1/3 the recipe, and it seems to be just the right amount.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Pie Pops!

Anyone that habitually scours adorable craft and baking blogs like I do has inevitably seen these already, but for the rest of you...


Pie Pops.

Does it get more adorable? And for someone like me who is a little bit afraid of fruit filling, the proportions look just right.

I think these will be perfect for a pumkin carving party, if we do indeed have another one of those this year (which I'm hoping we do! Who's in?)

I'd like to try apple (of course) and pumpkin..

Mmm... Pie...

Photo courtesy of Bakerella and you can see her awesome step-by-step tutorial here.

As far as I can find, the original idea came from here, so kudos to smart people with good ideas. Also, you'll want to check that post out for amazing food styling pics. Genius.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Today's find:

If you don't get this, you are cast off my friend list.
Just kidding.
But don't tell me you haven't swooned over Mr. Darcy as he oh-so-endearingly confesses his love to Elizabeth... Mmm. What a heart throb.
You can find this adorable thing on Etsy from Brookish. At $14 I'd say it's a steal, considering all the day dreaming you'll be doing over that mug of cocoa...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Check. This. Out.


I can't breathe. My heart is pounding a million beats a minute because...

I just found the most beautiful wonderful site on the web.

Pioneer Woman is my new super hero. Is there anything she can't do? By the looks of her blog, no. There isn't. It doesn't really make me want to be a pioneer/cowgirl/etc., but I do long to be her. Kind of. Maybe I'm being a bit dramatic.

Anyway, between the beautiful photography, handy tips, recipes, and comfortable rhetoric, I might be spending more and more time here. For now.

You should too.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy Picks: Spring Blouses

I've decided to do a little collage of my favorite things once a week or so. Today's features blouses for spring. Enjoy!

One- Sweet William Blouse, $128 at

Two- Essential Shirt , $68 at

Three- Airy Pleated Print Blouse, $49.50

Four- Uptown Top, $98 at

Five- Frivolous Top, $98 at

Six- Silk Ruffle Blouse, $39.99 at

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Windy, Wistful, and West Virginian

Today is WINDY!!! I don't believe I've ever experienced such wind in my life. Doors must be opened with two hands, and then shut with all of your body weight to avoid being ripped from their hinges. Sitting in my office at work which is on the interior of the building, I can feel the entire structure shaking. Driving over a bridge today, a tumbleweed the size of a small tree came over the railing and was promptly obliterated by the hood of my car. Tumbleweeds are all over the place, the impressive thing about that was the wind carrying it 100 feet into the air to the top of the bridge.

We didn't realize how strong the wind was down here in the south of Utah County until our first night in our townhouse. Lying in bed, around 10:00, everything begins to shake, rumble, and whir, and it continues like that until around 6 in the morning. The thought has crossed my mind on several occassions that I may wake up twirling and twisting in a Wizard-of-Oz-esque situation. In bed, in the middle of some kind of windstorm, with the local witch peddling past me.

Or maybe I won't even wake up, seeing as I've grown accustomed to the jet engine of wind outside my window each night. Maybe I could avoid some of the terror that way.

We never get wind like that in West Virginia. I've always understood that it was because of the mountains. But here I am, at the foot of some of the largest mountains in the country, and I can hardly walk into church without my skirt blowing up around my face.

I think this is because the mountains are so large that they create a huge wind tunnel. All the wind that collects in the Canyon gets hurled out onto little Spanish Fork, and carried on from there. Does wind insurance exist? I'm sure we're going to need some new shingles after today. Or maybe they built our house with the wind in mind, seeing as how it's a permanent part of the area. Regardless, it's a little bit scary.

Speaking of West Virginia, it's so funny to hear the things that pop up now and again that are little pieces of the culture we grew up in. When people find out we're from WV, they invariably comment on our lack of an accent. It's safe to say we both escaped scott-free in that department, Justin especially, because he moved from Oklahoma, home of the southern accent.

Sometimes, however, little things come out, and we always try to call each other on it. Last night, for example, Justin was looking for his phone.

"Where's my phone at?"

The infamous additional and unnecessary preposition at the end of sentences. I love it.

And don't be impressed that I know what a preposition is. It's the one thing I remember from Mr. Pineda's 7th grade English class. We had to memorize a huge list of all the prepositions. It took weeks, and it's still tatooed in my mind.