Sunday, November 23, 2014

beet dip

Last week, I was at my friend Keri's house. She had prepped some appy's for us gals before we were going to head out to a concert that night. She lives right across from Meinhardt, and got beet dip from there. First of all, the color was amazing so we were all fascinated by this. Then, the taste was really great too! It tasted like beets, but not solely like beets. It had a good tang flavor to it as well. Since I looooove beets, I decided to try making it at home!

Beet Dip

8 small beets, boiled & peeled (or roasted - I just find roasting takes a lot longer to cook them)
1/2 cup goat cheese
1/2 cup sour cream 
1/4 chopped cashews
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp garlic powder
salt, to taste

After washing beets, boil them until they are soft. Remove skin from them, and place in blender. Add olive oil & balsamic vinegar. Puree until smooth. Add sour cream & goat cheese, and continue to puree. Add cashews, garlic powder, & salt, and continue to blend until the dip appears smooth. Voila!

I think you could likely add more goat cheese if you wanted, but I was mostly making this dip simply for the color. Therefore, adding more white goat cheese to the mixture would have diluted the hot pink color!

There are lots of modifications you could make to this as well to suit your tastes! I was looking up recipes online and saw that a lot of recipes used walnuts instead of cashews. A lot of them also called for an herb, such as thyme or dill. I think that style was less of a creamy, cheesy dip than I was going for, though. 

Oh, and the concert was super fun that night!! Here is my fave song of his: The Sound of Sunshine. Enjoy! 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

memory lane

I went down memory lane on Thursday. My parents are away, so I went to go let Odie out since my brother was at work until later that evening. My dad has been doing some painting & updates to the 2 empty bedrooms upstairs lately, and ended up finding a bunch of my stuff that I left in a closet there. It was mainly notebooks, pictures, photo albums etc. He asked me to go through it and take home whatever I wanted to keep. And boy, did I go through it all! I had a hoot going through old pictures. I took pictures of a lot of these pictures because I kept texting them to people as I giggled to myself all the while. See for yourself:

Graduation 2003 - hard to believe that was 11 years ago!!

I put this on Instagram too, but I LOVE this picture and all the memories it fills me with. Nicole & I were young little lifeguards having a blast at work ALL the time. This was taken at an inservice.

I'm not sure what year this was - maybe I was 12 or 13? Our family had always gone to Galiano Island for summer vacations, and for this one, Heidi came along. This photo makes me laugh so hard! (note: my dad STILL calls my sister 'Barney' or "Barney-O' to this day. That's how obsessed she was!!!!)

A random, cute sibling photo in the backyard.

How adorable was my brother?! I think he's 2 or 3 here?

Oh.... my braces days... I think this was around my birthday and I was maybe in grade 5 or 6? We had gone to Planet Hollywood downtown for my birthday dinner (with Heidi, because we didn't do ANYthing apart!) and we got matching t-shirts. Too cool for our own good we were ;)

Remember photo booths in the mall? This was one with my cousins, Robyn & Gina. We were maybe 15 or 16?
This is just a sampling of photos I found. It was really fun just thinking back on things from the past. I found pay stubs from when I was first working at the Y, letters my family & friends had sent me while I was working at Timberline Ranch (as Llama!), and tons of other things. Memories are great!

Happy Saturday! What are you all up to? (I always ask this...but no one ever tells me! It's more rhetorical currently... please feel free to actually let me know what you are up to!) Edwin & I are going to go to Central City this evening for the annual tree lighting at 6:15. Should be festive! Oh, and on the festive note, I am making a wreath for our front door this year. I'm getting artsy in my old age apparently! We shall see how this goes...updates to come!

Monday, November 17, 2014

ravioli update

As promised, I made more butternut squash ravioli with wonton wrappers this time. Wonton wrappers can be found in the produce section of grocery stores - I found these ones at Price Smart by the tofu and veggie meat products. It came with two packages of 50 or 75 (I think?) for about $3.75.

I had filling leftover from the previous butternut squash adventure (below) where I hand made the dough. With these wonton wrappers, you just put your filling in the middle, fold over the wrapper, and make it stick together with an egg wash. 

They were really easy to work with, and relatively healthy too! For 10 of them, they were 100 calories. Probably more healthy than pasta dough which is pure flour...

I made two cookie sheets of raviolis, and they looks much prettier than my hand made ones! I cooked one sheet of these for Edwin & I for dinner, and froze the other sheet for future use.

I wasn't expecting the texture of the ravioli to change as they cooked, but it did. It turned very flimsy and thin, and some of my raviolis fell apart. (or through my slotted spoon!) I boiled them for about 5 minutes, and then put in a fan with some olive oil to fry a little. I thought they might harden up a bit, but they didn't. The texture wasn't bad, it was just not as structured as you would typically eat ravioli.

For the finished product, I put some pesto & goat cheese on top. Pesto goes very well with butternut squash, and well, ANYTHING, so this was a good combo. They were very light to eat since they were so flimsy, but it did make it so that you could taste the filling more, and not dough and filling like last time.

I still have the other half of the ravioli wrappers in the fridge, so I'll have to try another recipe with them sometime before February 2015! (when they expire!) Any ideas??

Saturday, November 8, 2014

my ravioli adventure

I got the grand idea in my head to make homemade butternut squash ravioli. Fall screams squash to me, and at the local market, it is plentiful. The recipes for any homemade ravioli make it sound so easy: mix a little flour, egg, and water together to make a dough. Make your filling, put them together, and voila - ravioli!

Let me tell you that dough is not as easy as the recipes make it sound, especially when mixing by hand and trying to get the dough as thin as possible. That is really what made this a lot of work, the filling part was easy peasy comparatively. I should have learned from my perogy experience, but apparently I didn't!

Pasta Dough Recipe
3 cups all purpose flour
½ tsp salt
2 eggs
½  cup olive oil
½ cup water
Extra flour for dusting
Extra water for molding ravioli

Butternut Squash-Sage Ravioli Filling Recipe
1 whole butternut squash, cooked & mashed
1.5 cups ricotta cheese
Finely chopped fresh sage to taste
2 cloves garlic, roasted & mashed
2 tsps garlic powder
1 tsp Salt
Pepper and/or cayenne pepper to taste
2 tsp butter, for frying
1 small tomato, chopped to garnish
1/3 cup goat cheese, to garnish

First, you roast the squash. I actually did this the day before ravioli day to save some time. I then scraped out the insides and put it in a container in the fridge.  Hint: the squash has this little cavity space under it if you turned over the below squash. Put some garlic under there to roast!

Then, you make the filling for the ravioli. I put extra sage in, because I really like the flavor it provides. I don’t cook with sage too often, so when I do, I use a lot! You could also make lots of modifications as desired: other types of cheese (add some parmesan or use mascarpone instead), substitute basil for sage, or add some spicy sausage. 

And then, my friend the dough comes along. Doing it all by hand is wayyyy too much work. If I had a Kitchen Aid mixer, life would be much easier (note to self for wedding registry!!). I also don't own a rolling pin, so I had to improvise. (Oh, the joys of owning your first home & learning what you need!) 

You roll, roll, roll, roll, roll, and roll. Then you use a round cup from your cupboard to make circles.

You then fill the circles with the squash filling and squish two circles together. You could also make different shapes if you have different cut outs, such as a triangle or square. I recommend using BIG shapes/circles, otherwise you will get very minimal filling in your ravioli and therefore minimal flavor. Use water to squish the edges together by hand. I had to use lots of water to make the two pieces of dough stick together.

Then you have a bunch of flour covered raviolis of all shapes and sizes! I then boiled them for about 3 minutes, and put them in a frying pan with some butter and sage. I added chopped tomatoes at the end as well as some herbed goat cheese (goat cheese goes SO well with butternut squash and sage).
The yield for this recipe was about 35 raviolis of decent size (not all are pictured above). What I made today used about half of the filling and was sufficient for Edwin & I for dinner as well as lunch the next day for both of us (with the remaining filling, I am going to try making ravioli with wonton wrappers, a tip I read online!)

There you have it - the finished product! I grilled some asparagus, zucchini, and red peppers to go alongside, and Edwin had a sausage as well. The ravioli tasted a lot different than store bought butternut squash ravioli, but there is probably a lot more actual squash in the homemade versions than the store version. The flavor of the filling was quite powerful, in a good way! It was fresh tasting, and there was a good amount sage. The ricotta cheese made it creamy and salty which I think is key to the ravioli filling. The actual taste of the dough was good, but it was a bit thicker than it ideally should have been. Plus, towards the end, I was getting a bit sloppy and not removing excess dough from each one.

My recommendation: if you wish to spend 3 hours making dinner, than this was great! I think some sauce would have been helpful - maybe a pesto or alfredo? My goal was to let the squash and sage flavor the ravioli enough, but I would have preferred it with some sauce. I had found this samosa recipe I wanted to try, but it again involves dough. Darn.

I'll update you once I try the raviolis with wonton wrappers later this week. Until next time, ravioli!

PS - Milestones makes an awesome butternut squash ravioli with a roma tomato sauce, basil, goat cheese, and pecan topping. Delish. If you are new to butternut squash, try this!! You'll love it.

Monday, November 3, 2014

on blogs

I think I've mentioned before that I really enjoy blogging. I know I've been blogging less often lately, after going through a phase where I blogged a LOT. Did you know that in 2011 I had 350 posts? That almost works out to one per day!! In 2012, I posted 254 times, and 2013 I posted 107 times. To date in 2014, I am at 41 posts. Definitely minimal comparatively speaking!

I think in 2011 and 2012, I blogged because it was an 'escape' from full time work and full time school. And then I finished school, started a new job, and met my man. I've always just kinda blogged about life: school, work, what I've been up to on the weekends, things I enjoy, and that sort of thing. I've expressed on here that sometimes I come to a blog standstill, and don't really know what to talk about. Other times, I feel like I could write a novel! (which IS on my bucket list to do, by the way...)

Lately, the types of posts I've been enjoying the most are my 'thing posts.' (for example, ones like this one, this one, and this one!) Sometimes they are themed (food is a common one), and sometimes they are just random things I like and want other people to see. Most recently, as you can see if you read here regularly, I like to blog about food. I like cooking, I like eating, and anything else to do with food!

Edwin & I had my family over for dinner last night. We always go to my parents on Sundays for dinner, but I figured once in a while, we would have them over instead. Last night I had a sous chef who got stuck with grating cheese for the pizzas. (The benefit was that he also got extra cheese on his pizza) The inner Dutch in my also came out and I made a minestrone soup pre-pizza. My Opa used to make soup every Sunday when we went for dinner, and I like that tradition.
I was going through my usual blogs this morning (as I am home sick from work), and came across this one: how to write a blog business plan. I would LOVE to have a blog that was my job. I would love to blog about food for a living, but seriously would have NO idea where to start. I then read this list, and got a bit overwhelmed thinking about! If it were to be actual WORK, I'd have to put a lot of time and effort into it. Would it be fun then? Blogging has always been so fun to me, and I don't know if it would stay this way. Plus, what if it doesn't do too well?

On a related note, I think I'd need an actual decent camera to do the aforementioned food blog... I don't think iPhone photos would cut it! (haha) Plus, I think I'd need some sort of angle to this potential food blog. Vegetarian? I don't think Edwin would be toooo happy with all those experiments... :)

See: iPhone photo. These colors could be so much more vibrant!! (this is aloo gobi - a vegetarian Indian dish with potatoes and cauliflower)
Anywho, those are my random blog thoughts of the day. Perhaps I'm just feeling inspired after reading Julie & Julia and my big blog plans will die down soon?  Maybe I'll just stick with my usual random posts for now since that continues to make me happy! Stay tuned, and have a fantastic Monday. (hoping you aren't sick too!)

PS - check this out: the Japanese art of decluttering. (see: tip #4. I knew I was onto something!!)