Food + Family = Fun

Sorry I haven’t been around much the last 2 weeks. I was taking advantage of the warm weather and doing lots of clean-up around the yard. I’ve also been busy with the kids, Spring Break, and I got suddenly busy with design work, which is good for me but bad for the blog.

I don’t have a post prepared for today either, but I did find this old post from my previous blog. It made me smile and it comes with a yummy recipe that is perfect for the rainy, spring days ahead, so I thought it was worth re-posting here. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have any photos. This was written before I had a nice camera or even knew how to use them.

My son always frustrates me at the dinner table. There are very few foods he will eat. He won’t eat anything that looks “weird”. And he won’t eat anything that “his smell sensors” tell him are off. Last night I accidentally found a remedy to this situation.

A few days ago, while the kids were at school, I had an ambitious moment and decided to roll my own tortellini. I spent all afternoon in the kitchen making the pasta and strolling down memory lane. I remembered slurping tortellini soup in my grandmother’s kitchen when I was little. I remembered getting bags of fresh rolled tortellini from my grandmother to take back with me when I was in college. I also remembered a weekend I spent with my grandmother talking and rolling, stuffing and folding pasta. It was a fun and relaxing day. And so was this particular afternoon.

When I served up my labor intensive creation for dinner, my son responded with, “What the heck?”

“It’s tortellini soup.”

“It looks weird.”

“But it’s very good.”

“My smell sensors tell me it’s off.”

“Your smell sensors must be off then, because this is very tasty.”

“Delicious!” my daughter exclaims as she noisily slurps up the soup. At least somebody likes it. Joe on the other hand made himself a salami sandwich with some carrots.

Last night, I had some filling left over so I decided to make a batch of tortellini to freeze. Joe wandered into the kitchen while I was getting my pasta roller out.

“Wow! What is that?”

“A pasta roller.”

“You mean you’re going to make pasta? Without a box?” He was completely amazed that you could make pasta from flower and eggs and that there was no box involved. “Can I help?”

“Sure.”

We spent the next three hours kneading, rolling, stuffing and folding. And when all the filling was gone, but there was still dough left, we rolled out some fettuccine to dry for later. And then surprisingly he asked if we could eat some of the tortellini for dinner. “Sure, buddy.”

So while he went into the living room to work on his homework, I heated up some chicken stock and put into it the left over tortellini from the night before. I put our new tortellini in the freezer for another day. And you know he ate 3 servings of the same soup his “smell sensors” told him was off the night before. And now I know to have him help me make dinner the next time I serve something new. Maybe then his “smell sensors” will tell him its good!

And for the recipe:

For the filling I use:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb of ground turkey or chicken
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • oregano
  • basil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • You can also substitute portabello mushrooms for the meat for a vegetarian version.

Directions:

  • Heat up olive oil in a skillet and saute garlic just until you start to smell it. Add the meat and brown. Add oregano and basil. Stir for a minute more. Remove from heat. Add cheese, salt and pepper.
  • The filling needs to cool completely before you can stuff your tortellini.
  • I make the pasta dough following the instructions that came with my pasta roller. It’s never disappointed me yet. After I roll out the dough as thin as I can get it, I cut it once lengthwise down the center with a pizza cutter. Then I cut it into 1-2 inch squares.
  • You’ll need to get a little pastry brush and a cup of water for the next part.
  • In the center of each square, place a small amount of filling. You don’t want to over stuff them or they will fall apart when you cook them. After you’ve placed the filling on each square, brush the edges with a little water. Fold them into triangles and press the edges together. Then fold two of the points around your finger and pinch together.

(Here’s a trick I learned if you plan on freezing them – place all your tortellinis on a cookie sheet and put the freezer for about 20 minutes. Take them out and put in a freezer bag. Now they won’t stick together. They should keep in the freezer for about 3 or 4 months.) You can also use wonton wrappers instead of rolling your own dough. It’s not as good, but it works.

You can serve your tortellini with your favorite sauce. Or you can serve them my favorite way, in clear broth. Just before serving I throw some fresh parsley into the broth and serve with warm, crusty Italian bread.

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Seed Starters

It’s that time of year again – time to start what seeds you can indoors.  I actually started my tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, basil and fennel 2 weekends ago, which have already sprouted. And I started my melons and squash this past weekend. Don’t worry if you haven’t started yet, you still have time. Although, the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having is making me feel like I’m behind the planting schedule.

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I found a really great way to recycle old newspapers into seed pots. The best part about these pots is that they are free and biodegradable, so there are no plastic pots to throw away. When you’re ready to put your plants in the garden, simply open the bottom of the pot and put the entire plant, newspaper and all, into the hole. Be sure to bury all the newspaper with dirt when you plant them.

I found 2 different tutorials for making pots and I’ve linked to them so you can try them yourself. One used origami to make square pots. (Below are our finished tray of origami pots.)

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The other simply rolled the sheets of paper around a tin can. (Below are our finished round paper pots.)

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I tried both methods and I liked the origami method better. They seemed sturdier and were easier to fill and fit into the tray. Plus the origami pots were more fun to make. The kids had fun helping with the origami pots too, but my kids love anything to do with origami. They are obsessed.

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Cecil, our cat, even joined in the fun. Although, he was more interested in eating the paper.

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Another great seed starting tip – water your new pots with a spray bottle. It will keep them moist but won’t disturb the seeds or damage the little seedlings when they start to poke through.

Have you started your seeds? What do you plan on growing this year?

Sunday Sundae: Vanilla Ice Cream and Olive Oil

Stay with me on this one. I know it sounds weird, but this little cup of ice cream is weirdly addictive.

This is a desert where you won’t want to skimp on the ingredients. Not all ice cream, olive oils, and sea salts are created equal. Generic vanilla ice cream and the olive oil you use for your saute pans will not do this dish justice. Go ahead and splurge on the highest quality ingredients you can afford. It’s good to indulge yourself once in awhile, because you deserve it.

You’ll need:

  • Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt
  • Salt and Pepper pistachios (you can use regular pistachios or cashews too)

Then scoop your ice cream in a dish, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle the sea salt and pistachios over top. And then savor the sweet and salty and spicy goodness. It’s truly a magical experience.

If you are feeling really adventurous, you can infuse the olive oil with citrus or herbs.

Three Drunk Guys Walk Out of a Bar….

About a month ago, after I thought the kids were asleep upstairs in their rooms, dear husband and I were talking in the living room about politics and history. Something in the discussion triggered a memory of a passage in a book I once read about the American Revolution – unfortunately, I don’t remember which book the passage was from, so I can’t share it.

Anyway….the author speculated that maybe the colonists habit of meeting in taverns, where they drank liquor, may have emboldened some of them to confront the British soldiers who were hanging around. In particular, the author was referring to the Boston Tea Party and the Boston Massacre. The author’s argument was a little more thought out than that, and my husband and I were having a pretty involved and interesting discussion, but the tavern and drinking is what is important to my story, so I’ll spare you the rest.

“So,” I oversimplified, “I guess they were saying that some drunk guys walked out of a bar and threw some rocks and snowballs at the British soldiers, and a revolution was born.”

In walks my 10 year old with a goofy grin on his face. “Mom, I can’t sleep. Can I get a glass or water?”

He gets his water and I send him back up to bed.

Fast forward a few weeks…..dear son’s class is studying the Boston Massacre. Knowing he had some inside information, he raised his hand to share with the class. When the teacher called on him he blurted out, “My mom said that some drunk guys were coming out of a tavern and that’s why they threw the rocks and snowballs at the soldiers.” The class erupted into laughter, my son beamed with pride, and the poor teacher was lead down an unforeseen tangent about how drinking too much makes us do things we might not normally do.

When he came home and told me what he said, my first instinct was to call the teacher and try and explain that I didn’t really say that; there was more to the conversation and my son just overheard the tail-end of it. Instead, I just giggled and let it go. Knowing his teacher, he’s probably giggling too.