Homemade Pasta Dough

Now isn’t this the most scrumptious skillet of homemade pasta you’ve ever seen?  Well, it was to us!  My first attempt at homemade pasta – I believe I would consider a success!  Nothing like the pasta from those who have done this for years, but for a first try I was pleased!  I used John’s recipe at from the Bartolini kitchens.  It was so easy!  Ritchey bought a pasta attachment for my KitchenAid mixer – it was a birthday present a year and a half ago!  Daunting is not even the word to use when I thought about making pasta!  But after last night’s homemade pizza I thought why not give it a try?

The dough came together beautifully – making it in the food processor was so easy!  The hardest part was kneading for 5 minutes!

The first time I put the dough through the rollers I danced!  I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread!  You’ll have to forgive me, but I do get excited about the simplest things!  Ritchey was snapping pictures and I was making pasta!

Look at these beautiful thin pieces of pasta!

Then it was time to turn those beautiful pieces of pasta into spaghetti!  What can I say?  It was so much fun!

Now, what sauce or dressing for the lovely spaghetti?  I turned to another of John’s recipes – a simple but lovely Spaghetti Aglio e Olio – spaghetti with garlic and oil – with a touch of red pepper flakes, topped with a bit of parsley and pecorino romano cheese.

With the spaghetti boiling away in a large pot it wasn’t long before we sat down to a lovely bowl of fresh spaghetti and a good chianti.  Thank you, John!  I raise my glass to you!  Salute!

Pizza, Pizza, Pizza!!!

Pizza, Pizza, Pizza!!!

I am so excited I’m actually giddy – and it has absolutely nothing to do with the Samuel Adams lager I’m polishing off at this very moment!  It went quite well with the pizza you see in this photo.  This, my very first homemade pizza!  A very foreign admittance to many of you – especially Linda at Savoring Every Bite since she makes pizza every Friday night!  It was her pizza dough recipe I used!  It was so easy, Linda, I believe Friday night will be pizza night for us, too!

The directions for pizza dough can be found at Linda’s website.  Her Roasted Cauliflower Pizza looks so very good, but I didn’t have the ingredients at home.  So my pizza has a different look – but the same good crust on the bottom!  Linda’s recipes always turn out exactly as the photos on her blog – I’ve tried many of them!

I used some of my frozen tomatoes to make my marinara sauce.  In a sauce pan over medium heat I cooked the tomatoes until they thickened.  A pinch of salt, a little black pepper, oregano and basil helped give it a good flavor.  My other ingredients were thinly sliced red onion, slivers of red pepper, pepperoni, about 4 ounces of shredded mozzarella, 1-1/2 cups of finely shredded Pecorino and a sprinkle of parsley.  The pizza was baked at 425 degrees for about 18 to 20 minutes.  I can’t wait to try another one next week!

Now to my second reason for excitement!  Cecilia at thekitchensgarden has nominated me for the Reader Appreciation Award!  You can only imagine my surprise and delight!  Cecilia has a lovely blog that is filled not only with lots of humor, recipes and farm animals, but many thought-provoking topics  that make us stop and think – and realize ways in which we can share our blessings with those around us.  Her lovely ideas of teaching children to cook and helping others grow their own gardens – even if it starts as one plant – truly speak to my heart.

Now comes the difficult part of nominating six readers for the award – but it cannot be anyone who has already received the award – including Cecilia.  Very difficult since so many of you have received this award.  So I give it out to all my readers – from me to you with a sincere thank you for going along with me on my cooking adventures and our little side trips to the garden or Shaker Village or a tea room.  I started this blog with no idea I would meet such wonderful, interesting people – and that they would become my friends!  I do heartily thank you for including me in this blogging world of food and fun!  And since John at from the Bartolini kitchens has such faith in me, I may try homemade pasta tomorrow!

Oranges, Onion and Olive Salad

Doesn’t this look like a luscious and healthy way to start the new year?  Yes, all those holiday meals and desserts were tasty and enjoyed by all – but now is the time to start thinking a little leaner and a little healthier!  It doesn’t hurt anyone to eat light now and then (I can hear the boos coming from a few of you!)!

I met Kate at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington during the week between Christmas and New Year’s.  She is one very busy little person!  She graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Kentucky on the 16th, works full-time as a Fellowship Officer in the Graduate School at the university, and works part-time with a young autistic boy – among other things!  This was her one week off and I was very happy to have an afternoon with her!  Kate was running a tad late – and that gave me more time than I needed in the cookbook section!  I found Essentials of Mediterranean Cooking – a Williams-Sonoma book – and just had to have it.  After spending a little time with this book, I found recipes I just had to make!  Such as this one!

I love oranges – so sweet, so good – so good for you!  Believe it or not, olives were not on my favorites list.  But a little encouragement from Ritchey and I have fallen in love – well, with them both!  And the red onion added with the other two main ingredients just gives a super combination of flavors!  The dressing is not overpowering, but the hint of cinnamon truly makes this a Mediterranean dish!  I hope you will enjoy it as much as we did tonight!

Oranges, Onion and Olive Salad

  • 4 navel oranges
  • 1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup olives, quartered and pitted
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Using a sharp knife, cut a slice off both ends of each orange to reveal the flesh.  Place the orange upright on the cutting board and, using the knife, cut downward to remove the peel and pith, following the contour of the fruit.  Cut each orange crosswise into slices 1/2 inch thick.

Arrange the orange slices on a serving platter, overlapping them slightly to cover the plate nicely.  Separate and scatter the onion slices over the top.

To make the dressing, add the orange juice, lemon juice, cinnamon, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Whisk until blended.  Whisk in the olive oil.

Scatter the olives over the orange slices and drizzle with the dressing.  Let sit at cool room temperature for 10-15 minutes to blend the flavors.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve at once.  Enjoy!

A Cup of New Year’s Eve Soup

A Cup of New Year’s Eve Soup!

Last night was a wonderful evening – spent in the same way as the previous 25 years or so!  Fondue with good friends Debbie and Dennis!  One new addition to our meal was this New Year’s Eve Soup.  It made a delightful palate cleansing between the spinach-artichoke dip and the fondue!  This is a simple soup that just needs a gentle heating – no boiling for this one!

  • 1 – 14.5 ounce can tart red cherries
  • 1 – 14.5 ounce can chunky fruit cocktail
  • 1 large navel orange, peeled and cut into sections (no pith)
  • strips of zest from one lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Combine all ingredients into a small pan over low heat.  Cover.  Heat through but do not allow to boil.  Enjoy!

Christmas Eve Lasagna

Yes, I do know that Christmas has come and gone – and this is not the actual name of the recipe – but it’s what we had for dinner Christmas Eve!  This recipe comes from the first cookbook I bought – in 1975.  That’s telling my age, isn’t it?  This was a pre-Ritchey cookbook so it has my maiden name and the date written at the top of the first page.  It’s the recipe my family adores!  It’s from a Betty Crocker cookbook that is so stained with everything imaginable – and I gave it to Kate last year for Christmas!  She has wanted it for a long time – encrusted flour, stains and all!  It’s the cookbook she used when she started cooking!  And she almost cried when she opened her package!  This year she and Linton received a cookbook made from all my blogs – complete with photos and notes.

Kate was my number one help in the kitchen this year – can’t tell you how many times that dishwasher was filled!  But we had a wonderful weekend together, filled with lots of love and lots of food!

There are a few changes that I’ve included in my version!  And one day I will try making my own pasta – not quite brave enough to do that on Christmas Eve!

Christmas Eve Lasagna

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound sausage
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 – 15 ounce can tomatoes
  • 1 – 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 handfuls parsley flakes
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 handful basil leaves
  • 3 cups cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, finely shredded
  • 1 handful parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 handful oregano leaves
  • 8 ounces lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, finely shredded

Cook and stir ground beef, sausage, onion and garlic in a large skillet until meat is brown and onion is tender.  Drain all fat.

Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, 2 handfuls parsley flakes, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and basil.  Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat; simmer uncovered about 1 hour.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix cottage cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 handful parsley flakes, 1 teaspoon salt and the oregano.  Reserve 1/2 cup meat sauce for thin top layer.

In an ungreased 13x9x2 baking pan layer 1/4 each of the noodles, meat sauce, mozzarella cheese and cottage cheese mixture; repeat 3 times.  Spread reserved meat sauce over the top; sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.

Bake uncovered 45 minutes.  Let stand 15 minutes after removing from oven for easier cutting.  Enjoy!

One more quick story about this cookbook.  A friend of mine, who could not boil water, and whose husband did all the cooking, decided one day to surprise him by cleaning and organizing the kitchen.  She came to his cookbooks, saw the Betty Crocker and decided it was too old, had too many spills, and too many pages that were just stuffed back in the book – so she threw it out!  He was so upset when he got home!  His favorite spaghetti sauce recipe was on the same page as this lasagna recipe!  She was in tears!  We checked at a bookstore, but the newer versions of this book did not have these particular recipes.  I made a copy of the one page, but there were many other recipes he used!  I started checking antique shops and used bookstores – and finally, after several months, found one!  Needless to say that was a very happy household that night!  And the moral of this story is . . .

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Treasures

What says Christmas more than the tree itself?  Decorating the tree is now solely my job – but I relish it!  Each ornament must go in just the right spot!  Which is probably why Ritchey leaves it up to me!  Everyone has their little idiosyncrasies that perhaps drive others to distraction – this is mine!  Our ornaments have been made or purchased through the years and I want each one to have its place of honor on the tree!

This was the first ornament we purchased!  It hung on my Mom’s tree that year and we married the following March.  Terribly sentimental, I know!

Just starting out we didn’t have much money for decorations – so we made our own!  Several of my counted cross stitch pieces are on the tree.

Ritchey made this Jack-in-the-Box!  Bells, hearts, drums – many different ornaments were made in those early years – including a large gingerbread house and a nativity set.  Linton and Kate both loved to help make things for the tree, too, and could also play with them with no worry of breakage!

The tree must have lots of sparkle!

Kate’s angel – when she was still ‘Katie’!  Linton has his name on Rudolph – complete with red nose!

Our 25th wedding anniversary must be noted with an ornament!

And, of course, no tree of mine would be complete without a teapot – or two, or three.  Actually I believe there are eight!  All very different – this one spilling out glass droplets of tea!

Fleur de lis, little birdies, crystal baby grands, more sparkles – all on there!

And the oldest was given to me when I taught school – and was still Miss Hill at that time!

Now that I’ve taken you down memory lane I ask – what goes under the tree?!  Presents?  No!  Baxter!  He loves it!  Our tree revolves and if he gets a little too close to the edge it whacks him on the head – does he move?  No!  It also was a bit daunting trying to get my pictures as the tree moved – but I’m always up for a challenge!

Bailey prefers the back of the couch!

And now I present our tree in its entirety!  Merry Christmas to you and those you love!

An Easy and Delicious Way to Eat Your Spinach!

Getting home at 8:00 p.m. is not the ideal time to start supper, but with a quick and easy meal you can have everything ready in a flash!  More to the point this is a meal that is not only high in iron and one of the world’s healthiest foods, but is among the tastiest!  And nothing could be easier!

Wilted Spinach

Saute a large, chopped red onion in a drizzle of olive oil for a few minutes until it starts to soften.  Add two cloves of garlic, finely chopped.  Add a handful of pine nuts and one of golden raisins.  Stir and cook for one minute.  Add a large bag of spinach and cook just until wilted, stirring occasionally.  Crumble some blue cheese over the top and remove skillet from stove, allowing the cheese to partially melt.  The spinach was served with leftover mashed potatoes fried into cakes.  So quick, so easy, so good!  Enjoy!