Fresh Pasta

My husband got me a pasta maker for Christmas and I’ve been dying to try it out since the moment I unwrapped the box Christmas morning. The first thing we made was fresh fettuccine.
Recipe for 1/2lb of pasta:
2 eggs
1 3/4C Unbleached flour
Water
Mix flour and eggs with a flat paddle in your mixer until dough starts to form. Switch to the dough hook and continue until dough comes together. Add water if needed to help dough form into a ball. Turn dough out onto a floured board and kneed for 3 minutes. Flour more if dough is sticky and kneed for another 3 minutes. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes.
Then it’s time to use the pasta machine!
Step one:
Roll out the pasta dough to desired “thinness” (I went to the #4 because I like a medium-thick fettuccine).
Step two:
Put dough through fettuccine cutter.
Flour strands of fettuccine so they don’t stick together while you’re making the whole batch of pasta.

A 1/2lb of pasta will only need about 4 mins to cook. Here it is with homemade meatballs, my favorite sauce, and a little sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

Christmas Morning Coffee Cake Muffins

These muffins are so delicious and were just the perfect treat to eat before we opened gifts on Christmas Morning. The center layer of streusel combined with the moist cake make them scrumptious!

Coffee Cake Muffins
from Martha Stewart Living

Streusel Topping
1C packed dark-brown sugar
1C all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/2 Tsp salt
1/2 Tsp ground cinnamon
1/2C (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Muffins
1/2C (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature plus more for pans
1 3/4C all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pans
2 Tsp baking powder
1 Tsp baking soda
1C sour cream
1C granulated sugar
1 Tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
Confectioners’ sugar, optional

Prepare streusel topping:
In a medium bowl, stir together brown sugar, flour, and salt. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles large coarse crumbs; refrigerate until ready to use.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare muffins:
Butter and flour a jumbo 12-cup muffin tin (or two 6-cup muffin tins). In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together butter, sour cream, granulated sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well combined. With mixer on low, beat flour mixture into butter mixture. Divide half the batter among prepared muffin cups. Top with half the streusel mixture, then remaining batter, and top with streusel. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if desired.

Cioppino

Cioppino is a delicious tomato-based fish stew originating in San Francisco and I just LOVE it. I’m sharing Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe with you because it’s quick, easy, and one of the most delicious homemade versions we’ve made. I half this recipe and it’s still a lot of soup!

Note: Cioppino recipes call for a ton of different fishes, and when cooking for 2 as my husband and I often are, it’s impractical to buy all those different kinds of fish. Well, Trader Joe’s sells a “mixed fish” bag in their frozen section that includes baby shrimp, calamari, scallops, which is a great place to start with this recipe. Then buy a little bit of white fish and a few mussels and you’re good to go!
Cioppino
from Giada De Laurentiis

3 Tb olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
3 lg shallots, chopped
2 Tsp salt
4 lg garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 Tsp dried crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
1/4 C tomato paste 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
1 1/2 C dry white wine
5 C fish stock
1 bay leaf
4 1/2 lbs fish (clams, mussels, shrimp, halibut)

Heat the oil in a very large pot over medium heat. Add the fennel, onion, shallots, and salt and saute until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and 3/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and saute 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Add tomatoes with their juices, wine, fish stock and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the flavors blend, about 30 minutes.

Add the clams and mussels to the cooking liquid. Cover and cook until the clams and mussels begin to open, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and fish. Simmer gently until the fish and shrimp are just cooked through, and the clams are completely open, stirring gently, about 5 minutes longer (discard any clams and mussels that do not open). Season the soup, to taste, with more salt and red pepper flakes.

*I know I use a lot of recipes from Giada De Laurentiis – she has a lot of great recipes that have few ingredients, are easy to make, and taste like you’ve been cooking for hours when really you’ve only been in the kitchen for like 20 minutes.

Cards

I decided to make a batch of cards for a couple friends as their Christmas gift this year. They came out very nice and since we exchanged gifts over lunch yesterday afternoon, I decided to post the images today.

Congratulations Card

Thinking of You Card 

Happy Birthday Card

 

Thank You Card

Make Your Own Gift Bag

While shopping for wrapping for this holiday season, I realized that all the gift bags out there are super cheesy and lame. So, I decided to buy plain white bags and jazz them up myself!

It’s very easy – just follow these 4 simple steps.
You will need:
Plain gift bags
Decorative ribbon
Glue Gun

Glue 1-inch of decorative ribbon on the inside of the bag.
Wrap the bag with the ribbon and glue again on the bottom of the bag.
Wrap the rest of the bag and then glue 1-inch of ribbon on the inside of the other side of the bag.

Make a bow and glue it on the front – and voila!

Holiday Decor

I just love to decorate the house for Christmas! Here are a few highlights of this year’s holiday decor…

I removed the usual pillows from our living room couch to highlight this cute little Christmas tree pillow (mini pillow from Crate & Barrel)
An array of candles, plants, etc… to highlight the photo of our Kitty Maxine as Santa (Black Friday score – mini poinsettias for $0.98 at Lowe’s!)
My favorite lamp that I filled with red and green ornaments (1 box of ornaments – $10 at Home Goods, not bad!)
And of course – the tree (I just LOVE this Christmas tree skirt we found on clearance at Bloomingdale’s post-Holiday a few years ago)