In the Kitchen: Gnocchi with Bacon Cream Sauce and Peas

I like rountine. I like lists and knowing exactly what’s going to happen when it happens. Except when I don’t. I have these spurts of needing to do something different that won’t go away until I go and do something different. I usually dye my hair or go get a tattoo. So when I got this burst of the need for change this week, I was stumped. I’ve recently lightened and then re-dyed my hair so I couldn’t do that. I just got a tattoo so that was out. Plus I have no money. So, I decided I could take to the kitchen and cook something different. 

I knew I had all the stuff I needed to make homemade gnocchi so I decided to make a dinner completely from scratch. Lately we’ve been doing a lot of microwave and mix quick cheats for meals. It’s easier on weeknights and cheaper. But the food’s not as good. You sacrifice quality over time. 

I’ve only ever made gnocchi one time before – for our 1st wedding anniversary. So, in 2012. But I’ve been wanting to try again. I consulted a few different recipes online for some guideline especially since I wanted to use instant potato flakes instead of dealing with whole potatoes. (Alright, maybe it wasn’t 100% from scratch) So, I got some basic idea of what I was aiming for ingredient and measurement wise (none of the recipes could seem to agree on how much of each item to use) and made my own. Here it is: 

Take 1 cup of instant potato flakes and add 1 cup of the hottest water you can get from your faucet. Or microwave it or use a stove. Whatever works best for you. I’m lazy so I just use the tap. Mix it together all nice and neat. Add one egg. Blend it all together. If it’s too dry, add a splash of water, but don’t get it too wet.

 

Next add whatever seasonings you want. I had dried basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper. I went with about ½ teaspoon for them, but Josh said the gnocchi didn’t have much flavor (I disagreed). So, figure out what works best for you. If you like bold flavors, go big. Then add 1 ½ cups of flour. I used my hands to get it all mixed and kneaded into a ball. Then start taking pieces and rolling it out into long strips. You can be fancy and use a fork to indent the top, but that’s up to you. The little ridges are supposed to help hold the sauce. It seemed like an extra step to me and I skip those when it’s a week night. They turned out fine without them.

 

Bring a pot of water to a boil. I took a pair of cooking scissors and just cut the little shapes into the water over the pot. You can cut them on the board beforehand if you want. Personally, I like to cut mine smaller. The bigger ones are a bit more doughy tasting. Leave them be until they float. Scoop them out and let them rest.

 

Sauce time! This recipe I’ve had since back in 2012. I found it somewhere on the internet. I certainly don’t take credit for it. It’s a cream sauce with bacon. It’s not exactly healthy, but it’s really good.

 

I cooked three strips of bacon. Took out most of the grease. Left a little for flavor though. Then I put in about 1 tablespoon of butter. Once it started melting, I took the bacon I chopped up and added it back in. Then I added onions. I usually use yellow onions for this sauce, but I had green onions that I needed to use cause they were headed south. So, I sliced then up, green and white, and put them in. You have to let the onions soften and then you add peas. I had a pretty big amount because I had defrosted them earlier in the week and taken about ½ cup out of the bag. We love peas though so it wasn’t a big deal for us. I’d say add ½-¾ cup depending on your love of them. Get the peas warm and then add a cup of milk. Now, the original recipe called for pancetta and half and half. I’m poor and cooking for my husband and a toddler who mostly feeds hers to the dog. So, I use what I have – milk and bacon. However, the fancy ingredients would definitely make for a fancier end result.

 

You let the milk mix all in, salt and pepper it, and let is simmer until it’s thickened some. When it’s where you want it, add the gnocchi to the pan, mix it all together, and let it heat the gnocchi back up to warm. Then you eat!

 

Josh thought the gnocchi were too doughy, and, like I said, smaller seems better for this recipe. I’ve only ever made gnocchi twice, and it was with instant potatoes. I’m sure real potatoes give you a much better consistency. I also think I overworked the dough. It’s really important to not do that, and I went ahead and did it anyways.

 

The sauce was a hit. Even the toddler drank it out of her bowl.

It helped scratch the different itch. I love cooking a full fancy meal and wish I had the time and resources to do it more often. Maybe I’ll try sneaking more meals like this in on a regular basis. 

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In The Kitchen: Tempeh

I’ve been trying to eat healthier. What I’ve realized in the process is that almost every website that offers advice on this is like, “Lean protein and veggies.” And that’s cool with me. I can handle veggies. There’s not too many of them I don’t like. But the lean protein, that’s where you get me. I don’t really like meat. I like a nice cut of steak and I’ll eat bacon, but that’s pretty much it. I’ve always kinda struggled with meat. I don’t like the way beef tastes the way cows smell (which makes me sound crazy to almost anyone who hears it), but that’s how I feel about it. So, in order to move to a leaner diet, I had to start looking for alternatives.

I started with chickpeas. And I really like roasted chickpea, but they just aren’t enough to work as a full substitute for me. So I asked the Google machine and found tofu and tempeh. I don’t particularly like tofu. It’s too spongey for me. So, I thought I’d try tempeh.

So, what exactly is tempeh? Well, thanks to Wikipedia, we can all know that it is “a traditional soy product originating from Indonesia. It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form.” Apparently, this process makes the soy more digestible which is better for your body cause you get more minerals out of it.

I decided it was for a try. I purchased Lightlife Organic Original Tempeh. I found it in the organic/health food refrigerated section of my Kroger.

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The nutritional facts (which are what really matters) are for 3oz, and it comes in 8oz packaging.

  3oz (serving size) 8oz (whole package)
Calories 140 350
Fat 4.5g 11.25g
Carbs 10g 25g
Sugar 0g 0g
Protein 16g 40g
Fibers 7g 17.5g

 

I ate about half so for me 21g of protein sounds pretty dang good for having no meat! It’s not bad in any other category either. The whole package has less carbs than a single banana and more fiber than a cup of oatmeal in just the serving size.

Alright, so cooking:

I’ll tell you this it was a little scary at first sight. It’s definitely weird looking. EB thought it was rice crispy treat. But I was determined to be brave and try it. I read online to boil it first to take away from of its natural bitterness. So, I boiled it for 10 minutes flipping it once. I then dried it off and cut it in half so I could put it in a baggie to marinade it. Since this was the first time I was making it, I went a really safe route and used oil and chopped garlic to marinade it. I let it sit for about 2 days before I actually used it.

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Josh and I fell in love with tikka masala when we lived in Columbus and would go to North Market. I’ve tried to make it from scratch the past, but it just didn’t work out well. So, I buy it in a jar and, usually, brown up some chicken and shred it to toss in. (Don’t forget the naan!)

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This time, I made a chicken breast and browned my tempeh (in two separate pans). I used oil and crumbled it because I thought it would work best with the sauce. Once it was nice and crisp and brown, I put half the sauce in and let it all marry together. The remainder of the sauce went with the chicken.

I served it over rice, and it was really good! I actually almost couldn’t even tell it was in there because it was similar in shape and texture to the rice since I crumbled i. It also really filled me up. It reheated really well for lunch the next day as well.

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I’m looking forward to being more adventurous with the marinade and trying different forms for the tempeh. I think this may be the start of a beautiful new food friendship.

In the Kitchen: Cheesecake and Chicken Wings sorta

So, my kitchen is always a disaster area. It’s the one place we can’t seem to keep up on in our house. The biggest problem with keeping it nice and picturesque is that I like to cook. Like all the time. For no reason. Oh, and I stress bake. Like some people drink or smoke, only there’s a cake waiting to be eaten once I’m done. So, I thought I could share some of my yummy finds here.

This weekend we had two “snackworthy” events – the triumphant return and glorious start of the 12th doctor on Doctor Who and our fantasy football draft. So, I wanted to make things we could munch on while we battled aliens as well as were able to eat without interfering with our mouse clicking. So, I made three different things (because I love new recipes).

1. No Bake Raspberry Cheesecake Bites

Can you say – oh mah gawd? EB latches on to me as soon as she sees me pull one out of the freezer. Maisy loves them because my crazy dog is obsessed with cream cheese. So, these two all over me demanding I share. And, Josh, well, he doesn’t like raspberries. But he likes these.

I love cheesecake and I love no bake recipes so I was sold as soon as I found it. The recipe is below on the original website I used, and, to the woman who created this recipe, I thank you. The only thing I did that was different from her instructions was that I used an ice cream scoop to get the frozen mix out of the bowl and into ball shapes. They came out much prettier that way.

I love that they’re small and easy to grab. You can eat one and get your cheesecake fill without feeling like a total fat kid. You can also make them various sizes too. I made some smaller ones for EB because I knew she’s make a mess with a bigger one.

http://thissillygirlslife.com/2014/04/no-bake-raspberry-cheesecake-bites/
http://thissillygirlslife.com/2014/04/no-bake-raspberry-cheesecake-bites/

2. Buffalo Chicken Dip

I love dips. If you can put it on a chip, bagel piece, pretzel, or graham cracker, I’m sold. And I love chicken wings. But chicken wings take forever to make, and they get messy. Enter the wing dip!

Josh doesn’t eat chicken on the bone anyways. So this was really perfect for us.

Here’s the recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/buffalo-chicken-dip/

I did half of what the recipe calls for for just the two of us and it was enough for both of us to take leftovers for lunch the next day. I didn’t slow cook ours after it was all mixed. I popped it into a 350 degree oven until was all bubbly and delicious. The sauce I used (and love) is Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wings Sauce. It taste more chicken wingy to me than the plain Red Hot. There are a lot of recipes for this dip out there, but I’ve found I like this one best because of the portions of the ingredients. I also don’t like blue cheese and a lot of recipes call for that instead of the ranch. We eat ours on tortilla chips, but crackers work just as well.

3. Reese Puffs

So, I was on pintrest (as I tend to be) and realized that, basically, if you can stuff it into a crescent roll, somewhere, someone has. And I saw snickers wrapped and baked inside of them, and I decided to try it with Reese cups.

All I did was put the Reese cups in the fridge to get cold first. Cut them each in half and then wrap a half up in the crescent dough. I baked according the packaging and sprinkled with powder sugar when done.

Reese cups are Josh’s favorite so he was pretty happy with them. photo 1 photo 2

I’m currently noshing on my buffalo chicken dip. So, I’m gonna get back to that. 🙂