Walnut Basil Pesto Pizza

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

One of my biggest kitchen struggles has been good pizza crust. I have an old gas oven (love it) but my crusts had time after time come out soggy. I tried a pizza stone but to my despair, it left all crusts limp. All I want is some crispy, browned bottomed crust! Too much to ask? I tried my faithful cookie sheet and I think that was 50% of the crispy battle. This lovely pizza dough recipe comes from the amazing Andrea Bemis’s new cookbook, Dishing Up The Dirt!!! So excited for this girl! Get yourself a copy. It’s a treat for the eyes and the stomach. It makes my heart so happy to see her in her element, getting down and dirty with real food. She’s seriously inspired me to live on a farm. I will have chickens one day or my name isn’t Cuoco!

This crust is super!! Thin and crisp. It’s almost focaccia-like. My favorite part is that you can do it all from the bowl of your stand mixer with the dough hook, so there’s little to no mess. All you need is time! While the dough is rising you can get other tasks done, so don’t worry. Look at you go, you multi-tasker! Own it. Be wonder woman in the kitchen and don’t let anything scare you. Thank you Andrea for this tasty dough recipe!!! Congratulations, lady! #DishingUpTheDirt #DUTD

Yield: A little less than 2 pounds of dough, enough for 2 large thin crusts

For the Dough:

  • 2-1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water, more as needed
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for oiling bowl
  • 1-1/3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

For the Pesto & Cheese topping:

  • 1-1/2 cups packed basil
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano
  • 2 sun dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • pinch salt and pepper
  • fresh mozzarella cheese
  • wild arugula
  1. In a large bowl dissolve the yeast and sugar in water warmed to 110 F. Give it a good stir. Proof for 10 minutes or until frothing.
  2. Mix in the salt, olive oil, and the flours until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment and knead it on low for 6 minutes. If the dough appears too dry, drizzle 2 tablespoons more water.
  3. Rinse out the large bowl, pat it dry, drizzle it with oil, and use a bowl to rub the oil all over the bowl. Return the dough to the large bowl and cover the bowl with a damp cloth. Let the dough rise until it is doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  4. Transfer the dough back to you stand missed and knead it on low for 3 minutes.
  5. Return the dough to the oiled bowl, cover it with the damp towel, and set it aside to rise for an additional hour, or until it has doubled in size again.
  6. Slice the dough in half. Freeze one half for a rainy day! (see note below). Take the half you’re going to use and roll thinly onto a oiled baking sheet.
  7. Add basil, olive oil, walnuts, parmigiana region, tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor. Grind until smooth, about 30 seconds. Taste it… devious all on it’s own! Spoon half of the mixture onto the pizza and top with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 500 F for 10 minutes. Top with wild arugula and serve.

*Be sure to transfer your frozen dough to the refrigerator the morning before you plan to use it. Remove it from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you make your pizza so the dough can come to room temperature.

Dough recipe (Chesua’a Perfect Pizza Dough) is from Andrea Bemis, Dishing Up The Dirt, 2017. Pesto recipe is from Saveur Magazine.

Vanilla Bean Caramel Apple Tart

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Although March is not apple season, we’re a week away from Spring and my heart is already thinking about Autumn! I picked up pink lady apples and decided to try out this tart. What could be more simple and delicious than store-bought puff pastry? Almost nothing. When you’re in a pinch, it’s texture can’t be beat. It’s a beautiful canvas for just about anything. The apples are slightly cooked in a little caramel sauce and baked till super soft, contrasting beautifully with every bite of crispy pastry. You can try this with any tart apple like honeycrisp, granny smith or braeburn. Quick, easy and with so much reward. This is my new breakfast on rotation.

  • 5 tart apples (such as pink lady) peeled
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 sheet fresh puff pastry (14 oz package)
  • all-purpose flour, for rolling
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Cut apples as close to core as possible into three lobes. In a small, heavy pot, add sugar, water, and scrape in vanilla seeds; discard pod. Cook over medium heat until sugar comes to a boil is dissolved, as it starts to caramelize, 6–8 minutes. Keep at a boil (under 375 degrees with a candy thermometer). Don’t stir! When it becomes a nice amber color, remove from heat immediately and shock pot in an ice bath. Stir in butter, vinegar, and salt.
  2. Add apples into a skillet and cook until they start giving up some of their juices and shrink slightly, 5–8 minutes. Remove apples from skillet and combine with  caramel, pouring into prepared 9″ baking dish. Carefully turn apples so the cut side is facing up and scoot them together so they overlap slightly. (The apples will shrink more as they bake, so they need to be tightly packed.)
  3. Gently roll out puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface just to smooth out creases; cut into a round that will fit snugly inside your pan. Drape puff pastry over apples.
  4. Bake until pastry is puffed and starting to brown in spots, 20–25 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° and bake until apples are tender and pastry is golden brown and cooked all the way through, 20 minutes longer. Let rest 5 minutes before inverting onto a platter. Don’t wait too long to invert or else the apples with stick to the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine.

Blood Orange Cream Doughnuts

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Confession: doughnuts are my guilty pleasure. When you’re craving a pillowy cloud of dough filled with cream, chocolate or jelly, nothing else will do. Long Island is seriously lacking in good doughnuts (sorry, Dunkin, you don’t count) and this recipe is going in my arsenal for good!

Citrus season is in full swing. Those beautiful blood oranges are begging to be used. Their color is so vibrant and their flavor, robust. This cream filling is to die for. Punchy, zesty, but not too sweet. Try not to eat it by the spoonful before you fill the doughnuts. I dare ya! My husband took these all to work so I snagged this ONE photo before he ran off with them… Oh well. I’ll just have to make more.

Makes 12 doughnuts

Doughnut Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 4 cups bread flour (I prefer King Arthur Flour)
  • 1 qt vegetable oil, for frying

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup fresh squeezed blood orange juice (from about 6-7 oranges)
  • 1 tbsp fresh blood orange zest
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Coating:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  1. In a small bowl, mix together yeast, warm water and sugar. I have best luck with luke-warm water. You can’t have it too hot or you’ll kill the yeast. Mix and let sit for 10 minutes, until it begins to foam.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer using the paddle attachment, mix salt, eggs and butter until light and fluffy. Mix in the milk and 1 cup of flour. Add the yeast mixture to the bowl and mix until incorporated.
  3. Change your attachment to the dough hook. Turn mixer to medium-low and add in the remaining flour in 1/4 cup increments. The dough will come together in a sticky ball. Turn mixer to medium speed and “knead” the dough until it slightly elastic.
  4. Turn the dough out into a large buttered mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set it someplace warm to rise until it has doubled in volume. I find the best place to do this is on top of a warm oven. I let mine rise for about 2 hours.
  5. Once the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out to be about a ½ inch thick and cut into 3 inch circles (you can use a biscuit cutter, or a drinking glass). Place the dough circles on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Do not reroll scraps. You an fry them separately for snacking, or discard them.
  6. Allow to donuts to rise one more time, until they have at least doubled in size, and appear to fluffy and filled with air. I let mine rise about an hour.
  7. While the donuts rise, preheat cooking oil to 370 degrees in either an electric fryer, or on a stovetop in a heavy bottomed dutch oven.
  8. Fry each donut until it is golden on the bottom, flip and fry until the other side is golden. Be very careful when transferring the donuts to the oil, if they are handled too much, they will collapse. The finished donuts should be golden on each side, with a white ring around the middle, this shows a perfectly risen donut, and will ensure that it is nice and light in the center.
  9. Place fried donuts onto a paper bag or paper towels to drain any extra grease.  Toss donuts in granulated sugar, and place on a cooling wrack to cool to room temperature.
  10. To prepare the filling, in a small pot whisk in lemon juice, zest, sugar and eggs. Continue whisking on medium-low heat until it starts to thicken slightly. Whisk in butter one tbs at a time. Once the butter has been added, continue whisking until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat, and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour, or until it has cooled completely.
  11. In a mixing bowl, whisk heavy cream and salt together until it forms stiff peaks. Carefully fold in the lemon mixture. Place in the refrigerator for at least another 30 minutes.
  12. Right before serving, cut small holes in the side of each donut, I do this with a paring knife in the shape of an X.  Place filling in a piping bag, fitted with a round tip (a long tip works best). Fill and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bakeaholic Mama.

Sunday Parmesan Marinara

My household eats a lot of pasta. Vodka sauce, meat sauce, alfredo sauce. Love it all. Marinara (aka classic tomato sauce) is my absolute favorite. Such fresh and vibrant flavor. San Marzano tomatoes (from outside of Naples, Italy) are ideal for this sauce. They’re sweet, low in acid and have a deep red, firm body. Make this recipe when you’ve got a little extra time on the weekend. Your pasta will thank you all week long. If you’re so inclined, double the recipe and freeze some! I’m all about the classics. This one’s a keeper for life.

Makes about 3 cups

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic gloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 28-oz can whole San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and halved
  • 1 carrot, peeled and halved
  • 2 fresh basil sprigs
  • 2 2-inch pieces of Parmesan rind
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

In a medium-size deep skillet or wide saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sweat until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and their juices, red onion, carrot, basil, Parmesan rind, bay leaf, and salt. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring often with a wooden spoon, for about 25 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

Allow the sauce to cool to room temperature. Discard the onion, carrot, basil, rind, and bay leaf. Pass the sauce through a food mil or puree it with an immersion blender and chill completely. The sauce will keep for 4 or 5 days in the refrigerator, or transfer to freezer containers and freeze for up to 3 months.

Recipe from Giada De Laurentiis, Happy Cooking, 2015.

Quinoa Sweet Potato Burgers

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

There’s a small, organic, all-natural food market near my house. Once you sift past the tall aisles filled with pricey protein powder and every vitamin known to mankind, you’ll find a humble food bar in the very back. They sell a range of prepared foods that are all remarkably healthy and tasty. Split pea soup, mushroom quesadillas, strawberry walnut & baby spinach salad, curried quinoa and chickpeas. I’ve tried it all. The next thing is better than the last. My go-to item on the menu is the black bean and sweet potato burger. I’m a carnivore by nature but there are days I just want to skip it. It’s one o’clock at the office and I’m craving something that satisfies, without the heavy regret that usually follows. This burger does the trick: meaty black beans and a sweet potato binder that fill you up in a really good way. You might even lose that three o’clock sugar craving.

In a similar way, this Bon Appetite recipe dubbed the “Stellar Quinoa Burger,” is a lunch game-changer! A chance to make killer meatless burgers at home? Done and done. Topped with a healthy dollop of guacamole atop a toasted english muffin, this burger is a serious rival to its beef counterpart. So much lighter and much less guilt than greasy beef. Rainbow quinoa, zucchini, mushroom and sweet potato come together in a truly colorful, wholesome way. I doubled the recipe and I’ll be enjoying happy desk lunches all week!

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Yield: 4 burgers

  • 1 small sweet potato
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1 portobello mushroom
  • ½ small zucchini
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (from about ½ uncooked)
  • ¾ cup dried breadcrumbs
  • 1½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 English muffins, split, toasted
  • Guacamole for topping
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Prick sweet potato all over with a fork; rub with 1 Tbsp. oil, then season with salt and pepper. Roast directly on oven rack until tender, 30–45 minutes. Let cool. Remove and discard skin; mash flesh with a fork. Set aside.

  2. Remove stem from mushroom; discard. Pulse cap in a food processor until finely chopped. Coarsely grate zucchini on the large holes of a box grater; gather up in a kitchen towel and squeeze out excess liquid.

  3. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a medium skillet over low. Cook shallot and red pepper flakes, stirring often, until shallot is soft, about 2 minutes. Add mushroom and zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to release their liquid but have not taken on any color, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl; mix in quinoa and season with salt and pepper. Let cool.

  4. Add breadcrumbs, lemon juice, and about ¼ cup reserved mashed sweet potato to quinoa mixture and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. If mixture is too loose, add more sweet potato to bind.

  5. Divide mixture into 4 portions and form into patties, pressing firmly together with your hands. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a medium skillet over medium and cook 2 patties until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side; season with salt and pepper. Repeat with remaining 2 Tbsp. oil and 2 patties.

  6. Build burgers with patties, toasted English muffins, guacamole, tomato chutney, and sprouts. Do Ahead: Patties can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.

Recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit Magazine (Cafe Pasqual’s, Santa Fe, NM)

 

Classic Chocolate Brownies

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

You know that glossy, flaky top coat that magically appears on the surface of boxed brownie mix? I’ve been trying to replicate that effect in homemade brownies for years with little success. Recipes I’ve tried in the past are either too fudgy (yes, it’s possible) or too cakey and dense. I want that *perfect* brownie: decadent chew and that shiny top that flakes when you bite into it. Too much to ask for? Was it the dairy? The flour-to-egg ratio? I had no idea. Then suddenly it happened. The heavens opened up and Food.com asked me to photograph this recipe. The hunt is over. I kid you not, these are quickly becoming my new go-to! I adjusted a few small things and sure enough it hits all the right marks. The fudge factor is right on. A+, brownies. Bravo. Well done.

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Yield: 28 brownies

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup melted butter, cooled
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I prefer King Arthur)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9″x13″ pan with parchment paper and spray lightly with non-stick spray.
  2. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir in cocoa powder. Remove from heat and pour mixture into the bowl of your stand mixer.
  3. Add in sugar and vanilla until combined. Add eggs one at a time and beat. Mix in dry ingredients until fully combined. Be careful not to overmix. Fold in chocolate chips. Use a spatula to scrape all of that goodness into the lined pan.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely and cut into 2×2″ squares.
  5. Store in an air-tight container.

Recipe adapted from Food.com.

Chestnut Fettuccine and Tortellini in Sage Cream Sauce

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Happy Sunday, all! A little encouragement, from one friend to another:

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

Isaiah 43:2

The new year has me thinking a lot about my future and my family’s future. My husband is in medical school. A lot of our future is unknown. Just last week, I took a shot at something new in my life. I wanted so badly to believe it was meant to be and that I deserved it. When everything fell silent, I had thoughts like “this isn’t fair!” and “doesn’t God want me to be happy?” While God does want to bless us to overflowing, I didn’t have the right attitude in that moment. His plan is abundantly better that ours. He sees things that we can’t see yet. I’m believing that if this wasn’t the right thing, He has something else in store that is 100x better!

In my frustration during the last week, I opened up my Bible on Friday morning and read this about how Jesus calmed a raging storm (Luke 22:8-25):

One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, weʼre going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.

 

I thought to myself: Were the disciples crazy? There they are, with Jesus right there beside them. How could they have been afraid? How could they have doubted for one second that he would protect them and bring peace to the situation?

It hit me like a brick, and I cried. That boat is my life. I’m in the boat. Jesus is also in the boat, right there along side me. Through all of my frustration, my anger, the chaos around me– Jesus is there. He has always been there. Where was my faith? How could I have doubted for one second that He was in complete control? I had forgotten about simple faith. I was choosing anger instead of trusting Him wholeheardetly. In our weakness, God is strongest. Emotionally, I collapsed and humbly spoke out: “you’ve always been there.”

Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. He’s right beside us, ready to calm the storm if we only trust him. Have child-like faith. He’s in control and will never let you drown. No fear, no doubt. This is going to be a great year.

#NOODLEHOLICSPARTY!

I’m so excited to be sharing this recipe as a part of Soe @limeandcilantro’s #Noodleholicsparty! Head over to Instagram and check out our virtual noodle feast.

Around holiday time, my grandfather always brings a bagful of chestnuts with him. He brings his own pan for roasting, weathered and blackish-brown with age. A family tradition, we score the chestnuts, toss in a pan and roast at 425F for 45 mins to an hour. They come out sizzling and hot. We burn our fingers in impatience as we peel and eat. Inside, the chestnut flesh is tender and sweet.

In honor of our tradition, I used chestnut flour and chestnut puree to make pasta, two ways: fettuccine and tortellini filled with ricotta cheese and chestnut puree. I tossed both in a sage cream sauce. For me, this is ultimate comfort on a chilly night. The act of passing sheets of homemade pasta through the fettuccine attachment is THE most soothing thing for me.

I decided to toss it in a butter, sage, shallot, cream, white wine sauce. Well, because… these are a few of my favorite things!

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Chestnut Fettuccine and Tortellini in Sage Cream Sauce

Makes about 20 tortellini and 1 lb fettuccine

Pasta Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (I prefer King Arthur) plus extra for dusting
  • 1 cup chestnut flour (You can find it at specialty Italian grocery stores)
  • 34 tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 34 cup ricotta
  • 14 cup unsweetened chestnut purée*
  • 12 tsp. salt
  • 2 pinches ground nutmeg

Sage Cream Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1-1/2 Tablespoons chopped fresh sage or crumbled dried leaves
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper

*chestnuts are naturally pretty sweet. Adjust the puree to your liking.

  1. To make the pasta, in the bowl of your stand mixer add the all-purpose flour, chestnut flour, and salt. Stir to combine. Form a well in the center and add the eggs and egg yolks. Begin to stir on low, gradually picking up speed to medium until the dough forms. It will be crumbly and thick.
  2. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and incorporate any crumbs from the bowl. Knead until the ball of dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Dusting lightly with more flour as needed. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
  3. To make the filling, in a food processor add the ricotta, chestnut purée, salt, and nutmeg. Process until smooth. Use immediately or refrigerate in a sealed container up to 1 day. You will have filling left over, if you decide to also make the fettuccine.
  4. To make tortellini, set a small bowl of water next to your workstation. Slice the chilled dough into 5 pieces. Flour lightly. Work with one piece at a time, keeping the others refrigerated. Save 2 of the 5 pieces for fettuccine, if making. The dough will be thick, so roll out the first piece of dough into a small 1/2″ rectangle by hand with a rolling pin. Using a pasta sheet attachment, pass through the sheet roller on the 1, 3, and 5 settings until you have a nice thin sheet. (If it’s crumbling at first, keep folding and passing through until it holds together). Cut out rounds using a 2-inch cookie cutter. Working one round at a time, place 1teaspoon of filling in the center. Very lightly wet the rim of the round with water, then fold the ends over the filling to meet and form a half-moon shape. Press together firmly to seal. Lightly wet both of the pointed tips, then fold them together to meet and form a ring. Set on a lightly floured baking sheet and repeat with the remaining rounds and pieces of dough. (If not using that day, you can freeze the tortellini on the baking sheet; once frozen, store in resealable plastic bags or containers. Boil from frozen.)
  5. Using the same method, roll your thin sheets of dough through the fettuccine attachment. Be sure to flour so they don’t stick together.
  6. In a pot of boiling, salted water, add the pasta. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta floats to the top, about 4 minutes. Remove using a slotted spoon and transfer to a large serving bowl.
  7. To make the sauce, melt butter in medium skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and sage. Sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add wine and cream. Turn heat to med-high and reduce until thickened, about 5 minutes. Lower heat and stir in parmesan cheese. Taste and season carefully with salt and pepper. Parmesan is already a little salty.
  8. Toss pasta in sauce and coat well. Serve warm.

Pasta recipe adapted from Saveur Magazine.

Take a look at what our other fun partygoers have contributed:

Pho Ga (Vietnamese chicken noodle soup) by @beyondsweetandsavory
Alfredo Pasta by @mylavenderblues
Beef Ragu with Pappardelle by @cloudykitchen
Malaysian Laksa with Pumpkin by @vermilionroots
Vegetarian Tteokbokki by @husbandsthatcook
Shrimp Scampi with Tagliatelle by @upcloseandtasty
Vegan Jjajangmyeon by @the.korean.vegan
Duck Noodle Soup by @lindsaysfeast
Kuching Style Laksa by @passmethedimsum
Meatball Pasta by @insearchofwonders
Shanghai Onion Oil Noodles by @omnivorescookbook
Oak-Smoked Pasta Cacio e Pepe by @harvest_and_honey
Aceh Noodles (Mie Aceh) by @whattocooktoday

Persian Noodle (Reshteh) by @noghlemey

Thanks so much to Soe @limeandcilantro for setting up this fun virtual #noodleholicsparty! Be sure to check out the recipes from all the talented blogger partygoers on Instagram by searching #noodleholicsparty.

Parsley Pesto

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

I feel like a million bucks!

I decided I need to start drinking more water this year. I’ve known for a long time I’ve been dehydrated. This time of year last winter, my skin felt like a shriveled up prune. I would go at least 8 hours without drinking more than a 16 oz water bottle. I’m terrible at remembering to drink during the day. So I thought to myself: there must be an app for that.

I downloaded the My Water app (get it here) and I’ve been going 5 day strong! The app works in conjunction with Apple Health, taking your age and weight into account. It gives you a goal amount of fluid ounces for each day. Most agree you should drink half your body weight in ounces per day. The app keeps track of how much you’ve had and reminds you when to stop and take some gulps. I’m so proud of myself! I notice already that I have more energy and I’m not as fatigued during the day. Way to go, H20.

Over the weekend I made this killer pesto recipe for Food.com. The original recipe is for vegan pesto. I threw in a little parmesan/pecorino blend because I adore cheese. But, cheese aside,  this recipe holds its own. I picked up this pretty imported bow tie pasta from a local Italian shop. I am in love with the bold, garlic-y, nutty flavor and texture of pesto. If you’ve got some sad looking herbs in your refrigerator, break out the food processor! Vegans, rejoice!

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Yield: 2 cups pesto

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 garlic gloves
  • 3 cups fresh parsley (or basil)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt*
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil

*if you’re going to add in parmesan or pecorino cheese, omit the salt. These cheeses are salty enough on their own, for my taste.

  1. In a small saucepan, toast pine nuts over medium-low heat until slightly brown. Toss around in pan to get even coloring.
  2. In food processor, add pine nuts, herbs, salt and pepper and blend well.  Slowly drizzle in oil and pulse until smooth. Add more olive oil if needed.
  3. Toss well with your favorite pasta. Choose one like bow ties with little pockets to hold all that good pesto. Also enjoy spread over crispy crostini or eggs!
  4. If not using immediately, store in the refrigerator with a little olive oil over the top to keep from browning.

Recipe adapted from Food.com

Stuffed Mushrooms

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

These are a staple on my family’s table. Mushrooms have that wonderful earthy, deep flavor. Organic white caps are perfect for stuffing. I love a good drizzle of olive oil and a light stuff with cheese, breadcrumbs and fresh herbs. The more cheese, the merrier. Roasted nice and long so that the cheese and crumbs become crispy and golden brown. You can’t have just one.

When it comes to stuffed mushrooms, I like to keep it simple. I’m not into stuffing with crab or extra fluff. Let the mushroom shine. They’ll steal the show.

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Servings: 24 mushrooms

Ingredients:

  • 24 large mushrooms
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (I prefer a 50% parmesan, 50% pecorino blend)
  • 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated mozzarella for topping
  1. Clean mushrooms under running water to remove all dirt. Carefully remove stems from mushrooms and chop stems.
  2. In a medium skillet, melt butter and add garlic. Add chopped mushroom stems and saute until lightly brown. Add parsley stir, and remove from heat.
  3. Add cheese and stir to combine. Add bread crumbs, stirring until mixture is crumbly.
  4. Lightly fill each mushroom cap with the sauteed mixture, but don’t pack too tightly.
  5. Set on a rimmed cookie sheet lined with foil and bake in a preheated oven at 400F degrees for about 24 minutes (if they’re smaller caps, check them after 20 minutes).

Recipe adapted from Food.com

Ferrero Rocher Babka

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

I’m so thankful that tomorrow is the last day of this year.

That’s not to say this year wasn’t filled with good things. In fact, many great things happened this year. I feel abundantly blessed. Yet, I feel this overwhelming desire for more. More growth, more prosperity, a closer relationship with God. I feel a craving for it like I have never before.

More recently, I’ve gotten so caught up with work (wake, work, sleep, wake, work, sleep) and I realize I haven’t had my priorities straight. I know I need to make a change. At every year’s end, I try to list the things I want to improve upon in the new year. I feel so eager to start anew, to begin afresh, this year in particular. There’s nothing cliche about it. Like a wise person once said, (paraphrase): insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

If you want to see change, make a real effort. Do something differently. Stop daydreaming and start doing. Take a leap of faith even when you can’t see the ground beneath you.

I’m going to talk to you like you’re my personal journal. Here are some of my aspirations for 2017:

  • Don’t get out of bed without a morning prayer
  • Pray for my husband daily
  • Continually learn and grow to become a better wife
  • Often visit my grandparents
  • Consistently observe the Sabbath day of rest
  • Better manage my time, prioritize the important things
  • Slow down
  • Be quick to listen and slow to speak
  • Take care of my body, inside and out
  • Read before bed
  • Do more of the things that bring joy into my life. Remove the things that don’t

We’re homebodies by nature, but my husband and I are spending our first New Year’s Eve alone at home. Just the two of us. Instead of making a huge deal out of it, I feel so at ease just letting it happen. Without all the noise and without the hoopla. Contrary to popular belief, not everything needs to be snapped and shared. Such a significant moment as 12:00am on January 1st aught to be as personal as personal gets. You & God. Your dreams, God’s plan. All hope and no fear. A little prayer said for the beginning of a new year.

In honor of the occasion, I tried my hand at this chocolate babka. I was given an abundance of Ferrero Rochers for Christmas (60 to be exact) and I decided to do something about it. Stuffed inside these flaky layers are the crushed classic hazelnut Italian chocolates, decadent and unapologetic.

 I wish you the happiest new beginning. Cheers to 2017!

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Yield: 2 9-inch babkas, Active Time: 1 hr 15 min, Total Time: 6 hrs (prepare the dough the night before to allow for overnight chilling!)

Dough:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (I prefer King Arthur Flour)
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup whole milk, warmed
  • 1 packet dry active yeast (I use 2-1/4 tsp SAF Red Instant Yeast)
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, at room temperature

Filling:

  • 4 ounces milk chocolate chips
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (I prefer Ghirardelli)
  • 12 Ferrero Rocher balls, finely crushed and center hazelnuts removed
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed

Glaze:

  • 16 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  1. To make the dough: in a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the sugar and salt. In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the milk with the yeast and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the egg and egg yolk and sprinkle the dry ingredients on top. Mix at low speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the side of the bowl and mix at medium speed until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated and the dough is smooth, about 5 minutes. Add all of the butter at once and mix at low speed until it is fully incorporated and a tacky dough forms, about 3 minutes; scrape down the side of the bowl as needed during mixing. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and coat the paper generously with nonstick baking spray. Scrape the dough out onto the parchment paper and cut the dough in half. Pat each piece into a neat square. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  3. To make the filling: In a medium saucepan, melt both chocolates with the butter, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Let cool to room temperature, then stir in the crushed Ferrero Rochers.
  4. Coat two 9-by-4-inch loaf pans with nonstick baking spray and line with parchment paper, allowing 2 inches of overhang on each of the long sides. Roll out each square of dough to a 16-inch square. Using an offset spatula, spread all but 1/2 cup of the filling in an even layer over the dough squares to within 1/2 inch of the edges. Starting at the long edge nearest you, tightly roll up each dough square jelly roll–style into a tight log.
  5. Using a sharp knife, cut the logs in half crosswise. Using an offset spatula, spread 1/4 cup of the reserved filling on the top and sides of 2 of the halves. Set the other halves on top in the opposite direction to form a cross. Twist to form spirals and transfer to the prepared pans. Cover the loaves with a towel and let stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375°. Bake the loaves in the center of the oven for about 45 minutes, until puffed and well browned. Let cool slightly, then use the parchment paper to lift the babkas out of the pans and onto a rack set over a baking sheet. Discard the paper.
  7. To make the glaze: melt the chocolate with the butter over low heat; stir until smooth. Stir in the corn syrup. Spread the glaze on top of the warm babkas and let stand until set, about 30 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine.