Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Necessary Things

If you like to cook, you probably have a list of things you want. The latest cool new gadget I have is a pasta maker and I am really excited to try it out soon. I have to say though, that I have gone a long time in the past without major items and I still have been able to to a lot with a little, even if I had to get creative. There are many kitchen items you don't need, but are fun, like an ice cream maker. Then there are the basics that just make life better and are really useful. While I pan toasted bread for years, getting a toaster was great, even if it wasn't a fancy gadget.

I got a pizza stone, an ice cream maker, and a waffle maker before I upgraded a can opener that had not worked for a really long time. I also never had dry measuring cups. Both of these items, the new can opener and the measuring cups, have made my life easier. I have to count them as the two necessary things that I waited too long to get. Another purchase that was humble, but made my life easier, was a coated whisk; it allows me to whisk sauces in containers with delicate surfaces.

All my cooking tools bring me joy because they let me play in the kitchen. Some tools are less fancy and glamorous, but just as wonderful because they make tasks easy and unfussy. What is the last great underrated cooking tool you purchased?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Mother's Day is coming up and we're all lucky because the internet makes it so easy to get your mom something nice. Below are some ideas you can check out.

I'm on a budget, $20  and under gifts

You could buy chocolates at the drug store at the last minute...or get this great little basket of Harry and David chocolate treats. They use a 30-year-old recipe to make their truffles!

You could bake cookies! Or just send her a box of Mrs. Fields cookies.

I got a little extra cash, gifts under $60

You can make almond brittle! Or buy this almond hand cream set from the Body Shop. If you order by April 29th you get the employee discount and since this gift is just over $50 it is eligible for free shipping.

Sew your mom a bag! Or buy this bag at Godiva. You'll give her chocolates, a nifty new bag and feed needy children with your purchase. Now that is a win, win, win.

I'm going all out for my mom! Gifts over $100

You can stick a picture of yourself in a frame and call it a day, or you can put a picture of your mom and one of yourself in this charm necklace from TforEdgard at their Etsy shop.

You can get your mom a treat from a local purveyor! Or you can let Murray's cheese shop take care of it with their The New Yorker gift box.

I hope you find these ideas helpful, but remember the most important thing is to just call her and let her know you love and appreciate her. Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hey there all! This is the first post of 2012. To kick off this momentous occasion I am bringing you a quick and delicious dinner idea. I made a pasta salad last night and it was damn good, so you should eat it too. Below are the details. Enjoy!!

What you need:

Salt and pepper

1/2 box of rigatoni
8oz black eyed peas, frozen

I large shallot, or two small, diced
1 large garlic clove, or two small, diced
a generous handful of sundried tomatoes in oil cut into bite sized pieces
6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of lemon juice

1/3 cup of mix of red and green sweet peppers diced
1/4 cup of cherry tomoatoes quartered
a handful of basil leaves
1/4 of pine nuts
1/4 of pickled banana peppers, slice
1 tablespoon of parmesean cheese
4oz package of salami

Italian salad mix

Step 1
In a large pot boil water, generously salted. In small pot add the peas and cover with water and add salt.

Step 2
Meanwhile, dice the shallot and the garlic and place in a bowl large enough to hold the whole salad. Cut the sundried tomatoes into bite sized pieces,then add to bowl. Add the vinegar and the lemon juice and then slowly blend the olive oil into it, season with salt and pepper. Let this sit.

Step 3
Check on the beans. They will be tender when ready. If ready turn off heat. Add pasta to the large pot when it is at a rapid boil. It will take about 14 to 15 minutes to cook the pasta. Do not cook al dente. Cook until the pasta is fully tender. This is important.

Step 4
Chop the peppers and the tomatoes and set aside. Check on the pasta. When ready ladle the pasta out of the water with a slotted spoon. You want a little of the pasta water to drip into the bowl as you transfer it from the pot to the bowl. You don't want to pour the pasta water in, but as you transfer the pasta from one to the other, just enough will fall into the bowl. Then laddle in the peas as well. You want to Gently fold in until all is incorporated. Then you will put plastic wrap on top. Put in fridge for 30 minutes.

Step 5
Cut the salami. Toast the pine nuts and set aside. Chop the basil and put on top of the cut peppers and place plastic wrap over them until the pasta is ready to be taken out.

Step 6
Take the bowl out of the fridge. Fold in the peppers and tomatoes. Then fold in the salami. Then fold in the pine nuts and the parmesean cheese. Taste it. It may need a dash of salt and pepper.

To serve: I served this dense salad with undressed italian greens, which balanced out the meal. Eat it!!