Thursday, December 30, 2010

Noms: Raviolis

The bf's mom is Italian and therefore is charged with teaching me EVERYTHING she knows about Italian cooking each time she comes for a visit. Luckily, I think she enjoys passing on the family secrets and tricks of the trade so we have a good time together. This trip I insisted on learning the art of making handmade raviolis. When I say art, I certainly mean it. Creating each perfect pillow of divine nosh is like creating a masterpiece suitable for any gallery or museum worth mentioning. So basically - you can just call me Picasso!
Raviolis are actually not complicated like I originally thought. However, they take FOREVER and you must be meticulous. Here is the step by step guide if you are interested in becoming an artist like myself:
Make the dough.
This involves 1 cup of flour for each person eating and 1 egg per cup of flour. We had to add an additional egg because our dough was VERY dry that day. This all depends on the weather, the humidity etc so just make sure your dough a tad sticky and you should be golden. Let the dough rest.Wrap in plastic wrap to preserve the moisture for about tens minutes. Trust me - your arms will thank you for the break.
Roll out the dough.
This requires a pasta machine with an electric piece (or guns of steel and entirely too much time for someone as popular as myself). Cut small chunks from the rested dough and begin kneading through the machine. My machine had seven settings so you want to go through each setting a few times. Setting one made it longer and flatter, setting two made it even more flat and long, etc, etc until setting seven when we had a full sheet of pasta!
Create the raviolis.
Use your ravioli pan (they have stamps too) and begin by laying one sheet of dough on the bottom. Then, stuff the dough with your filling (we used butternut squash, but you can use whatever filling you like) and topped the filling with another sheet of dough.
Seal the raviolis.
Use the tiny rolling pin that came with your pan to seal the raviolis. Don't be afraid to use some force. You want to ensure each ravioli is seal tightly! Then, pop them out!

Set out to dry.
Flour the raviolis and place on a pan to dry. We let ours dry over night since we weren't eating them until the next day; however, I am sure you could eat the same day. You will have to shmagoogle that one on your own kids.
Cook.Serve.Accept adoration and applause.Instruct all to address you by your official title, "Chef Betty Croker Picasso."
After bringing the water to a boil, we cooked the raviolis for three minutes and topped with a delish butter sage sauce.
Now that I am a pro, I am excited to attempt more fillings. I need to find the best of the best out there and experiment. I think I will make a million one day and freeze them for last minute dinners. What is your favorite ravioli filling?

Chef Betty Croker Picasso out!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Travel Tips: Oktoberfest

The bf and I took a quick trip to Munich in September for a little festival you might have heard of - OKTOBERFEST! I know, first thing you are thinking is, "umm aren't you a month early?" No my dear friends, Oktoberfest actually takes place in September. A quick history lesson for those of you less booze inclined: the very first Oktoberfest was actually the best wedding reception ever held in honor of the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese. The reception was such a hit that the event was held again the following year and so on. Traditionally, the festival last either 17 or 18 days leading up to the first Sunday in October. This year was the 200th anniversary of the world's largest festival which annually attracts over five million guests. Try to imagine the biggest state fair ever in combination with the largest beer tasting in history. You have Oktoberfest! The set up itself is a large section of the city center with 14 beer tents. The guests typically wear the traditional German lederhosen and dirndl. Here are a few tricks of the trade to make your next journey a success: 1. Look the part. The bf and I arrived in Munich sporting our typical travel ensemble of jeans and sweater. Turns out we are the ones who looked ridiculous! Take some time to find some lederhosen or a dirndl. It is worth the bucks to look like a local.
2. Learn how to order beer in German. Thankfully, the bf did this VERY well and we were served post haste!
3. Make reservations at the beer tents NOW! We had no idea that Oktoberfest is basically the Oscars minus the celebs and plus a few mean German ladies. We were lucky enough to finagle our way into THREE beer tents and even ended up SOMEHOW in the famous Hofbrau House at the end of the night. However, we were VERY lucky. Make reservations now for your favorite brewhouse to ensure you get prime seating a at least one stein of the magical deliciousness. 4. Hydrate. The beers in Germany are serious. The beers in Germany are huge. I don't care if you won every beer guzzling competition at your frat house. You are not prepared for this. Make sure you take a time out between steins to gulp some good ole H2O. You can thank me later.
5. ENJOY. This was hands down one of the most fun times we have had in Europe so far. It is impossible not to enjoy yourself once you are inside one of the famous tents. Grab a beer, eat a pretzel, make new friends and most importantly don't forget to PROST!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Boogie Woogie: Holiday Playlist

In all walks of life, there are different types of people. There happen to be flip flop people and non flip flop people. There are cargo short wearing frat boys and die hard jean hipsters. And of course, there are holiday music people and grinches - I mean non holiday music people. I, of course, happen to fall into the holiday music people category. The first day after Thanksgiving when I am in Atlanta I immediately preset my radios to 98.5 for all holiday all the time. Sigh - it is so good! I live in the South and for the most part we don't get snow. So, I have to supplement my holiday atmosphere by adding over the top obsessions like holiday music. I literally do not listen to ANYTHING else from Thanksgiving to New Years Eve. It makes my heart happy and annoys the crap out of some of my favorite men i.e. the bf and the daddy dearest. WHAT could be better than that?! A few of my favorites for your consideration.

What is your favorite holiday song?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Words of Wisdom...

I couldn't agree more. Eight more days and I am on my way! Now all I have to do is get through the work week sans wingwoman, purchase one final Christmas gift, cook the best food ever, spend time with the family, take a million pictures annnnnnnd PACK! I just put my suitcase away YESTERDAY and already need to pull it back out. Life is tough my friends.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

Brilliant Ideas by Me: Airplane travel

Every summer when I was younger, I went to the beach with my mom. I loved our trips and many included my favorite Aunt Pam or one of my mom's other fabulous friends. We always had the best times. I miss those days. I am sure you can remember from your beach vacas the tiny shower that you were requested to use before entering the pool after frolicking beach side all day. Well, I never used those. Ever. I was that kid (or early twenty year old, but details details) who was sand-ridden head to toe and would bypass the line for the cold shower and jump into the deep end of the resort pool. I would bob to the surface refreshed and clean and laugh at all those silly folks for where held down by the man waiting in line.
I think airplanes should have a version of that tiny cold shower nowadays. On my recent nine hour flight home from Holiday abroad, I had the nasty pleasure to sit next to a stinky, stinky man. What happened to common courtesy?! I mean, do some people really not know what deoderent is? After about two hours of learning to breathe through my mouth or turning my entire face the the opposite side for a moment of peace while engaging a severe neck cramp, I was over it! I made up my mind to nicely say something to said cohabitant of my general air space. Well, to my shock as I turned to the sleeping beauty I noticed that SOMEHOW he had ninja unbuttoned his entire shirt AND belt. ICK! The smell was penetrating the final clean pieces of air and now it was at high speed since all barriers had been demolished. Oh and he decided to take full custody of the shared armrest AND fall into my property from time to time for the remainder of the flight. 34,000 feet above ground and not one ounce of fresh, clean air. Puke. Gag. I literally sucked up the rest of the nine hour flight and landed safely home. I booked it off that plane faster than Devon Sawa in Final Destination.

You're welcome for the late 90s reference.

So my friends, my point is: Maybe if the airlines would invent a tiny shower to defunk the funky preboarding we all could enjoy our biscoff cookies and tiny sodas in peace. And no, next beach vaca I will not use the tiny cold shower before jumping cannon ball style into the deep end. If FunkMaster Flex can torture me for nine hours, the rest of the fancy shmancy beach resort can deal with my sandy feet.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Frisk me freely boys!

Recently there has been an uproar regarding the TSA's new scanning tool at the airports. I realize there is a larger underlying reason to be upset about this - mainly as pointed out by the bf that, "all this stuff does is increasingly subject normal travellers to suspicion under the guise of telling them that its keeping them safe which is not particularly making a difference either way or what standard security would do. What they need to be doing is investing more money into intelligence to monitor suspicious people instead of scanning every one's body." I totally agree. We should be investing more efforts where the problem is starting - not where the problem is ending up. However, with that being said, if I need to be frisked, felt up or scanned to get here in two days...SO BE IT.

Perhaps upon my return, I can take a more serious look at this issue. Until then, FRISK ME FREELY!