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Ravioli Warriors

Last weekend was not only the slow start of spring in NYC, but I had the opportunity to learn how to make homemade raviolis. I tried my hand at these little dumplings back in the day (middle school I think), but I didn’t use a pasta press, which made the task much more difficult and probably resulted in larger biceps (I was still a competitive gymnast then, so I certainly didn’t need my arms to get any bigger than they already were). Luckily, we had a pasta press to work with this time, so I was more than eager to take on the challenge.

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Instead of including an exact recipe, I’m going to walk you through the process. We are both handy in the kitchen, so we were able to make it up as we went. Luckily, the finished product turned out delicious! So, let’s get started.

First we gathered most of the ingredients at Eataly. I’m just including this because it added to the experience. We were also able to get our hands on some great cheese (ricotta, Gorgonzola, and parmigiana) and mushrooms (dried porcini, cremini, and shiitake).

The Sauce

As soon as we arrived back at the apartment we got down to business. I began by putting together a simple tomato sauce by sauteeing a chopped onion and finely chopped garlic until translucent. I added some seasonings (basil, salt, parsley, etc.) then poured in a large can of crushed tomatoes and a large can of whole romas (which I crushed by hand). I proceeded to add more seasonings and let the mixture simmer throughout the rest of the cooking process.

The Filling

We weren’t exactly sure which direction we would take the filling, but ended up focusing on mushrooms and cheese. We began by finely chopping an onion and quite a few cloves of garlic (4???) and sauteeing them for a few minutes with a little olive oil. We then chopped up all the mushrooms we had (almost a pound I would say) and added them to the already-cooking onion mixture.

Side note: We could only find dried porcini and ended up getting only 3 big slices ($50 a pound- what?!). We rehydrated them before starting the filling by simmering them in just enough water to cover. After we added the chopped creminis and shiitakes to the pan, we added the chopped porcinis and the cooking liquid (so much flavor in the liquid!).

We let the mushroom mixture keep cooking down while continuously stirring and adding some spices along the way. The shiitakes had such an amazing flavor! They may be my favorite mushroom.

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While the mushrooms cooled down we added the ricotta, a little gorgonzola, some chopped spinach, and parsley to a bowl and stirred to combine. We added some of the cheese to the mushrooms once they were room temperature and pureed in batches in the food processor. You can leave the mixture chunkier if you like, but we were going for something a little smoother. It’s all about preference!

The Pasta Dough

Now for the messy part. The pasta dough is the component that I was the least familiar with, so I trusted my “teacher” on this one. He scooped out around 2 cups of flour for each of us and created a mound with each pile. We then used our fists to create a bowl-shape in the center for the eggs to rest in. We cracked three eggs in each pile, then used a fork to whisk them while gradually incorporating the flour. Eventually we reached a point when the dough was ready to be kneaded by hand, so we got messy. We kneaded until all the lumps were gone and the texture was nice and elastic. We cut the dough into smaller sections then used the pasta roller to turn it into long, thin sheets, always starting with the thickest setting and gradually adjusting to the thinner settings. We created raviolis with each sheet as it came out of the roller.

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I completely forgot to take pictures of the actual process of filling the dough, but here are the key takeaways.

  • The exact shape doesn’t matter
  • Don’t overfill or else it will be difficult to seal your ravioli
  • Use your finger and a glass of water to wet the perimeter of the ravioli edges so that the dough doesn’t fall apart when you cook it
  • When sealing your ravioli make sure you press around the filling to get rid of the air

Here’s some of our finished product:

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Cooking and Serving

Since the dough is so fresh and delicate it barely needs to cook. Simply drop them one-by-one into a  heavily salted pot of boiling water and remove each ravioli once it floats to the surface. We took our raviolis straight from the water to the sauce and added a bit of the starchy cooking liquid to help the sauce stick to the pasta. Once done, we served the raviolis with freshly grated parmesan and a side of charred green beans. Such a delicious dinner and well worth the work!

*Credit for the following photo goes to my fellow ravioli warrior!

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Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

You might have seen my post from New Year’s Eve when I roasted a chicken for the first time in a loooonnnnggg time. Luckily it turned out delicious, but I have to admit a lot of my technique was guesswork. Last weekend I decided to give it another go and had even greater success! I’m only going to go over a few tips this time since I went over the whole process here.

  • Pat the chicken dry before seasoning and stuffing
  • I placed orange peels and onion inside the cavity. Because I always forget to get some twine, I just used some rolled up tin foil to keep the legs together. Janky, but it worked!
  • Always separate the skin on top of the chicken and stuff with your favorite herbs, spices, etc. I used sliced onion, orange peels, minced garlic, and a roasted garlic seasoning I’ve been loving lately. Be generous with everything since it’s only between the skin and meat instead of inside the meat. I included the picture  below so you get the idea a bit.

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  • I left the wings out since I’m not a huge wing fan, but tuck them next to the bird if you want to keep them nice and juicy.
  • The biggest issue I have is with timing. I grew up with a mom who overcooked everything because of her extreme food poisoning paranoia, so I’m overly concerned with overcooking my meat. The chicken probably could have used more time in the oven, but I pulled it out after 1.5 hours. Note to self: buy a meat thermometer.
  • Skin freaks me out, but if you’re a fan turn the oven up to 450 for a few minutes right at the end of cooking to make it nice and crispy.

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There you have it! Now go and roast a chicken for yourself.

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New Years Resolutions

Now that we’re two months into 2015 I think it’s safe to check in on my New Years resolutions to see how I’m doing so far. I used to set concrete goals for myself each January, but have changed my tune the past few years. I prefer to have some guidelines to live by and simply use the new year as a reminder to keep them up. Less pressure.

Step Out of my Comfort Zone Regularly

It’s practically impossible to make it through life without stepping out of your comfort zone, but making it a regular habit tends to result in more opportunities and experiences I would otherwise miss out on. I always had terrible social anxiety in middle school and high school, so I try particularly hard to focus on improving that aspect of my life. My job tends to place me into social situations where I may have nothing in common with the people I’m entertaining or may not know anyone at all. Being able to use my nerves to my advantage has helped tremendously. Of course, there are countless ways to challenge yourself so that’s why I like having this goal as an everyday reminder. There’s constant room for opportunity to better myself.

Be able to Rely Solely on Myself

I know this goal sounds terribly cynical, but it’s not- I promise. I have an amazing support system (shout out to my family especially), but it’s a struggle sometimes being a perpetually single girl. I’m very happy with my life right now, but it can be frustrating when so many of my college and high school friends are getting engaged by the minute. Seeing them achieve something I have practically no control over (my love life) makes me doubt myself occasionally. So this goal is simply a reminder to appreciate the state I’m in and not dwell on things I’m not meant to have yet. I’ve learned to enjoy my alone time and not take dating so seriously. As long as I’m happy and having fun, then I’m good!

Build my Financial Portfolio

Now that my career is on track I want to make sure I’m building a good financial foundation for myself. Shortly after moving to NY I put together an Excel document to track every penny I made and spent each month. It’s tedious at times, but knowing where my money goes really puts me at ease. I’m also getting into the investment game and purchased my first batch of stocks recently. Thanks to my dad, the self-help book guru, I have plenty of reading material about Warren Buffet, saving for retirement, and building my wealth through investments. Let’s hope it all pays off so I can buy that penthouse overlooking Central Park someday! (Although I’m pretty sure I would still need a sugar daddy to be able to afford that)

These are my top three everyday resolutions and so far I’m doing pretty well. And how crazy is it that March is already here?! This year is already flying.

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