Archive for the 'gnocchi' Category


tagine, badminton, and Bologna.

Greetings from foggy London town, where the Summer is scarce and the condensation oh so prevalent. It’s been just over two months since I relocated from NYC to the Land o’ Scones (official name), and it seems as though I timed my arrival to coincide with sheets of rain and blankets of clouds (going with a bed theme here..just go with it). I can assure you I didn’t. Luckily, the absence of Sun is prolonging my youth! If I can’t find the Sun, then I’m guessing it can’t find my wrinkles. Right?! That’s pure logic.

I’ve been indoors lately far more than my former self dared, so it’s given me ample time to cook and decorate. I’m almost positive I’m turning full-on adult. Proof: today, I bought a small bunch of orange daisies! Who does that?! Adults. That’s who.

While I’ve been getting all domestic, I’ve also been cooking my face off. A few weeks ago, I made a Weight Watchers recipe of Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Almonds:



4 halves apricots, dried
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 c chicken broth, fat free
1 tbsp flour, white
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp honey
1/4 c almonds, whole, blanched
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 c whole wheat couscous, cooked

Start by bringing apricots and chicken broth to a simmer in a small saucepan, and then set aside. Coat a large saucepan with cooking spray and cook over high heat. Toss chicken in the flour and saute about 5 minutes, and then stir in onion. Reduce to medium low and cook 10 minutes more. Stir in cinnamon and honey. Stir in apricots, broth and almonds, season with salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes. Serve over couscous.

Weight Watchers recipes sometimes come out a little lacking in flavor, and this turned out to be no exception. I always feel like I need to add something citrus-y (i.e. lemons) or yogurt-y (i.e. Greek) or oily (i.e. extra virgin olive) on top. This time, I added some extra virgin olive oil for flavor. This turned out to be the right call, although I still feel the recipe needed more. Next time I’d maybe add olives or capers to give it some complexity or something.

A few nights later, I made another Weight Watchers recipe of Mushroom Barley Burgers. I know – I’m a glutton for bland punishment. This one was actually the exception, though. It was all kinds of delicious:


1/2 c uncooked barley
2 sprays cooking spray
1 1/2 lb mushrooms, portabella caps, sliced
1 egg
1 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 c sour cream, fat free
1 tbsp horseradish sauce

The barley takes a lifetime to make, so I actually made it the night before. You bring it to a boil with 2 1/4 cups of water in a saucepan, reduce to low and simmer, covered for 40 minutes. That’s way too long for me post-work, since I’m always thisclose to gnawing a hand off while I cook, so I made the barley the night before.

Coat a skillet with cooking spray and add mushrooms over medium-high heat. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until tender and transfer to a bowl. Mix together with the barley, egg, sage, salt and pepper and mash with a fork. This recipe also gave the option of blending with a food processor, but I’ve yet to buy one since I keep de-prioritizing it. Never-you-mind, though — forking is great for the biceps.

pasta bolognese

Once the mixture was all decently combined, I formed it into about 6 patties. The recipe said I’d find 4, but for some reason I found 2 extras! Win. I put them on a plate, covered them with aluminum foil, and refrigerated for 20 minutes.I then watched some Friends. Brits looove Friends.

I took the patties from the refrigerator and placed them under the broiler for about 5 minutes per side. I then mixed together the sour cream and horseradish in a bowl. You serve the burgers with the horseradish sauce on top. Delicious. I had never before taken an interest in horseradish, but this recipe converted me. I’m, like, dying for Passover 2013.

All this cooking and domesticating has driven me further and further from the gym, and I’ve neglected to even join a proper gym since I’ve moved. Instead, I’ve taken to the iPad workouts for yoga and pilates. I’m pretty into it, since the workouts are as short as 10 minutes yet there are enough to where you can get a full hour-long sesh just by combining a few. I’ve converted to primarily stretch workouts, and when I want to get my cardio on I’ve been going to dance classes. I’m kind of in love with this new philosophy, especially since I can take it with me when I travel and work it around my schedule.

On top of the yoga, pilates and dance, I joined a slightly ghetto gym for its courts and plethora of pilates classes. I was just introduced to badminton on said courts, and I just may have found my sport. I loved every minute of our 45 minute “game,” and even amongst the government-subsidized rafters I felt just like Maid Marion. And that feeling is just beautiful.

I went to Bologna last weekend (hence the Italian-dubbed Robin Hood clip, for those who clicked), which marked my grand return to Italy since I studied abroad in Rome in 2005. During the trip, I ate pappardelle bolognese (pictured left), spinach and mascarpone gnocchi, ricotta flavored gelato (unreal), chocolate flavored gelato (more real, but still bene) nutella crepes, and proscuitto and melon (pictured below). I’m pretty sure there will be more travels and fitting that much rich and delicious food into my belly, so I’m going to continue with the yoga and pilates and weekly dance and badminton. Cheers!

proscuitto e melone


roasted tomato basil soup and lemon basil gnocchi.

I’m not a huge fan of being approached at the gym. This dates back to my middle school days, when I would rollerblade around my lake and get honked at by creepsters with Ms. Frizzle fetishes. That’s never been the kind of attention I enjoy but at all. Also, I don’t like people looking in my general direction at the gym, or using and/or thinking about being interested in using any equipment I’m ¬†looking to use at my leisure. I have rules.

A couple of nights ago, a trainer approached me mid-arm machine rotation. My first inclination was to hit him with the steely eyes until he cracked under the awkwardness, but his intro language was impressive. He was all, “I’ve been noticing that you’re in here every night doing the same things.” We started talking, and like five minutes later, I’m sold. So it’s something I’m considering, because my weak attempts at variety are…weak. For instance, I’ll move from the treadmill to the cybex one night out of the week. Also, I’ll do crunches now when before I was all kinds of opposed. It’s pretty clear I need a several hundred dollar boost :-/

Last week, I made some butternut squash and parsnip soup that I’m still bragging about. It was just about the most delicious thing ever, and it took me mayybe 45 minutes to make. I started with half an onion, which I chopped and cooked up in a giant pot with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. I cooked these for about five minutes, and then I added chopped butternut squash and about three chopped parsnips. I cooked them all in the pan for about 15 minutes or so, and then I added 3 cups of vegetable stock, a couple tablespoons of butter, and salt and pepper. I brought it all to a boil, and then I reduced it down to simmer for about 20 minutes.

Then, I hit the whole mix with my¬†immersion (aka handheld) blender, which is like the poor man’s version of a food processor. Except it’s, like, infinitely better than switching hot soup back and forth in order to puree.

I brought it back to the stovetop, and then I added 1/4 cups of light cream to the pot. I’m pretty sure I’m the last person to discover how delicious cream makes soup, but it was just about the thickest most amazing thing I’ve ever created.

In other news, I’ve noticed a major shift from Mexican to Italian foods in my cooking repertoire as of late. I’ve been getting down with some pasta dishes, risotto, gnocchi, et al. The 20 degree weather that “feels like 7” is making me a total comfort food lovah.

Last night, I made some delicious gnocchi and roasted tomato soup. The gnocchi took like 5 minutes, but the soup was extra needy and took MUCH longer. I started by roasting some pearl tomatoes in my toaster oven with olive oil, salt and pepper at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Apparently using fresh tomatoes for soup is really unconventional, but aren’t they lovely?:

I sauteed half a Spanish onion in my giant pot with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, two cloves of garlic, salt and pepper. Once those softened, I added in my tomatoes with a cup of veggie stock and 2 cups of water, 1.5 tablespoons of butter, and a little chopped basil. I brought it all up to a boil and then took it down to a simmer for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, I boiled some salted water, and then added my gnocchi. They cook up all delicious like in just 2-3 minutes, so when they floated to the top I knew they were good to go. I drained them and then tossed in some olive oil, lemon juice and chopped basil, and then I topped it all off with some red pepper flakes. I have to have my spicy.

I immersion blended my tomatoes and such, which took so much longer than expected. I feel like it would have taken less bicep exertion if I used canned tomatoes, but I am a fan of worlds colliding. I brought the pureed soup back to the stovetop, to which I added 1/4 cup of light cream.

Kind of incredible, although they’re both a little camera shy. See below:


gnocchi and roasted tomatoes.

When I was in Austin, I felt motivated to be more outdoorsy. I kept envisioning myself rock climbing and kayaking and all that, which is weird because there are rocks to climb near the city and I’ve never chosen to partake.

Austin kayaker

Austin kayaker

That goes strongly against my nature (ha), for I was once the college senior afraid of camping at the cold springs near campus. I fell victim to peer pressure – twice – and actually found it to be pretty tolerable and almost fun. That could have been the 24 pack of Natty Light talking, though. I can’t be sure.

I’m a firm believer in baby steps, so I’m gradually transitioning to the outdoors via my running. I had a completely gym-less weekend, and I shunned the computer and was outside all day Saturday. Today I went for a jog on the track and did some crunches on the grass. I’m like Lance Armstrong in a sports bra.

As far as my foodstuff goes, I hit up the cheese shop today for more $1.99 gouda slices and mascarpone cheese. I always kind of skim the store for anything I can’t leave without, and this time I grabbed some gnocchi. Today I HAD to have it, whereas I usually stare it down for a few minutes and ultimately leave it be.

I’ve never prepared gnocchi myself, but I had boatloads in Italy and have had it a couple of times in the U.S. The best ever was gnocchi al pesto that my friends and I ordered in Capri. It wasn’t even on the menu, but the chef made it anyways and it was insaaaaane.

Gnocchi, for those who are unaware, is potato dumplings that have a Play-Doh like consistency. They’re so easy to prepare that they make couscous look complex. All you have to do is boil water, drop in gnocchi, and wait 2-3 minutes for it to float to the top. Drain and serve. That is all.

the baby gnocchis are boiling

the baby gnocchis are boiling

I’ ve been dying to use the food processor, so I made a little basil avocado puree for my gnocchi. I started with half an avocado, a handful of fresh basil, the juice of one lemon, salt, pepper, and about 1/4 cup of olive oil. I probably used more lemon that olive oil, but I wanted to keep it light.

On the side, I roasted some roma tomatoes in the oven with a chopped shallot, olive oil, rosemary, thyme and dry basil. I think roasted tomatoes are last meal-worthy these days. They cook up so amazingly. The skin starts to fall off, and they explode in your mouth! I don’t think I could make that sound any less appetizing if I tried, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

I roasted them in the toaster oven for 13-15 minutes at 350, because my oven is teeny and it started toying with the idea of catching fire when I turned up the heat. See below for the final product. I made a small plate for my roomie, and she confirmed that the gnocchi were delicious and had a lot of flavor. Bravissimi!:

potato gnocchi with avocado basil puree, roasted tomatoes with dry herbs and shallots

potato gnocchi with avocado basil puree, roasted tomatoes with dry herbs and shallots

July 2020