Ricotta Gnocchi with Creamy Tomato Sauce

I had one of those days today. A day where I needed to supervise my wife as she needed some long awaited dental work. Not a cavity filling, but more on the surgery side. As it was a challenging day of managing a heavily drugged wife, and a ever so demanding three year old, I found a way to make us all calm down and come to peace.

Ricotta Gnocchi Recipe

After hearing the doctor basically state that my wife had to eat soft food for up to four days, I immediately lost track of them telling me how she is going to feel, what she is going to need for pain, and other expectations. I had soft food on my mind! I know it sounds selfish of me, especially after sitting in an overheated waiting room for over two hours with my three year old being as carefree as most three year olds are (dancing, singing, needing to run, and arguing about candy), but I found comfort in hearing things about food. So soft food. I really thought that we could leave the office and get a Kopp’s cheeseburger as it was right next door, but I couldn’t do that to my wife who walked out of the place, feeling really intoxicated, literally laughing, and her ‘dead weight’ hanging on my should, knees wobbling. As entertaining as it was, I felt really sorry for her, and wanted to give her something really comforting when she awoke from her painful and drunken sleep.

Sure, I could have quickly whipped up some really killer mashed potatoes, or some nice matzo ball soup, but I have really had dumplings on my mind. I have actually been thinking of pierogi for some time, but as I know my wife loves Italian food, I immediately thought of gnocchi. Sure, I immediately thought of potato gnocchi, but that quickly got pushed aside when I skimmed the refrigerator and found Ricotta cheese. I already had my herbs and other basic ingredients, so I was ready to go. As my wife slept, I quickly moved on making a great dish for a wonderful person. Later tonight, she stated how great the dish was, and I was actually thinking she wanted more. She will have to wait, as more are in the freezer.

Enough said. Let’s get started.

Ricotta Gnocchi:

  • 1 16 oz whole-milk ricotta, drained
  • 3 slices of regular white bread, crusts removed
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 6 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of parmesan reggiano, grated

Creamy Tomato Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 14 oz of diced tomatoes, puree in blender
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream

The goal is to get as much moister out of the ricotta cheese as possible. You do this by placing in a mesh strainer, and line it with a coffee filter if you have it. Cover the cheese, place in the refrigerator, and let this rest and drain for about 45 minutes. During this time, feel free to prep your basil, parsley, puree the tomatoes, and get your breadcrumbs made.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Place the three slices of bread onto a baking sheet, and place in the oven for about 10-12 minutes, or until cooked through and golden brown. Remove from the tray, and let cool before pulsing these down in a food processor, or, placing in a bag, and mashing them into fine crumbs. Your call, depending on how you are feeling during this time.

Get a large bowl out, and remove the ricotta cheese from the strainer, placing it in the bowl. Add in the egg, salt, pepper, parsley, and basil, and combine to get a smooth mix. Add in the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and flour. Combine to make a nice dough. Keep in mind, due to the creaminess of the cheese, the dough is a bit soft, not too firm. If it is too sticky, add in a bit more flour, a tablespoon at a time.

I found that six tablespoons is just the right amount.  You can test this out by forming into a small ball, and make sure it does not stick too severely to your hands. Cover the dough and place in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. This stiffens the dough a bit and will help you with the next process.

During this time, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. At the same time, get your larger, 12 inch skillet out, and get your sauce moving along. Multitasking. Got to love it.

Once your water comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, a simmer, as you don’t want to kill your gnocchi, meaning you don’t want them to disintegrate, or fall apart on you.

To make the sauce, bring your skillet up to medium heat. Add in your olive oil. Toss in your garlic, and cook for about a minute, being careful not to burn. Add in the tomato puree, the salt, sugar, and pepper. Mix well, then add in your basil and cream, mixing again. Cover and remove from the heat.

Now, gnocchi rolling time. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Grab a small chunk, and roll into a the size of a lime. Get a working surface ready, and some more flour. Sprinkle your board with a bit of flour, and heck, get your hands ready as well. Put the ball on the surface, and roll it out into a log, not too thin though, about 3/4 inch. Once it is roped out, get a knife and cut about a 3/4 inch pieces. Continue this process with your remaining dough.

Now this recipe probably makes about 60-75 gnocchi, so if you are only serving a couple, you can place your remaining items on a sheet, place in the freezer to harden, then place in a ziplock bag, and bag in the freezer.

To cook, place the gnocchi into the simmering water. They drop to the bottom, then in about 30 seconds, they begin to float to the top. Remember now, that you are dealing with some fragile ingredients, basically soft cheese and flour, meaning, it doesn’t take long at all to cook. Once they pop to the top, cook for about 2 more minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer them to the skillet of warm and wonderful tomato and cream sauce. Give the skillet a nice shake to cover the gnocchi and plate up, or continue to cook your remaining gnocchi, repeating the process and go family style.

Enjoy. Truly comforting, and truly easy to make.

Egg Salad Sandwich

The Egg Salad SandwichBefore we begin. I want to hear your comments on how you like your egg salad sandwich. I have heard numerous stories, of lots of mayonnaise, lots of onion, pepper, hot sauce, etc. What is it that make your egg salad sandwich the best? Mine? Find out below.

It seems since before Easter, and up until recently that I have heard conversations about the egg salad sandwich. It first started with our cousin Christina, who made a simple post on Facebook that she just enjoyed an egg salad sandwich that day. As always, this got my wheels turning, and as I was already thinking of what I could possibly do to the egg salad sandwich, I stopped, and thought, the egg salad sandwich does not need much more. It is a perfect combination of texture and flavor.

There comes a time of year where it seems much of us are boiling eggs, and looking for the right recipe on how to make hard boiled eggs. After all, this is the most important ingredient of the egg salad sandwich is it not? I might argue, as the egg itself, and the cooked yolk are to die for, but lets not forget the creaminess of the mayonnaise, or the mustard, or my favorite, the red onion.  Enough said, lets get started.

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs, 2 with yolk
  • 1 rib celery, halved and chopped
  • 2 tbsp of diced red onion
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • Pinch of salt
  • Generous pinch of black pepper
  • Baby arugula, cleaned and patted dry
  • 1 demi-baguette, lightly toasted

Begin by making your hard boiled eggs, and let them cool before making your salad. Once cooled, peel them, and rough chop. Add everything to a bowl, and with a fork, mix, and blend in, keeping a rough texture. Place in the refrigerator and let the flavors come together for at least 30 minutes.

During this time, preheat your oven to 300 degrees, and slice your baguette in half, not going all the way through, but making a pocket. Let’s face it, egg salad is messy, and either requires a sturdy potato chip, or a fork to clean up your mess! Heat the baguette for at least 6 minutes to not only bring a nice heat to it, but to soften it up and at the same time build that nice crisp to it.

Remove the baguette from the oven and set it aside for a few minutes. Now get your egg salad ready. Lay a bed of the baby arugula down on your baguette. Place heaping spoonfuls on top of the arugula, and pack it into the baguette. Serve with a pickle, and chips. Three words come to mind at this time. Nom Nom Nom. Enjoy.

Cheddar and Jalapeno Cornbread Muffins

Corn Bread with Cheddar Cheese and Jalapeno PeppersCorn muffins are a real treat. I typically make the standard corn bread, sliced in squares, and serve with dishes like barbecue, but on my most recent take on Jambalaya, I wanted something that would stand up not only in spice, but sweetness as well.

These corn muffins are the perfect blend of that mild bite from the jalapeno pepper, seeded of course, and the cheddar adds something to the texture of the muffin, that will keep you wanting more. This recipe is really easy to make, only takes minutes to prepare, and you can have warm muffins on the table in no time.

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups finely ground yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cup of buttermilk
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded, and finely diced
  • 1 cup of cheddar cheese, shredded

Get two bowls ready, one for your wet ingredients, and one for your dry ingredients. In your first bowl, add the eggs and honey, and beat really well. In your other bowl,  sift in the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Add the egg mixture, the diced jalapeno, and the cheddar cheese to the dry ingredients, and mix really well, making sure there are no dry lumps in the bowl.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Get your muffin pan ready, and spray with cooking spray, or lightly grease with butter. Add the batter to each muffin tray and place in the oven for around 28 minutes. Remove from the oven, and carefully remove the corn muffins to your serving tray.

Serve with a side of honey, drizzling more on top for that added sweetness. Enjoy.

Glazed Carrots

Glazed CarrotsI will admit it. I love carrots. I have worked on a computer, close to 12 hours a day, for the last 11 years, looking at the screen, moving pixels and code around, that you would think that I should be wearing glasses. Well, I don’t. This surprises me in many ways, but I think that the reason I do not wear them is only due to the fact that I put carrots in my meals every week. Be it a stir fry, a sandwich, or as a side dish, the fact is that carrots are helping me with my vision. We all know the benefits of eating carrots, but if you need to eat them, you might as well, throw in some goods, and make a nice sweet glaze.

My wife loves this one, and so do I. This one is great for any day, but great for holidays such as Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb carrots ( I use whole minis)
  • 1/4 brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • pinch of black pepper
  • pinch of cinnamon

Begin by melting the butter in a skillet on medium heat. Add in the carrots, and start mixing your carrots in the butter, trying to coat.  Add in the brown sugar, and coat the carrots, tossing, and mixing well. Sprinkle the pepper and cinnamon, and mix well. Continue to cook until the carrots are tender, but not overcooked.

Enjoy.