Butternut Squash Ravioli

November 19, 2011

One of my favorite flavors for fall is butternut squash. I’ve been in the mood for ravioli, so that is what we had for dinner tonight; butternut squash ravioli. It was so good we ate it all up and I thought I’d share the recipes. It’s not hard to make (in fact, it is easy), just a little time consuming.

First thing’s first, I had to roast the squash. For this, I used a Robin Miller recipe from Food Network. Though, I must note that the recipe says to roast the squash for 25 minutes at 400 degrees, but it took my oven much longer. Just roast it until the squash is soft and able to be mashed easily. If you want to try to do something with the seeds you can try them toasted. It’s yummy!

Roasted Butternut Squash

The Filling:

For the filling I used the Williams-Sonoma recipe. It was easy and tasty. Check out the recipe, but you basically just add an egg, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove.

Ravioli Filling

The Pasta:

I found a very easy pasta recipe at allrecipes.com. Fresh pasta is so easy to make, I don’t know why I don’t do it more often. My only regret from this meal is that I didn’t use the pasta machine. I was being lazy and didn’t want to get it out of the cupboard. As it turns out, I created more work for myself because hand rolling pasta to the correct thinness isn’t easy.

If you’ve never made fresh pasta, you just mix flour and salt, then work in the egg, adding a little water if needed.

Making Pasta

After mixing the flour with the egg, I was afraid there wasn’t going to be enough moisture, but it all worked out. That was 2 cups of flour, 1 tsp of salt, and 2 eggs and 1/4 cup of water.

Pasta Dough

Shaping it into raviolis:

Once the dough was rolled out, it was easy to form into the raviolis.

Pasta Squares   Forming Ravioli   Ravioli

The sauce:

The sauce was the easiest part of this dinner. I used Emeril’s Food Network recipe, but it it’s just butter, sage, and I added some brown sugar and salt.

Butternut Squash Ravioli

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What the Fondant Happened?!

November 15, 2011

Ever since I was a young girl I’ve been enamored with tea parties. Perhaps it is because (my American Girl doll) Samantha was notorious for attending them in her books. In one book, Samantha and her friends enjoy petit fours at a party. From the moment I read that, I have had a slight obsession with the small, bite-sized cakes.

Today was my first attempt at making the scrumptious little treats. It all started well. I had read through several different recipes and blogs about petit fours and even found a couple step-by-step instructional sites. I was confident I could pull it off.

I found a great recipe for a simple white cake. After I gathered all the ingredients, I started my adventure with certainty and determination.

Cake ingredients

The cake turned out beautifully. I kept thinking to myself, “I may just be able to pull this off!”

I cut the cake in half, created a raspberry filling with warmed preserves, and layered with with the cake.

Layering Cake Layered Cake

As I proudly looked at my little layers, I began to panic. There was something missing. I had looked at so many different recipes; some of them had buttercream layers, some had fruit layers. What I had missed was that the recipes with fruit layers had a layer of marzipan on the top. (Insert panic: Marzipan?!)

I didn’t have marzipan. What I did have was almond paste. So, I did what any reasonable person does… I Googled it. As it turns out, marzipan is a type of almond paste. All marzipan is almond paste, but not all almond paste is marzipan.

I took a chance. I’ve never used almond paste (or marzipan) before. I opened the can to see what I was working with.

Almond Paste- Straight from can

Rolling out Almond Paste

It rolled out fairly easy and fit the top of my cake almost perfectly. I thought the baking gods were watching over me and were granting me a stupidity pass.

Fully Layered Cake

Then the trouble begins. Perhaps it was my presumptuous attitude that caused those very same baking gods to turn their backs on me. It was time to make the poured fondant frosting. I followed the directions to a T.

Making of Fondant

I’m not sure what went wrong, but something did. The fondant was much too thin. As I poured it over my adorable little cakes, it merely ran right off of them and onto the parchment paper below. What a disaster.

Disaster Petit Fours

I’ll know better next time not to let my ego get ahead of me. Nothing good ever comes out of it. I guess you could say it was “the icing on the cake”.

Letter to a Teenaged Me

November 14, 2011

While getting ready this morning I took a good look at my skin and thought, “Oh the things I wish I could have told myself 15 years ago.”

While I am overall happy with the way I have turned out, there are a few things I know now I wish I would have known, or could have comprehended then. So here is it. A letter for my 14-year-old self.

Dear 14-year-old me,

I would tell you to take a good look in the mirror, but I know you already spend a lot of time there, or at least you will once those braces come off. You are constantly wanting to make changes and obsessing over imperfections. For this reason, you are about to embark on some lousy decision making in the name of so-called fashion and trying to fit in.

I know Umpa Lumpa tanned skin is seen as desirable right now. Not only is tanning not healthy, but overly tanned skin is not attractive. You will regret it, looking back at pictures, and the sun spots forming on your nose and cheeks. Please have enough foresight to listen to your mother and stay out of tanning beds and put on some sunscreen. 

Some of the things you hate most about yourself are your best features. Pencil thin eyebrows are all the rave right now, but this has got to be one of the biggest fashion mistakes in all of history; especially for you. Your eyebrows are big. They are full. They are dark. You were not meant to have pencil thin eyebrows. They will look awful on you. Please study photos of notable beauty icons, like Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly, and Ava Gardner (to name a few) for reassurance that a classic naturally shaped brow is much more appealing.

Don’t waste your money on padded bras. You aren’t fooling anyone. Embrace your flat-chested-ness. Once you have children, you will miss your mosquito bites. Take it from me, a larger chest only gets in the way and makes you feel heavier than you actually are. 

While you are taking a good look at yourself, try to see past the image in the mirror. Overly tanned skin and barely there brows are not the only mistakes you are about to make.

Stop worrying so much about what everyone thinks about you. It doesn’t matter. The only opinion of you that matters is your own. You will never make everyone happy. Do what you enjoy. Learn about what you love. Do it all without worrying if your peers would approve. 

Pay more attention in school. Instead of copying the answers to your homework, right before class begins, actually do it. Read the book and do the worksheets yourself. You’ll be surprised to find that you are not only good at it, but you actually enjoy it. 

Take care of yourself and stop eating that processed garbage. Your digestive system with thank you for it.

As of right now, you are still naive and innocent. As you go through high school, all of that will change. Have fun, enjoy yourself, but be ready to suffer the consequences of your choices.

You are about to go through some rough times, both physically and emotionally. I would tell you what to do in order to avoid the trauma, but you need it. When you get your wake-up call, and trust me, you won’t be able to miss it, it hits you pretty hard, your priorities will become much clearer. And, though it is cliche, what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. You will be a stronger person for it.

I urge you to always keep that desire to want to make changes and improvements to yourself, but keep in mind, the changes you need to make are not changes you can observe in the mirror. Fashion trends come and go, with or without you. Don’t feel the need to follow. Find what works for you. Have faith in yourself. Don’t let anyone make you feel stupid. If you don’t know the answer, find it. You are good at that.

In all sincerity,  

Yourself

P.S., On the day you get your driver’s permit, watch out for the fish tank in the driveway. You’ll never live that one down.

Hello Pot, Meet Kettle

November 2, 2011

I recently read a blogpost about the top 10 moms to avoid/ignore. The problem is, we can’t avoid these moms because they are us. We are all guilty of being at least one, if not all, of these types of moms at some point toward others.

The author’s list (paraphrased below) includes the following types of moms. As you read through, think about how you could fit into each category. (If you can’t see yourself, please read #5 again.)

1. The critical mom. A new mom admits to pumping her breast milk instead of nursing so she could tell how much her son was eating. The critical mom spends the next 10 minutes lecturing her  for  “depriving her son of the nutritious fats that baby only gets from nursing.”

2. The smug mom. This mom, whose 11-month-old daughter walks, is shocked to discover your 14-month-old does not. Her immediate reaction is to ask if you are worried your child is behind, then she condescendingly assures you he is “probably” fine. 

3. The antisocial mom.  This is the mom who reacts as if you had just asked her for her bank account information when you try to start a conversation.

4. The buzz-kill mom. This mom is Debby Downer. She can quote Web-MD and knows the statistics for statewide kidnapping.

5. The perfect mom. Her kid is a better walker, talker, and eater than yours and she’s more than happy to share how your kid can be just as perfect — if you give her the chance.

6. The backstabbing mom. She’s your best friend/biggest supporter when you’re around but as soon as you’re out of sight (or earshot) she’s picking your parenting prowess apart.

7. The insensitive mom. A new mom with a chronic illness confides in another mom that she feels guilty for taking medication during her pregnancy. The insensitive mom replies, “Oh I never could have done that. I couldn’t have lived with myself if something had been wrong with my baby.”

8. The negative mom. This mom is always complaining about her kid, her marriage, her job… 

9. The judgmental mom. Her way is the only way. Period. 

10. The worst-case-scenario mom. This mom is always thinking about what could go wrong. What if her three-month-old doesn’t get into the right kindergarten? What if her kid tries finger foods and chokes? What if the stranger in the park is actually a kidnapper? 

Everyone chooses to raise their children in the way they think is best. Otherwise, they wouldn’t do it. It is hard not to be judgmental toward parenting styles which differ from yours. So, we smile and nod, and tend to ignore unwanted advice. By doing so we become the “backstabbing mom.”  If we offer advice to try and “help” we become the “perfect mom” or the “critical mom.” These stereotypes are impossible to avoid, because we only need to look in a mirror to find them.

What works for some will not work for others. If someone does it differently than you, does that mean their choice is wrong? Yes. Wrong for you. Maybe not wrong for them. The best part about life is that we are all given the opportunity to screw up our offspring, in whatever way we choose. Next time you are out and about and find yourself annoyed with the “perfect mom” who is telling you about her perfect child, take a moment to reflect on what you are doing/saying at the moment. Perhaps you are being the “antisocial” or “buzz-kill” mom.

We can’t be all be perfect moms who always say or do the right thing around other moms. We would be living in a creepy Stepfordian world. Be yourself. If others don’t like it, talk to someone else.

End note to the author of the orignal post: I liked your piece. This is not an attack, just an observation. Your examples were great and I could relate to each and every one of them.

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