Living La Bella Vita

One of my New Years Resolutions this year was to live more wholeheartedly. I wasn’t really sure how to go about that so I decided to turn to the most wholehearted living place I could think of– Italy.

Living the good life, or la bella vita is a thing. In an essence it means to appreciate beauty, people, home, and flavors. As apart of my good life plan I am cooking two new Italian recipes a month.

Italian Soup Recipe

I started with soup because, you know, it’s winter in the midwest. And I stuck it in a bread bowl because I’d kind of forgotten about bread bowls. Seriously, you forgot about them too, right? They are still amazing by the way. Let’s bring the bread bowl back, people.

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It’s a chickpea and pasta soup which at first I was like, “chickpea?” But that sturdy, cute bean should never be underestimated. If you’re a hearty broth, ham and beans fan then this vegetarian dish perfect for your cozy winter soul.

Pasta e Ceci from Jamie’s Italy

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 small onion, chopped

1 stick of celery, chopped

1 clove of garlic, chopped

tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

2 14-oz cans of chickpeas

3 1/2 oz small shell pasta

2 1/4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

sea salt, pepper, and parsley to taste

teaspoon of dried basil and oregano combined

sprig of fresh rosemary and a handful of fresh basil

How-To:

Cook pasta according to package instructions and set aside.

Add the chopped onion, celery, fresh rosemary, and garlic to a saucepan with the olive oil. Cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes with lid on to soften the vegetables. We aren’t looking to brown them so give them the occasional stir.

Drain the chickpeas and rinse them in cold water. When the veg is soft, add the chickpeas to the pan then pour in the stock. Cook on a low simmer for 30 minutes then remove half the beans with a slotted spoon and set them aside in a bowl.

Puree the soup with an immersion blender or food processor.

Add reserved chickpeas and pasta to the blended beans and season with salt, pepper, parsley and dried herbs. Simmer gently until chickpeas are tender. Add some boiling water if the soup is too thick—but if you want it hardy, go for it!

Sprinkle in torn fresh basil and add to soup bowls.

 

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Star Wars Food: Death Star Pizza

Just like the Empire I wanted a Death Star to call my own. Instead of making mine out of clones and space junk, I chose frozen pizza.

Star Wars Recipes

Rule the dinner galaxy with this easy Star Wars recipe! When it’s time for dinner and a movie the last thing this padawan wants is to make dish that’s super complicated. If you’ve never made your food match a feature film, it’s not a bunch of mumbo jumbo. The little extra step of a movie themed dinner adds so much fan to favorite flicks. Check out the end of this post for more Star Wars food ideas.

The Death Star Pizza is also a great Star Wars party food. Your little Rey’s and Kylo’s are gonna love it.

Star Wars Pizza:

To make the most powerful pizza in the universe you need three basic supplies.

Death Star Pizza Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen cheese pizza
  • A round cookie cutter or glass
  • 2 pieces of provolone cheese

Yep. It’s that easy.

Pizza Step By Step

1) Preheat oven per frozen pizza packaging.

2) Cut the center out of one of your slices of provolone cheese.

3) Place the piece of cheese with the whole in the center on top of the other slice of cheese and set aside. DO NOT PUT IT ON THE PIZZA! NOT YET! Patience, Luke.

4)  Bake your frozen pizza per directions.

5) When the timer goes off, remove your pizza from the oven and add your combined cheese slices to the upper right of the pizza.

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6) Bake for 5 more minutes. By adding the slices at the end, your provolone cheese will keep its’ Death Star shape. Trust me.

Many pizzas were eaten to bring you this information.

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Star Wars Food Ideas

If pizza’s not your thing, here are some other Star Wars Food ideas for your movie feast!

Rouge One: Jyn’s Macho Nachos

Jyn is a good soul and a fiesty fighter, so broil up some nachos and add a salad on top.

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Empire Strikes Back:  Dagoboh Pasta

Yoda’s hideaway plant is a savory place. Add some smoked mozzarella, smoked tofu, sautéed button portabella mushrooms, and spinach to pasta for a hearty meal worthy of a Jedi Master.

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Return of the Jedi: Jabba the Hutdogs

Just twist pigs in the blankets into Jabba shapes and bake! Add mustard and ketchup eyes for that slug stare.

And of course, Princess Leia Cupcakes

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Find the recipe on this blog! 

 MAY THE FOOD BE WITH YOU!

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How to Make Crepes

Or as I like to call it, The Crepes of Wrath…but not really.

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This month my sister and I decided to do a crepe challenge. I picked a savory crepe recipe and she picked a sweet dessert crepe. My big plan was to use the crepe recipe from our high school French teacher (I pity students who don’t get to experience French class crepes). Alas, I lost the sticky note that I’d scribbled the recipe down on. Instead of asking my sister for the recipe yet again, I turned to The Kitchn’s How to Make Delicate, Lacy Crepes. My back-up plan turned out to be a great one. Here’s their recipe and it works!

Easy Crepe Recipe

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Makes about 8 8-in crêpes, recipe can be doubled as needed

Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
2 large eggs
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of melted butter

Optional for sweet crepes:
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Neutral oil for cooking

Equipment
Measuring cups and spoons
Blender, or a bowl and whisk
Wire cooling rack
Ladle for pouring (optional)
10-inch nonstick pan or an 8-inch crêpe pan
Spatula

Instructions

  1. Make the batter: Place the flour, milk, eggs, salt, and melted butter (and optional sugar and vanilla) in a blender and blend for about 20 seconds until batter is smooth. Alternatively, whisk everything together in a bowl until thoroughly combined and frothy.
  2. Let the batter sit: Cover the bowl and let the batter sit for at least 1/2 hour on the counter or overnight in the refrigerator.
  3. Prepare to cook the crêpes: Before cooking the crêpes, assemble everything you’ll need by your stove top: the batter, the pan, the oil, the spatula. If your bowl doesn’t have a pour spout, have a ladle or 1/4-cup measuring cup handy.
  4. Cook the crêpes: Place the pan over medium heat and add a small amount of oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Let it sit on the flame for a minute to get hot. Pour in about 1/4 cup of batter. Immediately, pick up the pan and swirl it to coax the batter into an even layer on the bottom of the pan.
  5. Flip the crêpe: When the crêpe has browned slightly on the bottom, carefully work a spatula underneath it and flip. Cook the second side briefly, just to set the batter.
  6. Cool the crêpe: Tilt the pan and loosen the crêpe, then slide it onto the cooling rack.
  7. Continue making crêpes: 

Continue making crêpes with the rest of the batter, adding more oil as needed to keep the crêpes from sticking.

  1. Stack and store: If not eating the crêpes immediately, stack them one on top of the other as they cool. If they seem sticky, place a square of plastic wrap or parchment paper between them. Place the stack in a sealable plastic bag and store in the refrigerator for a few days or in the freezer for a few months.

Turning a Sweet Crepe into a Savory Blini

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Every once in a while Russian recipes catch my attention. When I stumbled on Chicken and Mushroom Blinis, I thought, now how do I make that vegetarian? Here’s how!

Vegetarian Blini Recipe

Ingredients for Garlic Tofu and Mushroom Blinis

  • One Block of Garlic Tofu
  • 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
  • 1 Cup of Sliced Mushrooms
  • 1 Sweet Chopped Onion
  • 1 Tablespoon of Dried Parsley
  • 1 Diced Garlic Clove
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1/2 cup of White Wine
  • 1 Tablespoon of Butter
  • Slices of Provolone Cheese

How To:

Drain and cut the tofu into bite sized pieces. Add the olive oil to a skillet and saute the tofu until it’s slightly brown and crispy on the edges. Remove the tofu from the pan. Melt butter in the same skillet. Saute onions until translucent then add the garlic, mushrooms, and parsley until mushrooms are sautéed. Finally add the tofu back into the pan along with the white wine, salt and pepper. Stir and cook for less than 5 minutes.

Depending on how your crepes turned out use add a 1/4 a cup or 1/2 a cup of filling to each crepe. Roll them up and place the blinis on the plate seam down so they don’t unroll. Lay a slice of provolone over the top of two rolled blinis. Pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds to melt the cheese.

The filling makes about six blinis and they are great as leftovers!

 

 

 

Homemade Funnel Cakes

Step Right Up For Classic Fair Foods

Our family went to the county fair for three important reasons: jug of root beer, corn dogs, and funnel cakes. These fair food delicacies might seem timid compared to the deep-fried candy bars of today, but let’s be honest– classic funnel cakes are the first (and best) foods of the fired fair midway.

Fair Funnel Cakes Forever

The first time I fried funnel cakes at home, I was in awe about how beautiful they were as they cooked. I know that sounds as corny as a corn dog, but seriously, the way the batter slowly turns from pale white to golden-yellow is kind of amazing.

I like to call it the Phases of the Funnel Cake.

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What Is A Funnel Cake Made Of?

I’ve tried a few different recipes, but I really like Martha Stewart’s Funnel Cakes the best. It’s easy and doesn’t make a huge quantity. Because as we all know, a little fried dough can go a long way.

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • Rounded 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

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How To Make Funnel Cake Batter

According to Martha (and I’ve found it to be true).

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, brown sugar, and salt. Create a well in center of bowl and pour milk, egg, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, and vanilla extract into well. Whisk into dry ingredients until batter is smooth and transfer batter to a squeeze bottle with a 1/4-inch opening at top (or to a wet measuring cup).
  2. Heat 1 inch vegetable oil in a deep-sided cast-iron pan to 350 degrees.
  3. Holding squeeze bottle (or measuring cup) 1 inch from oil, carefully squeeze batter into oil in a spiderweb pattern, starting from center, using about 1/4 cup batter per cake. Fry cake, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides, 3-4 minutes total. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Return oil to 350 degrees before frying next cake.
  4. Sift confectioners’ sugar over cakes just before serving. 

 

 

Cacio e Pepe: The Cozy Pasta

I’ve fallen in love with a pasta recipe.

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Cheese and Pepper Pasta

Motherland Mac and Cheese

Cacio e Pepe is such a simple pasta dish. I made it for the first time two years ago and it’s becoming one of my heart and soul comfort foods. The name literally means “cheese and pasta” and it’s as easy as that.

Cacio e Pepe Recipe Review

I love Bon Appetit’s recipe and highly recommend it. Whenever you’re needing a little pasta comfort, grab a fork and get ready to twirl up some cozy.

Bon Appetit’s Cacio e Pepe Recipe

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • 6 oz. pasta (such as egg tagliolini, bucatini, or spaghetti)
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed, divided
  • 1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Grana Padano or Parmesan
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Pecorino

Preparation

Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a 5-qt. pot.

Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender.

Drain, reserving 3/4 cup pasta cooking water.

Meanwhile, melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat.

Add pepper and cook, swirling pan, until toasted, about 1 minute.

Add 1/2 cup reserved pasta water to skillet and bring to a simmer.

Add pasta and remaining butter.

Reduce heat to low and add Grana Padano, stirring and tossing with tongs until melted.

Remove pan from heat; add Pecorino, stirring and tossing until cheese melts, sauce coats the pasta, and pasta is al dente. (Add more pasta water if sauce seems dry.)

Transfer pasta to warm bowls and serve.

 

 

St. Patrick’s Day Potatoes and Pot of Guinness

darby-ogillEvery St. Patty’s day we watch Darby O’Gill and the Little People and eat something Irish-ish. Sometimes it’s pasties. Sometimes it’s cabbage, but it’s ALWAYS potatoes. Red ones to be exact.

This year I’ve decided to make a recipe I’ve had for years, but didn’t try until January. Real Simple’s Smashed Potatoes and Cornichons.

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Those gherkin pickles are amazing mashed up into the mustardy, butter love of warm potatoes AND it goes great with a Guinness– what else could you ask for on St. Patrick’s Day?

I know, I know….

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Sausage with Smashed Potatoes and Cornichons

From Real Simple

INGREDIENTS

  1. 1 1/2pounds small red potatoes (about 18), halved
  2. kosher salt and black pepper
  3. 3tablespoons olive oil
  4. Italian sausage links (about 1 1/2 pounds total) — I substituted Field Roast Vegetarian Sausage
  5. 1/2cup cornichons, chopped, plus 3 tablespoons of the brine
  6. 2teaspoons Dijon mustard
  7. 1/2small sweet onion (such as Vidalia or Walla Walla), chopped
  8. 1/4cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and add enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil.
  2. Add 2 teaspoons salt. Reduce heat and simmer until tender, 15 to 18 minutes. Drain.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the sausages to the skillet and cook, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornichon brine, mustard, remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper.
  6. Add the potatoes, cornichons, onion, and parsley to the bowl and mix, mashing gently. Cut the sausages into large pieces and serve with the potatoes.