Tuesday, October 22, 2019

A Meal Fit for a Goul - Halloween Black and Orange Gnocchi


Hello? Is this thing on? It's been a month. I KNOW. And, admittedly, it's been even longer since I've put up an original recipe. So here you go, Homemade Halloween Gnocchi. Perfect for Halloween Dinner!

Lucky me, I had a food blog for five years that I closed up and can mine recipes from when I'm busy. It's my shameful secret, don't judge. But I haven't even had the energy to update my post drafts.

If you know me personally, you know 2019 has been an utter crapshoot and while we're barrelling towards the end of it, all I can say is GOOD RIDDANCE. Here's hoping 2020 starts looking up for your girl here. Send thoughts and prayers and maybe a whole lot of red wine.

But you know what actually makes me smile? October. It's my favorite month--not only because it contains my birthday, but also my favorite holiday--HALLOWEEN! I've always embraced this holiday with my whole being, and spooky food is just the icing on the bloody cake.

Though I'm in Texas and fall is just Slightly More Bearable Summer, I still love the fall themed everything, everywhere. So I'm embracing it. Spooky Season!!

She cooks! She writes! She... does Zombie Makeup? My birthday Zombie Pub Crawl this year!

This is a delicious Halloween dinner that is sure to impress--gnocchi gets a bad rap for being difficult, but so long as you pay attention to the texture (not sticky, not too thick, should feel like a squishy pillow) you'll be golden. Keep a bit of pumpkin on hand to add to the batter if it's too dry, and a bit of flour in case it's too sticky.

Happy Haunting, y'all!

Black and Orange Gnocchi with Slime Cream Sauce

(gnocchi recipe adapted from Taste of Home)
  • 1-1/2 cups flour (plus more for flouring surface)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup canned or pureed pumpkin
  • 1 heaping tablespoon activated Charcoal*

Slime Sauce
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  • 1/4 cup parmsean cheese

-In a small bowl combine the flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in pumpkin until well mixed. Divide in half.  In one bowl, gently mix in the charcoal.

-On a lightly floured surface, knead each ball until a soft dough forms. Let rest for 10 minutes.

-While the gnocchi rests, make the slime sauce: create a roux by melting the butter and whisking in the flour until a paste forms. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking until thick. Stir in the pesto and cheese. Keep warm. Add more milk if the sauce is too thick.

-Divide dough into equal portions and roll into "snakes" (long dough rope of about 1/2 inch thick). Cut into equal pieces and shape into small ovals, pressing against a fork for the "gnocchi" pattern if desired.

-Bring salted water to a boil. Cook gnocchi in 3 batches until they float, remove with a slotted spoon. If desired (and I always do this!) heat butter over high heat in a skillet and fry the gnocchi until lightly crispy.

-Serve with sauce.

*Charcoal at your own risk! While I use this often as a coloring, it can and will absorb any medications you're taking if you consume enough. If you're concerned about this, black food coloring or squid ink will work just as well.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Homemade Veggie Stock - Making the Most of Food Waste


As you may know, this year I have been dedicating myself to going Meatless on Mondays (#MeatlessMonday) and the one thing I noticed was just how many veggie scraps were winding up festering in my garbage.

A lot of people use their veggie scraps for compost--which is a great solution!--but unfortunately living in an apartment I'm not able to do that.

What AM I able to do? Make a delicious, luscious broth out of all those veggie scraps! With all the veggie stock I was going through, it was a cost effective way to solve both problems. Saving money, utilizing food waste, and creating something insanely tasty in the process.

Half the time the broth itself is SO flavorful, that I simply throw in a can of tomatoes, some vegetable pieces, and some salt and pepper and I have a perfectly wonderful vegetable soup.

It's super simple, and I've gotten it down to a science--At the beginning of the week I use a gallon size ziplock bag to start collecting my scraps. This can be anything: peels, end pieces, cores, and from both fruits AND veggies or fresh herbs. I store it in the freezer so the veggies stay fresh and don't mold or take up room in the fridge.

Homemade tortellini soup, using the scrap stock base

By the end of the week the bag is full, and into the crock pot it goes with whatever extras I have on hand. I've found that peppers give the broth a great rich flavor, and potato peels give it a bit more thickness. 

Here's my "recipe" but it truly is more of a guide.

Homemade Scrap Vegetable Stock
  • 1 gallon bag full of vegetable scraps
  • Garlic (whatever you have on hand, I use about 4 cloves)
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 3 tbsp salt, or more to taste
  • 1 tbsp spices (I like herbs de provance or Italian seasoning, whatever you like!)
  • Any additional pieces of the following: carrots, onions, celery
  • Enough water to cover the contents by a half inch

Slow Cooker: If using a slow cooker, simply put all ingredients in your pot and stir. Cook on low for 8 hours, until vegetables are soft and have released their flavor. Taste--the broth should not be watery. If it is, cook on high an additional hour, adding any herbs or spices you'd like.

Stovetop: If using a stovetop, put all ingredients into a large stock pot and stir. Bring to a boil, then simmer for an hour, or until the vegetables are soft and have released their flavor. If the broth tastes watery, continue to simmer until reduced, adding any herbs or spices you'd like.

Once fully cooked, strain the broth. I use a potato masher to really squish the veggies down and release all the juice. Pour strained broth into mason jars and freeze or keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. Use in soups, stews, or as a flavor enhancer for your sauces!