Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Here We GO Again!

On Saturday we'll be leaving for Cortina and we are so excited to get back! We're excited for the hockey season (some of us more than others - no, just kidding), for homemade pasta (some of us can't stop thinking about it), for those jagged mountain views, for readily available bottles of Lagrein and mostly, for all those new experiences and adventures that this next season will bring.

Which brings me to my point, which is the history behind the name "Here We Go Again."
What's in the name? First of all, I want to be clear that when you read the phrase "here we go again", you should be reading it "Here We GO Again!!!!"

NOT: "HERE we go again" or "here we go AGAIN"

While in some situations this phrase signals monotony - or as my husband likes to call it, the "Groundhog Day Effect" - in this case, that's not at all what it means.

Here We Go Again means here comes another adventure. Here's another lesson learned, another recipe tried, another country visited, another trip taken. Here's one more ravioli recipe, one more picture of a canal in Venice, one more funny Italy story (although now that we know how to recycle, our stories just aren't as funny...).

Here We Go Again embodies having exciting adventures each and every day, no matter how big or small. Whether it's a trip to Austria or a simple bowl of pasta, Here We Go Again revels in it all.

So with that in mind, here we GO again!!

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Kale Chips

One of the first things people always say when they find out that we live in Italy is: "it must be amaaaaazing to get to eat all that delicious food!"

And it is.

There are the Italian classics: Caprese salads dripping with olive oil from Tuscany; plump ravioli filled with dark green spinach and the whitest, creamiest ricotta cheese; bubbling hot pizzas and golden fried artichokes...

So we almost always forget about all the things that Italy actually doesn't have: first of all, Italian salad dressing (ha), and actually any kind of salad dressing, for that matter, other than olive oil and vinegar. Cumin. Cilantro. Cheddar cheese. Chocolate chips. (I don't know why they don't like C foods). And my personal favorite, kale.

Okay, not exactly true. Of course Italy has kale and it's called cavolo nero. Apparently it grows abundantly in Tuscany and never gets shipped to Cortina. Last October I spotted it in a grocery store an hour away from Cortina, in Brunico, but unfortunately I do not normally make hour trips just to buy kale.

I tend to just wait until we get back to Colorado in April and then I eat it every day. This summer baking it in the oven was my favorite preparation, so much so that one week, I did it five days in a row. The result is a crispy kale leaf, almost like a potato chip, which is perfect for a snack, cocktail hour, dinner time, and basically any time.

I will be making these almost every day until we leave for Cortina. Lucky for my husband (who oddly seems to be less enchanted with kale chips), that's only 16 days away.

Crispy Kale Chips

1 small bunch of kale
Olive oil for drizzling
Sea salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash the kale. Remove the kale leaves from the stem and cut into bite size pieces (not too small because it shrinks while it cooks). Place the kale on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil (it doesn't need to be drenched). Sprinkle on the sea salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes (if spice is desired) and toss together to mix and coat. Bake for no more than 10 minutes. **It's so important to keep an eye on them after the 7 minute mark because the leaves can burn so easily! You'll know they're done when they are dark green, not brown, with a crisp to them.** Serve immediately.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Summer Pasta

I don't usually post during the summer while we're in Colorado (or anywhere and everywhere), but since we're dying to get things up and running again, I thought this summer-y pasta recipe would be a good start.

This is a pasta dish that is very unlike the spaghetti and meatballs, carbonara and cacio e pepe that I love to make in the freezing cold winters. It's perfect for hot summer nights because the only thing that cooks is the pasta. I used store-bought Barilla this time, but if you have a pasta maker and time (neither of which I had), obviously fresh pasta is the best.

Spaghetti with Uncooked Tomato Sauce
(Serves four as a light meal or first course)

4 Roma tomatoes, chopped - I use one tomato per person, so if you are feeding more or less than four, take that into consideration
1/2 cup of basil, coarsely chopped
Roughly 25 fresh bite-sized mozzarella balls (called "Ciliegine"), halved
1/2 cup good extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste

1/2 box of thin spaghetti - this time I used Barilla Whole Grain - cooked according to package instructions

Make the sauce - Combine the chopped tomatoes, basil, halved mozzarella balls, and olive oil in a bowl. Stir together and add salt and pepper to taste. It's best to make the sauce at least four hours before you want to serve dinner so that the flavors can meld together. I usually make it in the morning and put it in the refrigerator for the day - just make sure to remove it at least an hour before serving so that it can come to room temperature. 

Twenty minutes or so before you're ready to eat dinner, cook the pasta, drain well and transfer to a large serving bowl. Mix in the sauce and sprinkle with more salt and pepper and fresh Parmesan, if desired.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

And We're Back!

We're finally re-surfacing after a few months of summer vacation down-time and now we're rested, ready and eager to get back to blogging, cooking homemade ravioli and ITALY. Welcome back, readers! We had a busy summer; a few pictures below, if you'd like to see:

It all started with a trip to Palisade - Colorado wine country!

We were on the search for the perfect summer porch wine, and as we biked our way through the hills we managed to find several!

As usual, we spent lots of time visiting friends and family all over the country, squeezing in trips to Massachusetts, Maine and Lake Placid....

 In May, we decided to go on a two-night camping trip to Moab, Utah....

...which turned into a five-night camping trip when we spontaneously continued on to the Grand Canyon...

...and then to Mesa Verde!

We traveled a lot, but we worked a lot too. Ryan had a successful fourth year of Elite Hockey Training and I landed a food column in Italia! Magazine, a UK publication (my first article is out in this month's issue which can be found at Barnes and Noble, for US readers - in print only!).

And, in honor of soon-to-be four years of Italian living, the article that I wrote for A Practical Wedding, is up on their website today (here).

As summer winds down, we're gearing up for Italy and are so excited to see what this next season will bring...Stay tuned!