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Sweet Potato Gnocchi - Meatballs&MilkshakesThis may be the last pasta post for a little while, as I’m going to try to be a little healthier for as long as I can stand it. Sweet potatoes are a favorite around the apartment, and they make light and fluffy gnocchi with more depth of flavor than regular gnocchi. Combine them with some crisp sage and pecorino, and they become truly delicious little clouds.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

1 1/2 pound sweet potato (1 large sweet potato), pricked with a fork

8 ounce container of fresh ricotta, preferably local

3 ounces grated parmesan

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2 cups flour

Roast the sweet potato in a 400 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or microwave on high for 4 minutes a side until soft. Let cool. Meanwhile, let the ricotta drain in a sieve or coffee filter for two hours to remove some of the extra liquid.

Scrape the flesh from the potato skin and mash, it should be about 2 cups. Add the ricotta and combine. Add the salt, brown sugar, nutmeg, and half the flour. Combine well. Add the rest of the flour in parts until the dough becomes a ball. You may not need it all.

Dump it onto a board and form a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour up to a couple days.

Cut pieces off the ball and roll into ropes about a half inch thick with plenty of extra flour. Slice into inch long pieces. They can be kept in a single layer and frozen, store in some flour.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi - Meatballs&Milkshakes

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage and Pecorino

2 cups gnocchi, made as above (1 cup per person)

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 garlic cloves

6-8 sage leaves

1/2 cup grated parmesan

Cook the gnocchi in heavily salted water for 2-3 minutes, until they aggressively float. Meanwhile, Saute the garlic in the olive oil on medium heat until it starts to brown. Remove the garlic and add the sage. Be careful, because they will pop a little at first due to the water content. Add the gnocchi along with a little pasta water and swirl to combine. Allow to cook for a minute together, and then off the heat, add the parmesan. Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil over the top.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi - Meatballs&Milkshakes

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Individual Bread Puddings - Meatballs&Milkshakes

Bread pudding is the perfect way to use up leftovers, whether it’s vegetables from last night’s dinner, bacon from yesterday’s breakfast (who has leftover bacon?!), or bits of cheese after that party. The important thing is to have some flavorings like onions, garlic, and herbs along with cheese and eggs to soak into day old bread and bake up into a lovely custardy breakfast. I like to make them in single servings or in cupcake pans so that I can take them with me on busy mornings. They also freeze well and you can heat straight from the freezer in single servings.

Individual Bread Puddings

5 eggs

1 cup milk

2 cups day old bread, cubed (small if making individual servings, they have to fit in the muffin cups)

1/2 cup grated cheddar

1/2 cup grated asiago

1/2 onion, minced (or leftover)

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup spinach, chopped (or leftover)

1 cup mushrooms, sliced (or leftover)

1 cup white wine

2 tablespoons sage, minced

Parmesan cheese for grating

Saute the onion, garlic,sage,  and mushrooms in a couple tablespoons olive oil until softened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the spinach and allow to wilt. Add the white wine and allow the alcohol to cook off, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool.

Meanwhile, in another bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Season with salt and pepper, and add in the cheddar and asiago. Add in the bread along with the vegetable mixture. Make sure the bread soaks up a lot of the liquid before cooking. Pour into lined muffin pans, individual ramekins, or a large baking dish. Top with grated parmesan and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes if using muffin pans and up to 45 minutes if using a baking dish. Make sure they have started to brown and puff up, to know they are done.

Individual Bread Puddings - Meatballs&Milkshakes

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Squash Ravioli with Crispy Sage - Meatballs&Milkshakes

I love making homemade ravioli because the process is so relaxing. It’s also fun to do with other people, and if you’re just getting into cooking, it’s very gratifying to see the final product that YOU made. It’s a time commitment, but you can make any kind of ravioli you feel like. I once made some with leftover short ribs braised in red wine that were memorable enough to remember years later. These might rival those for my favorite ravioli.

Delicata Squash Filling

1 pound delicata squash, large dice

1 cup grated fontina

1 cup grated pecorino

1 cup grated parmesan

1/2 cup ground hazelnuts

4 tablespoons finely chopped sage

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

3 tablespoons Marsala or white wine (optional)

Roast the squash with a couple tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until it starts to brown. Remove to a food processor  and add the rest of the ingredients. I use the Marsala or wine to thin it out if necessary. The honey gives it a slight sweetness, but you could tweak the filling ingredients to taste.

Make one recipe Basic Pasta Dough. Let it rest for a few minutes in plastic wrap in the fridge and then run it through your pasta roller in batches.

Basic Pasta Dough - Meatballs&Milkshakes

Brush the dough all over with water to help seal them. Spoon the filling into about 1 teaspoon-sized balls onto one side of the pasta sheet so that you will be able to fold them over.

Squash Ravioli - Meatballs&MilkshakesSquash Ravioli - Meatballs&MilkshakesFold the dough over, making sure to seal in the filling and push out air bubbles. Make sure to press the dough down between the filling to make them closer to single-thickness so that the edges will cook at the same rate as the layer covering the filling. (If you do not do this, the edges will be twice as thick as the center, and will be chewy.)

Squash Ravioli - Meatballs&Milkshakes

Cut the ravioli out with you ravioli cutter. You could also use a cookie cutter or knife if you don’t have one. I was finally able to use the new one I picked up in Rome.

Squash Ravioli - Meatballs&MilkshakesSquash Ravioli - Meatballs&MilkshakesThey will keep in the fridge for a couple days, or preferably, in the freezer for a while. Make sure to coat them in flour or they will stick. I also recommend using parchment paper to separate layers, because any that touch will stick. They are best immediately after making them, however.

Squash Ravioli - Meatballs&Milkshakes

Delicata Squash Ravioli with Browned Butter and Crispy Sage

6-8 ravioli (per person)

6 sage leaves

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Parmesan cheese

Cook the ravioli in salted, boiling water for about 4 minutes, until they start to float. Meanwhile, melt the butter with the olive oil and add the sage leaves. They will spatter when they hit the oil, so be careful. They will crisp up and the butter solids will start to brown. Add some of the pasta cooking water (about 1/4 cup) and allow to come together, about 1 minute. Add the ravioli and toss in the sauce. Grate some parmesan over the top and serve with the crispy sage on top.

Squash Ravioli with Crispy Sage - Meatballs&Milkshakes

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I love fall for so many reasons- apple picking, sweater weather, and of course, butternut squash. With the ongoing apartment craziness, I’ve been turning to quick recipes more than usual. This one combines the classic butternut squash with sage and butter in a way that makes it possible to have dinner on the table in 15 minutes. Including the chopping. It’s amazing. The key is a healthy bit of parmesan and to put a fine dice on that squash so it cooks quickly.

Angel Hair with Butternut Squash and Sage

1/2 box angel hair pasta

1/4 of a butternut squash, diced into 1/4″ pieces

1 garlic clove, minced

12 sage leaves, chopped

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

pinch of red pepper flakes

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated

1 amaretti cookie per person, crumbled

Cook the angel hair in salted boiling water for half the time on the package instructions.

Meanwhile, saute the squash in half the butter and olive oil. Allow to caramelize and develop some color before moving them at all. Once you have browned one side well, give it a stir and add the garlic, sage, and red pepper flakes. Continue cooking for 5 minutes or until some of the squash starts to break down. Add some pasta cooking water along with the pasta. Turn in the sauce and cook for a final minute together. While stirring off the heat, add the parmesan cheese and the remaining butter and olive oil. Plate and garnish each with a crumbled amaretti cookie.

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This is a pretty traditional way to use up leftover pasta, and it’s scalable to however much you have leftover. It’s best when you can make a nice thin layer and get the whole thing really crispy, although this time I tried it with an extra egg to make it more frittata-like (I prefer it a little thinner). You can use any kind of leftover pasta, but it works best with long pasta rather than something like penne. I’ve made this several times since starting the blog, but it always seems to disappear before I can take pictures!

Spaghetti Frittata

Leftover spaghetti

Enough eggs to coat the spaghetti but not soupy

2 tablespoons sage (or another herb), chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

Scramble a couple eggs and pour over the spaghetti in a bowl. Stir it around, and if it doesn’t coat all the pasta, add another egg one at a time until it does. Add any herbs you like and season with salt and pepper. Pour into a frying pan with the olive oil, and press it until it goes all the way to the edges and is evenly distributed.

As it cooks, continue to occasionally press down to make it crisp. It will start to brown around the edges, and you can flip it over (with or without a plate on top to help). Let it brown and crisp on the second side and then remove to a cutting board. Slice into wedges and you can even add a side of some marinara sauce if you have it lying around.

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I’ve never been all that excited by biscuits. I think it’s because most of the time, they turn out dry and somewhat tasteless if you get them at diners or restaurants. And don’t even get me started on the fast food version. But, now that I know how good these are, I’ll be stocking my freezer with loads of them. They bake up straight from the freezer and they are so light and flaky that they’re actually best all on their own. But that didn’t stop me from trying a fried egg sandwich with pancetta and cheddar.

Oh, and I should mention that once again this recipe came from the Flour Bakery cookbook. Still working my way through it and enjoying everything.

Sage Biscuits

2 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces

1/2 cup cold buttermilk

1/2 cup cold heavy cream

1 cold egg

1 tablespoon chopped sage

1 tablespoon chopped scallions

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Scatter the butter pieces in and squeeze between your fingers so that they come together with the dry ingredients. Don’t over mix, you don’t want it to warm up either. The butter should still be in pea-sized pieces.

In another bowl or measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, cream, egg, sage, and scallion together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients while  mixing with a handmixer, just until it comes together.

Gather the dough together and roll around in the bowl to pick up any loose flour. Pour out onto a floured surface and pat into a 1″ thickness. Cut out with a 3″ round cutter. Bring together the scraps until you’ve used all the dough. This should make 8 biscuits. If you want to freeze them, wrap them individually in plastic wrap now.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or 45 minutes if they were frozen.

I love a fried egg sandwich with pancetta, but you can definitely substitute your favorite bacon. I also am partial to cheddar or asiago, but use whatever cheese you like best as well.

Fried Egg Sandwich

1 biscuit

1 egg

2 pieces pancetta or bacon

handful of arugula

2 basil leaves

a couple slices of cheese or some grated cheese to taste

Fry up the bacon or pancetta in a frying pan until crispy. Remove to a paper towel. Cook the egg in the rendered bacon fat and season with salt and pepper. I don’t usually flip my eggs because I like them runny, but I do baste them with the extra oil/fat in the pan. Layer the cheese, pancetta, and arugula on the bottom and place the egg on top of the cheese so it starts to melt. Top with a couple basil leaves and the top of your biscuit and dig in!

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I don’t talk up my own food very often, but I have to say that this stew was really killer. You can call it beef stew or beef bourgignon or brasato al chianti, but it’s all very similar. The meat was just falling apart and tender with delicious carrots and flavorful gravy. I served it with some egg noodles, but I think it would also go really well with some polenta. The key is in the browning of the meat–you MUST brown the meat well. And don’t try to cut the cooking time, it will not be as succulent and fork tender. Yum. I want more of this.

The Ultimate Beef Stew

1 pound beef chuck, cubed

4 carrots, chopped in large pieces

1 onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, whole

1 sprig rosemary

4 sprigs sage

5 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2-3/4 of a bottle chianti

1 tablespoon sugar

Dry the meat well with a paper towel and season with salt. Brown in a very hot pan with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. DON”T move them until they get a nice dark sear–they should look like a delicious steak. Brown on all sides and remove to a plate.

Add the onion, carrot, and garlic and saute until softened. Add the tomato paste, sugar, rosemary, and sage. Add the meat back in. Pour in enough wine to almost cover the meat. Simmer very low for 2 hours or until the meat is falling apart. Serve on egg noodles or polenta. Leftovers are even better!

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