Thursday, February 27, 2014

Pear Cobbler

Cobbler is one of my favorite winter desserts. Nothing beats warm, fresh fruit combined with a buttery, almost biscuit-like topping. And when a scoop of vanilla ice cream is added to the mix, the angels sing.

Cobbler is also a very versatile dessert - you can pretty much add any fruit you wish, and change it with the seasons. I actually make my own variation of The Pioneer Woman's Rhubarb Cobbler in the summer months, and it is divine.

This winter-friendly Pear Cobbler, however, is chock-full of juicy pear slices, mixed with the warming flavors of garam masala and vanilla. Just don't forget the vanilla ice cream.

Pear Cobbler | The Economical Eater

Pear Cobbler
Yields: About 8 servings
Fruit base:
-3 pears, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
-3/4 cup granulated sugar
-1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
-1/4 teaspoon garam masala (optional)
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
-2 cups all-purpose flour
-2 tablespoons granulated sugar
-1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
-1 tablespoon baking powder
-1/2 cup unsalted cold butter + extra for greasing the pan
-1/2 cup almond milk (or whole milk)
-1 large egg

1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.) In a medium bowl, combine pears, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, lemon juice, garam masala, and vanilla extract.
3.) In a separate, large bowl, combine flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, salt, and baking powder; stir. Add butter, then cut together with your hands (or a pastry cutter).
4.) Beat egg and milk together. Pour into flour mixture and stir with a fork until just combined.
5.) Pour pear mixture into a buttered 13" x 9" baking dish (if you have a dish that's a bit smaller than that, it should work fine). Tear off pinches of dough and drop it onto the surface of the pears, creating a "cobbled" texture. Sprinkle additional sugar over the top.
6.) Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

[Print this recipe]

Pear Cobbler | The Economical Eater

Z and I aren't huge dessert people, but we were eating this by the spoonful as soon as I was done taking photos of 3 in the afternoon. (We didn't even have any ice cream!). Per usual, the "crust" is my favorite part - it's got an almost flaky texture while still having that biscuit-y, cobbler quality to it. All that mixed with the sweet, warm pears made for a wonderful winter treat.

What kind of fruit cobbler (or crisp) is your favorite? I also love blueberry cobbler (and crisp)!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My Current Obsessions

I'm at the point where many of my fellow New Englanders are: I'm done with winter.

Don't get me wrong - I love snowboarding, drinking hot cocktails, and enjoying how beautiful the snow makes everything look - but I am just done with the bitter cold. And the wind. And the ice.

But, instead of making this post all about what I dislike, I decided to focus on the things I am currently loving. That should warm things up a bit! (Maybe? Hopefully?!).

1.) Lemon water.

Lemon water | The Economical Eater

Z sent me this article about the benefits of lemon water a month or two ago, and I've been obsessed with the drink ever since. To be honest, I rarely think about its benefits - I really just drink it because it tastes so damn good. And it's refreshing! Who knew adding a few slices of lemon to tap water would make such a difference?

New Pretzel Crisps flavors | The Economical Eater

This box of Pretzel Crisps' new flavors - and "mini" Crisps - landed on my doorstep last week. It was a pleasant surprise, especially considering I'm a big fan of the snack food. I haven't tried all of the new products yet, but the Honey Mustard & Onion is a must-try. Especially when dipped in hummus.

True Detective

Um, anyone else watching True Detective? This new HBO series just started a few weeks ago, and I am officially obsessed. We typically watch it right after Shameless - my other favorite show - which makes Sunday nights pretty darn awesome. But seriously, I didn't think I'd like this show (which stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson), but I do. It's incredible!

4.) Our new food processor.

Cuisinart food processor

My tiny, pink food processor finally hit a wall a few weeks ago (conveniently, while I was making hummus for a catering gig). Annoyed, I threw the food processor in the trash and immediately ordered a new, larger one. And I must say, this new gadget of ours makes a world of difference. I haven't even used all of the accoutrements yet, but the standard steel blade works wonders.

Bourbon Coffee in Cambridge, MA | The Economical Eater

This Rwandan coffee shop is within walking distance from my house, and I go there often for the great coffee and free wi-fi (they also have a parking lot in the back, thanks to being within the Lesley University building). I actually never even heard of this place until my cousin - who joined the Peace Corps and was heading to Rwanda - told me about it. And I am so glad he did. This place makes some of the best coffee I've ever tasted. It also helps that they have plenty of outlets, considering I need to plug in my laptop. It's also located right off the Red Line for those who commute. Great coffee, atmosphere, and accessibility? can see why I love this spot!

What are you currently obsessed with?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Crockpot Spinach and Chickpea Coconut Curry

I love throwing a bunch of ingredients in the crockpot and eventually calling it dinner. 

Crockpot Spinach and Chickpea Coconut Curry | The Economical Eater

That's how this recipe was born. The snow/rain was falling outside, and I wanted our house to be filled with warm, comforting, delicious smells. And it doesn't get much more warm, comforting, or delicious than Indian food, in my opinion. 

Crockpot Spinach and Chickpea Coconut Curry
Yields: 2 servings
-1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
-1 large garlic clove, minced
-1/2 yellow onion, sliced
-8 pickled jalapeno slices, minced (or 1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced)
-1 teaspoon curry powder
-1/2 teaspoon garam masala
-1/4 teaspoon turmeric
-1/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
-1 teaspoon dried parsley
-1 bay leaf
-Pinch of cayenne
-Salt and black pepper
-1/2 cup coconut milk
-2 handfuls baby spinach 

1.) Place all ingredients up to coconut milk in a crockpot and stir. Cook on high for two hours, then cook for an additional three hours on low.
2.) About ten minutes before serving, stir in coconut milk and spinach. Serve with warm naan.

Crockpot Spinach and Chickpea Coconut Curry | The Economical Eater

The warm spices mixed with the creamy coconut milk was a divine combination, while the chickpeas, spinach, and onions provided great texture in every bite. Scooped up with some warm naan, this was the perfect winter meal - that was nutritious, super affordable, and easy to make! (If you want an even more satiating meal, I recommend serving it over basmati rice).

Two things worth mentioning: If you want leftovers, feel free to double this recipe. Also, if you're hesitant to buy fresh ginger versus just using powdered, the fresh really makes a difference in this dish. I actually keep fresh ginger in the freezer and use it as I need to. We use it all the time in Indian dishes, but also in fresh juice!

Do you have a go-to crockpot recipe?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

FISH Restaurant and Wine Bar

As many of you know, I consider myself a part-time pescatarian. I love seafood, but I really only eat it when I know it's fresh and as local as possible. And at FISH Restaurant in Marlborough, their seafood meets (and even exceeds) my expectations.

I know what you're thinking: Marlborough?? Why would I drive to Marlborough for a meal? But trust me when I tell you...this meal is worth the surprisingly short (and easy!) drive from Boston.

Originally called Coral Seafood, FISH Restaurant is serving up fresh, elegant, and thoughtfully prepared dishes and cocktails, with an impressive (and affordable) wine list to boot. And, despite the name, they don't only serve seafood dishes - there are several meat options (think Crispy Duck Breast, $25 and Braised Short Ribs, $26), as well as a few vegetarian options, too (like the Leek & Truffle Risotto, $20 and the Asian Noodle Stir-Fry, $18). For the carnivores, FISH's chicken is also organic and free-range...a hard thing to come by these days.

Our host for the evening was Ian Nal, FISH's General Manager and Beverage Director. Clearly passionate about the restaurant's cocktail program - and, being a gracious host - he immediately suggested I try a Purple Velvet ($10) upon my arrival. Made with Ketel One Citroen, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, and hibiscus syrup, this was the ideal beverage to wash away my winter blues.

Purple Velvet cocktail at FISH Restaurant in Marlborough, MA | The Economical Eater

While I chatted with Richard and Ian over cocktails, I took in the sleek and intimate bar/lounge area, complete with a fireplace. Behind us was the more "formal" yet approachable dining area, with several high-backed, white booth seats and white tablecloths. The open kitchen graces the back wall of the restaurant, helping to make the entire space inviting and comfortable, yet still elegant.

Since one cocktail before dinner is never enough, Ian also had us try one of his upcoming spring cocktails: the Shy Geisha. FISH's menus change with the seasons, and the spring menu will be out before we know it (thank god...).

Shy Geisha cocktail at FISH Restaurant in Marlborough, MA | The Economical Eater

Eventually, we headed to our table for dinner, which began with the Shellfish Sampler ($17). The sampler boasted three Plymouth Rock Bay oysters, three Cherrystone clams, and three Gulf shrimp.

Shellfish Sampler at FISH Restaurant in Marlborough, MA | The Economical Eater

The freshness of the seafood was evident in every single bite, and the zesty, accompanying cocktail sauce was ideally spicy (a red wine vinegar mignonette also accompanied the sampler). I'm a sucker for good, briny oysters, and these (along with Beat Hotel's) were some of the best I've had in a long, long time. 

I should mention at this point that Ian paired each of our dishes for the evening with sustainable and/or organic wines. FISH's wine list - and program as a whole - is really impressive, while being very approachable for a wine lover like me who always orders the same thing when I go out. Ian always makes recommendations for his guests, and prices range from $8-$15 per glass, although most glasses are in the $8-$10 range.

Wine at FISH Restaurant in Marlborough, MA | The Economical Eater

The next dish we tried was the Ahi Tuna Ceviche, topped with pickled jalapenos, avocado mousse, and blood orange vinaigrette. Like the Shellfish Sampler, the tuna was obviously fresh, and I loved the the combination of flavors with the spicy jalapeno and sweet avocado mousse. The citrus tang from the vinaigrette also complemented the fish nicely.

Ahi Tuna Ceviche at FISH Restaurant in Marlborough, MA | The Economical Eater

We also tried the Scallop Crudo, served with black garlic, fresh dill, watermelon ponzu, and cantaloupe "pearls." To be honest, this dish didn't wow me - which could be due to my aversion to too much fresh dill - but it was still presented beautifully.

Scallop Crudo at FISH Restaurant in Marlborough, MA | The Economical Eater

Our next dish - the Grilled Octopus ($12) - did wow me, however. Served with roasted beet, radish, and Green Goddess dressing, this was the most tender and flavorful octopus I've ever put into my mouth. Chef Sasha St. Germain (originally from the Ukraine), braises this octopus for five hours, resulting in a super tender dish. Every bite was incredible.

Grilled Octopus at FISH Restaurant in Marlborough, MA | The Economical Eater

We also tried some Crispy Calamari ($10), which is normally something I never bother ordering at a restaurant. However, FISH's version is served with fried cherry peppers, a Miso aioli, and...wait for it...fried cantaloupe. The batter was delightfully light and non-greasy, and the spicy peppers mixed with the sweet cantaloupe and salty calamari was a divine combination of flavors.

Crispy Calamari at FISH Restaurant in Marlborough, MA | The Economical Eater

Our first entree was the Grilled Swordfish ($22), which looked more like a pork chop than a piece of swordfish. The fish literally pulled apart with a simple touch of my fork - it was that delicate. The fish was also juicy and well-seasoned, and paired fantastically with the tender potatoes underneath.

Grilled Swordfish at FISH Restaurant in Marlborough, MA | The Economical Eater

Next up were the Diver Scallops ($23), served atop a vibrant romesco sauce and roasted fingerling potatoes. The dish was then garnished with some bacon-shallot marmalade (that I politely scraped off) and some hazelnuts. The scallops were cooked and seasoned nicely, and I loved the silky, smoky sauce underneath. The crunchy hazelnuts also added a welcome texture to the dish.

Diver Scallops at FISH Restaurant in Marlborough, MA | The Economical Eater

Eventually, we got to dessert. I'm typically not a dessert person - unless the dessert in question is very, very good. Well, let's just say FISH's Chocolate Ganache a L'Orange ($8.50) did not disappoint. Served with a bright and refreshing citrus salad, as well as a dollop of lime, creamy ricotta, this was one decadent dessert...that was somehow also fairly light. The tuille garnishes also added a whimsical touch, as well as a necessary, crispy texture, to the dish. 

Chocolate Ganache a L'Orange at FISH Restaurant in Marlborough, MA | The Economical Eater

My omnivore dining companions also enjoyed FISH's Cinnamon Bacon Beignets ($8), served with maple caramel. Based off their reactions, I'd say this one is also worth trying.

All in all, I had a wonderful meal at FISH Restaurant. I really appreciate their dedication to sourcing fish and meat that is as seasonal, sustainable, and as local as possible. I also thoroughly appreciated Ian's honesty when we asked questions about where they source their fish and meat from. He wasn't trying to hide anything, which I always respect. 

To be honest, I never go to Marlborough - but I definitely plan to return to FISH Restaurant soon. The food, drinks, atmosphere, and staff just make it a very welcoming place that's worth the trip.

Do you have a favorite restaurant that is worth "traveling" to? I would drive to Portland, Maine any day for a meal (I have several favorite restaurants there!).

This meal was complimentary. As always, all opinions are my own.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Our Wedding: The Details

So, this post is only six months late.

I just realized over the weekend that I never shared any details about our wedding with you guys, with the exception of a few (plus some photos!). We worked with some pretty cool vendors and had some unique touches to our big day that I think are worth sharing - whether you're planning a wedding of your own, are helping someone else plan their's, or you're just simply into this wedding stuff.

So, without further ado, here are some of the things that made our wedding day extra special.

The dress.

Wedding dress by Maggie Sottero

Wedding dress by Maggie Sottero

Designed by Maggie Sottero - and purchased at Modern Bride in Bedford, N.H. - this dress was like wearing satin bed sheets. It was incredibly comfortable and easy to wear (without having to worry about fixing it 100 times during the wedding). My older sister actually wore a similar dress - by the same designer - to her wedding!

The flowers.

Summer wedding flowers

Summer wedding flowers

My mom and I met with a bunch of florists - who honestly could not help a bride-to-be who knew nothing about flowers - until we found Lisa from Blooming Vineyards. Lisa totally understood that I didn't know anything about flowers, but that I wanted specific colors, textures, and designs for my bouquets (and boutineers). In our first - and only - meeting, Lisa had nailed it. She actually listened to what I wanted, and put together some beautiful arrangements. We got so many compliments on the flowers alone!

Economical centerpiece idea

I'm not a big flower girl (can you tell?), so I didn't want our centerpieces to be provided by the florist. I also wanted to keep certain aspects of the wedding economical, so Z and I decided to get crafty with our centerpieces. We picked up vases and ruby stones (they looked almost like flat marbles) from Michael's (they almost always have a 40% off coupon on their site), and my mom and I found LED lighted branches from Bed Beth & Beyond. Buying in bulk from Michael's also saves you a few bucks - just simply ask an associate how you can place an order. They were super helpful, and great to work with!

I loved the simplicity and almost organicness (that's a word now) of our centerpieces. The subtle yet apparent lights from the branches also added an elegant touch to the room. These centerpieces were also just short enough so that people could see each other (and have conversations) from across the table with ease.

Hot sauce favors

The chef at Mountain View Grand (where we got married) makes his own hot sauces, and Z and I - being the spice fiends that we are - knew we wanted to give them as favors to our guests. The chef makes two flavors, so we gave each guest one of each. We also had Mountain View create labels for the hot sauces, with one of our engagement photos on one side and our wedding date on the other. As a bonus, the chef purposely didn't make the hot sauces for our wedding until two weeks beforehand, so they would be incredibly fresh and flavorful.

The guest "book."

Whimsical guest book idea

Whimsical guest book idea

We had an accidental bike theme for our wedding, and I found this idea for our guest "book" on Pinterest. We provided simple instructions, two stamp pads (of our wedding colors, ruby and purple), stamps, and pens, so people could sign in or around their "balloons." It ended up being a whimsical, fun, and interactive guest book!

Card holder.
Bike card holder

Speaking of our bike mom found this little bike at HomeGoods. It made the perfect card holder on our gift table!

Beer pairings.

Craft beer pairings

Z really handled this part, but we couldn't have our wedding without craft beer. We took it one step further by pairing each of our entrees (which were all vegetarian) with a craft beer chosen by Z. Basically, Mountain View could get us any beer we wanted, as long as that beer was available in New Hampshire. Thankfully, most of our favorite brews were available - including Sofie by Goose Island, Victory Helios, and Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale, to name a few. 

The cake.
Bicycle cake topper

So, this cake topper isn't just a couple on a's us on a bike! The designer, Silhouette Weddings, had me send her a photo of Z's and my face profiles. Then, she designed the cake topper so the two people on the bike looked exactly like us. It's amazing how many of our guests noticed this!

One other note about our cake: Most of my married friends said not to spend a lot of money on the cake. Yeah, people see it, but really, it's not a focal point of the wedding - and if you're going to save money somewhere, the cake is a good place to do that. Honestly, I bought some ruby-colored ribbon online, and that was our "decoration." With the cool cake topper, we really didn't need much else.

And there you have it. All of the more fun details of our summer wedding. Finally! ;)

*All photos courtesy of Eric McCallister Photography.

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Best Pizza I've Ever Made (So Far)

I am currently obsessed with making pizza dough/homemade pizza. Ever since I perfected a no-yeast dough, I've been trying a new yeast variety about once a month. I tend to be impatient, so I've tried the quick-rising varieties, and they just don't measure up. I also tend to attack my dough (I'm apparently quite aggressive), which also doesn't make for a crisp, airy, tasty crust.

But, I finally got it just right, after researching several sources across the interwebs - and confiding in some pizza-making friends. Besides not over-kneading, the other thing I learned that is crucial for a good, crispy, delicious pizza crust is a super hot oven.

Here's how I did it.

The Best Pizza Dough | The Economical Eater

The Best Pizza Dough
Yields: 1 large crust (or 2 small crusts)
Adapted from
-1 package active dry yeast
-1 cup warm water
-Pinch sugar
-1 1/2 teaspoons salt
-1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for coating the bowl + brushing the crust
-2 1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
-Cornmeal, as needed, for pan

1.) In a large bowl, combine yeast with water and sugar and stir well to combine. Set aside until foamy, about 5-7 minutes. 
2.) Add the salt, olive oil, and half of the flour to the yeast mixture and mix well to combine. Add all remaining flour except 1/2 cup and mix well with your hands, working to incorporate the flour little by little. The dough should be slightly sticky to the touch. 
3.) Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead dough for at least 5-7 minutes, adding enough additional flour as necessary to form a smooth and elastic dough that is not sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled, medium-sized bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, usually at least 1 hour.

The Best Pizza Dough | The Economical Eater

4.) Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. (At this point, if you're making two smaller pizzas, divide dough into two portions and form into balls. Then, place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cover with a damp towel. Let rest for 15 minutes). Transfer dough to a sheet of wax paper that's been lightly floured (so it doesn't stick to your countertop) and begin to shape as desired. 

The Best Pizza Dough | The Economical Eater

5.) Before stretching your dough to the final shape and thickness you're looking for, let it rest for 5 minutes. Then, finish rolling and shaping the dough (it should be rolled out to a 1/8-inch thickness). Transfer dough to a baking sheet or pizza peel that's been sprinkled with cornmeal and brush with olive oil (so toppings don't make the crust mushy). Then, top with toppings of choice. (I topped mine with pizza sauce, mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, feta, and, after it was done baking, I topped it with some arugula). 
6.) Transfer to the preheated oven and bake until crispy and golden brown, about 12 to 18 minutes (depending on the toppings and the thickness of the crust). Remove from the oven with a metal spatula and serve immediately.

The Best Pizza Dough | The Economical Eater

The end result was an airy-on-the-inside, crispy-on-the-outside pizza crust that held its own underneath all of the toppings I piled on top of it. (I also once topped this crust with cheese, mushrooms, and truffle oil - so good). 

Although the steps and wait times may seem like a lot, this dough was super easy to make - and really didn't require too much labor, besides the kneading. I have used the dough hook in my mixer for the kneading part, and that also worked just fine, if you don't feel like standing over the counter for 5-7 minutes.

I still need to work on rolling out my dough - my pizzas are always misshapen and a little too thick on the ends - but hey, that just means I need to make (and eat) more pizza, right? ;)

P.S. Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Z's 3x Yellow Tofu Marinade

OK, so this recipe may have a weird title...but it's the best Z and I could come up with for his famous (well, in our house at least) tofu marinade recipe. You see, Z has been making this concoction for years, but it wasn't until last week I decided to write it down - and share it with all of you.

The inspiration to write it down came from my friends at Nasoya, who sent me a few coupons to try out their new TofuPlus products. TofuPlus is the first (and only) line of tofu “beefed up” with the nutrients commonly lacking in vegetarian and vegan diets. The best part? All of Nasoya's tofu products are organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, and dairy-free.

I'm a big fan of extra firm tofu when it comes to cooking, so I tried the Organic Extra Firm TofuPlus for this recipe. I really didn't find any difference in taste or texture between this tofu and "regular" tofu, but it was nice to know we were getting some extra nutrients in each bite - without compromising flavor.

So, what the heck makes Z's tofu marinade recipe three times yellow? Dijon, curry powder, and ground ginger. (OK, ginger is not really yellow, but you get the point!).

Z's 3x Yellow Tofu Marinade | The Economical Eater #vegan

Z's 3x Yellow Tofu Marinade
Yields: 3-4 servings
-1 package Nasoya Organic Extra Firm TofuPlus, drained and cut into cubes
-1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
-1 teaspoon curry powder
-Pinch of cayenne 
-1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
-1 tablespoon olive oil (or canola or vegetable oil)
-Salt and black pepper, to taste

1.) In a medium-size bowl, carefully mix ingredients together. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
2.) Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in fridge. Let marinate for at least 1 hour (the longer the better).

We cooked our marinated tofu in a wok with sliced onion, garlic, pickled jalapenos, and a few sun-dried tomatoes (our current obsession) - but feel free to stir-fry this tofu with whatever vegetables you wish!

Z's 3x Yellow Tofu Marinade | The Economical Eater

The end result is a spicy, tangy, oh-so-flavorful tofu dish. The first time Z made this for me, years ago, I was skeptical of the Dijon - but trust me when I say, it works. Mixed with the other spices and ingredients, the Dijon gives the otherwise bland tofu a welcome punch of flavor.

Do you have a "famous" recipe in your house? If so, what is it?

Nasoya provided me with coupons to try their new TofuPlus products for free. As always, all opinions are my own.

Friday, February 7, 2014

How to Make Homemade Ravioli

Remember that time I learned how to make egg pasta? Well, it wasn't until recently I became a little obsessed with it.

Z and I got a manual pasta machine as an engagement gift, and we've been saying - for over a year now - that we can't wait to use it. So, this past Saturday - when we finally had no plans and nowhere to be - we made our own egg pasta.

We made linguine to freeze and eat later (and, a few days later, I made more linguine), but for dinner on Saturday, we decided to make ravioli. I winged the filling - some ricotta, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, salt, and pepper - but the delicate pasta made the meal. 

How to Make Homemade Ravioli | The Economical Eater

For starters, here's the super easy recipe for the egg pasta base:

Fresh Egg Pasta
Recipe from Sweet Thing Food
-2 cups all-purpose flour
-3 large eggs, beaten
-Water, as needed

1.) Pulse flour in food processor to aerate it. Add eggs and process until the dough forms a rough ball, about 30 seconds. (If dough resembles small pebbles, add water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time. If dough sticks to the side of the work bowl, add 1 tablespoon flour at a time and process).
2.) Turn the dough and small bits onto a lightly floured work surface and knead by hand until the dough is smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let relax for 15 minutes.
3.) Cut the dough into five even pieces and, using a manual pasta machine, roll out the dough (if you don't have a pasta machine, I've heard rolling out the dough with a rolling pin also works, but I have never tried it myself):

A. Cut about 1/5 of the dough from the ball and flatten it into a disk. Run the disk through the rollers set to the widest position (0); bring the ends of the dough toward the middle and press down to seal.

B. Feed the open side of the pasta dough through the rollers; repeat A and B.

C. Without folding again, run the pasta through the widest setting twice, or until the dough is smooth. If the dough is at all sticky, lightly dust with flour. Begin to roll the pasta thinner by putting it through the machine repeatedly, narrowing the setting each time.

D. Roll until the dough is thin and satiny, dusting with flour if sticky. You should be able to see the outline of your hand through the pasta. Lay the pasta on a clean kitchen towel and cover with a damp cloth; repeat with other pieces of dough. (I actually just let the pasta dry for 30 minutes, with no damp cloth, and it came out fine). 

Once your pasta has dried for at least 30 minutes, you can begin to make the ravioli.

The first step: Brush a little bit of egg wash (1 egg + 1 tablespoon water) on each sheet of dough. Then, spoon about 1 tablespoon of your filling along a sheet of dough, leaving about 1 inch between each spoonful.

How to Make Homemade Ravioli | The Economical Eater

Then, lay another sheet of dough over the filling, pressing the dough around and in between each ball, so it sticks to the other sheet of dough underneath. 

How to Make Homemade Ravioli | The Economical Eater

Cut in-between each ball of filling to form the ravioli (I used a pizza cutter). Then, press down the sides of each ravioli square with a fork to seal each ravioli closed. 

How to Make Homemade Ravioli | The Economical Eater

Yes, there is one smaller ravioli than the rest of them. But it made a good taste tester! ;)

If eating the ravioli right away, boil in a pot of salted water for 1-2 minutes. Seriously, it's that fast. One word of advice, however: Boil the ravioli in water that's simmering over medium to high heat, versus very high heat. The dough is delicate enough that a rapid boil might cause the ravioli to open up.

If not eating right away, store ravioli in the fridge (either in a large Ziploc bag or air-tight container). If not eating for over a few days, store in the freezer. 

Serve with desired sauce (we smothered our ravioli in basil pesto). 

How to Make Homemade Ravioli | The Economical Eater

I know it may seem like a lot of steps, but making your own pasta - and even your own ravioli - is actually quite easy. The process definitely takes some time, but if you have it, it is so worth it. 

Have you ever made your own ravioli before? I'm excited to experiment with new pasta doughs and fillings!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Horseradish Deviled Eggs

We made these deviled eggs for the Super Bowl, and, as you can imagine, they were a way bigger hit than the game itself. But even if the game was somewhat exciting, these deviled eggs would have still been successful.

The recipe is similar to that of my Spicy Deviled Eggs, but I took the recipe up a notch with some prepared horseradish. The end result was the traditional, creamy deviled eggs many people know and love with a kick of tolerable spice in each mouthful.

Horseradish Deviled Eggs | The Economical Eater

Horseradish Deviled Eggs
Yields: 15 servings*
-15 large eggs
-2 tablespoons minced pickled jalapenos
-2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
-6 tablespoons Trader Joe's Wasabi Mayonnaise (or plain mayonnaise)
-4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
-Salt and black pepper, to taste
-Squirt of fresh lemon juice
-Paprika and chopped chives, for garnish

1.) Put the eggs in a large saucepan and cover them with water. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat, then cover, and remove the saucepan from the heat. Allow the eggs to sit for 10 minutes. 
2.) Remove eggs from pan and shock in ice water. Peel the eggs and cut in half. Remove the yolks to a medium-sized bowl, and mash with the back of a fork.
3.) Add the jalapenos, horseradish, mayonnaise, mustard, salt, pepper, and lemon juice to the bowl. Mix until smooth and creamy. 
4.) Spoon the mixture into a piping bag. Arrange the egg whites on a serving platter. Pipe a heaping tablespoon of the egg yolk mixture into each of the egg whites. Lightly sprinkle each egg with paprika and chopped chives.

*15 servings seems a bit random, but I used 15 eggs based on how many people we had coming over. If you wanted to just make 12 eggs/servings, I'd recommend starting with 1 tablespoon jalapenos, 1 teaspoon horseradish, 4 tablespoons mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons mustard, and tasting/adjusting from there.

Horseradish Deviled Eggs | The Economical Eater

I'm seriously craving another one of these deviled eggs right now. I loved the kick of spice the wasabi, jalapenos, and horseradish added to each bite, while the cool, creamy texture of the filling helped to calm everything down a bit. Z's cousin is actually anti-spice, but he still loved these deviled eggs - they were just spicy enough, without ruining his palate for the entire evening. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Bananas Foster Mini Turnovers

Bananas, rum, brown sugar, butter...Bananas Foster is one of those recipes that includes many of my favorite foods. But when all of those foods are then wrapped in a buttery, flaky puff pastry? Yeah. It's delicious.

Bananas Foster Mini Turnovers | The Economical Eater

Bananas Foster Mini Turnovers
Yields: 6 turnovers
-1 tablespoon butter
-1/2 tablespoon light brown sugar
-Splash dark rum
-1 small banana, peeled and sliced into coins
-1 sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted 
-1 egg + 1 tablespoon water
-Confectioners' sugar, for dusting (optional)

1.) Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 
2.) Melt butter in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add brown sugar and stir. Off the heat, add rum, stir, then set pan back over medium to high heat. Add bananas, stir, and cook for about 1 minute, or until bananas only begin to soften.
3.) Place puff pastry on a lightly greased baking sheet. Cut the pastry into six equal squares. Spoon a small amount of the banana mixture (about 3 banana slices) into the middle of each pastry. 
4.) Whisk egg and water together in a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, brush a small amount of the egg wash along one side of each puff pastry square. Then, fold one corner of each square to meet the opposite corner (to form a triangle), and seal closed with a fork. Brush the outsides of each turnover with egg wash, and cut a small slit in the middle of each one. 
5.) Place in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until turnovers are golden brown.

Bananas Foster Mini Turnovers | The Economical Eater

I made these turnovers "mini" because I am trying to be less indulgent these days, but feel free to make your version "regular" size, if you wish. To do this, just simply cut the puff pastry into four pieces vs. six. (You can also make these!).

Another note: I slightly changed the way traditional Bananas Foster is made because I didn't want the bananas to get too mushy in the oven. They definitely get soft while they bake, but they don't turn to complete mush if you undercook them on the stovetop. 

Bananas Foster Mini Turnovers | The Economical Eater

Um, yeah. The brown sugar mixed with the butter, hint of rum, and the sweet bananas was a divine combination. And anything wrapped in puff pastry is a winner in my book, but the buttery pastry just went so well with the Bananas Foster filling.

What's your favorite use for puff pastry? I'm always looking for new ways to use it!