Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Hope everyone has a happy, fun and safe Halloween with friends and family!

Lots to share with you this week.  A thrift chair redo that I am crazy for, a giveaway, new french inspired bread boards and a very cool find from hubby!   Stay tuned!  I'm going to go enjoy Halloween with my family!  Have a great day!

Click here for bread boards.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

How To Make Homemade Ravioli

As the days get shorter and temps get cooler, we find ourselves craving those wonderful comfort foods of winter like, stuffed pastas full of gooey cheese, comforting soups and my kiddos favorite, ravioli.  They are the perfect marriage of cheese and pasta in one perfect bite.

Making homemade pasta seems like a daunting task and it was to me too, but it was one of those things I wanted to learn to do.  My youngest has serious food allergies and after a couple of very scary moments when he was a baby, it became clear that making homemade food was best for him.  This ravioli is his favorite.

And let me tell ya, making ravioli from scratch is a heck of a lot easier, and faster, if you have one of these gadgets.
It's a ravioli press and they are pretty inexpensive and save lots of time.  And if you enjoy making your own ravioli, you gotta get yourself one. 

To get started with your pasta dough, grab these ingredients.  I doubled my recipe here, however, the recipe listed below is NOT doubled. 
I use eggs, olive oil, and two kinds of flour; cake flour and all purpose.  Combine your flours and create a well in the center.  Crack 4 eggs into it and then add your olive oil.
Whisk the eggs and olive oil until combined and slowly begin adding small amounts of flour until it is all combined and looks like this.
Dump the mixture out onto a floured surface and begin kneading.  This part is a little work, so if you've had a bad day, this is a great way to release some frustration. :)
If it looks a little dry like mine does, add a little bit of water, about a teaspoon at a time, until it comes together but isn't sticky.  It will look like this when it's finished.
Wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest on the counter for about 30 minutes and up to an hour while you prepare your cheese filling.
The cheese filling I make consists of mozzarella, sharp provolone, ricotta and cream cheese.  So yummy and cheesy and did I mention I am a huge cheese fan?  Combine them all in a bowl and set aside while we make the cute little raviolis.
Take your pasta dough and cut into four equal pieces.
Take one piece of dough, wrap the others back up so they don't dry out, and roll it out a bit, then, if you have a stand mixer with a pasta attachment, feed the dough through it.  I highly recommend the pasta attachment for stand mixers.  It makes making homemade pasta so fast and easy.
I start on the lowest setting, which is 1, and then go up to about a 7 for ravioli.  After you've done that, take your ravioli press and lay it on a towel so it won't slide around on you.  Lay your dough on the press.
And then take the top portion of the press, and "press" it into your dough to create little indentations for your filling.  It's very important to grease the entire press, especially the plastic part, so your dough won't stick to it and cause you to throw a fit in your kitchen.   Not that I did that or anything.  :)
Now scoop your cheese filling in, about a half a tablespoon, maybe a little less.
Now take the rest of your dough from that section and place it over the top.
Press down gently with your fingers, then take a rolling pin and roll over the press to seal and cut the edges of the ravioli.
And that's it!  You just made 12 ravioli!  Turn it upside down on a floured baking sheet and pop 'em out.
Aren't they cute?!
Repeat that process with the remaining three sections of your dough and then you will have two baking sheets full of yummy fresh ravioli.
If you aren't eating these right away, pop the baking sheets into the freezer as is and let them freeze.  When the ravioli are frozen, stick them in a freezer bag and return them to the freezer.  Then you will have homemade ravioli whenever the desire strikes. 
I like to do this on a rainy day.   There is something so comforting about cooking up something special for your family on days like that.  And I am not a pasta making expert by any means, this is just how I like to do it.  When cooking it up, boil in salted water until they float to the top.  Then combine with your favorite marinara, some fresh parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of baby basil leaves.  This is why I love having the ravioli already made and frozen, I can get dinner on the table in about 20 minutes.  Scroll down for the recipe.

Homemade Ravioli with 4 Cheese Filling

Pasta Dough
3/4 cup plus 2 TBS all purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 2 TBS cake flour
2 eggs
2 TBS olive oil

4 Cheese Filling
8 oz. ricotta cheese
4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup sharp provolone
1 egg

To make pasta dough, combine flours, make a well in large bowl and crack both eggs into along with olive oil.  Whisk, slowly incorporating flour until your dough comes together.  If it's too dry, add very small amounts of water at a time.  Form into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and let rest at room temp. for approximately 30 minutes.

Prepare cheese filling by combining filling ingredients in a bowl.  Set aside.

After dough has rested, cut the dough into four portions.  Working with one portion at a time, flatten the dough into a disk and send through a pasta machine on the lowest setting.  Roll through each setting up to setting 7.

Place dough across ravioli press and using the top portion of the press, press it into your dough to create indentations in your pasta for your filling.  Fill with about a half a tablespoon of your filling and cover with another sheet of pasta dough.  Take a rolling pin and roll across the dough to seal and cut the ravioli.  Turn onto a floured cookie sheet and repeat entire process with remaining dough.  After all ravioli are made, you can freeze them individually on the cookie sheet and then when completely frozen, transfer to a freezer bag, or cook immediately in salted boiling water.  Ravioli are done when they float to the top.

I'm working on a thrift chair redo that I can't wait to show you!  I'm so excited about it!  And I've got another great giveaway next week so stay tuned!  And have a great day everyone!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Amore Sign

Hey there!  I worked on a little project over the weekend that I wanted to share.  I've been crazy about this painting ever since I first saw it a few years ago. 
And even though I love it, it's just a little too modern for the decor in our home.  So, I created my own version that is a little more us.
I started by cutting down 1 x 4's to a 3 foot length, laying them side by side and attaching with supportive beams in the back that were made from the left over pieces that were cut off.  I attached everything with screws in the back.   Then I stained the entire piece with Minwax special walnut stain and let dry.

Next, I printed out the letters from a word program on my computer.  I don't remember the name of the font but I enlarged it to around 700 so it would fill the entire page.  I cut them out and used the cut out letters as a stencil.  I placed the letters where I wanted them and then, using a stencil brush, painted around the letters with Glidden pebble gray paint. 

After that dried, I dry brushed different areas with plain white paint and added some white detail to the letters, as well.  After that was dry, I applied a glossy sealer over the entire piece and voila! 

I'm super happy with it and instead of being over $3000 like the inspiration painting, my version cost me less than 10 bucks to make.  We hung it upstairs because frankly, that area is drab and probably one of the most neglected areas of our home when it comes to decorating.  Usually, it's the place that furniture I'm tired of gets banished to.
But this fun sign is inspiring me to do something up there, though I'm not sure what, it will be fun to figure it out!  And I love that this is the first thing you see when walking up the stairs.
What do you think?  Any of you with an upstairs, do you neglect it and instead spend more time decorating downstairs? 

I can't leave without saying thank you for all the sweet and encouraging comments and emails I received yesterday about yesterday's post.  Thank you sweet friends!  You put a big ol' smile on my face!

Have a great day!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Special Gifts

Last Monday I received a gift in the mail from one of my bread board customers.
 It was this adorable french wine box that she made!  Isn't it great? 
I just love it!  Here's a look at the inside...
And she added her initial on the back. 
It really came at a perfect time.  I received it last Monday, which was my dad's birthday, so I was a little sad.  What made it even more special was that my dad was a huge wine collector.  He had a fairly good size collection when he died, part of which I received.  I'm pretty sure the wine isn't drinkable anymore but I'm not about to throw it out.  I've wanted to build something special to keep it in but haven't been motivated to do so.......until I received this special gift.

But what made it the most special was the french saying on the front.  Un petite oiseau m'a dit, which translates to "a little bird told me." 

I don't share personal stories very often because I'm a fairly private person learning to open up more, but I've also struggled with whether or not I should share personal stories on my blog.  Would anyone be interested?  But here goes......

Years ago, after my dad passed, I was going through a particularly difficult time.  I was driving down the road praying to God, my dad, anyone, for guidance, a sign someone was listening or watching over me, anything.....when something a little strange happened.  A dove landed on my windshield and just stared at me. 

Normally this wouldn't be a strange thing, but I was driving on a highway going about 65 mph, so, I couldn't believe the dove was able to stay on the windshield without being blown off.  Maybe that's normal or not strange at all, but, at that moment, I felt a sense of calm come over me that I'd never experienced before.  I decided from then on, whenever I would see a dove, that was my way of knowing that my dad was still with me in spirit, watching over me.   Maybe it's silly, but I guess when we lose those closest to us, we do these things to make ourselves feel better or ease our pain a little. 

Currently, anxiety has become my middle name, but, thanks to wonderful blog friends who have shown me that it's okay to admit when you are going through a rough time, I feel blessed.  So, when I received this gift on my dad's birthday with the saying "a little bird told me", it was a wonderful reminder that I'm not alone.

I hope you didn't mind me sharing this story with you.  Thank you all so much for making me feel so welcome in the big blog world.  And to the person who sent me this gift, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

P.S. The holidays are approaching quickly and my reserve list for bread boards is growing, so if you plan on ordering them for Christmas gifts, now is the time to get them, before my backorder list gets too big that I can't get them completed before the holidays.  Thank you again for making my bread board business possible.  You have made my dream come true.  Have a wonderful Monday.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

DIY Easel Chalkboard

Hey there!  After receiving several requests, I put together a tutorial of the easel style chalkboard I made for our front porch.  I am certainly no expert at making these and there may be an easier way, however, this is how I did it.  I used inexpensive 1 x 2's and leftover bead board.  You will also need 8 L brackets, two screw eyes, two small hinges and a piece of twine, I used hemp.  Total cost was around $15.
Since I already made the larger one for the front porch, I decided to make a smaller tabletop version for the tutorial that I could use in the kitchen or dining room.   Decide on the height and width you'd like to do and then cut your wood based on those measurements.  This one is 23 inches high and 13 1/2 inches wide.  Put your pieces in position to get ready to attach them.  I wanted to make this easy using as few tools as possible, so I attached my pieces with L brackets.
Attach all 4 L brackets for each side.  You will have two of these sections.
Next up, I applied two coats of Minwax Stain in special walnut.  Make sure you do both the front and back of the two frames.
While this is drying, apply chalkboard paint to whatever you are using for your chalkboard.  I used the back of leftover bead board that I cut to be a little larger than the inside portion of the frame.
Paint both pieces and let dry.
After everything is dry, place your chalkboards (chalkboard side down) on the back of each frame and attach.  I used wire brads because it's what we had.
Remember, this is the back of the chalkboard.  Next, just to make everything look nice, I put a coat of chalkboard paint over the white bead board so it wouldn't stand out so much under the frame.
Next, you will need two screw eye hooks.
Insert one into the bottom center of the chalkboard on the inside.
Do this with both sections and then line them up, back side facing up, tops together.
Yes, my paint is still wet, I tend to get in a hurry when I do projects because I'm on limited time with dinner, picking kids up from school, etc...  Take your two hinges and place them where I have in the photo above and attach with the screws provided.
Now, fold over the entire piece and stand it upright.  Take your piece of twine...
And make a knot in the end.  Thread it through one of the hook eyes you inserted inside the easel.
Thread the other end through the other hook eye and make a knot.
This will prevent it from sliding open and falling.  Some have chains, but I like something more natural like twine.  And that's it!  You have an easel style chalkboard!
I'm going to use this one in our dining room on our console table with a very special gift that I received the other day from someone and I'll be blogging about that soon.  If you have questions about this tutorial, just ask in the comments or email me.  If you do make one, I'd love to see pics!  Have a great day!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Rustic Pallet Bench

Hey there!  Have a good weekend?  My hubby and I worked on a pallet project together and we had so much fun!  It was just one of those great weekends, you know?  We worked on this and then he surprised me with a special date night.  Something we haven't had time to do in a while so it was extra special.  And then we had a fun family day on Sunday.  Those are the best kinds of weekends.

I'm so glad hubby was there to help.  Those suckers are heavy and it was just plain fun working on something together.  We recently purchased a vintage record player, yes, I said record player, for our outdoor "studio", so we popped on an old Dean Martin album, turned up the volume and got to work.  Fun, I tell ya!  :) Here's what we started with, a pile of free pallets.
And here's how it ended up.....
This was one of those projects where I just kinda planned it as I went along and when we were finished, we just couldn't stop grinning.
Everything we used for this bench was something we already had so it was FREE!  Love that!  I really wanted to use rustic barn hinges on this because we have been collecting them for quite a while, just waiting on the perfect project and this was it.  The detail they add is perfect for this bench.
Hubby came home with those numbers above the ledge.  They are from an old gas station and since Halloween is around the corner, I thought the number 31 would be appropriate and fun.
I can't wait to decorate this area for Christmas!!  Any of you have any pallet projects?  What kinds of projects are you working on?  Would love to hear about 'em, as always!

Have a great day!  Click here to order more bread boards!  I've had several requests for sets of 5 or 6 numbered maple boards.  If interested, message me via Etsy and I will set up a custom order for those.  Thanks!