Cannoli Recipe

As we continue to cook our way through my 29th year, we came upon the biggest challenge so far… the homemade Cannoli!  For reference we used this recipe from the Food Network.  We found that some of it worked, and some of it didn’t.  Overall our biggest take away was that the dough and filling made WAY too much for us.  We could definitely have cut it in half and still had more than enough. Take a look below to see our adventure!
 

First we created the dough.  We did need to add more butter and more wine than the recipe called for to make it really form into a ball.

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We then let the dough sit for a while and made the filling.  The recipe does say to let the filling chill for 30 minutes, we found that it really needs to chill for much longer than that or it will be super runny.  Still tasted great, but after sitting all night we found that the next day it was the perfect texture.

We purchased our Cannoli cones at a local high end cooking store.  We didn’t have any luck finding them elsewhere, except for online.  They weren’t cheap, and I can’t guarantee we will be using them very often, but they got the job done!

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After rolling out the dough, with lots of flour since it was sticky,  we cut the circles.  We found a piece of tupperware that was just about the right size and improvised since we didn’t have a pastry cutter.  Worked out perfectly!

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Next we wrapped the circular dough around a cannoli cone.  We pressed the edges to seal, if it started to separate we just dabbed a little water on the edges before sealing.

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Once the cones were wrapped we fried in melted shortening.  They browed and puffed up quickly, and we just rotated with a pair of tongs.

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After frying we put on paper towels to absorb the extra grease.  We left the cones in while they cooled to keep their shape. The slipped right out nice and easily within a few minutes.

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And for the final step we filled with our filling.  As you can see it was pretty runny, it was delicious.  But if we had waited a few hours the filling texture would have been firmer.

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All things considered, this recipe was great!  It made a really tasty dessert.  It did involve purchasing the cannoli cones, and we had to improvise a little when the dough didn’t stick, and since we didn’t have a way to judge the temperature of the shortening before frying.  But those were easy fixes.  Over the next few days we ate the filling like a dip using graham crackers to scoop it up.  It was amazing!
So far this has been the most challenging recipe we have tried, but it was definitely worth the effort.

Healthy Treats for Kids – Thanksgiving Theme

At our school we have completely turned the corned with special snacks that are allowed for Birthday Celebrations and class parties.  We now only encourage healthy options, and are starting to cut back on homemade treats as well.  Even when parents provide a list of ingredients, we can’t be certain that their kitchen is a “Peanut Free” kitchen.  If they used the same cutting board that they used to make a PB&J sandwich on earlier, disaster could strike.  Allergies are a huge thing to be aware of these days, and the risks are just too high.   But I often times miss the days of homemade cupcakes and ice cream parties.
With the holidays coming up many families still want to do something special for their child’s class.  Even though we offer suggestions like donating a book in the child’s name, or sending in party paper goods so that the children can have their normal snacks and lunch on special plates, there are always a host of parents who demand food treats.  Coming up with healthy options to offer seems to have been our most successful approach.  Below are some of the best ones I’ve found for Thanksgiving.  Enjoy!

What a perfect Holiday Snack Idea!

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That’s What “Che” Said has these adorable Turkey Snack Bags.  Kids would get a kick out of getting these!  You could fill them with a number of different healthy treats, like whole wheat cheerios or chex, raisins, craisins or other dried fruits.  I can already picture their sweet faces when they receive something fun like this!

What a special festive snack!

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The Foodies featured this adorable turkey muffin.  I mentioned that we don’t always allow home-made treats because of the risk with allergies, but this would be a great cooking project our classes.  Parents could provide the muffin ingredients, or a mix, and the apple slices.  Children would have a great time helping their teachers measure, mix and stir.  Snacks are even more enjoyable when children help accomplish them.

How fun would this lunch be?

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Bliss Tree features a number of great Thanksgiving Snack ideas for kids, but this one was one of my favorites.  It is more of a lunch option, but would be such a great surprise to slip into your child’s lunch box.  Who doesn’t love to play with food?!  Simple quesadilla, apple slices and a carrot for the middle.  This is a great lunch idea, and incorporates many healthy elements.

Turkey!

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We do Peppers with Ranch Dressing on a regular snack basis, but theres no reason not to dress them up!  How hilariously cute is this little turkey!  This was featured over on CBC Parents.

Fruit cup, hold the ice cream 🙂

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And one more just because.  Not really a Thanksgiving treat, but this is a great snack to send from home for a birthday or special occasion.  We often times do recommend fresh fruit with whipping cream, but adding them to an ice-cream cone is a sure way to have some very excited little ones!  Why didn’t I think of that!

What are some healthy alternatives that you use to help make snack time special?

Ravioli Pasta from Scratch

This year was my 29th birthday, rather than gifts I asked my husband for two things.  1 – to train for a half marathon with me, and 2 – for us to cook a new recipe together once a month.  The half marathon training ended pretty quickly when I couldn’t recover from pretty terrible shin splits.  We managed to complete a 5K, and continue to motivate each other at the gym, but I don’t think I will be doing any long distance running any time soon.

With request 2 are currently a month behind, but have been having fun with our recipe a month.  Cooking something new and out of our comfort zone has been great, and spending the meaningful time together has been even better.  I love gifts that are experiences rather than materialistic “stuff”.

This month we decided to make ravioli from start to finish.  I referenced recipes from Taste of Home and The Food Network (Tyler Florence).  We didn’t follow either recipe exactly, but for the most part came up with an easy dough recipe.  For the filling we more or less winged it, it was a little bit on the salty side, but that’s my preference!  Below I outlined our process in photos!

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We started by creating the dough in the stand mixer.  Very easy ingredients, flour, salt,  eggs and a little olive oil.  This step can absolutely be done without the use of an electric mixer, but we chose the easy route.
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Next, we kneaded the dough on a  well floured board for 10 minutes or so, until all of the ingredients are incorporated well.
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We formed the dough into a ball, brushed with Olive Oil and wrapped in plastic wrap.  We left this out on the counter at room temperature for about a half hour.  My research informed me that this step is to allow the gluten to relax
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Here is our pasta dough “relaxing”
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Fortunately my mom has a great pasta machine, so we were able to roll the dough out easily, without a pasta machine I’m sure you can roll with a rolling pin, but it most certainly would take longer.  This was a team effort, we cut the dough into 1/4, kept the dough we weren’t using covered, floured the remainder and rolled through the machine.  We started at the highest setting and kept rolling until it was about 1/8″ thick.
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Here is what our pasta dough looked like all rolled out.  We made sure to keep it on a well floured surface so that nothing would stick.
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We created our filling with a combination of ricotta, mozzarella, egg and spices.  Lots of garlic, salt, pepper, oregano and basil.  On half the dough we put dollops of filling about and inch apart.  We then folded over the other half, and pressed out as many air bubbles as we could.
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After pressing down on the dough we cut out each square, and again tried to seal them shut by pushing out the air pockets.
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We then used a fork around the edges to seal the raviolis
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We placed them on a baking sheet that was dusted with corn meal, so that they could dry out a bit as we rolled out the rest.

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Once they were all made we placed our raviolis into a pot of boiling water.  We placed a few at a time so that they wouldn’t crowd the pot and get stuck together.  Once they float to the top they are finished, although I felt like ours floated to the top pretty quickly!
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We drained the water, and they were ready to go!
This definitely was not a fast process, it took a lot of time and patience, but it definitely paid off!  They came out delicious and we were really proud of ourselves for being able to make pasta from scratch, start to finish!
We are still thinking about what other recipes we can try and complete this year.  Do you have any specialties?

 

Birthday, Pizza, and General Life Updates

Today is Brian’s 27th Birthday…and he’s been gone since Friday morning 🙁  But he should be back late tonight/early early tomorrow morning.  And he has a balloon surprise waiting for him….

27 balloons, one for each year, each with a reason why I love him tied on to the string.  Some how I managed to fit them all into my little car without any popping…and without the wind blowing me away.  But my hair was looking a static mess!!  I’m excited for him to read them 🙂

Since I knew he would be away we celebrated earlier in the week.  I cooked him one of his favorite dinners (we skipped the health train that night!) and gave him the new Kindle Fire.  I might have slight kindle envy….but I’m happy he liked it!

The weight loss challenge is still going right along.  I managed to shed 2 pounds this week, woot woot!  I had my mom and younger sister over, who are also participating in the challenge, and made a dinner that would help us get in those 3 servings of veggies!

We had a cold vegetable pizza and slightly soggy sweet potato chips.

I started with a dried ranch dressing and some other seasonings:

Added soft cream cheese, and greek yogurt (substituted the mayo for yogurt, healthier option and still tasted great!)  Once that was all stirred together I spread it onto a pre-made wheat pizza crust:

Then came the veggies.  I added broccoli, carrots, and peppers.  Another time I might add some grape tomatoes as well.

Then I let it sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes.  Added a sprinkle of cheese on top, and it was good to go!

Definitely a recipe I will save.  It was really tasty, filling, and I felt good about eating it!  The sweet potato chips could have used a little work.  They tasted great, but the texture was soggy for sure!  Next time I’ll figure out what to change!

In other news, my Kindergarteners just celebrated their 100th day at school.  I think that 1 day took more planning and preparation on my part than a regular week of curriculum!  But they had a blast, and were so excited to have been in school for 100 days!  We did all kinds of activities, here is a quick picture:

As you can see, we were busy!  The ice cream cones count by 10, the gumball machines (adorable!) have 100 gumballs, we colored in a 100’s chart and found the Cat in the Hat, and we decorated our “We Are 100 Days Smarter!” sign.  And that’s just what is hanging on the wall…We also made crowns, made books, made a necklace out of 100 fruit loops, did 100 jumping jacks, had an ice cream sundae party…oh the list goes on!  What a day!

What have you all been up to?

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