She smiled a few extra taps on the keypad of her phone
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“A night to remember filed away in my ..
As I leaned in closer, I could see our picture was one of many.
“Every time I do something that makes me happy, I write myself a note, or take a picture, and put it in the jar. Whenever I need a pick-me-up, I shake it and remember something that once made me smile
You should do it too.”
Never one to disappoint, I'm on a mission to fill my electronic jar. True confessions? It's been pretty fun.
A few of the moments I've captured
Long afternoon walks with my husband (who knows of great coffee shops along our journeys)
Hot yoga class
Lunch with a girlfriend
The heavy winter comforter replaced with a lighter blanket on our bed
A postcard in our mailbox, all the way from Israel! A country at the top of my list for places I'd love to visit (ps: thank-you!!)
A newly discovered Pandora station – Zaz
April's Spaghetti Saturday (coming up in just a few days)
In the short time I've had it, I've found myself far more aware of the moments make me happy. At the same time, I'm giving myself permission to take time and enjoy more of them as well.
With a new 8-week Challenge set to begin, I can't help but think about some of the people I've coached along the way — those (especially woman) who have such difficulty carving out time for things that bring them joy.
Are there any of us that can't relate? With busy lives, un-plugging often feels like self-indulgence, a luxury best put off for another day. The reality? Something entirely different, taking time for ourselves, equating to acts of self-love and self-care instead
As I look back to the darker seasons of my life, the times when pleasure was at it's lowest, and my hips were always at their biggest.
I hadn't given up on happiness. When it proved elusive, I simply sought it out in other ways. For me, it was food and sugar always my drug of choice. For other people, it may be alcohol, shopping, or any of the hundreds of other ways we self medicate
Certainly, they'll all do the job, for the moment
I'll ask someone I'm coaching to make a list of things they like doing and pass along a few of mine to rob from if needed. (I'm always surprised by how many don't cost much money)
Making breakfast for my husband
Buying flowers for the kitchen
Reading a good book
Calling my mom to chat
An afternoon at the library leisurely reading magazines
I want them to keep their list at the ready, choosing one or two that can act as a replacement when they're blue, instead of reaching for that one thing that they've always counted on to get them through.
Admittedly, I always have my list close at hand. Though I wonder now, how often I'll be looking for sweet moments of inspiration from my new app instead.
(I'm excited to see how many moments I'll have collected after an entire year)
This week, the first attempt at gnocchi, with results that were more than worth the effort. My goodness, they're absolutely wonderful! Far better than traditional potato-based, which I've always found to be on the heavy side, and lacking in flavor
A note about gnocchi from Thomas Keller
“Parisienne gnocchi are tasty, satisfying morsels that, like Italian gnocchi or any pasta, can be paired with all kinds of ingredients and transformed into countless dishes. They're excellent simply sautéed in butter. They can also be flavored with fine herbs, mustard, and cheese. At Bouchon, we don't serve much pasta or rice, so we use gnocchi as an interesting base for a number of our vegetarian dishes. They're not a classic bistro food, but the technique is a French one, dating back to before Escoffier.”
If you've looked ahead to the recipe and think they look time-consuming to make. You're right. The good news is, the recipe makes a lot, and they freeze well. By now, I've experimented with a couple of batches, and have a few thoughts to share
Make sure all of your ingredients are measured and ready to go before you start, you'll be glad you did.
The piping process. The first time around, I used it. The second time, I didn't. (The original instructions are included below, so you can play with the process and see what works best for you)
Instead, letting the dough rest in the mixing bowl for a half hour or so. While it was resting, I lightly greased a piece of parchment paper and placed it on a baking sheet. When the dough was ready, I scooped a small amount of dough (~ 1 inch in size) pinched the piece in half, and placed each of them on the baking sheet.
While scooping and cutting the dough, a 6-quart sized pot of lightly salted water came to a simmer on the stovetop (just until bubbles began to break). To the simmering water, I added 25-30 gnocchi at a time. They sunk right away, although after a minute or two, floated to the top. From the time the last of them appeared on the surface, I gave them another 2 minutes or so to poach before scooping them out onto a separate, paper-towel-lined baking sheet
They were truly irresistible on their own. A few of the other ways we've eaten them, as crackers (if you will), in tomato soup, or browned and tossed with fresh pesto. The recipe essentially a blank canvas for herb and cheese combinations.
For our dinner this evening, something a little heartier was in order. We loved the combination of anchovy, sausage, peas, and kale.
Modifications can be made, of course, depending on your dietary restrictions. I used a gluten-free flour mix and tested a partial batch without the cheese. Both were great
ps: To download a copy of HappiJar from iTunes
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~ Herb Gnocchi adapted from The Bouchon Cookbook by Thomas Keller
Kale, Sausage and Herb Gnocchi
- Herbed Gnocchi
- The recipe makes a lot - about 240! It can easily be halved
- 1 ½ cups water
- 12 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 cup flour (The original called for all-purpose. I've used both King Arthur's gluten-free blend as well as oat flour, both with success)
- 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp chopped chervil
- 2 Tbsp fresh chives, chopped fine
- 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped fine
- 2 Tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped fine
- (A note about the herbs. Make sure all the herbs are finely minced. It will help when making clean cuts to the gnocchi later on)
- 1 cup shredded Emmental cheese
- 5 - 6 large eggs
- Kale Herb Gnocchi
- ¼ of the herb gnocchi above
- 1 Tbsp clarified butter
- 1 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 fillet of anchovy
- 10 - 12 oz ground pork
- 4 medium-sized shallots, finely sliced
- ½ cup dried shiitake mushrooms
- 5 Tbsp very hot water
- 4 big handfuls kale leaves
- ½ cup peas, fresh or frozen
- ⅓ cup chicken stock
- ½ cup grated Parmigiano cheese + more to serve
- 1 ½ Tbsp Greek yogurt (the original calls for crème fraîche, or sour cream)
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Herb Gnocchi
- Have all the ingredients ready before you begin cooking. Set up a heavy-duty mixer with the paddle attachment.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and another with paper towels
- Make the Gnocchi
- Combine the water, butter, and 1 tsp sea salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium-high heat.
- Reduce the heat slightly to medium
- Add the flour, stirring rapidly with a wooden spoon, until the dough has pulled away from the sides of the pan, and the bottom of the pan is clean, without dough sticking to it (The dough should be appear glossy and smooth, but still moist)
- At this point of the process, we'd like enough moisture to evaporate from the dough it will more easily absorb fat once the eggs are added.
- Continue to stir for about 5 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary to prevent the dough from coloring. (A thin coating will form on the bottom and sides of the pan)
- You'll know enough moisture has evaporated, when steam begins to rise from the dough, and the aroma of cooked flour becomes noticeable.
- Transfer the dough to the bowl of the stand mixer. Add the mustard, herbs, and the 1 Tbsp of salt. Combine. Add the cheese
- With the mixer set to the lowest speed, add 3 eggs, one at a time, beating until each egg has been fully incorporated before adding the next.
- Increase the mixer's speed to medium and add another 2 eggs, one at a time. Again, mixing well after each one.
- Turn off the machine. Lift some of the dough onto a wooden spoon, then turn the spoon and allow it to run off.
- (The dough should move down the spatula very slowly; if it doesn't move at all or is very dry and just falls off in a clump, beat in the additional egg. See notes above, related to the piping process
- Place the dough in a large pastry bag fitted with a 5/8" plain tip and let it rest for about 30 minutes at room temperature. (If you have only a small pastry bag, fill it with half the dough two times.)
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a simmer.
- Because this recipe makes such a large quantity of gnocchi, your arm may get tired(!)
- An easy way to pipe the gnocchi is to place a large inverted pot, canister, or other container that is slightly higher than the pot on the right side of the pot (left side if you are left-handed) and set the filled pastry bag on it so that the tip extends over the side and the container serves as a resting place for the bag.
- Twist the end of the pastry bag to push the dough into the tip. (From time to time, as the bag empties, you'll need to twist the end again.)
- As you squeeze the back of the bag with your right hand, hold a small knife in your left hand and cut off 1-inch lengths of dough, allowing the gnocchi to drop into the pot. Pipe about 24 gnocchi per batch.
- Keep the water temperature hot, but not boiling. At first, the gnocchi will sink to the bottom of the pot. Once they've floated to the top, poach them for another 1 to 2 minutes, before removing them with a slotted spoon.
- Allow them to drain the paper towel–lined baking sheet.
- Taste one to test the timing; it may still seem slightly undercooked in the center, but that's ok, as it will be cooked again.
- Repeat with the remaining dough.
- When all the gnocchi have drained, place them in a single layer on the parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to a day.
- To freeze for longer storage, place the baking sheet in the freezer.
- Once the gnocchi have frozen solid, remove them from the baking sheet and transfer them to a freezer bag before returning them to the freezer.
- Before using the frozen gnocchi, spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet and defrost in the refrigerator for several hours.
- Kale and Herb Gnocchi
- Rinse the dried shiitake mushrooms and place them in a small bow, along with 5 tbsp of very hot water. Allow them to soak for 15 - 20 minutes
- Remove the mushrooms and set them aside, reserving the soaking-water.
- Trim the stems from the kale, and rough chop the leaves
- In a large skillet over medium heat, add the clarified butter. Once it's melted, add the gnocchi, pan-toasting them until they've browned on both sides. Transfer to a plate.
- To the same skillet, add 1 Tbsp olive oil, along with the anchovy fillet, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until it melts into the oil.
- Add the ground pork, again, breaking it up with a wooden spoon and cook until evenly browned. Add the shallots and mushrooms, season with sea salt and ground black pepper. Continue to cook until the shallots have softened
- Add the chopped kale leaves, and cook until they're slightly wilted.
- Add the peas, reserved mushroom water and chicken stock, scraping the bottom of the skillet for any brown bits that happen to be stuck on it.
- Add the grated Parmigiano cheese and Greek yogurt, allowing them to melt into the sauce
- Taste and re-season again.
- Add the pan-toasted gnocchi and toss to combine.
- Cook over high heat for a few more seconds to reduce and thicken the sauce, if needed.
- Serve immediately with more grated Parmigiano cheese.