October 13, 2014

pumpkin and ricotta stuffed shells | for one.

 it's pumpkin season and they can be found just about everywhere. so i couldn't resist to get some hokkaido pumpkins at the farmers market the other day. i had no idea what to cook with them but i was sure i will find something to go with pumpkin in my pantry. and so i did. my mom and dad gave me some conchiglioni pasta a while ago. i wanted to make some ricotta stuffed shells with these for ages but never got to it. so why not mix some pumpkin puree into that ricotta filling? i got to say it was really really good. it's for sure that i am going to make these again soon - i still have some conchiglioni left. i might even treat my family with some. they are perfect to prepare ahead and have them waiting in the fridge for a stress free dinner party. then you just pop them in the oven and 20 minutes later your guests can enjoy freshly baked stuffed shells. sounds good, right?

pumpkin & ricotta stuffed shells 

serves 1

4 conchiglioni [large pasta shells]
1/2 cup tomato sauce [i used my homemade one]
2 heaping tbsp ricotta cheese
2 heaping tbsp pumpkin puree*
2 + 2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan [grana padamo or parmigiano reggiano]
1 small egg
1 tsp minced parsley [+extra for garnish]
salt & pepper to taste

in a small pot bring water to a boil, add a hefty pinch of salt and cook pasta to just about al dente. [about a minute or two less then the directions on packaging suggests]. make sure they don't stick together while cooking. drain pasta and rinse with cold water. place them on a greased plate and set them aside.

preheat oven to 435°F | 225°C. grease a mini casserole. pour tomato sauce into casserole and set aside.

in a small bowl combine ricotta cheese, pumpkin puree, 2 tbsp parmesan, egg and parsley, whisk well until combined. season with salt and pepper. fill pasta shell with pumpkin-ricotta mixture and place in tomato sauce. sprinkle with 2 tbsp grated parmesan.

bake for 10-15 minutes until bubbly and golden. take out of the oven and let sit for about 5 minutes. sprinkle with extra minced parsley and maybe some extra parmesan.

*you know i love to make almost everything from scratch so of course i made my own pumpkin puree by roasting my two pumpkins in the oven. i put the rest in the freezer for later use.

how to roast a pumpkin

preheat oven to 400°F | 200°C. line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

cut pumpkin in half. remove seeds from each half. place cut side down on baking sheet. bake for 35-40 minutes or until soft.

remove from oven and let it cool a little while until you can handle it.

peel off pumpkin skin and discard. cut pumpkin flesh into cubes, throw them into your food processor and puree everything.

use immediately, store in an airtight container in your fridge for a couple days or freeze it until you need it. [i like to freeze mine in small batches of 1/4 to 1/2 of a cup because that's about what i usually need for single servings like soup, risotto, pasta, mini pies.]

now go ahead and make yourself some stuffed shells. they are really that good. trust me.

October 08, 2014

cozy day | wish list.

| created on polyvore |
now that fall is here and it gets chilly outside and rainy too, sometimes i just want to have a cozy day in. days where i just want to relax on the coach with a cozy blanket, a gazillion of pillows, a cup of tea, some yummy snacks, a good book or movie... i am sure you know what i am talking about. sundays are usually prone to be days like that.

here are my essentials for cozy days in.

a cozy blanket
there is no way to be cozy on a cold fall day without a snuggly blanket. the bigger the better. i love that plain grey one. definitely missing one of these in my collection.

a ton of pillows
i love throw pillows. i have a ton of them but there can never be enough. this white and rose gold one... omg, i need that one in my life. and the one with gherkin | london sky line. i need that one too.

a pair of fuzzy socks
there is just nothing better than putting some fuzzy socks on when it is getting chilly outside. warm feet - warm soul.

a mug and a spoon
i am a fan of glass mugs especially for tea. isn't it nice to see the color of your tea in it? ironically i don't own one anymore because i dropped mine last winter. love the shape of that one pictured. of course you need a favorite tea spoon to go with your mug, right?

a cup of yummy tea
i have said that a couple of times before: i love to have a good cup of tea. i wrote about two of my favorite organic tea brands higher living and clipper/cupper a while ago. i still love these and even had the chance to test a couple other flavors than the once i talked about in these posts. a friend of mine got me some in the uk. but recently i discovered another organic tea brand called Løv. another friend of mine made some blackcurrant-peach flavored white tea for me when i was over. it was so good. now i want to try some more of their flavors like the jasmine one pictured, some fruit infusions and of course their earl grey as it is my all time favorite tea ever. and seriously, aren't these metal tins the tea comes in just the cutest? i am a sucker for pretty packaging, you know that. 

a cookie jar full of homemade cookies
in my ideal world there would always be a pretty cookie jar filled with homemade cookies on the counter in my kitchen. so everyone can just grab a little sugary treat whenever they feel like. but to be honest, it is better if there isn't... 
but i can't wait for christmas time as that is the best excuse to always have a full cookie jar of all kinds of different christmas cookies. i wish i had that cookie jar to store them in.

some scented candles
candles and cozy days just go together like peanut butter and jelly. snuggling on the coach with candles burning... yes, please. good scent is one thing, but if they are as pretty as these white and rose gold ones... just perfect. and yes, you got that right, i do have a weakness for rose gold these days. 

a movie, a book or some music
all these three things are essentials for cozy days. all these three things can be enjoyed on an ipad. even with those oh so pretty head phones. oh and i could also facetime or skype with my favorite people all the way across the ocean. so i guess i need to add the ipad to my wish list. and the headphones too. well, not that i do all these things already. just not with a handy dandy ipad. can you tell that i am trying to justify why i need one in my life anyway?! haha.

pretty nail polish
while listening to music, watching a movie or talking to my loved ones and sipping on some tea, there is always a little time to do my nails. sometimes i am too lazy to do so. but it is the best time of the week because it is the only time where there actually is enough time to let them try properly without messing everything up. i am just the queen of trying to do something right after painting my nails and smudging it all over the place. even if i am trying to be extra extra careful. 

oh and i guess it goes without saying... it is a must to stay in PJs all day on cozy days. 


October 06, 2014

baked chicken parmesan | for one.

spaghetti of any kind is one of my all time comfort foods - no matter if it is spaghetti with meatballs, bolognese sauce, alfredo sauce, pesto or just a simple marinara sauce. there is just something about these skinny long noodles... the way you roll them up on the fork... it's just comforting. it's kind of hard to explain.

anyway if you'd ask me how i like my spaghetti best tough, i'd probably tell you "to go with piccata alla milanese or chicken parmesan". my mom used to make piccata alla milanese a lot when i was little and i loved it. then i found out about chicken parmesan and now i can't decide which one i like more. i just have a week spot for cheesy breaded meat i guess.

so when i thought about what to make with this one chicken breast i had in the freezer the other day, the only thing that came to my mind was chicken parmesan. but instead of frying it in a pan with lots and lots of oil to prevent it from sticking to the pan and losing all its cheesy breading, i just spritzed it with a tiny bit of oil and baked it in the oven until it was done and watched some pretty little liars instead of the meat in the pan. haha.

baked chicken parmesan 

serves 1

3 tbsp bread crumbs
1 tbsp freshly grated parmesan
1 small egg
1 small chicken breast*
salt & pepper
a little flour
2 tbsp + extra marinara sauce [i always use my homemade salsa pizzaiola
3 tbsp shredded mozzarella or 2 slices of fresh mozzarella*
1 serving of spaghetti

preheat oven to 400°F | 200°C. slightly grease a small baking dish with oil. 
combine bread crumbs and parmesan on a small plate. whisk egg in a small bowl.
salt and pepper chicken breast and sprinkle it with some flour. now dip chicken breast in egg first, than bread it with the bread crumbs and parmesan mixture. place breaded chicken breast in baking dish, spritz it with a little oil [optional] and bake it for 15-20* minutes. flip it over and top it with 2 tbsp marinara sauce and sprinkle it with shredded mozzarella or place mozzarella slices on top. bake it for another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden brown. 
serve it with spaghetti and some extra marinara sauce.

*chicken breast: i usually by my chicken breast at the farmer's market and they are rather small ones that are perfect for single serving dishes. if i get bigger ones that are too big for one serving, i like to slice them in half horizontally and freeze half of it. this way i can defrost single serving portions.
fresh mozzarella: if i used fresh mozzarella and just need a couple slices of it, i safe the brine it comes with and store it in a little tupperware container in it's brine until the next day so it won't dry out.
baking time: adjust baking time to thickness of your chicken breasts. the thinner, sliced in half chicken needs about 15 minutes in my oven. always make sure it is thoroughly cooked.

what is your favorite spaghetti recipe?

October 02, 2014

oktoberfest inspired food | throwback thursday.

it's the second week of oktoberfest in munich. i haven't been there again this year as i am not a big fan of  big crowds - specially not big drunk crowds. and i am also not a big fan of bear and overpriced food. or does anyone want to pay around €12 for half a hendl (=rotisserie chicken) or over €11 for a brezn with obatzda/obatzter (=pretzel with cheese spread)? i actually don't. but i do love brezn and obatzda so i make it myself whenever i have a craving for it. this way i can safe money and milage, skip the crowds and share it with my beloved crowd at home. so it is a win win win situation. #homemadeforthewin

last year around this time, i posted my recipes for some oktoberfest inspired foods. 
here they are...  just click the pictures to get to the actual recipes.
recipe obatzter/obatzda
recipe brezn
recipe lebkuchenherz
recipe bavarian inspired piza
this pizza actually is nothing that you could get at the oktoberfest or actually anywhere in bavaria. it was just inspired by bavarian food and i thought i include it in this list - just because. 

have a great thursday and if you are in germany, enjoy your holiday tomorrow. 

October 01, 2014

mango ham and gorgonzola pizza | the pizza adventures.

after a loooooong time it is pizza time again. if you read my post on monday, you know that i had half a mango left over from my mango chicken dish. as i didn't have it for breakfast the next morning, i had to find another use for it. i had pizza night planned for dinner so i thought why not put it on my pizza like if i would do with pineapple. kind of like a aloha pizza with a twist. ha ha.

i also had a little gorgonzola cheese left in the fridge so i threw that on my pizza as well. and tada, a new combo was born. i actually like the taste of gorgonzola paired with fruit. it balances out the strong taste of it. so the mango went really well with it.

another thing i changed was that i used spelt flour instead of wheat flour for the pizza dough. it made no noticable different tastewise. i just had some on hand that's why i used it. i do want to try whole wheat or rye next time though.

mango ham and gorgonzola pizza

[makes one 12-inch | 30 cm pizza]

1 batch of basic pizza crust
1/4 cup salsa pizzaiola
60 g buffalo mozzarella
30 g gorgonzola cheese
2 slices ham, cut or ripped into smaller pieces
1/2 mango, cut into cubes
some olive oil

preheat oven to 230°C | 450°F.

brush your pizza pan with a little olive oil and sprinkle it with some flour or prepare a baking sheet with some parchment paper.

press dough into pan and form a little thicker edge, or throw it and spin it and stretch it if you can do that or roll it out and place it in prepared pizza pan or on baking sheet.

spread it with salsa pizzaiola, rip little pieces off of the mozzarella and gorgonzola and sprinkle it all over pizza. place ham and mango chunks on pizza as well. drizzle everything with some olive oil.

bake pizza on the lowest rack in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden.

if you bake your pizza on a pizza stone, roll pizza dough out on a piece of baking parchment and slide it onto the pizza stone with the parchment when stone is preheated. this way your pizza stone will stay clean and won't end up with dirty burned spots.

i know gorgonzola is one of those cheeses you either love or hate. how about you? do you like it? what is your favorite way to eat it? i always add just a little to my mac & cheese as it adds great flavor to it. and i just love it on pizza.

is post is part of my the pizza adventures series. i want to try a new to me pizza topping every week and share it with you.
come join the pizza adventures. let's travel the world - a slice at a time. 

September 29, 2014

mango chicken | for one

in my currently post back in may i talked about how i came up with the mango chicken recipe that was actually supposed to be a copy cat recipe for the panda express orange chicken. but to be honest, i am glad i was out of orange juice that day and happened to use mango juice instead. i also added mango chunks to the sauce and it turned into something even better than the actual dish i was going for. no offence to the original orange chicken here, you know i love it and i am still going to get it if i happen to be in the states. but you also know that i love the homemade version better most of the time as i know what goes into it plus i just enjoy cooking - yes, i am weird like that.

anyway, i don't want to keep this recipe a secret. here is the for one version. but it can be doubled, tripled, quadrupled or even decupled if you are into cooking for big crowds like that.

mango chicken 

[serves 1]

1 small chicken breast
1tbsp + 1tbsp soy sauce
1 small egg*
1tbsp flour
1tbsp + 1/2 tbsp starch
1tsp oil 
oil for frying
1 green onion, cut in thin slices
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
6 tbsp mango juice
1/4 mango, cut in small cubes

cut chicken breast into bite size pieces and mix with 1 tbsp soy sauce.
whisk together egg, flour, 1 tbsp starch and 1 tsp oil until smooth, stir in chicken pieces

heat oil - about 1.5" deep -  in a mini wok* or pan and fry chicken pieces in two or three batches. carefully drop them in one at a time or they will become one big chunk. drain them on a paper towel and set them aside. 

remove all oil but 1 tsp from wok. sauté spring onion slices in oil for a minute [safe some to sprinkle on top later], deglaze with 1 tbsp soy sauce and vinegar, add sugar and let reduce for about 2 minutes. add mango juice and bring back to a boil. whisk 1/2 tbsp starch with 1-2 tbsp water, whisk into sauce and cook and stir until it has thickened. season with salt/sugar/vinegar and/or chinese seasoning to taste.

add mango cubes and fried chicken and let everything heat up again.
sprinkle with spring onions. serve with basmati rice. 

you can skip the the batter and frying part of this recipe for a leaner and quicker dish. just brown the marinated chicken pieces in a pan with a little bit of oil - coconut oil works great here - remove from pan and continue with sautéing your green onion. i love it that way as well and it is done in the time the rice needs to cook.

*if you don't have a small egg, use a medium or large egg, whisk it and use just half of it.
*i have an 8" mini wok similar to this one. it is perfect for cooking for one. 

basmati rice with mango and green onion

[serves 1]

5 tbsp basmati rice
1/4 mango
1 small spring onion
a knob of butter

in a small pot bring 1 cup of water to a boil. add some salt and rice and let simmer for 8 minutes. drain rice and pour it back into pot. add a knob of butter and mix. cover and let it rest for another 5-10 minutes. cut mango into small cubes and spring onion into thin ringlets. mix into rice.

i love the fresh mango and crunchiness of the fresh spring onion in my rice and it goes perfectly with the mango chicken.

so now you have used up 1/2 a mango. but what to do with the rest? what i like to do: either cut it up into chunks and freeze it for a smoothie, keep it in the fridge in an airtight container for my cereal or yogurt the next morning or use it as a pizza topping on pizza friday. i will share what i pair with it in another pizza adventures post soon.

what are your favorite dishes with mango?

September 26, 2014

currently | september.

i guess it is about time for a new blog post after an unplanned extended summer blog break. there has been a lot of things been going on in my offline life that kept me away from this little corner of the internet - good and not so good things. life just happens and life always comes first, no matter what. but here i am again. hope you are still here too. i thought a currently post would be perfect to get back into the blogging game.

currently i am... 

an apple a day from my grandpa's garden. there are some really old apple trees with varieties of apples that are hard to find even at the farmers market. unfortunately my favorite variety is one that can't be stored away like other apple varieties so now is the only time of the year that i can have them so i got to take advantage of that - they also make the perfect apple sauce and the perfect apple pie or apple datschi.
by the way, i am not always eating my apples the healthy way. i recently discovered my love for salted caramel and made a big jar of it. so sometimes i just have to dip my apple slices in some salted caramel. delicious little afternoon treat.  

black current juice spritzer. 1 part juice and 2 parts sparkling water. oh and apple cider too.

checkers and mills [nine men's morris] with my little friend. oh gosh, now his monopoly phase is over, thank goodness. but now he is so into checkers and mills. he wants to play one of these two games every. single. day. over. and. over. and. over. again. even though he just can't beat me. i still know my tricks. ha ha. just kidding on that one. but i am not letting him win on purpose. he also wants to learn how to play chess. but i have to pass on that one. i have no clue how to play and am actually not interested in learning. i don't want to stare at the game board for ages and think about any possible future moves and stuff like that. no thank you. this kid needs new games to play. fun games. ha ha.

breaking bad. i never thought i would ever get into breaking bad as it is just not about anything i will or would ever be interested in. but one night when there was nothing else on on tv they showed a breaking bad marathon and i somehow got hooked. and now i just want to know what happens next and how it will all end. curiosity for the win.

listening to...
the piano guys. i just love piano music. pair it with strings - cello in this case - and some modern tunes and i am hooked. sometimes i forget about my love for piano and strings but now i rediscovered it once and again. can't stop listening.

thinking about...
the couple of days that i spent with two of my besties a couple weeks ago. they sure did my soul good. we don't see each other a lot as we don't live really close to each other. but whenever we meet, we have the best time together ever. it never feels as if we haven't been apart for so long. it always feels like we just met a week ago or something like that. i love these too and it was the perfect time to see them.

the first days of fall. fall is my all time favorite season of the year ever. i just love when the air is crisp in the morning. i love when the leaves are turning into those beautiful shades of yellow, orange and red. i love when pretty clouds are back in the sky. i love when the summer heat is gone [well it never showed up around these parts of the world anyway. summer weather was playing tricks on us this year and decided to now show up at all. i didn't mind too much as i am not loving the heat anyway. but i felt bad for all the kids during summer vacation as there were not too many days that where warm enough for pool days.] i love when i can pull my cardigans, scarfs and chucks out of my closet again. oh and it is pumpkin season - pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie, pumpkin-apple jam, pumpkin risotto, pumpkin tarte flambée... yum. yum. yum.  

that my leg will be fine again soon. i fell down the stairs the other day and hit my shin on one of the stairs pretty badly. my shin got scraped and it swell up instantly. then turned into all shades of blue. it hurt for days. the bruise turned into all colors of the rainbow and moved down my leg and kind of around my leg as well. it looked hideous. now it is still a little swollen and hard which they said it might stay for weeks if not months as it is only skin and bones there. oh and the scrape might turn into a scar. but well, at least i didn't break my leg, right?

that everything will turn out to be fine. 

this post and being happy that i am back here in my little universe. 

ps: thanks danielle for the inspiration to these currently posts.  

picture - death to the stock photo