Leaving on a Jet Plane

22 Jun

It has been 17 days since my last blog post – WOW!

I’m dropping by to tell you, dear readers, that the next time you read a new post by me, I will be debuting my brand spankin’ new website! A huge thank you to Melissa from Jelly Design Studio for helping me put the vision in my head on paper…er, blog.

I decided that I am just going to start fresh with a brand new design, site, and content. Yep, a blank slate. I will tell you when my new website is available, but after it comes up, I will no longer be blogging at this page. It has been a fabulous year with Magia e Pasta and blogging consistently has helped me develop and discover what I am truly interested in writing about.

For now, I am getting ready to head to the airport in just a few hours! I am off on a glorious two week vacation – one week catching up with family and friends in Seattle and the next in Hood River, Oregon for Stefano’s brother’s wedding. I absolutely cannot wait to be back in the Pacific Northwest.

Thanks for sticking with me, I promise it will be worth it!

Sending big hugs to all of you and happy summer!!!

Does anyone else absolutely love this song? John Denver’s the best.

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Ch-ch-changes

5 Jun

If you are one of the observant folk who follow me on various social media accounts, you will  notice that some changes have been made to my Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest accounts – chiefly, that the names have been changed from Magia e Pasta to Taste in Translation. After a few weeks of hum-ing and haw-ing, I decided to get my act in gear and start taking the steps towards turning this blog into the vision I have in my head. I am in touch with a website designer and we’re working on all the nitty gritties to turn my grandiose imaginings into a reality! Thank you guys for sticking with me and I cannot wait to reveal the revamped final product to you! Change is not usually something I’m comfortable with, but it’s good for the soul and this has been a good exercise for me.

Bucket Lists and Cronuts

3 Jun

Happy Monday, all! It’s dreary in Washington, but we had a rather nice weekend where I managed to cross a major item off of my bucket list:

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Waffles
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Pancakes
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French toast

Yes indeed, folks – I managed to eat the trifecta of starchy, carb-y breakfasts in one weekend. I call it a major success.

In other starchy, carb-y news, a new breakfast dessert has come to town and it’s brought to you by the Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York City.

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Picture from Dominique Ansel Bakery

The cronut is a cross between a donut and a croissant and is said to be a lighter, flakier version of a cruller. Made from croissant pastry dough, the cronut is then fried and flavored by tossing it in sugar and then filling it with ganache before topping it with icing.

Apparently, the pastry mutation is so popular that the bakery is selling out 20 minutes into their opening sales. Each cronut is $5 and there is a 6 cronut limit for each customer. The pastries are so popular that New Yorkers have started scalping cronuts on Craigslist. Yes, that is a fact, see for yourself.

I am of the opinion that the croissant, when made well, is a thing of beauty and does not need to be butchered by being deep fried and then covered in a sugar bomb. Also, the name always reminds me of Cro-Magnons, which leads to me imagine lumbering, Neanderthal-esque beasts chomping on pseudo-pastries.

What are your thoughts on the craze?

No Bake Granola Bars

31 May

In addition to cleaning out the refrigerator before our trip to Boston, I set about making some healthy snacks to munch on during the 8-hour trip north. Obvious choices included vegetables and fruits (and the leftover quiche), but I wanted something a bit more interesting and, let’s be honest, I needed something sweet.

IMG_2659[1]I’m trying this new thing where I actually use the foodstuffs in my pantry and freezer, as opposed to just stock-piling them like I’m preparing for an apocalypse. My eyes flitted from the almonds to the raisins, oats, and (oh, yes!) chocolate chips when I realized I had a good idea going.

IMG_2644[1]I sealed the deal when I spotted some leftover shredded coconut from I don’t know when and decided to make an ‘everything and the kitchen sink’ version of granola bars. To make it even easier (because granola bars are so difficult), I made them no bake so all I had to do was pop them in the fridge after mixing everything together.

IMG_2645[1]The beauty of homemade granola bars is that you can customize them exactly how you like them. It’s so much better than standing at the grocery store and thinking to yourself, “those would be so good if only they didn’t have (blank)” or “I would buy those in a heartbeat if they only included (blank)”. In the land of individuality and customizing things for each consumer (because we’re all special little snowflakes), the granola bar is one of the best ways to express your epicurean individuality.

IMG_2646[1]The verdict on these babies? So ridiculously good, I couldn’t even stop eating them if I tried (and I didn’t really try, to be honest).

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I’ve posted the recipe for this particular granola bar because I think it is super duper scrumptious, but I think that as long as you’ve got the oats as a foundation and the honey as a sweetener and adhesive, you can let your imagination run totally wild and throw in whatever strikes your fancy (read: whatever you have in your cupboard and need to use before it goes bad).

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No Bake Granola Bars

Makes 10 granola bars

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups old-fashioned/rolled oats
  • 2 oz. almonds, chopped (about 25 almonds)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 Tablespooons chia seeds ( these also act as a good adhesive!)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (in liquid form – just stick it in the microwave for 10 seconds if it’s solid)
  • 1/4-1/3 cup honey (depending on how sweet you’d like them – if you’re adding chocolate chips, I’d lean towards the 1/4 cup end)
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter (heated so you can drizzle it in)

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Directions:

  1. Mix oats, chopped almonds, raisins, coconut, and chia seeds in a large bowl until well combined. Note: If you want the chocolate chips to be solid, add them in last, after the coconut oil and peanut butter have cooled so they don’t melt. If you mix them while the liquids are hot, the chocolate chips will melt so the whole bar will have a hint of chocolate.
  2. Add coconut oil, honey, and peanut butter until the mixture holds together (if you can form it into a ball and it stays, the mixture is ready). If you are waiting to add the chocolate chips, do so now when the mixture is cool.
  3. In an 8×8″ square pan lined with wax paper, press the mixture into the pan so it covers the bottom and the top is level.
  4. Chill in the refrigerator for one hour (the coconut oil will solidify and the peanut butter and honey will thicken up so they will hold together quite nicely).
  5. When ready to serve, cut into 10 servings and dig in. It is best to keep these in the refrigerator until you’re ready to eat them, but they warm up to room temperature quickly.

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Secret Ingredient All-Purpose Crust

29 May

The night before we were set to leave for Boston, Stef and I needed to do a bit of fridge clean-out. Namely, he had a lot of veggies that he had yet to use and we were desperate to find a way to use a whole bag of spinach, a container of mushrooms, and a nearly-full carton of eggs.

IMG_2666[1]What started out as frittata quickly morphed into something a bit more adventurous. I was desperate for the crisp crust (read: carbs) of a quiche and had just enough time to prepare it while Stef was out on his run.

IMG_2667[1]Much to my chagrin, there was no butter to be found in the bachelor pad that he calls home. I was ready to resign myself to a crust-less quiche, when the stubborn, bull-headed Sara made an appearance. Normally she only rears her ugly head when giving someone the silent treatment or doing something just because a person said “I bet you can’t…”,  it is thanks to this annoying determination that I can present a quiche the crust firmly on.

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The secret to this crisp crust does not rely on butter nor shortening for its flakiness, but uses olive oil to get an all-purpose crust that can be used for virtually anything that requires a crust.

IMG_2669[1]My view towards olive oil is similar to the way the father in My Big Fat Greek Wedding sees Windex: it is the cure for everything and there is no situation where olive oil cannot be used. It is with this mindset that this no-butter quiche was born. It won’t replace the delicious buttery flavor of a normal crust recipe, but it’s perfect for vegans or when there’s no butter to be found.

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“Secret Ingredient” All-Purpose Crust

Makes 1 crust for 9″ pie pan, easily doubled

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (a gluten-free flour like spelt could easily be substituted)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 ice water (the colder the better!)

Directions

  1. Mix flour and salt in bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat oil and ice water water with whisk or fork. The idea is that using ice water will thicken the olive oil to achieve a similar consistency to butter or similar shortenings.
  3. Pour olive oil mixture into flour and mix with fork until dough forms.
  4. Roll out to desired thickness and press into 9″ pie pan.
  5. Fill and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until done.

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