On Christmas Eve, my brothers and I crowd around our granite kitchen counter at home in New Jersey and make pasta. (They weren’t going to do it this year, but thank goodness I was there to make sure it happened.) My mom learned how to make pasta from my Italian Great Grandmother Alma Pinciotti and my mom taught us three. Family, food, tradition, holiday. All the right ingredients to do something great here.
Pasta from the store just isn’t the same as homemade. When you make it yourself, you can taste both the rough and delicate work you put into making it. It’s so fresh that it melts in your mouth. It’s tastes special and it’s one of my favorite things to eat. Even better with my brother’s tomato sauce that’s been simmering all day long. So, let’s make some pasta.
Now wasn’t that fun? Now aren’t you hungry? Thanks to my brothers for indulging in my documenting of this process. Those are my older brother’s hands you see in these pictures. Kneading is a workout. I am lucky to have strong co-chefs. If you couldn’t figure it out from the photos, here’s a basic recipe.
- 4 cups all purpose flour + extra flour for hands and surfaces
- 5 eggs
- pinch of salt
Make a well in a mound of your flour on a countertop or cutting board. Crack eggs into well. Sprinkle with salt. With a fork, begin whisking the eggs and slowly incorporating the flour into the wet mixture. Form into two balls. (add a little water if you need to to help it form). Keep your hands and surfaces dusted with flour at all times. Knead balls for 5-10 mintes. Cut balls into 6 parts. Roll to the size of a pancake and bring to the pasta machine. Roll out the dough at a #2 setting. Then twice more through the machine at #4 or #5 settings. When dough is the right size for you, roll up the long pieces into logs. Slice with a knife. Unroll each piece. Boil water. Cook for 3 minutes. Toss with your favorite sauce or just butter, olive oil, and parm.
Life has been moving way too fast recently. I’m still shocked it’s November. I’m trying to fit in so much in so little time. And all I really want is a night on my couch with a home cooked meal and for life to slow down just a bit. Living in what I’ve called “Nikki Mouse Club House” I’ve been avoiding cooking at home, so that hopefully the mice will stay out of my kitchen. So I’ve been eating out A LOT. I’ve had some great meals, so I’m not complaining, but I’m yearning for something smaller, something cheaper, and something made with my own hands.
A few weeks ago, I broke my no-baking rule and meticulously made these peanut butter chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. (I couldn’t let any crumbs fall on the floor!) While these are by no means a real meal, they totally hit the spot for something homemade…complete with that warm and fuzzy feeling. These crisp, delicate yet rich cookies just taste like home. Comfortable Familiar. And that’s exactly what I was going for. It’s a lovely little feeling that does so much for your soul. (Which you can prolong for a while because you can just keep eating and eating these.)
Ok, so take some time to make these, grab a few, a glass of milk, your softest blanket, and curl up for some quality couch time. Trust me, you deserve it.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart – makes about 6 dozen
- 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium bowl, stir together oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- Beat sugars, butter, and peanut butter in the bowl of an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Mix in eggs and vanilla.
- On low speed, slowly incorporate the oats mixture just until combined. Mix in chocolate chips.
- Using a 1 inch ice cream scoop, drop balls of cookie dough 2 inches apart on parchment paper lined (or sprayed with non stick spray) baking sheets.
- Bake 13-15 minutes (rotating the pans half way through) until golden brown and set. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
Also, why don’t I bake with oats more often? They add so much to a cookie and provide instant feels-like-home warmth in my belly. Like these oatmeal cream pies…perfection.