Halloween preparations on Megan’s Island {2015}

2013-10-31-Halloween1

Man, this baby vacation is flying by and I’m not doing nearly the amount of fun festive crafting and blogging that I had hoped I would be! I had grand plans of decking the house (and the kid) out for Halloween, but I’m nowhere close. Alas, he’s worth it — and I followed through on decking him out!

Michael & Beary Goldberg: best friends!

Michael & Beary Goldberg: best friends!

BOO! It's Michael!

BOO! It’s Michael!

First things first, I found a bottle of wine for Halloween: the 2013 Dearly Beloved Forever Red. There are many bottles out there and this one matches Michael’s skeleton costume the best, so I had to have it. Plus the price was right at under $10.

Skeleton baby & skeleton head wine!

Skeleton baby & skeleton head wine!

I’ve seen lots of Halloween-y wines at QFC and Trader Joe’s, and here are some wine-specific candy pairing ideas I found this year. If wine isn’t your thing, VinePair had some great Halloween Candy/alcohol pairings last year. Read my post here.

For a festive dinner, I’ve been scouring Pinterest during middle-of-the-night feedings and have settled on a “scary” lasagna. I opted for this “Cheesy Brussels sprout lasagna” with a scary face topping. I’m hoping it looks like this, but without the red sauce:

Scary lasagna!

Scary lasagna!

Last year we made a zombie meatloaf (this is awesome, delicious, gluten-free, and quick and easy, if you need an idea!).

Turkey meatloaf zombie

In 2013, we made squid ink pasta with “brain” sauce.

Spooky Halloween Pasta | Megan's Island Blog

For more Halloween ideas, check out my Pinterest “Halloween Inspirations” board. So many great ideas that you could even do on short notice for this year!

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DIY clay animal busts

A few months ago I received a large rhino head by accident from Zulily. (It was supposed to be pair of raven bookends for my Dad’s birthday…)

Maddie isn't sure what to do with this surprise delivery

Maddie isn’t sure what to do with this surprise delivery

Of course I wanted to spray paint the head white and the horn gold and hang it in the nursery, but Brandon put the kibosh on it pretty quickly. (He likes the natural coloring of the rhino.) I’ve kept my eyes peeled for an additional rhino or other animal busts on my trips to Marshall’s and HomeGoods, but never found anything that I had to have.

I spend a lot of time on Pinterest and Etsy and stumbled across several great items, but they were all more than I wanted to spend, so I decided to make my own!

I looked everywhere for Crayola Model Magic, which apparently doesn’t exist anymore. So, after intense staffmember consultation and debate, I landed on DAS modeling clay from the University Bookstore. I also bought several unfinished plaques from JoAnn’s (similar to this one, the in-store selection is hit or miss and I lucked out).

The sculpting reminded me of my childhood and high school art classes and I really enjoyed it. Some of the ideas came from my head, while some came from the internet. I sculpted the busts around foil balls (so they were lighter when hung) and followed the instructions and let them air dry for several weeks. (Mainly out of laziness.)

Once they were dry I spray painted them a glossy white and Brandon used leftover stain to make the plaques a uniform color. I used ample hot glue to adhere the busts to the plaques– and voila! they were beautiful! I originally tried to adhere them with super glue and that didn’t work out. Hot glue was the way to go.

My clay animal busts

My clay animal busts

To finish off the projects, I hot glued a “D” hook on each plaque.

Hanging the busts

Hanging the busts

Here they are in relation to the nursery wall. I’m really pleased with how the nursery turned out. And look at that little two-week old Michael! He’s grown so much since then!

Michael and his friends, showing off his clay animal busts. (Sort of)

Michael and his friends, showing off his clay animal busts. (Sort of)

Happy crafting!

 

 

{Wine Wednesday} Game day wine pairings

WineWednesday

VinePair always has the best wine pairing ideas and infographics! (See Halloween candy, Thanksgiving, and Christmas cookies.)

They scored once again with these football foods and wine pairings. I’m sure these would all be great with beer, but that’s not my thing, so this is especially poignant for me. Especially since I’ll be spending the bulk of my sportsball-watching at home, in front of the TV with my little guy. Don’t nachos and malbec sound delightful right now?!

 

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Happy drinking and go Huskies, Broncos and Seahawks! 

La Spiga’s “Chef’s Table with Gnocchetti 101” class

DyneHave you heard of Dyne? According to them, Dyne is a better way to book and enjoy the dining experience, to discover secret menus, pop-ups, and special offerings at select partners in Seattle. Based on this experience and the offerings I’ve seen, I would have to agree!

Brandon and I had the pleasure of using Dyne to attend a very select class this past June, in the private dining mezzanine (upstairs) at La Spiga Osteria, one of our favorite Seattle spots.

“Chef’s Table with Gnocchetti 101” was limited to 20 people and led by La Spiga owner and chef Sabrina Tinsley. Sabrina walked us through a demonstration-style cooking class on the techniques to master gnocchetti (the soft, delicate pasta cousin of gnocchi) followed by a three-course dinner with optional wine flight. Brandon opted for the wine flight, I opted against it.

For $48 per person (plus $25 extra for the wine flight), this was a deal — and an experience — that we couldn’t pass up!

Our group of Dyners

Our group of Dyners

THE MENU

First Course: Insalata Primavera con Carciofi Croccanti
Spring salad with crispy fried artichokes, spring peas, asparagus, fava, bibb lettuce and pecorino fresco

First Course: Insalata Primavera con Carciofi Croccanti

First Course: Insalata Primavera con Carciofi Croccanti

Second Course: Gnocchetti al Norcina
Gnocchetti pasta with pork sausage, truffle and cream sauce

Second Course: Gnocchetti al Norcina

Second Course: Gnocchetti al Norcina

Third Course: Panna Cotta
Strawberry panna cotta with 30th Anniversary balsamic vinegar

Third Course: Panna Cotta

Third Course: Panna Cotta

Dinner was delicious (as we’ve come to expect from La Spiga) and the best part of the evening was that we got to take recipes for each of the courses home with us! And now I will share the Gnocchetti alla Norcina (ricotta gnocchi with sausage, truffle and cream sauce) recipe with you!

Gnocchetti 101 class at La Spiga

Gnocchetti 101 class at La Spiga

Gnocchetti alla Norcina from La Spiga Osteria
(Ricotta gnocchi with sausage, truffle and cream sauce)
Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs ricotta, drained overnight
  • 1 egg
  • ~1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 2 T truffle flour (optional)
  • 2 c all purpose unbleached flour + extra for dusting
  • 6 pork sausage links
  • Olive oil
  • 3 T truffle butter (optional — available for purchase at La Spiga)
  • 3 c heavy cream
  • Parmigiano Reggiano

Make the gnocchetti

  • Mix together the ricotta, egg, salt, a little fresh ground pepper and the truffle flour, if you’re using it.
  • Add the all purpose flour and blend until smooth. The dough should be a workable consistency and may be sightly sticky. (About 2 minutes)
  • If the dough is too sticky, you may add up to a 1/4 c extra flour, but resist the urge to add any more.
  • Dust your work surface with plenty of flour and roll out the dough in small batches into 1/2″ cylinders with your palm.
  • Cut the cylinders into 1/2″ pieces like the below photo.
  • Dust the pieces with flour and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment, you may freeze at this point, if you’re enjoying them later.

Little gnocchettis

Little gnocchettis

Make the sauce

  • Remove sausage from the casing (Sabrina recommends using sausage WITHOUT fennel– it’s her preference) and saute in a sauce pan with 2 T olive oil. (Sabrina only uses Bono Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which I have only been able to find at La Spiga, not at PFI), lightly salt the sausage to prevent the loss of flavor to the cream.
  • When the sausage has just cooked through, add the optional truffle butter and allow to melt.
  • Add the cream once the butter has melted.
  • Bring the sauce to a boil and remove from heat. Don’t worry about boiling the sauce down or reheating it. It will do this on its own.

The best sauce EVER: sausage, truffle and cream

The best sauce EVER: sausage, truffle and cream

Cook the Gnocchetti

  • Bring salted water to a boil. The water should “taste like the sea”
  • Cook the gnocchetti in small batches. Do not stir.
  • When the gnocchetti rises to the surface, allow it to cook for about one more minute. Skim the finished gnocchetti off of the surface with a slotted spoon and transfer to the sauce pan.
  • Continue to cook all of the gnocchetti in this method.
  • Dress the cooked gnocchetti by folding it into the sauce. Take care not to break up the gnocchetti and serve immediately. (This should only include ~one minute in the pan)
  • Add garnish (microgreens pictured here) and/or Parmigiano Reggiano

Second Course: Gnocchetti al Norcina

Second Course: Gnocchetti al Norcina

AND ENJOY!!! Now I’m hungry and want to go make a batch of this Gnocchetti alla Norcina! Thanks for the recipe, Dyne and La Spiga!