How to Make Fresh Pasta

On March 3rd I went home for a Pasta Party! My Dad showed my family how to make pasta from scratch. We made spaghetti and ravioli. My Dad’s family is full blooded Italian so both his grandparents and parents learned and taught my Dad how to make fresh pasta. His family always made pasta for traditional holidays.
Over the past few Christmases my Dad received a Kitchen Aid, pasta attachments and he bought a drying rack for the pasta-these are all items his parents & grandparents would have appreciated. When they made pasta, they would roll out the dough by hand, cut it and then hang it on a broom that was placed in between two chairs to dry on. Fast forward to today and all you have to do to make the dough is put the ingredients in the mixing bowl and let the Kitchen Aid do all the work.

Recipe for Dough: 3 cups flour, 4 eggs, a few tablespoons of water and olive oil.

Mix the ingredients in the Kitchen Aid mixing bowl until it forms into dough which will then form itself into a solid piece (you’ll need the KA dough mixing attachment to create the dough), cut into quarters, place the pasta attachment on the Kitchen Aid and push the dough through the machine. You’ll need to do this several times and on a several number settings on the machine until the dough forms into the consistency that you prefer-you’ll need it thin for spaghetti and thicker for ravioli.
Spaghetti: Once you’ve created the right consistency (thinness) for the spaghetti, you can push the dough through the attachment and it will cut the dough into thin strips of pasta. Take the pasta and place it on the drying rack to dry. If you purchase the Kitchen Aid drying rack, it comes with a wand where you can place the middle of the pasta on the wand and bring it over to the rack without having to handle it too much. Once you’re ready to cook, bring water to a boil, the pasta will cook in about two minutes.

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Over a pound of pasta made!

 

We served the spaghetti with what we call “Seafood stuff.” This includes: crab, shrimp, mushrooms, tomatoes (fresh from Dad’s garden-he froze these since the end of summer), lemon, garlic and wine.

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Ravioli: Once you’ve got the right thickness for the ravioli, lay the pasta on a sheet pan, measure where the dough can be cut in half, cut there, then place the ravioli filling on the bottom portion of the dough. You’ll want to strategically place the filling straight across from each other on the pasta so you can cut down the middle and then in between the fillings. Before you cut, place the other portion of the pasta (that you cut in half) on top of the fillings and begin cutting. Once the raviolis are cut, use a fork to push into the edges to make indents in the pasta. Bring water to a boil and cook for five-seven minutes. This depends on the consistency you like.

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Strategically placing the filling on the pasta to make ravioli

 

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These are cut pretty close to perfection! haha.

Recipe for Ravioli Filling-Ricotta, sugar, cinnamon and sausage. Note: We made half of the ravioli with the sausage and the other half without it.

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Ravioli filling

 

All the pasta tastes extremely fresh, soft and you can really taste the ingredients. I promise boxed pasta won’t ever taste the same! What are some of your family traditions? Do you have any family recipes handed down from other generations? Let me know in the comments!

Motivational Monday: The Power of YOU

Before I began blogging I had read a lot of posts from some of my favorite bloggers that said to not compare yourself to other bloggers. They always talked about not worrying about your follower count, content being similar to other bloggers, etc. You have to gain an audience that enjoys your writing style for you and not because something is a hot topic to write about. You have to remember to be happy for your small successes first. And that if you put in the hard work, people will continue to listen to you just because you’re being yourself.
Not comparing yourself to others can be relatable on so many levels of life as it can be easy to make yourself question about the things you’re doing vs. what someone else is doing. This all comes down to recognizing that NO ONE ELSE IS YOU. Only you have your own ideas that you can bring to the table. Your uniqueness is what sets you apart from everyone else. No one else will speak the way you do or speak for you, know the things you know and have learned. If you can be yourself all of the time, it will show no matter what you do in life or what you’re working toward. As long as you can be honest, show authenticity and be yourself, that is what will attract the right people who will stick by you in the long.
Please let me know in the comments how you show people your authentic side. Happy Monday!

Why I Joined Style Collective

Today is International Women’s Day! I’d like to give a shout out to women all around the world!
Since creating my blog, I’ve wanted to become part of a group to interact with other bloggers to gain their perspective and support on blogging. Through Instagram I found the group, Style Collective, run by Annie Spano. Style Collective is a place for boss babe bloggers/entrepreneurs to share their ideas, tips and advice to their fellow SC Sisters. Each week Annie goes on IG Live and covers a topic about blogging. She also has a podcast-The Becoming Fearless Podcast, where she’ll interview other bloggers/entrepreneurs about their advice, authenticity and more. Once I began watching and listening to these each week, I was hooked!

I joined the group late last month (when membership was open, other times there is a waiting list to join) and absolutely love being a member! Style Collective is a wonderful way to meet like-minded people who are interested in blogging. They even have a map of the world that shows where your fellow Style Collective Sisters live so that you can meet up to collaborate or say Hi on social media! Certain parts of the world have Regional leaders who plan meet ups throughout the year-such as: coffee dates, meetings or an event to give to an organization, like donating to charity.
Here’s what I’ve learned since I’ve joined:
-I’ve gained a community of fellow bloggers.
-There are yearly conferences in North Carolina and New York City (bonus, it’s during NY Fashion Week!) that allow you to meet members in person and gain an education on blogging and business.
-When you’re a member there are: forums to participate in, a chat room, blog posts and information about meet ups and educational E-Courses.

So, to all my SC Sisters, bloggers and boss babes around the world, I’d just like to say, Cheers to YOU! Keep pushing through all of your hard work and know that you DO make a difference in your follower’s lives ❤ And to Annie, thank you to you and your team for making the group what it is and being able to share women’s stories. I wish you all much success and happiness in the future ❤

Not a member of SC? Annie announced yesterday that membership is open today only for International Women’s Day! Follow them on IG stylecollective_

The Meals I Eat Weekly

If you saw my last post How to Stick to a Weekly Food Budget you got to see a list of the foods I restock in my fridge. This week, I thought I would share what I eat for breakfast, lunch, a snack and dinner. The meals are simple and can be thrown together/cooked quickly. I try to have at least two-three options of each meal so I’m not always eating the same thing every day. I buy medium-large quantities of items so they last a while and will make each meal different; large pack of frozen berries, eggs and almonds. Having go to meals to eat on a regular basis means you won’t have to think too much about what to eat-just remember to stock up on fresh ingredients at the store each week!

Breakfast: Eggs-sunny side up during the week and on the weekends I add cheese, toast and avocado
Cereal-Topped with berries
Yogurt-Mixed with granola and berries (use one or both)
For the cereal and yogurt I include chia/flax seed mix for good digestive health. Also, I bring a piece of fruit to eat at work in the late morning, usually an orange or banana.

Tip: On Sundays I put frozen strawberries and mixed berries into glass containers and thaw in the fridge to put in my meals during the week.

Snacks: Fruit bars
Veggies and hummus
Smoothie-My smoothies can include a combination of any of the following: Almond milk, strawberries, mixed berries, banana, chia/flax seed, peanut butter, cacao powder, avocado and spinach. Sometimes I make these for breakfast when I’m in a rush to leave for work or am going on a long car ride.

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Just one of the many smoothies I enjoy making during the weekend as a snack or for breakfast

 

Lunch: Sandwich-Multi grain or whole wheat bread, chicken (rotisserie or sandwich meat), cheese, olive oil mayo, spinach and salad dressing (if I don’t have a store bought brand I’ll make my own with olive oil, lemon, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper). I also eat a side of Greek Yogurt-I buy several flavors so I’m not eating the same thing all week.
Salad-Spinach, chicken, almonds, cheese, tomatoes, avocado, chia/flax seeds, seasoning and salad dressing. Salads are very versatile so you could switch up the ingredients weekly by using different greens, meats, cheeses, nuts and dressing or use some of the ingredients one day and all of them the next.

Tip: I put the salad in a long tupperware so I can store a fork and small-round salad dressing container in it.

Leftovers-I’ll bring anything to work that will easily fit into one tupperware dish like soup or whole wheat orzo with chicken.

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Leftover Italian soup from Christmas dinner

 

Dinner: My dinner meals are different each week but my normal routine meal is: Meat, grain & vegetable-even in the form of pizza-because this totally counts! haha.

Store bought meals-Sometimes at the end of the week I like to splurge for something in the ready to eat section of the grocery store or get a wrap with chips. If I know I’m going to do this before grocery shopping, I’ll add the cost of the meal to my weekly budget.
Check out: How to Gain Weekly Food Inspiration for more ways to find dinner recipes.

Tip: Once you have the basics down for a few good recipes that you enjoy cooking, it’s easy to alter them with new ingredients to make the meals taste new.

I’d love to know what meals you eat each week! Leave some meals in the comments below.

Motivational Monday: Live the Life You Want

Every single day you make choices. Whether or not to do the dishes after eating, start and finish laundry in the same day, clean your home in one day or just lay around all day. These little things can often seem like a big chore in our head but in reality if we just get it done, we can spend the rest of the night doing what we want without thinking about getting something done later.
Side note: I’m definitely a culprit of agonizing over chores but in reality my home is small and they don’t take long to do-plus putting on music or a podcast helps motivate me to get things done. Another thing that’s helped is to pick a day for when I’m going to do chores.

Whether or not we do the small things today, we listened to ourselves by doing what we wanted to do today and left the rest for tomorrow. So what about the big choices in life? Do you listen to yourself about what you need for today so that you can feel better tomorrow? The point of this is to not burn yourself out by getting every single small thing done today but by finding balance of the small stuff so that you can focus on the big stuff you actually want to get done vs. what you have to get done (like chores).

I believe that we are living the life we want. When we wake up, we either let the small things take over our lives or we do balance the small stuff with the big things; your dreams.

The big things can be taken in small steps and are just as important to do as the small stuff. So don’t get too caught up always doing small things and remember to take care of yourself ❤

What I’ve Learned in One Month of Blogging

MM-Happiness vs. Passion

I can’t believe it’s already been a month since I’ve launched my blog. I thought I’d share what I did before I started my blog, what I’ve learned and things I’m still working on. If you didn’t do the things I did before I started my blog, you can start now!

Before I began my blog:
I researched A LOT! I searched everything I could think of about blogging on YouTube; what equipment to use, what is SEO, and a bloggers life to name a few. I would watch videos in the mornings before work. I listened to two Podcasts: The Influencer Podcast and The Becoming Fearless Podcast after work while cooking and doing dishes. I watched Live Instagram videos after work and during lunch and I watched free webinars on the weekends and took notes. I did all of this because I wanted to know how others were so successful at blogging and how I can be too.
I tried the WordPress website for free-I used the WordPress domain before purchasing my domain. This was so I could get used to using the site before I launched it to the world. Having a lot of things in place before launching benefited me, so that I could then work on other things the day of launching-like my Facebook page. I had my picture taken, a Welcome page, a background picture and two posts written and published beforehand.

I began an Instagram account two months prior to launching my blog (I heard this tip from more than one influencer in the blogging world). This helped determine if I enjoyed posting pictures every day AND if I liked the public to see what I was posting (prior to this I’ve never had any public accounts).

Things I’ve learned:
I love going to cafés just to get posts written for my blog (and buy a smoothie). I’ve found that I can zone into my work and work quickly (the pressure of getting work done before the café closes helps to work fast, even if I’m there for three hours, I treat it like a countdown). I also love working from home so I can cast YouTube music videos on my TV while writing my blog posts.
The only person who will promote yourself the most is you, so if you publish a post on your blog, promote it to your social channels so they can view it.

Things I’m still working on:
Creating an editorial calendar and sticking to it. I’ve tried to plan with a physical calendar and with an excel spreadsheet. Neither of these have stuck with me, yet. I feel like I need something to see visually every day that is inspiring. I’ve seen the idea of a white out board, does this work for anyone else?

Along with the editorial calendar comes with making sure every post is ready for the week-this is important if you have a very busy personal life or if some weeks are busier than others-planning is key! Use the calendar to plan a month’s worth of blog posts before this I would just determine in my mind what I would write about and then write and schedule it on the weekends.

Managing social channels-For now I have Facebook and Instagram and I’ve heard influencers say to work mainly in the channels you’re interested in. But one of the main reasons I picked WordPress as my blogging platform is to engage with the community, so I also have to be following, commenting and liking posts. I also just joined Style Collective so I have to keep up with those girls too. While this sounds like a lot, I really do love engaging with others in the blogging community. It’s finding the time to properly engage with everyone that I need to balance-I do most of this on my free weekends. Anyone have any free tips on this?
Diving into new social channels can be a little intimidating but I know that I want to try Pintrest because of all the beautiful inspiration!

 

I’d love to read in the comments what you did before you started your blog, what you learned and are still working on.

How to Stick to a Weekly Food Budget

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Grocery shopping is something I have grown to love. It’s something I do each week (possibly more than once a week). I try to focus on buying what I know I’ll want to eat throughout the week and make healthy meals that fit into my budget.
Here are a list of tips I use to stick to my weekly food budget:
• Know exactly how much you can spend each week on food. Try to make a budget that is doable as this will correlate into what you’re spending each month. During the week I sometimes run to the grocery store to grab fresh food instead of cooking I will then subtract the money I spent towards my next grocery run.

• Know your weekly schedule when planning meals. Keep your plans written in a planner to determine nights you’re free vs. busy. On the nights you’re free you’ll have time to cook a meal that will provide left overs for the nights you’re busy. Also, plan when you’re going to eat out so that you don’t have to buy/make any food for dinner that night.

• Know what foods you have in your kitchen. This all comes down to making a list of what you need and what you buy on a regular basis. Before you run out to the grocery store, consult the list of what you normally buy to see if you’re missing anything from your list. When you’re planning a meal you’ll know what ingredients to buy at the store vs. what’s already in your kitchen. Buying 1 or 2 ingredients because you know that’s all you need saves you money over buying what you already have.

 

 

• Shopping around is something I just started doing. Each week I buy from two grocery stores: Wegmans & Trader Joe’s. Each store has different items I buy weekly. Some of the items I buy at Wegmans are water, yogurt, almond milk, eggs, sandwich meat & at Trader Joe’s I buy fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese and frozen meat. In order to stay within my budget I compare costs of items I buy regularly at both stores and buy the items that are inexpensive at that store, this is how I save money and how I keep a low food budget.

• Know what you’re in the mood to eat. If you feel like eating fried rice and orange chicken this week then make sure that’s what you buy, otherwise you won’t feel satisfied eating food you didn’t really want because you kept thinking about eating food you don’t have. Also, if you buy frozen food, like a batch of chicken that you’ll need to cook during the week, make sure you’ll want to cook it. A helpful tip is to cook during a night you’re free and you’ve recognized it will take a certain amount of time to cook. While cooking chicken you can also cook a grain and vegetable with it, and do some dishes while everything cooks!

Do you stick to a weekly food budget? What are some tips you have that help you stay on track of your food budget? Let me know in the comments below or on Instagram or Facebook @stylestomakeyousmile