Monthly Archives: September 2011

Yukon Gold Gnocchi

Want to hear a funny story?

This is not sweet potato gnocchi.

This is Yukon Gold gnocchi, which is really delicious but requires a few tweaks when you’re planning on making gnocchi of the sweet potato variety. Let me backtrack a little first…

When I was at the grocery store the other day, I picked up two — what I thought were — sweet potatoes. They were under the “sweet potato” sign, but I was kind of suspicious of how light and waxy the skin was. But, I threw ’em in my cart and didn’t think much more of it.

A few days later, I was inspired by Kath’s recipe for sweet potato gnocchi and decided it would be a perfect use for my potatoes, considering I already had the rest of the ingredients.

It wasn’t until I cooked the potatoes and cut them open that nope… These were definitely not sweet potatoes. They were actually Yukon Gold potatoes. By that time, though, I was already so pumped up about the idea of making gnocchi that I decided to wing it.

Yukon Gold Gnocchi

Adapted from Sweet Potato Gnocchi.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 3/4 t sea salt
  • 1 t rosemary, divided
  • 1 t thyme, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 C whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 T butter
  • Pepper, to taste

Directions:

  • Scrub potatoes and pierce 10 or so times with a fork. Wrap in paper towels and microwave for four minutes. Flip potatoes and cook for four more minutes. Allow to cool in microwave for 1-2 minutes. Cut open and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.
  • Once the potatoes are cooled, peel and discard skin.
  • In a large bowl, combine potato flesh, salt, 1/4 t rosemary, 1/4 t thyme and egg. Mix everything together. Add in one cup of the flour and combine. Knead in addition 1/2 C flour until dough can be formed into a tight ball.
  • Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface. Cut dough into four segments. Taking one segment at a time, roll the dough out until it is about as thick as your finger. Use more flour as necessary to keep dough from breaking.
  • Cut dough into ~1 in. sections. Repeat with remaining segments of dough.
  • Bring a large pot (3-4 qts.) of water to a boil. Drop 1/4 of the cut dough into the water and allow to boil for 3-5 minutes until the dough rises to the top.

  • Remove dough from the pot of boiling water with a slotted spoon. Immediately place in an ice bath for 1-2 minutes. Remove from ice bath and spread out on a baking sheet. Repeat process with the rest of the dough.
  • When all the gnocchi is boiled, heat a large saucepan to medium-high heat. Add in butter until it melted, bubbles and is fragrant. Add in 3/4 rosemary and 3/4 thyme.

  • Add in the gnocchi (don’t overcrowd the pan, only add in as much as fits at a time). Toss gnocchi with the butter, rosemary and thyme. Cook until a little toasty crust forms on both sides.
  • Serve on a plate with more salt and pepper, as needed.

For winging the seasoning, this turned out incredibly! I especially loved the crusty exteriors…

Before this, I’ve only had gnocchi in restaurants, which made me think it was some fancy/complex dish to make. In truth, it’s not that tough! There are a few stages, but it’s pretty easy — plus it’s really cheap!

Gnocchi will definitely be making an appearance at our dinner table again… The question just is whether it will be sweet potato of Yukon Gold again.

Questions: Have you ever had gnocchi? Are there any restaurant dishes that you used to think were really difficult to make but later realized were easy?


Getting married young: Rebelling against society?

I recently received a question by a reader asking why Dan and I decided to get married young, especially considering that we aren’t done with school yet.

To answer that question, there is a short answer: Love.

But, there was a lot more that went into our decision. So, here’s the long story…

Dan is 21, which made him five years younger than the median age at first marriage for men in the state of Kansas and seven years younger than the national median. I am 20, which made me five years younger than the median age at first marriage for women in the state of Kansas and six years younger than the national median. Basically, we got married at significantly younger ages than most people.

Apparently, Dan and I also got married at younger ages than most people think other people should get married.

I know this because common responses to our engagement announcement included: Why don’t you finish school first? Why don’t you start a career first? Why don’t you do fill-in-the-blank first?

I also got all the statistics about how getting married young leads to divorce. But, it’s important to consider the source… In reality, getting married at age 16 or 17 is more likely to lead to divorce. However, according to research by the University of Texas and Penn State University, marriages that begin after age 20 are not nearly as likely to end in divorce as is widely believed.

And — brace yourself — there are even benefits to getting married young.

In an opinion piece for the Washington Post, author Mark Regnerus put it pretty well when he said, “We learn marriage, just as we learn language, and to the teachable, some lessons just come easier earlier in life.”

Because Dan and I are young, neither of us have very firmly set habits and routines. For example, I don’t pitch crazy fits if he puts the mugs in the wrong cabinet and he doesn’t freak out if I fold t-shirts wrong. We are growing and learning together.

In terms of maturity, I believe the adage that “age is more than a number.” There are some 35-year-olds who would be ill-equipped for marriage. We just happen to be 20- and 21-year-olds who are willing to take on the challenge that is marriage.

Not to say that we are better or worse than anyone, we just know ourselves and we have had the chance to be individuals.

Additionally, we’ve been through a lot together and we know what we want out of the future. We also know we don’t want the “freedom” to explore other relationships. We’ve been there already and it’s not half as good as what we have going on.

However, I actually think that author Bella DePaulo, who writes about the science of being single, is right in one aspect: “Most single people are already happy, and getting married typically does not change that.”

Dan and I were happy on our own. We are even happier together. Most importantly, we love making each other happy.

As for the fact that we are both in school, we perceive that as a benefit right now. We are on the same page in terms of going to school, having homework and cheering for the teams. If we had waited for me to graduate next year, he would still be in school working on his pharmacy degree. I would also be transitioning to a job, which would add another layer of stress.

Naturally, the downside is that we don’t have piles of money, but we do have the self-discipline and the ability to make it through.

Personally, I think many people have a large stigma against getting married young for reasons they cannot even identify. Maybe they think it’s important to make a statement against the MRS degree. Maybe they’ve seen marriages end in divorce and are just scared. Maybe they are waiting for some brilliant epiphany to come along later and tell them “the time is right.”

To be completely honest, I’ve been there. I used to subconsciously judge people who got married young and I probably would have judged the version of me that I now see.

But, when Dan and I talked about getting married, none of these things were important. All that mattered was — and will always be — that I get to spend my life with Dan.

From my point of view, getting married young just means more years of love.

Question: What do you think?


Worth Talking About Wednesday, 9/28

Sometimes Wednesdays come around so quickly that I barely know what to write about. This Wednesday, though, I almost have too much to say.

But, since when have I let that stop me?

Home-Brewed Coffee

You might wonder, “Why are we just now hearing about coffee machine?”

The answer might surprise you… We’ve just always used instant coffee. I know, I know. It’s not nearly as good as freshly brewed coffee.

Part of the reason why I never had a coffee machine before is because I don’t want it to feed my addiction. But, the pros outweigh the cons in this case.

Just do me a favor and keep me accountable: If you see me drinking five+ cups a day, suggest that I cutback.

Soy Mocha

That’s kind of a funny transition, isn’t it? Once again, I have a reason for posting this.

It used to be that when I felt like “going crazy” with my order at the coffee shop, I would get a simple iced latte. But, the little extra bit of dark chocolate makes this so much more delicious — especially when I get it for half price during my cafe’s happy hour!

It’s also a great weekly treat on Tuesdays, when I have class from 9:30-5.

Michigan for Alexis’ Wedding

Fall break isn’t for another week, but I am incredibly excited for this weekend. That’s because I’m flying out to Michigan for one of my best childhood friend’s weddings!

In this flashback photo she’s the one on the far right…

And, yes. We are apparently suspended in air.

She and her twin sisters drove out to Kansas this summer for my wedding.

(So many new pictures to come!)

Rue Lala

If you haven’t heard of it before, Rue Lala is an incredible web site, which offers daily deals on designer products — and I’m talking deals!

Today I got this leather watch, originally $115, for just $29.

You can only get access to the web site with an invite, but it’s your lucky day: http://www.ruelala.com/invite/emccoy24

Still Discovering New Restaurants in Town

Lawrence is a relatively small city and I’ve made an effort to hit up as many restaurants as possible during my three years in college. That’s why it shocks me that I can still find awesome restaurants, such as La Tropicana, which Dan and I went to with his parents last weekend.

Loved the atmosphere and the food was pretty good, too!

Question: What do you think is worth talking about this week?


National Family Day

Today isn’t National Family Day, A Day To Eat Dinner with Your Children.

That was actually yesterday, but the holiday passed by before I even knew it existed.

That’s just as well, too. Yesterday I ate my dinner in front of a computer while working at The Kansan. Dan ate hot wings with his Dad while his mom was taking classes. Basically, we were all very, very far from a dinner table.

Unfortunately, this is all too common.

Not to criticize my parents at all, but eating dinner together was a rare event. More typically, I got home from some practice, my sister had something else going on, my dad was at work and my mom was taking her first break of the day.

I’ve always hoped to break this trend with my own family.

Right now, we are really pretty successful: More often than not, Dan and I sit down to dinner together and enjoy time without any distractions. However, I know that things will certainly get more complicated down the line.

Nonetheless, it is my goal to have dinner with my family (almost) every night. Not just so they can hear my talk about my day, either. Here’s why…

More than a decade of research by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA Columbia) at Columbia University has consistently found that the more often kids eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use drugs.Family Day

That’s worth taking a little extra time, right?

Questions: Do you sit down to dinner with your family? Did you while growing up?


Shameless self-promotion

Last week was kind of crazy. Between work and work and school and sleep, there wasn’t much time for anything else.

This week is kind of crazy. I have similarly large amounts of work and work and school, which results in a small amount of sleep.

Next weekend is kind of crazy. I’m going to Michigan for a friend’s wedding and plan on doing no work or work, but probably a little bit of school. It’s reality.

I don’t want to keep you all hanging, though on the fascinating things in my life.

Facebook

Do you “like” me on Facebook? If you don’t already, do it now. We’ll have so much fun and talk all the time.

Plus, there are even more pictures of Tracker, so that’s incentive.

In all seriousness, Facebook is an awesome way to comment on posts with even more feedback or responses from other readers. This is something that I strive to create with this blog: More conversation about health topics.

Twitter

I wasted way too much of my life being anti-Twitter. Then, I saw the light. Now, I’m a Twitter addict.

I love Twitter because I can stay up-to-date on my friends’ lives, news events and promotions. Plus, I get to “talk” even more.

Pinterest

If you aren’t already familiar with Pinterest, get familiar. It’s a virtual pin board (pin + interest) that allows you to repost all the pretty and neat things from the Internet.

I like it, because I don’t talk about fashion much on the blog, but get to post about it a lot more on Pinterest. I also get a lot of recipe inspirations from there!

Formspring

Formspring allows anyone to ask me questions while remaining anonymous. I have answers to previous questions posted on my Q&A page.

Remember that although you askers get to stay anonymous, I don’t get to. Be nice!

Comments

I don’t want to be dramatic, but I feel kind of sad when I don’t get any feedback on my post. It’s pathetic, I know. But, I put a lot into most of all of my posts and it means a lot to me to know that you guys get something out of them.

I’ve said it before, but I would seriously continue to write even if no one was reading — but it is a little more rewarding when I know people are.

I also want your feedback as this blog continues to evolve and (I hope) improve!

On that note…

Questions: What forms of social media are you addicted to? What would you like to see on the blog?

 


Living for the day

Did you know that I’m actually pretty decent at golf?

Probably not, because I haven’t gone for the past two summers.

Although time is a factor, the main thing that’s prevented me from playing is that my clubs are back at my parents’ house. Dan and I keep saying that we want to play together and I assure him that I’ll get the clubs when I’m home.

Then, I never end up doing it. I just keep pushing it off and waiting for “the next time.”

But, if I continue to live like that — whether it’s in regard to golfing or anything else — then opportunities will pass me by. And, eventually, there will be no “next time.”

Unfortunately, this realization is partially due to a family health scare that is going on right now. One of my aunts is very sick with a staph infection that has traveled to her lungs. Although no one can every truly be ready for tragedy, I think my family’s had its share for a while.

But, fate isn’t a decision we can make. We have to understand it’s all in God’s hands.

It’s bad to feel helpless in a situation such as this, but the best I can do is come away from it with a bit of perspective… Which leads me back to living every day as if it’s my last.

Rather, in the words of author Wayne Dyer…

“Go for it now. The future is promised to no one.”

Questions: What do you keep putting off? What would you do if it was your last day?


Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

We have a lot of fun in this little house — it is just often at the expense of each other.

Take Tracker for example. Dan and I just thought it was oh-so hilarious to tie her toy elephant around her neck.

She wasn’t as amused.

But, what goes around comes around, as Dan and I also devote a good amount of time to giving each other a hard time. (It’s all in good fun and we never tread into “low-blow” territory. That’s key!)

It’s pretty easy to do, considering we have a lot of good material to work with.

Dan: says “peench” instead of “pinch,” always steals my pillow in the middle of the night and watches the Weather Channel like it’s the most fascinating thing on earth.

Me: drinks out of an admittedly huge coffee mug, occasionally talks with a slight Texas accent (even though I’m from Michigan) and thinks smoothies are appropriate for any meal.

That last one is key, because it gives Dan a ton of opportunities to make fun of me. Basically, whenever I say that I’m hungry, Dan jokingly asks, “Are you going to make a smooz-ee?” And, he does pronounce it like that, just to emphasize the joke.

More often than not, the answer is “yes” — especially when it gives me an excuse to use pumpkin.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or any milk)
  • 1/2 C vanilla yogurt
  • 3-4 ice cubes
  • 1 banana
  • 1 T almond butter
  • ~1/3 C canned pumpkin (not pie filling!)
  • Dash of pumpkin pie spice

Directions:

  • In a blender, combine milk, yogurt, ice cubes and banana. Blend until creamy.
  • Stir contents of the blender. Add almond butter, pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice. Blend until everything is combined, adding more milk if necessary.
  • Serve in a bowl or cup. Add a dash more of pumpkin pie spice, if desired.

Love the fall flavors in this!

The banana is really subtle and just lends a little extra sweetness. The pumpkin pie spice is what really brings it all together — it’s totally a staple on my spice rack.

Dan can laugh all he wants about my love for smooz-ees. He’s just missing out.

Questions: Do you think it’s a good thing to poke fun at your spouse? What goofy things do you or your spouse do?