Growing up, Momma often told me "Life seldom goes as planned-" Now, this may seem like a bleak sentiment for a child, but I've come to learn it doesn't always have to carry a sense of the foreboding. Life is full of surprises, good and bad. It's one of the things that makes life worth living. And, while we are just in the 4th month of 2016, this year has proven an exemplary case.
Naturally, the true value in these unscheduled twists and turns is how we choose to view the circumstances. I'll be the first to admit the cacophony of events that have unraveled this first quarter have had me looking and feeling quite glum. I strive myself on being a very vibrant, positive, person- but even Piglet puts on Eeyore's clothes for a day when the scenery begins to look glum.
For example- when I was rear ended, at a dead stop, and my car was totaled on St. Patrick's Day I was devastated. Everyone I ran into insisted the experience should be positive, "Well, hey, you get to buy a new car!" they'd exclaim with a smile. But my back was a mess, and the insurance wasn't about to give me enough to replace my car with one of equal value, I now had no transportation to go and shop for a car, and there was the fact that my car was my baby- where was I going to find another Purple Turbo PT Cruiser? For weeks I let the negativity stack- January had been black mold, February was the great hard drive crash of 2016, March my car was totaled, and in April my grandfather was hospitalized in a stay he still continues. When will life stop raining on me?
For weeks I was very solemn. I slept strange hours or not at all. I felt no inspiration to create or write. And the lack of transportation had me feeling completely isolated and helpless.
But life seldom goes as planned-
And then I opened my laptop, to sort through the recovered files from my hard-drive back for family photos I could print and send to my father as a sign of support. And I found this folder of recipe shots from February 2nd. A post I had originally planned to share for Tortellini Day (February 13th,) edited and just sitting in a file in a subfolder on an external drive.
I can't claim that I had en epiphany over soup photos, I mean, they are nice photos- but something inside me kicked up that old phrase from my mother. The second half of her advice. "Life seldom goes as planned- the only thing you can control is how you choose to deal with it." Ironically, this goes hand in hand with one of her other favorite phrases- "It is what it is." A phrase I've come to adopt more recently. Sure, I could sit around feeling sorry for myself, or brewing negative thoughts in my head- but the only thing I'm really doing is punishing myself.
So, if you happen to be having a tough day, week, month, or year (like me) maybe Momma's advice can help. After all, you never know when the next very pleasant surprise is just around the corner....
And, without further ado- I present to you the 'Lost' Tortellini post-
In fact, it's something I can confidently say I felt rather secure in saying I never wanted to. I watch plenty of foodie shows, from professional cooking to home cook competitions and I know all to well, much like a soufflé, one tiny error in timing or measurement can be the difference between a hot mess or a hot success.
So, naturally, it was a silly national holiday- Tortellini Day that inspired me to try 2 things I'd never done before- homemade pasta (stuffed pasta at that) AND a homemade minestrone.
Granted, I did cover my entire kitchen counter with flour and egg on my first attempt to 'hand mix' the dough. But, hey, I sure felt authentic pouring that egg into the center of a volcano of flour! Yes, your fingers will get impossibly sticky- keep at it, the mess will turn into a lump of dough. And, with proper kneading, you will actually be able to roll it out by hand.
If you're feeling a bit unsure just make sure to don an apron, and watch an Alton Brown video or two- you'll be rolling out fresh pasta in no time.
A word to the wise- if you let your pasta sit out it will begin to dry and get 'scaly'- it's still edible, but might cook tougher or be hard to fold. To avoid this I cover my pasta dough/cutouts/sheets in a bowl with a damp towel.
Place your filling in the center of your pasta disc leaving about 1/2" from filling to edge. Dip your finger in egg wash and run it along the exposed edge of pasta. Fold your pasta in half to form a semi circle, pressing the seam together, using the egg wash as a binder. Next, pinching the two corners fold the corners in towards each other to form a crescent. Tuch the corners into the very middle- the outer edges should have naturally curled up to form a 'lip'.
Whether you choose to cook your minestrone in a pot or a slow cooker, you'll want to store your tortellini in the fridge until about 5-10 minutes before serving. Since minestrone is a slow simmer soup- I enjoy making this recipe on a lazy afternoon, when I can take my time and really fill my home with amazing smells.
It didn't turn out bad at all, I'd say. And the minestrone made more than enough to share with some family and friends- that's true comfort cooking at it's finest!
What Daughter Says: When life gets messy, make pasta!
Homemade Tortellini Minestrone
***Click here for printable Tortellini Minestrone recipeIngredients:
3 C Flour
2 Large Eggs
2-3 TBS Water
1 TSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 TSP Salt
1/2 C Reduced Fat Ricotta Cheese
1/4 C Grated Parmesan
2 TBS Chopped Spinach
1 Large Egg
1 Egg Mixed With 1 TSP Water (Egg Wash)
1 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Yellow Onion, Finely Chopped
2 Cloves Minced Garlic
2 Carrots, Peeled And Chopped
2 Stalks Celery, Thinly Sliced
2 Zucchini, Quartered Lengthwise And Sliced
1 (14.5oz) Can Diced Tomatoes (Not Drained)
1 (8oz) Can Of Tomato Sauce
3 1/2 C Chicken Or Vegetable Broth
1 Can (10-12oz) Kidney Beans, Drained
Salt And Pepper To Taste
(Tortellini As Prepared Above)
Prepare Your Tortellini
1. On a clean surface make a well with the flour. In a medium bowl combine eggs, water, oil, and salt. Pour the wet mixture into the flour well and mix with your 2 fingers until all is combined. Do not get discouraged if the mixture becomes sticky- continue in a kneading motion until most of the flour is incorporated- do not force the dough to take all of the flour if it becomes rubbery or stiff.
2. Knead the dough on a floured surface for 8-10 minutes, or until dough becomes warm and pliable- it will still 'spring' back when over stretched, but should be malleable enough to roll. Roll your pasta out to 1/8" and cut into 4" round discs. Set aside in a bowl covered loosely by a damp towel.
3. Prepare your filling by combining all ingredients except egg wash. Working 1 at a time place 1/4 TSP filling in the center of each pasta disc. Brush egg was on the bottom half/edge of the pasta and fold the disc down over the filling to make a semi-circle. Pinching the corners, fold them in towards the center so that the outer edge crates a lip. Tuck the corners into the middle and set aside in a bowl covered loosely by a damp towel. Refrigerate until ready to cook.
Make The Minestrone
1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add the onion and cook 3-5 MINS, or until onion is translucent. Add the carrots and celery and continue to cook another 3-5 MINS. Season all generously with salt and pepper.
2. Add the garlic and cook 1-2 minutes or until translucent and highly aromatic.
3. Add the can of tomatoes, tomato sauce, and broth into the pot, bringing the mixture to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes.
4. Add the zucchini and beans, turning the heat up to high and cooking until the soup begins to boil. Add the tortellini and allow to simmer for 5-7 minutes, until pasta is fully cooked and tortellini begin to float. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy!