When I saw this recipe I knew I had to make it.  I love making gnocchi, and pumpkin gnocchi was too intriging to pass on.   I’ve included some step by step pictures so hopefully no one feels intimidated if they haven’t made it before.  Gnocchi really is incredibly quick and easy to make, easy enough so that kids can even help as well. 
The pumpkin flavor in these aren’t overwhelming, but just right to me.  We loved the combination with the mushrooms in the sauce and fresh chives.  Allthough, next time I think I’ll leave off the chives and instead add some thyme to the mushrooms when they’re cooking. 
 Happy Fall! : )
2 1/2 cups flour (plus more if needed)
1 T salt
1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 T unsalted butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
salt and pepper to taste
2 T fresh chives, chopped
Make the gnocchi: In a large shallow bowl mix the flour, salt, and nutmeg.
Make a well in the center and add the pumpkin and parmesan to well. 
 Using a fork to stir, start incorporating the flour to the pumpkin and cheese.
 Mix until dough gathers, then knead until smooth, about 3-5 minutes.  Add extra flour if needed.
Dough should be very soft and moist, but not too sticky, or too dry.
 Divide dough into 6 pieces. On a lightly foured counter, roll each piece into a rope about 3/4 inch thick. 
 Cut into half inch pieces and set out on lightly floured tray and cover with a tea towel.
(TO FREEZE: At this point you can lay single layer on a baking sheet or tray in the freezer and after frozen, about an hour or two, put all together in a zip lock in the freezer. Boil straight from freezer.)
Bring a medium to large pot of salted water to a boil and add a couple hand fulls of gnocchi at a time. Boil for about 4 minutes.  Drain.
Make the sauce: (I like to make this while I’m waiting for the water to boil for the gnocchi, so it has time to thicken).  Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat.
Add the mushrooms and shallots, saute for a few minutes.
Add chicken stock, cream, and parmesan.  Let cook until thickened.  Toss with gnocchi and top with chives. 
Recipe Source: Gnocchi adapted from Martha Stewart, sauce by My Stained Apron

Pimento Ham Pasta Salad and Herb Dressing

I know what you’re thinking.  ANOTHER salad recipe? How many salad recipes do you need Holly?
Well, as I’ve said before, I love salads. 
Green salads.     Pasta salads.    Entree salads.     Side salads.   Any salads.
  As long as the ingredients you start out with are fresh you can have something wonderful. 
I love this dressing.  It goes well with just about anything.  It’s so much better than store bought and I bet you can make it faster than digging your store bought dressing out of the fridge. ; )
The other thing I love about salads is they are inexpensive ways to feed a group, and they are great for having company over since it’s something I can have ready to go in the fridge and don’t have to cook while I could be visiting.
1 lb mini fussili, or pasta of choice (cooked al dente and rinsed with cold water)
2 oz can pimentos, undrained
1 cup chopped ham
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup finedly diced cheddar
1 cup sliced olives
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Make one batch of herb dressing (recipe below) and whisk in the mayonnaise.  Combine all other salad ingredients in a large bowl.  Toss gently with dressing.  If too dry add a little more mayo or sour cream.
1 tsp dried parsley, or 2 T chopped fresh
1 tsp dried dill weed
1 T lemon juice
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup sour cream (or substitute 3/4 cup buttermilk for sour cream and milk)
1/4 cup milk (or buttermilk)
3 T powdered buttermilk
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tsp garlic powder
Whisk all together or combine in a blender.
Recipe Source:  Pasta salad by My Stained Apron, Herb dressing inspired by The Herbal Kitchen, one of my favorite cookbooks

Italian Pasta Salad

Summer is fast approaching, so salads are making it to the table more and more.
This is one of my favorite pasta salads to make, since most of time I have things in my fridge or pantry to put in it.  Get creative with it and find what you like!  I’m not giving amounts for ingredients since I never measure for this.  It just depends on how many of the add-ins I put in, how big of a dish I’m making, etc.  And if your pasta salad will be sitting for awhile you might need to add a little more of the Italian dressing.
cooked pasta, I used bow tie
Italian salad dressing, I use Good Seasons mix
mushrooms, sliced
olives, sliced or whole
hard dry salami, chopped
cherry tomatoes, cut in half
red onion, chopped
basil, cut in chiffonade
fresh baby spinach
roasted red peppers, chopped
provolone cheese, cubed
baby mozzarella balls
pepperoncinis, sliced
Mix everything together, add more dressing as needed.
Chill until ready to serve.

Sesame Noodles

We are entering our FIFTH week of kitchen renovation.  Only a month longer than anticipated.  No biggie.. ; )
While I now have use of sink, oven, and cooktop (HALLELUJAH!), I am relying on simple meals like this one, especially since my girls are in the depths of the second virus to pox our house since we started this kitchen project.  (Vomit and sawdust just mix, let me tell ya).
The original recipe contained hot chili oil, which I swapped out for ground ginger, and we like it with plain spaghetti noodles or yakisoba noodles (I buy the big package at Costco and freeze it in portions).   I also add some potstickers and you have a great quick meal, especially when you add some stir-fried veggies.  Since I usually have all the ingredients on hand, this is a great pantry dinner.
12 oz noodles, I used spaghetti
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 T sugar
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 T sesame oil
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 cup oil
2 T water
4 green onions, sliced thinly
Cook noodles according to package directions.
Whisk remaining ingredients together (except onions) in a bowl.
Toss with hot noodles and add green onions.
Recipe adapted slightly from The Pioneer Woman.
Sesame Noodles


  • 12 oz noodles, I used spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 T sugar
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 T sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 T water
  • 4 green onions, sliced thinly


  • Cook noodles according to package directions.
  • Whisk remaining ingredients together (except onions) in a bowl.
  • Toss with hot noodles and add green onions.
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    Gnocchi with Bolognese

    Have you made some gnocchi yet?  I know its good, but I am still shocked at how crazy people go over it when I serve it!  I recently made over 1000 little gnocchi for a church dance and they were SERIOUSLY a hit.  After making the first couple hundred I saved my sanity by skipping the marking and rolling step on the rest.  I served them with Gorgonzola cream sauce with ham, but I want to share another way to serve them.
    (Which happens to be my hubby’s favorite way).  And since both the gnocchi and sauce can be frozen, this is the tastiest freezer dinner I can think of.  I keep bolognese in my freezer at ALL times since my hubby is kinda addicted to it. 
    Bolognese sauce
    Parmesan, for serving
    Heat bolognese in a pot, add milk or cream to sauce if desired. (I usually freeze mine without the milk since it freezes better, then add when serving). Keep warm on stove.
    Drop the gnocchi into a pot of boiling water (you should have frozen them unboiled, as specified in my recipe). Boil just 2-3 minutes, until gnocchi float.
    When done, add to pot of sauce.  Toss to coat, serve with Parmesan cheese.

    Gnocchi with Gorgonzola cream sauce and ham

    This dish is evil, evil I say.  Run while you can. Don’t look back.  Forget you ever saw this.  Too late? Well, sorry then. : )
    Recipe by My Stained Apron
    Gnocchi, homemade or store bought
    2 cups heavy cream
    1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
    1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (or extra Gorgonzola)
    2 tsp dried parsley (or fresh chopped)
    1/2 cup thinly sliced ham (I use a good quality Canadian Bacon)
    Heat ham in a saucepan over medium heat.
    Add cream and cheeses, stir until well incorporated. 
    Add gnocchi (if homemade boil first), toss to coat.
    Add parsley, serve hot.


    Homemade gnocchi.  Seriously yummy.  And seriously easy! Don’t be intimidated by the marking process, you can even completely skip that part if you want.  And I know what you’re thinking… “Holly, how can I possibly focus on learning how to make gnocchi when I am so distracted by your gorgeous green fake marble counter tops?!” I know, I know, but just try. 
    2 1/2 lbs russet potatoes (about 5 large)
    2 egg yolks
    1 T olive oil
    1 1/2 cups flour
    Place potatoes, unpeeled, in a pot of water and bring to a boil.
    Boil for 20-30 minutes, or until easily pierced with a paring knife. (Alternatively, you could bake or steam them as well, you just need them cooked through.)
    Let cool enough to handle, then peel with a knife and pass through a potato ricer. (If you don’t have one you could use a fork or push through a fine sieve. You just don’t want any lumps.) 
    Lightly beat egg yolks with oil and add to potatoes.
    Sprinkle with flour and stir in with a wooden spoon, just until somewhat incorporated.
     Use your hands to gently knead until it comes together in a soft dough. Don’t overwork the dough.
     Divide dough into 4 parts, and on a lightly floured counter top, roll into a 3/4 inch thick rope.
     Cut into 3/4 to 1 inch sections. If you’re using a gnocchi paddle, roll one piece at a time down the ridges..
     folding the gnocchi onto itself to make a U shape.
     Use same technique if using a fork to mark gnocchi. (This is optional, you can just leave them in the little pieces, but the grooves and U shape help them hold sauce better… and they look pretty.) : )
    As you finish each piece, lay out on a lightly floured cookie sheet or tea towel.
    TO FREEZE: At this point you can lay single layer on a baking sheet or tray in the freezer and after frozen, about an hour or two, put all together in a zip lock in the freezer. Boil straight from freezer.
    TO COOK: Bring a medium to large pot of salted water to a boil and add a couple hand fulls of gnocchi at a time.  They are done when they float, which should only take 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon and either serve as is with sauce of choice, or saute in butter or olive oil with some herbs, etc.

    Tortellini with Peas and Ham

    I’m in a “quick dinners” mode these days.  Amelia has had an over-abundance of doctors appointments, medical tests, etc as of late.  (And not to mention, sleep deprivation plus labor intensive dinners don’t go well together!)  I threw this together one night because I had all the ingredients on hand and we were really happy with it.  It’s quick, easy, and comforting.  Three good things!
    Recipe by My Stained Apron
    2 T butter
    1 cup chopped ham
    1 cup heavy cream
    1/2 cup milk
    1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, shredded or grated
    1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
    24 oz tortellini
    salt and pepper, to taste
    Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
    Add ham, saute for a couple minutes.
    Add cream, milk, and 1 cup of Parmesan cheese.
    Let simmer on medium low heat until thickened.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
    Cook tortellini according to package directions.
    Add to sauce along with peas, toss to coat.
    Garnish with additional Parmesan cheese.

    Restaurant Chicken Alfredo

    I’ve gotten some requests for recipes to make Olive Garden dishes at home.  So when my hubby took me there for my birthday (I know, livin’ the life of glamour : ), I took mental notes and then tried my hand at making some “copycat” versions at home.  First I made some notes, then looked online for others ideas too.  First up was the Alfredo recipe, which it seems ALOT of people want that recipe!  There were many different ideas, the most common of which was to use cream cheese, like my usual recipe.  The Olive Garden website actually had an alfredo recipe on it using eggs in the sauce.  I’m pretty positive they are both imposters.  The only way in my opinion to get the same flavor is to use both parmesan and romano cheeses, FRESHLY GRATED, and let it cook for a bit to thicken naturally.  I was really surprised at how closely this dish resembled theirs.  
    Keep checkin back all week for more copycat olive garden recipes!
    P.S. This also is great for dipping breadsticks!

    Recipe by My Stained Apron
    3 garlic cloves, minced
    1/2 cup unsalted butter
    1/4 cup milk
    2 cups cream
    1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 4 oz)
    1 cup grated Romano cheese (about 4 oz)
    salt and pepper, to taste
    8 to 12 oz fettuccine noodles (use the lower amount if you want it really saucy)
    fresh parsley, for serving
    extra grated Parmesan, for serving
    Melt butter in a saucepan and add garlic.  Saute for a couple of minutes over medium heat.
    Add milk and cream, bring to a simmer.
    Add cheeses, mix well. 
    Let simmer, uncovered, for about 10 to 15 minutes, until slightly thickened.
    Add salt and pepper, to taste.
    Cook noodles and toss together.  Sprinkle with parsley and cheese.
    To serve with Chicken:
    2 chicken breasts
    olive oil
    salt and pepper
    Brush grill or pan with olive oil, season chicken with salt and pepper and either grill or saute on both sides.  (I use my indoor grill pan).  Cut into strips when done.

    Lasagna with Bolognese and Parmesan Bechamel

    Once you try this lasagna, you’ll be amazed that you don’t miss all the cheese in those other versions.  Lasagna can be quite expensive to make ususally, as most recipes call for ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, etc.  And definetely not very healthy.  I am not a huge lasagna fan, but I love this version.
    I used to make this dish using just one quart of bolognese sauce, but we like it better when it’s a little more saucy.  So often times I double it, and use 3 quarts total.  I take the extra dish to a friend or freeze for later even.  Or if I don’t double it, that extra half a quart of sauce mysteriousely dissapears after my husband goes in the kitchen.  Oh, and did I mention that my husband rates this one at a 10 plus?
    Not bad. : ) 
    Makes one 9 by 13 inch pan or 2 smaller
    Recipe by My Stained Apron
    For assembly:
    1 1/2 quarts bolognese sauce
    3/4 cup milk
    Lasagna noodles, homemade or oven-ready
    1 lb sliced Fresh mozzarella, optional
    1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    For the Parmesan Bechamel sauce:
    6 T cup butter
    6 T flour
    2 cups milk
    dash salt
    1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    Mix milk together with Bolognese sauce. Set aside.
    Make the Bechamel sauce.  Melt butter in a pan over medium heat.  Add flour and cook for a minute.  Add milk and salt, cook until smooth and thickened, stirring often.
    Mix in 1 cup of Parmesan.
    Now to assemble.  Spray your pan with non stick spray, and spoon a little bolognese on the bottom.
    Layer in the following order: (If using the mozzarella, lay the slices on top of each bechamel layer)
    noodles, bechamel, noodles, bolognese,
    noodles, bechamel, noodles, bolognese,
    You can stop here, depending on how thick you layered everything, how large your pan is, etc, or add one more :
    noodles, bechamel, noodles, bolognese.
    Top with the 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese.
    Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 45 mintues to 1 hour. 
    I serve with a big green salad and fresh baguettes.
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