Thursday, August 3, 2017

Creamy Gnocchi with Mushrooms

Matthew conquered two major milestones over the past month, one good and one not-so-great. Let's start with the good. After watching nearly every person in his first grade classroom gradually enter the pirate phase by dropping teeth out of their mouths, including one poor girl who lost two during lunch while biting into an apple - Matthew has finally joined them by losing his first baby tooth. Matthew started teething really late as a baby - after his first birthday - and I'm guessing that's the reason his mouth has been equally slow to lose them in favor of his adult teeth. But, one day at lunch, Matthew began complaining that his mouth hurt when he bit into his sandwich and after closer inspection I verified that one of his lower incisors was in deed on the verge of being evicted by an emerging adult tooth. I offered to pull it for him right then and there but he squealed at the thought.

So, Matthew sat and wiggled it for the remainder of the day until it was basically hanging on by the tiniest bit. Sick of watching him constantly put his hands in his mouth, I told him I just wanted to inspect it and then yanked it out with barely any effort. Matthew didn't even notice until he saw that I was holding it in my hand. "My tooth!! I lost my first tooth! YIPPEE!!"

He then proceeded to run a victory lap around the house and find every neighbor on our street to show them his accomplishment up close and personal by shoving his bloody tooth into their faces while peeling back his gums to proudly display the tiny little crevice left behind. It was a very big deal for him.

That night, Matthew left his tooth on his nightstand in anxious anticipation of a visit from the tooth fairy. After he had fallen asleep, Paul sneaked into his room and replaced the tiny tooth with a conglomeration of coins adding up to one dollar since neither of us actually had any paper cash on us. When he came back into our room with the tooth, I told him that I wanted to put it in Matthew's baby book as a keepsake and for some reason Paul took that to mean that he should have a mini seizure right at that moment. For no reason whatsoever, he lost his grip on the tooth, bobbled it for a few seconds in a vain attempt to catch it, and then dropped it onto our shag carpet where it became lost among the fibers. We searched and searched for it for about 20 minutes but there was no trace of it. I even vacuumed the next morning in the hopes of finding it that way, but no luck. And that's how Matthew, and his parents, lost a tooth.

The second milestone has to do with the ever-so-common but completely-horrifying instance where children decide to test out their skills as a hairstylist. Usually on their younger siblings and almost always with less-than-stellar results. I had so far survived only one minor incidence of Emma cutting her own hair and ever since then have been pretty careful about keeping scissors out of reach. Matthew does keep a pair of crafting scissors with his art supplies but that's because I was positive I didn't have to worry about him using them inappropriately. Well, we live and learn because Matthew decided to cut a family member's hair this morning only it wasn't Lucy or Emma's. Poor Peyton was the victim.

I walked into the family room and nearly jumped at the discovery of several large clumps of reddish-golden fur. At first I thought Peyton must be going through a major shedding phase and began to panic at that thought, but then I noticed that the hair was clumped in clusters that seemed as if they had been deliberately cut from his mane - the edges were perfectly clean. Then, I took a good look at Peyton's back and sure enough there was evidence that someone had completely hacked off the longer parts of his fur, leaving him with a choppy, unsightly-looking coat. I was sure it was Emma, but when she instead pointed her finger at Matthew, he quickly owned up to it, claiming that Peyton "needed a haircut to stay cool". Matthew was then ordered to clean up all the hair, apologize to Peyton (yeah, I know, like he cares!), and instructed that he would be banned from scissors at home for the next few weeks.

I still thank God that Matthew was inspired to cut Peyton's hair rather than Lucy's...

These kids keep me on my toes which is why when it comes to mealtime I need to make something that is quick, easy, filling, and enjoyable. Here is a great meal that takes less than 30 minutes to get on the table: Creamy Gnocchi with Mushrooms. The recipe uses par-cooked potato gnocchi found in the pasta section of your grocery store so you don't have to worry about making your own (gnocchi is historically quite difficult to get right!). The gnocchi is seared in butter before being set aside to make a creamy mushroom-based sauce that is infused with just a bit of cream to make a velvety accompaniment to the soft gnocchi. Finished with a quick simmer and a handful of chopped fresh basil and you've got a dinner that can be great for company or as an easy, weeknight family meal. The gnocchi is creamy and rich without being too heavy. Serve with a beautiful green salad and some Italian bread for a complete meal.

Creamy Gnocchi with Mushrooms
from Cook's Country

Note: I almost always double the mushrooms because I love them. Vacuum sealed gnocchi found in the pasta aisle works best, but frozen or refrigerated gnocchi will also work in a pinch. And don't be afraid of the nutmeg! It adds authentic Italian flare to this dish.

1 1/4 cups vegetable broth
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1 cup)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound vacuum-packed gnocchi
1 pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn

Whisk broth, Parmesan, cream, nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together in bowl; set aside. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add gnocchi and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes; transfer to plate.

Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in now-empty skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add broth mixture and gnocchi and bring to simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened, 5 to 7 minutes. Sprinkle with basil and serve.

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