Not a half birthday, mind you, but half a birthday. As in, we have 9:00 church, and so let’s do your birthday breakfast tomorrow, and since Mommy and Daddy are BEAT from moving the entire basement around to move you and your sister downstairs, can we do cake tomorrow, too? It’s kind of lame, I know, and I feel badly for my brand-new five-year-old, but my hubby and I really are completely exhausted. What did we do today, you ask? Well, both girls got to try the apple pie bagels for breakfast (I ask you, who could pass those up in the store?), and then the birthday girl got to open her presents before church. She and her sister played very happily in their new room both before AND after church, and then she got her birthday dinner. She was, as usual, the last person done…probably because she had FOUR HELPINGS OF GNOCCHI. (I honestly didn’t know her stomach was big enough for what she ate tonight.) She picks homemade gnocchi (with homemade alfredo sauce) every year on her birthday, and I serve it with broccoli on the side, both because she likes broccoli and my hubby’s favorite (read: most tolerated) way to eat broccoli involves dipping it into the alfredo sauce during this meal. The upside to this, of course, is that I get to make something fairly awful for us once a year without guilt; the downside is that her birthday’s in August, and I have to stand at the stove cooking gnocchi in a pot of boiling water for what feels like about a decade. Ah, well. I’m sure it’s karma for all of the years I asked my mother for homemade deep-fried scones on my (July) birthday. (Item: my father finally cornered me and pointed out that my birthday was in, well, JULY, and promised we could have scones during a different season of the year if I would just pick something else on my birthday. I do fully sympathize–we didn’t have air conditioning, and RI is not exactly a dry heat–but I don’t think we ever had scones again. If you don’t HAVE to do something desirable but labor-intensive and not strictly necessary on a specific day, it has a way of not happening.)
At least we have central air.
Anyway, in honor of my girlie’s birthday, here’s how you make simple homemade gnocchi alfredo.
1 C mashed potatoes (with nothing added in–the sauce has plenty of cholesterol and salt already)
1 1/2-2 C flour
Combine ingredients in a good-sized bowl and knead until the dough forms a ball. (This is easier if the mashed potatoes have cooled some.) Roll small portions of dough into snakes on a floured surface. Cut the snakes into 1/2-1 inch pieces.
Bring a pot of water to a boil; lightly salt it and drop in your gnocchi in batches. (I shoot for at least 10-15 per batch). Cook for 3-5 minutes, until they rise to the top. Scoop out and serve with:
Alfredo Sauce (courtesy of Betty Crocker)
1/2 C butter (yes, that’s one stick)
1/2 C evaporated milk (you can use half & half, but I actually prefer the taste of the other–it’s less warm dairy, which I don’t love. It’s also slightly less bad for you.)
3/4 C Parmesan cheese
1/2 t salt
Melt the butter in a pot with the evaporated milk over low heat, stirring frequently. Add cheese and seasonings (I often throw in a dash of nutmeg as well). Toss with your cooked and drained gnocchi and serve immediately, preferably with steamed broccoli on the side.
There you have it. The gnocchi are very filling, so go easy on the portions the first time. (This is experience talking.) I doubt it’s amazingly authentic Italian, and I don’t take the time to try and make them look pretty, but oh, it’s a tasty meal.
Even in August.