Filed under: Main Course, Pasta & Rice | Tags: Pasta, Ravioli, Tomato sauce
My husband and I are old fuddy duddies. We prefer to stay in on New Years Eve, put the kids to bed, make a nice meal and try desperately to stay up until midnight. This year, we decided to have another cook-off to bring in the New Year and the challenge was pasta. My husband thinks he makes the best spaghetti around, and I will admit it is good, but he cheats. He uses premade meatballs, jarred pasta sauce and dried noodles (sorry to give away your secrets honey, but it’s true.) I thought I wanted to do ravioli and since he says he hates ravioli (not true) I knew the only way to get him to admit that my pasta was better was to make everything from scratch.
As always, his dish did turn out pretty good (see honey, I can give credit where credit is due) but mine was better. I mean, I did make everything from scratch. But I realized the recipe for the dough made a lot of raviolis and I knew I wasn’t going to eat them all that night-after all I had no chance to stay up to midnight if I was totally stuffed. So I froze half of the batch just to see if it was any good.
Well it worked. A few nights later I wanted something quick to make, filled with carbs and loaded with cheese and this hit the spot. Fresh pasta only takes a few minutes to cook, and even freezing the fresh stuff only added about another 30 seconds to the cooking time. I actually really loved this, because after all the prep work was done, fresh pasta on the table in less than 15 minutes is a winner in my book-plus it just looked so pretty!
Spinach Ravioli Stuffed with Four Cheeses
1 bunch of fresh spinach, finely chopped (in the end, I probably had about 2 tablespoons after I chopped it all down)
1 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large egg yolks
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup water
½ cup ricotta cheese
¼ cup shredded Italian cheese blend (I used parmesan, Asiago, Romano)
2-3 basil leaves, finely chopped
Tomato sauce for serving (I added some ground beef because I knew my husband wouldn’t “like” it without meat)
Combine the first seven ingredients in a food processor. Process until dough just forms into a ball.
Knead dough on a lightly floured surface, until smooth and elastic, 6 to 8 minutes, adding more flour if needed to keep it from sticking. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature 1 hour.
While the dough is resting, combine the cheeses, egg, basil, salt and pepper in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.
Follow directions on your pasta roller to roll out sheets of dough for ravioli. I used my Kitchen Aid pasta roller attachment and found that the fourth setting was the perfect thickness for the ravioli.
With your sheet of pasta dough laid out on a floured surface, place a teaspoon of filling across the dough, a few inches apart. Use a pastry brush to brush the other half of the dough with water and fold over the filling. Press around the filling to seal the edges. Using a ravioli cutter cut out the ravioli and place on a lined baking sheet.
At this point, you can freeze the ravioli for 30 minutes on the baking sheet or until it’s set, then place them in an airtight container in the freezer. I froze mine for a week and they tasted fresh, but I think they may keep for up to a month.
Alternately, if you are cooking the pasta right away, place individual ravioli into a pot of salted, boiling water, and being careful not to over crowd the pot. When the ravioli float to the surface, remove with a slotted spoon.
Serve with tomato sauce and extra cheese.
p.s. check out my link on this blog hop!
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know it’s Wednesday when I’m posting this “make ahead Monday” dish. To be honest, I’ve been so busy playing catch up that we’ve been ordering delivery from our favorite kabob place more than I’ve been cooking. But better late than never, right? I’m going to keep this post short and sweet because I am exhausted and still have a to-do list longer than I care to think about.
I’ve been planning to make this casserole for a few weeks now, but I finally got around to doing it the other day. I wanted to make some kind of baked rice casserole, for a while, but my husband who says he hates rice (lie) has been adamant that I don’t. Well, I thought if I make a rice dish that he likes otherwise into a casserole maybe he wouldn’t mind (I also didn’t tell him what I was making ahead of time so he wouldn’t be able to protest.) I would call this casserole a success, not because my husband didn’t protest to eating a rice casserole (which he didn’t) but because “C” also ate it! Well, “C” ate all of the pieces of turkey out of his portion. This was a big deal because “C” doesn’t eat anything. His diet is fruit, chips, cereal, french fries and occasionally bread. Maybe we’ve made a bit of a break through in my deciding to no longer be a short order cook because last night, everyone ate the same meal. Maybe.
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 onion, diced
2 cups cooked, diced turkey breast
1 cup diced cooked sausage (andoulle is best, but it was unavailable, so I used a beef kielbasa)
1 can diced tomatoes with roasted garlic
3 cups white rice
6 cups low sodium chicken stock
3 table spoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons Zatarains seasoning
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Combine the first seven ingredients in a large casserole dish. Mix the stock, tomato paste, and zatarains. Pour over the rice mixture and bake, covered for 45 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Allow the casserole to cool 10 minutes before serving.
Filed under: Main Course, Pasta & Rice | Tags: Carbonara, Egg yolk, Pasta
I’ve mentioned before that when my husband has to be away for work, I usually take the opportunity to try a recipe I know he probably wouldn’t want to eat and watch movies he probably wouldn’t want to watch. Well this last time my husband was away for the evening, I wanted to make carbonara. It’s not that I haven’t made it before, I have plenty of times; or even that my husband doesn’t like it, he does; but because it’s probably high in cholesterol, I thought it best I not make it and not offer him any. When I made this pasta, it was the middle of the week, and my running shoes have been gathering dust (well I should say sand) since we moved, so I wanted to do a lighter version of carbonara.
Instead of whisking the yolks with heavy cream, I used 2% milk; I omitted an extra pat of butter at the end to finish the pasta; I threw in a handful of spinach for good measure; and instead of pork bacon with all it’s salty, fatty, high calorie goodness, I swapped for turkey bacon. Just the swap out for turkey bacon saved me like 100’s of grams of fat (I’d be over exaggerating if I hadn’t eaten 10 pieces of turkey bacon!)
The verdict: this was a good weeknight pasta dish. It wasn’t as decadent as the carbonara I would have liked to eat, but it comes together quickly and isn’t too unhealthy (if you can refrain from eating 10 pieces of turkey bacon along the way like I did.)
3 cups dried bow tie pasta (or whatever shape you like, that’s just what I had on hand.)
4 egg yolks
1 cup milk
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
4 slices turkey bacon
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 bunch of fresh spinach, chopped
Bring a pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente and drain, reserving few tablespoons of the pasta water.
While the water comes to a boil, brown the bacon over medium low heat to render the fat. Once the bacon is browned and crispy, remove it from the pan and roughly chop. Add the onions to the pan with the drippings and sauté (if there is not enough of the bacon drippings, add a little more oil to the pan.) After 2-3 minutes, add the garlic.
While the bacon is browning, combine the yolks, milk and cheese. Add a tablespoon or two of the pasta liquid to the yolk mixture to temper the eggs.
To assemble the pasta: Add the hot pasta and spinach to the pan with the onions and garlic. Pour in the yolk mixture and toss until all of the pasta is coated and the spinach wilts slightly. Serve the pasta immediately with the chopped bacon on top.
Filed under: Beef, Main Course, Pasta & Rice | Tags: Casserole, macaroni, Pepper jack cheese
I know, I know, it’s been a bit of time since my last post. Quite frankly, I needed a break from the kitchen (and blogging too) over the weekend. My family had a nice, long weekend that was everything a long weekend should be. We spent a day splashing in the pool and enjoying the weather, we went to one of the GINORMOUS malls and shopped then had a nice lunch, we took a trip down to the souq and came back with lots of goodies; and we ordered from my favorite kabob delivery place every night for dinner. It was a great weekend.
But alas, the weekend has come to an end and now we are thrown back into our weekly routines, rushing from lessons and playdates, barely having a moment to catch our breath until the children are in bed for the night. But I love to stay busy, so it’s ok by me.
This week’s make-ahead meal is somewhat of a throw back. I saw this casserole while perusing foodandwine.com and I knew immediately that this “goulash” so to speak would be a great Monday meal for my family (well, that is if “C” would eat a noodle!) When I read the recipe, it seemed like a chili-mac of sorts, but as it came together and I tasted it, something about it beckoned my childhood. Then, as I lifted the casserole into the oven, it hit me: this is the goulash I remember having as a kid from the school cafeteria, but SOOOO much better. You remember, the one that always looked good as you went through the lunch line, with the little bit of melted cheese on top (the lunch ladies always seemed to be stingy with the melty cheese.) Then you eat it and the tomato sauce is bland, the macaroni has been way over cooked and is mushy, and that coveted bit of melted cheese on top tastes like rubber. So disappointing.
Well my adapted recipe adds a kick to the cafeteria version with pepper jack cheese, a bit of chipotle hot sauce, and cumin. Now, if only I can get “C” to try it…..
*adapted from foodandwine.com’s beef and macaroni casserole
1 lb elbow macaroni
1 lb lean ground beef
1 large onion, diced
2 tablespoons cilantro base (you can find this in the Mexican/International isle)
2 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon thyme
1 8z can whole peeled tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon chipotle hot sauce (or more/less depending on your heat preference)
1 cup chopped broccoli
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese, divided
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni noodles and cook until shy of al-dente. Drain and set aside.
While the macaroni cooks, sauté the onions over medium high heat. Once the onions are soft, add the beef and brown and crumble. Once the beef has browned, add the cilantro base and cook one additional minute. Add the flour to the beef mixture and sauté until the flour has cooked, about 2 more minutes. Add the cumin, stock, hot sauce, and tomatoes and bring sauce to a boil. Once the sauce boils, add half of the pepper jack and the cheddar cheeses. Stir until melted and remove from the heat
Temper the egg by adding a bit of the sauce to the beaten egg. Add the egg mixture to the large pot of sauce. Stir in the macaroni noodles and broccoli and then transfer to a prepared casserole dish.* Bake at 350 degrees 25 minutes or until the noodles and sauce is set.
Combine the panko and remaining pepper jack cheese. Evenly distribute the mixture on the casserole and broil for 3-5 minutes until the cheese and breadcrumbs brown evenly.
Allow casserole to cool 15 minutes before serving.
*casserole can be prepared up to the point of baking, then refrigerated or frozen. To bake, bring the casserole to room temperature than follow directions, adding an additional 5 minutes to the baking time.
Filed under: Main Course, Pasta & Rice, Pasta & Rice | Tags: Risotto, Sausage, Sweet potato
Yesterday after I finish snapping a few pictures of dinner, “M” in all of her three years comes up to me and strikes up a conversation that went like this:
M: Mommy, whacha doing?”
Me: “I’m finishing up dinner, what are you doing?”
M: “What’s for dinner?”
Me: “Cheesy rice with sweet potatoes and sausage”
M: “Ohhhh that sounds delicious! Rice is my favorite….but Mommy there is just one problem.”
Me: “Oh yeah, what’s the problem?”
M: “My brother doesn’t like rice, make something else!”
It’s true, my son is probably the pickiest eater on the planet and he won’t eat rice. I offer it to him when ever I make it, but his response is always the same, “No Ma, don’t want it!” Oh well, what’s a Mom to do? I wish I had some great story about how this risotto was the one that turned him into the carb-lover I know is in there somewhere, but it’s not. This was one of the few nights my husband picked something up for him from work.
This risotto was one of those dishes that came together from things I already had on hand. I had planned to make risotto the old fashioned way, you know ladling hot broth into the rice, stirring until it’s absorbed and repeat until the risotto is cooked. But as I started prepping dinner, I was going through a to-do list in my head of everything else I had to get done that night. Then I glanced over and saw my copy of Around My French Table and had, as Oprah would say, an “Ah Ha” moment. A few weeks back the French Fridays with Dorie recipe was Creamy, Cheesy, Garlicky Rice with Spinach (click here to see my version.) Her French version of risotto doesn’t require constant stirring and attention, but comes out creamy and cheesy. This was a great, comforting meal and I’m glad this recipe adapted well to other flavors.
Sweet Potato and Sausage Risotto
*Adapted from Creamy, Cheesy, Garlicky Rice with Spinach from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan
1 lb Italian sausage, removed from casings
1 onion, diced
1 1lb sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups Arborio rice
7 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup shredded provolone
1/4 cup milk
Fried sage leaves for garnish, optional
Brown sausage and onions over medium high heat and set aside. While sausage browns, heat the oil and cook the sweet potatoes with the Italian spice until the potatoes are crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, about 15 minutes. Set aside.
To cook the rice, bring chicken stock to a boil. Stir in the rice and cover. Reduce the heat to low and allow the rice to cook, undisturbed until most of the liquid is evaporated about 25 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the rice to finish absorbing the liquid. Stir the sausage, milk and cheese into the rice until the cheese melts. Gently fold in the sweet potatoes and serve with fried sage leaves immediately.
Filed under: Fish, Main Course, Pasta & Rice | Tags: Cheese, Lemon, Pasta, pescetarian, Scallop, Wine
So remember my husband was recently gone on a trip? You know, when I made him Oxtail Ragu as a welcome home? Well I really shouldn’t have because while he was gone, he ate amazing food, probably better than what will ever come out of my kitchen. The night he came home, my hubby told me all about the multi-course meal he had from this little hole-in-the-wall. Seafood trays, fresh pastas and sauces, and plenty of wine to wash it all down. Yeah, that’s right, he was in Italy….without me….but it was for work, so I guess that’s a viable excuse for leaving me out.
But he knew I would be jealous that I missed out (yes, I was but I’m slowly getting over it) so he brought home some loot-pasta and a variety of cheeses. He knows me well. I’ve spent the last week thinking of what I wanted to make with my pasta and cheese. I decided a light sauce and a little seafood would be great. We could really taste the flavor of the pasta, and I used the peppery cheese which added a nice kick.
Since we waited until the kiddos were in bed to eat (I couldn’t stand to let my picky kids push a plate of this away telling me they don’t like it without trying it) I had to quickly snap some pictures in my dark kitchen before we devoured it. I debated posting this one, as the photos aren’t very clear, but I thought only other foodies would appreciate this almost as much as I did.
Lemony Bay Scallop Penne
1 Package Penne
2 lbs Bay Scallops, patted dry
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 shallots, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon white wine
1 cup white wine
1 cup milk (I used 2% because that’s what we had, but for a more rich taste, you could use whole milk or even whipping cream)
2 tablespoons cheese (I used the peppered cheese pictured, which tasted like a combination of sharp cheddar and parmesan)
Basil, for garnish
Salt/pepper to taste
Boil the penne in salted water until al-dente. Drain and rinse
While the penne cooks, salt and pepper the scallops. Heat olive oil over medium high heat and brown the scallops on both sides. Remove from pan and set aside. Wipe pan clean.
Add the butter to the scallops pan. Melt and add the onions and sauté until tender. Add garlic and lemon zest and sauté 2 more minutes, or until fragrant. Add flour and cook 2-3 minutes. Whisk in the white wine and lemon juice until sauce is smooth. Simmer 5 minutes. Add the milk and cheese and stir until cheese melts. Add the scallops back to the sauce and cook 2-3 minutes or until scallops are cooked through. Toss sauce with the pasta. Salt/pepper to taste. Top with fresh basil and serve.
Filed under: Chicken, Main Course, Pasta & Rice | Tags: Chicken, Meatball, Spaghetti, Tomato sauce
I’m not a sneaky chef. I don’t want to spend hours pureeing coliflour to mix into mac and cheese just to get another serving of vegetables into my kids. No judgement for parents out there that do that, I have mommy friends who swear to this method of getting kids to eat veggies. I’m just not one of them. Call me crazy, but I have a theory that my kids will never learn to like vegetables if I’m hiding them in their food. However, with all that being said, one way I do like to add a few extra veggies is to meatballs. Using lean ground chicken also makes these meatballs lighter and healthier than ground beef.
Spaghetti with Chicken Meatballs
- 1 lb lean ground chicken
- 1 carrot, diced
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 1 bunch spinach, diced
- 1 tbs fresh basil
- 4 cloves garlic, diced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 slice stale bread
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 16 oz can whole peeled tomatoes (best quality available)
- 2 tbs tomato paste
- 1 tbs each, dried basil, dried thyme, dried sage
- 1 tsp dried red pepper flakes (optional)
- 250 grams dried spaghetti noodles
- Parmesan cheese (optional)
- To make meatballs: puree carrot, 1 onion, spinach, basil, 2 cloves garlic, salt until thick paste forms. Soak slice of bread in milk. Combine egg, bread, paste. Add chicken and mix until just combined, being careful not to mix too much. Form chicken mixture into balls and bake at 350 until cooked through, about 35 minutes
- To make tomato sauce: In pressure cooker, saute onions until translucent. Add dried herbs, tomato paste and garlic, saute one more minute. Add whole tomatoes, with juice and crush with a potato masher. Bring sauce to a boil for 2-3 minutes. Place cover on pressure cooker, and cook on medium high heat for 45 minutes. Add salt/pepper to taste.
- While meatballs bake and sauce cooks, bring large pot of water to a boil. Season water liberally with salt and add spaghetti. Cook spaghetti until shy of al dente. Drain spaghetti and immediately toss with tomato sauce.
- Serve spaghetti with more tomato sauce, meatballs and freshly shaved parmesan cheese.