Raving about Pumpkin Ravioli

Pumpkin Ravioli

I was thumbing through a Cooking Light magazine and came upon this recipe for Pumpkin Ravioli with Gorgonzola Sauce. I don’t love Gorgonzola but I was up for the challenge of making my own ravioli.

They definitely tasted amazing but the final product didn’t look 100% perfect. This was a great meal with wintery tones from the pumpkin, nuts, and cranberries. Sage would have been a good addition but since I love it, I tend to be heavy handed with it and Mr. J doesn’t love it like I do.

Ingredients

½ canned pumpkin
2  tablespoons  dry breadcrumbs
2  tablespoons  grated Parmesan cheese
1/2  teaspoon  salt
1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
1/8  teaspoon  ground nutmeg
30  wonton wrappers
1  tablespoon  cornstarch
½ cup butter
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ cup toasted walnuts
¼ cup toasted cranberries

Preparation

To remove some excess moisture spoon pumpkin onto several layers of heavy-duty paper towels, and spread to 1/2-inch thickness and let stand 5 minutes. Scrape into a medium bowl using a rubber spatula. Stir in breadcrumbs, Parmesan, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
pump_rav_inner_290_200
Working with 1 wonton wrapper at a time, spoon 1 teaspoon of pumpkin mixture into the center of wrapper. Brush edges of wrapper with water and fold in half, pressing edges firmly with fingers.
pump_rav_290_200
Then pinch the end points together to form a tortellini shape. Place on a large baking sheet sprinkled with cornstarch. Repeat procedure with remaining wonton wrappers and pumpkin mixture.
pump_rav_stuffed_290_200
Bring a pot of water to a simmer. Add half of ravioli to pan. Cook 4 minutes or until done stirring gently. Remove ravioli with a slotted spoon and keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining ravioli.

When the second batch goes into the water start on the sauce. Melt butter in small saucepan. Add heavy cream and stir to combine. Drizzle over ravioli, sprinkle with toasted walnuts and dried cranberries. Serve immediately.
pump_rav_plate_290_200
I was patient and really tried to take the time to seal each ravioli really well. I didn’t want them bursting in the water and that helped. I could have been more conscientious about the air inside and spreading the filling more. Otherwise, these were a hit!

I thought about making a brown butter sauce but wasn’t sure if my spreadable butter substitute would work for that. Any know about that or has anyone tried?

Rachael Ray’s Balsamic Pan Gravy is delish

Rosemary Pork Chops with Balsamic Pan Gravy

I thumbed through Rachael Ray’s Express Lane cookbook features meals with 10 ingredients or fewer. Her recipes always take me longer than 30-minutes but I like that she often substitutes ingredients and features everyday ingredients. I had trouble tracking down the recipe online but I saw it on another blog too.

pork&balsamic_dinner_290_200
I adapted it and didn’t make the sides Rachael Ray made with this dish. I’m a strong believer that if I’m making something new or different then I’m better suited to focus on one new or one more challenging item and one easy or tried & true. Sauces aren’t my forte but I was intrigued with this and Mr. J likes anything with a sauce!

pork_ingredients_290_200

 

Ingredients

5 tbs olive oil
2 slices of thick cut bacon (RR reccomends 12 thin slices soppressata)
2 center cut pork loin chops 1 inch thick
salt and pepper
2 sprigs fresh rosemary sprigs stripped and finely chopped
1 tbs garlic, diced
1 cup vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
3 tbs balsamic vinegar
2 tbs butter (RR uses unsalted)

Directions

Preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat to cook bacon until crispy, about 4 min and then remove from pan. While the bacon is getting crispy, season the pork chops with generous salt, pepper, and rosemary on each side. When the bacon is done disgard drippings, put bacon to the side and heat olive oil.

pork_cooking_290_200
Cook pork chops 5 minutes per side. Once the pork chops are done, transfer to a platter and cover with foil or keep in warming oven.
pork_done_290_200
Heat garlic and balsamic vinegar, cook 30 seconds and add stock. Bring to a bubble and cook 5 more minutes or until there is only 1/2 cup of liquid left in the skillet. Turn heat off and add butter, stir until butter is melted and add bacon back into the sauce.
pork_balsamic_gravy_290_200
I loved this and thought the baslamic flavor was great and would definitely make it again. I thought it would be great with wilted greens and white beans.

I made steamed broccoli and some Trader Joe’s cornbread stuffing. The stuffing was only ehh but was handy to have around.
stuffing_290_200

Fav Comfort Apps

A lot of restaurants seem to be advertising their 500-calorie meals or the weight watchers specials but sometimes, you just need serious comfort food. Tavern On the Square is one of my regular comfort food places, and Phantom Gourmet agrees!

#1 Risotto Fritters

Parmesan risotto stuffed with pesto and mozzarella lightly breaded and fried. Served with tomato cream sauce and baby arugula.

The risotto is nutty with the perfect amount of pesto. The arugula is peppery and added a nice contrast to the salty parmesan.

#2 White Truffle Tator Tots

A heaping portion of our tator tots drizzled with aromatic white truffle oil and Parmesan cheese.

comfort_tavern_tots_290_200

The tator tots are truly a heaping portion. I think the truffle oil is a bit lacking and I’d prefer a better ratio but I wouldn’t pass on these…they’re just too addicting.

#3 Tropical Chicken Skewers

Chicken tenders coated in shredded coconut and panko breadcrumbs, fried to a golden brown and served with a pineapple curry sauce and fruit salsa.

comfort_tavern_chic_290_200

I was pleasantly surprised by these. The coconut was perfect and a great sweetness with the zip of the sauce.

These apps are really fun and make a meal to share.

Oodles of Noodles in a Chicken Stir-Fry

It has been awhile since I made an exciting meal that I was really truly happy with. I don’t think my standards were too high, I’ve been busy and a few recipes fell a bit short. I LOVED this. Super flavorful and fresh tasting. The sauce was a great combo of sweet and spicy. It was quick to whip up and made great leftovers for lunch the next day.

Ingredients

1 orange pepper
1 cup pea pods
2 cups bean sprouts
1 package asian noodles (Nasoya or similar)
½ cup cashews
1/2 cup chicken stock or veggie stock
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons ginger peanut sauce or 3 tbs minced peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tsp chopped garlic

Directions

In a small saucepan, combine the stock with the soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch slurry, vinegar and sesame oil. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Add peanut oil, ginger and crushed red pepper and cook over high heat, stirring, until fragrant and golden and boil over high heat until thickened and glossy, about 1 minute. Add garlic and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.
stir-fry_chic_290_200
Fry chicken and start boiling water. Flash-steam the pepper slices and pea pods before adding into a large skillet or wok with some of the stir-fry sauce. I got a nifty double-boiler/strainer and it made it easy to flash team then use the same pot of water! 2 in 1!
stir-fry_veggies_290_200
Start dry roasting the cashews separately while water boils for the noodles (or rice if you prefer). Fresh Asian noodles cook for about 10 minutes then they cook for another 2 in the sauce with your chicken & veggies.

Add the sauce into the veggie skillet and add the noodles when they’re ready. Cover the pan while everything combines for 2-3 minutes. Add the cashews right before serving.
stir-fry_dish_290_200
If you haven’t used these noodles you should try them. They are in the produce section of the supermarket and come in Chinese (round), Japanese (flat & my favorite) and wonton wrappers. Regular spaghetti works fine too, but these noodles absorb the stir-fry sauce better.
stir_fry_package_200_290
This ended up making about 3 pretty hefty servings. It was really good and a perfect amount of sauce.

A Tasty Catastrophe

Once upon a time, Ms. S wanted to bring something to a weekend away with friends but what would travel well on a bus from NYC all the way to the far away land of Massachusetts?

BEER BREAD (mix, to be made on the spot)

It was such a great idea. It was easy, goes with everything, didn’t take up room, and didn’t create any leftovers! Yum! I was new to the world of Tastefully Simple but it sounds like fun and I’m glad to be in-the-know (recently I was feeling old/out-of-it after having to google flash mob).

Ingredients

mix
12 oz beer or carbonated beverage
3 tbs butter (optional)

Directions

1) Empty mix into a big bowl
beerbread_mix_290_200
2) Stir in beer

beerbread_pour_290_200
3) Melt butter and pour over the top of the mixed batter
beerbread_butter_200_290
4) Bake according to package
beerbread_final_200_290
I hesitate to share the commotion this bread caused before telling you how yummy it is! We loved it and ate it all. For beer Ms. S chose a winter beer which was great, thought I hadn’t had it anyother way. The buttered top made it crispy and delicious.Ok, so, we’re in a rental house with a full kitchen. Ms. S followed all instructions perfectly and baked it until she realized the oven was smoking. It smelled like chemicals so we fanned it out, wiped the bottom of the oven, let it cool and turned it back on. It seemed fine at first but the smoke came back! It was crazy, let me tell you. One of us would open the oven and stand back from the fumes, another one would hold a small fan pointing into the oven, three was taking photos, and four was opening doors and fanning the smoke detector.

The smell was very intense and the property owner had to come over to look at the oven. We still attest that it wasn’t our fault. We THINK the previous tentant may have used oven cleaner on a self-cleaning oven (serious no-no).

Anywho, it baked part way, then the oven had a hissy fit then it baked more. It didn’t taste like the smoke at all and turned out fine. We loved it and hope to have it again!

Deeply in Love

I love a lot of things, but I’m new to Chicago deep dish and it was love at first sight. My sis and I really enjoyed Chi-town, especially the pizza. Our first full day was a rainy one, but we made it awesome. Dad had given us a contribution for the trip and we made him proud. After a tour of Wriggly Stadium, we yelp’ed for some good deep dish.chi_pizza_slice_290_200
They take forever to cook, but it’s so worth it. I had only ever had Uno’s deep dish before. I liked that but even though it originated in Chicago, Uno’s isn’t the same as our local-to-Chicago family-owned deep dish experience. We chose sausage, green pepper, and onion. The sauce was zesty, the ingredients perfectly cooked, and the cheese abundant. My mouth waters as I reminisce.

I probably don’t cook as much pizza as I would like to…I know, I can do something about. I just need a pizza stone to be able to do it right at home.

I needed a creative bday present for my amazing sis and thought about shipping a frozen one from Chicago! Lou Malnati’s ships them frozen and it was so fun! We had it the other night and thought it was pretty good but it just wasn’t super thick.

chi_pizza_290_200I did get Mr. J a pan from them too so I really need to get on making deep dish the next time I have hours and hours to wait for my pizza to be done (or 60 minutes). Sometime soon, I’ll make one myself.

chi_pizza_cooked_290_200

‘Morning Sunshine

Stranded on an island with one meal, hands down a breakfast sandwich is my choice. Everytime. I’m specifically interested in one varity: sausage, egg, cheese on a croissant. I mean I wouldn’t pass up one with bacon, or on a bagel, but for breakfast or brunch, this is a pretty regular choice for me. It is also a great way to compare restaurants!

bfast_sand_290_200

the egg:

over-easy or scrambled

the cheese:

preferably cheddar, but American will do just fine

the sausage:

maple is great but links or patties, I don’t discriminate

the bread:

croissants are my favorite, but again, bagels make a great choice…the caveat? The bagel must, must, must be toasted or grilled. This seems obvious but it has been a reoccurring faux pas.

bacon_egg_sand_290_200

My local favorites include Kelly’s Diner, Ball Square Cafe, Bakers’ Best, and yes, Dunkin’ Donuts.

Unacceptable breakfast sandwiches are found at The Broken Yolk (untoasted bagel and a single link sausage cut in half) and Moogy’s (stringy cheese and rubbery bacon).

Normally my restaurant choices lean towards something I cannot make at home, but the fact that I don’t make them regularly adds validity to my choice. It needs to be served HOT HOT HOT. Also, the egg must be cooked through while the cheese needs to be melted. I swoon over a sharpness of the cheddar, the toasty-ness of the croissant, and the sweetness of the sausage gets me every time.

Wine IN Dinner and WITH Dinner

Chicken Marsala

Another Mr. J delighted our group with his Chicken or Filet Marsala.

I was very appreciative that he accommodated my inability to eat red meat by offering the chicken option! (hopefully that helped the meal not break the bank either!) He based it off a Weight Watchers recipe

Ingredients

2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp butter
1 cup mushrooms, sliced (he used baby portabella)
1 pound uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast (there was also a filet option)
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
½ cup Marsala wine
1 ¼ cup reduced sodium chicken broth (for the filet the sauce used beef broth)
1 ½ tbs cornstarch

Directions

1) Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until tender and releasing liquid, about 5 minutes.


2) Meanwhile, season chicken on both sides with thyme, salt and pepper. Move mushrooms to outer edge of skillet once cooked. Place chicken in center of skillet and sauté until golden, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.

3) Add wine to skillet; simmer 1 minute. Add 3/4 cup of broth and simmer, uncovered, until chicken is tender and cooked through, about 8 minutes.

4) Dissolve cornstarch in remaining 1/2 cup of broth in a small bowl; add to skillet. Simmer until sauce thickens, stirring constantly and incorporating mushrooms into the liquid, about 1 minute. Serve chicken with mushroom sauce spooned over top.

He served it with mashed russet potatoes and broccoli. We loved it!

Pie for Dinner: Tortilla Pie

I was in the mood for something fun and after scouring the fridge I thought about Mexican. I went with a tortilla pie and it was great! All the ingredients were things I had on hand and threw in what I had.

My thought was that it could come out too messy if there was too much liquid. Since flour tortillas won’t absorb much I tried to keep that in mind.

Ingredients

3 flour tortillas
1 can pinto beans
½ cup salsa
2 cups chicken, chopped
2 cups spinach, chopped
1 cup brown rice
1 cup corn
1 cup shredded cheddar
2 tbs taco seasoning

Directions

1) Cook chicken with taco seasoning.

2) Cook rice and then mix in spinach. I used instant brown rice and and the spinach wilted perfectly when mixed in. Serve the unused portion on the side. Putting some in will help keep everything from getting soggy.

3) Spray an empty skillet with non-stick spray and toast each side of the tortilla.
4) Rinse beans and add ¼ cup of salsa. Mash the beans and mix the salsa evenly with a few lumps remaining.

5) Layer toasted tortialls with bean spread, chicken, corn, cheese, rice & spinach, and sprinkle with taco seasoning. Repeat layers ending with a tortilla on top.

6) Bake 20 minutes at 350. Sprinkle with cheese if desired and salsa.

I had some leftover breaded chicken pieces that worked really well. The spinach was a good way to add another veggie and tomatoes might have made it too runny. Keeping the salsa out of the pie kept the consistency perfect. I had some salsa con queso cheesey dip so I drizzled some of that too. Mr. J and I liked it a lot and will definitely make it again!

Spinach and Artichoke Dip…with an Indian Twist

I needed to make a healthy appetizer for a non-profit having a get together for women. On The Rise is an amazing organization who supports women who are trying to move out of homelessness and women in crisis. I was in a hurry and didn’t have a ton of ideas. I knew my ap wouldn’t be able to be kept or served warm so I went with a semi-homemade dip.I had raita dip from Trader Joe’s so I used that as my starting point. I made this with the idea of spinach and artichoke dip without all the cheese and one that wouldn’t need to be served hot.

Ingredients
6 oz premade Raita
3 cups spinach, chopped
½ cup non-fat sour cream
1 jar artichoke hearts
1 pumpernickel bread loaf, uncut

Directions
1) Wilt spinach in a skillet.
spinachdip1_290_200

2) Slice the top of the loaf and hollow out the inside.

3) Mix raita, sour cream, artichoke hearts, and spinach.
spinachdip3_290_200
4) Refrigerate a few hours or overnight.
5) Serve in bread bowl with bread, baby carrots, and wheat thins to dip.This probably won’t be my claim to fame but it fulfilled the criteria I was looking for. It also was cheap, easy, and traveled well. I don’t have a final photo since they protect the anonymity of their clients so I wasn’t at the meal.

I’ve made lunch for these ladies and I really wonder how it has gone over. Again, the charge was healthy and minimal prep. Once I made sandwich filling options of grilled chicken salad with grapes or greek veggies (hummus, feta, cukes, tomatoes, and greek dressing) in pita pockets or bulkie rolls. Another time I made breakfast of baked blueberry french toast, hashbrown casserole, and mini bagels with cream cheese.