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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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?

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.
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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!
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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.
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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.
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This ended up making about 3 pretty hefty servings. It was really good and a perfect amount of sauce.

Mac & Cheese, no box involved

I was bringing a meal to my NYE weekend in the Berkshires and I was thinking about what would be easy, travel well, and was good for a group of 8. I came up with mac & cheese. Who doesn’t love it.

Well, I didn’t love mine as much as I anticipated when making it the night before BUT I know what I’ll do for the next time around. It was too dry. The night I cooked it, there was an amazing looking creamy-ness and cheesy texture I couldn’t resist sampling a macaroni before baking.  I cooked it part way before packing it, but maybe I should have kept everything separate since I knew I would have access to a kitchen.

It was good, but it wasn’t amazing. I based it off Alton Brown’s mac & cheese recipe. I switched up the topping to crushed potato chips instead of bread crumbs. I also added some other cheeses.

Ingredients

*special note: this serves about 6 so I doubled it for 8 and had leftovers*
1 pound large elbow macaroni
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons mustard
5 cups milk
1 large egg
12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
½ cup mozzarella, shredded
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded or grated
1 teaspoon koshersalt
Fresh black pepper

Topping:

5 tablespoons butter
1 cup crushed potato chips
¼ cup Parmesan cheese

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to a bit firmer than al dente.
3) While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep whisking until it is free of lumps for several minutes.

4) Cook bacon until crisp then chop into pieces.
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5) Stir in the milk and simmer for ten minutes.

6) Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the sauce into the macaroni in the casserole dish. Mix in chopped bacon. Top with remaining cheese.

7) Melt the topping butter in a saute pan and toss the chips in to coat. Top the macaroni with the chips. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

Leftovers need some additional help to recreate the creamy texture so I add a dribble of milk or cream and a sprinkle of leftover cheese.

I think next time I make mac & cheese I will greatly increase the liquid and severely undercook the pasta since it’ll cook a bit when baking.

Other great additions to baked mac & cheese are: caramelized shallots; cherry or grape tomatoes whole and basil; sometimes I make it Mexican with taco seasoning, pepper jack cheese, green onions, salsa, and topped with crushed tortilla chips. What should I add next time?

Sweet Potato (Take Deux) Pasta

I made mashed sweet potatoes and, as is the case with all mashed potatoes, there was so much more than we needed. I actually googled to find out more about freezing them. Most of my findings remarked about how inexpensive they are so what’s the point. What’s the point? The point is that I hate grocery shopping and recreating leftovers is a challenge I’ll gladly accept! Reusing leftovers is in my blood.
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This pasta was based on a pumpkin pasta I love and worked pretty well as my leftover re-do. I should have blended it for a smoother texture but it was pretty good. Carbs + carbs = yummy.

Ingredients

-Salt
-½  pound short pasta (farfalle)
-1 cloves garlic, chopped
-½ cup chicken broth
-1 cup canned pure pumpkin puree OR 1 cup mashed sweet potatoes
-½ cup heavy cream
-1 pinch ground cinnamon
-1 pinch nutmeg
-4 leaves fresh sage, thinly sliced


Directions

Cook pasta

While the pasta is in the water, in a medium skillet, heat 2 tbs olive oil olive oil and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the chicken broth, pumpkin and cream. Add cinnamon and nutmeg; season with salt and pepper.

Lower the heat and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the sage.

Toss the pasta with the sauce.

Pasta with Home Baked Goodness

Miss L had me over for a delicious dinner. She made Baked Pasta as a deviation of Martha’s recipe. Ours didn’t include chicken sausage but Miss L has made it with it, or with chicken instead. The possibilities here are endless.

This was so good because of the strength of flavors but none were overpowering. Baked pasta warms the heart, especially in pink sauce with fontina. Yum!

Miss L was the perfect host by laying a premade dip (thanks to Trader Joe’s) and pita chips while dinner spent the last few minutes baking. Miss H poured the wine and the night began!

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Ingredients

Serves 8
-Coarse salt and ground pepper
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-1 medium red onion, chopped
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1/4 cup vodka (optional)
-1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes with juice, lightly crushed with hands
-1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
-1/2 cup heavy cream
-1 pound rigatoni
-10 ounces baby spinach
-12 ounces smoked chicken sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick
-6 ounces fontina cheese, 4 ounces cut into 1/2-inch cubes and 2 ounces coarsely grated
-1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic. Remove from heat; add vodka, if desired. Return to heat; cook until almost evaporated, 1 minute.
  2. Stir in tomatoes and oregano; cook until tomatoes are falling apart, 10 to 15 minutes. Add cream; cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta in the boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions. Add spinach, and cook just until wilted. Drain, and return contents to pot.
  4. Add tomato sauce, sausage, and cubed fontina to pot; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Divide evenly between two shallow 1 1/2-quart baking dishes.
  5. Top with grated fontina and Parmesan. Bake until browned and edges are crisp, 20 to 30 minutes.

This dish reminded me I don’t eat enough rigatoni or enough pink sauce. Martha kindly reminds her readers this makes enough for two smaller pans (to freeze one). The noodles were cooked perfectly and they absorbed the right amount of sauce to keep the flavor throughout.

I really liked this dish and thought it would be a great one to share with friends because this dish actually enables the host to enjoy the guests while it does it’s thang. There’s nothing worse than missing your company because you’re stuck in the kitchen.