Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sweet Potato Ravioli with Brown Butter

I wanted to make something semi-Halloween-y for dinner tonight, so I picked this recipe from Bon Appetit (2/03). It was simple, had lots of delicious ingredients...and was not anything special at all. We were pretty disappointed. I hate when that happens.

And our jack o' lantern that we carved on Saturday night is moldy (though outside) and that makes us sad. Thank goodness for new episodes of South Park at least, right?

Sweet Potato Ravioli with Brown Butter

Serve the ravioli atop a bed of wilted spinach, if desired, to soak up every bit of the flavorful brown butter sauce.

Sweet Potato Ravioli
1 1/2 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams)
2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

48 square wonton wrappers
2 large egg whites, beaten until foamy

Brown Butter Sauce
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

Chopped toasted pecans (optional)

For sweet potato ravioli:
Pierce potatoes all over with fork. Cook potatoes in microwave on high until soft throughout, about 6 minutes per side. Cool slightly. Cut potatoes in half; scoop 2 packed cups potato flesh into large bowl. Mix in brown sugar and nutmeg. Season sweet potato filling with salt and pepper.

Line large baking sheet with plastic wrap. Place 1 wonton wrapper on work surface. Using pastry brush, lightly brush wrapper with beaten egg whites. Place 1 tablespoon sweet potato filling in center of wrapper. Top with another wrapper. Press edges together to seal. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling. (Can be made up to 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

For brown butter sauce:
Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Cook until butter begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Carefully mix in vinegar and thyme.

Meanwhile, working in batches, cook ravioli in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, carefully transfer ravioli to hot butter sauce; spoon sauce over to coat ravioli. Transfer to plates. Sprinkle with pecans, if desired; serve immediately.

Yield: 6 servings

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Candy-Corn Sugar Cookies

OK. I had a master plan to bake some deliciously festive Halloween cookies to take to work tomorrow. I picked these cute little sugar cookies with a single candy corn pressed onto the top because they are adorable, simple, and not terribly unhealthy. Dough came together quickly, though it was much more crumbly than I anticipated. Cookies went into the oven, and then.... smoke! So much smoke! The parchment paper I used on the pan (the pan was dark and I didn't want it to burn the cookies - hah!) essentially caught on fire, creating tons of smoke, a horrible smell, and the bottoms of the cookies did, in fact, get burned. I started salvaging some of the cookies and then I got mad and threw out the rest of the dough.

I did, however, taste the cookies. I just ignored the burned part on the bottom. And what do you know, they are delicious! I wish I had more time to make another batch and NOT use parchment paper. I would just use a different cookie pan, or my Silpat mat. So it failed due to cook's error, but would be awesomely successful for everyone else. Plus they really are adorable with the little candy corns on top. Make these and tell me how they turn out! I will have to wait another year. :(

Candy-Corn Sugar Cookies
Everyday Food magazine

Rather than measuring and rolling one ball at a time, scoop out all o the dough into level teaspoons (onto a place or wax paper) before rolling them into balls.

4 Tbsp unsalted butter, very soft
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
About 36 candy corns

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place butter and sugar in a medium bowl; beat with a wooden spoon until combined. Beat in egg yolk, vanilla, baking powder, and salt. Add flour and mix until a dough forms.

2. Scoop out level teaspoons of dough, and roll into balls (chill dough briefly if it becomes too soft to handle). Place balls on baking sheets, 2 inches apart.

3. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are firm and cookies are dry to the touch (do not let cookies color), 10 to 12 minutes.

4. Remove from oven; gently press a candy corn into center of each cookie (surface of cookies may crack slightly). Cool on sheets 1 minute; transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Yield: 3 dozen (Note: HAH there is no way this would make 3 dozen. Maybe 2)

Cheesy Broccoli Potato Soup

Tonight's dinner came from a surprising source: They mailed me a pamphlet with recipes emphasizing the use of dairy products. This recipe sounded good, so I made it. And it was wonderful! There were a lot of issues with the cooking time though. Anyone who thinks a potato and frozen broccoli will cook thoroughly in 15 minutes on low heat is sorely mistaken. I realized this after about 12 minutes. Then I bumped the heat up to medium-high, let it boil briefly, then reduced it to a simmer for another 10-15 minutes. This is a much more effective method. And it does yield quite a delicious soup. We really liked it and would definitely make it again.

Cheesy Broccoli Potato Soup

4 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup flour
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups fat-free milk
2 cups frozen broccoli, chopped
2 cups potatoes, peeled and diced
1 1/2 cups Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat, add onion and cook until tender. Add flour; stir until blended. Gradually stir in broth. Heat until slightly thickened. Add milk, broccoli and potatoes. Cook over low heat about 15 minutes or until broccoli and potatoes are tender. Stir in cheese and seasonings.

Yield: 12 servings

Photo Added 7/2/2008:

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Browned Butter

We had this with our crappy fish dish tonight and it was wonderful. I've always heard great reviews for this recipe, but I never got around to making it until tonight. It is so good! It is a definite make-again.

Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Browned Butter
Cooking Light, September 2001

Finish the asparagus just before serving dinner. Cooking the butter until it browns slightly gives the dish a nutty flavor; watch carefully, though, since it can burn easily.

40 asparagus spears, trimmed (about 2 pounds)
Cooking spray
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400°.

Arrange asparagus in a single layer on baking sheet; coat with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 400° for 12 minutes or until tender.

Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat; cook for 3 minutes or until lightly browned, shaking pan occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in soy sauce and vinegar. Drizzle over the asparagus, tossing well to coat. Serve immediately.

Yield: 8 servings

Photo added March 27, 2009:

Garlic-and-Herb Oven-Fried Halibut

I thought I'd make a nice simple meal with some fish tonight because we should try to eat more fish (even though we ate a metric ton of sushi Friday night, but whatever). The fish would not freaking cook through, and then once it did, it wasn't even worth it. It's a relatively bland dish and the panko gets all soggy and isn't good. Not a make-again.

Garlic-and-Herb Oven-Fried Halibut
Cooking Light, August 2007

1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 (6-ounce) halibut fillets
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 450°.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a shallow dish. Place egg whites and egg in a shallow dish. Place flour in a shallow dish. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper. Dredge fish in flour. Dip in egg mixture; dredge in panko mixture.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 3 fish fillets; cook 2 1/2 minutes on each side or until browned. Place fish on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and remaining fish. Bake at 450° for 6 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness.

Yield: 6 servings

Glazed Cinnamon-Raisin Rolls

I wanted to make something nice for breakfast for Saturday, so I made something ahead of time last weekend and froze it. I made some fruit-and-cinnamon buns from Cooking Light. I had some issues with the dough because it didn't rise and it was very thick. I must have used faulty yeast. It never rose or got flaky or anything, even after we baked them on Saturday. It did make for a dense dough, but it was still very good. We really liked them and they were even good warmed up this morning. These are excellent for when you have overnight guests because you don't have to do much prep in the morning but still have a nice, homemade breakfast.

Glazed Cinnamon-Raisin Rolls

If you're a weekend baker, the unbaked rolls can be prepared up to two months in advance and stored in the freezer. When you're ready to eat them, let the rolls stand 30 minutes, then bake 20 minutes. Prepare glaze while rolls bake.

1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 tsp)
1/4 cup warm water (100-110 degrees)
1/2 cup fat-free milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 1 lb) divided
Cooking spray

2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled

1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp fat-free milk

1. Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup milk and next 5 ingredients (through egg). Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 3 1/2 cups flour to yeast mixture, stir until blended. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes); add enough of the remaining flour, 1 Tbsp at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel sticky).

2. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough). Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes.

3. To prepare filling, combine brown sugar, golden raisins, dried apricots, chopped pecans, and cinnamon.

4. Roll dough into an 18x10 inch rectangle on a floured surface. Brush 2 Tbsp melted butter over dough; sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups filling, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Beginning with a long side, roll up jelly-roll fashion and pinch seam to seal (do not seal ends of roll).

5. Place a long piece of dental floss under dough 3/4 inch from end of roll. Cross ends of floss over top of roll; slowly pull ends to cut through dough. Repeat procedure to make 24 rolls. Coat 2 (8 inch) square foil baking pans with cooking spray. Sprinkle 1/2 cup filling into bottom of each pan. Place 12 rolls, cut sides up, in each pan. Cover and let rise 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.

6. Preheat oven to 350°.

7. Uncover rolls. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until browned.

8. To prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar and 2 Tbsp milk, stirring until smooth. Drizzle over warm rolls.

Yield: 2 dozen

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Penne Romana

Once upon a time, I think it was 2002, my brother had a girlfriend and he decided to make her dinner for her birthday. He did not know how to cook (and I was not cooking anything other than boxed cakes at that time) but my mom helped him make a copycat recipe of his girlfriend's favorite Olive Garden pasta dish: Penne Romana. There were leftovers, so I (being a senior in high school at the time) ate them. They were delicious, so I kept the recipe. Tonight I decided to actually make it myself. Once again, it was very tasty. The sauce is very delicious. We only had half the amount of white wine than was required, and I did miss the extra taste it would have added, but it was still really yummy. I have never had the Olive Garden dish so I don't know how close it is to the real one, but the recipe was actually posted on the Olive Garden website, so it's probably pretty close. I don't think we would make it again but I am going to keep the recipe just in case!

ETA: We subbed vegetable stock for the chicken broth.

Penne Romana circa 2002

Romana Sauce
1/2 cup(s) Extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup(s) Yellow onion, chopped in 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 tsp Crushed red pepper
1 Tbsp Garlic, minced
2 cup(s) White wine
2 tsp Rosemary, chopped
1 Tbsp Parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 Tbsp Cornstarch
2 cup(s) Chicken broth

2 cup(s) Green beans, blanched
1 cup(s) Tomato, diced
4 Romana sauce (see above)
4 cup(s) Penne pasta (cooked)
3 Tbsp Romano cheese
3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese

Sauce Procedure
- Heat oil in a small saucepan at medium high heat
- Add onions and crushed red pepper
- Cook until soft, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently
- Add minced garlic and cook for one minute
- Whisk in wine, rosemary, parsley and salt
- In a separate bowl, whisk cornstarch and chicken broth
- Add mixture to sauce and stir well
- Bring to a boil and set aside

Pasta Procedure
- Heat saute pan over medium high heat
- Add green beans and tomato and cook for one minute
- Add Romana sauce and hot, drained penne pasta
- Add Romano and Parmesan cheeses
- Stir well with a spoon, making sure the pasta is well coated
- Serve hot

Yield: 4 servings

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Apple Sandwich

I thought I'd posted this recipe before, but apparently I haven't. I've made this like a jillion times over the past few years. It's from an old issue of Martha Stewart and is so simple and tasty. We had it with some frozen fries for dinner. Perfect!

Apple Sandwich

For a tasty twist on the standard grilled cheese, add slices of crisp fall apples. Choose a good eating apple, such as McIntosh, and cut it into thick slices. Layer the slices and cheddar cheese atop bread, such as sesame, buttered on the bottom; top with another piece of buttered bread. Cook, flipping halfway through, until the cheese has melted (about 7 minutes).

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Golden Potato-Leek Soup with Cheddar Toasts

Tonight we had Golden Potato-Leek Soup with Cheddar Toasts, which was wonderful as always. This is definitely one of our favorite recipes.

This morning I spent a few hours making some fruity cinnamon buns and then popped them in the freezer. My mom is coming to visit next weekend and I wanted to have something yummy to feed her for breakfast on Saturday before we go wedding dress shopping. Hopefully the cinnamon buns will be yummy! Yay for make-ahead recipes!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Flaxseed Falafel Sandwiches

Since I have a huge bag of flaxseed in our refrigerator from the Caramel Apple Muffins I made a few weeks ago, I decided to try out this recipe tonight. It's basic falafel, but it has some flaxseed mixed in (i.e. hidden) to give it some extra healthiness. It's a pretty yummy recipe as a whole, but I wish the falafels had been crispier. They were very smooshy and did not retain their shape at all. I know real falafel is so crispy because it's deep fried, and this is a healthy version that is not deep fried, but I still kind of missed it. We probably won't make this again, as there are other falafel recipes in the world to try.

Flaxseed Falafel Sandwiches
From Cooking Light, May 2000

1/3 cup flaxseed
1 (19-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon flaxseed
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon olive oil
Cooking spray
4 (6-inch) pitas, cut in half
8 curly leaf lettuce leaves
Mediterranean Chopped Salad (recipe follows)
1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt

Place 1/3 cup flaxseed in a blender or clean coffee grinder, and process until ground to measure 1/2 cup flaxseed meal; set flaxseed meal aside.

Drain chickpeas over a bowl, reserving liquid. Place chickpeas, garlic, and 1 tablespoon reserved liquid in blender; pulse 5 times or until coarsely chopped. Add flaxseed meal, parsley, and next 5 ingredients (parsley through red pepper); pulse just until mixture is combined. Divide chickpea mixture into 8 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Combine breadcrumbs and 1 tablespoon flaxseed in a shallow dish. Dip patties in egg white; dredge in breadcrumb mixture.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add patties; cook 5 minutes on each side or until browned.

Line each pita half with a lettuce leaf; fill each pita half with 1 patty and about 3 tablespoons Mediterranean Chopped Salad. Top each with 1 tablespoon yogurt.

Mediterranean Chopped Salad:
1 cup diced tomato
1/2 cup diced peeled English cucumber
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons minced seeded jalapeño pepper
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl; toss gently. Let stand for up to 2 hours.

Yield: 4 servings

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Tex-Mex Black Bean Burgers

We thought these burgers, from a recipe from Shape magazine, were good, but felt that they were lacking something. Then I realized that I had forgotten to add the chipotle pepper to the burgers, and the mystery was solved. We will make these again, at least to find out how they taste with the chipotle. They were good and fast, though, and nice and healthy.

Tex-Mex Black Bean Burgers

With twelve grams of fiber, these supply nearly half you daily needs.

1 cup instant brown rice
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies
1 chipotle chile in adobo, with 1 tsp sauce from can
1 teaspoon chili powder
cooking spray
4 ounces shredded monterey jack pepper cheese
6 (4 inch) whole-wheat pita bread
8 tablespoons prepared salsa (mild, medium, or hot)

1. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/4 cups water to a boil. Add rice and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for ten minutes. Remove from heat; let stand five minutes.

2. Transfer to a food processor. Add next four ingreients and process until smooth (you may leave some beans whole, if desired, to add texture). Shape mixture into six patties, each about two inches think.

3. Coat a grill pan or large griddle with cooking spray and set pan over medium heat. When pan is hot, add burgers and cook five minutes per side, until golden brown on both sides.

4. Top burgers with cheese, cover pan with lid or foil and cook one minute, until cheese melts.

5. Place burgers inside pita pockets and top each burger with 1 1/2 tbsp salsa.

Yield: 6 servings

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Buddha's Delight with Tofu, Broccoli, and Water Chestnuts

We like stir-fries and Chinese food, so I thought this recipe might be fun. I substituted mushrooms for the snow peas, but otherwise stuck to the recipe. It was good, but not anything special. We couldn't taste any of the marinade, so it was like a standard, unseasoned stir-fry over rice. Not bad, but not good enough to repeat.

Buddha's Delight with Tofu, Broccoli, and Water Chestnuts

3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 (14-ounce) package water-packed extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 1-inch cubes
5 cups small broccoli florets
1 1/2 cups (1/4-inch) diagonally sliced carrot
1/2 cup peeled, chopped broccoli stems
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 cups sliced green onions
1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup snow peas, trimmed
1 (14-ounce) can whole baby corn, drained
1 (8-ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups hot cooked short-grain rice

Combine first 5 ingredients, tossing to coat; cover and marinate in refrigerator 1 hour. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving marinade.

Cook broccoli florets, carrot, and broccoli stems in boiling water 1 1/2 minutes; drain. Plunge into ice water. Drain.

Heat canola oil in a wok or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu; stir-fry 5 minutes or until lightly browned on all sides. Stir in onions, ginger, and garlic; stir-fry 30 seconds. Stir in broccoli mixture, snow peas, corn, and water chestnuts; stir-fry 1 minute. Combine broth and cornstarch, stirring with a whisk. Add cornstarch mixture, reserved marinade, and salt to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 2 1/2 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Serve over rice.

Yield: 6 servings

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Cream of Broccoli and Cauliflower Soup

Tonight we had Cream of Broccoli and Cauliflower Soup again, and it was wonderful again. It is definitely moving up on our list of repeater recipes. We managed to cook it AND eat it all within the span of Wheel of Fortune. That's pretty impressive and excellent for a winter weeknight meal (if winter ever hits - tomorrow it will be 81 degrees!).

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Henri's French Onion Soup

Tonight I spent a very long time actively making tonight's dinner of French Onion Soup. I liked this recipe because it is a vegetarian version of french onion soup. Most recipes for it have beef broth as the main liquid. Even though water is the main liquid, it melds with the onions and creates a wonderful broth. This is the best French onion soup I have had, vegetarian or not. We really liked it and would definitely make it again - if I ever have the time to do it again.

I only made enough for 2 servings, so the cooking time took less time than is listed if you make the full recipe. The onions were browning after about 40 minutes (vs 90) and were nice dark brown a half hour after that. So instead of spending 2 hours cooking them, as is in the recipe, I only spent a little over an hour. It wasn't too bad. Broiling it only took like 2 minutes, also, so that reduced the time. All in all, the whole process took me about an hour and a half. It was worth the effort!

Note: As I posted this recipe, I realized that I forgot to add the sugar to my soup. It was just fine without it. Hmm.

Henri's French Onion Soup
Found on the CLBB, edited for spelling and inconsistencies

3 pounds yellow onions
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon table salt, plus *more as needed*
1 tablespoon sugar
1 sprig fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 baguette, crusty
8 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated

Cut the tips off the onions and slice them in half lengthwise pole to pole. Peel off the outer layer of the skin and cut each half in half lengthwise. Slice each quarter crosswise in 1/8th inch slices. As you get close to the root, flip each piece onto the other flat side and continue slicing. Melt butter in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Once it has stopped foaming add the onions, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and sugar. Toss to evenly coat. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove cover, and cook, stirring frequently until the onions begin to brown lightly, about 90 minutes longer. Now stir every 5 minutes and add a couple of tablespoons of water whenever the bottom of the pan crusts over with dark fond. Continue to cook as directed until the onions are and even dark walnut color, an additional 45 minutes longer. (Cooking times are just approximate.)

Add the flour and stir for two minutes. Add 8 cups water and the thyme to the onions and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to maintain a lively simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Add white wine and simmer 10 minutes longer. Taste for seasoning, adding salt as needed. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 325F and adjust a rack to the upper middle position. Cut the baguette into 3/4 inch slices and arrange on a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake until the bread is dry, crisp, and very lightly colored at the edges, about 10 minutes. Remove bread slices and set aside.

Heat broiler and place 6 heatproof bowls on a baking sheet. Fill each bowl with about 2 cups of soup. Top each with two baguette slices and evenly distribute grated cheese over the bread. Broil until well-browned and bubbly, about 10 minutes. Cool for five minutes before serving.

Yield: 6 servings

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Mushroom Ravioli with Parmesan-Chive Sauce

"But Lauren," you ask. "Why did you make mushroom ravioli? He is starting to like mushrooms a little but only when they are disguised. Mushroom ravioli is in no way disguising them." You are correct in that assertion. Today I attempted to replicate a ravioli dish he enjoyed at a nearby Italian restaurant with a similar recipe from Cooking Light (June 2007). I figured this would be the final step in getting him to fully, 100% enjoy mushrooms.

And I was right.

I win.

The recipe itself isn't the most spectacular thing I've ever eaten, but it's good. I doubled the amount of sauce because I had a feeling that it wouldn't be enough, and I was right. So do that. I enjoyed that this recipe was specifically for 2 people because we always end up with leftovers that neither of us will eat. So this was nice. It probably isn't a make-again, because now I can expand and make all my old favorite mushroom recipes again. :) Yaaaaaaaaaaaaay!

Mushroom Ravioli with Parmesan-Chive Sauce

1/2 (8-ounce) package button mushrooms
1/2 (6-ounce) package presliced portobello mushrooms
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1/8 teaspoon salt
14 wonton wrappers
1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1/8 teaspoon salt
Dash of freshly ground black pepper

Remaining ingredient:
Fresh chives (optional)

To prepare ravioli, place mushrooms in food processor; pulse 10 times or until finely chopped. Heat oil and butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots, and sauté for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and 1/8 teaspoon salt; cook 5 minutes or until moisture evaporates, stirring occasionally.

Working with 1 wonton wrapper at a time (cover remaining wrappers with a damp towel to keep them from drying), spoon about 2 teaspoons mushroom mixture into center of each wrapper. Moisten edges of dough with water; bring 2 opposite corners together. Pinch edges together to seal, forming a triangle. Place ravioli on a large baking sheet sprinkled with cornstarch.

To prepare sauce, combine milk and flour in a small saucepan over medium-low heat; stir with a whisk. Cook 4 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in cheese, 1 tablespoon chives, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Set aside; keep warm.

Cook ravioli in boiling water 2 minutes or until tender. Drain. Serve with sauce. Garnish with fresh chives, if desired.

Yield: 2 servings

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thai Tomato Soup

Tonight we had Thai Tomato Soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, and it was a delicious and tasty meal.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Broccoli Mac & Cheese Gratin

First off, I would like to address a question asked by Ms. Lisa on my last post. She asked what we do when we make something and hate it. The answer varies. Sometimes we throw it out and then go to Coldstone to get ice cream and make ourselves feel better. Sometimes we suck it up and eat it anyway. Very rarely we order pizza. Or, in the case of last night, we throw it out and then whine for the rest of the night. Unfortunately, I made dinner later in the evening so we didn't have time to go out and get ice cream or Taco Bell, so I snacked on peanuts and he had some cheese. It was kind of pathetic.

So! It's much better when we have something like tonight's dinner, which is so fantastic that we eat all of it and are not hungry afterwards. It's not a traditional macaroni and cheese, since it has a white sauce rather than orange, but it was so delicious. It is a definite make-again. Don't skip the steps related to the bread crumbs - it really makes the dish!!

Small changes: I used Trader Joe's Fontiago cheese instead of Fontina and Asiago (since it is, after all, a combination of the two); upped the amount of cayenne pepper to just enough to taste; used honey flax wheat bread instead of white; and we halved the recipe.

Broccoli Mac & Cheese Gratin
Cooking Light, July 2007

4 cups uncooked medium seashell pasta (about 12 ounces)
6 cups broccoli florets (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
3 3/4 cups 1% low-fat milk, divided
1/3 cup all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 ounces)
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded fontina cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Asiago cheese
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
Dash of ground nutmeg
Cooking spray
2 (1-ounce) slices white bread

Preheat oven to 400°.

Cook pasta in boiling water 8 minutes; add broccoli. Cook 3 minutes or until pasta is done. Drain.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic to pan; cook 45 seconds. Transfer garlic mixture to a small bowl; set aside.

Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil to pan; stir in onion. Cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in 3 cups milk. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine the remaining 3/4 cup milk and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture to onion mixture. Return pan to medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a whisk; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly with a whisk. Remove from heat; stir in the cheeses, salt, black pepper, red pepper, and nutmeg. Add pasta mixture to milk mixture, tossing gently to coat. Pour mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Combine garlic mixture and bread in a food processor; pulse 15 times or until fine crumbs measure 1 cup. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over pasta mixture. Bake at 400° for 18 minutes or until the top is brown.

Yield: 8 servings

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Pumpkin Soup with Gruyere

Some day we are going to find a savory pumpkin dish that we like. Today was not that day. Our soup was surprisingly bland and had the consistency of baby food. I thought that by making some nice homemade croutons to go in it, that it would be better, but I was wrong. This is not a make again.

Pumpkin Soup with Gruyere
Posted on the CLBB, original source unknown!

¼ cup unsalted butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cups vegetable stock
4 cups canned pure pumpkin puree
1 whole bay leaf
1 cup fat-free half and half cream
1 Tbs grated orange peel
1 Tbs fresh orange juice
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
¾ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
¾ tsp ground ginger
1½ cup shredded Gruyère or Swiss cheese, divided
salt and ground white pepper
2 Tbs finely chopped fresh chives
croutons, optional

1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until it begins to turn golden, 4-5 minutes. Add the stock, pumpkin puree, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer 15-20 minutes. Discard the bay leaf.

2. In small batches, purée the soup in a food processor or a blender. Return the purée to the pan and stir in the half and half, orange zest, orange and lemon juices, nutmeg and ginger.

3. Stir in 1 cup of shredded cheese. Heat over low heat until the cheese melts and blends in. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Pour into individual bowls and garnish with remaining cheese, chives and croutons (if desired).

Yield: 6 servings

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Poblano Stuffed with Soyrizo, Shrimp and Rice

Well tonight's dinner was AWESOME. I saw Guy Fieri make it on his show, Guy's Big Bite, on the Food Network and was instantly jealous because I don't eat meat so no chorizo for me. But then I finally found a package of the elusive Soyrizo, a magical vegetarian substitute for chorizo. I'd been looking for it all summer to no avail, but then stumbled across it last week while grocerying for my boss. I was thrilled and knew I had to make this recipe.

It was very easy to do and was fantastic. The soyrizo worked really well in it. I don't know what chorizo is supposed to taste like, having never eaten the real one, but it doesn't matter because this was still so yummy and super-spicy. We loved it. And the shrimp cooked perfectly, which surprised me since they go into the stuffed pepper raw. This is a definite make-again.

Poblano Stuffed with Chorizo, Shrimp and Rice

1 tablespoon oil
1/2 pound Mexican-style chorizo (Note: I used Soyrizo!)
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 red onion, diced
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 cup short-grain rice
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup water
4 large, fresh poblano chiles
1 pound shrimp, shelled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup Cheddar, shredded
3/4 cup Jack cheese, shredded

In a medium saucepan, heat oil and chorizo, cook for 3 minutes. Add peppers, jalapeno, onions and garlic. Cook until translucent, then add rice and cook until all the grains of the rice are coated with oil. Add all liquids and stir over high heat for 3 minutes, cover and reduce heat to low.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place poblano chiles on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Once cool, cut top 1/4 of chile off and remove ribs and seeds.

When rice is finished cooking, fluff with fork and stir in shrimp. Stuff chiles with 1/6 of the rice mixture. Place all the chiles on baking sheet and place into oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, mix cheeses together and cover pepper with cheese. Broil for 3 minutes to melt and brown the cheese.

Yield: 6 servings

Apple Peanut Butter Biscuits For Dogs

His mom and grandma don't like sweets, so I don't get to bake for them. This makes me sad, since I love to bake things for people. So when we visited them this weekend, we took a different route: we baked treats for the five dogs (Nancy's 4 dogs, + G-ma's one dog). I found the recipe on DesertCulinary. It couldn't have been easier and we had a fun time rolling out the dough and cutting it into shapes. We used cookie cutters shaped like cats, flowers, moons, pumpkins, circles, and a Jewish star (I do not know why I have one shaped like the star of David, I am not Jewish. Maybe one of the dogs is?). Regardless, it was fun. The cookies do NOT take as long as the recipe says, however. They were very crispy and several were extremely burned. That's okay though. Dogs like burned things.

Here is the batch that wasn't burned:

We packaged them into little individual Halloween cellophane bags and brought them to the dogs, who thoroughly enjoyed them. Pictures are below the recipe.

Apple Peanut Butter Biscuits

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons honey

Preheat oven to 350

In a large bowl, whisk together flours.

In a medium bowl, whisk together applesauce, peanut butter, water, oil and honey until smooth. Add the dry ingredients, one cup at a time, into the wet and stir until combined. Scoop the mixture out onto a floured surface and knead a few times until it completely comes together and is smooth, adding enough additional whole wheat flour to keep it from sticking.

Roll the dough about 1/4" thick - cut out as many shapes as you can and place them on parchment lined baking sheets. Repeat rolling and cutting until you have used up all of the dough.

Bake until the biscuits are golden, about 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pans halfway though. Remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Depending on your biscuit cutter size, the recipe can make a couple to several dozen biscuits.

Katie eating her biscuit:

Izzy viciously protected her cat-shaped cookie but only nibbled at it. Chihuahuas do that a lot.

Maddie ate hers AND stole Izzy's. This is her chewing face:

Mary ate the tail off her cat and then buried the rest in the garden. Then she ferociously barked at any dog who came close to the spot. She ended up digging it up and eating the rest an hour or so later.

A make-again indeed!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Aloo Tamatar Subzi

I found this curry recipe on the India Cuisine food blog, which doesn't seem to have been updated since 2006. I was intrigued because instead of a regular yellowish curry, it had a tomato-based sauce that gave it a nice red color.

I do not know what happened between the recipe and my kitchen, but our bland potatoes were not the delicious tomato-y curry I had been expecting. I even subbed in a habanero for the green chili, and there are like 1123123 different spices thrown in, yet it still managed to lack flavor and be boring. I am quite astonished.

The original recipe was written in shorthand so I will adapt it to make it more readable in case someone else wants to try their luck. I must have done something wrong. Why wasn't mine red like hers was?

My changes: subbed curry powder for curry leaves, habanero for the green chili, crushed red pepper in place of dried red chilis, and I used Simply Potatoes (pre-diced, peeled potatoes and onions) because I am lazy.

Aloo Tamatar Subzi (Potato-Tomato Curry)

4 medium potatoes (boiled and slightly mashed to form small chunks)
1 large onion, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1" ginger, peeled and finely minced
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 dry red chiles
10-12 curry leaves
2 green chile, slit length wise
1 tsp red chili powder (adjust according to your choice)
1 tbsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp turmeric
Salt to taste
3 medium sized tomatoes finely chopped
1 1/2 tbsp oil
Chopped cilantro for garnish
1 tsp sugar (optional)

Heat oil in a cooking vessel and add the mustard seeds and let them pop. Now add the red chiles and curry leaves and stir fry for a few seconds until the flavors are released in the oil. Now add onions, ginger and garlic and saute til the onions turn light brown. Add the green chiles and all the spices. Combine.

Add the tomatoes and stir fry till the oil separates and it gets mushy.

Add the potatoes and combine. Keep covered with a lid on low heat for 3-4 minutes.
Remove lid and cook further for another 3-4 minutes, stirring once in a while.
Add salt and enough water to cover the potatoes.

Bring to a boil and let it simmer on low heat till you get the desired curry consistency.Finally add the sugar and combine. Turn off heat. Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.

Serve hot with rotis/chapatis/steamed white rice.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Asian Bean Burgers

Tonight I made Asian Bean Burgers from some old clipping from Woman's Day magazine. It was super-fast and easy, but not particularly impressive. They didn't stay together very well and there wasn't anything special about them. We did like the horseradish sauce with the beans though. Not a make-again; there are probably much better asian bean burger type things out there.

Asian Bean Burgers

2 cans (about 15 oz each) red kidney beans, rinsed
1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs
1/3 cup minced scallions
1 large egg
1 tbsp lite soy sauce
1 tsp each ground ginger and minced garlic
1 Tbsp oil

1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1 Tbsp prepared white horseradish
1 Tbsp minced scallion
1 tsp lite soy sauce

4 hamburger buns
Lettuce and sliced tomato and cucumber

1. Burgers: Mash beans in a medium bowl with a potato masher or fork. Stir in remaining burger ingredients until well blended. Form into 4 patties.

2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook patties 3-4 minutes per side until heated through and crusty and internal temperature registers 160° on an instant-read thermometer inserted from side into middle.

3. Sauce: Mix ingredients in a small bowl.

4. Serve the burgers on buns with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and the sauce.

Yield: 4 servings

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Stir-Fried Moo Shu Vegetable Wraps

Tonight we had Stir-Fried Moo Shu Vegetable Wraps again and, although we loved them the first time, we have decided that we prefer the Siam Stir-Fry Wraps instead. The moo shu ones aren't bad, but the Siam ones have more flavor and are more interesting.