Monthly Archives: September 2012

Ravioli with Butternut Squash and Thyme

Today was a crazy day at work. I literally felt like I ran a marathon with how busy I was. But I am extremely excited for tomorrow because I will be coordinating/overseeing my first TV commercial! I plan on waking up earlier to get the office and put together my release forms and bring extra copies of the story board. I also plan on getting a BIG Starbucks for the day… to really feel the part!

So after such a busy day, I decided to make an easy, delicious and relatively healthy diner. I stuck with fall flavors – butternut squash (the healthy part) and one of my favorite pastas – cheese ravioli.

Ravioli and Sautéed Butternut Squash Recipe

Even without a sauce this pasta dish was DELISH!

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 medium butternut squash (about 1 pound), peeled and cubed

salt and pepper

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon small fresh thyme sprigs (I used dried thyme leaves and it tasted and looked fine)

1- 116 oz pkg. cheese ravioli

parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the squash, season with salt and pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes.

2. Add the garlic and thyme and cook, uncovered, tossing occasionally, until the squash is tender and beginning to brown, 2 to 3 minutes more.

3. Meanwhile, cook the ravioli according to package directions. Transfer ravioli to plates, top with the squash mixture and sprinkle with the parmesan.

 


My First Soup!

In celebration of the first day of fall on Saturday, I made my first soup on Sunday. It was a basil-parmesan tomato soup made in the crock pot. Since the soup was a twist on a traditional tomato soup, I complemented it with a twist on grilled cheese – parmesan crusted, pesto mozzarella. Mmmmmm…. just writing about it makes me hungry.

My center piece creation comprised of fake leaves and glittery acorns!

The soup was very easy to make, but at one point I did think that I had completely messed it up. After the veggies and broth cook for 5 – 7 hours in the slow cooker, you have to make the “cream” part of the soup. I melted the butter and whisked in the flour and I ended up with a clumpy, disgusting looking mess. I was a little disheartened thinking I somehow screwed up mixing the butter and flour, but then I added some of the hot veggies and broth from the crock pot and instantly, the clumps disappeared and the creamy coral color of the soup appeared! I literally yelled to Bob (who was in our living room) – “IT LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE THE PICTURE!!!”

Anyway, the soup and sandwiches were delicious separately and together.

Basil-Parmesan Tomato Soup Recipe (from Today’s Mama)

Ingredients:

2 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes, with juice
1 cup finely diced celery
1 cup finely diced carrots
1 cup finely diced onions
1 tsp dried oregano or 1 T fresh oregano
1 T dried basil or 1/4 cup fresh basil
4 cups chicken broth
½ bay leaf
½ cup flour
1 cup Parmesan cheese
½ cup butter
2 cups half and half, warmed (or skim milk )- I used 1 cup half and half, 1 cup skim milk
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper

Directions:

1.  Add tomatoes, celery, carrots, chicken broth, onions, oregano, basil, and bay leaf to a large slow cooker.
2.  Cover and cook on LOW for 5-7 hours, until flavors are blended and vegetables are soft.
3.  About 30 minutes before serving prepare a roux. Melt butter over low heat in a skillet and add flour. Stir constantly with a whisk for 5-7 minutes. Slowly stir in 1 cup hot soup. Add another 3 cups and stir until smooth. Add all back into the slow cooker. Stir and add the Parmesan cheese, warmed half and half, salt and pepper.  Add additional basil and oregano if needed (the slow cooker does a number on spices and they get bland over time, so don’t be afraid to always season to taste at the end).
4.  Cover and cook on LOW for another 30 minutes or so until ready to serve.

Parmesan Crusted Pesto Grilled Cheese Recipe (from Pin Cookie)

I love melty cheese!

Ingredients (per sandwich):

2 slices ciabatta or French bread
1 tablespoon soft butter, for brushing the bread
2 slices mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons basil pesto
1/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat.

2. Butter the outside of each slice of bread. Spread basil pesto on the inside of each slice of bread. Place the mozzarella cheese slices on top of one piece of bread. Top with the other slice of bread. Sprinkle half of the Parmesan cheese on the outside of one side of the sandwich.

3. Place the sandwich, cheese side down, on the hot pan. Grill for 2 minutes or until Parmesan cheese is crusted and golden brown. Sprinkle the rest of the Parmesan cheese on the outside of the other side of the sandwich. Cook until golden brown and the cheese has melted, about 2 more minutes. Serve immediately.

 


Mexican and Meringue

My mom’s birthday was this week, so obviously I was going to cook for her. when I asked her what she wanted her first response was “Liver and Onions.” After I politely declined and told her we had to make something I would actually eat, she decided on Enchilada Casserole from her Taste of Home casserole book. Then for dessert, I didn’t make your traditional birthday cake. I made dark chocolate cupcakes topped with meringue.

Enchilada Casserole Recipe

Ingredients:

1 pound lean ground beef

1 large onion, chopped

2 cups salsa

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup Italian salad dressing

2 tablespoons taco seasoning

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

6 flour tortillas ( 8 inches)

3/4 cup sour cream

1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese

1 cup shredded lettuce

1 medium tomato, chopped

Directions:

1. In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.

2. Stir in the salsa, beans, dressing, taco seasoning and cumin.

3. Place three tortillas in a 2 -qt. baking dish coated with cooking spray.

4. Layer with half of the meat mixture, sour cream and cheese.

5. Repeat the layers.

6. Cover and back at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

7. Uncover and bake 5 – 10 minutes longer or until heated through.

8. Let stand for 5 minutes before topping with lettuce and tomato.

 

Chocolate Meringue Cupcakes Recipe

Mine did not look nearly as pretty as the ones in my cupcake book did. But I blame it on my lack of proper tools – no piping bag. At least they were yummy!!!

Ingredients:

3 oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped ( I just used dark chocolate chips)

1/3 cup light cream

1 cup flour

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

Meringue-

3 large egg whites

1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter

1/3 cup sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 25 degrees and line a standard 12- cup muffin tin with paper liners.

2. Melt the chocolate and cream in a double boiler over barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and let cool.

3. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

4. Beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl until pale and creamy.

5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until just blended after each addition.

6. With mixer on low speed, add the mixed dry ingredients and melted chocolate.

7. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, filling each one three-quarters full.

8. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until risen and firm to the touch. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack.

9. Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees.

Meringue –

10. Beat the egg whites and cream of tarter in a medium bowl until soft peaks form.

11. Gradually ad the sugar, whisking until it is all incorporated and meringue is thick and glossy.

12. Spoon the meringue into a pastry bag fitted with a star shaped nozzle. (Or if you’re me… a plastic bag with a whole cut out of the corner).

13. Pipe the meringue on top of the cupcakes.

14. Bake in the oven until golden, about 5 minutes.


Mini Taco Salads

I found another one of my favorite foods in miniature form. So of course I had to try it!

Mini Taco Salad Recipe (from Dashing Dish)

Ingredients:

3 – 4 tortillas (or enough to cut out 12 small circles to fill muffin tin)

1 cup lean ground beef (or your favorite substitute)

1/2 cup salsa

2 tsp dry taco seasoning

1/2 cup refried beans

mexican blend cheese

Other toppings – sliced black olives, lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 12 count muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Start by laying each tortilla out individually on a flat surface, and use an empty can, glass cup, or cookie cutter to cut 3-4 medium circles out of each wrap.
3. Press each wrap circle into muffin tin using your fingers. (Note: it doesn’t have to cover the entire side of the tin)
4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the ground meat, salsa, taco seasoning, and refried beans. Stir until well combined.
5. Scoop some of the meat mixture into each cup.
6. Top with shredded cheese, and olives if desired.
7. Bake in pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
8. Cool. Remove from muffin tin using a fork or knife. Pizza’s should pop out with ease!
9. Serve with your favorite taco toppings.

Creamy Lemon-Tarragon Chicken Gemelli

Tonight it was just me for dinner, and I’m typically less motivated to actually cook something when it’s just me. But tonight I was excited to cook! My mom just got a new Family Circle magazine this weekend and I found a ton of recipes I want to try. So I decided to make the first one tonight.

I chose this recipe because it seemed very simple and quick to make. This is super important to me during the week because I never feel like I have much time to just relax at night. Thanks to my George Foreman, this recipe was delicious and easy! I didn’t have time to cook my chicken breasts yesterday, but the George Foreman made quick work of cooking them.

And because of this recipe, I’ve found my new favorite herb – tarragon. I’ve never used it fresh, and the smell and taste is just fabulous! I think I added a little more than the recipe called for because I was enjoying the smell so much!

Creamy Lemon- Tarragon Chicken Gemelli Recipe (from October 2012 Family Circle)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter

3 cloves garlic, sliced

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 cup heavy cream

1 lb cooked gemelli pasta

4 cups shredded, cooked chicken

2 tablespoons fresh tarragon

1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

1. Heat the 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet on medium heat. Stir in the garlic and lemon zest; cook 2 minutes.

2. Stir in the lemon juice and simmer for 1 minute.

3. Whisk in the heavy cream and simmer 2 more minutes.

4. Stir in the cooked pasta, shredded chicken, tarragon and salt. Coat with sauce.

 


Mini Beer Battered Fish

On Friday I decided to tackle the classic beer battered fish, but the recipe I chose put a little twist on it. Instead of frying up the whole fillet, I cut it into bite site pieces! So not only were they delicious, but they were cute and fun to eat.

The recipe calls for halibut, but the grocery store I went to didn’t have any fresh fillets. So I substituted with Fresh Cod.

Mini Beer Battered Fish Recipe (from Barefeet in the Kitchen)

The pieces remind me of good ole Wisconsin cheese curds!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs halibut, cut into 1″ pieces
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 bottle of your choice of beer, or about 1 1/2 cups
Light flavored cooking oil, enough to fill a medium saucepan with about 2-3″ of oil

Directions:

1. Whisk together the flour, salt, pepper, garlic and paprika. Whisk in just enough beer to make the consistency pourable, but not too thin. The mixture should resemble pancake batter. Set the batter and the fish pieces in separate bowls next to the stove.

2. Pour the oil into a saucepan and warm it over medium high heat. You want it to be as hot as possible, without smoking. When the oil is hot, drop a few pieces of fish into the batter and coat well. Shake off the excess batter and using metal tongs, gently place the fish into the oil. Hold it there for a few seconds before releasing it, so that the coating will seal and it won’t stick to the other pieces or the bottom of the pan. Only put a few pieces in the pan at a time.

* Using the tongs didn’t really work for me. When I held the pieces with the tongs, the batter ended up sticking mostly to the tongs and not the fish. I ended up putting a piece of fish on a fork and holding it in the oil for about a minute. Then when I slide the fish of with the tongs, the batter stayed on the fish.

3. Let them cook for a few minutes, until the coating is lightly browned. Remove from the oil with clean tongs or a large wire scoop and drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Test a piece with a fork to make sure the center is cooked and flaking.