4 Jul
2016

rav1I made these raviolis in March 2015 for my coworker and roommate. They have some more expensive ingredients in them, but are awesome for when you want to go decadent!

I topped them with a homemade pesto (that was fortified with cream).

What do you need to make these beauties?

  • mascarpone
  • goat’s milk Gouda
  • Parmesan Reggiano (not the powdered crap)
  • fresh basil (dried will NOT work the same)
  • mushrooms
  • shallots
  • butter
  • olive oil
  • white wine (feel free to indulge while creating)
  • dry mustard
  • pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 slices prosciutto

Listed above is just for the filling – if you want to make the pasta dough from scratch (which I recommend) please see my Pasta Dough page.
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When needed, I will give you exact measurements. Baking is an exact science – requiring specific amounts of certain ingredients to ensure that the chemical balance is correct to achieve what you want. Cooking is FUN. Oops, you added too much of one ingredient? See how it goes!

1. Slice mushrooms, chop shallots, grate various cheeses (NOT THE MASCARPONE…it’s too soft for that). Have these beauts ready to rock soon.

2. Use a spoon and take a nice big blob (true cooking measurement) of mascarpone and put it in a bowl.

3. Pour a teaspoon or so of olive oil into a frying pan on low/medium heat.

4. Put mushrooms and shallots into frying pan (with the olive oil, don’t go chucking that stuff away). Saute on a lower heat, you don’t want the mushrooms to get crunchy or to burn the shallots. Wait for them to get a bit soft and add a little butter (NOTE: if you want to add garlic to this recipe, you definitely can and I would do it at this point. I didn’t for mine because I put a large amount of it in the pesto). Turn up the heat a bit and move the melting butter around so that all the mushrooms and shallots can absorb some of it.

5. WINE TIME! Now, whether you’ve already cracked it open and have already drank a little more than you intended to or are stone cold sober, pour wine into a DIFFERENT cup. Doesn’t have to even be a cup, just don’t pour it straight from the bottle. You want to put a smallish amount in (more for drinking) so that the mushrooms and shallots absorb it and the alcohol cooks out. You don’t want to drown them in wine, since you are about to add the mushrooms and shallots to the mascarpone and you don’t want your filling to be all runny.

6. Add mushrooms and shallots to mascarpone (bet you didn’t see that coming…) and mix well. Add a bit of pepper and dry mustard at this point. Your preference to the amounts.

7. Wash the fresh basil and grab about 12 clean leaves. Blend them with ONE egg and mix that into the mascarpone mixture.

8. Crisp the prosciutto in the frying pan. Prosciutto is very thin and can burn really easily so do this quickly and monitor it. When that’s done, crumble it into bits and mix into the mascarpone mixture.

9. Add the grated cheeses until the mixture is “clumpy”.

10. Lay out fresh pasta dough (or store-bought, I will only judge slightly) and lay out small mounds (size of a teaspoon). Make sure there is enough room that when you put the other layer of pasta dough on top that the mounds have space to go (as they will get slightly shmushed) and that there is enough space between mounds  for your ravioli cutter/cup .

11. Crack the other egg in a small bowl and beat it. Using your fingers (if clean) or a brush, paint a small circle with egg around each mound.

12. Put the other layer of pasta on top and seal in place around each mound. Be sure eliminate as much air as possible from the mounds when sealing. It won’t be the end of the world if you don’t, but your raviolis will look a little deflated if there is a lot of space.

13. Put raviolis into boiling water (I actually use the pan from the mushroom/shallot/prosciutto escapades – you will have boiling water faster and the raviolis are so flat that they don’t need a large pot). They only need to be in there for a couple minutes, as you will see them float up. Remove with slotted spoon, dump water from pan, throw in your sauce and place raviolis back in pan and coat them. They are a bit delicate so be gentle.
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14. EAT THEM. Or be a nice person like me and test a couple and then feed them to your roommate and coworker.

3 Jul
2016

Forget fast-paced days. Instead, opt for a laid back, impromptu picnic. Pick wild flowers, skip through the countryside and sing the hills are alive with music. After you’ve tired yourself out from those crazy activities, find a sunny spot, lay out the spread and chow down on the yummy portable grub that you made.

 

Spicy Black Bean & Barley Salad
Pack that in your basket:
A red-checkered tablecloth.
A small garbage bag.
Napkins, utensils and wet paper towels.
Insect repellent. Remember to keep the buggers away from you and your food (shoo-fly).
Frisbee (or other toy).

Even though they’re transportable feasts, don’t bring too much. It is supposed to be fun, not back breaking and formal.

 

This salad is made up of hearty barley, spicy cilantro and crunchy bell pepper. The result is a nutritious, slightly chewy and yummy salad. This dish is perfect for picnic fare – it can be served cold or at room temperature.

2/3 cups barley (look for it in the ‘rice & grain’ aisle)

3 ½ cups water

1 15.5-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1/3 cup red onion, chopped

¼ cup white-wine vinegar

1 Tablespoon olive oil

¼ cup cilantro, chopped

1 teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon salt

1/8 cayenne pepper

  1. Boil water. Once water boils, add barley and stir. Cover with a lid and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 40 – 45 minutes, or until barley is tender. Remove from heat. Place in colander and rinse in cold water. Leave in colander to drain.
  2. In a large bowl, combine black beans, corn, red pepper, onion, vinegar, olive oil, cilantro, chili powder, salt and pepper.
  3. Once barley is cooked and cooled, add to the vegetable mixture. Stir together. Serve immediately or refrigerate for later use.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Serves: 6

 

Shero Wraps Wickedly-Good Chocolate Chip Cookies
Hero hoagies step aside for their stylish sister sandwich, the shero wrap.   Wraps are your own masterpiece – throw in a little of this and a lot of that. I’ve put together a veggie wrap, but feel free to throw in some real or faux sliced turkey, chicken, roast beef or any other lunch-meat-longing. Wrap it up, and take it!

 

Four 8-inch spinach tortillas*

1 Tablespoon mayonnaise

1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

½ pound Muenster cheese or favorite soy cheese, thinly sliced

4 red leaf lettuce leaves, cleaned

1 ripe avocado, peeled and thinly sliced

8 thin tomato slices

8 thin red onion slices

1 cup alfalfa sprouts

salt and pepper

  1. Lay tortillas shells on counter. Divide ingredients into fourths.
  2. Spread the center of tortillas with mayonnaise and Dijon, leaving the outer inch of the tortilla plain. Evenly place Muenster cheese, lettuce, avocados, tomatoes, onions and alfalfa sprouts on tortillas.
  3. Season wraps with salt and pepper.
  4. Wrap ‘em up. Gently but firmly roll up tortilla to form cylinder.
  5. Wrap each shero with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator until chow time.

* There are so many yummy flavored tortillas out there. They all work well with this recipe. Try:

Jalapeno & cilantro

Pesto & garlic

Sun-dried tomato & basil

Mild chili & peppers

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Makes: 4 tortillas. May want to make 2 wraps per picnicker

Sweet, salty, buttery, chocolaty… No, you didn’t die and go to heaven (but close)!

1 ¼ cups flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup chocolate chips

1 cup Heath or Scorn bars, chopped (look for milk chocolate toffee bits in the baking aisle)

¼ cup pecans, chopped (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper*.
  2. Sift (or stir) together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, cream butter for one minute, until light and fluffy.
  4. Add brown sugar and mix until combined. Add egg and vanilla; mix until well combined.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Mix until combined.
  6. Stir in chocolate chips and toffee pieces (and pecans, if using).
  7. Drop rounded Tablespoons of dough on baking sheet. Space two inches apart.
  8. Bake for 10 – 11 minutes, until golden brown on the bottom of the cookie.

*   I bake one batch/baking sheet at a time – it ensures that they bake and brown evenly, and have consistent results. The recipe yields two batches.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Baking time: 10 minutes (per batch)

Serves: 19 cookies

Can be made up to three days ahead. These freeze well.

26 Jun
2016

Yes the lighting is dim for a reason in my photos. I had to cook by way of microwave light.

My time has been sliced dramatically since my baby girl Arya has been born. I get torn in every which way. My primary job right now is not that of an elementary art educator, or that of a food blogger, or even that of person who is able to drop everything and go have a blast throwing a few beers back with his friends. No, my primary job is that of a good husband and an even better father. So, you can see how it would be hard to juggle so many things and actually stay sane. Still, one needs to find release in life or sanity will fly out the window and for me that release comes in the form of a good blog post. I can set aside a few good minutes and get lost in words and photos.

This sets the stage for yesterday evening. I was at an outstanding Tampa Bay Bloggers meetup learning how to bring in some extra assets to help out the household. I had to come home later than normal on this Monday evening and I felt bad that I missed baby Arya’s swim lessons with mommy, but I NEEDED to do this.

I had some light meal options that accompanied our blogger meetup at Dough. While they were definitely delicious, they were indeed light snacks, but I was considerate of my better half and snuck home a bouquet of Ramen Encrusted Chicken Bites that were left by their lonesome on my way out of the bakery.

ramen-encrusted-chicken-nuggetsleftovers-3

As I opened the garage door, my wife sneakily opened the inside door and gave me a quick shush with a swipe of her finger across her lips. I knew exactly what that meant. She had enough and baby Arya was getting some much-needed rest for herself momma. Come to find out my wife wasn’t very hungry as she had already heated up some leftovers I made from the night before. Come to find out she wasn’t that hungry. That’s alright, more for me (she did snag one after all though).

Right away I thought to myself, “How can I create something unique and tasty, rather than just nuking these crunchy bites of goodness in the microwave”? I figured I would create an easy breakfast concoction, my go to for an easy dinner option. I also knew I was on a mission not to wake the baby or there would be Hell to pay.

So all I did was cook up a couple scrambled eggs (I love Lady and Pup’s version of scarmbled eggs), chop up the chicken crispy pieces, toss them in the egg pan with some shredded up mozzarella, gave a few squirts of Sriracha, and let it all melt together for a minute. In the meantime, I toasted up some bread and heaped the egg/chicken mixture on top for an unorthodox breakfast sandwich packed with flavor. For an extra blast of umami, I hit it with some BLiS Blast, which is a barrel aged triple pepper hot sauce.

The point I wanted to make here is that you work with what you have. I didn’t have the means to create an elaborate meal, but so what? The meal was delicious nonetheless and it was a fun challenge to keep quiet enough not to wake the sleeping baby because anyone with a baby knows that will get you in deep shit.

24 Jun
2016

fujdge1This recipe is courtesy of the wife via my mother-in-law.  I have never made it myself (although I have sampled it a time or two). Personally, anything you have to constantly stir is not simple kitchen to me, but other than that it is an easy chocolate fix. My idea of easy is mix it up and stick it in the oven – preferably of the lemon and cream cheese flavor.

So if you are a chocoholic (like my husband) and don’t have a stash of cookies or candy bars in the house this is the perfect go to recipe.

I only eat this straight from the pan though – right after it’s done.  It is at its best when you have to eat it with a spoon. Once it hardens I’m done with it.  And the best way to eat it is to pour it, while still warm, over crackers.  Perfect combo of salty and sweet.

Easy Skillet Chocolate Fudge

fujdge22 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon butter
1 cup sweet milk*
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 Tablespoons cocoa**

Combine all ingredients into an iron skillet. cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it reaches soft ball stage (this means that a soft ball will form when dropped in cold water – I didn’t know that did you?  So much for my candy making skills).

Remove from heat and beat until smooth.  You can also add chopped nuts at this point if you so desire.

Pour into a buttered dish to cool, or use an ice maker.  Make sure you pour some onto some crackers to eat right away – you won’t regret this step.

Cut into squares.

* Okay, the hubby tells me that the higher in fat the milk is, the better the fudge.  The best combo is with evaporated milk, or use half & half. Or use part 2% and part half & half. Am I confusing you yet?  Bottom line is that skim milk will NOT work at all.  If you are counting calories you probably aren’t going to make this anyway so go for the gusto.

**The best I’ve ever tasted of this recipe is when it is made with DARK cocoa powder – but you can use whatever variety you have on hand.

Till next time – keeping it simple.