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.
mush1

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.
mush2

14. EAT THEM. Or be a nice person like me and test a couple and then feed them to your roommate and coworker.

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.

19 Jun
2016

Happy Easter to all of my “Peeps”. Hope you all have a blessed day. Easter is one of my favorite holidays because I get to celebrate my risen savior. Actually I get to celebrate Him all year long. So to all the “Peeps” in my life have a very Happy Easter.

What Easter dinner table would be complete without deviled eggs? I have often wondered why we serve “Devil”ed eggs on a day that celebrates Jesus. Did you ever wonder the same? But every Easter dinner I’ve ever been to always has them. Forgive me, I digressed.

eggs1Ok, so deviled eggs are standard fare for any Easter gathering (or any family gathering for that matter). And have you ever noticed that the family member that doesn’t cook is the one delegated to bring the deviled eggs?

That’s because they are easy deviled eggs. I was that family member for many years.

Now I like my deviled eggs really basic. Don’t go adding any fancy ingredients like relish or I probably won’t eat them.

So I want to share my very basic recipe with you so you can make basic deviled eggs.

Basic deviled eggs ingredients

After the eggs are done and peeled, slice them in half lengthwise and remove the yellow portion to a bowl. Place the white halves, cut side up, on a plate or deviled egg platter.

eggs2Mash the yellows with a fork then add mayonnaise and mustard.

You will notice that I am not giving you any measurements for this recipe because it truly is a matter of personal taste and consistency. and of course depends on how many eggs you are preparing.

Start with the mayonnaise.

Mix in a heaping tablespoon at a time until you reach the consistency that you prefer.

Some people like theirs really creamy but I prefer mine a little stiffer. I want to be able to taste the egg flavor over the mayo.

When you have them to the consistency that you want them add mustard to give them an extra zip of flavor. Add the mustard a teaspoon at a time until it reaches the desired flavor that you like.

eggs3Now it’s time to stuff the egg whites. If you want them to be really pretty and look like you slaved in the kitchen for hours, use a cake decorator with an open star tip.

If you are not quite up to that difficulty then go for the simple method. Put the yellow mixture in a zip lock bag and zip it closed. Cut one corner off the bag and pipe the filling into the egg whites.

Sprinkle with paprika or chili powder to garnish. Ta Da!! Done, easy, simple. You just made Basic Deviled Eggs.I knew you could make basic deviled eggs.

How simple was that? Your family will thank you for your contribution.

17 Jun
2016

chicken

Chickens have been domesticated to provide eggs and meat since before 1400 BC. The Chinese raised them for generations. The Polynesians brought these useful birds with them to Chile in the 1300s. Since then, the chicken has become a worldwide food staple. They are easy to raise and provide nutritious protein… oh, and they provide one of the most versatile meats in the world.

Just about every culture in the world has chicken recipes. China, Japan, Italy, England, France, and Mexico… the list goes on and on. This low cholesterol meat is mild flavored, relatively inexpensive, and can be fashioned in any number of imaginative ways into tasty, healthy meals.

What Kind of Chicken is found at the Market?

At the supermarket, you will find whole chickens, fryers that are cut up or halved, and portions of all one kind such as breasts, thighs, or drumsticks. If you like giblets, you can also find small tubs of livers or gizzards. You can buy chicken on the bone or boneless. All of these options make planning meals a snap for the home cook.

Whole chickens are less expensive than a package of all breasts. The less processing the meat packers do, the more savings you get. If you do not feel comfortable or do not have time to cut up a chicken yourself, you can always opt for one that has been cut up or deboned for you.

What Can You Do With Chicken?

If you have a whole chicken on hand, you can roast it and make soup the next day. Chicken pieces can be fricasseed, fried, stewed, or put in the oven. Boneless pieces can be cut up and added to soup, pasta, stir-fries, or sauts. They are very versatile. Chicken casserole recipes are numerous and as varied as there are cooks to make them.

Use chicken in Italian dishes like chicken linguine, French dishes like chicken and shallots, or Indian recipes like chicken tandoori. Asian recipes like peanut chicken, orange peel chicken and others add some zing to what may otherwise be an ordinary day. Make pollo relleno or chicken a la Tex Mex for a little spice. Each ethnic region also has many chicken soup varieties to try too.

Another great thing about chicken that makes it so versatile is that you can choose either dark or white meat. They each have a different texture, and work well in so many different meals. Dark meat can take more cooking without drying than white meat can. It also soaks up sauces well. White meat is firmer and works well in chicken salad, on the grill or in sandwiches.

In conclusion, let us give thanks to the humble chicken. It is low in fat and cholesterol. It is easily digested. It fits into just about any dish in any cuisine with delicious results. Chicken offers more versatility than almost any other food. Chicken soup has even been shown in scientific studies to help us when we are sick. We owe a lot to the chicken, which has filled a necessary place in the food chain.