Month: February 2016

Fried Ravioli

Little soft pillows of creamy cheese… coated in a blend of bread crumbs, Parmesan, and Italian herbs… fried into crispy golden perfection… A little warm marinara for dipping on the side… It’s a good day… dolce vita.

As organic as possible:

2o oz. frozen Cheese Ravioli

3/4 cup Flour

5 eggs

8 oz Parmesan & Italian Herb Bread Crumbs

2 tsp salt

3-4 cups of frying oil (give or take depending on the size of your skillet) such as Canola or Peanut

Freshly grated Parmesan for serving

 

This is a perfect example of how prepping your work area first makes the job a lot easier. In 3 separate shallow baking dishes (brownie pans, small casserole dishes, etc.) place the flour, whisk the eggs, and toss the Parmesan & Herbed bread crumbs with the salt. Heat your oil on the high end of medium. The oil is ready when you sprinkle a small amount of flour in it and it starts to sizzle. You only need a couple inches of depth.

While you’re waiting for your oil to get hot, take the frozen ravioli and dip it in the egg, coating it completely. Dip the egg covered ravioli in the flour, covering it, and lightly shaking off the extra. Then put the ravioli back into the whisked eggs, covering it again, and lastly into the bread crumb mixture. Make sure to get every area of the cheesy pouch coated with the delicious salty herbed bread crumbs. Repeat. Make sure you have a a few ready to go before you start to fry.

When the oil is ready, fry the raviolis in batches of about 4 or 5 at a time (to not lower the temperature oil too much). After about a minute, flip the ravioli and let it cook another half to whole minute. Using a slotted spoon or something similar remove the raviolis to a paper towel-lined plate. When raviolis are fried, transfer to serving dish of your choice and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan, (maybe even freshly chopped parsley if you’re into that sort of thing) accompanied by some warmed marinara sauce for dipping. Buon Appetito!

 

 

 

Buffalo Chicken Dip

I know what you’re thinking. That is an unnatural shade of orange. And yes, I agree. But don’t let that stop you from trying this… because it’s SO GOOD! I mean super delicious. It’s flavor packed in every bite. I’m crazy about the stuff. It lets you enjoy the taste of buffalo chicken wings without the mess! But here’s the secret, you have to use Frank’s Original Red Hot Sauce. I know, I know, it’s not organic. (Hey, I always say as organic as possible.) There is no comparison. You just have to believe me on this.

As organic as possible:

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast

8 oz cream cheese, softened

2 Tbsp butter, softened

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup Frank’s Original Red Hot Sauce

4 oz. Gouda, shredded and divided (or cheddar, but really Gouda)

 

I love using organic chicken that has already been cut into tenders for dips like this (although that may not be the most economical). They are so quick to boil, about 10 minutes, and easy to cut. If you are using whole breasts it could take longer (about 20 mins), make sure the chicken is cooked through.

In the meantime preheat the oven to 350°. Using a standing mixer (or your powerful arm and a utensil), cream the cheese, butter and salt together.

When the chicken is cooked, chop it into small diced pieces. (Shredding is an option, but I really prefer the small dices.) Add the chicken, hot sauce and a 1/3 of the Gouda shredded cheese to the cream cheese blend. Mix until all is well combined. Then spread the mixture in a 9 x 9 inch baking dish (or equivalent). Top with the remaining cheese (*note it won’t cover the dip completely). Place the dish in the oven and bake until bubbly, about 15-20 minutes.

Serve with corn chips (not flimsy corn chips)… and maybe a personal bowl for yourself? Enjoy immensely.

 

Loving Lately 🚎

Loving Lately: A Camper

I can leisure camp with the best of ’em. I’ve camped out through nights so cold that I slept with my shoes on and the only thing sticking out of my mummy bag was my frozen nose. I’ve lived the joys of camping in weather so hot that you can hardly breath- let alone sleep. I know what it’s like to have the rain dripping inside of the tent because you’ve managed to come into contact with the canvas. And I’ve experienced hardly being able to get the pop-up off of the lot because the torrential downpour turned your space into a mud pit. I remember having to call the trip short because the mosquitos were so relentless outdoor activity was not possible. And I don’t want to think about the dangerous levels of Deet I’ve sprayed on my skin. Call me crazy… but that’s the good stuff! (Once you’ve gotten home, bathed and slept.) Because it makes for a lifetime of memories and naturally makes you appreciate all of those perfect days with sunshine and gentle breezes.

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My niece: Bad mosquito year of 2009

We’ve been shopping for a camper (aka travel trailer) for the fam, and I’m so excited I can hardly sleep at night thinking of the possibilities. We’ve visited some RV lots and have been perusing the web for ideas. I think we’ve narrowed in on what is going to work for us. Of course we need a 6 sleeper, and I’m partial to something with a hard frame…

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Setting up Camp 2007

I’ve done the tenting thing. I appreciate the simplicity and the ruggedness of it. But we stopped with that after baby number two. I was pregnant with baby number three, sleeping on a blow up mattress, crammed in a space growing tighter by the minute, hoping the weather would hold off. I want a trailer we can tow, so that getting around town wherever we land is a cinch. And I’m not looking to “air out” a pop-up after having to pack it up wet due to rainy weather. I want something that can go at any minute, and is ready to sleep in as soon as we hit the brakes… no matter how late we roll into camp.

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Gotta have firewood (this picture makes me laugh out loud every time)

I’ve already been contemplating the pots and cast iron pans I can contribute from the house. I’m envisioning the acrylic plates and glasses I need to buy that will travel well in the cupboards. But most importantly, I’m thinking about the places we’re going to see and the experiences my kids are going to have on the open road. From the Liberty Bell in Pennsylvania to the Grand Canyon in Arizona, the Black Hills of South Dakota to Yosemite National Park in California… I’m ecstatic with anticipation. I want to take them down Highway 1 and across Route 66, I’m nostalgic that way. And I’m certainly not above tourist traps like the world’s biggest ball of yarn. Lookout road, here we come!

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Fireside 2015

The Richmond Avenue’s Black Bean Brownies

I love how Jasmine at The Richmond Avenue can take something that usually holds very little nutritional value and turn it into health food. (That’s what I call it, with complete justification.) In this case incorporating the black beans added protein and fiber. I can honestly say the brownies were moist and tasted like chocolate. So much so that my chocolate lover approved of them, and I felt guilt-free saying he could have them for an after school snack.

As organic as possible (from me as usual)

1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp instant coffee
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp honey
1/4 cup coconut or olive oil
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 semi-sweet chocolate chips
Optional toppings: Chocolate Chips, Walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine all ingredients (except for toppings and chocolate chips) in a food processor and blend until smooth. Mix in chocolate chips. Pour batter into greased baking pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

*Jasmine left this “1/4” chocolate chips up to personal interpretation and some might have opted for a 1/4 cup, but I knew it meant a 1/4 of the bag 😉

*As you can see I used walnuts on half, for the non-nut loving members of my family

Not a Soufflé Kind of Girl

It’s kind of a culinary feat to master the soufflé, right? So, it’s important to me to say I’ve made a soufflé- successfully. (According to my own irrelevant technical standards.) Because I set these random unnecessary goals for myself. And boom. I can check that off of the list.

Here’s the thing; I’m not really against any specific food. That said, I’m not really into soufflé. Unless it’s chocolate. But that’s kind of in a different category- of chocolate. If I’m going to take the time to separate my eggs and beat the whites until they’re stiff peaked, I want them to show up like meringue. And if I’m going to bake my eggs in the oven, I want it to, well quite frankly, to taste like quiche, cheesy with onion and bacon or ham.

I appreciate the light and airy texture thing. I get the satisfaction of a puffy rise. But you’ve got like only a couple minutes of the wow factor (so I hope you’ve timed it right and your guests are punctual). Then you’re left with light and airy eggs to serve. And you’re going to wish you had beaten those egg whites into a creamy mousse. At least that’s how I think about it. Because that’s an accomplishment I can endorse.

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So long puffy top…

However, I also like the idea of adding bold flavors to some subtle dishes, so if you would like the recipe for the Barefoot Contessa’s Blue Cheese Soufflé, as shown, there you go!

The Pioneer Woman’s Sherried Tomato Soup

Sometimes you just can’t improve upon perfection. I keep wanting to change this… but I can’t, because I love it, just like this, every time. It’s creamy and rich, warm and soothing. I want to eat it on cold days, windy days, sad days, happy days, light days, each day… It’s brilliant for having company, because it makes the kind of statement that I want to send; “Thank you for coming. Here, have something lovely. Please come again.” It feels slightly elevated because of the sherry, all grown up- you know. But it captures the essence of childhood comfort food. It’s completely foolproof.

As organic as possible: (My spin)

1 medium white or yellow Onion, diced

6 Tbsp (3/4 stick) Butter

2 – 14.5 oz cans diced Tomatoes

1 – 46 oz bottle or can Tomato juice

3 to 6 Tbsp Sugar (She and I like 6)

1 or 2 Tbsp Chicken base or 3 Chicken bouillon cubes (I’ve used Beef in a pinch, and it was good too)

Freshly ground Black pepper

1 cup Sherry (optional) (but encouraged)

1 1/2 cups heavy Cream

1/4 cup flat-leaf Parsley*, chopped

1/4 chopped Basil*, chiffonade (or chopped)

 

Melt the butter in a large pot or dutch oven. Throw in the onion and cook until translucent.  Now dump in the diced tomatoes and stir to combine. Add the tomato juice. Next, add the sugar (it combats the acidity). Then add the chicken base and plenty of black pepper. Stir. Heat almost to a boil, then turn off the heat.

This part is completely ad-libbed; but, if I am making this ahead I like to make it to this point and keep it on low. Or if eating right away… continue.

Now it’s time for the sherry (and this I do play with depending on my crowd). Pour in the cream, stir. Add the herbs, more black pepper, give it a whirl and serve.

*Side note: I make this even without having fresh herbs at times, and it’s delicious.

Your guests are going to love you- you are going to love you.

The Pioneer Woman’s Sherried Tomato Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 medium white or yellow Onion, diced
  • 6 Tbsp (3/4 stick) Butter
  • 2 - 14.5 oz cans diced Tomatoes
  • 1 - 46 oz bottle or can Tomato juice
  • 3 to 6 Tbsp Sugar (She and I like 6)
  • 1 or 2 Tbsp Chicken base or 3 Chicken bouillon cubes (I've used Beef in a pinch, and it was good too)
  • Freshly ground Black pepper
  • 1 cup Sherry (optional) (but encouraged)
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy Cream
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf Parsley*, chopped
  • 1/4 chopped Basil*, chiffonade (or chopped)

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a large pot or dutch oven. Throw in the onion and cook until translucent.
  2. Now dump in the diced tomatoes and stir to combine.
  3. Add the tomato juice. Next, add the sugar (it combats the acidity).
  4. Then add the chicken base and plenty of black pepper.
  5. Stir. Heat almost to a boil, then turn off the heat.
  6. Now it's time for the sherry (and this I do play with depending on my crowd).
  7. Pour in the cream, stir. Add the herbs, more black pepper, give it a whirl and serve.
https://sadiesnest.com/the-pioneer-womans-sherried-tomato-soup/

 

Loving Lately ❄️

Loving Lately: Snowy Days

I’m a Michigan girl all year round. I love getting the full experience of all the seasons.

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And when it comes down to it, I love the snow. And if it’s going to be cold, you might as well have snow. It’s beautiful.

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We’ve not really had a lot of snow this year, but the last couple weeks I’ve really enjoyed our blanket of white.

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Although, I’m not enjoying my week long head cold-turned sinusitis… I actually could have done this week’s Loving Lately post on over-the-counter cold medicine.

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But I’d rather focus on something lovely. And I have so much fun sharing my favorite Pinterest pictures. (For which I can take no credit)

Banoffee Pie

I love trying new things. Especially when they turn out to be awesome! Banoffee Pie, short for Banana-Toffee Pie, is a recipe that caught my attention a while back for my must try list. I mean come on, what’s not to like, right? Then along came Lina of Lin’s Recipes. She hosts recipe challenges for bloggers who’d like to participate in creating a themed list of dishes. This time around it was for “Cakes we have to try this Feb,” a collection of unusually named cakes/desserts that she gathered. Well, that struck a chord with me too. (The combined excitement was almost too much to contain.) This pie is sweet and creamy, luscious with an almost candy like crust. And if I may suggest: you should put this on your list.

As found in PIES delicious recipes for perfect pies:

Serves 4

Filling

generous 3 1/2 cups canned sweetened condensed milk (I used 2 – 14 oz cans)

4 ripe bananas

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups heavy cream, whipped

2 3/4 oz/75 g semisweet chocolate, grated

 

Cookie Crust

3 oz/85 g butter, melted, plus extra for greasing

5 1/2 oz/150 g graham crackers, crushed into crumbs

scant 1/3 cup shelled almonds, toasted and ground

scant 1/3 cup shelled hazelnuts, toasted and ground

Place the unopened cans of milk in a large pan and add enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for 2 hours, topping up the water level to keep the cans covered. Carefully lift out the hot cans from the pan and let cool.

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Grease a 9 inch/23-cm tart pan with butter. Place the remaining butter in a bowl and add the crushed graham crackers and ground nuts. Mix together well, then press the mixture evenly into the base and side of the tart pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes, then remove from the oven and let cool.

Peel and slice the bananas and place in a bowl. Squeeze over the juice from the lemon, add the vanilla extract, and mix together. Spread the banana mixture over the cookie crust in the pan, then spoon the contents of the cooled cans of condensed milk over the bananas. Sprinkle over 1 3/4 oz/50 g of the chocolate then top with a layer of whipped cream. Sprinkle over the remaining grated chocolate and serve the pie at room temperature.

 

A Valentine’s Day Gift – Almost Nigella Lawson’s Everyday Brownies

It’s Valentine’s Day! Which is practically synonymous with chocolate and love. And I can’t think of a better way to highlight both than to make a batch of homemade brownies. As Nigella says in her book, “It’s not as if I were short of a brownie recipe or two.” I understand that the brownie (chocolatey, gooey, warm…) is highly subjective to personal taste. But I’m going to come right out and say it: This is the best from scratch brownie I’ve ever had.

Makes 16

1 1/4 sticks (10 Tbsp) unsalted Butter

1 3/4 cups (packed) light Brown Sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened Cocoa powder, sifted

1 cup all-purpose Flour

1 tsp Baking Soda

1/4 tsp Salt

4 Eggs

1 tsp Vanilla extract

Confectioner’s sugar, to dust (optional)

1 x aluminum foil-lined baking pan approx 13x9x2 (I used parchment paper)

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Melt the butter over a gentle heat in a medium-sized saucepan.

When it’s melted, add the sugar, stirring with a wooden spoon (still over a low heat) to help it blend with the melted butter.

Whisk together the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, and salt, and then stir into the pan; when mixed (this will be a very dry mixture, and not wholly blended at this stage), remove from the heat.

In a bowl or pitcher, whisk the eggs with the vanilla extract and then mix into the brownie mixture in the pan.

Quickly pour and scrape mixture into a foil-lined baking pan or disposable foil pan, spreading the mixture with a spatula, and cook in the preheated oven for approx. 20-25 minutes. It will look set, dark and dry on top, but when you feel the surface, you will sense it is still wibbly underneath and a cake tester will come out gungy. This is desirable.

Transfer the pan to a rack to cool a little before cutting into 16 pieces and dusting with confectioner’s sugar. I love these gorgeously warm. But then again, I love them cold, too. Actually, when cold they are properly speaking more brownie-like; gooily tender within and chewy on top.

I agree with Nigella completely about the texture… mine were perfectly done in 20 minutes. If you’d like, use a heart-shaped cookie cutter before dusting with powdered sugar and serving. Have a great day full of love (and chocolate)!

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Pasta Carbonara

My husband has been in Germany all week on business. So what’s a girl to do, except make dishes that I want to try; that I know he wouldn’t eat anyway! Carbonara in general is a bacon and cream sauce; in this case they are whisked with eggs which are actually cooked by the hot pasta, creating this amazingly creamy and flavorful dish. If you haven’t had it, you might (as I did) be skeptical and think it’s going to taste like breakfast on noodles. I promise you that is not the case. It creates this delicious coating of velvety yum that when paired with the Parmesan and caramelized onion (nod to Tyler Florence) makes a meal into an event to remember. Now if I could only get my husband to like bacon.

As organic as possible:

1 lb Linguine (easily substituted by spaghetti or long noodle of your choice)

2 Tbsp Olive oil

10 slices bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips

1 yellow Onion, diced

4 Eggs

6 Tbsp heavy Cream

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving

Freshly ground Black Pepper

 

Start the cooking process for the pasta according to package directions, but be sure to salt your water!

Heat the olive oil in a skillet, add bacon and onion. Let cook until bacon is crispy and onion is caramelized, about 8 minutes give or take. In the meantime crack eggs into a large bowl and whisk with cream, Parmesan and a little freshly cracked black pepper. When bacon and onion are ready, spoon some of it into the cream and egg and whisk, add the rest including all of the fat and continue to whisk a little until it makes an emulsion.

If we have our timing right, the noodles should be al dente and ready to come out of the boiling water. Using tongs or a pasta scoop, place a portion of the noodles into the egg sauce, and toss. Add the rest of the noodles and gently toss until all noodles are coated with the creamy mixture of deliciousness.

Serve with a little freshly cracked pepper and light grating of Parmesan. Buon appetito!

Recipe adapted from Tyler Florence’s Spaghetti Carbonara