Dinner Menu: Ravioli w/ Rosemary Basil Cream Sauce

A little bit of comfort food (at least Ravioli is in my house) for what has been a very cold and busy week. I make fresh pasta for special occasions – my spinach lasagna being one of them. I have only made fresh ravioli once, and once was enough. Much like making my own steamed dumplings, effort vs. reward is definitely unbalanced. Especially when with a little bit of experimentation, you can find really good fresh or frozen ravioli at a reasonable price. I usually stick with the cheese or cheese & spinach ravioli – most of the meat ones I find taste like mystery meat.

On the board tonight:

  1. Ravioli w/ Rosemary Basil Cream Sauce
  2. Tomato-Zucchini Confetti
  3. Tossed Salad
  4. Sorbet or Gelato

Ravioli w/ Rosemary Basil Cream Sauce

  • 1 cup heavy cream*
  • 1 tsp crushed dried rosemary (or one sprig fresh)
  • 4 – 6 fresh basil leaves, minced
  • 20 oz frozen cheese ravioli
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 3 tbsp green onion tops, chopped
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese

2 saucepans

Combine cream & spices in saucepan, bring to a boil, stirring constantly, reduce heat and simmer until reduces to ½ cup, about 15 minutes. Cook ravioli according to package directions. Drain and return to pan. Add lemon juice, salt, pepper & cream sauce. Toss. Add scallion tops and parmesan.

*You can absolutely substitute whole or non-fat milk for heavy cream and mix well with 1 tbsp flour

Tomato-Zucchini Confetti

  • 1 tbsp + olive oil
  • 2 medium zucchini, cubed
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cubed
  • 4 mushrooms, cubed
  • 4 green onions, chopped (set greens aside for Ravioli)
  • 2 tbsp chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp dried basil, crushed (or 2 tbsp fresh)
  • ½ tsp dried oregano, crushed (or 2 tsp fresh)

skillet

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in skillet, add vegetables and garlic, sauté for 2 minutes, add chicken broth and spices, and simmer vegetables until tender. Remove, toss with olive oil and serve.

Shopping List:

  • Tossed Salad fixins
  • Salad Dressing
  • Sorbet or Gelato
  • 8 oz heavy cream or milk
  • 4 – 6 fresh basil leaves
  • 20 oz frozen cheese ravioli
  • 6 oz parmesan cheese
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 4 mushrooms
  • 4 green onions

Also: rosemary, lemon juice, salt, pepper, olive oil, chicken broth, garlic, basil, oregano

Originally posted December 2009

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Full Dinner Menu:Cream of Potato Soup, Orange-Walnut Spinach Salad and Pear and Sour Cherry Crisp

The deep chill set in last week and shows no sign of leaving, so it had to be soup tonight. I just made a big pot of potato soup from leftover mashed potatoes and a few whole potatoes I sliced on my new mandolin to help get me through the big freeze. I thought it should then be the theme for tonight’s menu.

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I’ve been eyeing mandolins for a while and settled on one that would be useful for how seldom I would use it. So far I really liked it. I did invest in a glove to prevent adding my fingertips to any meal prep. So between that and the new camera, I’m hoping to wow you with some pretty plates in the coming weeks.

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But until then, here is tonight’s full menu and shopping list:

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There’s nothing better on a cold night than Creamy Potato Cheese Soup.  I rarely peel potatoes, I scrub the skins thoroughly and that’s good enough for me. It also saves a lot of time and potato skins are full of good things. Yes, there is cheese, but milk instead of cream, and you can even use non-fat milk without noticing any loss. I threw the Pear and Sour Cherry Crisp in at the last minute, because to me, fall is all about fruit crisps.

On the board tonight:

  1. Cream of Potato Cheese Soup
  2. Orange-Walnut Spinach Salad
  3. Pear and Sour Cherry Crisp

Cream of Potato Cheese Soup

  • 6 large potatoes, cubed (peeling opt)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ tsp ea: sage, rosemary, basil
  • 4 cups milk
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 8 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
  • salt & pepper to taste

Lg. saucepan (2 to 4 qt)

In saucepan or Dutch oven, cover potatoes with water and boil until fork tender, drain all but 2 cups water. Add onions, garlic and spices to potatoes*. In a bowl mix together  milk, flour, salt & pepper. Mix well, no lumps, add melted butter. Add to potatoes and mix well.  Bring to a low boil, stirring constantly, add cheese, reduce to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

*A great trick is to remove about ½ cup of the cooked potatoes and mash, then add back into soup, this gives you an extra creamy texture.

Orange-Walnut Spinach Salad

  • 10 oz spinach, washed
  • 2 oranges, peeled, remove white skin & cut into chunks (you can substitute equivalent canned mandarin orange slices)
  • ½ red onion, sliced in rings
  • 1 oz bleu cheese, crumbled
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • Raspberry-walnut dressing

large salad bowl

Tear spinach leaves. Layer in a large salad bowl. Top with orange chunks, onion, sprinkle blue cheese and walnuts. Add dressing & toss before serving.

Pears & Sour Cherry Crisp

Topping:

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup)

Combine dry ingredients and cut in butter until mixture is crumbly

Filling:

  • 4 large fresh pears, cored, peeled and sliced
  • 1 ½ cups frozen pitted cherries, thawed
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ cup sugar

8×8 baking dish, greased

Combine pears, cherries, sugar, & cornstarch. Spread in baking dish. Top fruit mixture with flour topping. Bake at 375° for 25 to 34 minutes, topping should be golden & pears tender.

Shopping List:

  • 6 large potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red onion
  • 4 cups milk
  • 8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
  • 10 oz spinach
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 oz bleu cheese,
  • 4 oz chopped walnuts
  • Raspberry-walnut dressing
  • 1 stick + 3 tbsp butter
  • 4 large fresh pears
  • 12 oz frozen pitted cherries

Also: cornstarch, sugar, brown sugar, flour, oatmeal, cinnamon, sage, rosemary, basil, garlic

Originally posted November 2009

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Let’s Talk Stews

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Phew, almost forgot about the recipe exchange – was out house hunting and lost track of time.

I am just not sure how it got to November 1st already. I am not ready for the holiday season to begin. I am thinking about Christmas Eve dinner menu, though, because I am hosting again this year. Suppose to visit family for Thanksgiving, but that may not happen, so I might have to begin to think about that menu, as well.

BTW, in case you missed it – and if you visited the blog anytime in the last week, how could you have – my beloved Boston Red Sox are World Series Champions.

I decided it was stew weather. When things get chilly and busy, stew is one of those things I love to have slow cooking when I get home in the evening.  In my mind, stew is best when it’s simple: meat, potatoes, carrots, turnips or rutabaga, onions, salt, pepper and a bay leaf.  But I understand that there are as many stews as there are families who enjoy them. With that in mind I have a few recipes and the featured recipe will be a simple one that you can add anything to that suits your fancy.

Let’s start with the Dinner Menu this week, which is Spicy Chicken Stew and Sweet Potatoes with Apples (click here).

Tes at Home had a Beef Stew with Apples, link here.

I have a Beef Stew in Wine with both pressure cooker and slow-cooker instructions here.

And finally JeffreyW does a Guinness Lamb Stew, pictured above and recipe here.

What’s on the menu for the weekend? How do you dress up your stew recipes? Hit the comments and share your tips.

Now for the featured recipe with bonus biscuits:

Beef Stew

  • 1 lb chuck, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 4-6 small potatoes, quartered
  • 2 small turnips or rutabaga, peeled and quartered
  • 8 oz baby carrots, halved
  • pinch of rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves (remove before serving)
  • ½ tsp ea. salt & pepper
  • 7 cups water
  • 2 tbsp flour

slow-cooker, skillet

Heat oil in skillet and brown beef (you can do this the  night before and refrigerate with all the pan drippings). Place meat, onion, turnip or rutabaga, potatoes, carrots & spices in the slow-cooker,  add 6 cups water and cook according to slow-cooker directions, (usually 8 to 10 hours on low). Before serving, turn heat to high, mix 1 cup water and flour completely, add to stew, stirring constantly, and cook additional 10-15 minutes.

Wheat Biscuits

  • 1-1/2 cups white flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup milk

large bowl and baking sheet

Mix dry ingredients together, cut in shortening, add milk. Stir quickly with a fork until completely moistened, don’t over mix. Knead gently on floured surface for 10-12 strokes. Roll out to ½ inch thick, cut into biscuits. Place on baking sheet and bake at 450° for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown.

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Dinner Menu: Grilled Steak with Coffee Rub

A friend of mine spent a few months one summer experimenting with coffee rubs. This was one of my favorites. If you need something fun to do with your next grilled steak, this is a recipe to try. And with my love of blueberries, can’t go wrong with a blueberry coffeecake.  Yum.

On the board tonight:

  1. Steak with Coffee Rub
  2. Green Beans w/Bacon & Onion
  3. Baked Potatoes
  4. Blueberry CoffeeCake

Steak with Coffee Rub

  • 3 tbsp chili powder (pure ancho or a blend)
  • 3 tbsp finely ground coffee (espresso works best)
  • 1 ½ tbsp paprika (use a good one)
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 to 1-1/2 lb of steak (rib-eye, sirloin, NY strip, etc) in 4 thick pieces

Mix together all spices. Lightly rub each steak with oil and then coat liberally on both sides with coffee rub. Now you can cook in a pre-heated skillet on medium-high heat, 5 to 7 minutes each side for medium rare. You can broil in the oven, using the second slot down from broiler, for 5 minutes each side, again for rare to medium rare, longer for medium. Or if you’re lucky (sigh) you can grill them outside. Cooking times will vary no matter which style you choose, so watch carefully and you’ll probably have to use a meat thermometer to really judge, because the rub makes it a little harder to eyeball it. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.

Green Beans w/Bacon & Onions

  • 1 lb fresh or frozen green beans (if fresh, snap off ends and snap into smaller pieces)
  • 2 strips bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste

Sm. Saucepan, steamer and Skillet

Steam beans until slightly crisp, but tender. While beans are steaming, begin browning bacon until crisp. You can drain most of the bacon drippings, leaving 1 tbsp to lightly coat beans. Add onions. Drain beans and dab with a paper towel. Add to bacon mixture, mixing well, until beans are coated in bacon drippings. Cook on medium-low for 1 to 2 minutes, until onions are heated through.

Blueberry CoffeeCake

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp cultured buttermilk powder (or 1 cup butter milk  & omit water)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 8 oz frozen blueberries

Topping:

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup flour

8×8 baking dish, greased

2 bowls

In bowl, add flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, buttermilk and mix well. Make a well in the center add egg, water & oil. Stir quickly until all everything is mixed well, but don’t over mix. Fold in blueberries. Spread batter evenly in baking dish. In bowl, mix topping ingredients until crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over the top of batter. Bake at 400° for 25-30 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

Shopping List:

  • 3 tbsp chili powder (pure ancho or a blend)
  • 3 tbsp finely ground coffee (espresso works best)
  • 1 ½ tbsp paprika (a good one)
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 to 1-1/2 lb of steak
  • 1 lb fresh or frozen green beans
  • 2 strips bacon
  • 4 green onions
  • 4 tbsp cultured buttermilk powder or 1 cup buttermilk
  • egg
  • 8 oz blueberries

Also: brown sugar, butter, flour, vegetable oil, vanilla, salt, baking powder, sugar, fresh ground pepper

Ginger Glazed Carrots

Originally posted December 2009.

I thought I’d post a few vegetable recipes this week.  I often prefer my vegetables raw or lightly stir-fried, so I don’t do many fancy veggie recipes.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a bunch of those recipes in my arsenal! I use them a lot when having friends or family over for dinner.  We’ll start with this one:

Ginger Glazed Carrots

  • 1 lb baby carrots, washed
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 2 tsp to 1 tbsp butter
  • salt as desired

saucepan and steamer basket

Place steamer in saucepan, add enough water to come to the bottom of the steamer.  Add carrots, bring to a boil and steam until tender (about 5 minutes).  Remove carrots and steamer, drain water from the saucepan, add carrots and remaining ingredients to saucepan and stir on low heat until carrots are coated with honey and butter.  Serve immediately.

Thursday Recipe Exchange: Steak with Coffee Rub

JeffreyW’s Loaded Baked Potato would be great with Coffee Rubbed Steak

It’s another one of those Colorado weeks where it’s impossible not to want to be outside all day. Beautiful, warm spring weather, the flowering locusts are in full splendor making my evening bike rides fragrant and still cool enough at night to need a blanket…or a cat…or several. I’m halfway through my horseback riding lessons, I’m finally comfortable with my posting trot, but feel like my major accomplishment is being able to adjust my stirrups from the saddle. I also managed to get my deck flower pots planted, though I always want more than I have space for, I’m satisfied with what I’ve done for this season. It is definitely outdoor season here.  What’s on your weekend agenda? Planning on grilling for Mother’s Day?  What is your favorite food item to grill?

In honor of the great weather, I thought tonight should be about grilling. Steak to be specific. This rub is a favorite of a couple of readers, so I thought it was a good time to repeat it. This can be used with any cut of steak, though I originally had it on rib eye. It’s too heavy to use on poultry or white fish, but I would be tempted to try on swordfish or maybe salmon. Easy to do and adds a real dramatic flavor.

Steak with Coffee Rub

  • 3 tbsp chili powder (talking the good stuff here, pure ancho or a blend)
  • 3 tbsp finely ground coffee (espresso works best)
  • 1 ½ tbsp paprika (again, you want a good one)
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 to 1-1/2 lb of steak (rib-eye, sirloin, NY strip, etc) in 4 thick pieces

Mix together all spices. Lightly rub each steak with oil and then coat liberally on both sides with coffee rub. Now you can cook in a pre-heated skillet on medium-high heat, 5 to 7 minutes each side for medium rare. You can broil in the oven, using the second slot down from broiler, for 5 minutes each side, again for rare to medium rare, longer for medium. You can grill them outside. Cooking times will vary depending on which steak cut you choose, so watch carefully and you’ll probably have to use a meat thermometer to really judge, because the rub makes it a little harder to eyeball it. Let rest for a few minutes before serving.

Thursday Recipe Exchange: Potato Soups

Cross-posted at Balloon-Juice.

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It’s suppose to be record warm temperatures this weekend, so it’s not quite soup weather. I do expect either at least one more big snow or some spring rains (hopefully), so it is still soup season in my mind. I love soups and fall-winter-spring lunches are often homemade soup.  Quick and easy to take to work and reheat.  I make a big pot on Sunday and it usually gets me through the week, add fruit or salad and lunch is cheap and healthy.

This week I made a pot of Creamy Potato Soup and almost immediately knew what I really wanted was the Italian potato soup I usually make. So that is my plan this evening, to put together a pot of this:

Zuppa Toscana

  • 8 oz ground beef or (4 0z ground beef & 4 oz spicy sausage)
  • 6 green onions, chopped (including greens)
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic, divided
  • 6 -8 medium potatoes, sliced thin (do not peel)
  • 3 cups chicken broth (or equivalent)
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tsp to 1 tbsp dried basil, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 cup spinach or kale, chopped
  • grated Parmesan

Large dutch oven or saucepan

Heat pan and brown ground beef, onion and 1 tsp garlic.  Remove and set aside.  Add chicken broth, water and potatoes to pan, bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender.  Add meat mixture, spices and milk and let simmer on medium-low, stirring occasionally to makes sure milk doesn’t scald.  Just before serving, add spinach or kale and let simmer 2 minutes.  Serve with grated Parmesan.

Now hit the comments and share your favorite soups, potato or otherwise. Next week: Chicken & Vegetables

Thursday Night Before Christmas Menu: Christmas Morning Edition

I’ve decided this will be our traditional Thursday Night before Christmas Menu. One quick note,  if you haven’t seen it, JeffW has a great shot our blog mascot and his hero here.

From 2009:

This is my traditional Christmas morning breakfast. These are simple to make and taste so good.   And of course I’ve included a recipe for Santa’s cookies, ‘cause you know the better the cookies, the better the presents he leaves you, so you don’t want to be leaving any store-bought cookies.  On the board tonight:

  1. German Pancakes
  2. Walnut Syrup
  3. Sliced Peaches
  4. Santa Cookies

German Pancakes

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • ½ cup butter

2 oven proof skillets, large mixing bowl & 2 large plates

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Place skillets in oven and heat.

You’ll need to cook these in two batches. Mix all ingredients together except butter, scraping sides of bowl frequently. Batter will be lumpy. Do not over mix.

Melt 2 tbsp of butter in each skillet, swirling around sides. Ladle ¼ of batter into each skillet. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove to two large plates, cut into each in half and serve. Top with syrup or powdered sugar.

Cook remaining batter. Add 2 tbsp of butter to pans, swirl, split remaining batter, bake for 15-20 minutes while everyone chows down on first batch.   Serve with walnut syrup or powdered sugar and sliced peaches.  Serves 4

Walnut Syrup

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

saucepan

Heat sugars, syrup and water to low boil. Reduce heat, simmer until thickened, 10-12 minutes. Stir in butter & nuts. Great over ice cream, too

Santa Cookies

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 ¼ cup flour
  • colored sugars or colored frosting

mixing bowl &  baking sheets

Cream butter & sugar with electric mixer. Add sugar, baking powder, salt and mix well. Beat in egg, vanilla and 1 cup flour. At this point you’ll probably have to hand mix the last 1 ¼ cups of flour. Cover and chill for 1 hour. Divide dough in half. Refrigerate ½, roll out other half to ¼- ½ inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes, bake at 325 degrees for 7-8 minutes (don’t over cook). Decorate with colored sugars immediately or with frosting after they’ve cooled. Repeat with remaining dough. Makes 36 cookies…enough for Santa and all the reindeer.

Shopping List

  • Peaches
  • 5 cups flour
  • 9 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 sticks (1-1/2 cups) + butter
  • 2 oz light corn syrup
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • colored frostings and sugars, other cookie decorations as desired

Also: baking powder, salt, vanilla