Archives for the month of: February, 2016

I am officially obsessed with handmade pasta! You need only a few simple ingredients and the combinations of flavors, herbs, spices, and fillings you can add are endless. The kids love cranking out the pasta into sheets, and noodles, and cutting ravioli shapes. Here’s some ravioli we made with my favorite red sauce:

Cheese Stuffed Ravioli Recipe with Red Wine Marinara Sauce Recipe - pasta dough with just 2 ingredients!
WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 5 large eggs
  • 3 ½ cups (14 oz.) all-purpose flour, plus any additional needed for dusting/kneading
  • 1 container ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • optional: grated cheese for topping
  • Red Wine Marinara Sauce

WHAT YOU DO:

STEP 1. MAKE THE DOUGH

MIX: Mound the flour in the center of your work surface. Using your hands, make a well in the middle that will be wide enough and deep enough to hold 4 eggs. Add 4 eggs (save 1 egg for the filling), and add any optional liquids or flavoring (for example chopped spinach, or ½ cup dry white wine, and/or herbs and spices such as basil or parsley). Using a fork, beat the eggs (and any liquids/flavors). Gradually incorporate small amounts of flour from the sides of the well as you go, until all the flour is mixed in. This will be a lumpy mess, but the next step will take care of that.

KNEAD: Knead for 3 minutes or so. If the dough is really sticky, add a little more flour. The dough should be slightly springy and just a tiny bit sticky. Knead for 10 additional minutes until the dough becomes smooth. Wrap ball-shaped dough in plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature, for an hour or so.

STEP 2. WHILE THE DOUGH RESTS, MAKE THE FILLING
In a bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, 1 lightly-beaten egg, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

STEP 3. After dough has rested, roll into sheets. I used a hand-crank pasta machine, but you could use a rolling pin and flour as well.

Place dough sheets on work surface and place dollops of ricotta cheese every few inches. Wet the dough with a few drops of water around each cheese, then place a second dough sheet on top, and seal with your fingers. I used a cutter to cut out square shapes (a roller tool or knife would work well too). If you want to get really gadget-y (ha) I have also seen molds/forms for homemade ravioli.

STEP 4. COOK

Bring 6-8 quarts of salted water to a rapid boil. Add pasta, and boil until firm but not mushy (fresh pasta only takes a few minutes). Drain and serve with red wine marinara sauce.

adapted from The Splendid Table: Recipes from Emilia-Romagna, the Heartland of Northern Italian Food by Lynne Rossetto Kasper

Two-Ingredient Homemade Egg Pasta Recipe

Two Ingredient Homemade Pasta Recipe - Just eggs and flour - I will never buy the boxed stuff again.

Here’s a fun and easy recipe: homemade egg pasta. It’s just two basic ingredients: flour and eggs. You can use this to roll out in flat sheets for cutting into fettuccine noodles or tagliatelle. It’s also perfect for filled pastas such as ravioli or tortellini.

The fun part is you don’t even need a mixing bowl – just make a “bowl” out of flour right on your work surface and place the eggs in the middle.

We used a hand-crank pasta machine to roll out the dough. Our kids thought this was great. It was like a PlayDoh Fun Factory – except we got to eat our work.

I cut some of the pasta dough into fettuccine and spaghetti noodles, and used a hand stamper tool to make ravioli another time.

Of course there are tons of flavors and liquids you can add to this basic pasta dough: try 6-10 oz. of spinach, or a teaspoon of grated lemon zest and 6 oz. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, or even ½ cup dry white wine to your dough while mixing. Herbs and spices (basil, parsley, etc) or even vegetable purees can be great additions.

And if you’re making ravioli or tortellini, there are so many delicious options for the filling besides the usual ricotta: for example butternut squash, mushrooms, blue cheese, etc.

I made the batch in the photos with just plain old, boring, flour, since we have a bunch of it. I do want to try switching up the flour, though, and experiment with cornmeal, rice, semolina, whole wheat, and/or buckwheat.

Anyway, here’s the basic recipe. It makes approximately the same amount as 1 pound of store-bought dried boxed pasta.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 ½ cups (14 oz.) all-purpose flour

WHAT YOU DO:

MIX: Mound the flour in the center of your work surface. Using your hands, make a well in the middle that will be wide enough and deep enough to hold the eggs. Add eggs, and any optional liquids or flavoring. Using a fork, beat the eggs (and any liquids/flavors). Gradually incorporate small amounts of flour from the sides of the well as you go, until all the flour is mixed in. This will be a lumpy mess, but do not worry. The next step will take care of that.

KNEAD: Knead for 3 minutes or so. If the dough is really sticky, add a little more flour. The dough should be slightly springy and just a tiny bit sticky. Knead for 10 additional minutes until the dough becomes smooth. Wrap ball-shaped dough in plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature, for 30 to 60 minutes.

ROLL OUT (<– said in my best Transformers voice): Using a rolling pin (and extra flour for dusting) or pasta machine to turn the dough into sheets. Cut into desired shapes, or add filling if you’re making stuffed pasta.

Tip: I sprinkled a tiny bit of cornmeal on the dough before I put it through the roller the first time to keep it from sticking, and I put a tiny amount of cornmeal on the plate for the finished pasta and tossed the noodles around to keep them from sticking. To keep noodles from drying out, cover with a damp towel as you go.

COOK: Bring 6 to 8 quarts of salted water to a rapid boil. Add pasta, and boil until firm but not mushy (depending on the thickness of your pasta, anywhere from 30 seconds-2 minutes or so). Drain and serve.

adapted from The Splendid Table: Recipes from Emilia-Romagna, the Heartland of Northern Italian Food by Lynne Rossetto Kasper

Two Ingredient Homemade Pasta - just flour and eggs - I will never buy the boxed stuff again

 

 

Lemon Bundt Cake with Simple Lemon Syrup Recipe

Lemon Bundt Cake with Simple Lemon Syrup - Delicious Recipe
WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 1 c. unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 3 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 2 Tbs. finely grated lemon zest
  • juice from 2 lemons (1/3 cup fresh juice)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/2 c. sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • Lemon Syrup: 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice + 1/2 cup sugar (Combine ingredients in a small saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until sugar dissolves completely).
  • Optional: confectioner’s sugar for garnish

WHAT YOU DO:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a Bundt pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, lemon zest, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on med-high speed until light and fluffy, 4-5 mins. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each is added; mix in lemon juice.

With mixer on low, alternately add flour mixture and sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until incorporated (do not overmix).

Spoon batter into buttered/floured pan and smooth with a rubber spatula. Firmly tap pan on a work surface to level batter.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean; 55-60 min (if cake browns too quickly, tent loosely with aluminum foil). Let cake cool in pan 30 minutes, then place on cooling rack.

Before serving, poke holes all over the cooled cake, and brush with lemon syrup. If the cake does not absorb all the syrup at once, allow to sit 15-20 mins before adding any remaining syrup.

To store, wrap in plastic and keep at room temp up to 3 days. Good luck not eating the whole thing by then, ha!

recipe adapted from marthastewart.com

12 cup Bundt Pan

Lemon Bundt Cake with Simple Lemon Syrup

Here’s a basic recipe you can use in tons of cooking: Mornay sauce. This classic old-school cheesy French white sauce is an awesomely versatile sauce, which goes great with poultry, fish, vegetables, eggs, and pasta. It takes only a few minutes to make; it’s basically a bechamel sauce with extras added in (cheese, butter, cream, curry, etc).

I decided to make a mac & cheese with a Mornay sauce recipe adapted from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I had all of the ingredients already, which was a bonus. Hurray for simple basics! 🙂

Here’s how my Mac & Mornay turned out – both the plain version and then one with sauteed portobello mushroom strips tossed in.

Mac and Cheese - French Mornay Sauce - Simple but delicious recipe

 

Pasta with Cheesy Mornay Sauce Recipe - tossed with sauteed portabello mushroom strips

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 1 lb. boxed Penne pasta, cooked according to package directions
  • 2 c. milk
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 3 Tbs. flour
  • 1/2 c. grated cheese (Swiss, Gruyere, white cheddar, or a Swiss/Parmesan mix)
  • 1 Tbs. softened butter
  • white pepper, to taste
  • additional salt, if needed for taste
  • freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • optional add-ins: sauteed mushrooms, etc.

WHAT YOU DO:

In a small saucepan, heat milk and 1/4 tsp. salt to a boil. Keep hot.

Make the roux: In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Blend in flour, and stir gently until the mixture froths together for two minutes without changing color.

Remove from heat. As soon as bubbles stop, pour in the milk/salt from the saucepan. Whisk quickly to blend, making sure to incorporate all the roux from the pan’s edges.

Place saucepan on medium-high heat and whisk until sauce comes to a boil. Boil for one minute while stirring.  Remove from heat. Add cheese and stir until melted, then add butter, and remaining spices (pepper, salt, nutmeg, cayenne) to taste.

Add the sauce to the pasta, and any optional add-ins, and stir to combine. Voila!

Homemade Spicy Chicken Jerky Recipe

Spicy Chicken Jerky Recipe - so much cheaper than storebought ingredients - Lean healthy snack

The hubs has been on a jerky kick recently, especially lean turkey and chicken. At $6 or more for a little 3 oz. store-bought package I decided to bust out our dehydrator and try to make some myself. I decided to make a marinade that had NO liquid smoke (the smell and taste grosses me out), so I used some spicy chili paste, garlic, honey, and soy sauce.

The verdict? Four thumbs up (two from the hubs, two from me). I spent $10 on chicken (5 lbs. @ $1.99/lb) and we already had the rest of the ingredients. After dehydration, there was more than 25 oz. of jerky. More than 8 servings of 3-oz. portions – which would probably cost $50 or more at the supermarket. And it’s spicy and delicious! I don’t even like jerky and I snuck a few pieces after they were done.

WHAT YOU NEED:

WHAT YOU DO:

1. Place chicken in freezer for 30-45 minutes to firm up the meat for easier cutting.

2. While chicken is chilling, make the marinade: Mix up the rest of the ingredients in a bowl or large resealable bag.

3. After removing chicken from freezer, slice chicken into thin strips. Try to make the sizes all the same thickness and length.

4. Place sliced chicken in marinade, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight; stirring/mixing a few times throughout to ensure all chicken is coated.

5. Strain off the marinade, then place chicken on dehydrator trays.

6. Dehydrate at 145 degrees for 5-7 hours or until completely dry (length of drying time will depend on thickness of strips).

If you don’t have a dehydrator, I’ve read that you can use an oven. Here’s what I’ve gathered from cruising jerky recipes: place chicken strips on wire racks set on top of baking sheets, line the bottom of the oven with foil, and bake at 175F, for 4 hours or more (flip chicken strips over after 2 hours or so), until the strips have dried. The length of drying time obviously will depend on the thickness of the strips.

To store dried jerky, package in vacuum-sealed bags or canisters, or in resealable sandwich bags with as much air as possible removed.

It helps to package in single-serving sizes, to avoid re-opening a bag several times and exposing to moisture/rehydration.

Jerky has a shelf-life of 3 weeks or so; for longer storage keep in fridge or freezer. Some people recommend refrigerating jerky right away even if you plan on eating it soon (treating it like a fresh food).

Food Dehydrator

Estimated Nutrition Information – Yields approximately 25 oz. – Per 1 oz: 

  • 72 cal.
  • 0.08 g. fat
  • 2.72 g. carbs
  • 18 g. protein
  • 0 fiber

DIY Chicken Jerky - Lean and healthy snack - simple ingredients - so much cheaper than storebought

One-Pot Pork Chops with Matchstick Apples & Warm Greens Recipe

I love one-pot meals! Here’s a twist on pork chops and applesauce – instead of applesauce, julienne an apple into matchsticks and toss with chickpeas and warm arugula and spinach.

This recipe makes two pork chops, but you can adjust it of course to make more.

One Pot Meal - Pork Chops with fresh apples and warm greens - Not your Momma's Pork Chops and Applesauce Recipe!

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 2 bone-in pork chops (approx. 9 oz each)
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1/2 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 5 oz. mixture of arugula and spinach, leaves torn
  • 1 Gala apple, cored and cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 Tbs lemon zest (tip: use a rasp grater, or a vegetable peeler to make strips then chop into small pieces)

WHAT YOU DO:

Sprinkle pork chops on both sides with salt (a teaspoon or so), and season with pepper.

Heat EVOO in a large high-sided saute pan over med-high heat. Add pork chops.

Reduce heat to medium, and cook until browned around the edges, about 4 mins. Flip, and cook 3-4 more minutes. Transfer chops to a plate.

Add chickpeas to pan and cook for 2 min. Working in three batches, add arugula/spinach mixture and cook, stirring, adding additional batches as the leaves wilt. Sprinkle with approximately 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt, then season with pepper to taste. Remove from heat, and stir in apple and lemon juice and zest. Serve with chops.

 

Number of Servings: 2

 

recipe adapted from “One Pot: 120+ Easy Meals from Your Skillet, Slow Cooker, Stockpot” Martha Stewart Living

Slow Cooker Balsamic Shredded Beef Recipe – Here’s a delicious Crock Pot option. You can use this shredded meat on sandwiches, tortillas, as a nacho topping, and more.

Slow Cooker Balsamic Beef Recipe - delicious Crock Pot meal option 

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 3 lbs. chuck roast
  • 2 Tbs. flour
  • ½ tsp. salt plus additional if needed, to taste
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ c. diced red onion
  • ¼ c. beef broth
  • ½ c. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbs. brown sugar

WHAT YOU DO:

1. On a large plate mix together flour, ½ tsp. salt, and pepper. Dredge the chuck roast on both sides.

2. In a large pan, heat olive oil on medium-high. Add chuck roast and brown for 3-4 min on each side, until both sides are browned and a crust forms.

3. Transfer beef to slow cooker sprayed with cooking spray (or lined with a slow cooker liner).

4. In the same pan used for the beef, sauté garlic and onion until fragrant and onions are translucent (approx. 3-­4 min).

5. Stir in broth and scrape up any brown bits left from the roast. Transfer mixture to the slow cooker with the beef.

6. In a bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, worcestershire sauce, and brown sugar (tip: use a wet dishcloth or paper towel “nest” under your bowl to whisk with one hand and add ingredients with the other). Pour over the roast.

7. Cook on HIGH for 5 hours (or LOW for 8-10 hours). Flip the roast a couple times while cooking and make sure all ingredients are combined.

8. Using two forks, shred the meat. Add salt. Combine with sauce and serve.

* * * Make ahead option: Cook as instructed above, then cool and freeze into portions. Heat on the stove or in the microwave before serving.

Prep time: 25 mins
Cook time: 5 hours
Makes 10 servings (1/2 c. per serving)

recipe adapted from organizeyourselfskinny.com

Slow Cooker liners for Crock Pot recipes

Crock-Pot Programmable Cook and Carry Slow Cooker

Pork Chops With Soy-Orange Pan Sauce Recipe

Pork Chops Recipe - awesome pan sauce with fresh squeezed OJ and soy sauce

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 3⁄4 c. freshly squeezed orange juice (I used an electric citrus juicer to make a bunch of OJ and then saved the rest for later)
  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1⁄4 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 2 Tbs. vegetable or canola oil
  • 8 bone-in pork chops

WHAT YOU DO:

Combine juice with soy sauce, sugar, garlic, and pepper in a gallon-size resealable bag. Set aside.

Using a knife, score the pork chops 1/8-inch deep in a criss-cross pattern on each side. Add to marinade bag, seal, and let sit at least 30 minutes.

Remove pork chops and retain marinade.

Heat butter and oil in a large skillet until hot. Add the chops a few at a time, in a single layer and saute over high heat for 3 minutes on each side, browning them well. Repeat with all chops.

Reduce heat to low and pour reserved marinade over the chops. Cook until done, approximately 8-10 additional minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 145°F. Remove chops to a heated platter. Reduce marinade in the skillet to 1/3 cup. Pour over the cooked chops and serve immediately.

recipe adapted from food.com

Kitchen Tips and Tricks - Keep your cutting board from sliding all over while you slice and dice

Here’s a quick tip to prevent your cutting board from sliding around. Protect your fingers AND help keep your knife cuts even with this easy trick.

Wet a dishcloth (or paper towel) and squeeze out the excess water.

Place it on the countertop, then put your cutting board on top.

Tips and Tricks - How to secure your cutting board while you slice and dice

This also works for mixing bowls – you can use a damp towel to make a little “nest” for the bowl on your counter so you can whisk or stir with one hand and not worry about the bowl sliding around while you add ingredients with the other hand.

Tips and Tricks - How to keep mixing bowls from slipping