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Goat Cheese and Spinach Ravioli

17 Jul Spinach and Goat Cheese Ravioli prepped for closing

I was browsing the internet over the first weekend back in March when I stumbled across a recipe for homemade ravioli with goat cheese and spinach, two ingredients I happened to have in my fridge from my Oscar party the weekend before. There have been plenty of posts on this blog about pasta and how much I love it. What I haven’t told you is where that love came from. When I was a young kid my parents use to make pasta from scratch. Often. I have memories of crawling under drying pasta hanging from broomsticks across our kitchen back in Pennsylvania. Throughout my childhood pasta was probably on our table at least once a week. Why it took me this long to make it myself I’m not sure. I’ve always wanted to make pasta but I think a busy schedule just got in my way. And of all the pastas I could have made I chose one that is slightly more complicated since it is a filled pasta. But I still had fun and it was really yummy! I think everyone should make their own pasta at least once. Just make sure you have some extra time, especially if it’s your first time. And if you choose this recipe, give yourself at least two hours before you want to eat since you have to let the dough rise. I’m looking forward to making fettuccine since that just involves cutting up the dough and no filling and closing and cutting twin pieces to match. Ha! Enjoy!

Spinach and Goat Cheese Ravioli Ingredients L-R: Mushrooms, Flour, White Wine, Parmesan Cheese, Nutmeg, Half & Half, Egg, Garlic, Goat Cheese,  Spinach, Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper

Spinach and Goat Cheese Ravioli Ingredients L-R: Mushrooms, Flour, White Wine, Parmesan Cheese, Nutmeg, Half & Half, Egg, Garlic, Goat Cheese, Spinach, Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper

SPINACH AND GOAT CHEESE RAVIOLI (makes about 12-18 ravioli)

Ravioli Dough:

  • 1 1/4 Cup Flour
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/4 Cup Hot Water
  • 1/4 Tsp Salt

Ravioli Filling:

  • 1/3 Cup Cooked Spinach (or 1/2 bunch raw spinach – to be cooked)
  • 2 oz Goat Cheese
  • 1/3 Cup Parmesan, Grated
  • Pinch of Nutmeg
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Mushroom and Parmesan Cream Sauce:

  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 8 oz Mushrooms
  • 4 Garlic Cloves
  • Nutmeg (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp White Wine
  • 1 cup Half-and-Half
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups Parmesan Cheese

Make your dough first. In a medium bowl mix your flour and salt. In a small bowl or a liquid measuring cup, mix your egg and hot water well. Combine the egg/water mixture with your flour and knead the dough until it’s nice and smooth and firm. It shouldn’t be too wet or too sticky, ie, it shouldn’t stick to your hands just to itself. I mixed it with a wooden spoon, and then finished mixing with my hands to make sure I had the right texture. Once done, roll into a ball and wrap in Saran wrap and let sit on the counter for one hour. The recipe has you using a mold to make the ravioli and suggests making a second batch if you want more than a dozen or so. I think I made about 20 with mine and without a mold. I didn’t waste any of my dough.

Making pasta dough

Making the pasta dough for the ravioli!

While your dough is sitting in the Saran wrap work on your filling. I used fresh spinach so I had to cook it first. Be sure to cook it down until it’s all wilted and there’s no liquid left. Once it’s all cooked chop it up and set aside.

Cooking down the spinach and chopping it up for the filling.

Cooking down the spinach and chopping it up for the filling.

In a small-sized microwave safe bowl heat up your goat cheese to soften it, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the chopped up spinach and Parmesan cheese and mix well. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg and mix again. Set the mixture aside. It should be fairly firm. If it is a little runny (from water in the spinach leftover), place in the fridge to firm up a bit.

spinach, goat cheese and parmesan cheese ravioli filling

Mixing up the spinach and cheeses for the filling

Once you’re ready to assemble your ravioli, divide your dough into 2 equal parts. Be sure to flour both your rolling pin and your rolling surface, then roll out each section of your dough very thinly.

If you are using a ravioli mold, be sure to lightly flour it and then lay out the dough and push softly into each indentation. Place a small amount of the filling mixture into each mold section, just be sure not to overfill them. Take your second piece of dough and lay it on top. Take your rolling pin and roll along the top of the mold, which will seal the ravioli and take the air out of them. Use your fingers to separate the ravioli from each other. Then flip over the mold to release the ravioli. Set aside and re-roll the dough to make more ravioli.

making ravioli

Making the actual ravioli. Yum!

If you aren’t using a mold (like me!) then you will need to cut them individually. I used a small (sharp) paring knife and after rolling the dough out very thinly, cut a rectangle about 4 inches wide and about 10 inches long, then sliced that in half and made about 2 inch squares. I plopped about a teaspoon of filling into the middle of half of the squares, then took the empty squares and sealed each ravioli. I re-rolled the dough until it was basically all used up.

Spinach and Goat Cheese Ravioli prepped for closing

Spinach and Goat Cheese Ravioli prepped for closing

Fill a large pot with water and put on high heat and bring to a boil. Cook however many ravioli you want that evening and then freeze the rest. Depending on the pot size you shouldn’t put too many in at once. I boiled about 5 or 6 at a time in my 3 qt pot. Be sure to drain the ravioli before serving. Because I cooked a couple batches of ravioli I used a skimmer to remove each ravioli and drain over the pot then placed on plates.

Mushroom Cream Sauce

Making the mushroom cream sauce.

While you’re boiling your ravioli you can make your pasta sauce at the same time. This is a basic cream sauce, and one I’ve basically made before. You want to slice up your mushrooms thinly and dice up your garlic. In a large saucepan heat the olive oil over medium high heat and saute your mushrooms, garlic and a pinch of nutmeg for about 5 to 7 minutes, until the mushrooms are a golden brown. Add your half and half and cook until it starts to boil. Turn the heat down to low and add in your Parmesan cheese and mix until it’s nice and thick. I like to add in a little white wine to my pasta sauces too. Season with salt and pepper and serve over ravioli and garnish with fresh parsley or chives. Enjoy with a nice glass of white wine!

Spinach and Goat Cheese Ravioli with Mushroom Cream Sauce

Spinach and Goat Cheese Ravioli with Mushroom Cream Sauce

Linguine With Beef Sauce

30 Apr

Pasta. It’s the food that most people have a love-hate relationship with. I’m on the side that pasta is our friend. But like everything else in the food world, eat in moderation and eat the right pasta. You can now buy whole wheat, gluten-free, and even spinach pasta. There are so many options when it comes to pasta that every diet can find their own version of pasta that doesn’t break any rules. I’ve had a lot of posts about pasta. The thing I love about it is the amount of variation you can have with your sauces. I stock my cupboards with linguine, spaghetti, shells, elbows and penne. Always. (I personally like Barilla’s pasta, especially their whole wheat line.) Along with canned tomatoes and the little cans of pasta sauce and tomato paste it’s always easy to whip up some fresh tasting sauce. I found this great picture diagram of the different varieties. What are your go to faves?pasta shapes

So one night I needed to make some dinner and I looked in my fridge and freezer to see what I had. There was some left over ground beef, a few mushrooms, a chunk of onion, chives and half a green  bell pepper. I had spinach too and I thought I would use it but I didn’t. Oh well, no harm done. I paired this with linguine. Hope you enjoy! What do you like in your pasta sauce?

Linguine with Beef Sauce Ingredients, Spinach, Bell Pepper, Canned Diced Tomatoes, Mushrooms, Garlic, Onion, Chives, Ground Beef, Linguine

Linguine with Beef Sauce Ingredients L-R: Spinach (not used), Bell Pepper, Canned Diced Tomatoes, Mushrooms, Garlic, Onion, Chives, Ground Beef, Linguine

LINGUINE WITH BEEF SAUCE (serves 2 or 3)

  • 4 to 6 oz of Linguine (2 oz per serving)
  • 4 to 6 oz of Ground Beef (2 oz per serving)
  • Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Bell Pepper
  • 3 Cremini Mushrooms
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Onion
  • 1 Can Diced Tomatoes
  • Chopped Chives for Garnish
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

In a large pot boil about 4 quarts of water. While you wait for your water to boil prep your veggies. Slice your bell pepper into thin slices, chop your onion, slice your mushrooms thinly and dice your garlic clove.

Sliced mushrooms, bell peppers and diced onions

Sliced mushrooms, bell peppers and diced onions

In a large saucepan (the one I used worked but I wish I had used a larger one) heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Once it’s hot add in your garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds to a minute. Then add in your chopped onions and sauté for a minute or two. Then add in your bell peppers.

Sauteing your veggies and ground beef together.

Sauteing your veggies and ground beef together.

Push all the veggies to the outer rim of the pan and then add in your ground beef in the center to cook. Once browned reduce the heat to medium and add your mushrooms and combine all veggies and meat together. Cook for another few minutes until the mushrooms are browned.

When your water is boiling add in your linguine (or pasta of choice) and cook for about 6-8 minutes until al dente. Taste a piece for doneness. Be sure to stir the pasta every minute or so so that it doesn’t stick to itself.

Linguine into the pot of boiling water

Linguine into the pot of boiling water

Once your mushrooms are browned open your can of diced tomatoes and add to your sauce pan. Reduce heat to low and add in salt and pepper. (If you want, now is also the time to add any additional seasonings like basil or oregano-dried or fresh.) Stir to combine all ingredients. Let cook over low heat until your pasta is done cooking and you’ve drained it, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Add in your diced tomatoes and simmer for a few more minutes.

Add in your diced tomatoes and simmer for a few more minutes.

Serve the pasta sauce over the linguine and garnish with chopped fresh chives. Enjoy with a nice glass of red wine!

Linguine with Beef Sauce ready to eat!

Linguine with Beef Sauce ready to eat!

Baked Shells and Cheese

18 Feb

Macaroni and cheese. We all love it. Whether it’s from Kraft’s blue box, an old recipe from your grandmother, or a modern version with five types of cheeses-two of which you’ve never heard of, we all swoon for the cheesy goodness. There’s something about melted cheese that makes our knees buckle and our mouths salivate. Don’t lie to me, I know you’re drooling just in anticipation of the recipe (and photos) to come. On New Year’s Day, while I was recovering from doing the 24 Hour Play at Eclectic Company Theatre, I did a lot of reading of blogs I follow. And one of my favorites is Joy The Baker. One of her posts from December was a recipe for baked shells with mushrooms and onions and as soon as I saw it I knew I had to make it. My roommate agreed. So that Saturday I did precisely that. No regrets. Looking forward to making it again in fact! Hope you enjoy!

Baked Shells and Cheese with Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms Ingredients L-R: Salt & Pepper, Medium Pasta Shells, Mushrooms, Onion, Cheddar Cheese, Butter, Mozzarella, Goat Cheese

Baked Shells and Cheese with Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms Ingredients L-R: Salt & Pepper, Medium Pasta Shells, Mushrooms, Onion, Cheddar Cheese, Butter, Mozzarella, Goat Cheese

BAKED SHELLS WITH MUSHROOMS AND ONIONS (serves about 4 to 6)

  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter (about)
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion
  • 4 oz Button or Cremini Mushrooms
  • 1 Tsp Fresh Thyme (I had none so I didn’t use any)
  • 2 Tbsp Flour
  • 1 1/4 Cups Whole Milk (I used Low Fat and Half & Half)
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 oz Goat Cheese
  • 1/4 Cup Shredded Gruyère (I used Mozzarella)
  • 3/4 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 8 oz. Pasta Shells
  • 1/6 Cup Panko Crumbs (or slice of bread cut up)

Placing one of your oven racks into the upper third of your oven, preheat your oven to 325 degrees and then do some mise en place. Slice up your onion into semi circles by first cutting your onion in half then slice thinly. Then cut and quarter your mushrooms and set aside. Then get your cheeses prepped. Because I already had a bag of shredded mozzarella at home I decided to use that instead of Gruyère (plus it saves me a few dollars), and then I shredded fresh cheddar and weighed out my goat cheese.

Shredded cheddar cheese, shredded mozzarella, and goat cheese.

Shredded cheddar cheese, shredded mozzarella, and goat cheese.

In a large pot, boil salted water for your shells. Cook your pasta  for only about 5 minutes so they’re just under cooked. (You’ll be baking them in the oven later so you don’t want them fully cooked.) Drain and set aside.

Medium Pasta Shells

Medium pasta shells all measured out.

While you wait for your water to boil work on sauteing your onions and mushrooms. In a medium skillet heat 1 tablespoon of oil and 2 teaspoons of butter over medium heat. Once hot add in your sliced onions and saute until translucent. Once translucent, add a pinch of salt, pepper and thyme and reduce the heat to low, cooking for about another 5 minutes until they are brown thoroughly cooked. Pour your onions into a small bowl and set aside.

Caramelized Onions

Sauteing the onions. In the photo on the right they are about a minute away from being done.

In the same pan, but turning the heat back up to medium, heat another tablespoon of oil and 2 teaspoons of butter and then add in your mushrooms and saute until golden brown and soft, about 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the heat to low and add a pinch of salt, pepper and thyme and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so. Add to your bowl of onions.

sauteing mushrooms

Sauteing the mushrooms in butter. Yum!

By this time your water should be ready or almost ready for your pasta. While your pasta is cooking work on your cheese sauce. In a medium to large saucepan or pot make a roux. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat and add in your flour and stir constantly until combined. Slowly pour in your milk and whisk until smooth and thick, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in a pinch of salt and pepper.

Cheese Sauce for baked shells.

Making the cheese sauce. Drooling yet?

In a separate small bowl beat your egg and add in a few tablespoons of your cream sauce and mix together. Once your egg is warmed add into the pot of cream sauce and mix well. Reduce your heat to low and add in your cheeses, stirring well to thoroughly mix your cheeses with the cream sauce and allow them to melt. Once all your cheeses are melted add in your cooked pasta and stir until pasta is well coated. Turn off the heat.

Baked Shells and Cheese with Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms

Almost ready for the oven.

Pull out a baking dish of your choice. Joy used a pie pan, I used my square baking dish since I made half of her recipe, but for a full recipe she recommended a 9×13 dish. Whichever you prefer, grease it well and transfer half of your cheesy pasta into it. Then cover with your mushrooms and onions and top that with the rest of your pasta. In your skillet, over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and add in your panko bread crumbs. *Side Note: I used a piece of toasted bread chopped into small pieces.* Stir your bread crumbs so they are well coated in the butter and they are lightly toasted. Transfer your toasted bread crumbs to the top of your pasta.

bread crumbs

My improvised bread crumbs ready to be toasted in the butter.

Baked Shells and Cheese with Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms

Fresh from the oven! Smells so good!

Place your baking dish into the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. The pasta should be sizzling and the bread crumbs should be browned. Remove from the oven and serve warm. Enjoy!

Baked Shells and Cheese with Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms

Baked Shells and Cheese with Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms Ready to eat! Yum!

Pasta alla Formiana

23 Jan Pasta alla Formiana

The first Saturday of December I decided to stay in for the night to start my annual Christmas baking. But before I could start baking I had to make dinner (duh!), and for that I once again went to the kitchen goddess Giada de Laurentiis and her “Weeknights With Giada” cookbook. Before leaving that afternoon for an audition I grabbed the cookbook to make a decision while out. After flipping through the pages I landed on her Pasta alla Formiana. It was a simple recipe (which in my eyes is always a good thing) and it made enough that I’d be able to enjoy leftovers (which I added cheese on top to!) and share with my roommate (and she loved it!). Because of how easy and good it was I ended up making it for my holiday party later in the month.

Pasta alla Formiana Ingredients L-R: Mezze Penne, Salt & Pepper, Oregano, Garlic, Beefsteak Tomatoes, Crushed Tomatoes, Chicken Broth, Olive Oil

Pasta alla Formiana Ingredients L-R: Mezze Penne, Salt & Pepper, Oregano, Garlic, Beefsteak Tomatoes, Crushed Tomatoes, Chicken Broth, Olive Oil

PASTA ALL FORMIANA (serves 4 to 6)

  • 28 oz Can Crushed Tomatoes (1 Can)
  • 1/2 Cup Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 2 Cups (8 oz) mezze penne (or other small pasta)
  • 1/3 cup Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp Dried Oregano
  • 2 Tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp Black Pepper
  • 3 Very Ripe, Extra Large Beefsteak Tomatoes (Giada calls for 5, but I found 3 worked just fine with my 8×8 dish. If using a bigger dish add another tomato.)
  • Vegetable Oil Cooking Spray
  • Shredded mozzarella or other favorite cheese for topping (optional)

Place your oven rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat it to 450 degrees. Coarsely chop your garlic then pull out your trusty food processor (or blender if you don’t have a food processor) and blend together the can of crushed tomatoes, chicken broth and garlic. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat (less than 10 minutes).

Chopped Garlic

Chopped Garlic

Boiling the crushed tomatoes and chicken broth

Boiling the crushed tomatoes and chicken broth

While you wait for the tomato mixture to boil, slice your tomatoes into about 1/4 inch thick slices. Spray your 8×8 baking dish with your cooking spray and then line the entire dish (the bottom and the sides) with your tomato slices. I ended up cutting a couple of slices in half for the odd spots. You should have about 9 slices left.

Sliced Beefsteak Tomatoes

Sliced Beefsteak Tomatoes

My 8x8 baking dish lined with tomato slices

My 8×8 baking dish lined with tomato slices

My 8x8 baking dish lined with tomato slices

A closer look at the lined baking dish.

Once the tomato mixture is boiling stir in the (uncooked) pasta, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and pour into the tomato lined dish and be sure it fills the dish evenly. With the remaining slices cover the top of the pasta mixture, overlapping the tomato slices so that it’s completely covered. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Bake for 30 minutes.

Pasta alla Formiana

You can see the steam rising from the crushed tomato with uncooked pasta mixture after pouring into the baking dish.

Pasta alla Formiana

I’ve covered the dish with more tomatoes and now it’s ready for the oven!

The tomatoes should be slightly crispy, and yes, the pasta will be cooked. Let cool for about 5 minutes, serve and enjoy! Top with cheese of your choice if you wish.

Pasta alla Formiana

Fresh from the oven, my Pasta alla Formiana smells delicious!

Pasta alla Formiana

Dinner is served! Pasta alla Formiana

Easy Greek Pasta With Chicken

12 Jul Greek Pasta With Chicken

One of the first recipes I shared on my blog was a Greek pasta dish and I’m here to share another one. This one is very simple and can be made in less than 20 minutes. I came home from work and was starving and wanted something quick and yummy. I remembered I had a jar of sun-dried tomatoes as well as some feta cheese left. I grabbed a frozen chicken breast from the freezer and immediately stuck it in the microwave to defrost. And I have to admit that I was so hungry that I didn’t stop to take a lot of pictures. What I love about this dish is how easy and fast it is to make. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Feta Cheese

Feta Cheese

GREEK PENNE PASTA WITH CHICKEN (2 servings)

  • 1 Boneless and Skinless Chicken Breast
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup of Sun-Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil (roughly, feel free to add more or less)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Feta Cheese to top
  • 4 oz of Pasta of your choice

Start a medium pot of water for your pasta. I am of the mind to salt the water. Some people do, some don’t, it’s your preference. While you’re waiting for the water to boil chop up your chicken breast into pieces about an inch or two long. If you need to defrost your chicken first you can do this while you’re waiting for the water to boil too. It should only take about 4 minutes. Be sure to use the defrost option on the microwave.

Greek Pasta With Chicken

Chicken and sun-dried tomatoes cooking

Once your chicken is cut up, heat your olive oil in a small pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add in  your chicken. When the chicken is about halfway cooked, add in your sun-dried tomatoes (with some of the oil from the jar, about a tablespoon or two) and turn the heat down to medium and finish cooking.

Greek Pasta

Cooking the pasta

Your water should be boiling by now, so add in your pasta and cook for about six minutes. Taste a piece to make sure it’s done before straining. Be sure to save a few tablespoons of water to mix back in with the pasta. Once your chicken is done, mix with pasta, serve with feta on top (and a glass of white wine) and enjoy!

Greek Pasta With Chicken

Greek Pasta With Chicken

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