Tag Archives: Parmesan Cheese

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

Oscar Party: Quesadillas, Pinwheels and Bruschetta!

10 Jul Mushroom and Brie Quesadillas
Host Ellen DeGeneres took a selfie that broke Twitter

Host Ellen DeGeneres took a selfie that broke Twitter

The final items that were made for my 2014 Oscar Birthday party were some of my favorites! Mushroom Brie Quesadillas, Spinach Pesto Pinwheels and Smoked Salmon Bruschetta. Now, the smoked salmon was actually smoked by my dad before he came down to Los Angeles. And the marmalade was also homemade by my dad. (Do you see where I get my love of cooking from now?) So the only “real” recipes in this post are for the quesadillas and the pinwheels. Both were fun to make and perfect party food. The quesadillas were a real hit as they were quite unique. Hope you enjoy too!

Ellen was a gracious host and ordered pizza for her guests.

Ellen was a gracious host and ordered pizza for her guests.

Host Ellen DeGeneres ordered pizza for her friends, but I prefer making snacks for parties. What are your party favorites?

Mushroom and Brie Quesadillas Ingredients L-R: Honey, Brie, Mushrooms, Rosemary, Tortillas, Parsley

Mushroom and Brie Quesadillas Ingredients L-R: Honey, Brie, Mushrooms, Rosemary, Tortillas, Parsley

MUSHROOM AND BRIE QUESADILLAS (makes 16 “slices”)

  • About 8 oz Cremini Mushrooms
  • 1/2 Tsp Fresh Rosemary
  • 4 Large Tortillas
  • 8 oz Brie
  • Olive Oil
  • Warm Honey
  • Salt & Pepper

This was a recipe I found on a blogger’s website when googling appetizers. I saw brie. I saw mushrooms. I was satisfied and knew this was something I wanted on my party table. This was super easy and you can easily make more or less, depending on your crowd. These were a huge hit with my friends. When slicing your brie it’s okay to keep the rind on. It won’t affect the taste and it’s a pain and hassle to cut it off.

sliced brie cheese

Slicing up the brie.

Sliced Mushrooms

Slicing up the mushrooms

Sauteed Mushrooms

Sauteing the mushrooms

Mushroom and Brie Quesadillas

After warming the tortillas lay out the insides.

Mushroom and Brie Quesadillas

Mushroom and Brie Quesadillas just need honey drizzled on top!

After they’re finished cooking in the oven, slice drizzle with warm honey. The drizzled honey on top really made this dish extra special. Make sure you have extra napkins though, as they are a tad messy!

Spinach and Pesto Pinwheel Ingredients L-R: Parmesan Cheese, Fresh Spinach, Puff Pastry Sheets, Pesto Sauce

Spinach and Pesto Pinwheel Ingredients L-R: Parmesan Cheese, Fresh Spinach, Puff Pastry Sheets, Pesto Sauce

SPINACH PESTO PINWHEELS (makes about 2 dozen)

  • 2 Puff Pastry Sheets
  • About 1 Cup Pesto
  • About 1 Cup Mozzarella Cheese
  • About 2 Cups Fresh Spinach
  • Salt & Pepper

There was no specific recipe for this, but there was another pinwheel recipe and because we had already decided to make the mushroom quesadillas we thought about other pinwheel options and came up with this idea. Pinwheel appetizers can be customized to anything that you want it to be, just pick your favorite flavors and have at it!

Rolling out the puff pastry and layering with all the ingredients.

Rolling out the puff pastry and layering with all the ingredients.

Roll out your pastry sheets on a flat surface. Spread your pesto on each sheet, leaving about an inch from the edges. Lay out your fresh spinach leaves covering the pesto. Sprinkle with your mozzarella cheese and then season with salt and pepper.

Spinach and Pesto Pinwheels

Rolling the pastry sheets very carefully

Spinach and Pesto Pinwheels

The rolled pinwheel ready for the fridge

Very carefully roll the sheets on the long edge. Be sure to tuck in the edge and wrap tightly. Pat down the edge to seal the roll. Lay your rolls on a jelly roll pan and stick in the fridge for about 20 minutes to harden. Remove from the fridge and preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Using a sharp knife slice the roll into about 1/2″ to 1″ pieces. Lay out the pinwheels on their sides on baking sheets. Bake about 12 minutes and serve warm.

Spinach and Pesto Pinwheels

Spinach and Pesto Pinwheels ready for the oven!

MARMALADE AND SMOKED SALMON BRUSCHETTA (about 3 dozen)

  • 1 or 2 Baguettes
  • Smoked Salmon
  • 1/2 Cup Whipped Cream Cheese (approx)
  • 1/2 Cup Goat Cheese (approx)
  • About 1 Cup Marmalade
  • About 1/4 Cup Honey

Heat your broiler to low. Slice your baguette into about 1/2″ slices and lay out on a jelly roll sheet. Stick in your broiler for about 3 minutes, just enough to lightly toast them. If you don’t have a broiler  heat your oven to about 200 degrees and toast in the oven for about 8 to 10 minutes.

Smoked Salmon

My dad’s smoked salmon that was used for the bruschetta and laid out on the table.

In a small pot over low heat, heat your marmalade and honey and mix together. Don’t let it burn, just heat it enough to mix together and then remove from heat. Mix your cream cheese and goat cheese together. Spread some of your cheese mixture on each toasted piece of bread, top with some of your marmalade mix and then place a piece of smoked salmon on top of that. (We made some with salmon and some without for my vegetarian friends.) Serve and enjoy!

Marmalade Bruschetta

Marmalade bruschetta. You can’t eat just one!

No Mo Chemo Lasagna!

6 Dec

No, I don’t have cancer. But a good friend of mine, Susan, does and she recently had a party to celebrate the end of her chemo regimen! She asked everyone to bring a dish or drink. I have found that unless people are told to specifically bring something, they usually bring chips and dip or cookies. Not to knock either of those choices, but it annoys me when I go to a party and there’s only chips and cookies. So I try to bring a protein dish of some sort, whether it’s homemade or not. (I mean, have you ever had one of those rotisserie chickens from Ralph’s or Vons? mmmmm…..But I digress…). So I decided to make lasagna. Packed with protein, enough to feed at least 10 people, and easily stored for later if need be, it’s the perfect party dish.

No Mo Chemo Party this way!

No Mo Chemo Party this way!

Lasagna is a relatively easy dish to make, so don’t let lots of ingredients scare you away. If you use ready-made pasta sauce or you make your own and if you want any other fixings in the layers can add time and more prep work. I’ve personally never been a fan of ready-made pasta sauce, probably because we never had it growing up, so I’m all about making my own. (And even that can be done completely from scratch or you can use a short cut.) For this lasagna I looked at a couple different recipes just to make sure I had the portion sizes down.

I had a show that I was stage managing (The Santaland Diaries by David Sedaris at The Blank Theatre) that afternoon, so I raced to Ralph’s to get all the necessary ingredients. I spent an extra 20 minutes though looking for the perfect birthday card for my mother so I got home a little later than I had hoped. Oh well, I’d be fashionably late!

Susan and her chemo companion. She's very excited to be done with chemo, now on to radiation.

Susan and her chemo companion Pogo. She’s very excited to be done with chemo, now on to radiation.

Susan was one of my first friends here in Los Angeles. She’s an amazing director, writer, artist and friend. I feel so lucky to know her and I was more than happy to make a yummy lasagna for her party. Rock on Susan!

Ready to eat! Mmmmm!

Ready to eat! Mmmmm!

MEAT AND MUSHROOM LASAGNA (serves approximately 12)

  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 3 Roma Tomatoes
  • 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 3-4 Garlic Cloves
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 6 oz can tomato sauce (you can also use tomato paste)
  • 5-6 small mushrooms
  • 6-8 lasagna noodles
  • 2 cups Ricotta
  • 1/2 cup Shredded Parmesan (plus extra if you want to top with it)
  • 3/4 cup Shredded Mozzarella (plus extra if you want to top with it)
  • Fresh Basil (about 5-7 leaves)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 2 tsp Dried Basil
Tomato sauce cooking down

Tomato sauce cooking down

Turn your oven to 350. Chop your onion and garlic and add to a large pot on medium heat. Chop your tomatoes and add. Let cook for about 5 minutes then add your tomato sauce/paste and a can of diced tomatoes. (If you want all home-made then get a few more tomatoes and cook a few extra minutes before adding the can of sauce/paste. I had a can in the cupboard so I wanted to use them.) Add salt, pepper, dried oregano, dried basil and simmer on low for about 20 minutes  and stirring occasionally (30 if using all fresh tomatoes). Start a big pot of water to boil for your lasagna noodles. I ended up using 7 noodles, 4 for the bottom layer and 3 for the top layer. (It’s your choice and depends on the size of your pan, but you need at least six for a normal pan, roughly 13 x 9 x 2.) While waiting for the water to boil grab a medium bowl to make your cheese mixture. Combine the ricotta, Parmesan and mozzarella, stirring well. Finely chop your fresh basil and add to mixture. Set aside.

Ricotta cheese, mozzarella, Parmesan and fresh basil

Ricotta cheese, mozzarella, Parmesan and fresh basil

Lasagna noodles cooking

Lasagna noodles cooking

On to the meat. In a medium saucepan, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high heat. Once it gets hot, start adding small chunks of your ground beef to the pan. Stir around and push to edges to add more meat. Season with salt and pepper. Add cooked meat to your pot of sauce cooking, mixing well. Your water should now be boiling so add your lasagna noodles. Be gentle so they don’t break. As they soften push further into water until fully submerged. Cook for about 7 minutes. While waiting, slice your mushrooms thinly. Pull out your lasagna pan and spray with cooking spray to avoid sticking.

The lasagna is ready to be cooked!

The lasagna is ready to be cooked!

Once your sauce is done scoop a small layer on the bottom of your pan. Cover with your first layer of pasta noodles. Then make a layer of your cheese mixture. It should be about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch thick and cover all the noodles. Cover with another layer of the meat sauce. Before you cover with the noodles again take your mushrooms and make a thin layer. (You should leave enough for a top layer.) Make a layer of noodles, cheese and meat sauce. Top with the remaining mushrooms and sprinkle with any remaining Parmesan or mozzarella. Place in the oven for 45 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Experiments In The Kitchen-Part 1

28 Sep

When you enter the kitchen do you enter with a cookbook? With a specific recipe in mind? I’m sure most of you answered yes. And most of the time I do the same. But every now and then I love to go into the kitchen without a real plan (and yes, my OCD does freak a little, but because I know I’m creating something new I’m able to push past the voice screaming in my head, lol). I usually have a few veggies in my fridge that I need to cook or they’ll go bad, so I come up with something that works, or doesn’t.

Tonight I got home early from work and I was planning on making some tortellini I had bought on my last grocery trip, but I knew I would need to make sauce for it. Lucky for me, my roommate Janelle had already been up to something in the kitchen. She still had some fresh kale and she wanted to do something with it before she went away for a week, so she decided to make a pasta sauce (not knowing I would be making pasta that night). Well she was worried that it didn’t turn out right. She chopped up kale and added onion, garlic (both powder and fresh), basil (finely chopped), can of tomato paste, can of diced tomatoes and a diced bell pepper for texture.

Okay, I’m not a fan of kale (ie, this may be the only time you see kale in quite a while), but I will try anything once. Janelle said it didn’t taste right, but she wanted a second opinion. I told her I would taste it when I got back from my run. The pot had been simmering on very low heat for over 20 minutes by the time I got back. I dipped a piece of olive bread in and was pleasantly surprised!  To be on the safe side since I can eat olive bread dipped in olive oil or with melted butter on it, I tried the sauce by itself. And you know what? It wasn’t half bad! It didn’t taste like kale, it tasted like a yummy pasta sauce. I poured it over my tortellinis and topped it with shredded Parmesan cheese and voila-dinner! I’m looking forward to seconds!

So I realize that not everyone knows exactly what kale is. And as someone who doesn’t eat it very often, I can only tell you it’s a form of cabbage. So what do I do? I Wikipedia it of course! It’s always been said that kale is one of those super foods, and you know what, they’re right. With over 700% of your daily dose of Vitamin K and half your Vitamin C needs and potentially anti-cancer properties, I think “super food” probably fits. Don’t be afraid to try new foods. I believe any food can be prepared to make it yummy (yummy is a technical cooking term), as evidenced by the many episodes of Chopped where they turn things like canned hagus and edible flowers into meals.

So next time you’re worried about veggies going bad but you’re not sure what to make, have some fun, be bold and start throwing stuff in a pot or pan and have some fun! I do recommend doing this only for yourself or a close friend the first time, just in case it doesn’t turn out the best, lol. I’d love to hear your experiments in the kitchen! Leave a comment below! And look for more “Experiments In The Kitchen” in future posts!

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