Monday, July 26, 2010

Raving Ravioli

I should start out by telling you that I thought about making the dough from scratch.  I am adventurous - honest, and I WILL do it, I just didn't do it this time. 
Wonton wrappers are a little thing they should call "time saving miracle workers".  They are light, juicy and easy to use!
I made this dish twice in the last week because we had only used half of the package the first time around and because I am the "Comfort Carb Queen". If I could eat pasta every day I would (be fat yes) be a happy lady!
First rendition was ricotta and spinach filled and the second was stuffed with chicken.  Both were a hit.

When trying to figure out how I wanted them to look I quickly found out that simply making a triangular shape does present some problems if you aren't careful.  I'd post photos but really, it was just a big ole mess in a pot so I will spare you. (although I did have a good laugh at my own expense)
Be warned...make sure you have all the air out when sealing and don't over stuff!!

Chicken Stuffed Ravioli

1 lb ground chicken
1/2 c. ricotta
1/2 c. spinach (frozen, thawed and drained if you like but I used fresh baby spinach and wilted it)
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 pkg wonton wrappers
sauce of your choice

Place ground chicken and Italian seasoning in a pan and brown.  Remove and pulse in blender or food processor with garlic to make a mushy consistency (how technical). **I used a bit of chicken stock to help** Stir in spinach and ricotta.
Prepare a pot of lightly salted water and make sure its at a rolling boil before placing raviolis in.

Take wonton wrappers out as you use them, you don't want them to dry up.  I filled about 4-5 at a time.
Add your filling by teaspoon (I used my hands) in the middle.  Run some water along the two top corners and fold into a triangle pressing firmly along the edges.  **remember to try to get out as much air as possible**
Now, I recommend also folding the points in to the back to make a dumpling shape - when they boil they spread and this helps to keep the shape and filling inside but hey, your call....

Place in boiling water for about 3 minutes or until they float - don't over crowd the pot.
Take out, drain with a slotted spoon and place in a dish wish a thin layer of your sauce on the bottom.  Continue until all are cooked.  Cover with remaining sauce and place in the oven for about 15 minutes at 275 degrees.
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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Flatbread Party Anyone?

Ok so I wasn't entertaining I had just finished reading the latest Martha Stewart magazine and became inspired.
I got up, got the kiddo motivated (and by that I mean I bribed him to come to the store with me by promise of a treat) and went to get yeast.  For some reason I don't often have that on hand?!
Maybe its because my bread maker has sat dormant for ohhhhh since I bought it at a garage sale? NAAA I did use it - ONCE.  It could be because the thought of slaving, kneading, waiting for something to rise before I can use it bores me.  Actually I think it may just be because as much as I like to have breads/pastas (HUGE CARB FREAK HERE) I just assumed it was easier and cheaper and less time consuming to just walk in to any ole store and pick it up.  It probably is my friends but then you don't get that fresh baked bread smell wafting at you making you drool like a kid over a big slab of chocolate cake!!  I actually think I left the house a few times just so I could walk in and say "OH GOD IT SMELLS GOOD IN HERE"

So Martha, don't fail me now!
I used her recipe but tweaked it slightly and have already come up with a few other versions I plan on creating for a hen party next week - hope they like it! (ps I will give you my other renditions next week if I get rave reviews)

1 c. warm water (she says 110 degrees, I say it shouldn't burn your hand)
1 tsp. active dry yeast
3 c. all purpose flour (and you are going to need more for your surface and hands)
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (plus more for the bowl)
2 tsp. coarse salt
1 tsp sugar
1 large egg whisked with 1 tbsp water

** I made 2 variations, one using 1/4 c. fresh rosemary and about 2 tbsp. sea salt as well as some sweet bread for the boy using brown sugar, white sugar and cinnamon**

Place water in a medium bowl and add the yeast.  Let sit about 5 minutes or so until it becomes foamy.
Stir in flour, oil, salt and sugar until the dough forms.
Lightly flour your surface and get that dough outta there and start kneading for a few minutes - you will want the dough to be smooth.  Take your ball and transfer it to another lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  I put mine in the oven (not on) to proof as it needs somewhere free of drafts and some warmth (and since its summer the A/C is kickin in here) It should double in size in about an hour.
Preheat your oven to 350.  Divide the dough into 16 pieces - seems a lot but since you want it to be thin and long it will work out.  Plastic wrap the unused portions as you go so they wont dry out.
Roll out each piece to 3" by about 8-10" on a floured surface.  Funny story...didn't have a rolling pin at the in laws but we did have WINE bottles!!
About 4 will fit on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Brush with egg wash and sprinkle your salt/rosemary or sugar mixture as the case may be over the entire surface.
Bake for about 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

Now Martha says these can be stored in an airtight container for 3 you think they will last that long?
But I have a question for you out there - if you buy yeast at a bulk store and not in those little packages, how long does that last??  Anyone??
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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cookies Any Monkey Would Love

So what do you do with some chocolate chips, oatmeal and bananas that are about to be as black as molasses?  We make COOKIES!
Just a little unconventional twist on the old classic really.
I have to admit I personally didn't make the cookies, I was only the directional officer, scooper and oven putter inner.  I have a wonderful little man who LOVES to bake - cook, not so much.  Probably because when we bake he gets to lick the spoon.  This happens to also be MY favorite part of baking but how can you tell them "No Way Jose - get your own"? Ya cant!
I want to perfect these a little more so if you are going to try, maybe use some baking powder...maybe some more rolled oats?  I found that they were VERY soft cookies which we love yet they seemed to spread rather than rise (which I find most oatmeal cookies often do)
So here's how we made them:

1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 c. unsalted butter softened
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla (extract is fine)
1 egg
1 ripe(almost disintegratingly black is best) banana
1 c. rolled oats
1 c. chocolate chips (we used semi sweet)

Preheat oven to 350
In a separate bowl combine flour, salt and soda.  In a larger bowl mix together sugar, butter and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Blend in your egg and once combined add your banana.  Mix in your dry ingredients, but do not over mix.  Finally fold in oats and chocolate.
I recommend not using parchment, for some reason our fist batch stuck so we lightly coated the pan with some cooking spray on our second attempt and we were smooth sailin.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool for about 5 minutes before moving to a wire rack or they will break apart and you will be forced to eat the crumbs (I know, oh the humanity!)

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MMMM RIBS in the Crock Pot?? OH YES

Normally the "UGH Man" is in charge of ribs in our house.  He would boil them, then BBQ them and they always tasted yum.  We were even unofficially winners at the family cook off last year (so he likes to think anyway)
Since our BBQ ran out of propane and wasn't filled up until Sunday we hadn't had the chance to make them before he was shipped back off to work so the responsibility fell on my broad shoulders - I can do it, I will make you proud!!
I decided that I didn't want to BBQ them, I didn't even want to do them in the oven because its too darn hot.  Do I really NEED to increase the internal temperature in our house just for some meat on a bone? NAAA

Here is what you need and what to me...YUMMMMMYYYY
2 racks of pork ribs
All purpose rub (Wicked Gourmet) or just salt n pepper
1/2 c ketchup
2-3 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic
3 tbsp. brown sugar
2-3 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 condiment package of Chinese hot sauce (only because I had it kicking around)
1 tsp. dried basil

Pre-heat oven to 350
Cut ribs in 2 (so you should have 4 smaller pieces people), season on both sides of the meat.
Place ribs on a baking sheet lined with tin foil in the oven for 45 minutes.  Make sure you turn them about 20 minutes in.
Meanwhile, mix all of the other ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
Take the ribs out, cut them into smaller portion size (i.e. about 3-4 ribs each) and place them horizontally in the crock pot.  Spoon sauce over top and brush to ensure optimal coating. (no one really likes a dry rib)
Set it and forget it! Oops that's another commercial isn't it?  Leave the pot on low for 4-6 hours.
I was home so I went to check on it half way through, turned them and re-distributed the sauce, but I had that luxury so don't worry if you don't...they will be just as good!
UGH Man even high fived me with saucy fingers :)
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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

BBQ Chicken n' (My Rendition) of My Omi's Potato Salad

Depending on where you are from in Germany you may have eaten the warm vinegary potato salad or the creamy style.  I myself prefer the creamy style my Omi has made me for years (sorry Mom)
Although I don't see much of her, my Omi knows that when I am in town she needs to make an extra HUGE bowl of it because even if there are leftovers (which there usually isn't) I will take the rest "to go".
I have to give thanks to her tenfold because no matter HOW HARD I TRY it NEVER is the same as hers!

Tonight's dinner was almost a catastrophe when the BBQ ran out of propane about 5-7 minutes too soon.
I had to finish up in the oven because as much as I like a clean washroom I wasn't about to clean 3 tomorrow morning. 

The other half has been eyeing this split propane/charcoal one for about a year now and I could hear his thoughts when he walked in the door and I said "You're going to have to wait, the dam thing went out"
It probably went something like "If she would have only let me buy the one I wanted there wouldn't be a problem right now...." (I KNOW) or "How much longer" (NOT MUCH) or  even "I hope this is the good chicken, with skin on it" (IT IS) SHEEEESH
Come to think of it, all 3 of those likely went through his head however the only one that left his mouth was "It's not THAT pink" GROSS

Back to the recipe at hand here now that you have heard about my wonderful Omi and my BBQ woes.

BBQ CHICKEN - I don't know where this idea came from but it works and I don't actually measure, its more of a seasoning with a bit of this and a touch of that

6 skin on thighs or drumsticks or even backs
approximately 1/4 c of paprika (could be less I just shake it on to the chicken to coat it on all sides)
approximately 1/8 c granulated garlic
2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/8-1/4ish c soy sauce
Sprinkle spices coating all sides of the chicken in a Ziploc bag or roasting dish.  Pour on soy sauce and work it into the chicken.
Refrigerate for a minimum of 45 minutes
Heat grill, BBQ slow and low for about 20-30 minutes depending on the cut of your meat


4-6 white or red fleshed potatoes cut into bite sized chunks
1/2 c light mayo (Hellman's)
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 medium onion diced
4 dill pickles diced (or more, I like pickles)
Salt n pepper to taste
2 hard boiled eggs
pickle juice

Boil potatoes until fork tender, drain and cool.  Add diced onion and pickles to the bowl.
Mix together mayo and mustard and combine with potatoes/onions/pickles.  At this point I like to add in a few tbsp of the pickle juice as well as pepper.  Finally adding the 2 chopped eggs and gently folding in.
ITS HEAVEN IN YOUR MOUTH  - Thank you again Omi :)
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