Monday, October 31, 2011

Lobster Ravioli with Lobster Cream Sauce

I'm going to do something I've not done before - post a recipe without a picture. The picture came out so badly and, quite frankly, unappealing but the dish was so good that 1) I want a record of it so I can make it again and 2) you need to try it.

Awhile back, I bought a 2 pound package of lobster meat. Fully cooked, in small pieces. I used a large portion for the paella and still had a lot left. One of my favorite dishes is lobster ravioli, but I'd never made it before. I figured now was the time!

I based the sauce and ravioli filling off this recipe from Food Network. I did not make my own pasta but instead used wonton wrappers - feel free to make your own if you're braver than me. The link to the original has one.

To say this was delicious is a huge understatement. The sauce is SO GOOD. If you want to buy frozen ravioli and skip those steps all together, make the sauce for it! Jason just stood over the pan dipping bread into it after he ate.

Lobster Ravioli with Lobster Cream Sauce
Lobster Ravioli Filling:
1 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped shallots
16 ounces cooked lobster meat, cut into small pieces
2 ounces ricotta

Lobster Cream Sauce:
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon chopped shallots
4 ounces lobster meat (or crabmeat), cut into small pieces
5 ounces tomato sauce
10 ounces heavy cream

For the Lobster Ravioli: In a large saute pan, add the butter and melt. Add the garlic and shallots and saute until golden brown. Add lobster and saute 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool slightly. In a large bowl, combine lobster mixture and ricotta and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.

If working with wonton wrappers, put about a tablepoon of the lobster cheese mixture in center of wrapper. Wet edges and press closed with a second wrapper. Repeat until all mixture is used. Gently place ravioli in boiling water and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until al dente.

For the sauce: Using a 12-inch saute pan at medium heat, add butter and shallots and saute until shallots are translucent. Add the lobster meat and saute for about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, cream, and salt and cook until it reduces half way and becomes creamy. Add the cooked ravioli to the sauce and let cook together for about 1 minute before serving.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Spinach, Mushroom, and Pesto Lasagna

This is one of those meals that you wish you had doubled or tripled, just so you have some to freeze for later. It's. so. good. The dish isn't any more complicated than a traditional lasagna, really, but I thought it had loads more flavor thanks to the pesto. I did not miss the meat at all - and neither did Jason, the family carnivore. Your house will smell amazing, too, so you get a bonus!

I made my own pesto because the grocery store wanted a pretty penny for storebought. If you pick up just enough pine nuts at the bulk section of your store, it's much more economical to make it yourself. I'll include the pesto recipe, too, just in case you don't have a favorite.

I found this meal through Pinterest (anyone surprised?) and it comes from this fabulous blog, The Other Side of Fifty.

Spinach, Mushroom and Pesto Lasagna
9 lasagna noodles (I used no-boil to save a step)
10 oz chopped frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper
1 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP butter
2 cups diced onion
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced (I skipped)
dash of crushed red pepper flakes
8 ounces of button mushrooms, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBSP all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups Half & Half
3/4 cup plus 2 TBSP basil pesto
12 oz mozzarella cheese (I used slices)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.

In a separate baking dish place lasagna noodles and cover with boiling water. Let sit for 15 minutes while making the sauce. (skip if using no bake noodles)

In a medium size mixing bowl, combine the spinach, ricotta cheese, garlic powder and egg. Season well with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a large skillet heat olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onions and bell pepper, season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes and saute until onions are translucent, 6-7 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to saute until mushrooms lose their moisture, another 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another minute or two. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir to combine. Continue cooking and stirring over medium heat for two minutes. Add the milk and half & half, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 4-5 minutes until sauce has thickened a bit. Remove from heat and stir in 3/4 cup pesto. Taste to see if salt and pepper are needed.

Drain lasagna noodles.

Spoon 2 TBSP of the pesto on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Lay three noodles on top of the pesto. Top with 1/3 of the basil cream sauce (about 1 1/2 cups) and spread to cover noodles. Dollop 1/3 of the ricotta mixture on top of the sauce, then top the ricotta with 1/3 of the cheese slices. Repeat layers two more times. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the top. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and place dish in oven. Bake for 25 minutes, uncover, then bake for another 25 minutes, until bubbly and browned. Let dish sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Easy Basil Pesto (from Food
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese

Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Add all the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a bowl and mix in the cheese.

Friday, October 28, 2011

One-Pan Skillet Cookie

This will change your life. Okay, perhaps a bit dramatic but seriously. This recipe will improve your quality of life, er, eating.

Who doesn't love a cookie, hot out of the oven? Especially when it's gooey inside and finished off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream?

I adore cookies but I don't adore the measuring cups, mixing bowls, cookie sheets, scooping, wire racks, etc. that making a batch requires.

This recipe eliminates it all. You get a warm, gooey cookie with NO EXTRA PANS. Just a measuring cup or two.

I found this recipe linked on Pinterest (to this blog) and wasted no time in trying it. It takes basic ingredients I always have on hand and it's so dang easy! This was a great treat to console ourselves with last night while watching the extremely stressful Rangers game.

Mine took longer than 15 minutes - closer to 20. Just keep an eye on it.

Make it tonight!

One-Pan Skillet Cookie
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in an 8 inch cast iron skillet set over medium-low heat. Stir in sugars and vanilla and remove from heat. Let rest until pan is warm, but no longer very hot, about 5 minutes.

Crack an egg onto the butter and sugar mixture, and use a fork to whisk it well into the mixture. Place flour, baking soda, and salt on top, and very carefully stir into the mixture until smooth and well-mixed. Stir in chocolate chunks. Place in the oven for 15 minutes, or until starting to turn golden on the top and around the edges, but soft in the center. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pineapple Shrimp Fried Rice

One of my favorite places to eat while in seminary was a local Thai restaurant not far from campus. While I've come to adore most Thai dishes, just about everyone I ate there with (including myself!) ordered the pineapple fried rice. Not too long ago, while visiting a friend still living in that town, we had lunch at that Thai restaurant and we both ordered - of course - pineapple fried rice.

Imagine my excitement when a friend recommended a great blog, Rasa Malaysia, who had this recipe in her archives!

Mine is quite colorless but let's face it, yellow/beige food is always the tastiest anyways... And super fast! Start to finish, 10 minutes maybe?

Pineapple Shrimp Fried Rice
8 oz. leftover rice
2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
4 oz. pineapple (cut into small pieces)
4 oz. shrimp (shelled and deveined, leave whole or cut into small pieces)
2 tablespoons cashew nuts (optional)
1 teaspoon shrimp paste (if you can't find it, use extra fish sauce)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 tablespoon pineapple juice
1/4 teaspoon dark soy sauce (for coloring)
1 fresh red chili (seeded and cut into small pieces) - I skipped
2 tablespoons oil

Heat up a wok and add cooking oil. Stir-fry garlic, red chili, and shrimp paste until aromatic. Add shrimp and stir-fry until half-cooked. Add rice, pineapple pieces, pineapple juice, and do a few quick stirs. Add fish sauce and dark soy sauce to blend well with rice. Stir-fry for another minute or so, dish out and serve immediately.

If you have cashew nuts, add them towards the end of the cooking process.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Huli Huli Chicken (crockpot)

Wow, it has been way too long since I've blogged - not that anyone is waiting on a blog entry from me, but because it means I haven't cooked at home in that same length of time! When work gets busy for me, the first thing to go is cooking. As much as cooking can be a source of therapy at times, it can also be a source of stress - especially when grocery shopping is involved. I also seem to still be dealing with the remnants of the pneumonia I had awhile back and find myself simply exhausted by day end.

Thankfully, I finally got tired of takeout and hit the store on my way home from work yesterday. Even thought I had to endure the 5pm grocery shoppers, it felt so nice to have a plan for meals the rest of the week.

I found this recipe through a blog I follow, What's Cooking Chicago? Such a simple, easy, crockpot meal sounded perfect for a weeknight! This dish was tasty; now, I won't lie and say it was the best meal ever - that spot is usually held for my beloved ethnic foods - but it was inexpensive, easy, filling, and crowd pleasing.

Joelen added sliced bell peppers for color and texture; I went with just chicken. I'll include her instructions for including the peppers as well.

Huli Huli Chicken
2/3 cups crushed pineapple, undrained
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons minced or grated ginger
4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (I used less - about 2 pounds)
1 1/2 cup chopped mixed bell peppers (optional)

Simmer crushed pineapple, brown sugar, ketchup, lime juice, soy sauce, garlic and ginger in medium saucepan until thickened and measures 1 1/2 cups, about 10 minutes. Season with salt & pepper.

Coat slow cooker with cooking spray. Transfer 1/2 cup sauce to slow cooker, reserve remaining. Season chicken with salt & pepper, add to slow cooker and coat evenly with remaining sauce. Cover and cook until chicken is tender, 4 to 6 hours on low.

About 30 minutes before the chicken is done, heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add oil and when hot, add bell peppers. Sauté peppers until slightly softened and then transfer to the crockpot. Stir to combine and allow to finish cooking with the chicken.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Shrimp & Grits

Shrimp and grits are one of those dishes that I think everyone should love - and if they don't, I wonder what's wrong with them. It's pure Southern joy wrapped up in a dish. This particular recipe is from the September issue of Bon Appetit, which featured some of the best restaurant breakfast dishes around. This dish is from Peels in New York City.

I did tweak it a bit, and my changes are below. Check out the original if you're interested. This was a quick weeknight meal and totally hit the spot. Tasty and easy!

Shrimp & Grits
1 cup quick cooking grits
1 cup grated sharp cheddar
1 tablespoon butter
1 jalapeño, seeded, diced
1/4 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

4 slices bacon, diced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, divided
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup beer
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Gradually whisk in grits. Turn heat to low; gently simmer until grits begin to thicken (about 5 minutes). Stir in cheese, butter, and jalapeño, then cream. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add bacon pieces and cook until crispy. Add garlic and 1 tablespoon butter; stir until butter melts. Add shrimp. When garlic begins to brown, add beer and chicken stock. Simmer until shrimp is cooked through and the sauce cooks down a bit, about 4 minutes. Remove skillet from heat; set aside.

Divide grits among bowls, forming a well in center. Spoon shrimp mixture into center of grits. Sprinkle tarragon over.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Dr Pepper Ribs

The photo of these ribs are no indication of the taste, I promise! Now that the sun is going down earlier, I struggle with getting good pictures in artificial light.

These ribs are from the blog, The Homesick Texan, and use the Texas favorite Dr Pepper as it's base. I adjusted the spice a little so ours were very tame. They are sweet, sticky, and delicious!

I used baby back ribs and ours fell off the bone - I ate mine with a fork! We both loved this recipe. It was simple to make on a lazy Sunday afternoon and the only item I had to buy at the store were the ribs and Dr Pepper - everything else are pantry staples for us. Love recipes like that!

Dr Pepper Ribs
For the rub:
1/4 cup of salt
1/4 cup of black pepper
1/4 cup of brown sugar
4 teaspoons of mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne
2 teaspoons of chipotle powder
1/2 teaspoon of allspice

For the glaze:
2 cups of Dr Pepper (not diet!)
1 cup of ketchup
1/2 cup of mustard
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons of molasses
2-4 teaspoons of chipotle powder

Two racks of St Louis ribs (we used Baby Back)
1/4 cup of Dr Pepper

Coat the ribs with the rub, wrap in plastic and place in the refrigerator for at least four hours.

Heat the oven to 300 degrees and bring the ribs to room temperature.

In a foil-lined large baking or roasting pan, arrange the ribs with the meat side up, pour in 1/4 cup of Dr Pepper, cover pan tightly with foil and place in the oven.

Meanwhile, place all the glaze ingredients in a pan, bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes until thick and syrupy.

After an hour and a half, take the ribs out of the oven and spread some of the glaze on each side of the racks. Place back in the oven, meat side up and cook uncovered for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, take out the ribs and spread more glaze over them and cook for 30 more minutes or until ribs are desired tenderness.

At this point, take the ribs out of the oven, spread more glaze on them and then cook each side under the broiler for four minutes.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

My new favorite chocolate chip cookies

There are a million and one chocolate chip cookies out there and I've tried a handful of them along the way. Erin of Erin's Food Files shared this recipe from Williams Sonoma not too long ago and I decided to give them a try based on her recommendation. Since many great cookie recipes call for letting the dough rest (typically overnight), she added that step to the original recipe. I followed her guidelines and have to say, these are my favorite CCCs to date.

They are soft but not mushy, and the outside still has bite to it. I also thought they had a slight salty undertone which I love in a CCC. They bake up nice and thick!

I should have made more to freeze!

Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chunks or chips
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (I used pecans)

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed, cream the butter until fluffy and pale yellow. Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar and continue beating until the mixture smooth and sugar is mostly dissolved. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat on low speed until blended, occasionally stopping the mixer and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula as needed.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed or stir with a wooden spoon just until blended. Add the chocolate chunks and walnuts, if using, mixing or stirring until blended. Press plastic wrap onto the dough, and refrigerate 24 hours.

Once 24 hours have passed, preheat the oven to 350. Using a cookie scoop, or dampened hands, shape the dough into 1-inch balls, and place on ungreased cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies until golden brown around the edges, about 12 minutes (or 8-9 minutes if using a smaller scoop). Let the cookies cool briefly on the pans on wire racks before transferring them to the racks to cool completely.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bacon Burgers with Bacon Onion Balsamic Jam

I used to not like onions at all ~ I think because all I really had been exposed to were raw onions. Then I discovered the joy that is caramelized onions - which taste nothing like raw onions. Awhile back, I made these fig glazed burgers with red onion jam and my favorite part of the meal was the jam. So, it was only natural to add this meal to our menu as soon as I saw it. I mean, not only was it onion jam but it was BACON onion jam. With a BACON burger. Be still my heart.

It was delicious - truly, a delicious burger. The (raw) bacon mixed into the ground beef kept it juicy and added loads of flavor. The jam on it's own was tasty and it was the perfect topping for a burger straight off the grill.

You should make these.

This recipe is from Annie's Eats (originally from Fine Cooking) - I included my changes below

Bacon Burgers with Bacon Onion Balsamic Jam
For the topping:
4 thick slices bacon, chopped into ½-inch pieces
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
½ tsp. Dijon mustard
1/3 cup water

For the burgers:
2 thick slices bacon
1½ lbs. ground beef (85% lean)
½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
4 slices thinly sliced smoked gouda cheese
4 hamburger buns, split

To make the topping, place a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the chopped bacon until lightly browned but not yet crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain. Drain all but 2-3 tablespoons of the bacon grease from the skillet. Add the onion to the skillet, season with salt and pepper, cover the pan and cook for two minutes. Uncover the pan, add a splash of water and scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the vinegar, mustard, and water. Return the bacon to the pan and bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer uncovered until the mixture has thickened and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 2-4 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool slightly. Cover and refrigerate if making in advance.

To make the burgers, finely mince the bacon. Add to a bowl with the ground beef, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Divide into four equal portions and form into patties about ¾-1 inch thick.

Heat a grill to medium-high heat. Grill to desired doneness, about 4-5 minutes per side depending on preference and grill temperature. When the burgers are almost finished cooking, top with the cheese. Lightly butter each bun and toast on the grill. Assemble the burgers on the toasted buns and topped with the onion jam.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Homemade Potato Chips

If a restaurant offers house made potato chips, I'm all over it. I love a good potato chip - who doesn't? I've made fried potatoes many times (similar technique, but a bit thicker and not as crispy) but never tried making good ol' potato chips on my own.

Tonight we had bacon cheeseburgers with bacon balsamic onion jam (amazing - will post tomorrow!) so I served these with them. We both loved them!

To get these thin enough, you'll want to use a mandoline. Or have mad knife skills.

This recipe is from the latest Bon Appetit magazine.

Homemade Potato Chips
5 Yukon Gold potatoes
Vegetable oil (for frying)
Kosher salt

Using a mandoline, thinly slice potatoes (just under 1/8" thick). Let soak in a bowl of warm water for 5 minutes. Drain. Pat potatoes until very dry.

Meanwhile, pour oil into a large pot to a depth of 1 1/2". Attach a deep-fry thermometer to side of pot; heat oil over medium heat to 320°. (I don't have a thermometer; I just wing it)

Working in batches of about 20 slices and returning oil to 320° after each batch, fry potatoes, stirring gently, until they are golden brown and oil stops sizzling, 3–4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chips to paper towels to drain. Season each batch generously with salt.

*Make these into salt and vinegar chips by also sprinkling the chips with vinegar powder (1/4 tsp per batch of 20).

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Peanut Butter Dog Treats

I've found that I get the itch to bake late at night - usually around midnight. I'm a total night person anyways and I get my most energy (both physical and creative) while others are heading to bed. This was yet another Pinterest find (originally from Whisk Kid) that seemed so ridiculously easy I just had to try them late last night.

They were super easy - and I appreciated that they called for basic pantry ingredients. I doubled the recipe and threw in batches while I cleaned house. Jason wandered out around 1:30 a.m. and asked why the house smelled like peanut butter :) All three dogs got a small one last night and judging by how fast they were consumed, I think they were a hit! I also had an audience while photographing them today - they seem to always know when something is for them, doesn't they?

When you have some time, make a batch of these for your favorite canine. If you're feeling fancy, you could melt down some carob chips to drizzle/dip them in. I'll probably use this basic recipe to make large batches for Christmas gifts for all the dogs in my life and dress them up some. For now, my pampered pooches are quite happy with the way they are.

Peanut Butter Dog Treats
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil
1 cup water
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, mix together the peanut butter, oil, and water until smooth (a whisk worked best). Add the flours and work them in with a spatula or your hands until the dough is smooth. Form the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350 F and line a few baking sheets with parchment paper, or spray them down with Pam. Roll out the chilled dough to about 1/4" thickness and use a cookie cutter to cut out as many shapes as you can. Bake the cutouts until firm and set (mine took about 12 minutes), then cool on wire rack. Once cooled, store in an airtight container.

See Aimee Cook

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