Category Archives: Main Courses

RECIPE: Pumpkin Ravioli

I found this recipe for Pumpkin Ravioli in my local grocery store’s wine and food free publication and it seemed like the perfect antidote to the frozen fresh pumpkin in my freezer. I’ve been going through a phase lately where I want to clean out and organize and use things up that have been lurking around for awhile and my frozen pumpkin is one of those things. I slaughtered the pumpkin with my own hands last Thanksgiving and used some then for pumpkin pies and the rest has been anxiously awaiting it’s turn in the culinary world known as ‘My Kitchen’. 🙂

The recipe intrigued me for a few reasons. One, it’s got pumpkin in it as stated above. Two, the ingredients are so simple but the result looked so decadent and special. Three, the use of wonton wrappers instead of traditional pasta was the great thing that sealed the deal because unlike some of my Italian friends who have it in their blood to make pasta I am not one bit Italian and have totally missed the gene that’s needed to make my own pasta. Any attempts to make pasta have always been met with a big blob of glue that got thrown out. I know when I’ve been beaten and pasta is thy name! 🙂

So here are the recipe ingredients:

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 teaspoon plus 1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup blanched almonds, toasted

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

1 cup of canned (or fresh) pumpkin

1/4 cup finely shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese plus additional for garnish

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper plus additional to taste

20 wonton wrappers, thawed if frozen

Directions:

ONE: In a medium skillet cook onion and garlic in 1 teaspoon hot butter over medium heat until onion is softened, about 3 minutes

TWO: In a food processor combine 1/4 cup of the almonds and the rosemary. Cover and pulse with several on/off turns until nuts are finely ground. Add pumpkin, 1/4 cup of cheese, the onion mixture, salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Cover and pulse until just combined.

THREE: Working with 2 wonton wrappers at a time, top wrappers with one tablespoon of filling. Brush edges of wrapper with water and bring one corner of wrapper to meet the opposite corner to form a triangle, pressing own around filling to force out any air and to seal edges well. Cover filled ravioli with a dry kitchen towel while you repeat with remaining wonton wrappers and filling.

FOUR: Coarsely chop remaining 1/4 cup of almonds. In a medium skillet heat remaining 1/4 cup of butter over medium heat; add chopped almonds and cook, stirring until butter begins to brown on bottom of skillet (do not allow to burn), about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; cover and keep warm.

FIVE: Bring water to a boil and cook ravioli for 2 to 3 minutes or until tender, gently stirring occasionally. (Keep water at a low boil to prevent ravioli from breaking). Drain.

SIX: Drizzle ravioli with almond-browned butter and sprinkle with additional Parmesan and pepper to taste. Makes 4 Servings! (20 ravioli) 

Now as I usually do there was a change or two to the recipe. I didn’t like the way my rosemary looked so I didn’t use it. I used some parsley instead. I think that was the only thing I changed really…will miracles never cease!

Some tips on dealing with the wonton wrappers. They say to put a tablespoon of the mixture in the center of the wonton but I would advise to put a little less than that because a tablespoon was a bit much and had the tendency to ooze out of the wrapper when I was trying to seal it. Once it does that the wrapper didn’t seem to really want to seal quite so well. So put a little less.

Secondly, keep a little bowl of water near you and dip your fingers in it to line the outside of the wrappers with. Don’t put too much water or it won’t seal well but don’t be afraid to wet the edges of the wrapper either. It’s a delicate balance and it takes some practice to get right. My first five or so raviolis were a bit of a challenge but once I got the method down it worked like a charm.

Just like any other pasta when the raviolis start to float in the boiling water they’re done.

I paired this meal with a nice green salad and a Austrian wine called Gruner Veltliner that my brother gifted to me. It really complimented the meal fantastically. You can read the review on this wine here.

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RECIPE: Goat Cheese-Asparagus Crustless Quiche

I love goat cheese. I love quiches. I love asparagus. Therefore, I knew this one would be great. I found this recipe in the January/February 2011 issue of the Vegetarian Times. It’s called Goat Cheese-Asparagus Crustless Quiche.

The ingredient list is really simple for this recipe so there’s really no worries about it coming out good or not. Simple ingredients, simple quiche, great food! What more can I say.

The goat cheese (yummy!) and shallots give this recipe just enough flavor to satisfy and delight your senses. I served this with a green salad and wine that to be honest I can’t remember and I forgot to write down. Sloppy of me, I know, but it’s the truth. 🙂

Try this recipe. It’s a great tasting, simple recipe that is satisfying and light.

RECIPE: Chicken Barley Soup

I created this whole recipe out of lack of having anything substantial in the fridge, having left over barley and the need to make something wholesome and hearty for Matt and I to eat. It is strictly what happens when I have a little bit of this and a little bit of that in my pantry and fridge and the delight I get from using it all up before going grocery shopping again.

Ingredients:

8 cups of broth (I used my usual Rapunzel bouillon cubes)

4 stalks of celery, diced

4 carrots, sliced

1 Vidalia onion, diced

2 cups of cooked barley

2 veggie chicken patties (I used Gardien Chick’n Scallopini)

1 cup of fresh spinach

2 medium tomatoes, diced

Now basically all I did was bring the broth to a boil and added all the ingredients with the exception of the spinach and the chicken patties and let everything simmer for about 30-40 minutes.

In the meantime I cooked the veggie chicken patties in some olive oil until slightly browned and heated throughout. I then sliced them into small bite sized pieces and added them to the simmering soup.

In the last five minutes or so I added the fresh spinach and simmered until it was wilted but still a really nice green color.

I really enjoyed this soup. The smell was great and filled the house with warmth and happy thoughts and the taste was very enjoyable and satisfying. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

RECIPE: Polenta Stack With Navy Bean Salad

This recipe from Epicurious.com for Polenta Stack With Navy Bean Salad really grabbed my attention with the combinations of flavors that it put together. All things that I love, baked together to a melty one-dish wonder! How could it NOT be good?

I found this recipe really easy to assemble and when it was ready it was really satisfying and tasty. The feta cheese gave everything such a nice tangy taste while the beans added heartiness, protein and fiber.

The recipe calls for you to cook the packets on a grill until the packets are fully puffed and states it will take 10 minutes. I don’t have a grill so I did it in my oven with the setting on broil. It took close to 30 minutes to get heated through and the packets puffy.

The result? A really satisfying, wholesome meal that takes only 35-40 minutes and only 5 of that is preparing the packets for the grill or oven. Definitely a nice easy meal.

RECIPE: White Bean And No-Mushroom Stew

I choose this recipe from the December 2011 issue of Whole Living Magazine. It’s originally called White Bean And Mushroom Stew but the fact is that I don’t really care much for mushrooms. They’re slimy and well…their a fungus people! Need I say more?

Now it wouldn’t be a review if I didn’t tell you that I changed a few things in this recipe. Number one is, of course, that I omitted the mushrooms. Now if you’re one of those mushroom eaters then have at it and add the mushrooms but I didn’t here. 🙂 Number two, is I didn’t use any fresh rosemary. Why? Well the honest answer is I didn’t have any, not even the dry stuff, and I didn’t want to go out and get it. Number three is  that I thought it was a strange thing to ask people to buy a can of whole tomatoes and then puree them in the blender. I mean, if you’re going to buy whole tomatoes why not ACTUALLY BUY whole tomatoes people! So that’s what I did. I believe it took about 5 to 6 REAL whole tomatoes to make the required 28 ounces. I simply put them in the blender and it worked wonderfully well! But I won’t think less of you or talk about you behind your back if you decide to do the whole buying of the canned whole tomatoes thing. So do whatever floats your boat on that issue.

Now my reasons for buying actual whole tomatoes rather than the canned whole tomatoes is that first of all it’s more natural that way. They don’t naturally grow in cans and so I’d rather not use them that way. Also, for those of you who are aware of the whole BPA issue (usually found in plastic ware, etc) you might not know that it’s also found in cans. Most notably cans that have acidic foods in them like…well, I don’t know…maybe TOMATOES! It’s a fact actually.

You can safely buy vegetable in cans that aren’t lined with BPA but you have to usually buy organic to get that AND read the label. Companies that use BPA-free cans will tell you on the can because very few actually do it in the first place and it costs them more to produce the BPA-free cans so trust me they want you to know about it.

Now when it comes to BPA-free cans for tomato products it can’t be done. Because of the acid in the tomatoes they have to use cans lined with BPA in order to keep the cans from corroding. They don’t have a solution for that yet and if they do it probably costs way more than anyone is willing to pay including organic companies. You can however buy whole tomatoes in those milk-carton-like containers. There’s a Italian brand called POMI and that type of packaging is safe. If you want to know more about BPA in canned products just do an internet search and you’ll find more info than you probably wanted to know but it’s out there.

Now I’ll get off my health talk and get back to the White Bean And No-Mushroom Stew. Here are the ingredients:

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 celery stalk, diced

1 carrot, peeled and diced

1 lb cremini mushrooms, quartered (if you’re one of those fungi loving people) 🙂

1/2 cup white wine

1 28-oz can whole tomatoes, pureed in a blender (or about 5 or 6 whole tomatoes pureed)

1 sprig of fresh rosemary

2 cups cooked white beans (equivalent to one 16-oz can), drained

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion, celery, and carrots until tender, about 8 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, add mushrooms (if using), and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.
  2. Deglaze with wine, scraping up any brown bits with a wooden spoon.
  3. Add tomatoes, rosemary, beans, and 1/2 water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with a drizzle of oil.

For the white wine I used a 1/2 cup of Barefoot Muscato wine which gave the stew a nice sweet smell and flavor though you can use whatever white wine you want. I am sure it will come out yummy no matter what you choose. I chose the Muscato because I had some small bottles of them in my refrigerator and I didn’t really want to open a whole big bottle of white wine just for this recipe. Usually I would probably use a nice Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio but like I said I didn’t feel like drinking white that night.

Also, I prefer to make my own beans from dry. There are several reasons for this too. 1, it’s way more economical than buying them in cans and 2, well there’s those pesky bad cans again. So it saves you money and helps protect your health. I don’t think I need any more reasons than that.

I found this stew to be really tasty and flavorful even without the mushrooms. I topped the stew with some Parmesan cheese and parsley flakes and served it with a nice field greens salad and multi-grain garlic bread. I would definitely make this one again. Enjoy!

RECIPE: Broccoli-Olive Penne Pasta

One of my loves has always been pasta. Any kind of pasta and I am there! However, pasta isn’t always the BEST food to eat especially if you’re trying to maintain your weight and eat healthy. I usually give into my pasta urges maybe once a month or so and I usually use something other than white pasta which is just glue really if you think about it. My usual pasta is one made with Quinoa. It tastes just like regular pasta without the ‘glue’ factor and it also has a little more fiber and nutrients.

This recipe, however, asked for fettucine, spaghetti, or penne pasta and my usual Quinoa pasta didn’t give me those options so instead I opted for a whole wheat, high fiber pasta that had flax in it too. It worked just fine.

Now this recipe was given to me by our good Swiss friend, Juerg, and it’s been translated by from his German cookbook so here we go.

Ingredients:

1/2 head of broccoli, chopped into small pieces

fettuccine, spaghetti, or penne pasta

extra virgin olive oil

1 shallot, chopped

1/4 cup of black olives (kalamata olives are best because they have more taste)

capers

Sea salt

fresh ground black pepper

fine chopped parsley

aged peccorino or parmigiano cheese (preferably the real stuff and not the pre-grinded stuff in the jars)

Now cooking this is easy. Obviously put the water on for the pasta and bring to a boil. It will take about 8-10 minutes for the pasta to be done which is perfect because that’s about as long as it will take to cook the rest of it all.

Heat up some olive oil in a saute pan and add the shallot and broccoli. Saute for about 4-5 minutes and then add the olives, capers, sea salt, pepper and parsley. Saute everything for another 5 minutes.

Drain finished pasta and put it in individual bowls and divide the mixture over the individual bowls. Sprinkle each bowl with the wonderful cheese and enjoy!

It’s a really simple, healthy meal that makes you feel like you’re being decadent but really you’re not. It’s all good stuff but it’s really super flavorful. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

RECIPE: Senegalese Stew

I found this recipe for Senegalese Stew in the October 2011 issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine. I admit to never having heard of it before but the use of couscous and nut butter in a meal was attractive to me.

As usual I made some changes to the recipe. The first one being converting it from a meat recipe to a vegetarian one. That was really simple, I just replaced the ground beef in the recipe with Gardien’s Beefless Tips. You could uses any other meat substitute as well. I know that the people who make Boca Burgers also have a ground beef-type thing as well. I just chose the Beefless Tips because I had a package of them in my freezer and was itching to try them. This recipe was made for it.

The other thing I changed was the use of peanut butter. I am not a big peanut butter fan. I do, however, LOVE almond butter and I personally believe that it’s a lot healthier than peanut butter for numerous reasons but that’s another story. So I replace the peanut butter with almond butter. Everything else I basically left the same as the recipe.

The resulting meal was really rich, hearty and enjoyable. Your taste buds are inundated with tastes of tomato, almond butter, and hot red pepper but none of the flavors overwhelm or compete with each other. They all just get along nicely. I really enjoyed this meal and so did Matt. It will probably be one that I put in the regular meal rotation in our household.

Try it and let me know what you think. If you improve or change anything tell me what you did so I can try it too. 🙂

RECIPE: Spaghetti Carbonara

I’ll admit that I did get behind on my posts there for awhile. I made this recipe for Valentine’s Day 2011. It was something I’ve never tried before and the fact that it usually has bacon in it didn’t scare this vegetarian at all. I’ve got my substitutes for nearly everything non-vegetarian and this was no exception. I originally found mention of this meal in one of my magazines and then changed the recipe so much that it’s not theirs anymore. 🙂

I admit that even though the ingredient list isn’t that threatening I wouldn’t consider this a recipe that I would make on a regular basis. It does require some finesse and I think I actually didn’t do it justice.

The idea of converting a recipe from a meat based one to a veggie based one is always alluring to me. So many people think that if you’re a vegetarian you can’t enjoy the foods that everyone else does. I am here to tell you that’s a false notion. ANYTHING that a meat eater makes I can convert to a healthier, vegetarian option. I’ve been doing it for over 20 years now. I don’t deprive myself of cravings that I have. Yes, I still crave the bacon in BLT sandwiches and I have a healthy, vegetarian alternative for that that I quite enjoy and so does everybody that I make it for.

My message is this: if you think that you are going to be deprived if you decide to go meatless your fears are unfounded. Maybe 20 years ago that was the truth…okay, it was 20 years ago, trust me I know from first hand experience, but I can tell you that today there are so many vegetarian alternatives for meat that you can make just about anything you want by converting the ingredients. Having said that here are the ingredients for this recipe.

INGREDIENTS

1/2 Cup of Tempeh Fakin’ Bacon (just use the real thing if you’re a meat eater)

1 Small Onion

1 Garlic clove,  peeled

1 1/2 Cups of Half and Half

1 Bay Leaf

2 Sprigs of Thyme

1/4 Cup grated Parmigiano

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 Egg Yolks

1/4 Cup fresh or frozen Peas

In a large pan, saute the bacon until lightly browned. Add the onion and garlic and sweat until they are soft. At that point you can add the Half and Half, bay leaf and thyme and cook until the sauce is reduced by half.

Cook your pasta as directed. (If you’re really handy or really Italian or both you could even make your own pasta to use in this recipe. I know some of you do this but I am not mentioning any names…Camille! 🙂 Me, I am not that handy and dough intimidates me so I opted for the boxed stuff.)

Now add the parmigiano cheese to the cream mixture and at salt and pepper to taste. Take the mixture off of the heat and whisk in the egg yolks and add the peas. Toss the sauce with the pasta and serve.

I made served this recipe with a nice green salad, garlic bread and a nice Mouton Cadet red wine. (See my review of this wine here.) For dessert we had Creme Brulee (You can check that recipe out here).

Overall this was a nice meal. I will admit that when it comes to whisking in raw egg yolks to a hot mixture sometimes I get a little leery and cook the ingredients some more which is what I did here. It made the end result a little too dry and the cream solidified a bit. However the taste of the meal was really good and we had a lovely Valentine’s Day

RECIPE: Broccoli And Goat Cheese Souffle

Since making my first cheese souffle at the beginning of this year I’ve been on a quest to try as many souffle recipes as possible. Each time you make one you get better at it plus…well I bought all these souffle dishes of all sorts of sizes so I have to use them right?

If you read my blog regularly then you’re probably also catching on to the fact that I love goat cheese. I’ve declared my love for it in previous posts and so you know that I am not shy about my obsession. So when I found this recipe for a Broccoli & Goat Cheese Souffle at Eatingwell.com I knew it had my name written all over it.

The ingredient list is nothing to be scared of and most of them you’ll probably have in your kitchen anyway. The hardest thing about the recipe is the technique for incorporating the frothy egg whites into the rest of the ingredients but it’s not as hard as it seems and it’s all part of the process of learning how to make souffles. As I’ve said in previous souffle posts, you really can’t mess up a souffle. Even if it doesn’t rise like it’s suppose to it will still taste good so no harm, no foul. 🙂

I followed this recipe to the T (I know it’s so unlike me to not mess with things right?) except for the fact that I left the dried Rosemary out. I thought I had some but in the middle of making the souffle I discovered I didn’t. Too late to run out and get some I courageously continued on. I really don’t think omitting that ingredient harmed this recipe at all.

If I do say so myself I did incorporate the egg whites perfectly and was very proud of myself. How do you know if you incorporate them correctly? Well, the proof is in what happens in the oven. If your souffle rises like you wouldn’t believe you’ve done your job well and that’s what making a successful souffle is all about.

Now I must warn you, however, that like most souffles this souffle will deflate fast after taking it out of the oven. Unlike previous souffles that I’ve made though THIS souffle probably holds the record for fastest deflating souffle in history. The second I took it out of the oven it was already deflating and by the time I got it on a plate and to the table it looked sad. Really sad! Fortunately to put it out of it’s misery all I had to do is eat it. 🙂 It was really tasty. The goat cheese and dijon mustard gave it a great tang and the broccoli added some nice color, flavor and the feeling that you were eating something that was really good for you.

I highly recommend this recipe and encourage you to try it. Just remember not to take its quick deflation personal. If it rises well in the oven you’ve done your job well and that’s what counts and remember even a souffle that doesn’t rise well is still delicious so you really can’t go wrong.

RECIPE: Brown Rice And Goat Cheese Cakes

Ah..goat cheese! Where do I start? How about…I love you! Yes, I love goat cheese in every way, shape and form you can serve it. It never gets old to me. So it was only natural that when I saw this recipe for Brown Rice & Goat Cheese Cakes at Eatingwell.com I had to try it. The ingredient list is simple and you probably have most of it already in your pantry which is always a plus.

For starters I will say that I didn’t follow the recipe to the T (when do I ever right?). I didn’t have shallots on hand and I didn’t feel like going out and getting some so I used half of a large, sweet Vidala onion instead and it didn’t hurt the outcome one bit. The recipe also calls for toasted pecans. I omitted those all together. I was going to use toasted Almonds instead because I don’t really like pecans, I think almonds are healthier, and well, I didn’t have any pecans in the house (refer back to the fact that I don’t like pecans) but quite frankly I got lazy by the time dinner time came and it just seemed too much of a bother to me. Yes, I was having a lazy day that day.

The recipe also calls for you to use a food processor to make all the ingredients incorporate completely and, again, I was feeling lazy and I really didn’t see the purpose in this step. To me it seemed another thing to do that was going to make the clean up afterwards even bigger than it already was (I am messy chef sometimes) and I just wasn’t up to that. Perhaps if you have children that are phobic of vegetables this step would be necessary in order to disguise the fact that you’re feeding them those evil things but for me, I love veggies and I am comforted to know they are there so I skipped that step for myself.

I cooked these patties up in a skillet with olive oil and served with a nice side of field greens and ranch dressing. It was a nice light meal for a warm Florida evening. The goat cheese gave these patties a nice tang but honestly these lacked something in the flavor department. Maybe it was the the fact that I left out the pecans or almonds but I really don’t feel that those would have given this recipe enough taste either. They were a little too dry for my taste also which is something I know the nuts wouldn’t have helped with.

Overall they weren’t bad but if I do make them again I’ll probably REALLY mess with the recipe in order to make them tastier and moister. I would imagine if you put some bouillon in the water that you cooked the rice in that it might perk this recipe up a bit. Do try these and let me know what you changed in order to make it better. It’s a recipe with definite potential.