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Monday, November 24, 2014

Secret Recipe Reveal: Swiss Chard and Lemon Ricotta Pasta

It is Secret Recipe Club time again....can I get a whoop whoop! One of the things I love about this group is it challenges me to try new recipes, and with the busyness of our lives lately, actually challenges me to cook...something new. Each month we are assigned a "secret blog" to stalk and find a recipe we want to make and reveal on our given day. It's really a lot of fun.

This month I had The Wimpy Vegetarian (don't you just love that name?). Susan is a beautiful woman who gave herself a gift after many years working in business and decided to enroll in cooking school (um, how cool is that..and how brave). Check out her about me page for more of the inside scoop into her life.

I pinned several recipes to try, but I'm a die hard pasta fan, (I am half Italian after all), so I chose one of those to make. Not only do I love pasta, but I LOVE ricotta cheese (remember the 1/2 Italian part), yah, I can eat the stuff out of the container. So...when I found a recipe that combined pasta, and ricotta, oh, and let's not forget BACON, I was sold!

Her recipe for Swiss Chard (which I also like) and Lemon and Ricotta Pasta was the winner-winner-chicken-dinner! My oldest was having her boyfriend over and as she considered what I was making said "maybe you can heat up some regular spaghetti sauce cuz I don't know if he'll eat this".....yah, he ate it, so I guess it was a hit. 

What I loved about this is that I really think it is very versatile...you could maybe add some other vegetable to it, or another meat option, but I loved it as it was. I made more of the sauce, because, well, I love sauce too. I wasn't sure how much this would serve so I just kind of winged it with some of the amounts (pasta), etc..to what I knew would make enough for everyone.

Okay, on to the recipe.

Swiss Chard and Lemon Ricotta Pasta
from The Wimpy Vegetarian

Ingredients:

3 c. raw swiss chard, sliced, chopped, whatever, stems included
2 handfuls dried spaghetti noodles
2 strips bacon cut in to 1/4" slices (optional)..why did she put bacon and optional in the same sentence..lol, and well, I used more than that.
1/2 large shallot minced
olive oil as needed
1/3 c. ricotta cheese
2 Tbs. parmesan cheese
zest from 1/2 a lemon
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch dried red pepper flakes...we put more in...it was spicy..haha.

Instructions:

1. Bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Blanch the Swiss chard for 5 minutes. I actually placed my chard in a steamer basket that fits on top of the pan I used for the pasta.

2. Scoop out the chard, and drain well, squeezing out as much of the water as possible. Chop again and set aside. Again, I just steamed it so I didn't need to ring it out.

3. Keep the pot of water boiling, and add the spaghetti noodles. Follow the directions on the packet for making the spaghetti. Drain and set aside, retaining about 1 cup of liquid from cooking the noodles.

4. Fry bacon until just crispy. Add the shallot and saute until soft, adding olive oil if needed.

5. Add the Swiss chard and toss well to break up the chard clumps.



6. Combine the ricotta and Parmesan cheeses in a small bowl, and add the lemon zest, salt, and red pepper flakes. 

7. Add to the Swiss chard mixture in the saute pan and mix well.


8. Add cooked spaghetti, and some of the pasta water as needed.


9. Serve warm



So good, and yummy and comforting. Serve with some crusty bread and a gorgeous salad, and you're set. 


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With Joy UNquenchable,

Friday, November 14, 2014

Recipe: Pumpkin Seeds

I have always loved pumpkin seeds, you, know, the kind you pull out of your halloween pumpkins each year and toast in the oven. I HATE the shell that surrounds the seed. Therefore my relationship with these popular October snacks has been a love/hate one. That is until several years ago when friends, who own a pumpkin patch, introduced me to a green pumpkin that forever changed my pumpkin seed making relationship. These pumpkins (I believe called Kakai) produce a hull-less seed just like you would buy in the store for cooking/baking. Say WHAT!!! I had to try them, and now I'm sold. 
I will say, it takes  A LOT of pumpkins to make a fair amount. It took me about 6+ pumpkins to fill a 4c. jar...and they don't last long, but they are so worth it. Snack on them, toss them on a salad, put in some chicken or tuna salad for an added crunch, sprinkle on top of a creamy soup...YUM.

I took my pumpkins, dropped them on the concrete of our porch to break them open (I didn't want to chance cutting the seeds). Then split them open and began removing the seeds...the bigger the pumpkin, usually the better. I had a few "younger" ones and the seeds were a little harder to remove. 


Ingredients:

2 c. pumpkin seeds
1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
1 1/4 tsp. kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 tbs. butter, melted

Instructions:

1. After removing seeds from pumpkins, rinse with cold water. I like to place mine on a clean dish towel and pat to remove excess water. 

2. Place in a bowl. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over seeds, stirring well.

3. Spread out on one or two large baking sheets. I don't like to overpack them on the pan so I use two pans. No need to grease. 

4. Bake in a 250 degree oven for 1-2 hours or until they are done. You are looking for them to puff up slightly and take on a darker color. 

With Joy UNquenchable,
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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Recipe: Butternut Squash Soup and Lamb Chops

 One thing I LOVE about fall and winter, other than trees adorned in beautiful colors and brisk, windy days, is the craving for soups. I love soup! It's easy, it's satisfying, it's comforting. Bring on fall! Bring on soup!

A few weeks ago we had a butternut squash in the house and I was trying to decide what to do with it. My oldest wanted butternut squash risotto but I didn't want the hassle. I finally decided on trying a butternut squash soup. The result was a wonderfully creamy, flavor-ful soup that I would easily make again!


And then I used this site to find a recipe for making Lamb Loin Chops. They turned out amazing and the only complaint was that I didn't make enough!

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash, peeled and cut in large chunks
1 apple, cored, cut in half
3 carrots, peeled and cut in chunks
onion (I used 1/2 an onion), cut in chunks
1-2 garlic cloves
1 32oz. vegetable broth
1/2-3/4c. whipping cream
salt
pepper
thyme
pinch cayenne pepper

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2. Toss vegetables in a little bit of oil.

3. Spread out on a large baking sheet and roast in oven until they are tender.

4. Transfer vegetables to a blender (or use and immersion blender...which I do not own) and and add some broth. Do this a little at a time. Blend until smooth, transfer to soup pan. Continue until all vegetables are blended. 

5. Add remaining broth and whipping cream. Add seasonings to taste. Heat through. Top with parsley and enjoy!!

NOTE: If you feel like you need more flavor, you could add a vegetable bouillon cube. I can't remember now if I did that or not. I kept tasting it and adjusting the herbs until I was happy. 



With Joy UNquenchable,
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Pumpkin Pie Milkshake...Say What!!

What do you make when your homemade pumpkin pie (made with pumpkin you cooked and scooped) didn't quite set up like you wanted it to....you make a pumpkin pie milkshake of course! At least that's what my daughter did! 

Yep, my oldest had made a homemade pumpkin pie and for whatever reason it didn't quite set up all the way, though we were pretty sure it was done. It had more of a custard texture. The flavor was incredible, but she wasn't happy. Her solution? Buy some vanilla ice cream and create a milkshake. For reals!

Ingredients:

Vanilla ice cream

Milk
Leftover Pumpkin Pie (including the crust)

Instructions:

Simply place pie pieces, ice cream and milk in a blender and blend till smooth. Eyeball your quantities. The flavor is seriously like drinking a piece of pie...I loved it! Go make it!!!

With Joy UNquenchable,

Monday, October 27, 2014

SRC Reveal: Annies Cornish Pasties

It is that time again, Secret Recipe Club Reveal Day! I love this group(s) of bloggers who reveal amazing recipes every Monday of each month. Groups A-D take a specific week and post recipes from their "secretly assigned blog" on the Monday of that week. It's been a blast. I've had the privilege of being a part for a few years and have found so many new, favorite recipes and blogs. I am always inspired by the recipes people choose to make and usually try to challenge myself a bit when choosing my recipe to make.

This month I was assigned the blog Lavender and Lovage. Karen waAbout Me page.  I just now realized that in her Kitchen Tips section, she has some conversion charts....those would have been handy while trying to "convert" measurements on the recipe I chose. Instead I just googled it.

Karen was born in South Africa then moved back to England where she grew up though she moved several times due to her father's job. She currently divides her time between England and SW France, where most of her time is spent food writing, food styling and photography. How exciting. She is married with one daughter. Her love for food and cooking began at an early age, nurtured by her mother and grandmother. I so enjoyed taking time to discover more about her. Please check out her

Now, a bit of history on why I chose the recipe I did, Annie's Cornish Pasties. Well, first, let me say that I wish my mom was still alive because for a short time my dad was stationed in England (which is where I was born), and I would love to be able to ask my mom about some of the recipes and things they ate while there...not sure my dad would remember. Anyways, about a month ago, I took my youngest daughter to a Portland Timbers Soccer Game (Portland, Oregon's mens MLS team). We were coming directly from her own soccer game and knew we'd be hungry. As we walked through the venue at halftime trying to decide what to have, I saw on one menu "Pasties"...I knew those were a type of "hand pie" and thought "oh, I would love this". I knew they had a European origin and, well, you know how it goes, you have high expectations? Well, I was bummed. I ordered a chicken and broccoli one and the "crust" was a bit soggy and the filling seemed like it was simply frozen broccoli and canned chicken with maybe cream of chicken soup. I remember thinking "I bet I can make these at home". When I received my blog assignment and was browsing recipes I found a few for Pasties...I was so excited and knew immediately that this was what I was making. There were a few others that vied for my attention, but this one won out. Her tomatoes and Twice Baked Potatoes with Cheese and Bacon Gratin . That may still make it to the table at some point.

I was somewhat nervous as I studied her post on these Pasties. First, I had to do a few conversions which were tricky because I'm not the greatest at math and grams don't just convert to cups, so had to go ounces, then cups, which I know, is probably a no-brainer for most of you, but it takes a bit of thought for me. Then I realized that the meat is added to the other filling ingredients "RAW". Oh no! What if the meat doesn't cook all the way. I debated for quite some time as to whether to just pre-cook the ingredients and then just cook entire Pastie for less time maybe at a higher temp.  In the end I decided to suck it up and go with the recipe full on! To me, that's what SRC is...sure, tweak here and there if I have no choice, but otherwise I really try to stay true to the recipe or else find another one to make. I also had to figure out what in the world a "Swede" was...other than someone from Switzerland. Google told me it was a rutabaga so that's what I got.

Now, I made this and it was good, but I think I did some things wrong so I don't think it was as yummy as Karens looked. I will try again though. For one, I think my dough was too dry. It didn't seem like it at the time but as I rolled it out I could tell it was going to be trouble. I managed to make it work (also realizing that in that distraction I forgot to brush the edges before sealing). The inside cooked through but everything seemed dry (could be the cut of meat I used...I just used stew meat because the other cuts were more than I could spend. It could have also been that I didn't add enough water to the dough). Other than that...the flavor was really good and I would totally make this again. Because of the "dryness", I actually made a beef gravy that we poured over the top and that really helped. There were NO leftovers so that should be a good sign. Thank you Karen for posting a recipe that for this American challenged me and I really enjoyed it!

Okay, on with the recipe.

Annies Cornish Pasties

Ingredients:

Pastry:

450g (2 c.) all purpose flour
115g (1/4 c.) chilled butter, cut in to small cubes
115g (1/4 c.) chilled white vegetable fat
1/4 tsp. salt
cold water to mix

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 220c (425F).

2. Put butter, flour, shortening (white fat) and salt in large bowl or stand mixer. I used my mixer. Mix until mixture resembles small peas (fine breadcrumbs according to Karen). Add cold water until dough binds together..if too dry add more water. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge for 30 minutes. I doubled the recipe to make 4 of these.

3. Divide pastry in to 2 halves (or 4 if you doubled it). Roll out to about 6-7".

Filling:

350g (about 1 lb. or so) beef, cut in to small slivers, almost shaved but not minced (she used rump roast, I used stew meat, and I just cut it somewhat small.
2 medium potatoes peeled and either shaved or very small dice
1/2 large Swede (rutabaga), peeled and shaved or finely diced
1 medium onion peeled and cut very finely
Salt and black pepper (I added thyme as well)

Instructions:

1. Combine all ingredients together. She suggests using lots of pepper. I added thyme to mine as well

2. Divide filling mixture up between crusts placing mixture to one side of circle but not to the edge.

3. Brush edge of pastry with egg and then fold in half so edges meet. Now, if you were Karen, your pastry would be beautifully crimped, mine were not. I was just praying they'd stay together. Brush outsides with remaining egg. Place on a greased  baking sheet.

4. Bake at 450 for about 20 minutes then lower oven temp to 160c, which I did about 325f for another 40 minutes. This is what will ensure that the meat cooks all the way through. Smaller ones will take less time. Eat hot or cold.

Then like I said, because it was a bit dry, I made a beef gravy to pour over the top. No picture with the gravy since that didn't look very pretty.


With Joy UNquenchable,

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