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30-Minute Gourmet: Shrimp and Mushroom Butternut Squash Ravioli

This recipe is something very different for me. Normally I tend to shy away from dairy-heavy recipes for my own reasons, however I modified this a bit to fit my appetite and I believe it is a staple for any night of the week.

 

Like a few of my other recipes, this recipe can be easily altered to taste. The recipe I am posting here is the base recipe, but I like to add Sriracha, red pepper flakes, and other spices depending on what I am feeling for that night. Also, the shrimp can be switched out for squid, chicken, or another protein, but it might require cooking the protein prior to adding it.

 

Making this recipe in thirty minutes will require some multitasking so if you are in a rush, be prepared to stay on your toes. At least two burners are essential, but if you are using a protein like chicken, a third will come in handy to cook the chicken or other protein while also cooking the pasta and starting the sauce. However, since this recipe is not too complicated and does not require any real special skills, the multitasking is luckily not a huge challenge.

 

One thing to look out for in this recipe is melting the cream cheese. The cheese must be at room temperature and the pan cannot be too hot or else the cream cheese will get clumpy as it melts. If this happens it is not the end of the world, just add some of the boiling water and whisk the sauce to break up the clumps.

 

Lastly, the cleanup for this recipe is relatively easy. Going off of the recipe I am posting, only three cooking dishes need to be cleaned; the pot, the pan, and the colander. Other than that, stirring utensils and the cutting board will need to be cleaned, but this can be accomplished relatively quickly making this recipe truly thirty minute gourmet.

 

And without further ado, here is the recipe.

 

Shrimp and Mushroom Butternut Squash Ravioli with Cream Sauce (adapted from allrecipes.com)image2

 

  • 1 (12oz) package of butternut squash ravioli
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 10 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 handful spinach, sliced (to taste)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 oz cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1 tablespoon basil (to taste)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 lb shrimp
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ravioli and cook until al dente. Drain.

 

While the pasta is cooking, heat 3 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add mushrooms and cook and stir until tender. Transfer to a plate.

 

In the same pan, melt 1/2 cup of butter with minced garlic until fragrant. Reduce the heat and add the cream cheese, breaking it up as it melts. Stir in the parsley, basil, and spinach. Simmer for 5 minutes. Mix in boiling water until the sauce is smooth. Add the shrimp and continue cooking the sauce until shrimp is pink. Add mushrooms and ravioli and stir until heated and incorporated.

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Kale Almond Pesto Tagliatelle

Home for spring break? Want to impress your family or treat your friends to a delicious dinner? I have the perfect recipe for you.

The other day, I was testing pesto recipes for work. When I say testing recipes, I mean testing A LOT of recipes. I can officially make pesto with my eyes closed. And yes, I still smell faintly of garlic. You may ask: what does one do with so much pesto? There are three answers: (1) Eat it on chips, (2) Jar it and give it to your boyfriend’s mom for extra brownie points, (3) Make something fabulous for dinner to go with it. We’re going to focus on number three.

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This pasta is covered in a kale & almond pesto that I made with all my leftover ingredients from that day. For an added textural component, I threw in some larger pieces of kale. At the very end I tossed in some sliced grape tomatoes for brightness.

This recipe serves 2, but feel free to double or triple amounts for larger parties.

Kale & Almond Pesto 

  • 1 cup of roughly chopped kale
  • 2 tablespoons of roasted almonds
  • 3 tablespoons  of grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (about half a lemon’s worth)
  • zest of a whole lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt & pepper

Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until you reach a spreadable consistency that isn’t too creamy. It should not be fully smooth!

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To assemble the pasta…

You need:

  • 1 more cup of roughly chopped kale
  • 1 cup of grape tomatoes sliced lengthwise
  • Extra parmesan cheese & black pepper to top off

To make the Tagliatelle, follow the boiling directions on the package. I say this because it varies from brand to brand. If you can’t find Tagliatelle, Linguini would work great in this as well.

Roughly chop the kale and stir it in to the pasta after draining. If you put the lid to the pot back on for a few minutes, the kale will wilt perfectly.

Add the tomatoes and the pesto last and toss it all together until evenly mixed.

Serve and top with parmesan and freshly ground black pepper to taste! Enjoy!

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Frozen Banana Pops

If you’re like me, the warm weather could not come any sooner. The days are growing a little longer, the slush has disappeared from the streets, and that Spring Break count down is ticking by FAST. Yes!

I know what you’re thinking: the only thing that would make this situation better is a beautiful, yet confusing treat. One that looks like fruit, but tastes like ice cream. One that satisfies your chocolate craving, yet provides a variety of key nutrients. But could such a thing exist?

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Introducing the Frozen Banana Pop! A chocolate-dipped banana, covered in sundae toppings, and frozen to perfection.

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Here’s what you need to make these gems:

-1 bar of semi-sweet Ghiradelli’s chocolate (or milk chocolate if you prefer)

-2 over-ripe bananas

-A pinch of instant coffee or espresso (Because the Barefoot Contessa says so)

-Your favorite sundae toppings (I chose crushed pecans and sprinkles)

-4 sticks

-1 old cardboard box you won’t miss (I used the box from my Sleepytime tea)

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Step 1: Break down the chocolate into a bowl with the instant coffee/espresso and microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until chocolate is melted.

Step 2: While microwaving, poke holes in the cardboard box for your skewers.

Step 3: Peel the bananas and cut them in half. Then skewer them lengthwise.

Step 4: Dunk your bananas one at a time in the chocolate, using a spoon to help cover all the spots.

Step 5: Sprinkle on the goods.

Step 6: Freeze for at least 2 hours or until chocolate is hard. Longer is better though :)

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That is all! Then invite your favorite friends over and pretend you’re indulging on something naughty.

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Enjoy!

30-Minute Gourmet: One-Pan Pasta

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If you are looking for a quick and versatile recipe to add to your collection, look no further. This recipe for one-pan pasta is probably my #1 go-to when I need to make something impressive. It can easily be prepped, cooked, and cleaned in less than thirty minutes, making it a perfect recipe for nearly any occasion.

 

Even beyond the speediness, its taste alone will make it one to ad to your bookmarks bar. Cooking all the ingredients together allows the water to absorb all the flavors, which is then absorbed by the pasta. Instead of having a heavy sauce coating the pasta, the recipe relies on the natural flavors to give the pasta a much lighter and subtler taste.

 

Something else I love about this recipe is that it can stand alone or be a perfect side to nearly any main course. One of my favorite pairings for this recipe is a lightly seasoned salmon. Just a light brushing of butter, salt, and pepper draw out the natural flavors of the fish, much like this recipe does for the pasta, making it a perfect match. And the recipe is highly malleable. I have tried different ingredients and found that as long as the proportions are right, there are very few ingredients that would pair poorly with this pasta. I altered my personal recipe based on food sensitivities and other preferences, so it’s good to try many different variations to develop a personal recipe for your taste.

 

One final thing I have to compliment this recipe on is that cleanup takes less than five minutes. The cutting board and knife can be cleaned while the water is heating, leaving just the pan, tongs, a fork, and a plate or bowl (unless of course you are sharing the pasta). And because there is no sauce, there is hardly any mess to take care of. Really, it is so simple it can be done in a matter of seconds.

 

 

Now onto the actual recipe I have been raving about.

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One-Pan Pasta (Adapted from Lottie + Doof  )

 

12 oz linguine

12 oz cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered if large

3 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms

1 small onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)

7 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

3 sprigs of basil

3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

3 teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon pepper

4 ½ cups of water

 

Combine all the ingredients in a large straight-sided skillet. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil mixture, stirring and turning pasta frequently with tongs until water has nearly evaporated. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.

 

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Coconut Cream Pie Recipe

From the crunchy graham crust to the creamy custard filling, this coconut cream pie recipe is a classic that will keep you going back for another slice.

Ingredients

Crust:

3 cups of flour
1 tbsp of vinegar
5 tbsp of water
1 egg
1 1/2 sticks of butter
1/2 tsp of salt
1 tbsp of sugar

 

Custard Filling:

1/3 cup of Sugar
1/4 cup of All Purpose Flour
2 1/4 cups of Half and Half
3 Egg Yolks
2 Tbsp of Butter
1 ½ cups of Sweetened Shredded Coconut
1 tsp of Vanilla

 

Whipped Cream:

1 ½ cups of Heavy Whipping Cream
¼ cup of Sugar
1/2 tsp of vanilla
1/2 cup of toasted coconut
3 tbsp of toasted sliced almonds

Continue reading Coconut Cream Pie Recipe

Italian Cuisine: Risotto with apples and speck ham

Risotto is a very common food in Italy, especially during the winter. Risotto is a different way of thinking the rice – rather than a side dish, it makes an amazing main course.

It is very important to find the right white rice to make risotto. The principal varieties are Arborio, Carnaroli or Vialone Nano. Once you have the rice, the limit is the sky! In fact, once you get the feel for the basic steps of making the risotto, you can add almost any combination of flavors.

Here I’ll present one of my favorite: risotto with apples and speck ham. It is made up of typical ingredients from north regions of Italy. Speck ham is a type of prosciutto which is similar to bacon, and it is a very tasty ham. This risotto has a very delicate and unusual flavor, where the sweet taste of apples is exalted by the strong taste of speck ham.

Here are the ingredients for 4 serves:

  • 2 cups of rice
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 apples
  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup Parmesan
  • 4 oz speck ham
  • 2 cups white or red wine

Cut the speck ham in small pieces.

Speck ham

Cut the apples and put them into a pot with a cup of wine, and let them cook for about 15 minutes.

Continue reading Italian Cuisine: Risotto with apples and speck ham

Pantry Shakshuka

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The best thing about shakshuka is how simple it is to make. It’s pretty quick, completely satisfying, and can me made with just a few basic pantry ingredients and whatever fresh veggies you have on hand. I’ve made this one with spinach and bell peppers, and it was delicious! However, fresh tomatoes, kale, mushrooms, and squash would have all been great options too.

Here’s what you need from the pantry:

-can of diced tomatoes

-tomato paste

-Italian dry spices (oregano, basil, rosemary, & thyme would all work)

-garlic powder

-olive oil

-bread (I use gluten-free of course, Udi’s is good!)

Here’s what you need from the fridge:

-onion

-bell pepper (any color, but I used yellow)

-spinach

-egg

First, dice half an onion. Heat olive oil is a frying pan. Once oil is hot, add the onions and cool them until they’re soft and slightly translucent. Add chopped pepper and spinach (or whatever vegetables you choose) and cook until soft.

Then, add the can of tomatoes and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add a tablespoon of tomato paste and stir thoroughly. Simmer for another 2-3 minutes. 

Finally, make a dent in the mixture and crack in an egg. Cover the pan and let the egg cook for about five minutes or until the egg white is just opaque. Any additional cooking would affect the yolk. So, if you like it runny, definitely stop the cooking as soon as the white turns solid, but if you like it harder keep it going for another minute or so.

In the meantime, toast your bread. 

Add hot sauce for an extra kick!

Enjoy! Break into that yolk and scoop the mixture onto your toast. If you haven’t tried it before, you’ll be an immediate convert. It’s so savory and comforting, you’ll want to eat it for every meal of the day. Happy cooking everyone!

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Simple Homemade Granola

Since we’ve covered lunch and dinner, I thought it would be only natural if we paid a little tribute to breakfast. 

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. Hands down. There are so many delicious oatmeal and smoothie bowl recipes that I’m dying to share with you, but I realized that there’s one thing we need to do first. This staple is something we all know and love, and is best when piled on top of all of those other delicious recipes I just mentioned. I’m talking homemade granola.

A good granola recipe is something everyone should have, especially my gluten-free peeps out there. The best part? It’s easy, its fast, it lasts for weeks and the recipe is super flexible. This is an eye-ball-it kind of recipe, and as long as you’ve got the base ratio down, you can add however many mix-ins you desire.

Personally, I have a few granola recipes I like to make. However, the one we’re doing today its the easiest to do in a dorm kitchen. It’s protein-packed, and coconut oil-based. Really filling, healthy, and delicious.

Here’s what you need…

Base:

  • 4 Hand-Fulls Rolled Oats
  • 2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Protein Powder (I used vanilla flavored to make it a little sweeter)

Nuts & Seeds:

  • 1/4 Cup Sliced Almonds
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Walnuts
  • 1/8 Cup Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds)

Fruits:

  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Dried Dates
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Dried Cherries
  • 1/4 Cup Dried Cranberries

Directions:

1. PREHEAT… the oven or confectioner’s oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. CHOP… all your dried fruits and nuts as indicated in the list above.

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3. MELT… coconut oil for 30 seconds in the microwave. Then mix all the base ingredients in a bowl until completely combined. All oats should be damp.

4. MIX… nuts and seeds into base mixture. Then spread the mixture on cookie sheet.

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5. COOK… for 20 minutes on 325 degrees, stirring occasionally.

6. ADD… fruits to mixture once done cooking. This is important! If you add it before, the fruit gets really hard and dry. You could honestly chip a tooth.

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7. If you like your granola sweet, drizzle a little honey, or maybe even some cinnamon on top. Let everything cool, OR eat it hot with some cool milk. Mmmm! 

8. Finally, use this on top of everything! Or eat it dry by the hand-full. It’s a great, filling snack or meal whenever you want.

A Food Lover’s Guide to History: The Earl-y Sandwich

It’s the day after Thanksgiving, meaning that if you’re among the 65% of Americans who claim that eating leftovers is the best part of the holiday, then you might be thinking about (or making) the celebrated “pilgrim sandwich,” also known as the Thanksgiving Leftover Sandwich.  But I ask you to tear your eyes off the glistening cranberries, the thyme-scented mashed potatoes, and the bounty of other leftovers.  I ask you to consider the sandwich.

The venerable Earl of Sandwich

Pretty much everyone knows about John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, who was so absorbed in his gambling that he needed something he could eat without leaving his game.  But sandwiches as a form go back to the 1st Century B.C.E., when the famed rabbi Hillel the Elder started a Passover custom of sandwiching a portion of the Paschal lamb and bitter herbs between two matzohs, based on a verse in the Book of Exodus.

Later, Medieval Europeans started putting food on bread out of necessity rather than spirituality.  Much like the pie crusts of old, bread acted as dishes for Europeans in the Middle Ages.  They called their thick chunks of stale bread “trenchers” and then piled them with meats, gravies, and other sauces.  After the meal, the softened bread was either eaten or tossed to dogs or the poor.

Pictured above: actual historical peasants

So while the Earl of Sandwich didn’t invent the concept of using bread as a vehicle for other foods, he did lend it his name.  However, up until the first written record of the word “sandwich” in 1762, the stack of bread and fillings was known, hilariously, as “bread and meat” or “bread and cheese.”

Bread and Meat and Vegetables.

They made the leap across the pond, and by 1816, recipes appeared calling for fillings like fruit, shellfish, nuts, and mushrooms.  By the turn of the century, sandwiches were differentiated based on their ingredients, like the double-decker club sandwich or the BLT.

One of the most important developments in modern sandwich history came in the late 1920s. In 1928, Otto Rohwedder built a loaf-at-a-time bread slicing machine.  Later, bread slicers could wrap the loaves as well, making it possible to package and sell pre-sliced loaves of bread.

The Chillicothe Baking Company installed Rohwedder’s bread slicer and began to sell “Kleen Maid Sliced Bread” on July 7, 1928.

All this innovation culminated in 1930, when Wonder Bread started marketing their pre-sliced bread nation-wide.  Kids could safely make their own sandwiches without having to use a bread knife, and the ease of the sandwich made them a fixture in American kitchens and lunchrooms across the country.

Speaking of fixtures in American food history…

I’ll let you get back to your turkey.

Not that you need any instruction, but here’s a Martha Stewart-approved leftover sandwich recipe for inspiration:

Ingredients

  • Baguette 
  • Cranberry sauce 
  • Grainy mustard 
  • Sliced turkey 
  • Glazed pearl onions 

Direction

Spread one half of a piece of baguette with cranberry sauce and the other with grainy mustard.

Layer with sliced turkey and glazed pearl onions.

 

Almonds, Chocolate, and Pears, Oh My!

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Thanksgiving is around the corner, and I have already eaten a record amount of pies for the year. Pumpkin, apple, and pecan are amazing, but I wanted to try something new this year, something that incorporated Middle Eastern flavors and ingredients.

We don’t have a lot of pies in the Middle East, but we do have a lot of almonds, and a lot of pears, and I’ve found a wonderful pear, almond, and chocolate tart that is absolutely delicious. It is not a very difficult tart. The pastry used is a regular piecrust that you can buy from the store or make from scratch. The tart shell is filled with a delicious frangipane and then topped with pears and chocolate, and baked. This recipe is good for a 9 inch fluted tart pan. If you’re using a pie dish, you might need to increase the recipe by multiplying the ingredients by 1.5. I hope you enjoy it!

 

For the pastry, you will need:

1 ¼ cups of flour

½ cup butter, cold, cut into small pieces

2-4 tbsp. ice water

½ tbsp. sugar

¼ tsp. salt

 

For the almond filling, you will need:

9 ½ tbsp. ground almonds

7 tbsp. butter at room temperature

7 tbsp. sugar

2 eggs

(If you have a scale, the ingredients are simply 100 g each of almonds, butter, and sugar, and 2 eggs).

 

For the toppings, you will need two pears, cored and cut in half, and about 2 tbsp. of chocolate chips, but the amount of chocolate really is to taste. An optional topping is apricot jam that you can use to glaze the top of the tart.

 

To make the pastry, first cut your butter into small pieces and return to the fridge to stay cold. Then whisk flour, sugar, and salt. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients using a pastry blender or two knives until you see course crumbs. Add two tablespoons of the ice water, and gently combine, continue adding water in ½ tablespoon increments, until the dough stays together when pressed between two fingers. Try not to go over 4 tablespoons. The less water you put in, the flakier and crispier your dough is! Once you’ve added enough water, turn your dough out on a sheet of plastic wrap, and using the edges of the wrap, press the dough together into a disk. Wrap it tightly, and refrigerate for 45 minutes.

 

At this point, you can also preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

 

Meanwhile, make the filling by creaming the butter and sugar together, then adding the eggs, followed by the ground almonds. You can use store-bought almond meal or process 100 grams (9 ½ tbsp.) of blanched almonds in a food processor, be careful not to over-process though, because the ground almonds tend to lump together if processed for too long. If you’d like to accentuate the flavor of the almonds, you can add just a drop of almond extract. Alternatively if you want to have more of a pear flavor with a bit of a kick, you can add a little bit of pear brandy.

 

After the pastry is properly chilled, roll it out and gently insert it into your tart pan. To make it easier for myself to roll the dough out, I always put it between two sheets of parchment paper. I never to use extra flour, and I never have a problem with the dough sticking to the surface.

 

Add the filling, and arrange the pears cut-side down. Distribute the chocolate chips evenly, then bake the tart for about an hour, or until the top of the frangipane becomes golden brown.

 

A couple of minutes before the tart comes out, heat a few tablespoons of apricot jam in the microwave. Once the tart comes out, brush it with the jam while it’s still hot. Apricot jam doesn’t really affect the flavor of the tart, but it gives it a beautiful glaze, and prevents the fruit from turning brown.