Spinach and Sausage Ravioli

Using won ton wrappers makes making ravioli an acceptable weeknight dinner. This recipe is very similar to the one I shared with you on Valentine’s Day. Except this one includes meat!

Stuart bought some Hot Italian Sausages from Publix for lunch one weekend and instead of relocating the sausages to the freezer he put the uneaten ones in the fridge. I knew I had to find a recipe to use up the meat before it went bad. Yes, I know I could’ve put them in the freezer, but here was thawed out meat ready and waiting!

I was also wanting pasta. But I didn’t want a heavy pasta because Mom was back in town helping me out. Typically when I crave pasta I’m wanting a cream based sauce – but I was trying to be conscious of my dinner choices. (Hence the increase in salad posts!) I chose to do ravioli because the blogger I found this from served hers simply with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mom decided to follow suit and enjoy her ravioli this way. I used my favorite, vodka sauce. And Stuart polished off a traditional jarred marinara.

Mom doesn’t mind cooking, but she hates making decisions on what to make. So her deal was, “I’ll cook it, you just have to tell me what it is.” I actually felt guilty in picking ravioli. Not because it’s difficult, but because it is time consuming. So, I got off the couch and joined her at the dining table to help assemble the ravioli. We went through the entire package of won ton wrappers – we had leftovers for days! If you assemble only what you’ll eat, keep your left over wrappers in a sealed bag in the fridge – you can even wrap them in a damp paper towel to keep them from drying out.

Spinach and Sausage Ravioli

Ingredients:

  • 2 links hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 2 C fresh baby spinach, finely chopped
  • 1 C shredded Asiago cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pkg (12 oz) won ton wrappers (these can be found in the refrigerated area of the produce section)*

Steps:

  1. In a nonstick skillet, brown sausage over medium-high heat. Breaking up into little pieces. Drain any fat.
  2. In a bowl combine sausage, cheese, spinach, and egg. Season with S+P.
  3. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil while assembling the ravioli.
  4. Place about 1/2-1 tsp of filling in the center of each wrapper. Dip your finger in water and run along all four sides of the wrapper. Fold into a triangle and seal.
  5. Boil the ravioli in batches of 8-10 to avoid them breaking apart. Boil 3-4 minutes, or until they float. They will become slightly translucent.
  6. Heat your favorite pasta sauce and serve with ravioli. Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese if desired.

*This recipe is adapted from http://www.justputzing.com/2011/10/spinach-and-sausage-raviolis.html*

Sausage Ravioli

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. 

Sun-dried Tomato Risotto

Creating your own recipes can be daunting, but using a neutral flavored base is a great way to learn how to play with flavors. Rice, chicken, potatoes.

I like to get creative with risotto. There’s something therapeutic to me about stirring a pot of soon-to-be-creamy Arborio rice.

I planned to make this dish the first Friday of Lent as a way to “sweet talk” my husband. As he isn’t Catholic, I don’t force upon him a fast or expect him to abstain from meat on Fridays. But if we’re eating in, we’re having either seafood or a meatless entrée. Most often I’ll make pasta, and brown up some meat or grill some chicken for him.

We ended up ordering pizza that Friday instead so this risotto became a beautiful “fancy” side dish to some baked chicken on another night. I wouldn’t recommend using this recipe as your main dish anyway. Now that I think about it, risotto isn’t often, if ever, served as a main dish – unless it has meat in it.

An Original Recipe

Sun-dried Tomato Risotto

Ingredients:

  • 5 C chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 C Arborio Risotto Rice
  • 1/4 C vegetable stock or white wine
  • 10 sun-dried tomato halves, chopped
  • 1 C fresh spinach
  • 1/4 C mascarpone
  • 2 tbsp grated asiago cheese
  • 1 lemon

Steps:

  1. Bring chicken broth to a simmer over low to medium heat.
  2. In a large pot (I use a dutch oven) saute onion and bell pepper in olive oil over medium-high heat. Season with S+P. When onion is translucent add garlic and stir 30 seconds. Add rice and toast 2 minutes.
  3. Deglaze the pan with vegetable stock or white wine. Use a wooden spoon to scrape any brown bits from the pan.
  4. Once liquid is absorbed add 1-2 ladles of warm chicken broth. Stir often. Once liquid is absorbed repeat until rice is tender and creamy. You may not need all of the chicken broth.
  5. Once rice is cooked through reduce heat to low and add tomatoes, spinach, mascarpone, and asiago. Stir until spinach is wilted and cheese melted. Squeeze with lemon and serve.

Sun-dried Tomato Risotto 1 Sun-dried Tomato Risotto 2

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. 

Lasagna Roll Ups

Lasagna is always a crowd-pleaser. It’s perfect for family dinners and gatherings among friends.

I developed a taste for lasagna in college. My roommate and I would whip up a lasagna for dinner and have leftovers to get us through the busy week. She introduced me to no-boil noodles and they’ve changed the lasagna world for the better!

My recipe for lasagna uses spinach, turkey, onions, and bell peppers. And a combination of mozzarella and ricotta cheeses.

Lasagna Roll Ups 2If you want to elevate your lasagna to fancy presentation status, try these lasagna rolls! Instead of taking advantage of the no-boil noodles, these need to be boiled until they are pliable, a little harder than al dente so as to prevent them from breaking when you roll them.  Because the noodles still get baked they’ll be cooked through by the time you break into them.

We had friends over for dinner when I made these, and their youngest announced that it’s better than pizza. It’s his favorite thing that’s like pizza. (aka we have cheese and tomato sauce) I will take that as a very big compliment.

I took Judy’s suggestion and mixed two different pasta sauces – vodka and marinara. The result? A tastes-like-homemade pasta sauce.

Lasagna Roll Ups

Lasagna Roll Ups

Ingredients:

  • 8 lasagna noodles
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 (10 oz) package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 (15 oz) container ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 C shredded Italian blend cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 jar, 26 oz pasta sauce
  • 1/2 C shredded mozzarella

Steps:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook noodles 7-8 minutes, drain and set aside.
  2. In a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat saute onion in olive oil. When onions are translucent add garlic, cook for 30 seconds. Add the ground turkey, season with S+P, and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, 10 minutes or until cooked through. Drain any fat and set aside
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  4. In a large bowl combine spinach, ricotta, Italian blend cheese. Season to taste with S+P.  Mix in ground turkey. Add the egg and mix.
  5. Pour about 1/2 of the pasta sauce in the bottom of a 9×13″ casserole dish.
  6.  Place 1/3 – 1/2 C of lasagna filling onto each noodle and roll. Place lasagna roll ups seam side down in prepared casserole dish. Top with remaining pasta sauce and mozzarella.
  7. Bake covered for 35 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. A knife should go through a roll without resistance.

*This recipe is modified from Judy at http://www.bakeatmidnite.com/2013/11/cheesy-lasagna-rolls.html*

Lasagna Roll Ups

Grape Risotto

This post accompanies yesterday’s Red Pepper Pesto Crusted Tilapia. It is also a Nikki Dinki recipe.

Risotto is my favorite thing to cook. Risotto has the reputation of being very difficult and is presented as a fancy restaurant only dish. It takes patience (something I’m admittedly not very good at) and attention. It requires tasting. It requires you to immerse yourself in the process, to trust your hand when to add more liquid and when it’s done.

Rumor has it you must remain at the stove constantly stirring and tending to the pot of rice, but I’m here to tell you that’s not true. I’m not telling you to dump in some liquid and go take a bath, but you can relieve yourself from the wooden spoon occasionally. You can watch from the sidelines as the new addition of liquid bubbles and the rice absorbs the flavors being added to it. When you stir, do so gently and without repetition – I like to trace my spoon in figure eights, zig zags, and circles.

Making risotto makes me happy. Even though I don’t find it difficult to prepare, I still feel proud. Like I did something impressive. Like I could get famous off of this. (Oh, to dream)

Grape Risotto

Ingredients:

  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 C Arborio rice
  • 3 cans vegetable stock
  • 3/4 C parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 C sliced scallions
  • 1 C grapes, halved

Steps:

  1. Bring stock to a gentle simmer in a large pot.
  2. In a dutch oven, saute shallots and garlic in olive oil. Add rice and cook for a couple of minutes. Deglaze the pan with 1/2 C stock. Once the stock is absorbed by the rice, add in another ladleful of stock. Stir. Repeat the process until the rice is cooked and creamy. Season with salt, to taste.
  3. Stir in cheese, scallions, and grapes.

*This recipe is adapted from Nikki at http://www.nikkidinkicooking.com/home/pesto-crusted-halibut-grape-risotto.html*

Grape Risotto

Risotto Paella

Mexican Monday took a back seat this week for a Spanish cousin to shine through.

Of course, I could pretend I just made this dish some other day of the week and find a decent photo of a past Mexican Monday, but then I’d be out of a personal back story to the dish!

I was not about to have a repeat of last week where we ate out way too much, so I “forced” Stuart to help me create our weekly “Everson Menu”.

“What do you want for Mexican Monday?”

“Paella”

“That’s not Mexican….”

Stuart’s favorite Food Network star is Bobby Flay and we record Bobby Flay’s Barbecue Addiction. There was an episode last year in which Bobby had a grill the size of a breakfast table and a paella pan to cover it up. He made the largest (and most expensive) paella I’d ever seen. So for a year Stuart’s been wanting to try Paella.

Most traditional Spanish Paellas involve Mussels or other shellfish, which I am allergic to. I don’t know why it took me a year to realize that I can put whatever I want into the recipe, it’s my kitchen! So I finally gave in to his craving. I read a few recipes and articles about paella and created my own rendition.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find authentic Spanish paella rice, but the cooking method reminded me of risotto, so I compromised and used risotto rice. (Sorry!) I also couldn’t find authentic Spanish chorizo, so I kept the casing on Mexican chorizo, sliced it into rings and cooked it. I also opted to use salmon as my seafood choice.

An Original Recipe

Risotto Paella

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 C Arborio rice
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 C white wine (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 – 1 1/2 qt chicken stock
  • 2 links chorizo, sliced into rings
  • 6 oz salmon, cubed

Steps

  1. In a large pot bring stock to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer.
  2. In a large, non-stick skillet, saute onion and pepper in olive oil. Season with salt. When the onion is translucent add the garlic, rice, and seasonings. Stir with a wooden spoon. When rice is slightly toasted and everything is yellow add in the chopped tomato.
  3. Deglaze the pan with white wine, if using, or a ladle of stock.
  4. While waiting for the wine to evaporate, start cooking the chorizo in a separate skillet. Remove from pan and cook the salmon in the same skillet.
  5. Add 1-2 ladle-fulls of stock at a time to the rice, stirring constantly. When the liquid is absorbed, repeat the process until the rice is cooked through. This will take approximately 15 minutes.

*This recipe was inspired by http://foudefoodmtl.com/eatsathome/shrimp-and-chorizo-paella and http://mongoliankitchen.com/salmon-paella/*

Risotto Paella 1 Risotto Paella 2 Risotto Paella 3

Chorizo Carbonara

I didn’t plan my weekly menu over the weekend so therefore didn’t have a grocery list to go shopping either. My freezer was devoid of protein (one chicken breast and a pound of bacon) so we made a quick pit stop at the local Winn-Dixie with the intention of only buying some meat – whatever was BOGO that week. Even though chorizo was not on sale, Stuart wanted it (if you want to save money, leave your husband at home).

Because I didn’t want to rush back to the grocery store, I had to find a chorizo recipe where I had all of the ingredients on hand. I stumbled upon this Chorizo Carbonara. Chorizo Carbonara 1

This recipe might be the simplest Mexican Monday dinner yet! It only takes 4 ingredients and 10 minutes. It’s a pasta dish, so you know I’m one happy girl!

Chorizo Carbonara

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb fettuccini pasta
  • 3 links Mexican chorizo, casing removed
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 C heavy cream

Steps

  1. Cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente.
  2. Brown chorizo in a small, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, breaking up with a wooden spoon. Drain any excess fat.
  3. Whisk together egg yolks and heavy cream.
  4. Drain pasta. Using two forks, toss with cream mixture – make sure to do this quickly so as not to scramble the yolk and coat the pasta. Add in the chorizo.

*This recipe is adapted from Caroline at http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2011/04/chorizo-carbonara-recipe.html*

Chorizo Carbonara 2

Lemony Shrimp Scampi with Orzo

My favorite Food Network star is Giada De Laurentiis. (If I could be her for a day, I would!) I record her show Giada at Home and sit with my laptop on the couch and take notes. That’s me furthering my education – Food Network. 😉

Lemony Shrimp Scampi with Orzo 1This recipe was on the episode “Viewer’s Choice 2” and it looked like a perfect weeknight dinner. I was hoping to have some friends over for dinner the night I planned to make this dish, so I was prepared for making the full 4-6 servings. It ended up being just being the two of us, but none of the food went to waste! I took it to lunch the next day, and we even used it as a side dish later in the week too.

Lemony Shrimp Scampi with Orzo

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb orzo pasta
  • 1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1/3 C extra-virgin olive oil
  • zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1/2 C white wine
  • 5 C arugula or spinach or other (I simply used a store bought organic salad mix)

Steps

  1. Cook orzo in boiling pot of salted water until al dente.
  2. Whisk together 1/3 C olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, saute shallots in a little bit of olive oil over medium heat. Add in the shrimp and season heavily with pepper and salt. Once shrimp are pink, curled, and cooked through remove and set aside.
  4. Deglaze the skillet with white wine and add in your greens. Once the greens are wilted and most of the wine is evaporated add in the cooked orzo and shrimp.
  5. Toss with the vinaigrette from step 2.

Lemony Shrimp Scampi with Orzo 2