If you’ve been following me on Instagram you might have noticed a lot of “sneak peak” photographs utilizing some sponsored item. All of those goodies will be shared for #BrunchWeek which starts next Monday. I am so excited!
One of our generous sponsors is Grimmway Farms/Cal-Organic/True Juice Family. A beautiful box of fresh organic produce and juices arrived on my doorstep. The kale and radishes will be utilized next week. The baby carrots have been a perfect healthy afternoon snack – reminding me how much I enjoy carrots! Cal-Organic also sent a bag of Colorshred carrots. The beautiful bag of carrot confetti was used to create a colorful spring time risotto.
We grilled up some chicken to serve alongside this side dish. As a side dish, the recipe below will serve four people. My little man really enjoyed this risotto and even had some of the leftovers for lunch the next day. Look who’s coming around to carrots after all!
- 1 tbsp olive oil, divided use
- 1 tbsp butter, divided use
- 1 1/2 C shredded carrots
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/4 red onion, diced
- 1 C arborio rice
- 1/4 C white wine
- 3 – 4 C chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 tbsp ricotta cheese
- 2 tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1 1/2 tsp parsley
- In a dutch oven over medium-high heat melt half of the butter and half of the oil. Add the shredded carrots with 1/4 C water, salt, and the sugar. Cover and cook for five minutes. Uncover and allow to cook until the liquid is evaporated. Remove from pot and set aside.
- Bring stock to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat.
- In the dutch oven melt the remaining butter and oil. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the arborio rice, stir to coat, and cook about one minute. Deglaze with white wine.
- Once the wine is absorbed add the warm stock a ladleful at a time, stirring, waiting for liquid to be absorbed before adding more. Continue cooking this way until the rice is creamy and tender, about 20 minutes.
- Stir in the carrots, ricotta, Parmesan, and parsley. Season to taste with S+P. If needed, thin the risotto with additional stock.
*This recipe is adapted from Debi at http://lifecurrents.dw2.net/spring-and-caramelized-carrot-risotto/*
Disclaimer: I was provided a bag of Colorshred carrots and other produce through #BrunchWeek, however all opinions and statements are my own.
The pantry and fridge in our home has been pretty empty since Thanksgiving. Before the holiday the only food items on the shopping list were those required for my Thanksgiving contributions. And for the cookies that needed to be made as soon as we returned. I provided 107 cookies for a Cookie Drive for the local unaccompanied airmen who will be spending the holidays without their families. The cookies were due on the 3rd so December 1st and 2nd was Operation Cookie in my kitchen. Don’t worry, you’ll be seeing the recipes later this month!
I’ve also been slowed down with a wonderful December cold – which I have unfortunately passed on to my 5 month old. He’s taking it like a champ though and it’s not slowing him down.
And to top it all off my car’s check engine light came on before Thanksgiving and is finally awaiting its “doctor appointment”. Which means I have no means of going to the grocery store. I don’t think Sparrow appreciates the cold.
So I found myself brainstorming what I could possibly do with whatever I had in the fridge. I had some bacon, I had my staple of corn in the freezer, and I always have onions, there was some ricotta cheese left over from the twice baked sweet potatoes, and I had plenty of heavy cream. I also thought I had some jumbo pasta shells so that’s the direction I went. I still had to have Stuart hit the grocery store for a couple finishing ingredients (like more jumbo pasta shells, 7 wasn’t going to cut it, and Parmesan cheese) along with groceries for the rest of the week.
This recipe, I am proud to say, is a Lauren original. And one that turned out quite well, if I say so myself! Loaded with cheese and cream it doesn’t exactly fit on a diet plan, but it’s a wonderful comfort food dish. This filling would also be great in ravioli for a quicker meal. Serve these shells with a side salad for a complete meal. The filling stuffed 14 shells perfectly, and we had 2 left over. So I’d say it feeds 2-3.
Bacon and Corn Stuffed Shells
- 4 strips center cut bacon, chopped
- 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 C chicken stock (or white wine if you have it)
- 1 1/3 C heavy cream
- 14 jumbo pasta shells
- 1 C whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 1/2 C frozen corn, thawed
- 1/4 C + 1/3 C shredded Parmesan cheese, divided use
- 1 egg, beaten
- Cook bacon in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When crispy, remove to a paper towel lined plate. Saute onion in bacon grease until translucent. Season with S+P. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 60 seconds. Deglaze the pan with chicken stock (or wine), scrapping up delicious brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a bubble and let reduce, about 3 minutes. Slowly add in the heavy cream, whisking. Reduce the heat and let simmer 7-10 minutes, until reduced. Stir occasionally to prevent from burning.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Cook pasta shells according to package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- Prepare the filling: In a bowl combine ricotta, corn, 1/4 C Parmesan cheese, and cooked bacon. Season to taste with S+P. Stir in 1 egg.
- Spoon a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish. Spoon the filling into the shells when cool enough to handle and place in the casserole dish. Top shells with sauce, reserving 1/2 C for serving and/or leftovers.
- Bake shells for 20 minutes. Top with remaining Paremsan and bake another 5 minutes, until cheese is melted.
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.
If 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
- 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
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook noodles 7-8 minutes, drain and set aside.
- 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
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- 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.
- Pour about 1/2 of the pasta sauce in the bottom of a 9×13″ casserole dish.
- 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.
- 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*
For my first Valentine’s Day as a blogger I bring you the first dish I ever made for Stuart.
On our 1 year anniversary back in college I made him dinner. I was living in the dorms and my roommate with a car helped me get to the grocery store and to his apartment so that I could surprise him with dinner. I made ravioli, Caesar salad, and an apple crisp for dessert.
Everything turned out great – except the apple crisp. The salad was one of the prepackaged options from the store, so I couldn’t go wrong there. The ravioli came from a book, Teens Cook: How to Cook What You Want to Eat, that I was gifted before attending college. I think the apple crisp recipe came from that book as well, but I don’t remember. Oh, everything turned out fine and Stuart and his roommates ate it. But I was “forced” to use I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter in place of real butter because apparently I was wrong to assume boys kept real butter in the fridge. Let me tell you, I could believe it wasn’t real butter and that not-real butter taste was only accented once baked in the crumble topping.
But I digress. This post is supposed to be about ravioli, not my abhorrence to fake butter.
For the blog I decided to try making heart shaped ravioli. And it worked!
Won ton wrappers are used in place of fresh pasta which makes it a super simple meal. Typically I’d use one sheet of won ton wrapper and fold it over, but when you’re cutting hearts out of it you need to use two sheets per raviolo. (I think that’s the singular to ravioli… eh, it sounds fun anyway!) The amount of filling you place inside each heart will depend on the size of your cookie cutter – you need to make sure you can seal the ravioli so the filling doesn’t escape while boiling.
Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli
- 15 oz ricotta cheese
- 1 C julienned fresh spinach
- 1/2 C shredded Italian blend cheese (or Parmesan)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 pkg (12 oz) won ton wrappers (these can be found in the refrigerated area of the produce section)*
- your favorite pasta sauce
*You will need two packages if making heart shaped ravioli
- In a bowl combine cheeses and spinach. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil while assembling the ravioli.
- If making heart shaped ravioli, use a cookie cutter to cut hearts out of each won ton wrapper. Place about 1/4 tsp of filling in the center of the heart. Dip your finger in water and run along the edge of the heart. Place a second heart on top and seal shut.
- If not making heart shaped ravioli, 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.
- 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.
- Heat your favorite pasta sauce and serve with ravioli. Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese if desired.
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