Zucchini Ravioli

I am not sure if it is the weather or my schedule of late but I havent really spent my usual amount of time planning the garden for this year. I was letting the dog out the side door just yesterday (Monday – i’m writing this one early as I am away this weekend) and noticed my asparagus was already 3 feet tall UGH! I hadn’t even cleaned out the debris from last year. I immediately went out and dealt with the situation and had some of the “normal” sized stalks for dinner – they were delicious as I knew they would be .
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Last year my zucchini was such a disappointment i am hoping for better this season. I realize people tend to use the oops I didn’t get to the garden in time sized squash that went from perfect to damn how did I miss that one; it’s the size of a Softball bat. For when they want to make zucchini lasagna; even though most times they are very seedy. But if you are looking for something to make with the cute little ones, this will fit the bill. Plus they are super cute and really easy to make.
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I actually have been trying for a month or so to make these. It started when I saw the crop of squash at the store, they were so cute so I grabbed a bag full. I forgot to go back to the other end of the store for the ricotta – fail. Then the next trip I grabbed some ricotta and thought I had some squash at home – fail. Finally I was going to make it happen – nope another fail timing is everything and it got away from me. Now I was determined and finally pulled it off. They don’t take long at all but I definitely could have used a few more to fill the pan I chose to make it in. I know just use a smaller dish – I know I know I have issues! Regardless I was very happy I finally made it happen, they are tasty, easy to assemble, quick and worth the wait.
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4-6 small Zucchini – for a 9×13 pan
1 large container Ricotta
2 eggs
1-2 tablespoon dried Parsley
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesean Reggiano
1 cup mozzarella
Kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper
1 jar marinara sauce
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Either make your marinara or use your favorite jarred sauce and doctor it up as you normally would, or not.
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In a medium bowl combine the ricotta, eggs, parsley, parmesan, mozzarella, salt and pepper. Mix till combined.
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Using your vegetable peeler, slice lengthwise till you can’t anymore. I didn’t do this but think it would be easier to leave the stem on to use as a handle.
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Depending how large you want your ravioli layer 2 slices side by side then top with two more slices going the opposite direction.
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Put a dollop of the cheese mixture in the center and fold into a little package.
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Layer as you would a lasagna. Sauce, ravioli, cheese and repeat.
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Bake for about 30 minutes until the top cheese layer is brown and bubbly
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Marinated skirt or flank steak

I am going to start this by asking you to make this!!! Demanding is a little harsh but damn this is amazing even cold the next day! Just saying as a Mom that if my kids wanted to make this for me next weekend for Mothers day it would be a good day!!!!
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A couple of weekends ago  it was finally gorgeous out – a little chilly and windy but at least the sun was shining and it wasn’t snowing! Though I still have some snow on the ground in certain areas around the house; It was definitely time to start bringing out the patio furniture and starting up the grill. That was after we removed a mouse nest that was in the grill; disgusting;  so I vacuumed, washed and burned off any mice remnants YUCK! 700’F for 10 minutes ought to do the trick.
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Let’s just say that I was happy no one was taping me, I lifted the cover, my dog freaked out and chased, I screamed and my daughter laughed it was quite the ordeal. One of the stupid little rodents wanted back in while I was out there cooking. I told him to get out of here or I was letting the dog back out. My dog has a little cat in him in that he has caught mice before but no thank you!
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While my daughter and I brought all the furniture out on Sunday my guys went to Killington, VT skiing. Apparently they are not done with winter but we certainly are. Earlier in the day I cooked up some eggs and decided to make some potato salad. I had a skirt steak I needed to cook up so dinner was already planned while enjoying my morning tea. I got my skirt steak out onto the counter and went to my computer; before I opened it I actually thought that was ridiculous; why do I need to look up a marinade recipe, I know what I have on hand and what flavors we like. As long as I had the 3 components (acid, oil, spices) needed to marinate my steak I can add whatever other flavors we like.
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My marinade consisted of lemon (acid), olive oil (oil), soy sauce, garlic, shallots, salt and pepper (spices).  I marinated it around 4-5 hours and WOW was it awesome. I unfortunately didn’t take any pictures to share so I made it again during the following week – you’re welcome 🙂
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Flank or Skirt Steak
soy sauce
olive oil
shallots – sliced thin
garlic – miced
lemon – sliced
Kosher salt
fresh cracked black pepper
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flatten out the steak and score; make a few this slices; against the grain. In a ziploc bag add the rest of the ingredients.  Really no need to measure but for my friends who “need” measurements I will guesstimate.  1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 large or 2-3 small shallots, 2 cloves of garlic, 3-4 slices of lemon, tablespoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper.  Marinate 4-8 hours.
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Best if cooked on a grill – I used my propane grill and cooked on each side for about 5-6 minutes for medium rare – please do not over cook – you won’t enjoy it! Let it rest for 10 minutes or longer if you can wait.  Slice against the grain and enjoy!

Easiest Pork Shoulder – slow cooker

I have heard a lot lately from people really interested in quick easy meals. I too really like it when you can throw together something quick and easy but doesn’t taste like you just threw some things on a plate. While we do like an occasional hotdog, beans and fries dinner; we for the most part want a little more love for dinner.

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I browned mine in my cast iron under the broiler in my oven

Even though most people think of their slow cooker more for warm, comfort winter meals, you really can use it all year long. Just yesterday the weather was supposed to be the nicest on the weekend so i knew i was going to be working in the yard for most of it and while I don’t mind raking a bit, I knew it was going to be more than that and that I would probably be too tired to pull dinner together. Yup I was right! I was out there for four hours raking ugh! But the yard is starting to look so good; as predicted I was spent!

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Adobo spices are one of my favorite – I put it on everything!

Luckily I had most of what I needed for a quick chicken chili, quick, easy and delicious! My slow cooker did all the work, all i needed to do was shred the chicken add top each bowl with some shredded cheese, sour cream and some scallions.
IMG_2688I have another recipe that is too good to be true. All you need is 5 ingredients plus your slow cooker. And you have the start of several dishes though we all really liked it as is.
IMG_26913 – 5 pound Pork butt or shoulder
¼ cup soy sauce
1 large onion sliced
Salt and pepper
½ cup water
also add any other spices you like onto your pork

Salt and pepper the roast liberally all over, either brown on top of the stove all over or place it in the pan and broil till browned.  In the oven is less immediate clean up which is nice too.

Place a few slices of onion in the bottom, lay the roast on top, cover with the remaining onions. Cover with the soy and water. Cook on low for the day and enjoy!
IMG_2689To make a complete dinner, I also cheated and bought a bowl of mashed potatoes and opened a can of corn.  I boiled down some of the leftover juice and used it it as a little au ju – it was so good I’ve already made it again and might be doing it again soon!

Leftover meat can be used in sandwiches, quesadilla, nachos.  That is if you have any leftover!

Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs

This week my kitchen was pretty quiet; which is my way of saying that I didn’t make anything exciting that I felt I HAD to share with you. That doesn’t mean we didn’t eat it’s more how I would say “no brainer” meals were had this week. What I mean by that is whatever was simple, quick and not a lot of ingredients. Any shortcut you know works here!

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I am sitting here trying to think why I didn’t make something fun and exciting. I don’t think we were super busy, though we did spend a wonderful night out on the town. I mentioned in last weeks blog about gathering 9 of my foodie friends and family to a food bank fundraising event featuring Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli. What an awesome night! She is a true rock star. She was funny, engaging, personable, approachable and everything I had hoped she would be and more.
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Three of us paid a little extra, it was for charity, it’s all good. For a meet and greet with Alex. I met her, shook her hand and took pictures with her, we are on first name basis now, well at least I think so and it’s my blog so that’s what I am going with.
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While in the VIP room; yeah that’s what they called it. I was kind of geeking out. There was a TV chef from my younger days that I recognized Mary Ann Esposito she has a show on Public Television called Ciao Italia which I just looked up is the longest-running television cooking program in America. I watched this all the time when I was younger; mostly because it was one of the 5 channels we had. But I loved her and her show so it was an honor to meet her. Plus she thought my daughter was my sister so I love her even more.
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We had a great time laughing and talking with local Chef Luca Paris who is Chef/Owner of Luca’s Mediterranean a few towns over. I’ve eaten at his place numerous times but this is the first time we chatted more than just the cordial meet and greet; here’s your table and how is everything. He was one of the competitors; this was an chef challenge event; he didn’t win – but we were routing for him all night.
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If you are looking for something simple, hands off and delicious this is going to help you out a lot. I know it’s not really a recipe but we had such a great night I wanted to share it with you but this is a food blog so I wanted to leave you with something.
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Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs – couldn’t be simpler!

Bone in skin on Chicken thighs – however many fit in a single layer in your size crockpot
Kosher salt
Black Pepper

Salt and Pepper both sides of your chicken thighs and lay them in a single layer in your slow cooker, nothing else just put the cover on them and leave on low for the day. about 6-8 hours. They come out perfectly cooked with the skin still crispy. it’s that simple and they taste great. Add a couple of your quick sides and dinner is served.

I’m sure you could add another spice to the mix; maybe Cajun, Garlic, Italian seasoning whatever you like.

Creamy Garlic Chicken

I think I have finally found something I am passionate about. I mean truly passionate about. I love playing golf, I love gardening, I love traveling and exploring; but what gets me really excited is food. It only took me around 20 years to figure out that I get super excited about the experience of and being around food. I mean it has not always been this way trust me but I definitely can see that I have become more excited at the prospect of getting into a restaurant that is impossible to get in, finding a hidden gem by accident and staying for hours,  seeing/meeting a famous chef or even a chef that came in second on Chopped; yeah that really happened.
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My daughter wanted to go to a restaurant the runner up was cooking at in Washington DC; so we were in the city and went for lunch, I mentioned to our waiter we were here only because my daughter saw him on chopped. He said he was cooking out back and then proceeded to tell him without our knowledge. A chef was coming towards us; came to our table and chatted with us, more like me, my daughter was chef shocked and could barely speak. Same thing happened when she came face to face with Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian on a flight from Japan to the US.
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Last year my daughter and I went to a taping of a radio show featuring ex iron chef Mario Batali, this week I am dragging 9 of my foodie family and friends to a fundraising dinner and I paid extra for my ticket for a meet and greet with Iron Chef Alex Guarnascelli.  I am currently waiting “patiently” to see if my name is pulled to make a reservation to the Lost Kitchen in Freedom ME; which is only taking names via 3×5 index cards mailed in for reservations.  Also a couple of years ago my husband and I along with another couple made a reservation to a restaurant in Montreal Canada that had a 4 month waiting list; which by the way is a 4 hour drive from us. Not to mention I am heading into my fourth year of writing a weekly food blog. I think you get the gist now!

I love that I am sharing my passion with my husband and kids and that they are just as much a foodie as I am. Having dinner together at the table every night together IS important! What my husband said about this dish “knocked it out of the park”

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced or chopped up like I did
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup chicken broth
2-3 cloves of minced garlic
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
1 cup chopped spinach
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Instructions

season chicken with salt and pepper, in a large skillet cook the chicken until cooked through and browned on each side, remove chicken and set aside.
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Add the garlic for and cook for 30 seconds, do not let it brown. add the chicken stock and using a wooden spoon get all the browned bits up off the pan, cook for about 3-4 minutes to almost half of the stock is gone.
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Add the heavy cream, seasoning, cheese and whisk over high heat till it thickens. Add the spinach and tomatoes and bring to a simmer until the spinach wilts.  Add the chicken to the sauce.
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serve over pasta if you want – I served it over linguine and it re-heated beautifully the next day!

Macros – chicken and sauce only
484 Calories 57 g Protein 34 g 23 g Fat 9 g Carbs

Chicken Divan – a little lighter

Last week I unfortunately ate WAY too much of the Texas sheet cake I blogged about; it was SO good I’m going to have to hold off on making it again anytime soon, eventually it is going to be shorts season again; once all this snow melts.
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My husband has a childhood memory of chicken divan, he never calls it chicken divan it’s always my mom’s chicken and broccoli casserole so when I made my first divan he was like yeah that’s it. Wel after making it for several years now I have come to realize even though it’s filled with broccoli the other things around the broccoli are kind of crazy bad for the waistline if you know what I mean. Cream of chicken soup, cubed bread, shredded cheese and butter. Don’t get me wrong I LOVE the old casserole but I wanted to try to lighten it up just a bit.
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I am all about flavors and was a little nervous to change it too much that it is unrecognizable. So I stuck with building layers of flavor so I wouldn’t miss all the richness of cream of soup, bread and cheese.  I hope you like this “lighter” version of my husband’s’ childhood chicken divan.
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Chicken Divan

Ingredients
2-3 heads of broccoli, chopped
2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bulbs shallots, minced
3 tablespoons flour
2-3 teaspoons curry powder
1 cup of chicken broth
1 cut fat free milk
¼ cup white wine
6 oz shredded low fat cheese
¼ cup grated parmesan
¼ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
Kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

Instructions
Steam or blanch the broccoli just till slightly tender and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350’F and grease a 13×9 baking dish

Chunk up chicken into bite sized pieces.  Season liberally with salt and pepper on all sides.
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Heat a medium skillet on medium high heat, add some of the oil and cook the chicken till it is slightly browned and just cooked through. Remove the chicken and set aside.
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In the same skillet add more oil if needed and saute the shallots and garlic; saute till soft and translucent. Sprinkle with flour and the curry powder whisk till smooth.
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Stir in the broth, milk and wine and bring to a boil allowing the flour to help thicken the sauce.
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Remove from the heat and add half of the shredded cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Fill the bottom of the casserole dish with the broccoli, pour half of the sauce over the broccoli, cover with the pieces of chicken and then the remainder of the sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining shredded cheese, the grated Parmesan and the breadcrumbs. Spray a little cooking spray on top and bake for about 30 minutes.

Serves 6
Approx Macros
340 Calories – 13 Fat – 20 Carbs – 34 Protein

Quick and Easy Turkey Chili

There is nothing really too exciting about ground turkey; It doesn’t have a lot of flavor, once cooked it isn’t pleasing to the eye but the health benefits mean it has become a staple in my home and I need to figure out how to use it.

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I traded the red kidney beans for a can of black soybeans to lower the carbs a little in mine

I recall my mother trying to pass off ground turkey in her “ground beef“ shepherd’s pie when I was a either a picky teenager or young adult I can’t remember how old I was – I’m sure she’ll chime in here if she reads this.  I remember it NOT tasting or looking like her “normal pie”. I am fairly certain I didn’t finish my plate that night.

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My husband was a little take a back by the look of the kale at first but really liked the chili 

While I am not AS picky as I used to be, I have come to appreciate that there are ways to cook and eat a little more healthy and NOT lose flavor or eye appeal. I don’t know about you but I know I get excited to eat when my plate looks and smells delicious!

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The spices helped liven up the color of the turkey

In this recipe towards the end of the browning of the turkey I added the spices to the pot so to help “color” the ground turkey it changed it from drab to fab.
IMG_2601.JPGIngredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground turkey
1 yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 Tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons chipotle powder – I used 1 leftover chipotle pepper from my fridge chopped
2 teaspoons cumin
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
2 cups water
1 – 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 – 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 – 15 ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed – I used black soybeans instead
2 cups kale, ribs removed, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and Freshly cracked black pepper

Directions

In a heavy bottom pan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and the turkey to the pot breaking up the turkey into small pieces. Season with salt, cook till browned, push turkey to the side of the pan and add the chili powder, cumin and chipotle into a little of the olive oil, add another tablespoon if needed. Finish cooking the turkey while working in the spices.

Add the onions and pepper season with salt and pepper. Cooking till they are soft and the onions translucent.  Deglaze the pan with the water scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes, beans and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes or until the chili thickens a bit.

Stir in the kale and season with salt and pepper, cook for another 5-7 minutes.

Approx Macros = 2 cups per serving – recipe feeds 4
717 Calories – 39g Fat – 41g Carbs – 57g Protein
Recipe: Clinton Kelly on the Chew