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    Ravioli di Ricotta

    Insane. I am telling you I am insane. Perhaps certifiably insane.

    Those of you who know me well are reading this and nodding your heads in agreement. I know. I have come to terms (mostly) with my insanity and am beginning to embrace it – as a southern woman would, gardening in big ugly hats, drinking see tea and having many cats. Being in Maine ones insanity eccentricity comes in a slightly different form – Bean boots, Allen’s Coffee Brandy (honestly, I have never had it and never will) and making maple syrup.

    When I gear up for the winter, I fill our house with wonderful ingredients, the Dear One fills it with firewood, I hang the window quilts I made, and I scour recipes for projects. Recipes I might not have as much time on my hands to try when the sun is shining and we’re puttering in the garden or working way too hard.

    This particular project started with a birthday gift from my dear husband – a pasta maker. We made fettuccine and spinach fettuccine – a dessert pasta may be on my list.

    And while this kept us occupied for a while, we wanted more. I have been making ravioli with my Mama for most of my life. She will undoubtedly say you only started helping in your 20s, but at this point in time, and at my age, that IS most of my life.

    I have ravioli forms that my mother gave me and they’re great, but I thought … we have this machine there must be an attachment to make ravioli. And there was! When my in-laws asked what we’d like for Christmas, without hesitation, we both said – a ravioli attachment for our pasta machine!

    It’s obviously taken some time for us to get to this point. I would look at it. It frightened me. I walked away. It sat staring at me, taunting me, daring me to try making ravioli with this machine.

    It snowed. I was bored. HEY! Let’s make ravioli!

    First the filling:

    • 1 pound fresh ricotta, drained if wet
    • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
    • 1 t freshly grated lemon zest (from about 1/2 a lemon)
    • 1 C freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
    • 1 large egg
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    In a large bowl combine the ricotta, nutmeg, lemon zest, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and 1 egg. Season to taste with salt and pepper, stir well, and set aside.

    Now the difficult part, the ravioli dough:

    • 3 2/3 C all-purpose flour
    • 2 large eggs
    • 2 egg yolks
    • 1 T olive oil (optional)

    Mound the flour on a clean work surface and create a well in the center. Place the eggs, egg yolks, and oil (if using) in the center. Using a fork, whisk the eggs and oil together and slowly start dragging the flour into the egg mixture. Knead by hand until all the ingredients are well combined and the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

    (Alternatively, place all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. With the mixer on medium speed, knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.)

    NOTE: I was seriously lazy. I used the stand mixer. THIS SUCKED. No, really. It was terrible. I finally got it to the right consistency, but it took forever. More flour, more water, more oil. No more lazy.

    Wrap the dough in plastic wrap or place it in a covered bowl and let it rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

    Set up a pasta machine and turn it to the largest opening. Cut off pieces of dough about the size of an egg. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll the dough into sheets about 1/8-inch thick.

    NOTE: You start at zero, and with each pass through you raise the number. We went to #6

    Lay 1 pasta sheet flat on a lightly floured work surface and determine approximately where the halfway point is lengthwise.

    Lay the pasta dough in the machine, folded edge on the roller, with the dough lying on either side of the machine. Turn crank 1/4 turn to start dough feeding.

    Put the filling shoot into the machine and crank slowly. Keep adding filling as you crank the dough through the machine. Repeat and repeat.

    Let dry for 10-15 minutes and pull the ravioli apart and boil right away or let dry completely and freeze.

    The easiest way to do this is roll a sheet and fill – roll a sheet and fill – roll a sheet and fill.

    NOTE: Okay. These are the prettiest photos. The beginning part of this process was hell. Rolling the pasta sheets was difficult. Filling? Can’t even talk about it yet. But I keep finding filling in my hair. I used a ravioli/pasta/pastry cutter to help separate the ravioli.

    I’ve gone through all the trouble to make this ravioli, I need the perfect sauce. I scoured the internet and came across this sauce from Giada De Laurentiis. Her dish and ravioli was different, but I found the sauce intriguing.

    • 6 T unsalted butter
    • 2 T balsamic vinegar
    • 1/2 t salt
    • 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/3 C toasted, chopped walnuts
    • 1/4 C grated Parmesan

    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the ravioli and cook, uncovered, at a gentle boil, 2 to 3 minutes, until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally. Drain ravioli.

    While the ravioli is cooking, in a medium sauté pan melt the butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When the foam subsides, and the butter begins to turn a golden brown, about 3 minutes, turn off the heat. Let cool for about 1 minute. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.

    Transfer the ravioli to the pan sauté pan with the balsamic brown butter. Gently toss. Sprinkle walnuts and cheese over the top. Serve immediately.

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    Vegan Stuffed Shells #SundaySupper


    It’s been way too long since I’ve been able to or had the head to join the Sunday Supper Movement. This week’s theme is Cheesy Dinner Ideas brought to us by Em. In this new(ish) wave of healthier eating, there are more and more vegans and vegetarians following our blogs. While this doesn’t follow the strict definition of cheesy, these stuffed shells are close enough – and delicious enough – for my vegan.

    Learning to adjust one’s culinary brain when one of your children announces they’re a vegan – or even a vegetarian – is not easy. So now there was a vegan AND a vegetarian AND a dyed in the wool carnivore. How is a girl to cope?

    I’ve learned to start with a base – in this case the marinara sauce and the cooked shells – and then split into two meals. In this case, only the stuffing for the shells. Side by side, the Dear One was hard pressed to know which was which. Taste? Not too bad. I think the seller for me with this recipe was the tofu being ground up. I am not a big tofu fan, but bring ground up and mixed with the rest of the yummy ingredients was a game changer.

    There had been a love hate relationship – mostly hate – with Nutritional Yeast. I have to admit that this hate formed without ever tasting it. It turns out it’s full of B vitamins, folic acid, selenium, zinc and protein. Hmmmm …. well, it’s good for you. But the name is so unappealing. I tried it sprinkled on popcorn and I was hooked. I sprinkle it on eggs, have used it in a vegan form of pesto, popcorn … if you haven’t tried, do.

    Scroll to the bottom of my post and stop by the other blogs in this week’s Sunday Supper Movement!

    • 1 t vegetable oil
    • 6  garlic cloves , minced
    • 8 oz. baby spinach
    • 1 t salt
    • 1 vegan egg
    • 2 t Nutritional Yeast
    • 12 oz. Onederful® Tofu, drained
    • cooking spray
    • 12 Jumbo Pasta Shells, cooked
    • 16 oz. Marinara Sauce
    • Canola oil (as needed)

    NOTE: There was no opposition to an egg, so I used a fresh egg. I have used Follow Your Heart vegan eggs with no trouble.

    Pre-Heat over to 400

    Heat a sauce pan over a medium flame and add 1 teaspoon of oil. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the spinach and half the salt. Cook until the spinach is wilted.

    Place the sautéed spinach mixture in a strainer so the extra liquid can drip out. Set aside,

    Add the tofu to a food processor and pulse several time to break the tofu down to small crumbles.

    In a large mixing bowl, mix together the crumbled tofu, drained spinach, egg, nutritional yeast and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

    Lightly spray a baking dish with the cooking spray. Pour half the marinara sauce on the bottom.

    Fill the shells with the stuffing mixture. Add shells to the baking dish.

    Pour the rest of the marinara sauce over the shells.

    Bake uncovered for 8 -10 minutes, uncovered.

    Serve immediately.

    Cheesy Dinner Ideas

    Cheesy Appetizers and Sides

    Cheesy Main Courses

    Sunday Supper MovementThe Sunday Supper Movement is committed to bringing our readers delicious recipes that encourage them to gather and eat together around the family table. Search for your favorite ingredients on our Sunday Supper website. Also check out the Sunday Supper Pinterest boards for plenty more ideas and inspiration.

    Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

    Spinach Lasagna Rolls

    done

    So, there’s this girl I know. Well, not a girl, a young lady really. But when I was her age … and yes, I was her age once, I wasn’t born THIS OLD, ya know … being called a young lady made be visibly blanch. She’s becoming very dear to me. In my family, cooking for and feeding people is a way to show (some) love.

    There’s a little glitch in showing this Italian, kitchen-esque type of love to this otherwise lovely girl. She’s a vegetarian. Nothing with a face. Nothing with a soul. Hmmm … tricky. Never gave much thought to strictly vegetarian dishes, and fortunately, she’s not vegan, but tricky going for me just the same.

    Oh! We need to add another level of cooking angst here … her sister is NOT a vegetarian (but that’s a whole ‘nuther magilla which we will get to in recipes and days to come) and, of course, there’s the carnivore. How do you feed all these different needs with one dish and keeping your hair on your head and not clenched between your fingers having just been torn from your head?

    Must be yummy. Must have no faces or soul. Must be hearty. I can do this. I know I can.

    I came across this Giada de Laurentiis recipe from Everyday Italian for Spinach Lasagna Rolls. The original recipe calls for prosciutto (oh, you don’t know what you’re missing) and a bechamel sauce. I opted to leave out the prosciutto and swap the bechamel for tomato sauce. Salad. Garlic bread. Dinner is ready.

    And while it has no faces, this dish certainly has soul!

    • 1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
    • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
    • 1 C plus 2 T grated Parmesan
    • 1 C shredded mozzarella (about 4 ounces)
    • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
    • 3/4 t salt, plus more for salting water
    • 1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 to 2 T olive oil
    • 12 uncooked lasagna noodles
    • 2 C marinara sauce

    Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

    Whisk the ricotta, spinach, 1 cup Parmesan, mozzarella, egg, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl to blend.

    Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and add a tablespoon of oil.

    NOTE: I normally don’t add oil when I’m cooking pasta, but with the lasagna noodles it seems to help keep them from sticking together and becoming a massive clump.

    Cook the pasta until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Arrange the pasta in a single layer on a baking sheet to prevent them from sticking.

    Butter or spray with cook spray a 13-by-9-by-2-inch glass baking dish. Pour about 1 cup of the marinara sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish and spread to cover. Lay out 4 lasagna noodles on a work surface, then spread a large spoonful (about 3 tablespoons worth) of ricotta mixture evenly over each noodle.

    Starting at 1 end, roll each noodle like a jelly roll.

    Lay the lasagna rolls seam side down, on top of the marinara sauce in the dish. Repeat with the remaining noodles and ricotta mixture. Spoon the remaining 1 cup of marinara sauce over the lasagna rolls.

    Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan over the lasagna rolls. Cover with foil. Bake until heated through and the sauce bubbles, about 20 minutes.

    NOTE: You can gild the lily a bit here and add a cup of shredded mozzarella on top of the marinara. If you choose to do this, after 20 minutes, uncover and bake until the cheese on top becomes golden, about 15 minutes longer. Let stand for 10 minutes.

     

     

    Mussels in White Wine and Garlic

    Ready

    “It’s a beautiful day,” says he.

    “I know!” I respond, “FINALLY!”

    “We really should get out and about.”

    “Oh, yes, please! That would be great.”

    It’s one of the first truly nice days of spring. The sun is shining, there’s a light breeze, it’s warm(ish). I want to get out and feel the sun on my face. A nice walk in Acadia National Park. Oh, Sand Beach, I haven’t been there yet. My head was filled with places on Mount Desert Island I wanted to explore.

    The Dear One, however, had other ideas in mind.

    See, there’s a tree. A tree he cut down. A tree destined to be cut and split and stacked and dried for the wood stove for the winter.

    THE WINTER? Seriously, Dude? It’s April! I’ve barely had time to recuperate from this past winter much less think about NEXT winter.

    Well, you see, he explains, it has to be cut and split and stacked now, and covered in plastic so that it dries out to be ready for next winter.

    Now, back to that tree … it’s down a ‘slight’ hill, on the opposite side of the house from where it needs to be stacked, and looked MUCH smaller standing upright.

    “Okay, I’ll take the big part of the trunk. You take the branches. Whatever is too small to cut for the wood stove, throw on the wood pile.”

    This is when I realized that the man of my dreams is completely OFF.HIS.ROCKER! Has he not seen these delicate, little hands? Has he not seen me struggle to pick up heavy grocery bags? Most importantly, has he NOT SEEN MY TIARA!? A princess, I tell you! A City princess, at that, carrying a tree? Stacking wood? Surely you jest.

    Jesting he was not. But I princessed up, rolled up my sleeves and heave ho’d. I threw branches and stems on the burn pile (wait, ce qui es une BURN PILE … oh, I am so new to this planet!), carried big branches up to some God awful contraption so it could be cut into logs, and stacked up wood that Mr. Lumberjack split.

    I smelled. I dropped a birch branch on my toe. I dropped a birch log on my ankle. I was covered in sawdust and dirt and YUCK. Every single inch of my body hurt … except, perhaps, a 1/4″ spot on my left ear.

    AND I WAS STARVING. I needed a HOT shower and a hot, quickly made dinner.

    I sent Simon Legree the Dear One off to the market to pick up dinner … mussels, garlic, parsley … while I stood in a scalding hot shower trying to wash away the memory of the day.

    In the time it took to boil a pot of water, shallots were sliced, garlic was minced, parsley was chopped. When the pasta was dropped into boiling water, the shallots, garlic and white wine simmer, after about 5 minutes the mussels were added, another short 5 minutes, added some parsley and butter. Everything done at the same time. 15 minutes from start to finish.

    A few slices of toasted Italian bread, glasses of fabulous red wine, and I was a happy, though still sore, camper.

    It doesn’t really get easier than this dish. Next time I may add some arugula in, or perhaps halved grape tomatoes, the possibilities are endless.

    • 2 C dry white wine
    • 4 large shallots, finely chopped
    • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 1/2 t salt
    • 4 pounds live mussels
    • 1/3 C mixed fresh herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley, chervil, or basil, chopped
    • 6 T butter, cut into pieces

    Rinse and scrub mussels under cold running water. Using your fingers or a paring knife, remove beards (strings that hang from the mussels’ shells), and discard.

    In a large stockpot set over medium heat, combine wine, shallots, garlic, and salt. Simmer 5 minutes. Add mussels. Cover, and increase heat to high. Cook until all mussels are open, about 5 minutes. Stir in herbs and butter. Remove from heat. Divide mussels and broth among four bowls. Serve immediately.

    NOTE: We were STARVING so I threw this over pasta. If you serve the mussels without pasta toast some bread, rub it with garlic for dipping.

    Fresh Pomodoro Pasta, White Beans & Olives

    Sorry I have been away for so long! I fried the logic board on my computer (I don’t even know what that means except $1,000) and am completely out of sorts! I am hobbling together things for the moment and just happened to find these photos on my memory stick!

    Done

    Seems a bunch of my favorite people are vegetarians. To a lifelong carnivore this is truly a travesty.

    Well, not really. They are, perhaps, just perhaps, slightly healthier than I. Being a vegetarian does not automatically make you ‘healthy’. At least that’s what my meat sodded brain likes to think!

    I have spoken to a number of vegetarians and always ask why. Why have you made the choice you have. I don’t always agree with their answers. Except one … I just can’t eat anything with a face.

    I suppose I can understand this. Living in a city and buying everything already prepared and clean and wrapped in plastic you don’t necessarily think about from whence it came.

    But now, in talking about chickens and ducks and sheep … the thought process changes. Okay, chickens, but only for laying, not eating! And ducks, well, just to keep the chickens company, certainly NOT to eat! Well, what do you think about sheep. Well, sure, sheep would be great … for WOOL … NOT.TO.EAT! Yes, yes, I know, I know, all the sentimental women in my life.

    So, I suppose I do understand more about being a vegetarian than I originally thought. It’s just hard to come up with dishes that will satisfy the vegetarians, semi-vegetarians (don’t ask) and flesh eaters all at once!

    This pasta dish really works for everyone. Great ingredients, no faces, filling, fresh, lots of flavors and textures … AND when into two bowls, some poached or grilled salmon mixed in for the flesh eaters.

    • 8 oz whole-wheat pasta shells, tubetti, ziti or rigatoni
    • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
    • 15 oz cannellini beans, rinsed
    • 1 large clove garlic, minced
    • 1 lb ripe tomato, diced (about 3 cups)
    • ¼ C oil-cured black olives, pitted (see Tip) and chopped
    • ½ C sliced fresh basil
    • ¼ t kosher salt
    • freshly ground pepper to taste
    • ¼ C grated Pecorino Romano cheese

    Ingredients

    Put a large pot of water on to boil. Cook pasta, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes or according to package directions. Drain.

    Beans

    Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add beans and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until the beans are just heated through, 2 to 3 minutes.

    Adding Tomatos and olives

    Remove from the heat. Add tomatoes, olives, basil, salt and pepper. Stir gently to combine.

    To serve, divide the pasta among 4 plates and top with bean/tomato mixture and grated cheese.

    Steamed Clams & Tomatoes

    STeamed Clams & Tomatoes

    I have been in the car for a lifetime. Okay, not quite a litetime, perhaps it was just a month. Okay, fine, not a month. SIGH! It had to be a week. Really. Those 6 1/2 hours in the car battling Friday traffic to the Cape seemed to have lasted at least a week!

    I am TIRED!

    My tushy is SORE!

    I am CRANKY!

    I am STARVING! Yes, I know, when am I ever NOT starving.

    A quick stop at the supermarket and then I can stretch (unpack the car), have a glass of wine (put the groceries away), and do what helps me unwind best (we’re hungry, what is there to eat) … COOK!

    But it’s late and the sun is setting. I really want to sit with my love and watch the sun set over the bay and don’t necessarily want to be tied to the stove (an electric one to boot … oh, the horror), so whatever it is it has to be quick … but it still has to be GOOD!

    Oh, Everyday Food, you have saved me yet again. While I miss the printed magazine terribly – oh, please bring it back – the online version will suffice (a little) and brought me this fabulous, quick and easy recipe.

    To make this a little more substantial, I put it over linguine. But for a really light supper, just bread and a salad would do the trick!

    • 2 T olive oil, plus more for serving
    • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
    • 1/4 t hot pepper flakes
    • 3/4 t dried oregano or 2 teaspoons fresh
    • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (2 cups)
    • 4 pounds clams, scrubbed and rinsed
    • small handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

    NOTE: I used Little Neck clams.

    Ingredients

    In a large pot heat oil over medium-high, add garlic, hot pepper flakes, and oregano. Cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

    Add tomatoes

    Add tomatoes, increase heat to high, and cook until the tomatoes burst, about 4 minutes.

    NOTE: They don’t really burst, they’re already cut in half. But the skins start to pucker and the tomato halves start to break down a little.

    Add clams

    Add clams and 3/4 cup water, cover, and cook until clams open, stirring once, 8 to 10 minutes. Discard any unopened clams.

    Drizzle with oil and sprinkle chopped parsley on top to serve.

    NOTE: I sliced some Italian bread, brushed it with olive oil, a sprinkle of salt, and put them into the oven as I dumped the clams into the pot. Perfect to sop up all the delicious liquid in the bowl.

    Pasta alla Checca … sorta …

    There’s just a last hurrah of summer left. A few lovely tomatoes, definitely some beautiful basil. I wanted to cook something that really showcased the freshness of 2 of my all time favorite ingredients.

    And along came Giada de Laurentiiis and her Checca Sauce from Everyday Italian. Granted, this is a very loose interpretation of her original recipe, but the inspiration is all Giada.

    Now, according to her recipe in the book, and as I have written below, the sauce is made in a food processor. And I suppose you could make it in the food processor and it would be fine. But I decided to hand cut everything so that it was slightly chunkier.

    • 8 ounces pasta
    • 4 scallions (white and pale green parts only), coarsely chopped
    • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
    • 1 (12-ounce container) cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 1 (1-ounce) piece Parmesan, coarsely chopped
    • 8 to 10 fresh basil leaves
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 3 T olive oil
    • 4 ozs fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    NOTE: I used more than a 1/2 pound of pasta. I also used vine-ripened tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes,4 tomatoes should do it. I removed some of the seeds and pulp so it wouldn’t be too watery..

    Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, tender but still firm to the bite, stirring often, 9 to 10 minutes.

    Meanwhile, combine the next 7 ingredients in a food processor. Pulse just until the tomatoes are coarsely chopped (do not puree).

    NOTE: I chopped the tomatoes, basil, garlic and cheeses by hand. I really preferred the more rustic approach to this dish.

    Drain the pasta, reserving some of the pasta water. Toss the pasta with the tomato mixture and fresh mozzarella in a large bowl. Add some of the reserved pasta water (about 1/4 cup) if the sauce looks dry. Serve immediately.