Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

Recipe at the end. Below is a short story about our adventure with an earthquake in Maryland.

Yesterday will be a day that my family won't soon forget.  Our day started out fresh, early and filled with anticipation.  It was the first day of high school for Drake and the first day of college for my daughter in two of her classes...they are both freshmen.  I was impressed at how each of them appeared to be cool, calm and very together, as they headed out on this day to what would prove to be very memorable and a little bit "shaky" or "rattled" or a "moving" experience.

OH DID I HAVE PLANS too!  I made a list of the things I wanted to do, in fact, I even took pictures. I thought this will make the best post tomorrow because I can be creative, thoughtful and have a little time to myself and share my deep and inner thoughts...WELL, we know how that turned out...LOL

I got to spend the whole day with a cute princess!  And oh what a day it was...LOL

Oh, I had thoughts and I had to dig deep to not completely implode with fear.  Silly right? I wanted yesterday to be special for the kids so I made peanut butter cups and had planned on Beef and Peppers...two things we all love.  I thought this day is going to be perfect.

My daughter the day before had asked for Fried Pickles and around 1:30 I decided that I would surprise her and make a batch to have ready.  She would be home in an hour and these would be awaiting her return, with the Wicked Awesome Sauce of course...LOL

Cory was working in the basement, Isabella was playing a game on my computer and I was busily cooking...we were all settled.  Working and playing to our heart's content.  Looking back, it's hard to remember everything that was going on at once.  They say time stops and things move slowly when fear, adrenaline, and chaos take over...and I guess it did.

I felt the very subtle beginnings of a sifting.  Like when you are gently sifting powdered sugar.  It's slow, easy and with a light touch.  I stop.  I think.  You question.   Maybe it is....and then at that moment, you realize that it's not stopping.

I ran to the basement door, yelled for Cory to get out of the basement that we were having an earthquake.  I froze.  Then time started moving so slow.  I yelled (maybe screamed) for Isabella to run to Mommy..faster...faster...our house was rocking, groaning and the floor was like walking on ice.  FEAR!

We ran from the house as fast as we could...not thinking that oil was boiling on my stove, not knowing what was to come and worried.  Two of my kids were gone, at school and no way to reach them.

I immediately tried calling my Mom and my daughter ( Drake would not have a phone in HS) , I was shaking, crying, FEAR had set in.  When it stopped I ran and posted on my page...I thought someone needs to know what just happened.  FB phone did not.  All lines were down.  At that moment I got a message from my Mom saying she had just seen the news.  I could get messages but not call out. You feel trapped when you cannot reach someone.

We love to skype back and forth and this was our only form of communication for a while on this day.  When I heard their voice, I lost it.  I can't explain it...I just could not stop crying and shaking.  Isabella would not leave my side.  She was worried the house was going to "dance" again.  The mind of a 4-year-old is amazing.  I am feeling fear and anxiety.  I see and hear disaster and through her eyes, she sees dancing.  I love that.  What would I give to be a child again....such innocence?

It took a minute for me to gather my wits.  We talked with the grandparents and things calmed down.  We met our son walking home from school.  Cory went and got Rye from the college.  In the end, we were all safe and together.

I have to say we ate those peanut butter cups and passed on dinner.  Our stomachs were too upset to eat a tasty and delicious meal.  That night we gathered our family and talked.  We each had a different tale to tell.

Drake was in the cafeteria with about 600 freshmen.  He said that everyone thought the initial shaking was from a group of kids running down the stairs, then it HIT and the teachers realized what was going on.  Drake said he remembers the floor being like running with your socks on cardboard.  It was hard to walk.  They had large bleachers and other items stacked very high and as they ran out, everything was swaying.  The kids all made it out...but the freshman class will never forget their first day.  He said that seeing the cafeteria today will be weird because it won't be moving.

Rye was on the third floor of the Fine Arts building sitting in a chair with rollers.  She said they all stopped, it got quiet as everyone tried to process what was happening and then the rolling of tables and chairs started.  She actually was not afraid and the kids were all able to exit the school with very little problems.  Her biggest worry was us.   We could not communicate and so she imagined the worse. She knew I would be cooking and was afraid that maybe I had gotten hurt in the kitchen or her Dad in the basement.  Fortunately, she was able to get our text finally and we arrived at the school. Our 10-minute drive took 45, traffic was terrible as everyone was trying to get kids.

A moment, an unexpected event in time.  A memory we will carry with us forever.  The emotion, the reliving it, the coming together.  As I sat in my living room last night with my family, I was grateful and realized that this day is perfect.   We are together and we are safe!

 Peanut Butter Cups 

The filling will make enough for about 20-24 cups.  This depends on what size of cup you get and how full you make the center in each one.

1 bag of milk chocolate chips
1 cup of crackers, broken into small pieces (not smashed) You can use Saltines or Ritz.
1 cup of peanut butter, smooth
1 cup of powdered sugar
1 tsp. of vanilla

Mini cupcake or candy wrappers

I used a Pyrex 2 cup glass measuring holder to melt the chocolate chips in the microwave.  This is a slow process because you do not want to ruin the chocolate.  I started with 1 cup of chips and in increments of 35 seconds (4X's), I heated and stirred the chocolate.  The melted chocolate will help the others to melt when you stir in between each heating.  If you have a double boiler and prefer to warm and melt your chocolate this way, please do so.  I don't own one of those.

I put my crackers (GF Glutino Table Crackers) into a plastic back and broke them into small pieces.  You want pieces and not crumbs.  The crunch adds a lot to the filling.

In a bowl combine the peanut butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and broken crackers.  Mix well.

I lined up my cups on a cookie sheet and fill the bottom of each cup with a little bit of melted chocolate.  I made these a few weeks ago and added too much chocolate on the top and bottom and we did not like this.  We like a little bit of chocolate with our peanut butter.  I put the cups in the fridge for a few minutes, about 5, to get firm.

On top of the chocolate, add your peanut butter filling.  I used my hands and shaped the filling to fit on top of the chocolate.  I would say that the filling was about a 1/2 inch, here or there.

Melt more chocolate as needed to have enough for the top of your peanut butter cup.  Once your cups are made with: chocolate, peanut butter and chocolate return to the fridge to set.  You can leave them in the fridge or take them out.  We like our candy cold, so they are still in the fridge.

I had some leftover filling and this is what I did with it.  I rolled them into balls and dusted them with powdered sugar.  OH MY!  Next time I will make enough of the filling to make more of these babies.  They were so good.  ENJOY!

Written by Sherron Watson

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fried Pickles with Wicked Awesome Sauce

Who eats Fried Pickles you ask?  WE DO and love them!  

On July 24, 2010, we left on our 1-year adventure of living on the road and traveling with our kids.  We hit 15 states in 10 months.  We were shy of our goal by 2 months.  I was bummed but understood the need for a job...LOL  Cory was offered a job in Maryland that we could not pass up.  Plus the kids were a little bit done with the whole traveling and sightseeing thing. I could live this life forever.  I am a gypsy at heart.

I love to travel and try new things.  I enjoy meeting new people and sharing with others.  I crave diversity.   I love cultural traditions, ethnic food and the feeling of being somewhere new and exciting.

We learned so much on our trip.  More than I think we ever thought possible when we set out.  We bonded with our kids, who we learned were awesome teenagers!  They were and still are, very funny.  We laughed so much on our trip.  We fell in love with some areas and disliked a few.  The number one reason that we disliked "a few" was the humidity.  East Texas is freaking hot in August!  The water in the lakes was so warm that you could not even cool off and the nights...UGH!  It was like nothing I had ever experienced in my life.  I kept thinking to myself " why the heck do these people stay here?"  But I soon learned that you stay because that is where your heart is, your family and you do get used to it...eventually.

We spent time at the beach...OUR favorite place!

We loved Austin!  This was the bat kayak tour we went on.

We visited the UT campus where Cory went to college and the surrounding parks.

We lived in heaven.  This was how we spent most of our year, in the woods and living with nature.

I bring up Texas because this is the place that I first had fried pickles.  I will never forget it.  We had gone to The Texas Roadhouse and when we both saw this on the menu we had to give it a try.  We were not disappointed. I craved them from that point on.  I never made them while in the trailer though.  I did not do a lot of deep frying in the kitchen.

It wasn't until I started following food blogs and seeing other bloggers making them that I thought about making them myself.  I surprised the kids last week and yesterday my daughter asked for them again.  I love that!  So today I will make a quick batch, think about our trip and count the calories...LOL

Fried Pickles

Dill Pickles ( I buy the large pickles and slice them or you can buy the pre-sliced version)
Seasoned Fry Mix ( I used the GF  Hodgson Mill brand)
2 eggs
1/4 cup of milk or buttermilk

For a quick treat (4 people) I plan on two large pickles per person.  If you do more pickles you will need to add more eggs and milk to the recipe.

I slice the pickles into 1/4 inch pieces.  I put the eggs and milk in one bowl, whip them together.  I grab a second bowl and add the fry mix.

On the stove, add oil to a large pot. I like to use a pot because when you add the pickles to the oil, it boils up and the sides on the pot allow me to not worry about it bubbling over onto my stove.  I add enough oil to create a 2-inch deep-frying area.

I dip my wet pickle into the fry mix, dip it into the egg/milk, dip it again in the fry mix.  It creates a nice crunchy coating.

Fry the pickles until they are golden to medium brown. I like mine crispy so they tend to be a little bit browner than most.

Remove cooked pickles to a plate with paper towels.  This will soak up the extra oil.

I served my pickles with a sauce I made.  I named it Wicked Awesome Sauce.  LOL

**If you don't have a fry mix on hand, use flour with some salt and pepper.  If making it GF use White Rice flour or Brown Rice flour.

Recipe:  Wicked Awesome Sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1T. Sriracha sauce (oh yes,  it's gonna be hot)
1 tsp of horseradish sauce

Mix the three ingredients together.  YUMMY! 

Written by Sherron Watson

Monday, August 22, 2011

Beef Stew

When I think of back to school and all of the running around, late nights, carpooling and daily errands, it makes me overwhelmed on some days to also think about making a meal with lots of steps, instructions, and prep work.

Sometimes I need an easy meal.  A meal that tastes good.  I also love to have leftovers.  This stew recipe is perfect for all of those desires. 

The thing I like about making a stew, are the combinations are endless.  For us, it is based on what we have in the fridge.  What meat I have thawed for the day.  I have called this beef stew, but you could easily change out the beef for chicken or pork.  In fact, you could add no meat or beef broth and use vegetable broth and still have a yummy meal.

Fall is one of my favorite holidays.  I love the leaves and their changing colors, the cooler weather and the holidays (Halloween and Thanksgiving..YES, I am a kid at heart).  Although we eat soup all year long, we don't really eat this type of stew until the weather starts changing.  This happened this week.  I was told that the east coast is pretty "by the calendar" with their season's.  I was impressed when spring hit with rain and warmer weather in March and here we are with September a week away and the change is in the air again.  I welcome Fall/Autumn with open arms and a big hug.  LOVE IT!

Beef Stew

1 package of stew meat  (a pound in a half works well).
3 T. flour (Gluten Free-use brown rice flour)
2 T. oil (for browning the meat)
1 whole onion, diced or sliced
3 stalks of celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 potatoes, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup of fresh herbs ( I used Thyme, Basil and's in my garden)
1/2 bottle of beer (optional)  I would choose a strong flavor, it adds a wonderful undertone to the stew.
5 cups of beef broth
1 tsp. of salt
pepper to taste

* NOTE:  To make this Gluten-Free, you must use Gluten-Free Beer or omit this step.

1.  In a large bowl add flour and meat.  Toss until well coated.  Heat oil in a large skillet and add floured meat.  Brown each side.

2.  Prepare vegetables.

3.  Plug your crockpot in and add all of the ingredients: meat, veggies, beer, broth, herbs, and spices.  

4.  You can cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8-10 hours.  

5.  Before you serve the stew, check the flavor and adjust the salt and pepper.

You can used dried herbs too.  We just love fresh and this is what I have on hand.
This gives you an idea of what the stew will look like right before it starts to cook.

Written by Sherron Watson

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Chocolate Roll

This is one of our favorite desserts.  Not only does it taste out of this world it also holds a special place in our heart for the memory of my grandmother and our family holidays.  This was always requested by the cousins and grandkids.  When my grandma got to where she could not make them like she used to, someone else would try to ensure we had one to share.  I would say this is a recipe that helped me to learn how to bake.  

It usually was not just one either...we had a big group and it required several so that we each got a piece bigger than a sliver.  Plus we all wanted left overs.  

I have made this recipe at least 30 times.  I am going to say at least once for every year I have been married and then a few years, it even got made twice.  I woke up this morning feeling the need for some chocolate roll.  Maybe a little bit of home was needed to warm my heart.

I  have not made this as a GF dessert, YET!  I will work on it, but today I splurged and had a piece.  I have taken step by step photo's so that you can be successful in making this yummy dessert.
In the past I have also made a pumpkin roll.  The method is the same.

Recipe:  Chocolate Roll 

6 Tablespoons cocoa (See note for gluten free flour conversion)

6 Tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 eggs separated

1 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

whipped cream

NOTE:  To replace the 6 T. of flour for a gluten-free mix, this is what I used:

3 tablespoons of almond meal
2 tablespoons of white rice flour
1 tablespoon of arrowroot starch
1/4 teaspoon of xantham gum

Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Beat egg yolks with sugar until lemon-colored, then fold in flour mixture. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold them into batter along with vanilla.

Grease a 15X10 roll pan, line with wax paper and grease again. Pour batter onto greased wax paper and spread gently to all corners. Bake at 400 for 12 minutes or until cake is bubbly. The cake will shrink slightly from the sides. Turn roll pan onto a towel that has been dusted with powdered sugar. Roll the cake up with a towel and cool in the refrigerator. Unroll cake and spread with whipped whipping cream, reroll cake and move, without the towel, to a cake dish. Cover with Saran Wrap and keep in the fridge until ready to serve. Remove and dust with powdered sugar. Serves about 6-7 good slices, more if you make the slices thin.
For the whipping cream, I used 1.5 cups of heavy cream, 1.5 tsp. of vanilla and 2 T. sugar. Whip until spreadable.

When you combine the egg yolk/butter mix with the dry, it creates a very stiff , almost dough-like mix.  

After you combine the egg whites with the above mix, this is what it will look like.  Nice and fluffy.  You may have to use a metal spoon to get it started as the flour mixture is firm.

I have a jelly roll pan in storage..DOPE!  That does not help me today, so  use a regular cookie sheet and with the parchment I create the size I need.  The batter is not thick and will not push the sides down.

The cake will look like this when it is baked.  The center will feel firm too.

After it is done baking, the pan needs to be flipped onto a powder sugar dusted dish towel.

Gently pull back the parchment paper.

The cake..perfect!

Sprinkle this with more powdered sugar to keep it from sticking together or to the towel.
It can get messy with all of the powdered sugar.  LOL

Roll the towel up and put into the fridge to cool.
I usually wait 30 minutes before I get it from the fridge and unroll the chocolate cake.  I cover the whole thing with whip cream.  It is not unusual for the cake to crack or even split .  If this happens just use the towel to help you roll it up and put the crack or split on the bottom.  It does not change the taste of the cake..LOL

And here you have it.  I forgot to buy a dish to fit the chocolate roll, so I am using a cutting  board that I bought earlier this week.  


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tuna Pasta Salad

We eat a lot of food in my family.  Especially in the summer.  My teenagers are growing and are always hungry, the 4 yo thinks she needs to eat when they do and my hubby and I both work from home.  That is five months, 3 meals a day, 7 days a week.  Like I said, we eat a lot of food.

It's tough at times trying to find things to stock the refrigerator that is new and not a sandwich.  Although my kids love their ham sandwiches, variety is the key to enjoying and having a well-rounded love of food. With this in mind, I try to keep pasta salad stocked at all times.  We love pasta and by changing the dressing and ingredients, your possibilities are endless.

This tuna pasta salad is one of our favorites.  In fact, I grew up eating this type of salad.  It reminds me of my time in high school, returning late from a football game and grabbing a big bowl of this salad.  I love how food, like a smell, can take you back 20+ years to one night or a time of your life. ENJOY!

Tuna Pasta Salad

1 Box of  elbow pasta, prepared according to instructions on box
2 cans of tuna, drained
1/2 cup of diced celery
1 cup of diced sweet pickles
1 cup of diced red onion
1/2 cup of cubed cheese ( I used Jack, but you can use cheddar too)
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
salt/pepper to taste
2 tsp. of mustard (optional)

Cook pasta according to directions on the box.  Drain and add to a large bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Mix well, taste and adjust seasonings (salt and pepper).  Refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

Written by Sherron Watson

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dutch Baby

During the weekday we have simple and easy breakfast choices: yogurt, granola, oatmeal, toast or cereal.

Saturday and Sundays are a different menu.  WHY?  I am not sure.  Maybe it's because we get to sleep in and so we are extra hungry.  Although I think that time plays a lot in our choice of what to eat in the morning.

Mornings at my house are crazy trying to get everyone off to school and work.  I am lucky to have my hubby around every morning to help me with this task.  It's not the teenagers that need our help, it's the 4 yo.  She is super organized, so excited and buzzing around our home like a bee.  Oh, to be that excited about something, it's special to see.  4 is a great age filled with stories, princesses, love, and joy.  She is a ray of sunshine to our family.

What types of meals do we make for breakfast on the weekend?  We like the usual fare of pancakes, waffles, eggs, and omelets.  If we want to get really fancy-schmancy we will make crepes or Dutch Babies.

Sunday morning I had a request for Dutch Babies, but not for breakfast, for dinner.  Yes, we eat breakfast for dinner too.  I don't think we are unusual because I read about lots of people doing the same.

I have to admit, it's been a few years since I have made Dutch Babies.  The main reason is we have been traveling for a year in our motorhome and the oven was just not hot enough to make them.  The second reason was the wheat.  I have been searching and searching for a good recipe and just could not find one.  My main complaint was that they were flat.  I will admit, the crust is a must for me.  I wanted the soft and warm bottom with the crispy and buttery edges.  I wanted a "real" dutch baby.

Out of desperation, I decided to try my hand at creating my own dutch baby.  What did I have to lose?  Nothing but a few eggs and flour.  To my amazement, I turned the oven light on and Wallah...we had success.  I will tell you that my secret was to have all of the ingredients at room temperature and I used a great combination of flours.  This recipe is very tasty, in fact, I have gotten better results with this recipe than with my original.  I lived at very high altitudes in Utah and sometimes I could not get the tall edges.  I will share both recipes.

You can tell I let my butter brown a little bit in the pan before adding my batter.  I love it this way.

I will tell you I almost shed a tear when I took the first bite.  It was a little bit of heaven with the flavor of lemon, powdered sugar and dutch baby all dancing in between my simple, yet so rewarding!

The key to a successful rise is to have your ingredients at room temperature.  I believe this to be the case for both recipes.

Recipe:  Original Dutch Baby (Puff Pancake)

2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar for dusting

Place a 10 inch cast iron skillet inside the oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees F (245 degrees C).  If you do not have a cast-iron skillet, glass pie plates work great too. I use both.  I have also made these in a square and heart pan.  The kids love the heart-shaped dutch babies, especially for special occasions.

In your blender add eggs, milk, flour, and 2T. of butter.  Blend on high until very light and fluffy.  You want the air in the mixture to make it light.

Remove skillet from the oven.  Melt 2 T. of butter in hot skillet so that inside of the skillet is completely coated with butter. Pour the batter equally between your pans (either 2 or 3 pie plates or cast iron skillets).  It's okay if the butter browns a little bit too.  I love the way it looks on the dutch oven..kinda crackly.

Bake until puffed and lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Remove promptly and sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with lemon.

Recipe:  Gluten-Free Dutch Baby

This recipe will make enough for 3 pie plates.  You can do 2, but the bottom will be a bit thicker.  We like ours thin on the bottom and then we can fold them over and eat like a piece of pizza.  I have made both and they all taste great.

I make one per person, plus more for adults or really hungry guests.

5 eggs, at room temperature. It's  IMPORTANT that you do this!
1 cup of milk
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup of white rice flour
1/4 cup of brown rice flour
1/4 cup of almond meal
4 T. of butter (2 T. for the skillet and 2 T. for mixture)

powdered sugar

Place a 10 inch cast iron skillet inside oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees F (245 degrees C).  If you do not have a cast iron skillet, glass pie plates work great too. I use both.  I have also made these in a square and heart pan.  The kids love the heart shaped dutch babies, especially for special occasions.

In  your blender add eggs, milk, flour and 2T. of butter.  Blend on high until very light and fluffy.  You want the air in the mixture to make it light.  You can use a mixer too, I just think the blender is easier to pour the batter into the pans.

Remove skillet from oven.  Melt 2 T. of butter in hot skillet so that inside of skillet is completely coated with butter. Pour the batter equally between your pans (either 2 or 3 pie plates or cast iron skillets).  It's okay if the butter browns a little bit too.  I love the way it looks on the dutch oven..kinda crackly.

Bake until puffed and lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Remove promptly and sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with lemon.

You can see in the back the whole dutch baby...they just pop out of their pans and look so pretty on a large plate.
Written by Sherron Watson

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Salmon Baked in Foil

My family and I would eat fish every day if we could.  It's common knowledge that Isabella is a fish, just kidding.  She just loves the water so much and would spend her whole day at the beach if we let her.LOL

Most nights we head to the beach after work.  This makes dinner time a bit tight if I want to go with them, after all...someone has to cook the dinner.  On these nights when I know that we will be gone or leaving very soon, I will make a fish dish.  

I find that fish is very easy if you stick with simple and fresh ingredients.  I love using (and not all together) olive oil, butter, lemon, capers, onions, garlic, cilantro, salt, pepper and a big piece of foil when making our fish dinners. 

We also use our outside grill when making our fish dishes.  Some times I will skewer the scallops or shrimp.  Once in a while, I will cook fish directly on the grill, but only if it is nice and clean.  I only want the grill marks not last night's rib dinner.

I don't buy fish and freeze it.  I always try to buy if fresh, and living at the beach, it is usually quite fresh.  Some times we even get a catch from that day.  YIPEE!  This salmon is not local, of course, and we did buy it from Whole Foods.  They have a wonderful selection of fish, fresh and frozen.  I learned that salmon comes in a wide range of colors and tastes.  The gentleman who helped me asked how "fishy" I wanted my salmon to be.  For this dinner, I decided to try something in the middle and you will see the piece that I selected above.

I wanted the fish to shine and so I chose to serve it with brown rice and a simple cabbage salad.  I used very few ingredients in preparing my salmon.  I wanted to taste the fish.  I hope you enjoy this simple recipe and you can see how simple and easy a piece of salmon can be to prepare for your family.

Salmon with Lemon and Cilantro

1 large piece of salmon  (this piece of fish served my family of 5 with no leftovers.)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 lemon, sliced very thin
1 handful of fresh cilantro

I like to make this on our grill.  I will set the grill outside to medium heat and have this started before I prepare the fish so that the temperature and the inside of the grill are evenly heated and ready to go.

Grab a large piece of heavy-duty foil.  Lay our salmon with the skin down and the red meat up. I sprinkle the EVOO all over the fish.  I take my thinly sliced lemons and lay a row down the middle.   You can do the whole top, but this makes for a very lemony flavor.  I then add my fresh herbs.  I had cilantro for this dinner so that is what I used.  I lay them on the edges and wrap up my foil.

I like the medium heat with the fish because it cooks the fish slowly and gives the herbs and lemon a chance to season the fish.  I would check your salmon after 15 minutes to see if it is to your doneness.  Some people like their salmon not cooked all the way.  We like ours flaky and so I tend to cook the salmon for about 20 minutes.

I serve each person a piece that is 2 inches wide and cut all the way across.  This seems to be a good serving size if you are serving other dishes.  My daughter loves the skin and I don't.  The skin usually separates from the salmon during cooking and this makes it easy to serve the salmon without the skin.

Written by Sherron Watson

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cheese Ravioli with Marinara Sauce

I have been wanting to make homemade ravioli for a very long time.  I kept thinking that I would buy a pasta machine, get the molds, and on and on and on.  I will someday have those things, but for right now I must do it by hand or the old fashion way. No molds and no pasta machine.  

I like getting my hands in the dough and playing in the flour.  This does take some time to prepare, but it is so worth the time and effort to make a good ravioli.  My family absolutely fell in love with these little morsels of heaven.  

I will be making this again and trying some different fillings.  I would love to try a combination of spinach, mushroom, and cheese.

I make a lot of food in my house but this is by far the best tasting pasta dish I have ever made.  I think it has a lot to do with fresh ingredients (herb and pasta), the homemade marinara and my love for cooking.  I have to admit it, making something like this makes me happy and I do feel like betty homemaker when I can whip up a ravioli dinner...LOL

Recipe:  Asiago Cheese Ravioli

If serving the ravioli with the marinara sauce.  Make this first, it is listed below.

You will need your favorite pasta dough. The filling listed below will make about 40-50 ravioli’s, depending on how large you make your squares and how full you stuff them.  If you need a recipe, The Pioneer Woman has an excellent step by step recipe that can be found here with pictures.  It is amazing! 

I use a gluten-free pasta dough that is wonderful and tastes amazing. I never have any problem with it and can roll it very thin.  That recipe can be found here.

2/3 cup of Ricotta Cheese
½ cup of shredded Asiago
1 T. garlic, minced ( we like a lot, so if this is too much, just reduce)
1 T. fresh Basil, chopped
1 tsp. olive oil
½ tsp. of salt

Mix all of the above ingredients together and set aside while you roll out your pasta dough.

Take a large pot and fill with water.  I would add about 10-12 cups of water.  I also add 1 tsp. of olive oil to the water.

For the dough:  I flour my work surface and rolling pin.  I cut my dough into small sections.  

You want equal sections so that you have a top and bottom piece to make your ravioli. Shape your dough like a rectangle (2 short ends/2 long sides).  I roll the dough out very thin.  I roll out the first one, pick it up and set it on a cookie sheet.  Roll out the second piece of dough. I use a cookie scoop to scoop my filling and space them apart on my second piece of dough.  I like my ravioli at about 2 X 2.  I can sometimes get three rows across, but usually just 2.  Once you have placed your filling, grab the first rolled out dough and lay it on top of the second.  I use my fingers and gently push the top down around the scoops. 

I don’t have a ravioli cutter (this is a round or square tool with a handle). I use my pizza cutter and cut the rows of filling into squares.  You will cut long ways and then cut across, forming individual squares or ravioli. You want dough around the ravioli so it does not fall out during boiling.

I have a cookie sheet lined with parchment ready for me to place each ravioli on.  When I pick up the ravioli, I like to pinch the edges to make sure they are sealed.  The pizza roller does not always seal them like a ravioli cutter will.  If they need to be sealed, I part the layers on the edges brush some water in between and pinch again.  I usually lose one or two fillings in the boiling process.

The ravioli will sink to the bottom of the boiling water and rise to the top.  I cook my ravioli’s for about 6-7 minutes.  I want the filling to be warm, the noodle cooked and the cheese starts to melt.  I transfer the ravioli to a large plate, sprinkle with cheese and serve with the marinara.

FOR GLUTEN-FREE DOUGH:  Use white rice flour when rolling out the dough.  Starch is too slippery and will change the color of your dough.

I served the ravioli with a homemade Marinara Sauce.

Recipe: Marinara Sauce

2 (14.5 oz) cans of diced tomatoes, with juice
1 T. fresh oregano
2 tsp. fresh thyme
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
salt to taste
dash of pepper

Combine all ingredients into a small saucepan.  I have the heat set at medium. Once the marinara starts to bubble, turn the heat down to low.  I like for this to be simmering while I am making the ravioli.  I think the longer it simmers the more the flavors have a chance to meld.  I like the tomato chunks in my sauce, if you do not, then you can cut or mash the tomatoes so they are not so big.

Salt is a tricky thing with tomato sauces.  Some people like very little and others a lot.  I always start out with 1/2 tsp and do the: taste, add, taste, add..method.  It is a personal choice of how salty you like your food.  It's always easier to add more then it is to start over because you over-salted something.

Written by Sherron Watson

Monday, August 8, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies #GlutenFree

I have recipes that I only make during certain season's or holidays like everyone else.  I enjoy having eggnog at Christmas time and Ham with Easter Dinner.  You will soon learn that I love pumpkin all year long.   When I crave a cookie that is soft, warm and filled with the flavors of spices and chocolate, I usually go to my favorite Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.

I was first introduced to this gem of a recipe, 24 years ago by a family friend, Roseanne.  I still remember Roseanne and their family.  They had all boys and we would often house sit for them when they went away.  She would make these cookies for her boys because the recipe would make a whole bunch and the kids loved them.
I had some pumpkin leftover from the scones and decided to attempt this recipe using my GF flours.  I have included the recipe as is (which is wonderful) and with the changes for a GF family favorite.  My family could not get enough of them... POOF and they were gone from the kitchen in a heartbeat.

This past week I have not felt well, a summer cold is not FUN, so I have missed my walks at the beach every day.  I love going to the beach and searching for my beach glass.  I call it beach glass and not sea glass because our glass comes from the Chesapeake Bay and not the wide-open ocean.  Under a microscope, you can tell the difference. The sea impact on the glass is different than the bay.  

I collect the glass and I love it.  I am not picky when picking up the glass on the beach.  I take it all home and then lay it out and sort the glass.  I have glass that is new and old, brown and white, small and large.  I have old china pieces (my favorites to find) and a few in an array of colors: blue, green, lavender, pink and yellow.  It's a hobby that relaxes me and a way that I can bring the beach home with me.

On this particular day, I grabbed my warm cookies and a cup of tea.  I grabbed my bowls of glass and sat by the window just thinking and looking at my glass.  I always wonder "where" did it come from, was it on a ship, who had the glass, was it garbage to someone else?  So many possibilities from one tiny piece of glass.  I can guess to how old the glass is based on how smooth the edges are. How "salted" the glass looks and the color.  History and events have always tugged at my heart and by searching for this glass on the beach I find myself looking BACK in time.  

I don't have the heart to throw away the glass that is not aged. So I keep it.  Someday it will find a new home but today I love seeing it sparkle in the sunshine.

This post is about my glass, but I do collect rocks too.  I have bowls of rocks that my kids have found.  I also like the very flat rocks to stack in my sand garden.  I love nature brought inside.

I love spending some quiet time trying to stack the rocks.  It's very relaxing for me.  The sand also feels good in my hands.

With my cookies in hand, I was able to slow down and enjoy something I loved doing outside of my home.  It's okay to take a minute and find a quiet place to have your thoughts be turned to a memory, a moment or just to say "ah" after a long day of work or a day of not feeling well.  I hope that when you make these cookies, you too, can find a quiet place to say "ah".

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup of pumpkin ( I have used canned and freshly baked..they both work well)
1 cup of white sugar
1/2 cup of butter 
1 egg
2 cups of flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. of milk
1 T. Vanilla extract
1 cup of chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (Optional)

Combine the pumpkin, sugar, butter or egg in a mixing bowl. Using a mixer,  blend together. 

 In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. 

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.  Mix well.  Add the vanilla, chocolate chips and nuts.  I don't use the nuts in mine.  It's a personal choice.

Drop by spoonful on greased cookie sheet or baking stone lined with parchment paper. 

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. They should be firm and lightly browned.

Remove to a cooling rack.  Serve with milk, coffee or tea. 

NOTE:  To make this gluten free, I made these changes:

1 cup of pumpkin ( I have used canned and freshly baked..they both work well)
1 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of butter 
1 egg 
1/2 cup of white rice flour
1/2 cup of brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
3/4 cup almond meal
1 tsp. xantham gum
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. of milk or almond milk
1 T. Vanilla extract
1 cup of chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (Optional)

Follow instructions above to make the cookies. ENJOY!

Donut Breakfast Casserole

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1.  Share  this pos...

Popular Posts