I know, I know, I’ve written many times lately about the awesome weather we’re having here in Minnesota, but I just can’t say enough about it. This past weekend we have truly entered patio season, and I am embracing it. Of course as the weather heats up, and the sun begins to shine, my tastes trend towards those of summer-tomatoes, cilantro, onions, garlic…basically, salsa!…
As many of you know, I usually pack up my family and head to sunny Arizona for spring break. My in-laws have a winter home there, and we all love to hang out together, soaking up the sun by the pool, hiking in the mountains, and yes-I usually cook to my heart’s content. This is win-win for all of us, as my mother-in-law is a willing sous chef, my kids like to get in on the action and my father-in-law loves to try new foods. This year, I had all kinds of new favorites to try out on them, and they didn’t disappoint….
Over 70 degrees here in Minneapolis yesterday, which as most of you know, is unheard of early in March here in the frozen tundra! For all of us here in the Midwest, shedding our layers, basking in the sunshine, out reconnecting with our neighbors as everyone comes into the great outdoors, we are needing to shift our menus. We find ourselves moving away from the heavy of the winter and towards the bright colors and textures of the spring. For me, one of those “welcome to spring” foods is orzo….
So here in snowy Minnesota, we are enjoying a crazy awesome winter. Sunny, way warmer than usual, and as of today, only a tiny bit of snow on the ground! I can’t remember a winter that has been this mild, well…ever. I have to say all of this very mild weather has kept my mood from heading to despair (although I love living in a place that has 4 seasons- there is truly nothing like watching the snow fall from a window- I have little to no interest in actually spending time out in the cold…and trust me, I’ve sure tried to be interested). At this point of the winter I frequently need rescuing. Even though this winter has has been relatively mild, I’m still ecstatic that spring is on its way. Longer days, daylight when I wake up, birds chirping outside, and egg salad….
Ravioli with Rosemary Mushroom Sauce, makes me hungry just thinking about it! You may have heard about our epic dinner party this week, and if you haven’t, trust me you will, as we plan to explore the art of the dinner party in a blog post coming up soon. This was an old fashioned dinner party, complete with eight plated courses. Six guests (plus Holly and I), sitting at a large table, enjoying a delicious food experience. The dinner party is an art that it is high time we resurrect! (The complete dinner party menu is up on Twitter-so if you are unable to wait, you can check it out @withtwospoons)
As Holly and I were going over plans for this dinner party, we decided we wanted to serve a pasta dish before our main course. What to do, what to do? Preferrably, something not too difficult. We really wanted the course to look elegant. The pasta had to taste exceptional. That is when a ravioli presented with a simple sauce rose to the top of the list. Unfortunately the first recipe I tried did not work as written and we didn’t have much time to figure something else out. We had to take a leap of faith and stick to what we knew-wine and butter. Turns out, sometimes, out of the simplest ingredients, comes the most divine flavor! And thus Ravioli with Rosemary Mushroom Sauce was born!
Not only was this simple to make, we also found you could stick the sauce in a small crock pot, set it on low (or even warm), and serve it when the time was right-perfect for a multi-course dinner. Topped with some parmesan cheese and a garnish of rosemary, this ravioli received high praise at our dinner party. I promise you this one is truly simple and quick to make. Hmmm…might even make a nice dinner for Valentine’s Day!
- 2 pounds cheese ravioli
- 8 Tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 8-ounce containers of fresh cremini mushrooms, chopped into small bite site pieces
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt (plus extra for seasoning if needed)
- 2 shallots, sliced
- 5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 cup of white wine
- 3 Sprigs of rosemary
- grated parmesan cheese for garnish
- shaved parmesan cheese for garnish
- 8 tips of rosemary sprigs (approximately 1 inch pieces) for garnish
- Start water boiling water for pasta in a deep pot. Add salt to pasta water (optional).
- Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat.
- Melt 4 Tablespoons of butter in hot pan.
- Saute mushrooms and salt in the melted butter and olive oil for approximately 3 minutes
- Add rosemary sprigs, shallots and garlic to mushrooms and sauté until shallots are soft, approximately 5 minutes.
- Add wine and reduce until wine is reduced to ¼ cup.
- While wine is reducing, add pasta to boiling water and simmer according to directions on ravioli package.
- Drain ravioli and keep warm.
- After wine is almost fully reduced (to a ¼ cup or less), remove mushroom mixture from heat.
- Taste and add salt if needed.
- Remove rosemary sprigs from mixture.
- Add remaining 4 Tablespoons of butter and allow to melt.
- Place desired amount of ravioli on a plate (or in a bowl), add a spoonful of rosemary mushroom sauce, garnish with a sprinkle of grated parmesan, a few shreds of shaved parmesan, and the tip of a rosemary sprig.
- Serve and enjoy!
My 4 year old son has been asking me to make Roasted Red Pepper Hummus for ages. Mostly because we always run out of our store made hummus, previous to our next trip back to our local co-op. It is one of his favorite healthy snacks, especially served with sliced cucumbers. In the past I had been hesitant to try making hummus at home. I had been really intimidated by the whole process, especially when my friend, who I consider a great cook, told me that hummus was the one thing that she always preferred store-bought. This did not bode well for me, who has been cooking for a much shorter amount of time than she has!
One day after cleaning out my pantry, I discovered I had several cans of chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) and an unopened jar of tahini (Who else has a pantry full of random ingredients? The organization of the pantry was obviously overdue!). What else would I make other than hummus? First there are the chickpeas. You can certainly used dried chickpeas, but this takes much longer. Since using dried chickpeas takes some planning (and an overnight soaking), I decided to use canned chickpeas. Honestly, I don’t think you can tell the difference when it comes to hummus. Tahini is a paste made from toasted sesame seeds. This can also be made at home, but I find it easier to buy this in a jar. At my local co-op you can find tahini in jars located near the peanut butter. In the closest big box grocery store to my house, you can find tahini in jars in the ethnic foods section, near other mediterranean foods. If you live in an area where ethnic foods are difficult to come by, tahini can always be ordered on amazon. I use an adjustable measuring cup to measure my tahini (truth be told this is one of my most used kitchen tools, a must have for any kitchen. I got mine from Cooks of Crocus Hill in St. Paul-a fabulous local cooking store, but this could also be ordered on amazon). I also like a little bit of spice, so I use the full one-fourth teaspoon of cayenne, but you could start with a pinch if you were concerned about your hummus getting too spicy. One of the really important parts of the recipe is the actual processing of the hummus in the food processor. There are multiple times when the recipe calls for processing of a minute or more. Don’t skimp on this. This lengthy processing times are what add air and makes the hummus light and creamy. By taking shortcuts you can certainly make a faster hummus, but by adhering to the lengthier processing times, you will make a tastier hummus!
I considered my friend’s words to be be a challenge accepted. It turns out that there are many fabulous hummus recipes out there and I think I stumbled upon the one that actually makes a roasted red pepper hummus that is better than store bought!
- 2 red bell peppers
- 1 can of chickpeas (15 ounces), drained and rinsed
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup tahini
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Chopped red pepper, parsley, pine nuts (optional, for garnish)
- Veggies cut for serving (suggestions: cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, grape tomatoes, pea pods)
- Crackers for serving
- Slice the peppers so that they will lie flat.
- Place peppers skin side up on foil lined baking pan.
- Roast the red peppers by broiling the peppers (place rack close to broiler) until skin has charred, approximately 10 minutes (check at 5 minutes so you do not burn the peppers!)
- Place the steaming peppers into a glass lock container and seal. (A ziploc bag can be used as well)
- Wait 20 minutes, until skins loosen.
- Peel skins from peppers and discard skins. Put peppers aside.
- Combine lemon juice and tahini in a food processor. Process with the metal blade for 2 minutes. Scrape sides and process an additional minute.
- Add the olive oil, garlic, cumin, cayenne pepper, and salt. Process for 1 minute.
- Scrape sides and process an additional minute.
- Add half of chickpeas and process for 2 minutes.
- Add remainder of chickpeas and process for 2 minutes until smooth and creamy.
- Turn food processor on and add roasted peppers through chute, process until smooth, approximately 2 minutes.
- Check consistency, if too thick, slowly add water until preferred consistency.
- Place in a serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil.
- Garnish with chopped red pepper, parsley, and pine nuts (optional)
- Serve with cut vegetables or crackers.
Happy New Year! 2016 is going to be the year of great eating. To start us off right, here is a poached egg and beet salad that I discovered by mistake, but what a fabulous mistake it was! I tossed together a few things from my refrigerator which came together to create perfection!
My love of beets only goes back a few years, but it is an intense love. I find beets to be a beautiful food-perfect for the addition to salads, bruschetta, or even to eat on their own. In my quest to share beets with the world, I served them to some friends while on a girls weekend. Despite their loud protesting, they happily ate their beets (and a kale salad also, although that is a post for another time!). Although neither of them will admit that they were converted to beet lovers, I know that they were, and the mantra for the rest of the weekend was “beets and kale”!
I made some roasted beets for a Christmas celebration, however there were some left over. Chopping and combining them with some mixed greens, parmesan cheese and pistachios made a great salad. Going one step further and adding a poached egg, made the salad perfect! Poaching eggs is much easier when you use silicone egg poaching cups (I do), but if you don’t have these, the recipe below is for poaching eggs without any special equipment. The runny yolk creates a great dressing and provides some additional protein. Here is also a link to help you troubleshoot if you are having difficulty poaching eggs.
I used a simple drizzle of Siracha to complete this salad, but a balsamic glaze would have worked perfectly as well. Simple, healthy, beautiful, the way all food should be (well, maybe not always the healthy part…)! Enjoy!
- 4 Small to Medium Beets (I use a mixture of red and gold, but you could use all one color),
- 4 Eggs
- 1 Teaspoon White Vinegar
- 4 Cups Mixed Greens
- 4 Tablespoons Pistachios
- Shaved Parmesan
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Siracha or Balsalmic Glaze for Dressing
- Preheat oven to 425ºF.
- Drizzle beets with olive oil and wrap with aluminum foil to form a tight foil packet (I place each color in a separate foil packet to keep the colors from bleeding together).
- Place packets into preheated oven and roast for 1 hour or until fork tender (start checking them at 45 minutes as each oven is slightly different).
- Cool beets, peel and dice into small bite sized pieces.
- While beets are roasting in the oven, boil water with 1 teaspoon of vinegar in a medium sized pot.
- Crack each egg into a separate ramekin or separate small bowl.
- After water is boiling, turn down to a fast simmer, swirl water and slowly pour in each egg, while water continues to swirl.
- Simmer for 2-3 minutes or until egg whites are set (you can simmer longer if you like your yolks firmer).
- (if you are using egg poaching cups, please use the directions that came with them, as you will need to cover your pot and the cooking times will be longer)
- Remove eggs from water with a slotted spoon and cool on a paper towel lined plate.
- Place 1 cup of mixed greens into each of 4 bowls.
- Top each bowl with an equal mixture of the red and gold roasted beets.
- Add 1 tablespoon of pistachios to each bowl.
- Top each bowl with a poached egg.
- Garnish with shaved parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste and your preferred dressing.
Recently, I was asked to bring a salad for a dinner at a friend’s house. The morning of the event, I still did not know what I was going to bring. To me, salad is a summer-ish food and despite my deep love for all things salad, I just had a mental block. While looking for a good option I stumbled upon Melissa D’Arabian’s Pomegranate, Squash and Apple salad from her cookbook Supermarket Healthy. (To be honest, I stumbled upon two of her fabulous salads, but the other salad is a topic for another post!) …
For years I’ve been obsessed with finding the perfect tomato soup. Obsessed. Every year as the weather turns colder, my attention turns towards the pursuit of that pinnacle of tomato soups, the one you want to make over and over again, and every year I am disappointed. I have tried cream based soups, broth based soups, and even a vegan soup with cashews used instead of cream, but I have not found THE soup…until now. …