Archive for April, 2011

Ravioli Lasagna

I found this recipe on another online food blog, although re-reading it now I realized I assembled it wrong last night! Oops.

  • 1 large jar/can of tomato sauce
  • 1 kg cheese-stuffed ravioli (we used a ricotta cheese stuffed ravioli. They were on the small side, which actually worked out well for me, because I don’t normally like ricotta cheese but in the small ravioli you didn’t taste it as much.)
  • 1 pkg. frozen spinach, thawed and chopped (did not use because I still do not like spinach)
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese (I would probably use a little more next time)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1.  If using frozen ravioli, prepare as per package directions.

2. Preheat oven to 350F.

3. Spread a third of the tomato sauce on bottom of a 9 by 13 oven dish. Cover with half the ravioli, all the spinach (if using) and half the cheese. Cover with another third of the sauce, remaining ravioli, sauce and cheese. (Like I said, I read this a little wrong. We ended up doing 3 layers of sauce, ravioli and cheese. Which, while not bad, did leave the top layer of ravioli a little harder than the rest. Next time I will continue with the 3 layers, but be sure to cover the top with sauce.)

4. Cover with foil and bake 20 min. Remove foil and bake 10 more min.

Verdict: Delicious. And when I make it properly I won’t have anything to complain about!


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Perfect Apple Pie

I originally found this recipe online. Though I can no longer find that specific website it is stil online in a couple of places.

  • 2 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt (did not use because we used salted butter)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar, divided
  • 1 cup cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup cold solid vegetable shortening (we substituted butter instead)
  • 1/3 cup ice water, or more as needed
  • 4 1/2 pounds Golden Delicious apples (we used a 4 pound bag, so whatever was left after peeling and coring the apples)
  • 1 large lemon juiced (online it says to use 2 to 3 tablespoons of lemon juice as a substitute; we needed 3 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons milk

1. Dough: In a large bowl mix flour and 1 teaspoon sugar. Cut in 1 cup of butter (if using shortening, it would be 1/2 cup butter and the 1/2 cup shortening) until mixture resembles small peas. Add in ice water (we needed a little more than 1/3 cup) and mix with hands until mixture starts coming together. Divide into two disks and wrap individually in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 30 min or up to 2 days (our stayed in the fridge for about an hour).

2. On a lightly floured surface roll out disks to fit a 9 inch pie plate. Fit one crust into the pie plate, cutting away excess. Cover with plastic and refrigerate again. Place the other crust on a flat surface (baking sheet or large plate), cover and refrigerate.

3. Filling: Peel and core the apples. Cut into small wedges. Toss with lemon juice in a large bowl. In a large pot, melt the remaining 1/2 cup butter. Stir in brown sugar. Add apples and turn to coat (my mom and I thought this was a lot of apples for the amount of brown sugar mixture we had, but it turns out okay).  Increase heat to high and cook, turning occasionally, until apples are tender but not mushy, about 15 min (our took about 10).

4. (The original recipe says to scoop this mixture out on a baking sheet and sprinkle with the flour and cinnamon, turning until flour disappears and then cooling for 40 min. We did things a little differently.) Stir in flour and cinnamon. Let cool while oven preheats to 450F.

5. Remove pie crusts from fridge. Scoop apples from the brown sugar mixture and place on bottom pie crust. Drizzle brown sugar mixture on top. Cover with second pie crust, pinching edges closed.

6. Stir remaining teaspoon of sugar with milk. Brush over top of pie. Cut slits into top of pie crust.

7. Bake 25 min or until pie crust is golden brown (our oven cooks faster, it seems, because it took only 20 min on ours). Lower heat to 375F and cook another 20 min (we lowered ours to 350F for the last 20 min).

(It says to let cool 1 hour before serving. We cooled our pie for 20 min before eating it.)

Verdict: Maybe because we have a smaller pie plate than what we needed, but our pie bubbled a lot. Luckily we baked ours on a large jelly roll plate so no cleaning of the oven was necessary. I felt like there was a lot of apples and would probably use less than 4 pounds next time. And it took a very long time to make. But it was worth it because it was delicious!

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Patatas Bravas

Patatas Bravas was one of the first things I remember eating when I went to visit K in Spain. (It probably wasn’t, but after the train ride I was really sleepy, so it is one of the first things I have a clear memory of. Although there might have been a snack of the second train ride to her place and lunch at another restaurant first. See, hazy sleepy memory.)

We had them at a couple of places. I liked the first restaurant best, because it wasn’t very spicy.

I had been looking for a Patatas Bravas recipe to try for awhile and I finally found an interesting one online.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion (I didn’t have onion so I used scallions instead. I maybe should have gone with onion powder)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (I used garlic powder)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Spanish paprika (I don’t know if the paprika I have is Spanish, it doesn’t say on the container)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce (did not use)
    1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • Chopped parsley for garnish (did not use)
  • 1 cup olive oil for frying

1. In saucepan heat the 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic (in my case scallions and garlic powder) and sauté until onions were soft. Turn off heat and add paprika, Tabasco sauce (if using) and thyme. Stir well. Transfer to a bowl and add the ketchup and mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

2. Sprinkle cubed potatoes with salt and pepper to taste. In a large skillet heat 1 cup olive oil and cook potatoes until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Drain potatoes on paper towels and set aside.

3. Mix potatoes with sauce immediately before serving to ensure potatoes remain crispy. Serve topped with parsley.

Verdict: These did not taste like what I remember from Spain. And, maybe because I used potatoes that were on the small side, but I felt like I had way too much sauce for the potatoes. I have been storring the sauce in a plastic container in the fridge and have so far made 4 servings with enough sauce for a fifth.

The scallions gave it a weird taste, which is why I think that onion powder would have been the way to go.

I have tried it with the fried potatoes three times and one using baked potato wedges, but I could not get the taste I was looking for.

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Tomato Soup

This is my last recipe from my chicken recipe book!

Well, okay, that’s not quite true. There are some recipes I will be trying again down the line with a couple of slight changes to see if I like them better. And I will probably give a quick look over the book to see if any other recipes grab my interest that didn’t the first time around, but for now I am done with the book.

This recipe was originally called Red Chicken Chowder, but it wasn’t thick as I think a chowder should be. I don’t agree that just because it has corn that it is a chowder. It tasted more like a tomato soup, so I am changing the title.

  • 2 cloves garlic (we used garlic powder to taste)
  • 2 cups canned plum tomatoes and their juices (the can was 796 ml and we used the whole thing)
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (we used chicken)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup long-grained rice
  • 1 to 1 1/4 pound of chicken, cooked
  • 1 cup fresh parsley or basil leaves (didn’t use)
  • 1 10 ounce package of frozen corn (we used corn from a can)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt (optional – we didn’t use)

1. In a large pot, add garlic, tomatoes and their juices, chicken broth and water. Cover and bring to boil. Once boiled, let cool and mash tomatoes (we used an immersion blender) against the side of the pot.

2. Bring liquid back to boil. Add the rice, cover and simmer about 15 min, until rice is almost completely soft. Meanwhile, cut the chicken into small pieces. Finely chop parsley.

3. Add chicken and corn. Continue to simmer, 3 to 5 min. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and stir in parsley (we didn’t). Garnish each portion with 2 tablespoons sour cream/yogurt (we didn’t).

Verdict: As a chowder, I don’t think this works because, as I said above, chowders are supposed to be thicken – at least that’s how I feel about them. But as a tomato soup, this really works. It was delicious! Next time, I will probably use noodles instead of rice and less chicken. Or maybe no chicken. And maybe I will add carrots and tomatoes for a nice veggie tomato soup.

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In Search Of: the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Part 13: Lemon Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am not sure where I found this cookie recipe, but I found it on a lot of websites, most of them attributing the recipe to Debbie Fields in her “Mrs. Fields Cookie Book”. Looking through all these old recipes I found and still need to make, it’s a little funny not knowing where more than half of them came from.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened (the version of the recipe I had called for salted butter, so they did not list a measurement for salt if you use unsalted butter. We use semi-salted, so we didn’t add any more salt to the dough)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (we used only 1 cup of chocolate chips, a 50-50 split of mini and normal sized chips)

1. Preheat oven to 300F.

2. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and coriander. Mix well and set aside.

3. In large bowl, beat butter and sugar together to form a grainy paste. Add eggs and lemon extract.

4. Add flour. Add chocolate chips. Mix until just combined. Do not overmix.

5. Drop spoonfuls onto baking sheets and bake 14-15 min. Do not brown. (We left ours in exactly 15 min. They were still quite pale. But when cooled enough to try them they were fully cooked.)

Makes: 60 cookies (maybe on the small to medium small sized cookies)

Verdict: My mom loved these cookies. For my sister, they were the perfect blend of soft and crunchy cookie. We did have some reservations about the coriander taste (maybe because it was the first time we cooked with it?). Overall, these cookies had a pretty unique taste to them.

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Warm Rice and Chicken Salad

After this recipe, I only have one left in my chicken recipe book, which will make it the second recipe book I have finished!

  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup long-grained rice
  • Salt
  • 2 lemons (we used 2 tablespoons lemon juice instead)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 24 pitted Spanish green or Kalamata olives (omitted)
  • 4 small ripe tomatoes (we used 2)
  • 4 cups diced cooked chicken or turkey (we used chicken)
  • Pepper
  • 6 cups torn, rinsed red-leaf lettuce (we used green lettuce and though we didn’t measure it, it was less than 6 cups)

1. Combine water, rice and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium pot. Bring to boil, cover and let simmer over low heat until rice is tender, 16 to 18 min.

2. While rice is cooking, grate zest and 1 lemon. Juice both lemons. Combine with oil, oregano and olives. (We used lemon juice and combined it with olive oil and oregano.)

3. Core and dice tomatoes. Combine chicken and tomatoes in a salad bowl. Add half the lemon dressing and season with salt and pepper. Toss to mix.

4. Drain rice and toss with remaining dressing. Spread on a baking sheet to cool (we didn’t do this, because I don’t really see the need). After 5 min, stir into chicken. Serve over lettuce.

Verdict: I did not enjoy this recipe, because I didn’t enjoy the lemon taste of the dressing. It was a little too much for me.

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Chicken Braised with Tomatoes

This is another recipe from my chicken recipe book.

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 chicken quartered or cut into 8 pieces, about 3 1/2 to 4 pounds (we used a lot less chicken, about 2 chicken breasts cut into small strips)
  • 1 onion, thinly slices
  • 6 medium tomatoes (we used 4, but we should have used all 6)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (we used garlic powder to taste)
  • 1 strip orange zest – we actually used zest instead of orange juice! I had always been a little wary of trying orange or lemon peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, thyme or rosemary (we used oregano)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over high heat. Sauté chicken just to stiffen the skin, 8 to 10 min (our chicken didn’t have skin, so we just cooked the chicken completely).

2. Remove chicken to a plate and add onion to the pot. Cover and cook over low heat, 3 to 5 min. If the onion begins to stick, add a tablespoon of water and continue to cook until tender.

3. Meanwhile, core and quarter the tomatoes. (How do you core a tomato? We just cut into quarters.) When the onion is tender, add the tomatoes, garlic, orange zest and oregano and cook until tomatoes begin to give off their juices, 1 min. Return the dark meat to the pot, cover and simmer over low heat, 10 min. Add the white meat and simmer until chicken is just done, 20 more min. (We didn’t have dark and white chicken meat, so we just added all the chicken back in and let simmer 30 min.)

4. Remove the chicken to a place and let it rest until cool to handle. Mash the tomatoes with a wooden spoon to integrate them with the sauce (we used an immersion blender, which got the onions too). Season with salt and pepper. Remove and discard the chicken skin and fat. Return chicken to sauce to reheat the chicken, 2 to 3 min (we added the chicken back in and let simmer almost an hour on very low heat to thicken the sauce).

Verdict: My mom, sister and I enjoyed it, though we found it didn’t have a huge depth of taste (odd, since I added quite a lot of garlic). We couldn’t really taste any orange flavour. Next time we are considering adding potatoes to it after we blend in the tomatoes so that they simmer in the sauce and, hopefully, add some flavour that way.

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