My mother gifted to me her beloved asparagus dishes. I absolutely love these dishes. They have a beautiful vintage feel and are specifically designed to be used only for asparagus. It’s a pleasure to pull these dishes out of the cabinet to serve asparagus. I don’t use them often but when I do it reminds me of how detailed my mother was when she entertained. It’s very special to acquire some kitchen pieces that you can pass down to future generations. There is a closeness that is felt when you know that you are eating off the same plates that your ancestors ate from.
Should I buy thick or thin asparagus?
There are different size asparagus available. Some are pencil thin and others are thicker. If you are roasting the asparagus in the oven the thin asparagus will work great. You do not need to peel thin asparagus. You simply trim off the bottom, rinse them off, toss with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. The asparagus will be done in under 5 minutes in a 400 degree oven. You can serve them with a little salt and pepper or shave some Parmigiana Reggiano on top. This makes a beautiful appetizer or side dish.
The thicker asparagus need to be trimmed and peeled from below the tip to the bottom. In this recipe I boil the asparagus for around 6 minutes until they are tender but still bright green. You do not want to serve a brown, over-cooked asparagus. After six minutes you should spill out the water and rinse asparagus with cold water and place in an ice bath to stop the cooking. After 5 minutes you can remove the asparagus from the ice bath and place on plates. The asparagus can stay at room temperature for an hour so this is a great appetizer to make when you are entertaining.
How to make a perfect hard boiled egg:
The perfect hard boiled egg should not have dark area between the yolk and white. That does not look nice. You need to pierce the bottom of the egg with an egg piercer before you gently submerge the egg into water. I like the Endurance egg piercer available on Amazon. Take the eggs out of the refrigerator 5 minutes before you place them into the boiling water so they are not shocked by the water. After the eggs have boiled for 10 minutes, turn off the heat and allow them to remain in water for a few minutes. Then set them aside or refrigerate until you are ready to use them. You will have beautiful yellow and white hard boiled eggs.
Some other serving ideas for asparagus:
A simple dressing made with Olive Oil, Red Wine Vinegar, a touch of Dijon and salt and pepper
Chilled chopped crabmeat or shrimp mixed with mayonnaise and dill
Shredded Gruyere or Parmigiana Reggiano. Place under the broiler for a minute to melt if desired.
I decided to make the ravioli heart shaped in honor of Valentine’s Day but you can make them square or round. I use an egg pasta dough for ravioli because I like the silkiness that the eggs give the pasta dough. This is a fresh pasta so it is best made and eaten the same day. You can freeze the ravioli for up to a month.
I use the Antree stand mixer attachment available on Amazon to roll the pasta into long thin sheets. Remember, you are placing two layers of pasta on top of one another so you do not want the pasta sheets to be too thick or else the ravioli will be too doughy.
Humidity plays a big roll when you are making pasta dough. If it is very dry like it is in the winter you will need to add a bit more moisture to your dough to achieve the right texture and consistency. The dough needs to come together in a ball before you begin kneading it. Kneading will take about 10 minutes. You will know that you have kneaded enough when you are able to stretch a piece without it tearing. The dough should look silky and not stick to your hands. If the dough feels too wet add a little flour and keep kneading. It is much more difficult to add moisture to dry dough so make sure the dough is moist enough and comes together in a shaggy ball before you start kneading. If it feels too crumbly and dry you should add another egg and a tablespoon of water.
This Is Important:
You MUST let the dough rest for a half hour before you start rolling it. After you have kneaded the dough and it looks silky and is not sticky and you can take a little piece off and stretch it without breaking you are now ready to let the dough rest. Wrap the Pasta dough in plastic wrap and let it sit on the counter for a half hour. If you are planning on making ravioli than use this time to make the filling.
What Type Of Flour Should I Use?
I like to use all purpose flour with a little semolina flour mixed in. Typically I use 3 parts all purpose and 1 part semolina. You can also use “00” flour but I prefer to use “00” for pizza dough, not pasta dough. It’s really up to you. All purpose flour makes the pasta silkier, the semolina adds a little roughness to it. The semolina flour helps the sauce stick to the pasta.
What Can I Fill The Ravioli With?
In this recipe I fill the ravioli with a puree of garlic, prosciutto and white beans. You can fill the ravioli with ricotta or ricotta and spinach. You can also puree green peas to fill the pasta. The possibilities are endless so be creative. You just need to make sure that the filling is a puree and not clumpy. When you make the ravioli you need to make sure that there is no air trapped in the ravioli so make sure the ravioli fits snug around the filling.
Egg pasta dough is perfect for making ravioli and fettuccini
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Keyword: fresh pasta
1tbspwaterif dough is too dry
Mix flours and salt together and pour on counter
make a large well in flour
add eggs and oil in center of well
slowly incorporate flour using a fork
when all the flour is mixed in gather dough into a ball
knead dough until smooth and silky. About 10 minutes
Take a small piece of dough off and try to stretch it. If it stretches a couple of inches without breaking then you have kneaded enough.
Wrap dough in plastic and let is rest at room temperature for 30 minutes
cut dough into 4 pieces and roll dough into an oval shape with a rolling pin. Then roll through a pasta roller until desired thickness. Start with the widest setting #1 and keep making the roller more narrow. For ravioli roll dough until #6. Fettuccini can be rolled to #6 or #7. Very thin pasta like cappellini should be rolled to #7 or #8
A blend of meat and beans with just the right amount of heat topped with melted cheese
A warm bowl of chili on a cold day is amazing. This chili recipe comes together very quickly and then simmers on the stove for an hour. I use two different kinds of beans in this recipe because I like the layers of flavor and texture that they add to the chili. Chili can be made ahead of time and reheated as needed. It’s great to serve when you know that people in your family will be eating at all different times. I also like serving chili on a buffet when there is a sporting event on so people can help themselves when they’re ready to eat and help themselves to seconds if they’re still hungry. If you are serving chili on a buffet put out toppings that will compliment the chili like shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, jalapeño, avocado and chopped tomatoes
It is important to sauté the onions until translucent and then add the ground sirloin. Once the ground sirloin is brown you should drain most of the oil from the pan before adding the spices. My chili recipe is a medium heat chili, you can increase or decrease the chili powder to suit your taste. I like to keep the ratio of chili powder to cumin as 3 to 2. The recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of chili powder and 2 tablespoons of cumin so if you increase the chili powder make sure you increase the cumin. I suggest making the recipe as it is written and adjusting the spice after the chili has had time to simmer. The flavor will increase as the chili cooks.
Serve the chili with a little melted shredded sharp cheddar cheese on top and sour cream on the side. I like to serve the chili with a salad and homemade cornbread.
Vegetarian: omit the meat and use a third type of bean like white beans or you can simply increase the amount of pinto and kidney beans that are already in the recipe.
You can substitute ground turkey or chicken for the meat.
Add jalapeño to the chili to increase the heat
Add crumbled hot and sweet sausage to the meat
Corn will add color and flavor to the chili
Add chopped kale for a healthy kick
Chili will last for 5 days in the refrigerator and two months in the freezer. It reheats perfectly in the oven or microwave. It is a good idea to freeze the chili in portions so you can defrost it as it is needed.
mix flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, pepper, sugar together
in a seperate bowl whisk together milk, egg and melted butter
mix wet ingredients ito dry ingredients
grease an 8×8 pan and pour in batter
bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown on top
You can use this recipe to make muffins as well. If you want the muffins to be a little sweeter increase sugar by 1/4 cup and do not add the pepper.Some variations:Add chopped jalapeno to create a little spice or dried cranberries to make the cornbread a little sweeter.
These enchiladas are quick and easy to make and are much healthier than traditional enchiladas. I buy the rotisserie chicken at the supermarket and use the white and dark meat in the recipe. I do not use the skin. I load up the filling with corn and black beans in addition to the chicken. This allows you to add layers of healthy flavors in the enchiladas. The homemade enchilada sauce is so easy to make and is much better than store bought. I have a few variations of enchiladas that I make depending on whether we are in the mood for chicken, meat or only vegetables. The dish can be altered to fit your taste so feel free to experiment. This is a perfect mid week meal to make since it will be ready in under an hour and if you make the enchilada sauce ahead of time then the enchiladas will be ready in 20-25 minutes.
Can I make the Enchiladas Vegetarian?
Yes, you can leave out the chicken and add in chopped zucchini, yellow squash, spinach or broccoli. Just make sure you blend all the ingredients together in a pan before filling the tortillas. You can also serve them as all bean enchiladas and substitute the meat with kidney beans. I would not add seafood to this recipe. I do have a great recipe for Baja Style Fish Tacos that I will be sharing later on.
Can I make the Enchilada’s Ahead of Time?
You can make the enchilada sauce a day or two before and heat it up when you are ready to make the enchiladas. This will cut down on the prep time before dinner. The sauce can also be frozen for a month. You can roll the enchiladas earlier in the day and refrigerate, do not top with sauce and cheese. When you are ready for dinner, top with enchilada sauce and cheese, cover with foil and bake in oven for 15 minutes at 350 until warm.
What Should I Serve with the Enchiladas?
I like a crisp green salad like romaine with tomatoes and a simple red wine vinegar and olive oil dressing. An easy Mexican rice is also perfect to serve with this. Sauté a cup of chopped onion in a tablespoon of butter until translucent, add uncooked long grain rice and cook as directed but substitute a quarter of the water with the enchilada sauce. When the rice is done toss in some green peas and allow to heat up in the rice.
This quick and easy enchilada recipe can be ready in 30 minutes. Serve with Jenn’s Spanish style rice.
Minestrone soup originated in Italy and translates to “big soup”. This is because typically it is made with an abundance of vegetables. Minestrone is a hearty vegetable soup that is made with a base of carrots, onions and celery. It also has pasta mixed in with the vegetables. Typically the vegetables used are whatever is in season. Sometimes the soup is very chunky and other times it is slightly thinner.
This Minestrone soup recipe could just as easily be called a Vegetable Stew. I add tons of broccoli, carrots, white beans, yellow squash and pasta so it is quite filling. Serve a smaller portion as an appetizer or a larger portion as a main dish for lunch or dinner. I love the spice that the pesto and touch of chili pepper add to the dish. I only put a touch of red pepper in the soup but you can add more if you like your food spicier.
This Minestrone Soup is super healthy. It’s loaded with vitamins and there is very little oil and absolutely no butter. The depth of flavor comes from the vegetables, spices and tomatoes simmering together. Feel free to add other vegetables to the soup like peas, string beans or kale. Use what you have in your refrigerator. The minestrone soup will be ready in about an hour and a half. You need to give it the time for all the flavors to come together. You will absolutely love the way your house smells when you are making this soup. My kids always come into the kitchen to see what’s cooking. I refrigerate the leftovers in individual portions so it is super easy to pop a bowl into the microwave for a healthy lunch or dinner.
You can refrigerate the vegetable soup for five days or put it in the freezer for up to two months. It is always a great idea to keep some soup in the freezer so you have a healthy meal to serve on a cold night.
Pasta with Chopped Tomatoes, Black Olives, Capers, Fresh Mozzarella
This is one of my favorite pasta dishes. I used to eat it almost every Sunday night at Grazie. I also always keep the ingredients in my refrigerator in case I have a craving. This pasta dish is one of the original ones put on the menu in the early 1990’s. I have had many requests for the recipe so I hope you enjoy making at home as much as we enjoyed making it for you at the restaurant. The flavors balance each other so perfectly in this dish. I love the contrast between the sweet grape tomatoes and the salty capers and black olives. I like to use a lot of garlic in this dish. I slice the garlic clove in thin slices and then light brown them in the oil before adding the tomatoes, black olives and capers. The flavors all combine together with the vegetable broth to make the most delicious tomato sauce. This pasta is perfect to serve in the Summer or Winter. It is an interesting take on a vegetarian pasta. Linguine Amalfi also makes great leftovers. My nieces Kayla and Alexa love saving a little so they can reheat it a day or two later. I must admit that I definitely agree with them. The sauce seeps into the pasta and makes it so delicious. If I leave a bowl of Amalfi in my fridge I watch it disappear because my family loves heating up a bit as a snack. You can just spoon some into a bowl and a quick 2 minutes in the microwave and you have lunch, dinner or an afternoon snack.
My lunch the next day. Linguine Amalfi sprinkled with grated parmesan. See how the parmesan sticks to the pasta? So good….
You can prepare this pasta in a matter of minutes and your whole family will enjoy it. I also recommend serving it when you have company coming over. The colors look so beautiful on the plate and the ingredients are vegetarian friendly. I would love to hear your comments.
Linguine with tomatoes, capers, black olives, fresh mozzarella
Course: Main Course, pasta, lunch
Keyword: pasta, vegetarian
1lblinguine – I prefer Rustichella D'abruzzo brand
2 tbspolive oil
4cloves garlic – peeled and sliced thin
1pintyellow and red cherry tomatoes – cut in half
½cupkalamata olives – pitted and cut in half
6ozfresh mozzarella – cut into cubes
4leavesfresh basil – chiffonade
½cuppasta cooking liquid
ground black pepper to taste
Cook linguine according to directions
In a large pan add olive oil
Saute garlic until light brown on both sides
Add tomatoes, capers, basil and olives and saute for a few minutes
Add vegetable broth, pasta liquid, tomato paste, butter and pepper and simmer for 5 minutes
Add linguine and toss well
Add fresh mozzarella, toss and serve
You can buy Rustichella D’abruzzo brand pasta on Amazon but you can use whatever brand you prefer. My nieces, Kayla and Lexie, also love this pasta reheated the next day after the sauce has been absorbed by the pasta. Top the pasta with fresh basil and grated parmesan cheese