Meatless Monday: Spinach, Artichoke and Mushroom Ravioli

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Recently, I asked Vincent what he wanted for dinner? “Ummm… ravioli?” If there’s one thing I love about this kid (sure, there are many things, but we’ll just chat about this one right now), it’s his unfailing ability to ask me to make things I have both never made before, and certainly don’t really know how to make. Take ravioli, for instance.

I am sure that when the request came, he was imagining prepackaged frozen ravioli, but in my let’s-overcomplicate-brain, I had to think of homemade versions. Seeing as I have never made pasta before, I decided to research a little and quickly came up with homemade recipes that used wonton wrappers as the “pasta” and was intrigued.

So that’s the route I took with the following recipe. I didn’t trim these ravioli at all and consequently they were a bit large in size (nothing wrong with that, especially when feeding a bunch of boys).

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Spinach, Artichoke and Mushroom Ravioli

Makes about 25 large raviolis.

Ingredients:

For the filling:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, minced
2 cups diced (small) crimini mushrooms
one 8.5 ounce can quartered artichoke hearts, chopped
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
15 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
generous pinch of fresh ground nutmeg

For the ravioli:
one 12-ounce package small wonton wraps (I used these)
water
you preferred sauce for serving

Directions:

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a saucepan. Add the minced shallot, stirring around in the oil for a minute. Add the diced mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes, until tender. Place the mixture in a small bowl until needed.

In the same pan you just cooked the mushrooms, add the chopped spinach. Cook until the spinach wilts (3-4 minutes).

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In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan, minced garlic, egg, salt, pepper, granulated garlic, fresh basil and nutmeg. Stir until combined then fold in the mushrooms,  spinach and chopped artichokes.

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Lightly flour a working surface. To make the ravioli, take a single wonton skin and place a scant rounded tablespoon of filling in the middle. Use a pastry brush to brush water along a 1/2-inch strip along all four sides of the wrapper. Place a second wrapper on top, working from the middle first. Carefully press out air bubbles as you carefully press the top wrapper around the base of the filling, then work your way out to the edges, lining the corners up and pressing lightly to seal. Place the ravioli on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, keeping the ravioli in a single layer. Set aside and repeat with remaining filling and wonton wrappers. If you want to make these ahead of time, simply place the baking sheet in your freezer until you’re ready to cook them.

Set a large pot of water to boiling. Generously salt the water. Once the water is boiling, drop the ravioli in, three or four at a time. Cook for 3 minutes, until the ravioli floats to the top of the pot, then remove with a slotted spoon.

I like to serve the cooked ravioli with warm, slightly spicy marinara and parmesan cheese. You can use whatever sauce you prefer.

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Day to Day Life: Week Thirty

A look at the last week:

While a California water park isn’t exactly island-living, the sunshine, warmth and water were nice.
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Complimentary hotel breakfast-ing… Huevos rancheros on sopes.
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“C’mere and gimme a kee-se!”
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A very, very spicy, nearly non-edible burrito.
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North-bound on the I-5.
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Little bird hanging out, doing what little birdies do before bedtime…

Ashland got bombarded with a bit of rain right before we pulled back into town. This is what rain in the garden does:
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It delivers Sa-squash, which is bigger than my arm and just about 5 pounds.
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One of my favorite cocktails for this week.
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Summer colors.
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Eggplant sammiches one night with the first eggplants harvested out of my garden.
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I spy pizza a-coming.
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Yes, most certainly so.
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Fish tacos another evening. With homemade blue corn tortillas and locally made “Irish Salsa.”
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And when you have leftovers from pizza night, salmon from taco night, and eggplant from sammich night… Smash-bang them all together for lunch. Salmon-tomato pie, eggplant-tomato pie.
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Somebody slept in one morning… I heard him talking and thought he was awake, only to find him in this position fast asleep.
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Saturday Sites: Week Thirty

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  1. I think this list of the top 10 destructive nutrition lies we’ve been taught is worth a quick read.

  2. Dear Weird Al, the sentiments of this song… Hell yes.

  3. Finding recipes that will help use up our summer squash… Yes, please. This chowder sounds good.

  4. I love nearly every one of these portraits.

  5. In an absolutely morbid fashion, I have wondered about this numerous times…

  6. Everything about this bahn mi bowl sounds tasty!

  7. The part I most enjoy about a waterslide is this moment.

  8. THIS LIST! YES. I can relate 100% completely. Thankyouverymuch.

  9. Speaking of lists, this one is pretty good, too.

  10. Would I make this, then hide it from the kids so I didn’t have to share? Hell yeah.

  11. I knew there were many reasons I love sleep so very much.

  12. A beautifully honest photo series on fatherhood.

  13. I really like the way tandoori chicken tastes… I wonder if this tandoori cauliflower would be delicious?

  14. There’s something magical and certainly intriguing about this woman’s known and completely unknown life.

  15. Hmmmm… popcorn pudding?!

  16. Are you a shower-singer?

  17. I caught the last half of this on Conan from our hotel room last week and certainly had to come home and find the song to give it a full listen…

  18. This was an interesting read.

  19. Did you know there’s a right and wrong way to make cinnamon toast?

Lavender Vanilla Bourbon Cocktail

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It’s not hard to love lavender, with its sweet scent and beautiful soft purple blossoms. We have a huge more-or-less overgrowing lavender bush in our front yard. In June and early July, it’s bustling with bees and the fragrance is intoxicating. As we live right downtown in Ashland, there’s a lot of foot traffic along the sidewalk in front of our home. This particular overgrown, wildly reaching lavender beckons folks to pick a sprig here and there. One new experience this year that our lavender apparently instilled as I looked on from our front porch, included two grown women who stretched their arms wide, crouched to their knees, and took in a full frontal brushing from our [poor] sweet smelling lavender bush. It was very dramatic (although I suppose living in a town known for its nearly year-round Shakespeare Festival, that isn’t entirely surprising).

That aside, one other thing I was excited to learn about lavender not too long ago, was the culinary purposes it could provide. Lavender ice cream was my introduction and it was thoroughly delightful. Fragrant, floral, sweet. Perfect in a creamy ice cream. Most recently I saw a honey simple syrup that had included lavender steeped in it and instantly my mind went to cocktail hour. While I tend to prefer a drink that isn’t overly sweet, the balance of the following syrup and the rich warmth of bourbon works nicely. This is a great drink for the end of the week (or whenever you prefer) and the recipe is easy to double, or triple, if you’re preparing drinks for someone other than yourself (or merely find yourself really thirsty).

Cheers!

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Lavender Vanilla Bourbon Cocktail

Yields one drink, for one lady or sir. Easily doubled.

Ingredients:

For the honey lavender vanilla simple syrup:
1 cup water
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
3 tablespoons culinary grade lavender

For the cocktail:
1 ounce of the above simple syrup
2-3 ounces of good quality bourbon (Knob Creek is my preferred)
1/2 a lime, squeezed
4 ounces ginger ale
ice and slice of lime for serving

Directions:

Make your simple syrup:
In a small pot, combine the water, honey, and sugar. Stir over medium-high heat until the honey and sugar completely disintegrates. Add the vanilla bean (scraped insides and the pod as well) and lavender, stirring to submerge them into the liquid. Bring to a low boil for 10-15 minutes, then cover and remove from heat. Cool to room temperature. Strain the syrup, removing the vanilla bean pod and the lavender. Keep refrigerated in a covered bottle for up to a week.

Cocktail time!
In a highball glass, or your preferred glass, fill with ice. Add the simple syrup, bourbon, lime juice, and ginger ale. Stir until well combined. Add a slice of lime for garnish and drink IMMEDIATELY ;)

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Blueberry Almond Steel Cut Oats

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We just got back from a few days of traveling. Whenever we are gone for more than a day or two, one of the things I most look forward to is being back in my own kitchen. It’s not that I don’t completely appreciate being able to eat out, or try new restaurants in different cities and towns; there is merely a comfort in being able to prepare what I enjoy eating, whenever I decide to do so.

That said, we had a mediocre breakfast before getting on the road this morning, ala the complimentary vouchers we were given as the peace offering for hotel management screwing up our room reservation, then moving us the second night to another crummy room that included nonworking wall outlets and a broken air conditioning unit. All I could think about were these oats as I ate my overly runny scrambled eggs and freezer-burnt tasting potatoes.

This recipe is simple and delicious. If you’ve made steel cut oats, it’s likely you’ve either made or had a version of it before. The recipe is easily adaptable to ingredients you have on hand. Since steel cut oats take a bit longer to cook than rolled oats, I like to set them up the night before so when morning rolls around, it takes a mere two or three minutes to heat them up.

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Blueberry Almond Steel Cut Oats

Yields 6 or so servings.

Ingredients:
2 cups water
2 cups vanilla almond milk
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup sliced raw almonds
2 cups steel cut oats
1/4 cup dried blueberries
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

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Directions:
In a pot, combine the water, almond milk, sugar, salt, and peanut butter. Heat over medium, stirring until the peanut butter melts and blends with the rest of the mixture.

Stir in the almonds and oats. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Stir in the blueberries, almond extract, and cinnamon. Cover and remove from heat. Let the mixture sit overnight.

In the morning, uncover the pan and bring the oatmeal back up to a simmer over medium-low heat. You can thin out the oatmeal and create a creamier consistency by stirring in a cup of milk before reheating.

When warm, serve. You can add more blueberries, some toasted almonds or coconut, or your preferred toppings.

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