Cheese Ravioli with Cod and Arugula

 

I’m ashamed to say that I’ve let my freezer get filled to the brim over these last couple of months. I am notorious for bagging up leftovers thinking that I could just throw it into a soup sometime, and then completely forget about it until it becomes an unknown entity in a crystal filled baggie. The freezer so full, that I’ve had to cram food into the ice maker, and there are crystals starting to form on the side wall…. I know that I need to start using, or toss all that stuff…and I even declared to the kids last week that we were eating out of the freezer for the next couple of weeks. But then my brain takes a sharp right, and I start thinking about meals that I have zero ingredients for…like this Cheese Ravioli with Cod and Arugula. Which, of course, is why my freezer remains full.

While I was throwing this all together in my head, it was going to be over fettuccine. I changed it to rigatoni, and then finally decided on cheese ravioli. While I believe that this would be delicious over fettuccine and rigatoni, and any other pasta for that matter, the ravioli was the perfect choice.

Floating in a buttery lemon sauce, the delicate cod and cheese ravioli offset with the peppery arugula are topped off with oversized and lemon infused garlic breadcrumbs. And this just makes a satisfying dish for the warm transition from summer to fall! I’m going to go ahead and give you the thumbs up for using a good quality store bought ravioli that will only make this dish an easy throw together 30 minute meal, but will leave you plenty of time to do the things you want to do / or not want to do… like clean and organize your freezer!

Life is good. It’s a “I’ll start clearing the freezer this week…unless something else tickles my fancy instead…” kind of good.

Cheese Ravioli with Cod and Arugula
 
Cook time
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Author:
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
Cheese Ravioli with Cod and Arugula
  • 1 package good quality ravioli (found in the cheese or dairy section of your grocery store)
  • 1 cup reserved water from the ravioli
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ to ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound cod filet
  • ½ stick butter
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated romano cheese
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 5 oz bag fresh arugula
Oversized Breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 thick slices Italian bread
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp romano cheese
Instructions
Cheese Ravioli with Cod and Arugula
  1. Cook the ravioli in salted water according to directions. Drain, reserving one cup of the water.
  2. While the water for the ravioli is heating, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan, and sauté the shallot, garlic and red pepper flakes until tender, watching carefully that the garlic doesn't burn. Add the cod, and cook for about five minutes on each side until it is fully cooked and flaky.
  3. Leave the cod in the pan, and add the ½ stick butter, the lemon juice, romano cheese, ½ cup of the pasta water, and 1 tsp of the lemon zest to the pan. Let simmer for a few minutes, adding more pasta water as needed.
  4. Add the arugula, and let simmer until it is wilted. Serve over the cooked ravioli with the oversized breadcrumbs.
Oversized Breadcrumbs
  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Melt the butter in a frying pan. Dip the bread slices into the melted butter coating both sides. Remove the pan from the heat, and set aside.
  3. Place the butter coated bread slices on a baking sheet, season with black pepper, and place under the broiler for about two to three minutes on each side, or until they turn golden brown on both sides. Remove from the broiler, and break into coarse crumbs.
  4. Add the breadcrumbs, garlic, lemon zest and romano cheese back into the frying pan, and cook over low heat until the breadcrumbs are crunchy and browned.

 

Garlic Mayonnaise

I know, and I’m so sorry…it’s been a while since I posted anything. The last time I posted on my social media accounts, it was the garlic confit to use in a delicious garlic mayonnaise recipe I promised to share with you. You know that summer just keeps people busy, and I’m no exception.  

f’m one of those crazy people who are getting excited for summer to be over, and fall to start. It actually has started; and the trees are turning beautiful colors of red, orange and gold already. August wasn’t even over yet, and they had started turning! I do love the fall colors, but I do know what comes after that…and I am sorry that the trees will have to be without leaves for a few months, you know? But for now, we will just enjoy what fall has to bring us.

And as promised, a little late, here is the garlic mayonnaise that I promised to share with you.

I’ll tell you, if you’ve never tried homemade mayonnaise, now is the time to try. It has such a creamy texture; it is so much more flavorful than that of store bought; and it isn’t as difficult and time consuming that you might think. And..it lasts for about two weeks in your refrigerator!

Now, before I get all confident and arrogant sounding…you should know that I’ve had my fair share of failed separated gloppy mayonnaise messes, and I’ve humbly learned that there are a couple of things to keep in mind when making homemade mayonnaise, which I want to share with you…

First, I read somewhere that cold oil makes the emulsion much easier, and I find that to be true. I’ve tried both a blender, and a food processor. Personally, I don’t have much luck with my blender, which could be that I just need a new blender, but a food processor works much better for me. While the egg yolk mixture is beating, you want to add the oil in a slow, SLOW drizzle. Finally, there is a chance that you won’t need the full amount of oil. Once the mayonnaise has reached the thickness that you prefer, stop adding the oil. Let the mayonnaise tell you when it’s done. It will start out yellow as the egg yolks, and the more you add the oil, it will just get lighter and lighter as it thickens up.

I’m guessing that you still have quite a few tomatoes lurking around from this summer’s harvest, and if you’re a tomato sandwich eater like me, you’ve had your fair share of them. Possibly even a little tired of them? Well, I think this garlicky mayonnaise will have you looking at your tomatoes as if the season has just started! 

Life is good. It’s a “Summer is almost over, and the best is yet to come..” kind of good.

Garlic Mayonnaise
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 1 cup
Ingredients
Mayonnaise
  • 2 egg yolks (I do use pasteurized)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp (or as much as you like) ground black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic confit (Recipe below)
  • 1½ cups chilled vegetable oil
Garlic Confit
  • 3 heads garlic
  • Olive oil (enough to cover cloves of garlic in pan)
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 dried chili pepper
  • ½ tbsp whole peppercorns
  • ½ tsp salt
Instructions
Mayonnaise
  1. Pulse the eggs, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and garlic in your food processor until combined.
  2. With the processor running, begin to slowly drizzle the oil into the egg mixture until it thickens. When the mayonnaise reaches your desired consistency, stop adding the oil.
Garlic Confit
  1. Peel the cloves from three heads of garlic. Place in a small pan, and add enough olive oil to the pan to completely cover the garlic. Add a sprig or two of thyme, one dried chili pepper, whole peppercorns, and salt. Bring to a low boil, and reduce heat so that the oil is lightly bubbling. You don't want a full rolling boil. Let the garlic simmer for about 45 minutes, or until it's fork tender. Place in a covered container, and keep refrigerated for up to one week. **Keep Refrigerated!**
Notes
A quick note about the garlic confit: Because garlic isn't acidic, it can produce a toxin that causes botulism, so you want to make sure that you store the confit in a clean jar with a tight fitting lid. Cool the confit as soon as it's finished cooking, and refrigerate it immediately. I know it sounds scary, but don't let this keep you from trying confit. If you really feel worried about this, confit can be kept in the freezer for a couple of months, and it will be just fine.

 

 

Summer Rice Primavera

I find that I’ve been talking to myself a lot lately. I’ve always talked to myself, but it seems that I’m getting more and more talkative. Taking the garbage out the other day, I caught myself discussing the things I still had to do while I walked across the driveway. It isn’t unusual for me to be sitting at my desk talking to no one but me. And today at my beloved Wegmans, I was in a full on conversation with myself over cantaloupes when I realized that one of the stock boys was eavesdropping with a highly amused look on his face!

I stopped. Realized what I was doing.
And then we laughed.
At me.

The funny thing is…is that I tend to be on the quiet side with people.
And that’s probably because I exhaust me when I’m talking to myself!

Not too long ago, I read an article online about how genius people talk to themselves, but they also answer themselves too. The article went on to say that it’s good to have a conversation with yourself, because the brain tends to remember a full conversation rather than just a sentence or two, which is how they can get through all of those complicated mathematical (etc) problems.

I’m not claiming to be genius…but it was online, so it has to be true…right?!

Okay, so maybe I’m not genius, but what is genius is this delicious Rice Primavera. I don’t know where the original pasta primavera originated because there are several people who’d like to take credit for it.. but whoever the creator is…in my genius opinion…is genius.

Fresh vegetables served over a starch such as pasta or rice is a perfect summer meal! The beauty of a meal such as this, is that it can be changed to please everyone’s taste throughout all four seasons! This particular summer primavera is laden with zucchini, summer squash, kale, peas, carrots, and corn, all sautéed in a buttery lemon sauce, and topped with a sharp parmesan and lemon zest. It is just another one of those quick and delicious meals that takes just minutes to throw together! A summer meal that I know you and your family will enjoy!

Life is good. It’s a “F. Scott Fitzgerald once said ‘Genius is the ability to put into effect what is on your mind’…and I just happened to have fresh vegetables on mine” kind of good.

Rice Primavera
 
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Author:
Serves: 2-4 servings
Ingredients
The Vegetables
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • ¼ - ½ tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 bunch kale chopped, (about three cups)
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 celery stalk sliced
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small summer squash, sliced (about 1 cup)
  • ½ - 1 cup peas (frozen is fine)
  • ½ - 1 cup corn (frozen is fine)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
The Rice
  • Prepare rice as directed on the package. (One cup rice to two cups water)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • Fresh ground black pepper (as much as you’d like)
Instructions
The Vegetables
  1. In a large saute pan, melt the butter and add the onion, garlic, and crushed red pepper. Saute until onions are translucent. Add the kale, carrots and celery. Let simmer on low for about 10 minutes, or until the kale has reduced in half. Add the zucchini and summer squash. Cook for about five minutes until the squash is semi tender (you want the vegetables in this to have a slight crunch to them). Add the peas and corn. Cook until heated through. Season with salt, black pepper, lemon juice and lemon zest.
The Rice
  1. While the vegetables are cooking, prepare the rice as directed on the package. When it is fully cooked, add butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, black pepper, and parsley.
The Rice Primavera
  1. Top with the summer vegetables, freshly grated parmesan cheese, crushed red pepper, and more lemon zest. Serve with lemon wedges.

 

Three Wishes

 

If you were given three wishes, what would they be?

Now, you can only have three wishes…Wishing for more wishes is not allowed. That would just open up a whole nasty can of worms that none of us would ever want to be in!

If you’ve been hanging out with me for any period of time, then you know that I’m a huge daydreamer, especially when I’m working in my kitchen. I’ve recently been called an over thinker more times than I can count…

So, when I was coloring my Queen Anne’s Lace today, a few things came to mind that I’d like to do to finish my kitchen, and it all required a few thousand dollars. So, that took me to thinking how it would be perfect to have a half a million dollars in the bank. I know. You’re probably thinking how everyone would like to have a half a million dollars in the bank…we all would!

Three wishes.

Yeah, what if I was given three wishes? I’d surely be rich then. I’d wish for $2 million dollars, that’s what I’d do. I’d split it four ways, and give each of my kids a half a million, a perfect start to their lives…and that last half million, I’d pay off my house and bills, put the rest in the bank, and have a nice finish to mine.

If you’re wondering why I wasn’t thinking that I’d wish for billions of dollars… well, I think that’s just too much money. It would ruin a persons life with all of the problems that it would create. Plus, you don’t want so much money that you’d lose your daydreams. It might sound like a life’s luxury, but being able to buy whatever you want at a moment’s notice would get quite boring after a while. I think you’d run out of things to wish for, and wishing and hoping is a part of who we are, isn’t it?

Anyway, getting back to my three wishes. Lost in my daydreams, I started thinking that I was being selfish. I mean, what would bring true happiness?

Peace on earth.

If every human on earth lived in the way in which we were supposed to when life began, I think that all we would know is happiness, right?

So, my first wish would be for peace on earth.

My second wish turned out to be a little more complicated. My first thought was that it should be a cure for cancer. And I had it all figured out that I would wish for a cure for cancer in general so that all cancers would be included. But what about the people who suffer from other illnesses? I couldn’t just wish for a cure for cancer, when there are so many other physical and mental illnesses out there. And what about accidents and injuries? How could I include that too? Would it be as easy as asking for good health for all people on earth? I don’t think that would work. If I was going to keep my third wish for my $2 million dollars, I had to fit a cure for illness, disease, accidents, and injuries into my second wish.

I couldn’t come up with a way to do that.
So my second wish is that the human race would only know excellent health.

Okay, so I know that might open up a whole issue about overpopulation, but this is my daydream, and I don’t want anymore suffering in the world.
Humor me.

Which now brings me to my third wish. I didn’t really have to think long about this. You all know that I wanted my $2 million, but how can I wish for something so frivolous when there are far more important things, like life?

I live on a busy road, at an intersection, with high traffic and not just cars and trucks. Those darn crotch rockets. I hate them. Those kids think they’re invincible on them. This happens daily. They fly by the house, at times popping stupid wheelies, and all I can do is hold my breath, and pray. God, please keep them safe and don’t let their parents have to cry tonight. And…I’ve seen many car accidents in front of my house, and have been involved in a couple myself, one of them serious.

But there are other accidents too, far too many to name, and we’ve all been injured at times whether it was at home, at work, on vacation, ourselves to blame, or even others to blame. They’re accidents. They happen. All the time.

My third wish is that the human race would never suffer injury. That they’d be able to go home to their families at night, safe and sound.

I know that I didn’t even touch the tip of the iceberg with my wishes. I don’t think it would be as easy as we’d all like to believe it would be. And as selfish as human nature can be, I believe that it would be hard for the majority of people to ignore all of the needs that go above and beyond our own. I like to believe that we are all good people.

So, back to my question to you…what would your three wishes be?

Life is good. It’s a “Yes, I still do color Queen Anne’s Lace…because it’s the simple things in life that make me happy…” kind of good.

 

 

 

 

 

Hummingbird Cake

My friend Cyn, from Especially Southern Dishes, invited me to join her and a few other bloggers to post a Southern Recipe today. First of all, I was so honored, because I adore Cyn and her work. A “self-proclaimed introvert”, Cyn’s colorful and “extrovert” talent just shines in every single beautiful photo that she posts of her sinfully delicious recipes! I hope that you stop by her blog and Instagram page, because I know you will love her just as much as I do.

Secondly, I was worried, because I shamefully admit that I do not know anything about Southern cooking. So I emailed Cyn right away and told her that I had no idea what to make. She instantly came back and suggested a Hummingbird Cake.

What is this delightful confection that you suggest, Cyn?

I researched Hummingbird Cakes, and found that it is a delicious concoction of crushed pineapple, banana, pecans with a cream cheese frosting!

“Ooh La La…” I said to myself, and decided that I would do what I do best….
Cupcakes.

In my research on this delightfully moist gem of a cake, I found that this cake has one heck of a history with several different names, such as Doctor Bird Cake, Bird of Paradise Cake, Bumblebee Cake, Doesn’t Last Cake, Jamaican Cake, and Nothing Left Cake.

It is believed that this cake originated in the 1960’s in Jamaica, called the Doctor Bird Cake. Doctor Bird is a nickname for Jamaica’s national bird called the Red-billed Streamertail, which is a member of the Hummingbird family. In a marketing ploy, Air Jamaica adopted the Doctor Bird as its logo, and along with enticing foreigners to visit their island, the recipe for this cake was included in its media packages, which soon made its way to Virginia. And so began its popularity in many small town newspapers, winning baking contest after baking contest…when finally in 1978, Mrs. L.H. Wiggins of Greensboro, North Carolina submitted her winning recipe of Hummingbird Cake to the Southern Living magazine to be published did it then become the Southern Classic that everyone loves!

Believe it or not, I found this recipe in one of my grandmother’s old church recipe cookbooks submitted by Leona Reynolds. I have gone through that little book so many times, I can’t believe that I never really looked at that recipe!  Laden with pineapple, banana, and pecans, this moist cake has won my heart. The tang of the cream cheese frosting, as it always does, pairs well with the cinnamon-y fruits and nuts. This is definitely a recipe that I will make again and again!

A special thank you to Cyn for inviting me to join you in this Southern Recipe post. I am truly honored.

Life is good. It’s a “You’re going to hover over these cupcakes like a hummingbird hovers over flowers… I promise… “ kind of good.

Hummingbird Cake
 
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I love this recipe because you don't even need a mixer for the cake batter! It's a matter of stirring all of the ingredients together in a large bowl! Although you will need a mixer for the frosting!
Author:
Serves: 18 cupcakes
Ingredients
Hummingbird Cupcakes
  • 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 large banana, mashed
  • 8 oz crushed pineapple, do not drain!
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1 8oz pkg cream cheese
  • ½ stick butter
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp milk (divided)
  • 1 2lb package powdered sugar
Garnish
  • Chopped pecans
  • Sprinkles
  • Maraschino Cherries
Instructions
Hummingbird Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners.
  2. In large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, and cinnamon.
  3. In a medium size bowl, mash the banana, sitr in the pineapple, eggs, pecans, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Stir until just combined.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients. Gently stir until just combined.
  5. Fill the cupcake liners about ⅔ full. I used a ¼ cup measuring cup for each cupcake.
  6. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  7. Frost with cream cheese frosting, sprinkle with chopped pecans, sprinkles, and top with a maraschino cherry.
Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and 1 tbsp. of the milk. Beat on low for about two minutes or so, or until the mixture becomes creamy with no lumps. Add the powdered sugar, and beat on low until it is fully incorporated into the cream cheese mixture, and then set your mixer to high. Let beat for about five minutes until the frosting is light and fluffy. (If you find that the consistency isn't as light as you'd like it to be, add another tbsp. of milk).

 

 

 

Minestrone


We have had the best weather these last couple of days. There is like zero humidity, and it’s been in the upper 60’s, low 70’s. For me, that’s perfect, even if it comes with a little bit of rain. I can handle the rain, that just means that my flowers will be watered for me, which means that I have a little bit more time to do something else! Plus…my central air is now shut off, and all of my windows are open letting the fresh air come in!

Having said all that, I do admit to feeling a little bit on the chilly side, so on goes a sweatshirt, and a pot of soup goes on the stove. Making soup is one of my most favorite things to do. There is just nothing better than the smell of soup simmering on the stove all day, which to me, represents the spirit of cooking.

Okay, so maybe the upper 60’s, lower 70’s doesn’t really warrant a pot of soup, but it sounded good…and…it was a great way to use up some of the vegetables that were in the fridge!

I love a thick minestrone, and this one is exactly that. Laden with fresh vegetables, beans, spicy Italian sausage beef, and your favorite type of macaroni…it definitely takes on the role of a stew.

To me, anything goes with this kind of soup, so whatever vegetables you have on hand, toss them in, as there are no boundaries! Make it as simple.. or as complicated as your taste buds prefer, and then ladle this delicious thick soup into big bowls, topped with plenty of parmesan cheese, and then sop up the remnants with some fresh warm bread…and life is truly good.

Life is good. It’s a “Soup in the summer? Absolutely! You can wait until the snow flies, but why would you?” kind of good.

Minestrone
 
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Author:
Ingredients
  • ½ pound bacon, cut into 1” squares
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, sliced
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 pound spicy or mild Italian sausage, removed from casing (or bulk if you can find it)
  • 1 pound stew beef
  • ½ pound fresh green beans, cut into thirds
  • 3 cups packaged coleslaw mix from bag
  • 1 cup corn
  • 2 large potatoes, cut into small chunks
  • 1 14.5 oz can spicy diced tomatoes
  • 1 14.5 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 32 oz box chicken stock
  • 1 32 oz box beef stock
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small yellow squash, sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 1 cup acini de pepe (or your favorite pasta)
Instructions
  1. Cook bacon in a large stock pot until crisp. Keep the bacon and it’s grease right in the pot, and add the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery. Saute until the onions are translucent. Add the Italian sausage that has been removed from the casings, and while it is cooking, break it up with a wooden spoon. Add the stew beef and cook until no pink shows on the outside. Add the green beans, coleslaw, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, chicken stock, beef stock, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered for about two to three hours. Add the zucchini, yellow squash, kidney beans and acini de pepe, and simmer for another 20 minutes, or until the pasta is tender.

 

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