I am a newlywed on a budget, just trying to make healthy and inexpensive meals for my husband and I to enjoy. He eats a lot, so cost is a big factor. Though I work 3 jobs, I manage to find time 6 nights a week to cook a full dinner for us both. I am constantly looking for new recipes that are moderately healthy, taste great, and won't break the bank.

On the side, I also own a brownie business called Gersheybars. My passion and love for cooking started when I was just a small child, baking with my mom and grandmother. The brownie recipe has been passed down through 5 generations and I am thrilled to finally have an outlet to share them with everybody else. Friends and family have helped spread the word and made my business as successful as it is today.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Roasted Butternut Squash Ravioli

Round 3 of fresh pasta making.

Tonight we made Emeril's
Roasted Butternut Squash Ravioli, with sage brown butter sauce. And they were delicious! Though not easy. It's definitely a lot of work to get these together, but the end result is worth it. The filling is creamy and velvety, and pairs really well with the nuttiness of the sage brown butter sauce. I added just a dash of cinnamon to the filling, which isn't in the original recipe, but I'd highly recommend doing so. The nutmeg is a nice touch, but the cinnamon just makes it superb.

  • 9 tablespoons butter (I made the sauce with 4 T butter, and that was plenty)
  • 3 tablespoons minced shallots (I used onion instead)
  • 1 cup roasted butternut squash puree (cut squash in half, scoop out inside, and place cut face down in pyrex baking dish, filled with 1/4 inch of water. Bake at 375 for 45min until tender)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream (I used Ricotta instead, as I didn't have cream on hand)
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus 2 ounces
  • Pinch nutmeg and cinnamon
  • 1 recipe pasta dough, rolled out into wide ribbons
  • 12 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
  1. In a large saute pan, over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the shallots and saute for 1 minute. Add the squash puree and cook until the mixture is slightly dry, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the cream and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 3 tablespoons cheese and nutmeg, to taste. Season with salt and pepper. Cool completely.
  2. Cut the pasta ribbons into 3-inch squares. Place 2 teaspoons of the filling in the center of each pasta square. Bring 1 corner of the square to the other, forming a triangle and seal the pasta completely. Add the pasta to pot of boiling salted water. Cook until al dente, about 2 to 3 minutes or until the pasta floats and is pale in color.
  3. Remove the pasta from the water and drain well. Season the pasta with salt and pepper.
  4. In a large saute pan, melt the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter. Add the sage to the butter and continue to cook until the butter starts to brown. Remove from the heat.
  5. Place some of the pasta in the center of each serving plate. Spoon the butter sauce over the pasta. Sprinkle the 2 ounces of cheese over each plate and garnish with parsley.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Herbed Ricotta Ravioli

Homemade pasta is still new to me, so I'm trying to experiment with a variety of things. A few weeks ago we made linguine and spaghetti, and tonight we made ravioli with an herbed ricotta filling. They were time consuming, but easy, and so so so delicious! The original recipe is from Cooking Light's March 2009 issue. I made a few changes that are noted below. I love that you can make a big batch of these and freeze them. Next time, I'll definitely double the recipe so I can put some away for another day!

The recipe looks a bit daunting because it's long and involved, but take your time, and follow the steps. It's pretty simple to make, and very straightforward.

  • 5.6 ounces soft wheat flour (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 large egg
  1. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, salt, and eggs in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until mixture is crumbly (dough will not form a ball). Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic (about 4 minutes). Shape dough into a disc; wrap with plastic wrap. Let dough stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  2. Unwrap dough. Divide dough into 8 equal portions. Working with 1 portion at a time (keep remaining dough covered to prevent drying), pass dough through pasta rollers of a pasta machine on the widest setting. Fold dough in half crosswise; fold in half again. Pass dough through rollers again. Move width gauge to next setting; pass pasta through rollers. Continue moving width gauge to narrower settings; pass dough through rollers once at each setting to form 8 (15 x 3–inch) pasta strips. (I rolled some of my pasta to #2 on my pasta machine and some to #3. I'd definitely recommend stopping at #3, as the #2 ones were a bit too thin.) Lay strips flat on a lightly floured surface; cover. Repeat procedure with remaining dough portions.

Ravioli Filling
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind (I omitted this)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 5 oz frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry (this was not part of the original recipe)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) shaved fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  1. To prepare ravioli, place ricotta in a cheesecloth-lined colander; drain 30 minutes. Combine ricotta, 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, and next 4 ingredients (through egg), stirring until well combined.
  2. Place 1 (15 x 3–inch) Classic Pasta Dough sheet on a lightly floured surface. Spoon 1 1/2 teaspoons filling mixture 1 1/2 inches from left edge in the center of sheet. Spoon 1 1/2 teaspoons filling mixture at 3-inch intervals along the length of sheet. Moisten edges and in between each filling portion with water; place 1 (15 x 3–inch) pasta sheet on top, pressing to seal. Cut pasta sheet crosswise into 5 (3 x 3–inch) ravioli, trimming edges with a sharp knife or pastry wheel. Place ravioli on a lightly floured baking sheet (cover with a damp towel to prevent drying). Repeat procedure with remaining pasta sheets and filling mixture to form 20 ravioli.
  3. Bring 6 quarts water and salt to a boil in an 8-quart pot. Add half of ravioli to pot; cook 1 1/2 minutes or until no longer translucent. Remove ravioli from water with a slotted spoon. Repeat procedure with remaining ravioli.

  4. To prepare sauce, heat oil in a large skillet over low heat. Add garlic to pan; cook 6 minutes or until garlic is tender. Remove from heat. Place 5 ravioli in each of 4 shallow bowls; drizzle each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic oil. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon basil and 1 tablespoon shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Poppyseed Challah

It's been a while since I've made any bread, but I definitely miss it. This Challah recipe isn't quite as tender as a traditional loaf (it's slightly on the dense side), but it's sweet, and eggy, and very good for sandwiches, french toast, or just snacking! You can top it with just about anything. I made 2 loaves -- one topped with poppyseeds, and one topped with Kosher salt. You can also add golden raisins for added sweetness.

  • 2.5 cups warm water (110 degrees - be careful it's not too hot, or it will kill the yeast)
  • 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 whole eggs, plus 4 yolks
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 8 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 Tablespoon water for eggwash
  • 1 Tablespoon poppyseeds or sesame seeds for topping
  1. Pour water in mixing bowl, and sprinkle yeast on top. Mix in honey, oil, eggs and yolks until well combined.
  2. Add 2 cups flour, and salt, and mix with dough hook until combined. Continue adding flour, 1 or 2 cups at a time, until dough comes together and forms a tight ball. Knead with hook about 7 minutes on speed 2 or 3, until smooth and shiny.
  3. Remove hook from bowl, shape dough into a neat round ball and place back in bowl, covered with a damp cloth, for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  4. Cut dough into 2 equal pieces (recipe yields 2 loaves). For a 6 stranded braid, cut each equal piece into 6 pieces. I found this video on YouTube that describes how to do a 6-strand braid very clearly. If you don't feel comfortable, just do a 3 strand braid.
  5. Spray parchment with non-stick spray, and place braided loaf on greased parchment. Allow to rise an additional 20 minutes. Brush with eggwash and sprinkle poppyseeds, sesame seeds, or the topping of your choice on the bread. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes, until golden brown.