Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pumpkin Ravioli...with Sage Browned Butter Sauce

I know that this blog is ALL about “no pressure” cooking.  However, every now and then on the weekends, I will try and create a dish that has more steps, more ingredients, and is a little more tedious than usual.  After all, not all cooking or baking is easy.  This recipe does take about 2 hours with almost an hour of cooking the pumpkin and another hour for prepping the ravioli.  Therefore, if you’re feeling like you have some time to kill, this may be the recipe for you.

Now, I WILL say that I took a little pressure off of making this recipe by using wonton wrappers for the ravioli pasta.  You’ll find a lot of ravioli recipes that call for wonton wrappers as a substitution because it’s quick, you can’t find fresh ravioli pasta sheets in stores (at least, that I have seen), and sometimes you just don’t want pre-packaged ravioli for dinner.  I’m not going to act like the wonton wrappers are exactly like the ravioli you’re used to, but it’s a good option when you want homemade ravioli.  The other option, of course, would be to make the homemade pasta yourself.  That process is a little too involved for this “no pressure cooker” but I encourage any of you to take on the task if you’re up to it!

Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage Browned Butter Sauce

1 sugar pumpkin
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
¼ c mascarpone cheese
¼ c grated Parmesan
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp brown sugar
wonton wrappers
1 egg
¼ c water
3 tbsp butter
6-8 sage leaves, julienne cut

Preheat oven to 375F.

Cut off stem of sugar pumpkin.  Cut pumpkin in half and remove all seeds and guts.  Brush inside of pumpkin with olive oil.  Place pumpkin halves skin side up on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil.  Roast at 375F for about 45 mins.  Skin will be soft and pulling away from the flesh of the pumpkin. 

Allow pumpkin to cool slightly before handling.  Scoop out flesh of pumpkin into a bowl.  Add mascarpone cheese, Parmesan, nutmeg, salt, pepper and brown sugar to pumpkin and stir to combine.  Add salt & pepper to taste.

Kitchen tool: I used an ice cream scoop for scooping out the pumpkin.  Be sure to use a spoon with sharper edges to make sure and get all of the stringy insides removed.

Lightly flour a large surface.  Create an egg wash with 1 beaten egg and ¼ c of water.  Working with a few wonton wrappers at a time, place each wrapper on the lightly floured surface.  Using your finger, rub edges of wonton wrapper with egg wash.  Place 1 heaping teaspoon of pumpkin mixture in the middle of the wrapper.  Fold wrapper in half and press down edges to seal.  Repeat until all pumpkin mixture is used up.

Option: I chose to fold my wrappers in half to create my ravioli.  However, you can create square ravioli by placing one wrapper on top of another and then sealing the sides.  You make the call on that one!

While making ravioli, heat a large pot of water until boiling.  When ravioli are assembled place 4 or 5 gently (I mean it!) into the boiling water at a time.  Boil 2-3 mins or just until soft.  Repeat with remaining ravioli.

In a separate sauté pan, heat butter over medium heat until bubbles dissipate and butter starts to brown.  Add sage and cook until crispy.  Remove from heat and gently toss ravioli in the sauce.  Serve hot.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Baked Oatmeal with Bananas and Raspberries

Mornings in our house are a blur of clothes, hair, toys, dogs, cats, COFFEE. I try to cook ahead on the weekends and make our mornings (and lunches) easier. This is one of my favorite make-ahead breakfasts. I get four servings out of this and I can take it to work and eat it cold or warmed up. It's hearty and healthy and adaptable to what sort of fresh or frozen fruits I have on hand. The edges are dense, sort of like a muffin, but this recipe has no flour. The middle gets soft and more like cooked oatmeal. I can stretch out the servings by adding a side of yogurt. This also makes a great lunch if I've had something else for breakfast. YUM! But terribly hard to photograph.

Baked Oatmeal - inspired by Budget Bytes
Makes 4 large servings
Preheat oven to 350

2 very ripe bananas, mashed - about 1 cup of mash
2 eggs
2 tablespoons brown sugar - totally optional, and very good without the added sugar
2 cups of milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
2 1/2 cups oats
2 cups raspberries - I use frozen
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a baking dish you can cover with a lid or tinfoil. Chop nuts and set aside.

Mash bananas and stir in eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, sugar (if using) baking powder and baking soda. Stir to combine and then add in oats and raspberries. Stir to combine and pour into the prepared baking dish. Top with chopped nuts and bake covered for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 30 minutes. 

This is delicious warm, and I like it just as well cold. This is a super adaptable recipe!

A few variations on this recipe...
  • Omit raspberries and using one mashed banana add 1/2 cup of peanut butter and 1/2 cup of chocolate chips. Heaven. 
  • I've used blueberries, strawberries and blackberries in this recipe. All delicious, but raspberries are my faves. 
  • I've used chopped apples in place of the berries. 
  • I've used apple sauce instead of bananas.
  • I've used pumpkin puree in place of the bananas and added pumpkin pie spice to the cinnamon already in the recipe.  
  • New parents - this is a wonderful thing to have around as you fight off exhaustion and a severe need for calories. 
Things made this time last year...

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes


Monday, October 21, 2013

Chicken Tamale Casserole

Okay, so by now you know I’m on a casserole kick in preparation for the birth of my baby girl.  Here’s another one that I love.  This chicken tamale casserole really sticks with the no pressure theme as it is easy to make, takes little prep, and is a great weeknight meal.  The inspiration for this recipe came from Cooking Light but I made some significant changes and turned it into “my own”.  I hope you enjoy my experiment!

Mexican flavors are highlighted with green chiles, cumin, and red pepper.  The tamale part of this casserole is made from a corn bread mix that soaks up and pairs well with the enchilada sauce.  Like I do for most casseroles, soups, and other dishes that call for chicken – I used a rotisserie chicken.  Seriously, always keep a rotisserie chicken on hand!

Chicken Tamale Casserole

1c pre-shredded 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese, divided
1/3 c milk
1 egg
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
1 (14 ¾ oz) can cream-style corn
1 (8.5oz) box corn muffin mix
1 (4oz) can chopped green chiles, drained
cooking spray
1 (10oz) can red enchilada sauce
2c shredded cooked chicken breast
½ c sour cream
cilantro (for garnish, optional)

Preheat oven to 400F.

Combine ¼ c cheese and next 9 ingredients (through chiles) in a large bowl, stirring just until moist.  Pour mixture into a 13x9” baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Product plug: I prefer to use Jiffy corn bread mix.  I like how light the corn bread turns out and I also like the bit of sweetness it adds.  As for the enchilada sauce, I prefer Chi-Chi’s brand.  It tastes more authentic and less like it’s been sitting in a can for months.  But you can obviously use whatever suits you best or whatever you have on hand :)

Bake at 400F for 15 mins or until set.  Pierce entire surface liberally with a fork; pour enchilada sauce over top.  Top with chicken; sprinkle with remaining ¾ c cheese.  Bake at 400F for 15 mins or until cheese melts.  Remove from oven; let stand 5 mins.  Cut into 8 pieces; top each serving with 1 tbsp sour cream.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Macerated Strawberries with Mascarpone Whipped Cream

Before moving back to Portland, we went to dinner with my cousin and his wife in Hoboken, NJ.  For dessert, my cousin ordered berries with “sweet cream”.  I had no idea what sweet cream was…and unlike my normal self, I didn’t ask.  What a mistake!  I tried it because I couldn’t imagine how that would be a satisfying dessert.  Needless to say, it was creamy, decadent, and thicker than regular whipped cream.  I was in heaven!

Two months later, even after getting settled into our new home in Portland and dealing with a quickly growing belly, I couldn’t forget the dessert I had.  I brainstormed – trying to figure out how to turn whipped cream into “sweet cream”.  That’s when a light bulb came on…MASCARPONE!  I think I nailed it!  Soaking the strawberries in a little lemon juice brings a little brightness to the dish.  Try this next time you need a guiltless dessert.

Macerated Strawberries with Mascarpone Whipped Cream

2c quartered strawberries
½ lemon, juiced
1 tbsp granulated sugar
½ c mascarpone cheese, chilled
½ c whipping cream, chilled
2 tbsp powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Place strawberries, lemon juice, and granulated sugar in a bowl.  Stir well to combine and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.

Place mascarpone cheese, whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment.  Whisk on medium speed until desired whipped cream consistency is reached. 

Kitchen tool: An electric mixer with whisk is the absolute best tool for making homemade whipped cream.  You can use your hands…but why???  No pressure right?

Store whipped cream in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  Serve berries with whipped cream.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Chicken Marsala and Lightened Up Cheesy Mashed Potatoes

The authors of the No Pressure Cooker blog are BIG fans of Cooking Light magazine. We both like to eat well, but eat healthy. A lot of our recipes start with or are inspired by CL mag. Once and a while, I want to cook everything in the whole mag and October 2013 issue is one of those. Oh, and it started to rain in the Pacific Northwest again, so bring on the comfort food! 

I used to work in a restaurant (well, I sold art and books in the front, and wasn't really wanted in the kitchen, but "helped out" every once and a while.) Anyway, this restaurant served Chicken Marsala with mashed potatoes once a week and it was a lovely, comforting, FILLING meal. This meal is a lighter version, with tons of flavor that didn't leave me needing a nap.

Chicken Marsala - adapted from Cooking Light
Serves 4

1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms - I found a 1 cup package at Whole Foods for $4.99
2 cups boiling water
4 chicken breast halves - I found thin-sliced chicken breasts and avoided pounding the chicken breasts
Salt and Pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil - divided
1 cup chopped onion
5 garlic cloves thinly sliced
3 cups sliced mushrooms - any combo is great, I used crimini and button
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
2 tablespoons flour
2/3 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup dry Marsala wine
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Place porcini mushrooms in a medium bowl and cover with 2 cups boiling water. Let stand 30 minutes or until tender. Drain mushrooms, but reserve liquid, this recipe calls for it again. Thinly slice the soft mushrooms. 

Chop onions, garlic, and oregano - set aside. 

The chicken breasts need to be thin, so if you don't have thin-sliced chicken, place breasts between plastic wrap and pound with a heavy skillet until thinned to 1/2 thickness. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet (I initially used a 10" skillet and traded up after cooking the chicken and used my 12" diameter cast iron skillet) heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add chicken and cook 3 minutes on each side - they will be just under done. Remove from the skillet, cover and keep warm. 

Heat the remaining olive oil in the pan and heat to medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute 2 minutes. Crank up the heat to high and add in the sliced porcini mushrooms and the fresh mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and oregano. Saute until mushrooms darken and start to release moisture - about 8 minutes. 

Sprinkle with flour and cook 1 more minute stirring constantly. Stir in the stock, wine and mushroom soaking liquid. While whisking, cook 3 minutes or until thickened. Add in the chicken breasts and cook about 4 more minutes to finish cooking chicken. Turn chicken once. Sprinkle chopped parsley on top.

Cooking Light said be sure to serve the Chicken Marsala with mashed potatoes to soak up all that wonderful sauce, well OK, Cooking Light, you got it! (They were right.)

Lightened Up Cheesy Mashed Potatoes - Adapted from Cooking Light
Serves 4
Preheat oven to 350

2 pounds baking potatoes cut into 1/2 slices
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt, divided
4 ounces 1/3 less-fat cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup half and half, or milk
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs

Peel and slice the potatoes into 1/2 inch discs. Boil potatoes, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are fork-tender. In a small bowl combine the Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs and set aside. 

In a mixing bowl add 1/4 cup half and half, salt and softened cream cheese. Add drained potatoes to the mixture and mix to combine. We used a pastry blender, but a ricer, or a potato masher would work just as well. 

Spread the potato mixture into a shallow baking dish sprayed with cooking spray or coated in butter. I used a 10" ceramic tart pan and it was the perfect size. Sprinkle the Parm/breadcrumbs over the top of the potatoes and bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until thoroughly heated and browned on top.

A few things about these recipes...
The Chicken Marsala was great - I really wouldn't change a thing. Great amount of sauce and great flavor!
The potatoes were really good, but I will reduce the amount of breadcrumbs in the topping by half next time. The topping was a little thick in my opinion.

Things made this time last year...
Pumpkin Gnocchi with Browned Butter and Sage