Month: January 2016

Homemade Cheese Ravioli

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I have never been a huge fan of spaghetti. Your standard noodles + pasta was never quite satisfying to me. My favorite Italian dishes growing up were always the cheesy ones- stuffed pastas like cannelloni and manicotti and ravioli, and the delicious layers of lasagna. As a vegetarian, they still felt warm and comforting.

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In our tiny, California kitchen we do not have room to make homemade pasta- it is fun, and I recommend experiencing it at some point. However, this recipe is not difficult and not super time consuming. The method we apply here utilizes wonton wrappers, in lieu of homemade pasta. When you boil wonton wrappers they behave in a very similar manner, and taste very similar to pasta. This gives you the flexibility of creating any filling you like, and using your own sauce, without having to deal with homemade pasta dough.

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The one warning I do have- it makes 26 ravioli and it does not freeze well. I was really hoping that it would freeze, but using this method to quickly make stuffed pasta creates a very thin and fragile raviolo. You might try to freeze them individually, but when we froze multiple ravioli at a time, and then tried to cook them, they stuck together and did not cook evenly.

Enjoy!

Homemade Cheese Ravioli

(serves 6-7)

Ingredients
for the filling
15 ounces ricotta cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese (grated or shaved)
1/2 cup grated fontina cheese
1/4 cup chopped, fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons minced, fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste (we went with 3/4 teaspoon of each)
1 egg

for the wrappers
1 package wonton wrappers (pack of 52)
1 egg

olive oil, pepper, and garlic salt to cook in
tomato sauce, shaved parmesan, and fresh basil to top

(We used our homemade sauce for this and it worked out very well.)

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First, make your filling. Combine the cheeses, parsley, basil, salt, pepper, and egg in a large bowl.

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Set up a work station. Lay parchment paper down, with your bowl of filling, wonton wrappers, a fork, and a brush. Whisk a second egg in a small bowl, this will be used to help create a good seal on your wrappers.

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Lay the wrappers down six at a time. Two rows of three. You will be making three ravioli at a time, using two wonton wrappers per raviolo.
Brush the edges of each wonton wrapper with a bit of egg.

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Take a heaping teaspoon of filling and place it in the center of three of your wrappers.

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Place the empty wrappers on top of the cheese wrappers one at a time. Press down on the edges carefully to begin the process of creating a seal. As you do this, be careful to keep the squares aligned.

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Finally, take your fork and crimp the edges of each raviolo. Place the finished ravioli in a waiting area – they are ready to cook!

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Complete this process with the remaining filling and wrappers.

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Feel free to be generous with the filling (there will be more than enough), but you do not want to put too much in there to the point that it gets in the way of your seal.

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Pretty ravioli are the goal- no ricotta spilling out over the edges! This sounds silly, but in actuality, it will be a big problem when you try to boil them.

After you have assembled all of your ravioli, put a pot of water on to boil. Sprinkle in some olive oil, garlic salt, and pepper. This will add a good bit of flavor to the wonton wrapper while also helping them to not stick together!

Let the water boil fully. You can cook as many ravioli as your are comfortable with at a time, I usually stick to 5 in our small quart-sized pot!

When the ravioli float to the top, they are ready to come out (3-4 minutes)! Stack them on a plate and top with anything you desire! We usually go for sauce, basil, and parmesan. However, you can even bake them or sauté them if you prefer an oil-based or creamier sauce!

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Enjoy!

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4-Ingredient, Vegetarian Sausage Balls

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Growing up, my family ate a ton of breakfast foods. One of the things we commonly ate on special occasions were sausage balls. These are tiny bites of absolute heaven. Cheesy goodness and spicy sausage held together with a little breadiness from a Bisquik box. Little did I know at the time- those were basically the only ingredients in the entire snack!

Now that I no longer eat actual sausage, I still like to revisit recipes like this from my childhood. Recently, I began experimenting with the creation of a vegetarian sausage ball. I was looking for a super easy way to make these nostalgic treats for an only slightly healthier diet.

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Perhaps the most amazing thing about these is that they can be frozen! They can be frozen for long amounts of time and then, for long amounts of time, you have a stash of delicious sausage balls that you can reheat at any moment for a quick, but still tasty breakfast! Every time we make ours we make them a little bit bigger. If you make them about the size of a golf ball, you don’t get as many servings out of it, but you can truly have a single one for a solid breakfast on-the-go. It’s a great option for busy families who still like to do some meal prep and have food that feels more homemade!

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This is such an incredibly easy recipe- it only calls for 4 ingredients (one of which is water, I mean, does that even count?)!

4-Ingredient Soy Sausage Balls
(makes about 27, medium-sized balls)

Ingredients
1 lb soy sausage (I always use Morningstar’s regular brand, and simply use 12 patties)
3 1/2 cups Bisquik
1 lb extra-sharp cheddar cheese (I highly recommend shredding cheese off of a block for this, it makes the moisture content more accurate so you will not need to add as much water as you will if you use pre-shredded cheese)
1/4 cup water

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First, microwave all of the soy sausage patties on a plate for 4 minutes. You want them to be soft and easy to tear apart, but not to the point of being fully crisped or cooked. Chop the patties into a crumble. You can chop them as finely as you like. It really depends on your preference.

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Combine the cheese and Bisquik in a large bowl. Stir together carefully. I like to use my hands because it can be a messy process and I prefer to have complete control over it!

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Add in the sausage crumbles. Mix together entirely. It helps to have a very large bowl here, and to use your hands as you stir.

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Finally add in the water. It will not seem like enough water at first, but keep working the “dough” until it finally comes together. You should not need to add more than a 1/4 cup of water if you use freshly grated cheese. If you are using packaged, shredded cheese, it will be drier than the fresh kind. As a result, you will want to add additional water. I recommend doing this by the tablespoon until your dough comes together. You want to avoid adding too much water. The dough will be fairly dry, but still cohesive enough to keep shape.

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Cover a baking tray in parchment paper. Form the balls, trying to keep them as regularly shaped as you can. It’s up to you how large or small you make them. We have never done larger than roughly 1/4 cup sized. Arrange them on a baking tray. Rest the baking tray in your freezer for 15-20 minutes.

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Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Bake for 20 minutes! They do stick to parchment paper and aluminum foil, so you will just need to let them cool and then peel them off carefully!

Any balls that you would like to freeze, you can plop them all in a large plastic bag and put them in the freezer! When you are ready to eat them later, simply follow the baking instructions listed here!

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Enjoy!

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Vegetarian Vidalia Onion Soup

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Several weeks ago, back in Alabama, I found myself sitting across from my sister at a restaurant dinner table as she savoured every piping hot bite of what looked like a delicious French onion soup. It, of course, contained beef broth, so I was stuck just staring rudely. With each of my sister’s sips, I knew I was destined to make my own, vegetarian version this winter. I did. And it was amazing.

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French onion soup is one of those perfect winter dishes that makes you feel cozy and comforted, and, with the added bread-cheese gratinée, you just can’t go wrong.

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I decided, as usual, to include some choice ingredients. Seeing as I was back in Alabama, thinking about onions, I just had to purchase some Vidalias. This strain of onion comes from a very particular area in Georgia and you basically can’t get them here in California. So about a week ago, unknowingly, Southwest Airlines checked and transported what was probably the first bag full of specially procured onions. [Yes, they arrived safely!]

I love Vidalias, they are SO perfect for an onion soup (especially a vegetarian version). I was able to find petite Vidalias, with the greens still on, so we used those in the topping as well. Of course, for onion soup enthusiasts without access to the South’s produce, a standard, sweet yellow onion will suffice. I did end up supplementing with a few cippolini onions, which I believe are more easily procured from anywhere in the country. (Although for some reason, we haven’t been able to find those in California either, so I had to sneak those back from Alabama as well!)

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Whether it’s with Vidalias or plain yellow onions, this is a thicker-than-average onion soup, as I wanted something substantial. It is a little salty, especially after you add the gratinée, so I put very little actual salt in the soup and used a low-sodium vegetable bouillon.

Enjoy!

Vegetarian Vidalia Onion Soup

Ingredients

for the soup
2 pounds Vidalia, or sweet yellow onions (we used one pound of petite Vidalias, with the greens cut off and one pound cipollini onions)
4 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ -1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons better than bouillon vegetable base (we used low sodium)
¼- ½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms
2 quarts boiling water
2-3 stems rosemary
3 tablespoons flour
½ cup white wine
½ teaspoon black pepper

for gratinée
bread (we used a french bread from Lucky, and it was amazing)
~ 1 tablespoon butter
2 cups grated fontina
1 tablespoon raw onion or chopped onion greens (we sliced the tops of the Vidalias)

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First, slice the onions. You don’t need to chop them, as they will break down. The important thing is to clean off the skins, slice them, and separate the layers.

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Cook the onions with the butter and olive oil in a large pot over low heat for about 15 minutes.

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Add in the salt and sugar. Simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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While the onions are breaking down in the pot, make your broth in a separate bowl. Combine the porcini, vegetable stock base, and boiling water. Let it rest for 30 minutes. This will create a strong, rich broth, while also rehydrating the mushrooms.

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Continue to stir the onions. They should be browning well and becoming deliciously fragrant!

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Add the mushrooms and broth to the large pot along with the rosemary, flour, wine, and pepper. Simmer for an hour. Go watch your favorite show or even a movie. If it cooks for a bit longer than an hour, it certainly won’t hurt this soup!

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As the soup is finishing its time on the stove, preheat the oven to 325° F. Pour the soup into oven-safe bowls.

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Slice the bread and spread the slices with a bit of butter. Arrange the slices like a delicious lid over your soup bowl.

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Top with a generous amount of grated cheese.

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Bake for 20-25 minutes. Finish the gratinée off with about 2 minutes on broil.

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Enjoy!

 

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