Friday, October 22, 2010

Melanie's Tortellini

I'm calling this "Melanie's Tortellini" because "Italian Cheese & Spinach Stuffed Tortellini with Burnt Butter & Basil Tomato Sauce" is kind of a mouth full.
This is one of those complete accident recipes - I just started throwing what I had in the fridge together & ended up with this - and it is to die for!  I'm not going to lie - this one is a lot of work.  There are a bunch of little steps, but it comes together quickly.  For me it's well worth the 30-45 minutes of prep time - the trade off is that it only takes 5 minutes to cook!  I love it & hope you enjoy it too!
This is a HUGE Recipe!  When I make it there is enough to feed my family for dinner & have left over's for lunch the next day.

2 1/3 cup all purpose flour {or you can use freshly ground soft white wheat - that's my favorite!}
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup water
1 tsp olive oil

Sift together 2 cups flour & salt.  Pour onto counter & make a well in the center.  Combine eggs, water & oil.  Pour into center of well & use a fork to combine with flour until it forms a ball.  If you need more flour, lightly sprinkle some on & knead until dough is soft & elastic (8-10 minutes).
*If you add too much flour the dough is shot & there is no going back.  I tend to keep it a little on the sticky side because I'll add more when I roll it out.*
Cover & set aside to rest while you make the cheese filling.

Cheese Filling
15 oz ricotta {you'll need to drain off the excess liquid.  A few hours before I start I line a colander with cheese cloth & a bowl underneath & let it sit in the fridge.  Then right before I start putting it together I squeeze out as much liquid as I can.  You want the ricotta pretty dry}
1 cup shredded mozzarella*
1 cup shredded Parmesan*
2 oz cream cheese*
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
6 oz baby spinach leafs, washed & chopped

*Kraft makes a 5 Italian Cheese mix with Cream Cheese - which is a great substitution.

In a saucepan heat oil & add spinach.  Saute until spinach leaves are soft & just start to wilt.  Set aside to let cool.  Combine drained ricotta, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese,  cream cheese, & salt.  Stir in cooled spinach.

Next comes the fun {& time consuming} part.  Start by dividing your pasta dough into 4 equal parts - this will make life easier!  On a lightly floured surface roll each potion to about a 12" square, or 1/16" thick.  Cut dough into circles & add filling.  {I use a 2.25" cutter & 1 tsp filling - it is the perfect bite size for me & I cut them in 1/2 for my kids}

Next wet 1/2 of the outside edge of the pasta.  Fold it over to form a semi-circle & press tightly closed.  Fold up the sealed side & bring the 2 ends together pressing/sealing together (hopefully the picture above helps).  Set finished Tortellini aside on a lightly floured towel.

Have a large pot of boiling water ready before you start the sauce - this last part takes about 5 minutes to finish & you're ready to serve!
Burnt Butter Basil & Tomato Sauce
4 Tbsp Butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
30-40 fresh Basil leaves
30 oz diced tomatoes

In a large skillet, melt butter & cook until it just starts to turn light golden brown - be careful not to let it go too dark.  Lower heat & add basil leaves & garlic.  Cook until leaves have just started to wilt & add diced tomatoes.

Add your pasta to the boiling water (I do it in 2 batches).  It take about 2 minutes to cook the pasta - you know it's done because they will all float.  Use a slotted spoon to scoop out pasta, drain, & add right to the pan of tomato sauce.  Let everything simmer together for a minute or too & then plate it up.  We really like cheese, so I usually sprinkle some more Parmesan over the top.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Alfredo Recipe

A huge thanks to everyone who answered Vickie's request for Alfredo Recipe's. This is the recipe that I've been using for years ~ and for what it's worth Vickie said it was great & her husband loved it.

2 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp Flour
1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 cups heavy cream
6-8 oz Parmesan cheese, finely shredded
Salt & White pepper to taste

Melt butter in pan over medium/low heat. Add garlic. Add flour & whisk constantly for a minute or two (to cook out the flour taste). Slowly pour in cream while whisking, allowing to thicken before adding more. Melt in cheese & season with salt & pepper to taste. Reduce over medium heat, stirring constantly, until you reach your desired consistency.

Sometimes I use 3 Tbsp of Butter, or else go a little shy on the flour. When I add too much flour it doesn't really dissolve and my sauce has a gritty texture.

I always buy a brick of Parmesan cheese & shred it myself. There's much more flavor than a bag of soft/pre-shredded cheese. If you buying it out of the diary/cheese section Frigo & Private Selection aren't bad. I'd rather buy a nice aged/hard brick from the deli, but that is more expensive.

You don't have to use cream. Most of the time I just use whole milk, but I think the cream is much better.

White pepper doesn't make it taste different... I just don't like to see little black specs in my sauce.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Calling all cooks!

Does anyone have a really great recipe for alfredo sauce? I've tried a couple different recipes and I just don't like them. If you have one, email it to, and include where you buy/what brand of Parmesan cheese you use in the recipe. (Maybe I'm just using a really bad kind of cheese??)

Thank you!!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Pumpkin Chicken Enchiladas

I found this recipe here.
We had a pumpkin ripen early from our garden and it's too hot (117 this weekend) to even think about making pumpkin rolls or pie.
So we tried these instead. I've got to admit, I thought for sure this would be a little too funky. We'd eat it once and never again. But, we were pleasantly surprised. These were awesome!

8 corn tortillas (the corn flavor goes really well with the pumpkin, I promise)
a few tablespoons of cilantro (I subbed this for the 6 scallions, diced-sometimes I add both)
leftover chicken, shredded (maybe a pound)
optional: roasted green chiles, chopped small
6 oz. of white sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 can of pumpkin puree (15 oz)
3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 jalapeno (remove seeds and membranes if you don’t need extra heat)
1 teaspoon chile powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin (I added this too)
2 teaspoons of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
1 1/2 cups of chicken stock

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. In a blender, puree pumpkin, jalapeno, chicken stock, garlic, chile powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Place 1 cup of this sauce in the bottom of an 8 inch glass casserole dish. In a bowl, combine shredded chicken with green chiles, cilantro, and/or scallions and season with salt and pepper. Place some of the chicken mixture on each tortilla and then lay the tortilla seam side down in the casserole dish. Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas. Top with cheese. However, if you are casein-free, this recipe is fine without cheese. Martha recommends placing your casserole dish on a baking sheet in the oven to prevent any spills. Bake for 20-25 minutes until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbly.

I used fresh pumpkin in stead of canned. It was a small pumpkin, so I also added a small butternut squash. *You will need to cook your pumpkin first. I always do mine in the crock pot.
And I didn't need as much chicken broth.
Also, I didn't have any corn tortilla's so I just used flour. They turned out really great, but I can see how the corn would compliment the pumpkin. Next time I make them I will definitely use corn tortilla's.

**After making them with corn tortilla's, I actually prefer the flour. I just don't like the texture of corn.**

Friday, April 24, 2009

Crock-Pot BBQ Chicken

This is one of our favorite fall back meals.

1 Whole Fryer Chicken (thawed)

BBQ Rub ~
1/3 cup kosher salt
1/3 cup sugar
* You want to have equal amounts of kosher salt & sugar to create your rub. Everything else is up to you. This is what I normally use, but we like our food to be extra spicy.
2 Tbsp ground chili powder
1 Tbsp ground garlic
1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
2-3 tsp cayenne pepper
Mix together.

Clean, rinse, & dry chicken inside & out. I also pull all the skin off & throw it away, but if you like it you can leave it. It just gets all soggy & gross in the crock-pot but you can throw it under a broiler right before serving to crisp it up.
Rub the chicken inside & out with your rub.
Cook in a crock-pot on Low for 6-8 hours or on High for 4-5 hours. You'll know it's done when the meat starts to fall off the bone.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Buttermilk Syrup

My neighbor told us about Buttermilk Syrup the other day... and to be honest I thought it sounded gross. She was adamant that it was the best stuff EVER and insisted I try a spoonful.
She was right. This is DELICIOUS! It's great as a syrup, a glaze, by itself... my personal favorite has been with cinnamon rolls.

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 buttermilk
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla

Heat sugar, buttermilk, & butter in saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat & simmer for a few minutes. Turn off heat, add baking soda & vanilla.

Refrigerate overnight (to let the soda calm down).

Reheat when you're ready to eat.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Grandma Garff’s Sour Cream Rolls

I wish I could say that I know Stephanie. She is an extraordinary woman, full of strength and courage. Her testimony is incredible and unwavering. If you need some perspective on life, check out her blog. And if you don't, you should try this recipe for her rolls ~ they are like a mouth full of heaven!

16 oz sour cream
1/4 cup shortening

Heat them together in a little pan, but don't boil.

Place in mixing bowl and stir in:
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, well beaten

Take 2 packages of dry, fast rising yeast and dissolve in 1 cup of luke warm water. Then mix with other ingredients in large bowl. Add 7 1/2 cups flour, and knead.

Cover the bowl with aluminum foil and place a dishtowel over it. Place bowl and contents, well covered, in a refrigerator overnight (or in a cold oven for 3 hours) and until the dough has doubled in bulk.

Make rolls and place in roll pans, cover with dishtowel and let raise for about 3-4 hours.

Bake at 350. Rolls bake in 9-12 minutes, cinnamon rolls bake in 18-20 minutes.

I really didn't make any ingredient changes to this recipe, but I did a few things differently to make the process go a little smoother... at least for me.

I start by dissolving the yeast (I used 2 Tbsp SAF yeast) in 1 cup warm water and letting it sit while I'm heating the sour cream and shortening.

I also cream together sugar, soda, salt, & eggs in my mixing bowl first. Then add about 1/2 cup of the hot sour cream / shortening to temper the eggs before adding the rest.

And after I shaped my rolls, I just popped them in the oven... totally spaced that 2nd rise, but they still turned out heavenly!

This is my cinnamon filling (which I think is pretty a pretty standard one).
1 cup brown sugar

3-4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 butter, softened

And I use this cream cheese frosting.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Best Drink Ever

I have no idea what the name of this drink is. It's another one of my Mom's famous recipes. It's to die for!

2 large cans orange juice frozen concentrate
1 large can lemonade concentrate
1 cup sugar
9 cups water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 large bottle 7UP or Sprite

Mix it all together until the orange and lemonade concentrates have dissolved.

Seriously, you're going to love it!

Pumpkin Rolls

This is my Mom's recipe. She's practically famous for it.

*Warning* You're going to make an absolute mess and cover your kitchen with confectioners sugar, but trust me, it is SSOO worth it!

3 eggs (room temperature)
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
*You only need 2/3 cup of canned pumpkin! A small can will make about 2 rolls, a large can will make about 4 rolls*
1 tsp lemon juice
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt

Beat eggs (room temperature!) on high for 5 minutes. Gradually beat in sugar. Add pumpkin and lemon juice.

Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt together. Fold into pumpkin mixture. Make sure you use a spoon/spatula and NOT your electric mixer to fold in your dry ingredients. If you use your mixer it tends to deflate the eggs you just spent 5 minutes beating. Then you don't have enough batter to fill the pan and your edges get burnt and crusty.

Spread into a greased and floured jelly roll pan. Or line your pan with wax or parchment paper and spray that with cooking spray.

Bake at 375 for 15 minutes.

Sprinkle a dish towel with 1/2 cup confectioners sugar (Linen towels work better than terry cloth). When the cake is removed from the oven, turn it out onto the towel and sprinkle the top of your cake with another 1/2 cup confectioners sugar.

Roll up your cake and cool in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.

2 cups confectioners sugar
8 oz cream cheese (softened)
1/4 cup butter (softened)
1 tsp vanilla

While your cake is cooling, combine all your filling ingredients.

Unroll the cake and spread with the cream cheese filling. Roll it back up and wrap it in wax paper and aluminum foil.

You can store this in the fridge, but it's easier to cut and serve when it's frozen so I always put mine in the freezer.

Monday, November 3, 2008


So I basically took this recipe, tossed in a few root vegetables, but shaped them into meatballs. Then I dipped them in marinara sauce, slapped 'em on a hoagie, and threw on some mozzarella cheese. It was fan-freakin-tastic. But then again, it doesn't take much to get me excited about food.

1 lb ground beef
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/4 cup chopped onion (1 Tbsp dehydrated)
2 Tbsp snipped parsley (1 tsp dried)
1/4 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
2-3 Tbsp powdered milk (You can use 3/4 cup milk, but I was lazy and just threw in the powder)

Mix all the ingredients together. Shape into meatballs and place on lightly greased sheet. Bake at 350 for 25-45 minutes, depending on the size. Mine were slightly larger than golf balls and baked in about 35 minutes.

Storing Brown Rice


Brown rice has a higher oil/moisture content, increasing the risk of botulism, which is why you shouldn't dry pack it (using the oxygen absorber packets). This also makes it very susceptible to oxidation and soon goes rancid, only giving you about a 6 month shelf life.

Freezing &/or refrigerating your brown rice will greatly extend it's shelf life.

You can also buy brown rice that has been packaged in air tight containers with an "inert nitrogen atmosphere" which gives you a longer shelf life.

From the research I've done, it's not an easy or feasible solution to try and use the nitrogen method to store brown rice long term on your own. If you want a shelf life longer than 1 year, your best bet would be to buy it prepackaged in an air tight container. Doing my research and asking all of the food storage gurus that I know, this has been the general consensus;

Do not buy more brown rice than you can use in 1 year.

If you choose to dry pack it, use small containers (1/2 gallon P.E.T.E. work great).

Once you open a container, keep it in the freezer.

Do not eat brown rice that has been dry packed for longer than 1 year.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fruit Salsa

I tried to get my 2 year old to eat fish, in the form of tacos. He loved it, but he loved the salsa I made for it even more!

1 large peach (or nectarine or mango, but I like peaches), chopped
1/4 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/4 yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp salt
Cilantro & jalapeno finely chopped to taste.

We like cilantro, and we like spicy so I used a 1 medium jalapeno and 1/3 of a bunch of cilantro. This hit the spot... I don't know that I'll ever eat fish again without this salsa!

Canning Butter

I'm hearing about canning butter from all directions these days. It seems to be the latest enrichment craze...
I did a lot of canning last week and needed to call the Ball/Kerr hot line with a question. I asked them about the butter as well, and they cautioned that you should not can any diary, flour, or other thickeners.
I won't say much about it, other than to check your sources. The National Center for Home Food Preservation has more information if you'd like to read about it.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

What Not To Dry Pack

I've been doing some research on what you can and cannot dry pack (with an oxygen absorber packet).

For long term storage, products must have a low oil content and have 10% or less moisture content. Otherwise you risk rancidity and botulism poisoning.

So, DO NOT dry pack the following items:

Pearled Barley
Dried Eggs
Whole Wheat Flour (*Wheat berries are okay*)
Milled Grains (*Rolled oats are okay*)
Brown Rice
Brown Sugar

Fried Buttermilk Chicken

This is a total comfort food... It tastes like chicken fried in a buttermilk biscuit. Yum!

2 cups buttermilk
1/3 cup kosher salt
2 Tbsp sugar
4 chicken breasts (or the equivalent... any meaty piece of chicken will work, especially legs & thighs. Boneless skinless breasts just happen to be my favorite)
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 cup buttermilk
Cooking oil

Combine buttermilk, salt, & sugar. Cut up chicken breasts in 1x2 or 1x3 inch pieces. In a large bowl, pour buttermilk mixture over chicken and refrigerate for 2-4 hours.

Mix four, salt, pepper, & garlic powder together. Drain buttermilk off of chicken and discard. You can pat the chicken dry with paper towels if you want, but I like to leave a lot on to get a thicker crunchier crust. Coat chicken in flour mixture. Dip in fresh buttermilk, and then coat in flour mixture again.

In a large skillet, heat oil. Cook chicken on both sides until golden brown. Place on a baking sheet and finish cooking at 350 for about 15 minutes (You could also use a deep fryer).