Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Cheesy Ravioli Bake

We love this one at our house and it's pretty easy to put together.

Cheesy Ravioli Bake
serves 4 to 6
From Cook's Country Magazine Feb/March 07

3 TBLS. unsalted butter(the real butter, not margarine)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes(this is a large can, I just use to regular size cans)
2 TBLS. coarsely chopped fresh basil, can use dry just use about half of that
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 (8 oz) pkgs fresh cheese ravioli
1 (6 oz) bag baby spinach
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot for cooking pasta. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Grease shallow 2 quart baking dish with 1 TBLS butter.

2. Melt remaining 2 TBLS butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant but not brown, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, increase heat to high, and cook until thickened and almost dry, about 10 minutes. Stir in basil and cream and simmer until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Season with salt.

3. Add 1 TBLS salt and ravioli to boiling water and cook until al dente(you want it to still be pretty firm pasta because it's going to go in the oven for a few minutes). Add spinach to pot with pasta and stir until wilted, about 30 seconds. Drain pasta and spinach, return to pot, and stir in tomato sauce. Transfer mixture to baking dish, sprinkle with cheese, and bake until top is golden, about 10 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before serving.

Monday, March 24, 2008

"Pass The Beer, Grandma" Beef Stew

Okay, better explain the title. Farmwife and I share a grandmother who is known as a tea-totaller to the max. At Cardinal/Cubs baseball games in St. Louis, she would refuse to pass the cups of beer down the aisle, and it would have to go over her. She's a hoot that way. (Can't wait until she comes to my house and I feed her food with alcohol based sauces. Hee hee.) Anyway, I found a couple of beef stew recipes in Real Simple's cookbook, and decided to combine them and modify them according to my pantry and refrigerator contents. Here's what came about. Just so you know, Henry David loved it and had two big bowls.

Olive Oil
Kosher Salt (about 1 T.)
Black Pepper (however much you want)
3 T. Brown Sugar
1 T. Dried Thyme
1-2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary, leaves roughly chopped
3-4 Garlic Cloves, diced
2 Yellow Onions, chopped in bigger pieces
6 Small Yukon Gold Potatoes, quartered (peel if desired)
2 Carrots, peeled and sliced in ovals
1-2 Parsnips, peeled, woody core removed, and cut into 1" pieces
28 oz. Can of Diced Tomatoes not drained
2 lbs. Stew Beef, chopped in bite-sized pieces
1 Can of Beer (any kind will do....I had leftover Budweiser from my slug killing days, which is what I'm sure you just wanted to know during a cooking session)
16 oz. Water

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a Dutch Oven, brown beef stew pieces in a bit of olive oil over medium heat on the stove top. There is no need to dredge in flour. Remove when browned and put on plate to use later.

2. Add onions and garlic to the Dutch Oven, using more olive oil if needed. Saute until softened and partially carmelized, about five minutes.

3. Add beef stew pieces back to the Dutch Oven with the onions and garlic. Add in the can of tomatoes, liquid included. Add in the carrots, parsnips, and potatoes. Add about 16 ounces of water, the can of beer, the brown sugar, thyme, rosemary, black pepper, and kosher salt. Stir well over medium heat for a few minutes until nicely simmering.

4. Cover and put in oven for about two hours, taking it out every 30 minutes or so to stir. The last 15 minutes, put the Dutch Oven lid partially ajar. It's ready when everything is tender. It smells wonderful and tastes incredible. No one will ever guess you used water and not beef stock. I think the secret is the beer and the brown sugar.

***This makes about six cereal bowl sized servings.