Monthly Archives: December 2010
I am home in Naperville for the holidays and here for a week.
Every year I make my dad’s favorite cookies: oatmeal raisin. A few Christmases ago, I tried to make them with white chocolate chips and dried cranberries. He wasn’t thrilled…so now we stick to tradition.
>Tonight was d-day for the ravioli.
I made sauce last night because I wanted to cook it for a looooooooooooong time. The secret to a good marinara is carrots. I cook them down with garlic and the onions just to add some sweetness. Then I add: tomato puree, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes (Italian style), and tomato paste to thicken. I also wash out the cans with some water and add that to the pot.
Another thing that makes a good sauce: cook it as long as possible. After it simmered on the stove for a few hours, I transferred it to the Crock Pot and went to bed. And then I let it cook all day while I was at work. So almost 24 hours later, all the flavors and seasoning (salt, pepper, basil, oregano) married together beautifully.
The other rule to live by…
When you’re cooking Italian, keep it simple. That’s true Italian — cheese, tomatoes, carbs of some sort. There’s always garlic, and there’s often basil or oregano – but there is not much need to add several spices to your sauce. Simplicity is perfection.
Moment of truth (drum roll please):
The ravioli were….ok. Really doughy. I know it takes a lot of practice, but I’m also blaming this on Colorado. The dryness at this altitude sucks. I think it turned my dough into cardboard. They were not inedible – but they weren’t Ethel’s. Jon says by the time I’m a grandma I’ll have it down to a science. I hope I don’t have to wait that long!
This thing made him crazy. He tried to kill it. Look at that handle, it’s like I’m fishing and caught the big one.
These are named after Jon because they’re his favorite.
I’m making a huge batch tonight because he has to fend for himself for the next week while I’m in Chicago for Christmas. Ironically, I am sure he will eat all of this before Christmas Day even arrives.
This is no adventure for me…I make them all the time. So I’ll share the recipe.
It’s a different take on enchiladas. No red sauce. No green chili. Tons of fat. Oh, and I don’t roll up my enchiladas in tortillas. So it is more of a casserole. I love corn tortillas for enchiladas, not flour. But they always fall apart on me, so I adapted my recipe.
1 lb chicken breast
1 onion, chopped
8 oz cream cheese, room temp
chile powder (I’ve been using ancho chili powder lately, it’s awesome)
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 cup milk
8 oz sour cream
1 small can of green chiles
1 can cream of chicken soup
cheddar cheese to top
other optional toppings: black olives, green onions
1. Cook chicken however you’d like – grill, bake, boil, etc. Crock pot works great. I’ve cooked my chicken and onion together in my crock pot with chicken broth and chile powder all day before – the chicken falls apart so well.
2. Shred chicken. Mix together with onion, cream cheese, and seasonings.
3. For sauce: bring milk to a boil. Add other ingredients, simmer 10 min.
5. Line bottom of casserole dish with corn tortillas. Spoon in chicken filling. Cover with corn tortillas. Pour sauce over casserole.
6. Bake 20-25 minutes at 350 or until bubbly.
7. Remove from oven and top with cheese. Bake 10 min.
>Tonight’s challenge: my grandmother’s ravioli.
>This one has a back story.
It started last night when, in the spirit of Christmas, I decided to do something really nice for Jon. He loves anything that is maple flavored: candy, ice cream, syrup, and…fudge. Given my recent obsession with making fudge, and the fact that I’d already made chocolate fudge and peanut butter fudge, maple fudge sounded pretty darn good.
So we bought some 100% pure maple syrup at Whole Foods (read: not Aunt Jemima and expensive), and I found a recipe online. I even got a candy thermometer to make sure they syrup reached the right temp, and it seemed pretty simple: 2 cups maple syrup, 1 tablespoon light corn syrup, 3/4 cup heavy cream. I mixed all of the above together, and the recipe said to whisk until it reached a rolling boil and to let it boil until the temp was 240 degrees. The problem was, I left the thermometer reading up to the boyfriend. I’m sure that he read the thermometer correctly, but, maybe it was at 240 degrees too long. Apparently when you overcook maple syrup and heavy cream, you get caramel. I decided that it couldn’t hurt to continue with the recipe and see what would happen…
The next step was to pour the mixture into a Kitchen Aid mixer and beat for 10 minutes until the fudge was more opaque than glossy. Ha, try doing that with overcooked maple syrup. We did, however, make some really tasty caramel goop.
I had already buttered a square Pyrex dish for the fudge. And honestly, why waste a perfectly good buttered pan? So I decided to make chocolate dipped shortbread. Had I ever made shortbread before? NOPE! And it definitely showed. This was another disaster. While the buttery cookies tasted delicious, when I tried to cut them into sticks so they could be dipped into chocolate…they crumbled. I was pretty sad to have wasted 3/4 lb of butter!
The good news is my boyfriend is a genius. “Why don’t you get some strawberries and make it into a crumb topping?” he says. I was sold. After Erika’s parents’ Christmas party, we stopped at the store and picked up a pound of strawberries. I cut them in half, sauteed them in butter and sugar, and poured them into a square dish. I got out the trusty Kitchen Aid and beat the shortbread cookies to crumbs, while adding brown sugar and cinnamon, topped it with a few pads of butter, 350 degrees for 20 minutes. And voila – Strawberry Shortbread Cobbler was born.
While I admit that it wasn’t very pretty, it was so buttery and delicious. Not bad for something that all started with ruined maple fudge.
I also made dough tonight for ravioli. We’ll be making them tomorrow to eat on Wednesday for our early Christmas celebration. I’ve never made it on my own, so we’ll see how this goes! Hopefully I’ll make my Maw Maw proud.
PS- if you do need to look at something cute after seeing that pile o’ sugar and butter above, look at this guy who came to visit me today! Luckily I woke up this morning feeling so much better after the cold I’d been battling, so I was OK to give this guy some kisses. The last time I’ll see him for a while…sweet little Bentley!