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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ricotta and Pea Ravioli - The Easy Way!!

Ok, so I'm back. Now that the wedding has come and gone, I can sink my teeth back into searching for new and fun stuff to make. I tend to be a little less inspired in the summer, which is ironic considering that this is when food is at its best. But we do a lot of grilling and get stuck into our routine of grilled meat, corn and salad most nights. But, we were dying for some pasta the other night. Temps were down to a chilly 80 so we figured we could do it. Not wanting the usual sausage and heavy pasta, I opted for this VERY light summer pasta dish. It's delicious and easy. The best part is that given the heat, I wasn't up for cranking out the fresh pasta this week. Instead - wonton wrappers. If you really feel like you're cheating - use your own homemade ricotta and that will make up for it.

1 package wonton wrappers - found in the tofu section of the grocery store
2/3 of a small container of ricotta cheese (much better if you make your own!!)
1 cup frozen peas
1 egg
1/2 cup grated parmesan or romano - grate your own, you want it fresh!
1 TB lemon zest
2 TB chopped basil
salt & pepper
tomato sauce (however you like it)

1. Have your tomato sauce ready and hot

2. Beat the egg. Reserve a spoonful or so in a small bowl and add a touch of water to make an eggwash to seal your ravioli. Set both aside.

3. Soak the peas in some warm water to defrost, then drain.

4. In a food processor, pulse the peas and basil until a sort of a meal is formed.

5. In a bowl, combine the ricotta, the beaten egg (not the spoonful with water), the parmesan, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Mix together and then add the peas. Mix well together.

6. Place about 1 tsp into the center of the wonton. Fold the edges to form a triangle and seal with the egg wash. Repeat until all of the filling is used, placing them on a cookie sheet.

Note: do not overfill them! It takes a little patience but if they're overloaded, they won't stay sealed! Also, this makes quite a few. You can freeze them raw, layer them in a tupperware container with parchment in between each layer. You can pop them into boiling water frozen and makes for an easy and convenient dinner.

7. Boil a pot of water. Add the ravioli one at a time and very gently check to make sure they don't stick to the bottom of the pot. Ravioli are usually done when they float to the top but they'll take a little over 5 minutes or so.

8. Carefully spoon them out onto a place and top with tomato sauce.

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Thai Chicken Tacos

This was a classic case of 'what's in the fridge.' I had a hankering for Thai or Mexican and couldn't decide...so voila! Thai tacos. This is a take on chicken satay that's sort of inspired by a Vietnamese Bahn Mi...but with a tortilla. We had this the other night and I get the feeling that these will be on the menu at least a few more times before summer's over. Very easy and yummy and make lots of extra chicken - you can use the leftovers on salad, chicken salad, or just on their own!

Chicken Satay Marinade
1/4 minced lemongrass (peel away the outside few layers and only use the softer inside)
2 shallots, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cayenne pepper or garlic chili paste
1 TB fresh ginger, minced
1/2 tsp tumeric
2 TB coriander
2 tsp cumin
3 TB soy sauce
4 TB fish sauce
5 TB brown sugar
2 TB veg. oil
1 or 2 packages of chicken breast tenders

Satay Sauce
1 cup peanuts (or you can use peanut butter but cut down on the brown sugar if you do)
1/3 cup water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
2 TB brown sugar
2 TB fish sauce
1 TB lime juice
1/2 cayenne or garlic chili paste
1/3 cup coconut milk

Tacos
4-5 flour tortillas
green lettuce
cucumber sliced into thin spears
cilantro
basil leaves
carrot (ribboned from a peeler)

1. Mix all of the marinade ingredients together and add the chicken. Place in a large ziplock and marinate for at least an hour.

2. While the chicken is marinating (or before you go to work in the morning) soak your wooden skewers so that they don't burn on the grill later.

3. To make the satay sauce, combine all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. Set aside.

4. Chop up the veggies and arrange your fixins for your tacos.

5. When the chicken is done marinating, fire up the grill. Put each tender on a skewer so that the skewer goes through the tender the long way. They should look like chicken popsicles.

6. Grill until the chicken is done, just a few minutes on each side. Set the chicken aside and then place the tortillas on the grill just one minute per side to heat them up and get slight grill marks.

7. To build the tacos, generously spoon the satay sauce on the tortilla, then add the lettuce, cucumber, cilantro, basil, carrot and chicken. Roll up and you're ready!

Lemon Lime Basil Shortbread Cookies

I don't do a lot of baking in the summer, mostly because I also don't really like air conditioning. Oven + 2nd floor apartment + mid-90 degree temps = HOT. But, I tried these from Bon Appetit and they are super simple, they took me about 5 minutes to make and 10 minutes to bake. And the best part is they're light in taste and the basil is the bonus.

1 cup flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 TB sliced fresh basil leaves
2 tsp lemon zest
1 TB fresh lemon juice
1 tsp lime zest
1/4 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. Place flour, powdered sugar, butter, basil, zests, lemon juice and salt in food processor and pulse until large moist clumps form.

3. Roll about a tablespoon of dough in your hand and place on cookie sheet. Press down lightly with your fingers to make a disc and repeat for the rest of the dough.

4. Bake about 15 minutes or until the edges are brown.