Friday, April 30, 2010

Homemade Meatball & Mozzarella Ravioli


This has the same taste as spaghetti & meatballs, but with a fun new twist! The marinara is killer. The filling is smooth & delicious. The pasta is delicate & light. Mmmmmm.  You can of course get creative and fill your pasta with any number of tasty fillings: spinach & Italian sausage, ricotta, mushrooms....the possibilities are endless!



You will need a food processor to make these. 


Ravioli Ingredients

1 package of won ton wrappers - yes, it says right on the front of the package that they can be used for ravioli. You can of course make your own pasta, but this is easy and cheap! I had some leftover from last night's pot stickers.

1 lb lean ground beef
1 tbsp oregano
1/4 cup minced onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup minced bell pepper

1 cup of mozzarella cheese

salt/pepper

Marinara Ingredients


2 roma tomatoes - deseeded
1 shallot
1/2 cup sweet bell pepper - I used red "Ancient Sweet" peppers
2 cloves garlic
about 2 tbsp each: fresh parsley, basil & oregano
1 can of plain tomato sauce
1 tbsp honey



Process the garlic, pepper and onion together until it's very finely minced. Get a skillet on medium high heat. Add a bit of oil & get the minced veggies in the pan.

Once they're soft, add the ground beef & season with oregano, salt & pepper. Break the meat up into small pieces.
Now get a sauce pan on medium heat while the meat cooks. Stir occasionally until browned. Then drain & set aside.


Get the food processor back on! Time to get the tomatoes, sweet peppers, shallot & garlic in there. Puree it. This means pulverize it. It should look like tomato sauce when it's done. Now add it into the hot saucepan.




While that simmers up a bit, mince your herbs in the food processor too! The food processor makes this dinner EASY to do. 


Add the minced herbs into the sauce....followed by the can of tomato sauce. 


Season with salt & pepper. My secret marinara ingredient is a dash of honey. The tomatoes need it. Let it simmer on low until the ravioli are done. 

Time to get the food processor back to work. Add all of the meat and pulverize it. Not so it's a creamy consistency - that's too far. Just so it's VERY finely minced, resembling dry, tilled soil. 

BEFORE


AFTER

Place it in a large bowl. Now add the mozzarella cheese while it's still a bit warm and combine well. 


Taste it! Is it goooood?  Mine was!



Get a large pot of water on to boil. 

Now it's time to assemble. You can use a handy dandy pot sticker maker like I have, or you can make your own shapes :) They are so fun to make. Just make sure you seal the edges well with either some water or egg wash on both sides that you're sealing together. I made some tortellini, square ravioli and crescent ravioli. 




When you have a batch of 10 or so made, drop them into boiling water for 3-4 minutes. Scoop them out with a small colander and continue to cook them in batches of 10. I make them "to order" and the crescent ones are about 10 per serving.  


Top with the marinara sauce & some grated Italian cheese! 
Fantastico!





Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Copycat KFC Chicken

I've worked and worked at this one. I think I have it just about right! Definitely a KFC-like flavor (with less saltiness) and the crunch is fantastic.

Ingredients
2-3 lbs of chicken (I used tenders b/c I got them on sale this week) Skin-on & bone-in would be great b/c the breading would really stick to the skin and make it more true to the KFC style.

a quart of buttermilk

2 cups of all purpose flour - I'm sure you could substitute whole wheat flour for it too.
1 cup of instant pancake mix
1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp of black pepper
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp Accent
1 tablespoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried marjoram
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Vegetable Oil


First, soak your chicken in the buttermilk for at least a few hours. All day is best. You can add some hot sauce to it if you like your chicken a little kickin'

When it's time to cook, whisk together the flour, pancake mix & baking powder.

Use a coffee grinder, food processor or mortar & pestle to grind the spices together. I used a combination of my food processor and mortar & pestle.




The secret spice is NUTMEG! Shhhh. Don't tell anyone! hahaha!


Whisk the spices into the flour mixture. Pour some leftover buttermilk into a dish - I was running low, so I poured off the excess from the chicken and added a bit of Almond milk to it.


Get a deep skillet on med-high heat. Add about 1/2" of oil to it. I used Smart Balance oil so I felt a bit healthier, but any vegetable oil will do. Once the oil is hot, start to batter the chicken.

You will remove the chicken from the buttermilk, give it a roll around in the flour/spice mixture. Dunk into the dish with buttermilk and then give it another roll in the flour/spice mixture. Yes, we are double battering. Mmmmmm.


Then pop them into the oil. They should sizzle, if they don't? Your oil isn't hot enough. Cook about 4 minutes per side for the tenders. Longer if you are using dark meat or skin-on/bone-in chicken. They should be a dark golden brown when they are done. Don't flip them around too much if you are using skinless chicken, because the breading will want to fall off.


Drain on paper towels for a minute and then pop into a warm oven on a baking rack or sheet until the whole batch is done. That's it!

I am trying to watch the ol' waistline lately since bikini season is creeping up on us, so I had my chicken on a big, fresh salad. I made some fat free balsamic dressing for it (a few tbsp of good quality balsamic vinegar, a tsp of dijon, a couple tbsp honey, salt/pepper - shake in a jar). It was SOOOO good!!!