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An Unforgettable Dish: Cheese Ravioli with Fresh Tomatoes and Artichoke Sauce

Cheese Ravioli with Fresh Tomato and Artichoke Sauce

There are some things that are best forgotten:  embarrassing moments, old grudges, unfortunate hairstyles, and anything done after five or more cocktails.  On the other hand, it is best not to forget things like birthdays, anniversaries, making the mortgage payment and bathing.  I have been particularly forgetful lately, and it is driving me bananas.  Although my hygiene has been properly maintained and home foreclosure is not imminent, in the past couple of days I have neglected to: remember to buy necessary items at the grocery store, write a blog post, make a doctor’s appointment, and pick the rest of the corn from the garden.

Not picking the corn was a serious oversight–critters made a feast out of five of our beautiful ears!  Only two were left intact, which I immediately pulled off and took inside.  I am very sad and am mourning the tragic loss of our tasty little crop.  I am also kicking myself, because when I picked two ears for dinner a couple of nights ago, I gleefully noticed that the ears were perfect, and I made a mental note to go out and get the rest of them before the neighborhood wildlife discovered them.  Which I promptly forgot to do.

My memory has been so flighty the past few months that even my attempts to help myself are inadequate.  I’ll make a list to take to the grocery store and either forget to include important items, or forget the entire list on the kitchen table.  I’ll diligently enter an appointment in my cell phone and set an alarm to notify me of it an hour in advance.  But then I’ll forget to charge my cell phone or to keep it nearby, so I never hear the alarm.  I’ll write things on sticky notes and forget where I stuck them.  *Sigh.*

Bill and I are especially bad about remembering to take out meat to thaw for dinner.  This is why, during the school year when we are both working, we end up getting a lot of fast food.  We do manage to plan for those kinds of days once in a while, though.  We try to keep some items on hand that do not require thawing or loads of preparation, such as frozen or refrigerated cheese-filled pasta.  We boil it up, toss it with a bit of pesto and serve with some garlic bread and/or a salad for a filling meatless meal.

The following recipe is great if you are going meatless or just forgot to buy or thaw meat.  In the winter, we use canned diced tomatoes for a super quick dinner.  But in the summer, when the garden tomatoes are fresh and abundant, we chop up a bunch of those instead.   The recipe calls for roma tomatoes, but we use whatever the garden is producing.



Choppin’ Broccoliiiiiiiii

Our broccoli has broccoli-fied!  This joyful occurrence led me to page through our recipes in search of a dish with specific criteria:

  1. It had to contain broccoli, naturally.
  2. It needed to be a main course.  Bill was up to his elbows in cucumbers making pickles (recipe to come) and had not taken out any meat to cook for dinner, nor was he intending to do so.  This meant that I was in charge of the full meal, rather than just the usual side dish.
  3. It had to contain ingredients that we had on hand.

Criterion #3 is always a bit tricky.  It’s annoying to find a fun recipe, and then have to make a special trip to the store to buy a bunch of ingredients.  Especially if they are weird ingredients that are unlikely to be used again.  A friend of mine had a solution to this all-too-common problem, and told me about this cool cookbook, The Stocked Kitchen by Sarah Kallio and Stacey Krastins.  It contains over 300 recipes that can be made using one grocery list.  The idea is to keep your kitchen stocked with the items on the list and never have to worry about what to make.   Sounded perfect for us!  So, I bought a copy from as a Christmas gift for Bill.  We have yet to use it.  Why?  Because in order to have a well-stocked pantry, having an actual pantry is kind of a necessity.

The “pantry” in our miniscule kitchen consists of three shelves in the cupboards above our microwave (see picture).   The only other spot we have to store food is a small cupboard above the stove, which is where the TALL ITEMS, such as cereal boxes and gallon-sized rum bottles are kept.  We keep many non-refrigerator foods in the refrigerator–such as flour and sugar–just because we have room in there.  And to keep bugs out.  If we don’t have a pantry, then we shouldn’t have to worry about pantry pests, right?  So, although we already have many of the things on The Stocked Pantry grocery list, we simply do not have room for the rest of them.  I hope to figure out something soon, though, since I would like to try the recipes.  For the time being, I have to do some artful arranging to fit everything inside of the cupboard, and then dodge falling items with my cat-like reflexes when I am searching for something.

Last night, I settled on a recipe for Chicken Broccoli Supper, and while I was exploring the “pantry” to see what kind of noodles we had, I was attacked by a bottle of barbecue sauce that decided to jump from the top shelf.  Missing my temple by mere centimeters, it bounced off the edge of my Salad Spinner and sent a chunk of the Salad Spinner’s lid flying clear across the kitchen (I found it later in the fruit bowl).  This made me very cranky, since my Salad Spinner is one of my Highly Regarded kitchen tools that I use often. But at least dinner turned out OK, even if it was not particularly photogenic.

I’ve attached a link to the inspirational recipe below, but if you follow it, it really won’t be what I made because I changed a lot of things.  First of all, I measured nothing. When scavenging, I found some pasta shells, so I used up what I had left and thawed a few chicken tenders in the microwave.  I used cream of mushroom soup, rather than cream of chicken and vegetable stock instead of chicken broth.  After 30 minutes in the oven, when I took it out to stir it, everything was cooked through but it tasted a bit bland.  So I hit it with some Tabasco sauce and topped it with a four cheese Italian blend.  After a few more minutes in the oven to melt the cheese, it was ready to go.  It was tasty and cheesy, but a bit beige. If I were to make this again, I think I would steam the broccoli to a pretty green color and serve it on top of the pasta and chicken, just to add some brightness.  Baking the broccoli makes it kind of dull and lifeless to look at, and I prefer my broccoli happy, green and crunchy.


Fishing for Compliments? Make Farfalle with Asparagus and Smoked Salmon!

Yes, we used basil from our garden in today’s featured recipe, but this dish is not about basil; the star is smoked salmon. If you had told me a week ago–heck, a day ago–that I would be feasting on smoked salmon, my response would have been, “Ewww.”

I am not particularly fond of fish. Tuna fish mixed with Miracle Whip and onions has been the extent of my seafood consumption for most of my life. Sometimes I can eat shrimp, but other times it grosses me out. Especially when there are feet. Or frightening long antennae that touch me from the plate (see picture of Scary Prawn). I have been trying to eat more fish, though, because I know it is healthy. In the past year I have developed a taste for the fish sliders at Seeburger’s Cheeseburgers in Mount Clemens, and I have tried various fish tacos that I truly like. I can also eat fish and chips, as long as I have unlimited tartar sauce. I know that pretty much negates the healthiness of the fish, as does the deep-frying, but I’m taking baby steps.

I was not particularly interested when Bill decided to smoke some salmon in the smoker that his parents got him for Christmas. I have tried smoked salmon in the past and do not care for it unless it is disguised with mounds of cream cheese. But, this was the debut of the smoker, and Bill was really into it, so when the fish was done I bravely tried a piece. Surprise: it was tasty and not at all fishy! We have been enjoying it on bagels and crackers with the requisite cream cheese, and the recipe that we discovered last night for dinner was too delicious not to share. The link to the recipe is below.

We have clay soil, so we have not attempted cultivating our own asparagus patch. Therefore, the main veggie in this dish was store-bought. We didn’t actually measure any of the ingredients. We just eyeballed everything according to our taste, and also added some chopped sun-dried tomatoes. The result was an incredibly light, fresh dish that we ate as a complete meal. The briny, smokey taste of the salmon is perfect with the lemon and bow-tie pasta. And when you get a chunk of pistachio or sun-dried tomato, it is a happy little surprise. We had seconds, and then thirds, raving all the while. Being that Bill is not big on asparagus, and I previously shunned salmon, this dish was a surprising hit!