Monday, December 30, 2013

Spices...spices...spices

Now I know this isn't exactly a recipe of sorts...but it is a recipe for organizing. I am in the process of trying to organize my life. I am tired of the disarray. It is becoming way to much for me. Step by step, piece by piece, I am taking one small section of my house and trying to put it in some sort of order. I started with my spices. I used to have one of those carousels for spices...you know the ones I am talking about? I found these small spice jars on Amazon and fell in love! I purchased some stickers and chalk ink was almost giddy with excitement when I started filling these jars with my spices. I just love how they turned out! Don't you?


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Lamb, Mint and Feta Ravioli

Well, friends, it was that time of year again. The Valente/Young Christmas Eve tradition. Our good friend came over for wine and yummy ravioli's! This year, I came up with something a bit Greek inspired. I absolutely adore the Greek "lasagna" pastitsio and D and J love lamb. I decided to combine the two. I used the pastitisio sauce and created a lamb filling. The ravs turned out heavenly. I hope one day soon, you all will attempt to make homemade ravioli. It is definitely a labor of love, but oh soooo worth it. Last year, D and I actually hosted a ravioli swap with neighbors and friends and this year, I plan on hosting two. It is akin to hosting a cookie swap. I provided the dough and the sauce, and everyone brought their own filling. We then split the raviolis and was able to bring home the different types (sausage, meatball and three cheese). So much fun I tell ya!! Well here is my lamb ravioli! Enjoy!

3 lb leg of lamb, preferably boneless

Marinade for the lamb:
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from 3 to 4 lemons)
4 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leave parsley
1 tablespoon each chopped fresh oregano, rosemary, thyme, and basil
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper

Filling for the raviolis:

2 onions, sliced
2 pks frozen spinach, thawed and drained well
3 pks feta cheese (3 oz)
3 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
Leg of lamb above, minced in the food processor
  
For the marinade, stir together the lemon juice, garlic, parsley, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and basil in a bowl. Whisk in the oil. Use right away. Make sure the lamb is completely covered. If not, add more lemon juice and olive oil. Marinade for up to 24 hours. Pour the marinade into a slow cooker. Bring a large pan up to medium high heat and sear the lamb on all sides. Place the lamb into the slow cooker. Deglaze the pan with a dry white wine and pour the scrapings into the slow cooker. Cook on medium for 7 hours. Separate out the lamb from the marinade.


Heat up about 2 – 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Add all of your sliced onions. Let sauté for about 45 minutes on medium heat, until they become a nice golden brown. This is known as caramelizing.  In the food processor, add the lamb and pulse until, the consistency pretty much looks like ground meat. Move to a large mixing bowl. Put the carmelized onions, spinach mint and feta cheese, pulse until well blended and minced together. Add mixture to the lamb. Combine very well and add salt and pepper to taste.




Monday, December 23, 2013

Shrimp Ceviche

For my birthday this year, we went to this Mexican restaurant that served a fantastic ceviche sampler. I just LOVE ceviche. For those of you who aren't familiar with ceviche, you typically make this dish with raw fish and let it marinate in citrus juices for some time. The citric acid causes the proteins in the seafood to become denatured, giving the appearance of actually being cooked. You typically will actually marinate the seafood for 1 – 3 hours…but the longer the better (in my opinion). I use shrimp as one of my ingredients, and I actually chose to par-boil the shrimp for about one minute, just to remove the “rawness of the fish” and then let it finish marinating in the citric juices. You can do this as well. The end result is a very fresh low fat dish that goes well with crackers, on top of bibb lettuce or just in a little dish with a spoon.

¼ lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
¼ bay scallops (the small ones)
½ red onion, minced
10 grape tomatoes, chopped
3 mini orange peppers, chopped
4 radishes, chopped
2 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp chipotle powder
3 Meyer lemons, juiced (if you can’t find Meyer lemons, regular will do just fine)
2 limes, juiced
2 oranges, juiced
Salt to taste


Par-boil the shrimp for 1 minute, remove and immediately put into an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Cut each shrimp into thirds. Combine all ingredients into a bowl and let marinade for at least an hour before serving.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Plum Upside Down Cake

Went to Sam’s Club yesterday and on a whim, bought a large plastic package of plums. Not sure why, I love plums, but not a fruit I usually will purchase 15 of at a time, unless I am in my preserving mode. Our next door neighbors had a baby about a month ago, and after giving them time to adjust to a newborn, Dave and I went over for a visit. I wanted to bring something over and was thinking about an Upside Down cake using plums instead of pineapple. I found an extremely easy version and low and behold I had all of the ingredients in my pantry. Taste of Home had this recipe on their website and the baker in me got excited! Now this is the first time I have made an upside down cake, so the resulting photos show my plums don’t look quite as pretty as a professional, but Dave got to sample a little bit of the plums (the lil ones that remained in the pan after I turned it over) and he said it was fantastic!!!

7 tbsp butter, softened and divided
3/4 cup sugar, divided
3 to 4 plums, pitted and thinly sliced
1 egg
1 cup Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350. Place 1 tbsp butter in a 9-in. round baking pan. Put pan in the oven to melt. Remove from oven and sprinkle with 1/3 cup sugar Arrange plum slices in a circular pattern over sugar. Bake for 10 minutes. While the plums are baking, cream the remaining butter with remaining sugar; beat in the egg. Combine flour, salt and baking powder. Add to the creamed mixture alternately with milk and vanilla, beating until smooth. Spread evenly over plums. Bake for 30 minutes or until cake tests done. Remove from the oven and immediately invert onto a large serving platter. Serve warm.