Saturday, March 27, 2010

Mama Mia!

We've had a wave of illness wash over our home this past week, so I haven't been doing much cooking as of late.  I'm trying to get back in the groove of blogging, and have been wanting to post this new recipe for Cheesy Baked Ravioli for a while now, so I guess that's a good place to start!  A few weeks ago, I was going through some of my old Cook's Country magazines (my fave!) and started bookmarking new recipes to try out.  All the way back to the Ocotober/November 2005 issue is where I found this winner.  It was easy to make, had my favorite Italian flavors of tomato and basil, and the family loved it (minus Sugarbear, that is.  He only likes hamburgers.) so I will be making it again, once we're all well and good.

Cheesy Ravioli Bake

1.  Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot for cooking pasta.  Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to the center position and heat oven to 450-degrees.  Grease a shallow, 2-quart baking dish with 1 tablespoon butter.

2.  Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add 2 minced garlic cloves and cook until fragrant but not brown, about 30 seconds.  Add a 28-ounce can diced tomatoes and increase the heat to high.  Cook until thickened and almost dry, about 10 minutes.  Stir in 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil and 1/3 cup heavy cream and simmer until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes.  Season with salt to taste.

3.  Add 1 tablespoon salt and 2 8-ounce packages fresh cheese ravioli to the boiling water and cook until al dente.  Add 1 6-ounce bag baby spinach to the pot with the pasta and stir until wilted, about 30 seconds.  Drain pasta and spinach, return to pot, and stir in tomato sauce.  Transfer mixture to baking dish and sprinkle with 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese.  Bake until top is golden, about 10 minutes.  Cool 5 minutes before serving.

Oh, so gooey and yummy, but surprisingly light and fresh.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Lemon Chicken and Rice Soup

We had some chilly weather last week and it gave me a hankering to try some new soup recipes.  This one, for Lemon Chicken and Rice Soup, was at the top of the list.  It is actually a version of the Greek soup, Avgolemono.  I found the recipe in an America's Test Kitchen recipe card collection that was published in 2007.  This soup is substantial without being heavy.  The added lemon juice and parsley give it a nice, vibrant flavor.  Best of all, it comes together quickly, which makes it perfect for a busy weekday meal.

Lemon Chicken and Rice Soup

1.  Bring 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth to boil in a large saucepan over high heat.  Cover and set aside.    Pat 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking.  Cook chicken until lightly browned on both sides and transfer to a plate.  Lower heat to medium-low, add 1 minced medium onion, and cook until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes.  Stir in hot broth, using wooden spoon to scrape browned bits from pan.  Add 2 carrots that have been peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds, 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme, 3/4 cup long grain rice and chicken breasts.  Cover and simmer over low heat until chicken is cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes.

2.  Transfer chicken to a cutting board and continue simmering soup, covered, until rice is tender, about 10 minutes more.  Cut chicken into bite-size pieces.  Off heat, stir in the chicken along with 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

3.  Whisk 3 tablespoons lemon juice with 4 large egg yolks in a bowl.  Whisking constantly, gradually ladle 1 cup hot soup into egg mixture, then stir egg mixture back into soup.  Reheat over low heat for 1 minute.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve.

This actually re-heated well for lunch the next day.  It was a little thick, more like a stew, so I added extra chicken broth when I made it the next day.  I also sprinkled some fresh parsley on top.