Shrimp Ravioli w/ 10 Minute Tomato Blender Sauce

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Homemade pasta is quick and easy to make, and is seriously a game changer. Even without a pasta maker, one can simply make it utilizing a rolling pin and a few minutes of kneading! Keep in mind, pasta dough does not need nearly as much kneading as bread dough. Additionally, marinara sauce takes hours to cook, due to the necessary time needed to break down the fibers and sugars in the tomatoes. However, I have been testing for a quick tomato sauce and have found the perfect way to make homemade marinara sauce. It surely isn’t the same thing as stewed marinara sauce, but it is just as delicious, flavorful, and it’s difficult to even notice the difference. Now, let’s get down to the gist of it. The Ravioli dough can be found HERE and the shrimp filling and tomato blender sauce is down below:


Shrimp Ravioli

yield: 35-40 medium ravioli

ingredients:

ravioli filling:

  • 8 jumbo shrimp
  • 6 oz. ricotta
  • 1/4 c. packed frozen spinach (drained and water squeezed out)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp parsley
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp salt

NOTE: Garlic bread seasoning OR Italian seasoning mix + garlic powder can be substituted for garlic powder, oregano, parsley, and basil.

Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and dollop 1 tsp of mix onto ravioli dough.
  2. Form the ravioli and allow it to set out at room temperature for 45 min. to dry.
  3. Once ravioli has been set out for 45 min, boil a pot of water with 1/2 tsp salt. When the water is boiling, throw in the ravioli and let them cook for approx. 6-8 min, or until dough becomes see through.
  4. Serve the ravioli fresh with a delicious pasta sauce! My 10 minute tomato blender pasta sauce is a savory sauce blasting full of flavor.

Tomato Blender Sauce

yield: 2 c. sauce

ingredients:

  • 4 roma tomatoes cut into chunks
  • 8 fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt

Directions:

  1. In a blender, blend the tomatoes and basil leaves until smooth.
  2. In a pot, melt the butter and sautee the garlic until lightly browned. Add in the blender mixture, and allow it to simmer on low for 5 minutes.
  3. Pour in all the other ingredients and stir. Cover the pot with a lid and allow to simmer for an additional 4 minutes. Turn the heat off, and serve over the pasta or let the sauce sit in the pot, as it will thicken up.

My Foolproof Cream Puff Recipe (Red Bean and Sesame Flavor)

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These light, eggy, and airy puffs of joy can often lead to a kitchen conundrum, but I have one simple-to-follow recipe that results in the perfect crowdpleasing desserts at any dinner party! OR just a dessert that you can devour on your own :’). Typically a vanilla or custard cream is used to fill puffs, but I highly recommend taking an extra step to make a flavored cream such as oreo, chocolate, or strawberry. I followed a more Asian flavor and made red bean and black sesame cream.


Foolproof Cream Puffs

yield: 20 large puffs OR 60 small puffs

Ingredients:

For the sugar crumb topping:

  • 2/3 c. cake flour (I made my own cake flour; ratio= 1 c. All-purpose flour to 2 tbsp cornstarch)
  • 1/4 c, granulated sugar
  • 1/3 c. unsalted butter (softened)

For the puff:

  • 2/3 c. water
  • 1/3 c. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. cake flour
  • 4 eggs

For the red bean cream:

  • 1 tub store bought whipped cream topping
  • 3/4 c. canned red bean paste

For the sesame cream:

  • 1 tub store bought whipped cream topping
  • 1/4 c. black sesame paste (store bought or homemade)

Directions:

  1. To make the sugar crumb topping, combine all ingredients thoroughly with a spatula and roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper into any a square or circle (the shape doesn’t matter) until it is about 1/4 cm thick. Place in the fridge so the dough hardens. puff 5
  2. In a saucepan, melt water and butter until simmering. Then add the salt and flour and stir with a spatula until the dough comes together. Cook the dough for an additional 2 min. and then remove from the heat.puff 1
  3. Spread the dough out with a spatula in the pan so that it can cool faster. After about 10 minutes of cooling, crack in the eggs one by one, mixing them in completely with a spatula before adding another egg. puff 2
  4. Once the dough is smooth, completely incorporated, and a thick, viscous consistency, place in a piping bag or sandwich bag with the corner trimmed.
  5. Preheat the oven to 355 F.
  6. Pipe the dough onto a lined baking tray with parchment paper of a silicon mat. For large puffs, pipe a circle 2 in. in diameter and for small puffs, pipe a circle 1 in. in diameter. Remove the sugar crumb from the fridge and cut out either a 2 in. or 1 in. circle from the dough (depending on what size puff you are making) with a cookie cutter or a shot glass, or any circular device. Place the sugar crumb dough on top of the puff dough a gently press down. Repeat for all puffs and then place in the oven.
  7. Bake puffs for 25-30 min or until lightly golden brown.puff 8
  8. Once the puffs are done baking, cool for 10 min. Take the whipped cream and manually whip the red bean or sesame paste into the cream. Place back in the fridge.
  9. Using a piping bag or plastic bag with the corned tip cut, place the cream in. For each puff, cut a small half circle with a small knife and pipe in enough cream to fill the entire puff and then cover back the small half circle up. Repeat for all puffs and enjoy immediately or place in the fridge until ready to enjoy.

The puffs can last up to 5-6 days in the refrigerator. They taste best fresh out the oven with cream so I advise snacking on some after immediately baking! I’ve made these for a few parties and have received compliments from many many people so I guarantee that this foolproof recipe will be one for the books.

 

 

 

Creamy Spinach Pot Pie

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The perfect Winter dish to battle the unforgiving cold outdoors is one that pipes clouds of steam and consists of rich, creamy sauces. With a dearth of fresh ingredients at home, I had to cleverly improvise a recipe to finish off all the perishable products in the fridge so that I could head out for a trip without coming home to spoiled food.

Thus, this isn’t your traditional pot pie. It’s simply a mix of things cooked together to form a beautiful product. I was pleased with the outcome, and I served it to a few friends who thankfully all enjoyed the “pot pie”! It is simple, cheap, quick, and easy to make and could be the star of an elegant Winter dinner.


Creamy Spinach Pot Pie

yield: 4 pies

Ingredients:

  • 1 8 oz. can pillsbury crescent rolls
  • 2 large carrots
  • 7 oz. frozen spinach
  • 1 pkg. cream cheese
  • 3 tbsp. milk
  • 5 oz. frozen peas
  • 1/2 c. shredded cheese (optional; use for extra goodness)
  • 3 strips bacon (I used turkey bacon)
  • 1 egg (for egg wash)

Directions (photos below!):

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F.
  2. Thinly slice the carrots into circles and dice the bacon into cubes.
  3. Cook the bacon in a pan until the fat is rendered and drain the bacon and set aside. Using the bacon grease, saute the carrots for about 5 minutes and then toss in the frozen peas and spinach until all the vegetables are completely cooked and combined.
  4. Add the cream cheese into the vegetables and stir slowly until the cream cheese is completely melted. Add the 3 tbsp. of milk to thin the mixture. Add in the bacon and stir until mixture is completely combined.
  5. Let the mixture simmer for a couple minutes until a rich, thick consistency is reached.
  6. Roll out the chilled crescent dough and using the ramekin as the template, cut 1 cm. around the ramekin to form the circle of dough that will cover the pot pie. You can also use a mini cookie cutter to cut out a shape to garnish the top of the pie. I used a mini star cookie cutter.
  7. Once the dough shapes are cut out, take the ramekins and spray the insides with non-stick cooking spray. Spoon in the ramekins about 1/2 c. of the vegetable, cream mixture, sprinkle with shredded cheese, and top with the crescent dough. Using a fork, press down the outsides of the dough against the ramekin rim.
  8. Beat an egg in a small bowl, and using a pastry brush, brush the egg wash onto the crescent dough.
  9. Repeat until all ramekins are complete. Bake at 350 °F for 10 min.

 

Spoon the vegetables into the ramekins

cut the dough

Use a fork to press down the edges of the crescent dough

covered pies

brush

egg wash

fresh out the oven

perfect winter meal

Forget about the gym at the moment and make these pot pies! I promise you that they will be a huge hit among the dinner table!

Healthy Lunch Idea #12: Shrimp Mango Spring Rolls

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A fresh recipe is very enjoyable on a hot summer day in the South. A recipe that fit within the lines of easy and healthy are Vietnamese spring rolls that are traditionally wrapped with Thai basil and vermicelli noodles. I took out the vermicelli noodles and just added more vegetable because the vegetables fill me up anyways. I made spring rolls with shrimp and a vegetarian version using sliced fried eggs for my grandparents. Both with great flavor and a lot of protein.

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Ingredients:

  • 6 spring roll wrappers
  • 1 c shredded lettuce
  • 1/2 c thinly sliced cucumbers
  • 1/2 c. thinly sliced mangoes
  • 12 shrimp, cut each in half from head to tail ( 2 per roll)
  • 1 avocado(thinly sliced)
  1. soak spring roll wrapper in water for about 3 seconds
  2. layer all ingredients on the wrapper with lettuce first and shrimp on top
  3. Folding a spring roll is like folding a burrito. Fold both sides in and roll until the end of the roll sticks to the rest of the wrapper.

For the dipping sauce:

  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tsp water (add more if a lighter consistency is desired)
  • splash of lemon juice

combine all ingredients

Because the spring rolls are low in fat and carbs, you can surely eat more than 1. Go for 3 if you are really wanting those vegetables!

-Jamie

Macaron Recipe and Tips

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These colorful desserts are so stubborn and are known to be one of the most challenging foods to make. I have been a part of the frustrated group of people who have failed several times, but now on my 6th try, I have finally mastered the art of macaron-making and will provide insight on my previous mistakes and the tips you need to succeed.

For the macarons, I used this recipe from allrecipes.com :http://allrecipes.com/recipe/223234/macaron-french-macaroon/

IMG_2948

Macaron baking tips:

  1. COOL TEMPERATURE: the temperature in your home is very important. It must be cool, a minimum of 78 degrees or else the shells will not form while the macarons are sitting.
  2. USE METAL BOWLS: do not use plastic bowls because plastic bowls trap moisture and oil and we do not want added moisture to the batter
  3. BAKING SHEET OVER PARCHMENT PAPER: This one is based on opinion, but I find that the baking sheet results in less browning on the bottom and the bottom of the macaron cooks evenly
  4. CREAM OF TARTAR: I believe that the use of cream of tartar when beating egg whites is important. When I didn’t use cream of tartar, my macaron shells would never form feet. I use about 1/8 tsp.
  5. BEATING THE TRAYS: Once you pipe the macaron shells, drop the trays straight down on the counter 3 times to get rid of air bubbles
  6. SITTING TIME: Some recipes don’t call for the macaron sitting time, but I say it is so necessary. Feet, which is unique to a macaron, is the little ruffled skirt on the bottom of a macaron shell. Let the macarons sit out for 1 hour before baking so the the shells harden, but the gooey insides cook and bubble out to form the feet.
  7. GEL FOOD COLORING: Use gel food coloring instead of liquid food coloring so you don’t add extra moisture into the batter.

Take these tips into account the next time you make macarons, and you wont be spending $2 per macaron anymore!

-Jamie

Healthy Lunch Idea #11: Taiwanese Style Vegetarian Egg Sandwich

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Recently, I have been eating a lot less meat, and although I savor turkey and beef and other flavorful meats in my sandwich, it is simple to create a vegetarian sandwich while still getting a ton of flavor and saltiness in each bite. This healthy Taiwanese style sandwich uses avocado as a replacement for cheese or mayo and the egg as a protein. I also used a cranberry, nut bread to create a contrast between the sweet and salty.

On a side note: Taiwan is one of the best places to eat cheap, delicious food. I have not gone back in 6 years but luckily, this Summer I will visit Taiwan, and I know I will put on at least 5 pounds. Sandwiches like this one can be found everywhere in Taiwan and are popular in gas stations such as 7/11. A gas station in Taiwan differs from a gas station in the US in that it’s more like a food stop and there are fresh foods made daily.

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices bread ( I used a fancier bread: cranberry, nut)
  • 12 cucumber slices
  • 1/4 mashed avocado (I seasoned with a bit of salt, pepper, and lemon juice)
  • 1 fried egg
  1. Assemble the sandwich and enjoy!

Why not homemade?

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Why not homemade?

I am an avid fan of homemade foods. The benefits are endless including that you’ll save big bucks, it’ll most likely be healthier, and you can “customize” the food to suit your taste buds. Today, I opened a bag of chocolates and found a liquid mess! The chocolates had melted (they just couldn’t stand the Texas heat!) I also had a box of strawberries in my fridge so I decided to make chocolate covered strawberries.

1. I washed the strawberries and dried them.
2. Saved myself time by not having to melt the chocolate! So, I pulsed some almonds in the food processor into crumbs and laid them in a baking pan.
3. Coat the strawberries in the chocolate.
4. Roll them around in the crushed almonds and lay them on wax paper.
5. Refrigerate the and TADA! Enjoy!!!

Chocolate covered strawberries range from about $2-3 each in grocery stores. They are extremely overpriced since they pick out the largest ones and that strawberries spoil easily. However, I made a bunch of strawberries for around $4! These are great for presents and parties and they are so professional looking! I am always trying to home make as many foods as possible. It is really worth the time and extremely rewarding.

Happy dipping!