Happy Fourth of July–Roasted Ravioli & Blistered Tomato Skewers

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY to everyone!!!

Happy Fourth of July 2019My husband and I are just about to go to a neighborhood pool party to celebrate with our friends.  I came up with this easy red, white and blue appetizer for the party pot luck.

INGREDIENTS:

Toasted Ravioli & Blistered Tomato Skewers Ingredients

  • 48 ounces of grape tomatoes
  • 24 ounces of basil and cheese ravioli
  • blue toothpicks
  • olive oil to coat and toast ravioli

PREPPING THE RAVIOLI

Boiling the Ravioli

  • Bring 4 quarts of water to boil
  • Add a table spoon of salt
  • Add the ravioli and boil till they float to the top and puff up.  This takes about 4 minutes.

Placing the Ravioli in an Oiled Baking Dish

  • Drain cooked ravioli into a glass baking dish that has been oiled with olive oil.  This prevents the ravioli from sticking to each other.

Toasting the Ravioli

  • Coat a large non-stick skillet with olive oil and place on medium high heat.
  • Place the cooked ravioli in a single layer and toast on both sides.
  • Do this in batches and keep adding the toasted ravioli to a glass baking dish.

Toasted Ravioli

Follow the instructions from my Blistered Tomatoes post to prepare the tomatoes.

Toasted Ravioli & Blistered Tomatoes

ASSEMBLY

Skewer Assembly

Assembling the skewers is very simple. Gently pierce the center of the ravioli and push it to where the blue decoration starts. Then pierce the stem end of the blistered tomato placing it on top of the ravioli.  Arrange on a platter to resemble an American Flag.

Toasted Ravioli & Blistered Tomatoes Feature

 

Let me know what you think in the comment section.  We are off to the party now.  Hope you are all having a good time with your friends and family. !!!

Oven Roasted Roma Tomatoes

This is one of my favorite recipes.  I look forward to fresh summer Roma tomatoes so I can make this dish.  I learned how to make these from my Italian neighbor, Jeanette.  When we lived in California, my husband used to grow our vegetables.  I used to take the extra veggies to Jeanette.  In return, she taught me how to make her Italian dishes.  She is the one who introduced me to Italian cooking.

This recipe is very simple and versatile.  I put the roasted tomatoes on my cheese board when throwing a wine tasting party.  They are great with a full bodied red wine.  I also use them in pasta dishes and sandwiches.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 10 Roma tomatoes (these were grown by my neighbor, Billy.  I think they are absolutely beautiful)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar (mine is in a spray bottle.  Makes it easier to use.  If you don’t have a spray bottle you can drizzle it on with a small spoon.)
  • 1 tablespoon of my Italian Spice Mix
  • sea salt to taste

PREP:

  • Cut the Roma tomatoes in half
  • Use a grapefruit spoon to scoop out the seeds and place them on a foil lined baking sheet
  • Sprinkle them with sea salt and my Italian Spice Mix
  • Drizzle on the balsamic vinegar and the olive oil

COOK:  Preheat your oven to 400 F.  Place the tomatoes in the oven and bake them till they are browned.  This takes 10 to 15 minutes.  Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.

Arrange the cooked tomatoes in a bowl or platter.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Top with grated Romano cheese and fresh basil for a finishing touch.

Oven Roasted Roma Tomatoes Feature

 

Fig Fillo Bites

My neighbor, Billy, brought me another fresh batch of figs from his tree.  I decided to make a batch of Fig Fillo Bites and invite my next door neighbor, Mary Ellen for mid-morning tea.  Mary Ellen loves figs.  We had a great time visiting with each other, talking and enjoying masala chai and these fig bites.  It was a beautiful sunny morning, so I arranged tea under the pergola on our front deck.  There was a beautiful summer breeze blowing.  I felt very blessed to live in such a gorgeous place and have time to visit with my lovely neighbor.

Fig Fillo Bites Feature

Here is the recipe.  Try it and let me know what you think.

INGREDIENTS: (enough for 15 little tarts)

  • 15 figs
  • 1 box of mini Fillo Shells (15 in a box)
  • 8 ounces of Mascarpone, at room temp
  • 15 pine nuts
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 tablespoons of Agave nectar
  • 4 tablespoons of Elderberry Jelly (you can use any jelly you like)
  • dash of fennel seed powder (to make the powder just put a few fennel seeds in a spice grinder and whiz them up)

PREP:

Fig Fillo Bites Prep

  • Trim the stems off the figs
  • Zest the lemon
  • Squeeze the juice of the lemon
  • Toast the pine nuts on the stove top on low heat.  Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.Fig Fillo Bites Pinenuts Toasting
  • Bake the mini Fillo shells for 3 minutes at 350 F and let cool to room temp.

GLAZING THE FIGS:

  • Place a large, heavy skillet on medium heat.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of Agave nectar, 2 tablespoons of Elderberry jelly, half the lemon juice, half the lemon zest and half the fennel seed powder. (If you want to add a boozy touch you can also add a splash of Chambord or red raspberry wine at this point.)
  • Whisk to blend
  • Add the figs.  Using a silicone spatula, gently coat the figs with the glaze.
  • Transfer the glazed figs to a glass container and set aside.

MAKING THE CREAM FILLING:

  • Transfer the Mascarpone to a medium mixing bowl
  • Add 2 tablespoons of Agave nectar, 2 tablespoons of Elderberry Jelly, half the lemon juice, half the lemon zest and half the fennel seed powder.
  • Using a spoon, combine all ingredients.
  • Transfer to a glass dish and keep it in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the fig bites.

ASSEMBLING THE FILLO FIG BITES:

Fig Fillo Bites Assembly

  • Using a small ice cream disher, scoop out a dollop of the mascarpone cream filling and place it in the cooled Fillo shell.
  • Place a glazed fig, fat side down, on top of the cream filling.
  • Insert a toasted pine nut into the stem side of the fig.  The pine nut adds crunch and flavor.  It also replaces the stem that was trimmed so that the fig looks whole.

RECIPE NOTE:  If you want to make these a little boozy, you can add a splash of Chambord or red raspberry wine to the glaze.

I used a local red raspberry, all fruit wine from Texas SouthWind Vineyard and Winery, YUM!!!  My husband created a cocktail he called, Texan Raspberry 75 using this wine to pair with the fig bites.   ENJOY and please leave a comment to give me your feedback.  I love hearing from you.

Red Raspberry Wine

 

Pesto Eggs “Benedict”

This recipe was inspired by my friend, Prashant.  He gave me this idea when I was visiting him at his home.  He introduced me to the easy egg poacher available at Walmart.  Makes a delicious, figure friendly breakfast or brunch.

Ingredients: Single Serving (double or triple as you need it)

Pesto Eggs Benedict Ingredients

  • 2 thick slices of tomato (these came from a neighboring farm)
  • 2 table spoons of the best olive oil you can get
  • 2 table spoons of pine nuts
  • 1 squeeze of lime (pesto usually does not have lime in it.  I used a squeeze of lime to add the tangy, citrus note of the Hollandaise that is served as part of a traditional eggs benedict.)
  • 2 eggs (these came from my chickens)
  • 1/4 clove of garlic (just a touch of raw garlic suffices.  Too much raw garlic will overpower the rest of the ingredients in the pesto)
  • 2 table spoons of grated parmesan (grate it yourself if possible)
  • 1 small bunch of the freshest basil leaves you can find (I grew these in my sunroom)
  • a pinch of coarse salt ( I used fleur de sel.  Kosher salt will also work.)
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Making the Pesto:  I prefer the texture of the pesto that results from using a traditional mortar and pestle.  You can use a small food processor if you like.

Pesto eggs Benedict Prep 1

  • Place the pinch of coarse salt in the pestle along with the 1/4 clove of garlic.
  • Crush the salt and garlic together to form a paste.
  • Add the pine nuts and continue to grind and form a paste.
  • Bit by bit tear in the basil leaves and continue to grind and incorporate into the paste.
  • Add the parmesan and continue to incorporate.
  • Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and continue grinding to form an emulsion.
  • Add a dash of freshly ground pepper and a squeeze of lime.

The pesto is now ready.

Assembling the dish:

Pesto Eggs benedict Prep 2

  • Using a serrated knife, cut 2 thick slices of tomato.
  • Place them on a plate and spread a thick layer of pesto on each slice.
  • Poach two eggs.
  • Place one poached egg on each slice of tomato.
  • Top the egg with a dollop of pesto.

These are the first tomatoes I received this season.  I thought this was a great way to use them.  Let me know if you like this idea.  Also if you have any suggestions or questions leave a comment below.  ENJOY:)

Peach Bellini Tartlets

Ingredients:  The peaches are from my neighbor’s tree !!!

 

  • 6 medium peaches–skinned and finely diced.  Dice the peaches on a board with a groove that will collect the juice.  Use the juice along with the diced peaches to make the filling.
  • 1/4 stick of unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of vanilla sugar.  The sweeter the peaches are the less  sugar you will need.  I use organic evaporated cane juice which has leftover vanilla pods sitting in it.  I always throw my leftover vanilla pods into my sugar jar to make vanilla sugar.  If you don’t have vanilla sugar just use regular sugar with a splash of vanilla extract.
  • 1/2 cup of toasted hazelnuts.  Toast the hazelnuts.  Let them cool.  Set aside 15 hazelnuts for garnish.  Pulverize the rest, into a coarse powder, in a spice grinder or food processor.
  • 1 package of mini fillo shells.  The package I used has 15 shells.
  • 1 split bottle of prosecco
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon of chai masala (optional)
  • 15 small mint leaves for garnish

Making the peach filling:

  • Place a heavy skillet on a medium flame
  • Add the butter to the skillet and let it melt and turn light brown.  Watch the butter carefully.  Do not let it burn.  Letting the butter brown adds a deep nutty flavor to the filling.
  • As soon as the butter is brown add the peaches and vanilla sugar to your level of sweetness.  Set aside a little sugar to make the ricotta cream for the topping.
  • Stirring occasionally, cook the peaches until their liquid evaporates.
  • Add the hazelnut powder and spices.  Cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Deglaze the pan with 1/2 of the prosecco from the small prosecco bottle.  Cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Take the pan off the heat and let the peach filling cool to room temperature.

Making the ricotta topping:

  • Place the ricotta in a medium mixing bowl and add vanilla sugar to your level of sweetness.
  • Use a fork or small whisk to cream the ricotta and sugar together.
  • If the mixture is too thick add a bit of prosecco to thin it out.  It should be the thickness of whip cream.

Cook the tart shells according to the package instructions and set aside to cool.

Assembling the tartlets:

  • Fill each shell with the peach filling
  • Top with a dollop of the ricotta cream
  • Garnish with a whole hazelnut and a small mint leaf

Serve with a glass of prosecco and enjoy.  They are so cute and absolutely delicious.

Peach Tartlets IG

 

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Collard Greens

Ingredients:

Pumpkin Gnocchi Ingredients

  • 16 large collard green leaves
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 red chillies, minced
  • 16 oz package of pumpkin gnocchi
  • 8 oz package of shaved or grated Italian cheese (Parmesan, Romano , Asiago or a mixture)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Prep:

Pumpkin Gnocchi Prep

  • Remove the stems from the collard greens.  Cut the leaves into strips.
  • Dice the onion
  • Strip the leaves off the oregano and thyme stems
  • Mince the garlic and chilies

Cook:

  • Coat a large stainless steel skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and place on medium heat.  Add the onions, garlic, chilies, oregano and thyme.  Saute until golden brown.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • Add the collard greens and stir.  Let the collard greens wilt for 2 minutes.

Pumpkin Gnocchi Cook 3

  • Add salt and pepper to taste.  Then turn off the heat and cover with a lid while you cook the gnocchi.
  • Coat a large non-stick skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and place on  medium high heat.  Add the pumpkin gnocchi and cook until brown on all sides. Toss the gnocchi gently with a plastic or silicone spoon so that all sides get brown without bruising the delicate gnocchi.

Pumpkin Gnocchi Cook 5

  • Add the browned gnocchi to the cooked collard greens.  Add half the cheese and gently toss everything together.

Pumpkin Gnocchi Cook 4

  • Plate the dish.  Sprinkle with additional cheese .  Serve with a glass of Chianti or any red wine you like.

Pumpkin Gnocchi Feature

I served this as a side dish at Thanksgiving.  Also for those who don’t eat meat, it serves as a yummy and satisfying main dish.

If you can’t find pumpkin gnocchi, you can use another flavor.

Hope you enjoy!!!

 

Roasted Carrots

Ingredients:

Roasted Carrots Ingredients

 

  • 3 bunches of baby carrots (grown by JBG Organic Farm in East Austin)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of my Italian Spice Mix
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • served with center cut gorgonzola on the side

Prep:

Roated Carrots Prep

  • Coat the carrots with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • Sprinkle with my Italian Spice Mix
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Toss to coat the carrots evenly

Cook:  Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Place the carrots in an oven proof baking dish and roast in oven until tender and brown (about 15 minutes.)

I have kept this recipe very simple so that the flavor of the beautiful carrots shines.

Serve as an appetizer with the center cut gorgonzola and a glass of your favorite red wine.

Roasted Carrots Instagram

 

 

 

Roasted Tromboncino Squash Medallions

Ingredient Source:

Trombocino Squash

Tromboncino Squash grown by Sunset Hill Farms in Smithville, Texas.  I bought the beautiful, longest one at the farmer’s market in downtown Bastrop, Texas.  I was very excited to see this squash because it is an Heirloom vegetable originally from Liguria, Italy.  It tastes halfway between butternut squash and spaghetti squash.  I used the long part to make roasted medallions topped with pesto.  I used the bottom part to make Stuffed Tromboncino Squash.

Ingredients:

Trombocino Squash Ingredients

  • The long part of the squash cut into one inch medallions (use any squash you like)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 4 teaspoons of my Italian Spice Mix
  • Olive oil, enough to coat the squash medallions

Prep:

Trombocino Roasted

  • Cut the long part of the squash into one inch medallions.  Set aside the fat part to make Stuffed Tromboncino Squash.
  • Put the medallions on a lined baking sheet for easy clean up.
  • Combine the Italian Spice Mix with the smoked paprika.
  • Sprinkle the first side of the medallions with the spice mix and drizzle on olive oil to coat.  Gently rub in the spice mix and olive oil into each medallion.  Flip the medallions and repeat on the second side.

Cook:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 F
  • Place sheet tray of medallions in the middle of the oven.
  • Let roast until you see the moisture in the medallions bubbling.  About 7 minutes.
  • Remove the sheet tray from the oven and flip the medallions over.  Roast until tender.  About 5 minutes.  Then turn the oven off and leave in for another 5 minutes.  This will allow the side resting on the sheet tray to get nicely caramelized without burning.
  • Place medallions on a platter caramelized side up.  Top with pesto sauce (optional.)

Enjoy with a glass of red wine (not optional, HA!! HA!!, LOL:)