Friday, July 22, 2011

July 22, 2011

This week was a scorcher...crazy hot! What is a mom to do with three little monkeys with cabin fever? Get out the pasta maker, of course!!!! I've had a pasta maker attachment for my mixer for a few years. It came with a few other attachments that I use more regularly, but I had never tried the pasta maker before this week. About a year or 2 ago I attended a pasta making class and loved it. With the right tools, it didn't seem that hard. That very evening after the class I bought a ravioli cutter. I now fully admit it...I've had the tools to make ravioli at my disposal, but I had never tried it.

Instead of using the recipe for pasta from my class, I used one from one of my favorite cook books, The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. It was really straightforward, egg pasta. All the ingredients were on hand, and how hard could it be? The kids helped me, and truth be told, it was pretty easy. I probably should have tried my hand at basic spaghetti noodles first, but you know me...I had to jump right into filled pasta!

I had some home made meat sauce in my freezer that I thought I would pair with the ravioli. But then a non-pine nut, non-basil pesto recipe caught my attention. From previous posts you already know that I LOVE LOVE LOVE sun dried tomatoes. It was only natural that a recipe titled "sun dried tomato pesto" called my name and asked me to make it. I obliged, and was thrilled with the results! It was offered side by side with the traditional meat sauce, and a few of us tried it. I loved it (shocking, I know), and if you are a fan of sun dried tomatoes, you probably will as well.

Later in the week I planned on making a dish called braised beef and sun dried tomatoes. Given that I had already enjoyed my beloved ingredient earlier in the same week, when the kids asked for Sloppy Joe's, how could I resist? Rather than pop open a can, I made it from scratch, and we loved the results. (We do have one person at the table who does not like Sloppy Joe's one bit, from scratch or otherwise, so he had a very small sandwich followed by a ham sandwich - I took no offense. I was just happy he even tried it!)

So this week we go from homemade pasta to homemade Sloppy Joe's. Take your pick, or try them all. Who knows what we'll do next week!

New Recipes

Homemade Ravioli
Sun Dried Tomato Pesto
Sloppy Joe's

Homemade Ravioli

Ingredients for the pasta

* 2 cups AP Flour, plus extra as needed
* 3 large eggs, beaten
* water

Ingredients for the cheese filling

* 1 cup ricotta cheese
* 1/2 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
* 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
* 2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
* salt and pepper to taste

Directions for ravioli pasta

1. Pulse the flour a few times in a food processor to aerate. Add the eggs and process until the dough forms a rough ball.

2. If the dough resembles small pebbles, add water 1/2 teaspoon at a time. If the dough sticks to the work bowl, add flour, 1 tablespoon and a time. Continue to process until the dough forms a rough ball.

3. Turn out the dough ball and any small bits from the work bowl onto the work surface. Knead the dough by hand until it is smooth, about 2 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest on the counter for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours before rolling.

4. Follow your pasta maker's instructions to roll sheets of pasta.

Directions to fill and complete the ravioli pasta

1. Mix the filling ingredients together.

2. Working in small batches, lay out one lasagna noodle. Place 3 dollops of filling on the noodle, spaced evenly apart. Lay another lasagna noodle on top of the filling. Using a ravioli wheel, cut the noodle into thirds. Ensure the sides are sealed.

3. Place each fresh ravioli on a damp paper towel. When you have a complete layer, place another dam towel on top and create another layer of ravioli.

4. You can keep the ravioli in the fridge for a few hours, or freeze for later use.

5. When cooking, if fresh, add the ravioli to a pot of boiling water. Cook for 3-4 minutes. They will float to the top.

6. If cooking frozen ravioli, add the ravioli to a put of boiling water, and adjust the cooking time to about 8 minutes, or until floating and tender.

I truly believed that my ravioli would "explode" in the boiling water and the filling would escape. However, trust the seals you created on each ravioli, and likely you will not have any drowning cheese!

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto


* 3 Garlic Cloves, unpeeled
* One 8.5 ounce jar of sun dried tomatoes packed in oil*
* olive oil (EVOO or VOO) as needed to add to reserved olive oil to 1/4 cup
* 1/2 cup shredded or grated Parmesan Cheese
* 1/4 cup toasted walnuts.
* Salt and pepper


1. Toast the walnuts by placing them in a dry skillet over medium heat and shaking occasionally. They are done when they are lightly browned ( be careful, they burn quickly).

2. Toast the unpeeled garlic in a dry skillet until it is lightly brown. Allow to cool, and then peel and rough chop.

3. Separate the tomatoes from the oil, reserving the oil and herbs. Rinse the tomatoes under running water, then dry and rough chop.

4. Place garlic, tomatoes, oil, Parmesan, and walnut is food processor and blend until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

5. When adding to pasta, use some excess pasta water to loosen the consistency of the pesto.

I added about 1 cup of the pasta water to the pesto to use over the ravioli. You could also serve this pesto with French or Italian bread, similar to bruschetta.

Sloppy Joes


* 1 T. vegetable oil
* 1 medium onion, minced
* 1 garlic clove, minced
* 1 tsp chili powder
* 1 lb. ground beef
* 1 tsp brown sugar
* salt and pepper
* 1 cup tomato puree or tomato sauce
* 1/2 cup ketchup
* 1/4 cup water
* Frank's Red Hot Sauce, to taste (optional)
* Hamburger Buns
* shredded cheddar cheese


1. Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook til lightly browned, about 5 min. Add the garlic and chili powder and cook for 1 minute. Add the beef, brown sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, breaking the meat into small pieces Cook til meat is no longer pink.

2. Stir in the tomato puree, ketchup, and water. Cook until mixture is slightly thickened, about 5 min. Season with Frank's, and salt and pepper to taste.

3. Serve over rolls topped with cheddar cheese.

This can be made ahead up to 3 days and kept in fridge. It also freezes well. Reheat over low heat, adding a little water if it seems too thick.
When serving, don't be surprised if you need a knife and a fork!

9/8/11 - We made this again while Ryan was out of town, and I only had an 8oz can of tomato sauce in the pantry, so I used that instead of tomato puree. We thought it worked just fine!