Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Hard Day's Work: Easy Italian

This may sound frightening to some of you, but sometimes after a long day at work, all I want to do is cook. Yep. Most of my friends think I'm nutso, but I can't help it. Creating a fresh, fast, fabulous meal relaxes me more than eating bon-bons and getting a pedicure (ok, maybe not the pedicure, but definitely a close second). And the glass of wine required for cooking helps too.

This week, I whipped up some Ravioli Pomodoro that makes my mouth water just thinking about it. And what's even better? I had everything on hand already!

Here's how it went down:

I started by sauteeing some garlic in olive oil.

Then, I added two cans of diced tomatoes.

And simmered them until they became thick and reduced (about 10-15 minutes if you must know).

While the tomatoes simmered, I cooked some fresh ravioli (which happened to be chicken and mushroom) according to the directions on the package. Yes: I wholeheartedly believe in convenience friends!

Chopped up some basil from my pot in the backyard...

Added a bit of feta cheese to the tomatoes for a little tang and creaminess (you could add mozzarella or another fave of yours).

Throw in the basil and voila! You have a fantastic meal in a flash.

How easy was that?

And the best part: leftovers for lunch the next day, where your coworkers will take one whiff and ask, "What chi-chi restaurant did you eat at last night?"

Bon appetit!

Ravioli Pomodoro

3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
2 cans of dices tomoatoes
2 Tablespoons of basil, chopped
1/4 Cup of feta cheese
1 package of store-bought, fresh ravioli
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper


Heat the oil in a skillet on medium heat; add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds.

Add tomatoes and salt and pepper; simmer for 10-15 minutes, until tomatoes are thickened and reduced.

While the tomatoes simmer, cook the ravioli according to the package directions.

Add the feta and red pepper to the tomatoes until feta is slightly melted; turn off the heat. Stir in the fresh basil.

Pour sauce over ravioli and enjoy!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

We're Having a Picnic

A few weeks ago, my church had a Sunday afternoon potluck picnic lunch to kickoff summer. Now, I don't know about you, but for me, church picnics conjure up all sorts of memories.

My father was a choir director at our church when I was a small child, and we had many a picnic in our backyard or a local park. The smell of hot dogs getting blackened and crispy on the grill, ice cold lemonade in plastic cups with sweat beads dripping down the sides, cool and creamy coleslaws filled with a rainbow of veggies...if I close my eyes, I'm right back there wearing my favorite cotton sundress and my jelly shoes chasing fireflies.

But, what I remember the most were the desserts. Homemade apple pies that melted in your mouth, rocky road brownies that were so chewy your front teeth were covered in goodness, buttery pound cakes that sent a tingle to your toes. All baked with love by adorable Christian women that want nothing more than to stuff another calorie-laden delectable down your throat. Heaven.

What to bring??? The choice seemed obvious: I must be the Dessert Lady.

After thumbing through all my Southern cookbooks filled with ooey, gooey desserts, I settled on Pioneer Woman's Chocolate Sheet Cake. While I had never made a sheet cake before, I decided that if it bombed, how bad would it be too bury my face in the bowl to lick the chocolatey goodness and then pick up some fruit at the store? Yeah.

I had all the ingredients on hand, and the recipe was basically foolproof.

The sweet smells of dark cocoa and rich vanilla wafted through my house all afternoon, taunting my taste buds for a sample. (Of course, I have to make sure it is edible.)

Finally! The cake was cooled and ready to be cut...just sitting there on the counter with the glorious gloss of the frosting reflecting off the light in the kitchen...calling my name. Kristina. Eat me. Now.

My knife slowly sunk into the cake like you sink into your favorite comfy chair with a good book. The cake was so airy, so light. The silkiness of the frosting matched with the crunch of pecans set off fireworks in my mouth. Que eyes rolling back in head and deep, guttural moaning.

I had just created sin on a plate. Utterly dangerous. Praise the Lord.
(In case you missed the link above...get the recipe here: Chocolate Sheet Cake.)