an army wife's guide to life

food and homemaking goodness

Cheater’s Ravioli

I’ve been finding some awesome ravioli recipes, but I haven’t even started to master making fresh pasta…so I needed a different way to try my ravioli recipes.

And then it came to me: I could stuff it into manicotti. And that is what this recipe is. It’s portobello mushroom manicotti. Instead of using any recipe I found online, I just made it up on the spot.

Here’s most of what you’ll need:

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I added a few things along the way (there was no real plan, I was completely improvising.), and, you’re obviously going to need some kind of pasta sauce (I used the pot of sauce I have in the fridge), but I’ll let you know what you’ll need.

Preheat your oven to 350°.

So, you’re gonna want to start a pot of water to cook the manicotti (this recipe will make more than enough for the entire box, if that’s what you’ll need. For two people, half the box will do. Go ahead and wash the mushrooms and let them drain in the sink while you chop the onion and garlic (I used 4 cloves) very finely. In a somewhat large pan, go ahead and start cooking the onions and garlic in a little bit of oil over medium heat, until they’re soft and the onions are translucent.

While the onions are cooking, chop the mushrooms finely, adding them to the pan once the onions and garlic are soft. Add salt and pepper while the mushrooms are cooking, letting them go until they’re soft. Add the mushroom mix to a blender, including all the liquids in the pan, add a little heavy cream (or milk will work, too), and blend until at least somewhat smooth. It doesn’t have to be that smooth, there can be some texture to it. Fold the pureed mushroom and ricotta together until completely mixed.

When the water boils, cook the manicotti according to package directions, then drain. You’ll want to let them cool a little before handling them, and you’ll probably be working on other things while that happens anyway. Go ahead and put a layer of sauce on the bottom of your pan. Once they’re cool, unless you have a pastry bag, you can split them down the middle, so they can lay flat, and fill them with the mushroom-ricotta filling before rolling them back up. If you have a pastry bag, or know some other, brilliant way of filling manicotti, leave them whole and fill them. Also, if you know some other brilliant way of filling them, you should let me know.

If you do it my way, they’ll look like this when you’re done filling them:

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Cover them with another layer of sauce. If you want to, add a layer of mozzarella over the sauce, but I didn’t because I ran out of cheese (which is a total crime in our household). Bake for 30 minutes, uncovered if you don’t have cheese, but I’d cover it if you add cheese for the first 15 minutes at least.

And, enjoy!

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I know I sure did.

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Cream of Mushroom Soup

OK, so, Cream of Mushroom Soup. This is something I’ve always seem come from can , and usually cooked with chicken and rice. SO why no make it myself? I thought it sounded like a good idea and I turned to my go-to online recipe file allrecipes for an easy cream of mushroom soup recipe and found the one from the picture. Go, take a look at the recipe, than come back for the twists. I’ll wait, I promise.

So now that you’ve seen the super-simple recipe, I’ll tell you what I did and what was different. First, I discovered that I had no chicken stock that wasn’t frozen…oops. And I don’t have chicken bouillon cubes, so I used beef instead. And I didn’t have thyme (although I did have plenty of time). I’m terrible, I know, ignore the bad jokes.

I followed the directions (with the changes above), and added two cloves of garlic (because I have a total love affair with garlic).

There’s everything boiling away in the pot, getting nice and soft together in the improvised beef stock. I also had a brilliant idea while the mushrooms were cooking down to use my immersion blender to get everything blended together, but I don’t recommend it. It really, really didn’t work out for me. I ended up still needing to use my actual blender.

It looks pretty bad, right? It’s just about one of the ugliest things I’ve ever seen. Now, when it came to making the roux, I had about half a sick of butter in the fridge, so I decided to use 4 tbsp of butter instead of 3…and initially i stuck with the original amount of flour, too, but ended up adding another tbsp to make up the difference. This made my soup a lot more thick than it was supposed to be, and I’ll tell you how I fixed that later.

Roux is something I’m still learning, so I have no idea if that looks right (someone can let me know, ok?), but it seemed about right, so I added the milk (forgot the half-half) and the pureed mushroom mix back into the pot to cook again.

I mixed it together and realized that it was super-super thick. Like, way, way too thick. So I added more milk. And I didn’t measure, because I’m terrible at measuring. But I got it down to a thinner consistency and let it thicken up a little bit again until it looked (and tasted) good. I was also adding the salt and pepper and a little bit of garlic powder to get the taste back to what I wanted. This is where I ended up:

This made two pints of soup (more than I would use soon) and it’s not the pretties thing in the world, but it came out tasty and it’ll go nice with my chicken and rice tomorrow night.

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