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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Ravioli Soup

So this is going to be another pictureless post, because I’m an idiot who likes to forget how to take pictures. Also because my camera is out of batteries at the moment and I’ve been too lazy to put new ones in. Anyway, around here, it’s been rainy and cold and, well, perfect soup weather! This is the time of year I love the most. It’s just starting to get cold, and I’m starting to dream about all the soups I’ll get to eat through the fall and winter. It never really happens the way I plan it, but it’s always nice to dream about. And the first seriously rainy, cold day is usually the day I make my first soup.

That day just happened to be yesterday. And as it happened, I already had a soup in mind to create, so I jumped on it. Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. Spicy Italian Sausage (I used three links, which I pulled out of their casings, but you could use a pound that was never cased in the first place)
  2. A medium sized onion, roughly chopped
  3. About three cloves of garlic, peeled and minced (you can add more or less depending on your tastes, or leave it out if you don’t keep fresh garlic around [but seriously, who does that?])
  4. A (15 oz) can of diced tomatoes (not the fire roasted kind…and the ones I used were canned in sauce, so I didn’t drain them)
  5. A (8 oz) can of tomato sauce (to give an extra kick of tomatoey goodness)
  6. Two boxes of beef stock (I don’t know what size…sorry, but use the boxes, not the cans because they’re bigger. If you go with cans, you might need, like, four or so…maybe)
  7. Onion powder
  8. Garlic Powder
  9. Italian Seasoning
  10. A bag of Mini Raviolis (I used cheese, but you can use any variety…but seriously, the cheese was good)
  11. (Optional) I also added about a tablespoon of tomato paste, because I have a tube that needs to be used and I’ve been adding it to everything…it’s not strictly necessary, though

So once you’ve chopped up your onion and garlic, you’re going to put them in your pot with a little olive oil and get them going until they start to get soft. (If you’re me, you’ll add some salt and pepper at every stage, just to make sure all the flavors are coming out the way they best can, but that’s just me.) Once they’re starting to soften, you can add the Sausage and brown it, breaking it up as it cooks. (Again, I add some salt and pepper here.) Once you’ve got the sausage cooked through, you can add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste (if you have it) and the beef stock. I recommend adding them in that order, because if you add the stock  first, things tend to splash (call it experience). To that you’re going to add that onion powder, garlic powder and Italian seasoning. I didn’t measure, but it was probably a little less than a tablespoon of each, and you’ll want to definitely add salt and pepper at this point, to your taste.

Here’s the thing about adding salt and pepper to taste with a soup: I find that with any soup (or long-simmering sauce for that matter) you’ll want to let the whole thing come to a boil and then cool slightly before you get aggressive with the seasoning. This lets everyone get happy in the pot and figure out their balance. then you can add the salt and pepper a little at a time, stirring and (most important) tasting between each addition, until the flavors are balanced. This is the difference between an alright cook and a great one.

Once you have everything balanced, you’re going to want to let it simmer at least half an hour. Just remember that the longer you let it go, the richer and deeper the flavors are going to get. I started mine at 9:30 in the morning, and we ate at 6:30 that night. I just kept the stove on low all day and gave it a rest when it was looking a little low. I also ended up adding some water because of how low the soup was looking, since we had guest coming and I didn’t want to not have enough. Adding water, though, is completely up to you. Just like the salt and pepper, it’s all about taste.

When you’re ready to eat it, you simply cook the ravioli according to package instructions (not in the pot,but separately) until they start to float (that’s how my mom taught me to tell if they’re done.) Then simply strain them, ladle a few into the bottom of your bowl, and ladle the soup on top. Then top with Parmesan cheese, because cheese makes soup delicious.

This pot fed four people, and most of us got seconds, so it would probably feed up to eight people without seconds. Just trust me, though, they’ll probably want seconds, cuz this is an awesome soup.

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