Hearty Minestrone Soup – ★★★★★

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We’ve been eating on the heavier side lately so I consulted pinterest for “healthy affordable family dinners.” I found this recipe and it was exactly what I was looking for.There are seven different kinds of vegetables in this soup plus beans and a bit of pasta. You do not need a side salad or sandwich with this soup because you will be guiltlessly full after one bowl. The aroma of oregano had my stomach growling the whole time I was cooking and the flavor was everything its scent promised. I’m dubbing this my “sick soup” because I know that if I’m ever feeling under the weather this is the kind of soup I would want to warm me on the inside. Perry gave five stars and here is why:

“This soup is extremely hearty and has an awesome variety of vegetables. Kelsey always says that she wants to eat more veggies but I’m such an adamant meat eater. THIS is THE way to get your family eating veggies. The flavor is robust so don’t be ashamed when you are slurping it down to the last drop. I could honestly eat it every day.”

Servings: 10-12 (1 cup)       Calories: 240       Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh oregano, chopped (if using dried you can use about 1 tsp)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 yellow squash, diced
  • 2 large zucchini, diced
  • 3 medium/large carrots, diced
  • 1 can whole kernel corn
  • 6 roma tomatoes
  • 3 (14-oz) cans less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup uncooked ditalini pasta
  • 2 (15.5-ounce) can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (6-ounce) package fresh baby spinach
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
  • Coarsely ground black pepper (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté 3 minutes or until softened.
  2. Add oregano and garlic; sauté 1 minute.
  3. Stir in squash, zucchini, carrot, and corn; sauté 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat
  4. Place 3 chopped roma tomatoes and 1 can of chicken broth in a blender; process until smooth. Add tomato mixture to pan; return pan to heat.
  5. Stir in remaining chopped tomatoes and remaining 2 cans broth; bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes.
  6. Add pasta and beans to pan; cook 10 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally.Remove from heat.
  7. Stir in spinach, salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  8. Ladle soup into individual bowls; top with cheese and fresh cracked black pepper.
  9. Enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Recipe adapted from http://www.myrecipes.com

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Chocolate Filled Strawberries – ★★★★★

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There is no combination better then strawberries and chocolate, but we’ve all experienced the struggle of how messy chocolate dipped strawberries can be. Take a bite out of a chocolate dipped strawberry and you’re likely to have chunks of chocolate falling to the floor. Even making them can be a hassle and epic fail because melted chocolate clumps as it cools. I’ve got the perfect recipe for you if you want to enjoy chocolate strawberries without all the trouble. These chocolate filled strawberries are amazing because the filling is creamy and not “hard.” It is an awesome twist to the traditional idea of chocolate covered strawberries. I used the whipping cream we had left over to make a fluffy whipped cream that I piped on top of the strawberries so that step is completely optional. These are extremely simple to make and so worth it! Perry gave 5 stars and here is why:

“These strawberries were delicious. The filling was fudge-y and the whipped cream was the perfect touch. I liked that this is a pop-able bite size desert because I can justify seconds and thirds. Definitely a hit and I think this will be what we bring to parties as a desert from now on.”

Serves: approximately 2 dozen        Calories: 120/strawberry    Time: 25 minutes assembly + 1 hour cooling time

Ingredients:

  • 24-36 medium strawberries
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp heavy whipping cream
  • 4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. Remove stems and hollow out the middle of the strawberry to create small bowl. Cut a sliver off of bottom of each strawberry so that strawberry will stand on end. Discard hollowed out strawberry bits and bottom cuts.
  2. Put morsels and cream in small, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 30 seconds; stir until creamy. If necessary, microwave at additional 10-second intervals, stirring just until morsels are melted. Let cool slightly.
  3. In a different bowl mix cream cheese and powdered sugar. Beat until creamy then stir in the melted chocolate mixture.
  4. Take this mixture and spoon in large pastry bag with star tip or spoon into gallon-size heavy-duty plastic bag with a 1/4-inch-wide opening cut at one corner. Pipe mixture into strawberries, filling cups completely and then mounding mixture on top of each strawberry. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  5. For best flavor, consume within 24 hours.
  6. OPTIONAL: Using this recipe (whipped cream recipe) make some whipped cream and when it is nice and fluffy pipe it on top of the strawberries like pictures above.
  7. Enjoy!
 *Photo is an original belonging to me

*Recipe adapted from www.verybestbaking.com

Spinach and Cheese Filled Ravioli with Pesto Sauce – ★★★★★

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After I got comfortable with making pasta I couldn’t stop. Perry invited a few friends of ours over for dinner so I used it as the perfect excuse to show off my new found pasta making skills. I want to say that I like the raviolis better then the tortellini but I think that is only because I found them easier to make. I had the roll and press process down so it didn’t feel as tedious to me. Also the cheese filling is AMAZING. This is definitely the combo I’ll be using from now on. Hit the spot and our guests loved it too. Perry gave five stars and this is why:

“I like the pesto as a filling for the tortellinis, but after having these spinach and cheese filled raviolis I think I have to choose the spinach/cheese over the pesto as a filling. It is a nice mixture of creamy filling and flavorful sauce.”

Serves: 6-8      Calories: 800 (yes this is a once in a while dinner..)    Time: approx. 2 hours depending on how fast you work with the ravioli

Ingredients for Pasta Dough:

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 extra virgin olive oil

Ingredients for Spinach/Cheese filling:

  •  1/2 lb fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 lb ricotta cheese
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 2 tbsp chopped shallots
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pkg sargento provolone cheese, diced
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for Pesto:

  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Make pasta dough. Recipe found here
  2. While dough is resting, sauté spinach with garlic, shallots and olive oil. 
  3. Drain liquid and place in a mixing bowl with ricotta, mozzarella, and provolone.
  4. Mix well until nice and firm. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. After you’ve let your dough rest, separate it into 4 equal parts. Keep the parts of the dough you aren’t using right away wrapped in plastic wrap until you are ready to use it.
  6. Sprinkle a bit of flour on your clean and flat workspace. Flatten dough into a thick oval shape with your hands. Sprinkle a bit more flour on top of the oval and roll it flat with a rolling pin working from the center of the dough outwards. Constantly move the dough to keep it from sticking to your work surface.
  7. Once the dough is flat, using either a stencil or the rim of a drinking glass, punch out as many circles as you can. Roll up left over dough and cover with plastic wrap to be used again.
  8. Take two of the circles and roll them flat again because after you initially cut the shape it will probably contract a little bit. Once flat add about 1/2 tsp of the spinach/cheese mixture to the center of one of the circles. Place the other circle on top of the other and press the seam together. Using a fork press the edge of your circle to complete the seam. 
  9. Repeat with the rest of your dough and store uncooked ravioli in an airtight container for no longer the 24 hours in your fridge or freeze for up to 2 months.
  10. When ready to cook bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook until the raviolis start to float, about 5 minutes or so
  11. While ravioli is cooking whip up the pesto sauce by adding all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and blending until paste like. 
  12. Top  raviolis with pesto or any other sauce you choose.
  13. Enjoy!

*Original recipe belongs to http://www.food.com and  Elise at http://www.simplyrecipes.com and Kelsey Nixon of http://www.cookingchanneltv.com 

*Photo is an original belonging to me

Fresh Pesto Filled Tortellini – ★★★★★

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This was my first homemade pasta recipe and we all instantly fell in love. The pasta has a perfect combination of bite and chew while the pesto is packed with ridiculous amounts of flavor. Each bite is completely different but equally amazing. It did take me a quite a while to roll out the pasta dough and fill/form the tortellinis but if you get someone to help you make these you can bust them out really quick. I know that I will never EVER buy pre-made tortellinis ever again. Perry gave 5 stars and here is why:

“I really really really enjoyed this recipe. The sauce Kels whipped up was nice and light so it didn’t take away from the powerful pesto flavor but added a nice muted tomato taste. Everything came together so great and I am looking forward to having these again.”

Serves: 6-8     Calories: w/o sauce – 503…w/sauce – 618    Time: approx. 2 hours depending on how long it takes to fill/form tortellinis

NOTE: In the directions when I say “Check out this video I found to help you” or “Recipe Here” that whole sentence is a link to the video. For some reason my “link text” won’t differentiate from regular text.

Ingredients for Pasta Dough:

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 extra virgin olive oil

Ingredients for Fresh Pesto:

  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for (Optional) Light Tomato Sauce:

  • 1 carton of cherry tomatoes, cut into halves or quarters depending on how chunky you want your sauce
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp italian herbs
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Make your dough ball. Recipe found here
  2. While dough is resting assemble pesto sauce. Recipe found here
  3. After you’ve let your dough rest, separate it into 4 equal parts.
  4. Keep the parts of the dough you aren’t using right away wrapped in plastic wrap until you are ready to use it.
  5. Sprinkle a bit of flour on your clean and flat workspace. Flatten dough into a thick oval shape with your hands. Sprinkle a bit more flour on top of the oval and roll it flat with a rolling pin working from the center of the dough outwards. Constantly move the dough to keep it from sticking to your work surface.
  6. Once the dough is flat, using either a stencil or pastry cutter or a plain ol’ knife cut out as many squares as you can. Roll up left over dough and cover with plastic wrap.
  7. Take one of the squares and roll it flat again because after you initially cut the shape it will probably contract a little bit. Once flat add about 1/4 tsp of the pesto to the center of the square. Fold the square in half (making a triangle) and pressing the seam together. Using a fork press the edge of your triangle to complete the seam. Roll the triangle to make a crease where the filling is cupped. Take the outer edges of the triangle and fold the across to “hug the filling” and press to seal. I would recommend watching this video I found on youtube to demonstrate how tortellini is rolled.
  8. Repeat with the rest of your dough and store uncooked tortellini in an airtight container for no longer the 24 hours in your fridge or freeze for up to 2 months.
  9. When ready to cook bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook until the tortellinis start to float, about 5 minutes or so
  10. If you are whipping up my light sauce just combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and heat over medium until tomatoes start to “wilt” and let out their juice
  11. Top tortellini with sauce of your choice and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Recipe adapted from Kelsey Nixon of http://www.cookingchanneltv.com and Elise at http://www.simplyrecipes.com

 

Fresh Pesto – ★★★★★

ImagePesto is one of my many vices. No matter what restaurant we go to, if pesto is on the menu it is pesto I’m ordering. From pasta to pizza, pesto is my thing. Since I took on learning how to make my own pasta I figured “heck why not learn pesto too!” Big mistake my friends because now my fridge will always be stocked with this rich green goodness. Literally we’ve had it on the homemade pasta, topped on sandwiches and even mixed into scrambled eggs. This stuff is not only delicious but super easy to make and I cannot believe it took me this long to figure out. Perry gave five stars and here is why:

Kelsey is a freak for garlic. I usually complain because she uses so much of it that I cannot taste anything else but in this case I’m happy she overdid it. The basil and parmesan is sharp enough to stand out separately from the garlic and it all comes together really nice. We use this pesto on everything and I doubt we will get sick of it because it is that tasty.”

Serves: yields 1 cup of pesto     Calories: 311.5 / (1/4 cup)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor and combine until it is a nice paste-ish consistency.
  2. Serve over pasta or on sandwiches or anything else you can think of. Trust me you’ll be licking the spoon clean 

*Original recipe belongs to Elise at http://www.simplyrecipes.com

*Photo is an original belonging to me

 

Homemade Pasta – ★★★★★

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Recently my two year “blog-aversary” came around and I decided I wanted to do something out of my comfort zone. I tried my hand at homemade pasta. I’m not going to lie, making this recipe for the first time gave me mega anxiety because I had no idea what the consistency of the dough should be or what it should look like when it was done cooking etc… I’m hoping this post will inspire others to try cooking something that seems hard because it is such an awesome feeling when you nail it. This recipe blossomed because I decided to try making tortellini and ravioli on a few different nights. I tried about 3 different variations of this recipe and every time this one was the best. My words of advice are if you are confused or weary of your dough and if you are making it right watch youtube videos. The internet is a huge library of useful tips in the kitchen so don’t be afraid to use it. I’ll attack links to videos during the directions section of this recipe that I needed help because I would definitely not have been successful without them. Try this out and I promise you won’t regret it! Perry gave 5 stars and here is why:

I cannot even describe how proud I am of Kelsey and how far she has come with her cooking and this blog. When she first told me her ideas about an online recipe blog I wasn’t fully sold on the concept. Two years later her recipes have gone international and it is something she is really passionate about. That being said, this recipe blew me away. I know Kelsey was stressed out about how it would turn out but she really knocked it out of the park. The thing I love most about the pasta she made is that we were able to make so many different things. She put together tortellinis, raviolis and even make our little guy some heart shaped noodles. Also I like how every piece of pasta isn’t uniform. Kels hand rolled each piece of pasta and that made it really special and unique. The taste is much different from store bought pasta in a very good way. It is nice and soft but at folded parts it has a bit of a bite making each fork-full a bit different. This was a great recipe for the anniversary of Goodforyougourmet and I want to congratulate Kelsey on how far she has come.” 

Serves: 1 dough ball yields 6-8 servings       Calories: 192/serving        Time: 45 minutes

NOTE: In the directions when I say “Check out this video to help you out” that whole sentence is a link to the video. For some reason my “link text” won’t differentiate from regular text.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. Make a mound of 2 cups of flour on a clean and flat surface. Hollow out the center of the mound making a deep well in the center with steep walls of flour. You want these walls to be steep because otherwise you’ll have a mess of egg spilling out from your mound.
  2. Break the 3 eggs into the well. Add salt and olive oil. Start to gently mix with a fork. This step can be tricky so take it slow as to not break the steep walls of the well. I did it like I was gently scrambling eggs. Try your best not to hit the walls of flour just scramble the egg mixture and it will pick up flour as you do this. You can find a great video of how to do this here 
  3. Keep working the dough until it all starts coming together. You will not use all of the flour so don’t feel pressured to have to use every dusting of flour on your workspace. After you have a solid amount of dough start kneading it until it is smooth and elastic. Do this for 8-10 minutes. If your dough becomes too dry add a bit of water and if it is too sticky add a bit of flour.
  4. After you knead the dough form it into a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap. Let it rest in your fridge for 20-25 minutes. You can store the dough for up to 24 hours in your fridge but it is best to use within a few hours of making. If you let it rest the whole 24 hours check the dough for small black specks. Black specks are no good so be careful in your inspection and if you find black specks you need to start over.
  5. Use dough for my ravioli recipe or tortellini recipe which will follow this post 🙂

*Recipe adapted from Kelsey Nixon of http://www.cookingchanneltv.com 

*Photo is an original belonging to me