The Art of Ravioli

Who doesn’t love pasta, honestly?  Let’s face it, on those nights when we are starving, stomach rumbling and are too lazy to whip out 100 ingredients to make a lavish meal, pasta is our BFF.

Although I would agree that pasta from a box is easy and convenient, it’s not always the best tasting, especially after you have tried homemade pasta. Once you go homemade, you will NEVER look back – take my word on that.

In keeping with my theme and obsession with Fall everything lately, I am shying away from pumpkin for just this moment to focus on butternut squash. I was never overly in love with butternut squash until about a year ago when I made a Giada recipe that had roasted butternut squash mixed with onions, goat cheese, pasta…OMG – I think you get the idea of how amazingly delicious this dish was.  Viola – my new found love for butternut squash was born and I use it every chance I get.  We invited a friend over for dinner and he became overly obsessed too…Let’s get started on this fabulous homemade butternut squash ravioli.

Original recipe:  HERE

  • Butternut squash = 1 medium
  • Light Agave Nectar = 2 Tablespoon

Ravioli Filling:

  • Heavy cream = 4 Tablespoon
  • Parmesan cheese = 4 Tablespoon, grated, plus more for garnish
  • Brown sugar = 3 Tablespoon
  • Cinnamon = 1/4 Teaspoon
  • Nutmeg = 1/4 Teaspoon
  • Vanilla extract=  1 Teaspoon
  • Salt To Taste
  • Pepper To Taste
  • Pine Nuts (Optional) = 3 Tablespoon

Sage Butter Sauce:

  • 1 Stick butter
  • 8 sage leaves

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Take your 1 butternut squash, cut in half, and spread a thin layer of light agave nectar on the surface of both halves to evenly coat.

Bake in the oven for 1 hour until the squash is golden and soft when punctured with a fork.

Let the squash cool before handling.

Dough:

  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons Water (add more if dough isn’t coming together)
  • 3 1/2 Cups Flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt

You can either manually make this dough by piling the flour on a flat surface, creating a crater in the middle of the flour and pouring the eggs and water into the center.  You slowly fold the flour into the liquid until a dough is formed.  Then you need to knead the dough until it is smooth and form into a ball.

I wanted to speed up the process so I used my kitchenaid mixer to get the dough started.  You may need to add more water if your dough is not coming together.  I then removed the dough, formed a ball and began to knead for about 2 minutes until it was smooth.

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Take the dough, wrap it in saran wrap and set it aside to let it rest for about 20 minutes.

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While the dough rests, take your cooled butter nut squash and scrape the flesh out into a food processor (discard the skin). Then add, heavy cream, parmesan cheese, brown sugar, cinnamon, fresh nutmeg, salt, pepper and vanilla extract into a bowl and puree all of these ingredients together.

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Using a zip lock plastic bag, scoop the squash mixture into one corner of the bag and cut a small slit to form a homemade “pastry” bag.

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Cut your dough into 4 pieces and take 1 of the 4 pieces out of the saran wrap.

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Using a pasta maker or pasta machine, go from level 7 and run your pasta through one time through each level until you get to level 2.  Cut the sheet in half so you have two thin sheets of pasta.  One will be the bottom to hold the filling and the other will become the top to the ravioli.

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To fill the ravioli, Place 1 tbs of filling onto the dough and leaving ½ inch of dough around the edges.   I created circle ravioli using a metal circle cookie cutter; however, you can make square or any shape you like.  Moisten the circular area around each filling drop with water and top with the other sheet of thinned dough.  Press firmly so all the air is out and using the metal cutter or ravioli cutter, create the desired shape you like.  I used the ends of a cocktail fork to indent the circle pasta, to ensure no squash would escape when I boiled.  Repeat the process until all of the dough is used.

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Drop your ravioli into salted, boiling water for 4 minutes until al dente and remove with a pasta strainer.  Pour the sage butter sauce on top and grate fresh parmesan cheese for a final touch.

Happy pasta making – if you come up with any yummy variations, let me know! 🙂

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Fall is Here, Pumpkin is the new Black

Factually, September 22nd really is the first day of Fall; however, let us Floridians be honest with ourselves and sadly accept that seasons aren’t really part of our lives down here.  I think I have slowly come to accept that our hot weather permeates throughout every season of the year, but oh well, that’s not going to stop this cook from making tons of pumpkin recipes!  My hiatus from blogging has been two months too long!  With my switching of jobs, I had gotten distracted from what I love to do…cook and tell people about it 🙂  Here’s a mouth watering pumpkin cookie recipe that is great for family holiday parties, pot lucks and work parties!

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The original recipe can be found here , but I switched it up a bit!

Now, get ready for your mouth to water:

Ingredients (makes about 30 cookies):

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla – I always add a splash more than what the recipe calls for
  • 7.5 oz of Pumpkin Puree (the cans are usually 15 oz, so half of the can)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1 tsp for tossing chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat the 1 cup of butter with an electric mixer (I use my Kitchenaid with the paddle attachment) on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar and beat for another 30 seconds or until combined thoroughly.

Beat in the 1 egg and 1 teaspoon of vanilla until combined. Then, beat in the 7.5 oz of pumpkin until combined.

In a large separate bowl, take a fine mesh strainer and strain the 2 cups of flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and pumpkin spice together.  This will allow for all of the dry ingredients to have the same smooth consistency.

Make sure your mixer is on low speed and slowly add all of the dry ingredients, scraping down the sides if necessary to incorporate all of the ingredients.  You don’t want to over mix.

Take your chocolate chips and lightly toss in the 1 tsp of flour to evenly coat.  This will ensure your chips do not sink to the bottom of your cookie when baking.  My biggest pet peeve is baking cookies and having those burnt chips on the bottoms! Incorporate the chocolate chips into your batter with a wooden spoon (do not use your mixer to incorporate).

Using a small melon ball scooper or spoon (whichever you have on hand),  place the dough about 1.5 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until tops are set (each batch of mine was done in exactly 11 minutes).

Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Wait until your cookies are completely cooled to add the frosting.

Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1/2 stick of butter, at room temperature
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature (the cream cheese usually comes in 8 oz packs in grocery store)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract – I always use a splash more than the recipe calls for
  • 1.5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger (skin cut off)
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer or your Kitchenaid with whisk attachment, on low speed, beat the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla until smooth and thoroughly blended, about 1 minute. Slowly add the 1.5 cups of powdered sugar, mixing until smooth, about 1 minute.  Then, add the cinnamon, pumpkin spice and fresh ginger and beat on medium speed for 1-2 until your frosting is light and fluffy.

Using a plastic zip lock bag if you do not have a pastry bag, spoon the frosting into the bottom of one side of the bag.  Push down all of the frosting to the one corner and using a scissor, cut the tip off of the bag.  Viola, now you have your very own pastry bag to pipe the frosting onto your cookies.

Lastly, sprinkle the slightest amount of pumpkin spice seasoning on top of your cookies to add that extra BAM.  This not only makes your cookies look amazing, extra pumpkin spice flavor never hurt any recipe 🙂

The frosting will harden after a few hours on the cookies.

Fall is here people, we might as well embrace it and live up the pumpkin craze…it sure is something to be crazy about.

Enjoy 🙂

Tea Time!

If you are anything like me, you may be a wee bit obsessed with tea. My Teavana ventures in Boca Mall cost me $200.00 a pop and I feel like I get an aluminum can with 8 inches of air and 1 tiny bit of tea. If you’re understanding what I’m talking about, then you’re probably just as in love with tea as I am!

Please don’t go on those rampages anymore unless its a dire need because I’ve concocted a tea that tastes amazing and costs hardly anything.

Here’s what you need: ps – this is so simple to make, there’s no excuse 🙂

-1 lemon, skin peeled and then cut in half (you will need juice of one half later)
-about 1.5 inches of fresh ginger root, chopped
-1 cup sugar (feel free to substitute low cal sweetener if you choose – if using, I’d say about half cup)
-4 cups water
-6 tea bags (Rec: Tazo Green ginger)
-sparkling water (optional)
-mint for garnish, lemon for garnish (optional)

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Over medium-high heat, combine the water and sugar.

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Peel the lemon skin with a peeler. Peel about 1.5 inches of your fresh ginger and chop into fine pieces. If you’ve never worked with fresh ginger, OH EM GEE, you are missing out. The smell is fab, the flavor is fab…basically, everything about it is FAB. You will be a believer once you try it.

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Put the lemon peels and ginger into the water with sugar and stir. Let this come to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove the paper tags from the tea bags so you just have the tea packet.

Turn off the heat on your pot and place the 6 tea bags in. Stir them into the liquid and let steep for about 20 minutes.

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After your tea has steeped for about 20 minutes, squeeze one half of the lemon’s juice in. Stir.

Using a fine strainer, empty the liquid into a medium sized container. The tea will be cool by then.

I like to pour the tea over ice and top it with about half an inch of sparkling water. It gives it that extra BOOM.

Then, I garnish with a lemon slice and fresh mint.

VIOLA, you have this amazing looking and tasting tea, less than 30 minutes, and costs nearly nothing.

Let me know how yours comes out and if you try any variations, please let me know! 🙂

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Peanut Butter to My Jam Cookies

It’s summertime and everyone’s working on their beach bods, I know, but seriously sometimes you just have to live a little! I would honestly give these cookies an 11/10 if that made any sense. My fiance’ ended up making two other batches of these the day after the first batch was gone (which was in less than an hour by the way). His barber saw the picture on Instagram and instantly called to request a cookie delivery to the shop. This recipe comes from my fave, of course, Giada, and it was listed in her top 25 recipes by fans, so if you don’t want to take my word, take theirs.

Original recipe here.

Here is what you need:

Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (recommended: Hershey’s)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup
1/2 packed cup light brown sugar
1 egg, room temperature, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup blackberry jam

Directions:

I didn’t have two baking sheets exactly the same size, but it was perfectly fine; these cookies are big, so I would suggest a larger one if you have so they don’t spread together when cooking. Move one of your oven racks to the center and preheat at 375 degrees.

Line your two baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside.

In a medium bowl, sieve together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt (I use a small strainer). This part is extremely important as it keeps the consistency smooth.

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In a stand mixer (I used my Kitchenaid), fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, peanut butter, 3/4 cup of sugar, and light brown sugar together, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until smooth, about 30 seconds.

Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix until blended.

With the machine running on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture until incorporated. *Okay, this part, make sure you do this slowly or else you will have a facial mask of flour mixture…my fiance’ did not follow my instructions one time and ended up looking like he had been through a white dust storm.

Put the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar in a small bowl. Form the dough into 1/4 cup-size balls and roll in the sugar. These come out big, but we liked it this way. If you feel like you don’t like big cookies, feel free to make them a bit smaller.

Arrange 5 balls of dough, evenly apart, on each baking sheet. Using a round 1/4 teaspoon measure, or the thin end of a wooden spoon, make a hole in the center of each ball of dough, about 1/2 to 3/4-inch deep. Spoon 1 teaspoon of jam into each hole (we spooned about 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon). Bake for 11 to 14 minutes until the dough has spread and the surface of the cookies are crackled. Cool for 5 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, about 20 minutes. Arrange the cookies on a serving dish and serve.

This cookie recipe is a definite crowd pleaser; it looks fancy on a serving dish and are perfect for both casual and more formal events. Best of all, these are super simple…my fiance’ made these himself not once, but TWICE…so boys, get your Kitchenaids out and start whipping them up 🙂

Let me know how yours comes out – tag #prettylittlepretzel with your PB&Jam cookies.

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Key Lime for Any Time

I have been to so many restaurants and ordered scrumptious desserts time after time, but for some reason, key lime pie was just never on my list of desires. My fiance’ decided he wanted to make it last night for dessert, so I went with it and ‘oh-em-gee,” pardon my slang, but this was AMAZING. I had a piece for breakfast this morning; don’t judge me! It really was good though and I would suggest it for any party or pot luck dessert event. It’s not that difficult to make and will definitely satisfy your guests sweet tooth. You must like lime to enjoy this recipe, since it’s a bit tart from the lime juice and zest.

PS – if you are confused in the supermarket about “key limes,” it is not a regular lime. It’s the tiny limes in the bag next to the regular limes and have a different flavor than the limes you are used to!

This recipe of course came from my favorite foodie, Giada and you can find the original recipe HERE

Ingredients

Graham Cracker Crust:

1/3 of a 1-pound box graham crackers
5 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar

Filling:

3 egg yolks
2 teaspoons lime zest
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup freshly squeezed Key lime juice, or store bought

Topping:

1 cup heavy or whipping cream chilled
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

We placed the graham crackers in a plastic zip lock bag. Use a rolling pin to press down back and forth over the bag until the crackers are crushed into fine pieces. You can use a food processor if you have one, which we do, but my fiance’ insisted on doing this way; oh well!

Add the 5 tablespoons of melted butter and 1/3 cup of granulated sugar to the crushed graham crackers and stir or pulse until combined.

We used a round cake pan because I could not locate my pie pan (my kitchen is a disaster area right now).

I sprayed a quick spray of PAM in the pan just to make sure nothing would stick after baking.

Press the crust down into the pan and up a bit onto the sides neatly. Bake this for about 8 minutes until set and golden brown in color and then set aside on wire rack to cool.

In the meantime, whip out your electric mixer with a whisk attachment and beat 3 egg yolks and 2 teaspoons of lime zest on high speed until fluffy (recipe says about 5 minutes, but I did about 3). Slowly add the 1 can of sweetened condensed milk until combined. Turn your mixer to low and slowly add in the key lime juice.

Once combined, pour on top of the cooled crust and bake for 10 minutes until set.

Make sure it has cooled down and then place it in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to eat, place it in the freezer for about 15-20 minutes prior to serving. It will make it a lot easier to cut!

For the whipped cream, homemade is always more delicious than store bought and it’s so simple that you just can’t do without it – that is me telling you to not be lazy with the whipped cream 🙂

Place 1 cup of heavy whipping cream in a mixer with a whisk attachment and 2 tablespoons of confectioners sugar and beat on medium-high until peaks form (don’t over beat).

We served this on our Villeroy and Boch dishes, just because the Expresso cup spot on the plate seemed like the perfect place for a dollop of whipped cream.

Let me know how yours comes out! Tag me on Instagram #prettylittlepretzel

Bon Appetit!

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