Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Won ton Wrappers – To Make Ravioli – Who Knew?

I have a few resources that give recipes for using won ton wrappers to make ravioli. Well, I am not one to turn down a good idea. I thought I would give it a try. After all, I had some leftover ricotta cheese from another project. And I am also not one to throw away good food. So I found what I believed was a good recipe and got to work.

Here’s my recipe for easy low-fat cheese ravioli:

¾ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
1 large egg
1 garlic clove, minced
Pinch of ground nutmeg
24 won ton wrappers

1. Mix ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, basil (or basil pesto), egg, garlic, and nutmeg. Place 1 rounded teaspoon of filling in center of wrapper. Brush edge of wrapper with water. Fold wrapper in half, press to remove air and seal the ravioli. Transfer ravioli to baking sheet. (Line baking sheet with plastic or wax paper. It makes taking off a lot easier.) Cover with a damp paper towel until ready to cook.

2. Most recipes say to cook the ravioli in a large pot of boiling water. However, I find it easier to cook them in a large skillet, something with a large bottom. Add about 2 teaspoons of salt to 6 to 8 cups water and bring to a boil. Carefully add ravioli. Cook until ravioli are just tender, stirring gently, about 3 minutes. When you can see the filling through the wrapper, they are done. Using slotted spoon, transfer ravioli to bowls. Serve with the sauce of your choice. Sprinkle each with ½ tablespoon Parmesan cheese and serve.

I have just completed my first batch of won ton ravioli. And yes, ravioli can be successfully made using won ton wrappers. After all, won ton wrappers are egg pasta that has been rolled and cut, just like ravioli dough. Won ton wrappers work great for stuffing.

Making ravioli with won ton wrappers was fun (yes, I’m a little different). It was a relatively easy process. The filling can be done ahead of time and refrigerated. When you are ready to fill, set up an assembly line and go for it! My only suggestion would be to not overfill or you won’t be able to seal them.

I discussed making ravioli with one of my colleagues. She explained that she thought her kids would like to make them because they like to fill things. So if you have kids that are interested in food, give ravioli making a try.

I hope you enjoy the process!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Chicken and Dumplings

I love chicken and dumplings, but I must admit that my first impression of this dish was not too favorable. I just remember that white, soft skin. I just didn’t find that too appealing. But, I grew up! Over the years I discovered that there is more than one way to make chicken and dumplings and if I wanted to, I could change the recipe.

It seems that most Southern recipes omit the carrots and celery while most Midwestern recipes include them. As for me, I am for the celery, now the carrots, that’s up for debate. There are a few seasonings that I do believe belong in chicken and dumplings, parsley, either dried or fresh, onions, and maybe poultry seasoning (yes, you can use it more than at Christmas time).

I grew up with rolled dumplings, but I have grown rather fond of drop dumplings. They seem to have a lighter and fluffier texture. I also put parsley in the dumplings. They just need a little color.

I used to make chicken and dumplings by sautéing the chicken, boiling, deboning. But I have discovered rotisserie chicken. What I did before rotisserie chicken is a mystery to me. After all, I want out of the kitchen occasionally. For chicken and dumplings, I purchase a savory flavored chicken. I prefer one that is not too flavorful. Place the chicken and any pan juices in a Dutch oven. Cover with water. Simmer for an hour or so. Cool and if desired, remove the fat, but leave a little for flavor. Remove the skin and bones. Cut chicken into desired pieces.

Sauté carrots, celery and onions in oil. You can also do this in chicken fat. Why waste good fat? Add chicken and broth.


2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
¼ cup shortening
2/3 to ¾ cup milk

Combine flour, baking powder, salt and parsley in a bowl. Cut shortening into flour mixture with a pastry blender until crumbly. Add milk, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough 10 to 12 times or until dough is smooth. Roll to 1/8-inch thickness; cut into 1½ X 2-inch strips. Bring chicken and broth to a simmer; drop dough into broth. Simmer for 4 to 5 minutes or until done. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Barley – It’s not Just for Soup Anymore!

Most of us know people that like rice, corn, and oatmeal. But when was the last time someone told you they liked barley? Barley is just not a food most of think about eating. When most of us do think about barley, it is in the form of beef and barley soup.

In honor of National Nutrition Month (, I thought I would write about barley. Just like most of you, I don’t think much about barley. However, since starting this blog, I gotta think outside the box. Grains have long been featured in many cuisines around the world. They provide about 75 to 100 calories and 4 to 6 grams of fiber per ½ cup serving. Grains are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. Barley is even allowed to bear a statement that reads, ‘As a part of a healthy diet, the soluble fiber in barley helps reduce cholesterol levels’.

A recipe for Hearty Barley Fruit Salad is included in this blog. Some of us thought of it as Hearty Barley Ambrosia, but we are old enough to remember ambrosia. Now before turning up your nose, barley does not provide much flavor. It provides a nice chewy texture. It’s a good way to sneak grains into the diet. If you want to go beyond this recipe, here are a few other resources to help you get started.

Resources for Barley Recipes

Hearty Barley Fruit Salad
Serves 6 to 8.

1 cup water
1/3 cup quick barley
1 can (11 ounce) mandarin oranges, drained
1 cup miniature marshmallows
½ cup halved seedless red grapes
¼ cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
¼ cup shredded or flaked coconut
1 cup sour cream

1. In a medium saucepan bring water to a boil; stir in barley. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for about 10 to 12 minutes. Drain and allow barley to cool.

2. Combine barley with remaining ingredients except sour cream. Toss lightly to mix. Fold in sour cream. Chill for several hours before serving.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Perfect Chocolate Cake

I’ve really been getting into this Julia/Julie thing. I refuse to cook my way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking or any other cookbook. So, I have been on a mission to decide what I could do. I decided on making the perfect chocolate cake.

You see, most chocolate cakes seem a little dry. So I want to make a perfect chocolate cake. To get started, I picked a recipe entitled “The Perfect Chocolate Cake”. This is a chocolate cake with whipped cream filling and a chocolate frosting. I baked it and it turned out to be ‘perfect’. The cake was moist with a wonderful chocolate flavor. To be sure I was on track; I served it to some friends of mine. To my utter surprise, my friend Roger licked the plate. And I thought I can’t improve on plate licking. As it turns out the recipe was first published by Southern Living magazine in September 1977. It has been more of their more requested cake recipes. I guess that proves that a true classic never goes out of style.

I didn’t manage to get a picture of Roger. But it would have been quite a picture. You will have to be content with a picture of the cake and a recipe. I hope you bake the cake and enjoy it as much as my friends. Who knows, it could become your plate licking cake too.

If you have a ‘perfect’ chocolate cake recipe, please let us know.

Perfect Chocolate Cake


1 cup cocoa
2 cups boiling water
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
2½ cups sugar
4 eggs
2¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons vanilla flavoring
Whipped Cream Filling (recipes follows)
Perfect Chocolate Frosting (recipes follows)

1. Combine cocoa and boiling water, stirring until smooth. Set aside.
2. Cream butter; gradually add sugar, beating well at medium speed of an electric mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; add to creamed mixture alternately with cocoa mixture, beating at low speed of electric mixer, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in vanilla. Do not overbeat.
4. Line three 9-inch greased cake pans with wax paper; grease and flour wax paper. Pour batter into cake pans. Bake at 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes; remove from pans, peel off wax paper, and cool layers completely on wire racks.
5. Spread Whipped Cream Filling between layers; spread Perfect Chocolate Frosting on top and sides of cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Whipped Cream Filling
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
¼ cup sifted powdered sugar

Beat whipping cream and vanilla until foamy; gradually add powdered sugar, beating until soft peaks form. Chill.

Perfect Chocolate Frosting

1 package (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate morsels
½ cup half and half
¾ cup butter
2 ½ cups sifted powdered sugar

1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a heavy saucepan; cook over medium heat, stirring until chocolate melts. Remove from heat; add powdered sugar, mixing well.
2. Set saucepan in ice, and beat at low speed of an electric mixer until frosting holds its shape and loses its gloss. Add a few more drops of half and half if needed to make spreading consistency.