Tag Archives: homemade

spring pea + arugula + spinach ravioli

This past week has been a crazy one. I think I repeat this line quite often. We have been in the midst of changing over our wines-by-the-glass list at the restaurant, which requires a lot of tasting, note-taking, and discussion amongst the sommeliers. It is an arduous but exciting process. After we make the final decisions, we send the menu proofs to the printer, make revisions, and begin the task of educating the staff on the changes. It really sounds simple on paper, but selecting the wines is also a battle of politics – which distribution company needs support, which winery needs recognition, which varietals are our guests demanding…and, the most important question, which bottle would I most likely reach for at the end of a long shift for a much-needed sip?

Sigh.

On a brighter note, the garden is progressing quite beautifully, and our seedlings are growing up, with only minor casualties along the way. I did lose a few basil sprouts due to the indecisive weather patterns we have been dealing with; however, two of our cold-hardy plants, arugula and parsley, remained alive over the winter and have already given us an early spring harvest. There really is nothing like heading outside to the garden, clipping fresh vegetables and herbs, and, moments later, cooking up something fresh and delicious with them.

I was recently inspired by a post from one of the new contributors at the Kitchn, Sarah Crowder. She is also the author of the blog, Punctuated with Food. Her recipe for Minty Pea & Arugula Wonton Ravioli was visually captivating and sounded delicious. I had never used wonton wrappers to make ravioli, so I was up for the challenge. It was the ease of the process, however, that sealed the deal on my trying a twist on her recipe.

I poured myself a glass of Chardonnay and set out to clip some of the aforementioned spring arugula. It was about to flower, so it had to be harvested soon, in order to preserve its optimal flavor. I called up a good friend and asked her to join me for a glass. One glass turned into two, and this quick and simple recipe turned into a lovely afternoon snack.


Spring Pea + Arugula + Spinach Ravioli


  • 1/2 cup spring peas {about 24 pods or 3 1/2 ounces}
  • 2 cups loosely packed arugula
  • 1 cup loosely packed spinach
  • 1 tablespoon high-heat oil, like safflower oil
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped white onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning {I use my dried herb blend from the garden}
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup Ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream {more, if you want a creamier filling}
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten, plus 1 tablespoon of water
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil, for the sauce
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, for garnish
  • micro-greens, chives, or sprouts, for garnish
  • 72 wonton wrappers

Begin by setting aside a large bowl of ice and water. In a medium saucepan, bring 1/2 inch of water to a boil. Carefully toss the shelled peas into the water and cook for only one minute. Add the arugula and spinach and continue boiling for another 15 seconds. Drain the water and transfer the veggies to the ice water bath. Strain the veggies, removing any cubes of ice. Set aside.

In a sauté pan, heat the safflower oil over medium-high heat. Toss in the onion and garlic, along with a pinch of salt, and sauté for four minutes, until the onions are slightly caramelized and toasty. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a food processor, combine the peas, arugula, spinach, and onions & garlic mixture. Add the Italian seasoning, cheeses, and heavy cream to the food processor. Pulse to your desired consistency. I like a coarser filling. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you desire a richer consistency, add a little more heavy cream or pulse the mixture a little longer.

This is the fun part – stuffing the wonton wrappers to make the ravioli. Set out 36 wrappers on a baking tin or other surface. Measure 1/2 tablespoon of the filling and place in the center of each square.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg and water together to prepare the egg wash. Brush the egg mixture on the outer edges of the wonton square and carefully place another wrapper on top, pressing lightly to seal. Try pressing out any air pockets by lightly squeezing from the center toward the outer edges. I enjoy a little less “pasta-y” {not exactly a word, but I think you get the idea!} ravioli, so I used a ravioli cutter and trimmed them a little. I think they turned out pretty darned adorable!

Like Sarah mentioned, you can freeze the uncooked ravioli, if you are not ready to enjoy them right away. This is a perfect solution for make-ahead meals. I will definitely experiment with other fillings over the summer and pack them away for future enjoyment!

To cook the ravioli, toss 6 pieces into boiling water for a strict 2 minutes. I found that if I cooked them longer, they would burst. For the sauce, I tried two variations – a simple browned butter sauce {shown in these photos} and a simple toss of extra virgin olive oil, with a squeeze of lemon juice. I liked both options equally. The browned butter sauce was rich and savory, whereas the olive oil and lemon juice combination was vibrant and fresh. I garnished the ravioli with fresh chives from the garden, toasted pine nuts, and micro-greens.

If you haven’t ever made browned butter and feel a little intimidated, this visual tutorial helped me conceptualize the process. You’ll feel even more accomplished and versatile as a home cook, when you can make a good browned butter sauce!

I paired this recipe with one of my favorite Chardonnays. The wine really shines with the browned butter preparation. I also added a squeeze of fresh lemon juice over the finished dish to add a needed dash of acidity. The flavors and textures really came together. A wine with great acidity, like a squeeze of lemon, also fills in the gap, when acidity is missing from a dish. A mouth-watering sip of crisp wine encourages the next bite and brings balance to the pairing.


Paul Lato “le Souvenir” Chardonnay, Sierra Madre Vineyard, 2011


  • On the eyes – brilliant, pale straw.
  • On the nose – toasted hazelnut, baked apple tart, squeezed lemon, orange blossom, with hints of vanilla.
  • On the palate – rich-textured, exhibiting notes of baked apples, Meyer lemon, honeyed hazelnuts, with a lingering finish and medium acidity.
  • On the table – perfect alone or with poached halibut, roasted chicken, and pasta dishes with either lean or rich sauces.
  • On the shelf – about $75 {yep, I splurged}.
  • On the ears – paired with Phantogram’s “Black Out Days” from their recent album, Voices. Steve and I saw them perform at the Ogden here in Denver last month, and I have listened to their current album at least 50 times. Truth. I think I chose this track not only because of the harmonic layers and trance-like beats, but also because I can really identify with the “crazy voices in my head” theme, as of late. Good wine always helps quiet those crazy thoughts, though. 😉

Have a great weekend, sip something delicious, and, even better, share it with a friend!

Oh, I almost forgot. I am also posting more about wine on my new Tumblr blog, Sommthing to Talk About. Steve thinks the title is a tad silly, but I dig catchy, witty plays on words! I will be directly linking to all of the wine posts that I write for the Kitchn, so it will be easier to follow those. It is wine-focused and is still taking shape, but you can find me there now, as well! Cheers!

DIY rose salt bath soak | ruinart brut rosé

These recent frigid, snowy days have left me in cozy-up and slow-down mode here lately.  It seems as if I can’t get quite warm enough or relaxed enough or cheered up enough.  And I refuse to stay in that frame of mind.  As I type this post, I am anticipating a long, decadent soak in the tub later this evening to get me out of my {temporary} funk.  And out of my writer’s block for an upcoming post at the Kitchn.  Maybe a hot bath and a glass of bubbly will fix it all.  Here’s hoping!

I made a batch of this rose salt bath soak in late December with my friend, Yvonne, the same day we made candles and other goodies for our families’ Christmas gifts.  After testing out our recipe, I decided that I had to make several baths’ worth of this treat to stow away for myself.  A trip to Apothecary Tinctura in Cherry Creek inspired this recipe.  I spied a jar of their own rose bath salts and noted the ingredients.  I already had the baking soda, sea salt, and Epsom salt on hand, so all I needed to complete the concoction were some dried roses, pink Himalayan sea salt, and rose essential oil, which they conveniently had on hand.

If you are new to the Epsom salt experience, you are in for a serious treat.  Epsom salt, or magnesium sulfate, is a natural muscle relaxation aid that eases sprains and diffuses aches.  You don’t even need to get all fancy and duplicate this recipe; you simply need to add a cup or two to a hot bath, soak for at least 20 minutes, and experience relaxation nirvana.  That’s a lofty goal, but Epsom salt shows up and follows through.  Just add a few drops of an essential oil of your choice, and you can take it to another sensory level.

Ingredients for Rose Salt Bath Soak:

  • 3 cups Epsom salt
  • 1 cup sea salt
  • 1/2 cup pink Himalayan sea salt
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • crushed, dried rose buds
  • rose essential oil

Gather the dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir to integrate.  Add a few shakes of the rose essential oil, to your personal taste, stirring along the way to distribute any clumps.  This recipe yields a large jar for yourself or about five 8-ounce jars to give to weary, winter-weathered friends.  You may opt out of the pink Himalayan sea salt, if you are unable to find it easily; I love using it, however, for the rosy color it imparts to the blend.  If you aren’t blessed with a local herbal shop, visit Mountain Rose Herbs for all of the ingredients listed here.  After making my batch, I discovered another rose salt soak interpretation that I can’t wait to try.  Via Erin Boyle at Gardenista, apothecary diva, Briar Winter, shares a rose, cardamom, and ginger body soak that exudes warmth and radiance.

And what indulgent salt soak isn’t complete without a chilled glass of bubbly?  And since I am on a pink streak, I selected one of my favorite Champagnes, Ruinart Brut Rosé, non-vintage.  It is definitely a splurge, but it is worth the monetary expense.  Opt for a half bottle, like I did, to ease any pain to the pocketbook.

Ruinart, Brut Rosé, Reims, France, NV

Breaking it down:  Ruinart is the producer; Brut Rosé is the style of the wine; Chardonnay {45%} and Pinot Noir {55%} are the grapes; Reims is the region within France, pretty much the best spot to source grapes destined for Champagne; and “NV” indicates that the grapes were picked from multiple years and blended.  Ruinart is France’s oldest established Champagne house, producing Champagne since 1729.

  • On the eyes  –  pale pink with hints of orange and salmon, actively bursting with fine bubbles.
  • On the nose  –  vibrantly aromatic, with ripe, red cherry, complemented with floral notes and spicy undertones.
  • On the palate  –  dry, with a lively, delicate mousse; silky, fleshy mouth-feel that confirms the nose with lush pomegranate and a hint of spice.
  • On the table  –  outstanding alone, with light appetizers, with poached salmon or broiled fish…or a lavish bath!
  • On the shelf  –  around $75 for the 750 mL bottle, $45 for my little half-bottle-for-one.
  • On the ears  –  Part of me wants to pair this with Colbie Caillat’s “Bubbly,” but that’s way too easy.  This one, however, absolutely nails the very essence of this wine:  The Bird and The Bee‘s “My Love,” off their 2009 album, “Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future.”  Catchy, dreamy, head-over-heels-in-love giddiness, with Inara George’s lilt-like, ethereal voice.  I listen to this song at least once a week.  My boyfriend, Steve, added this track to a sweet playlist he made for me back in 2012.  I fell even harder.

Closing with some recent projects and life around the house.  There seems to be a trend of bringing in the sunnier side of life into the picture, right?!  Do any of you have creative ways that you bring life into the winter season?  Have you tried any fun bubbles lately?  Cheers to a beautiful week ahead!

Our Super Bowl wines, which far surpassed our anticipated outcome of the game: Moet et Chandon’s 2002 Grand Vintage, Domaine Chandon’s étoile, Veuve Clicquot’s Rosé, shown left to right.  #denverstyle

My first foray into cactus terrariums. A how-to post will follow shortly, with the requisite wine pairing, of course!

…and day two of the current terrarium obsession…

Another snippet of the forced paperwhite bulbs experiment.

Tulip and daffodil bulbs were on sale at the garden center for $1 apiece! Completely worth a try at planting them for some spring color.  #score

Blending up our “yard blend” of dried culinary herbs from our summer garden. So excited to release this with our “hot” pepper blend in a couple of weeks!

bourbon maple pecan pie | paired with vin santo

Yes, I am still defiantly avoiding a juice cleanse or a green smoothie marathon, almost two weeks into the new year.  And I do not apologize if this pecan pie recipe tempts you past your threshold and sends you back to your pre-2014 indulgent self.  You will honestly thank me, if this happens.  Pecan pie is a dessert staple, a baking “rite of passage” in my family, that always makes an appearance at every Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner at my house.  In fact, the recipe I swore by for years was found on page 392 of the Cotton Country Collection, from the Junior League of Monroe, Louisiana.  This past holiday season, I decided to stray away from the corn syrup that is almost always a primary ingredient in this sweet, southern standby, and opt for sweetening with maple syrup and brown sugar, instead.  I am officially converted.

Not shown: I also added a small dollop of Talenti’s Tahitian Vanilla Bean Gelato, and it really set off the flavors in the pie.

Ingredients:

  • dough for a 9″ pie {this is the one I use}
  • 2 cups pecans
  • 1/2 cup grade B maple syrup {yes, B is better}
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla {The Real Deal is my standing fave}
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place your chilled dough onto a lightly floured piece of wax paper.  Flatten into a disc and cover with another piece of wax paper.  Roll the dough evenly in each direction, until the dough will fit nicely into a 9″ pie pan.  Crimp the edges to your liking.  I spied some beautifully designed pie crusts here.  Chill your pie dough in the refrigerator, while you are assembling the filling.
  3. Chop the pecans and spread onto a baking sheet.  Toast pecans, until they become aromatic, for about five minutes, watching vigilantly, for they tend to scorch quickly.
  4. Remove pecans, set aside, and turn the oven up to 375 degrees.
  5. In a medium saucepan, combine syrup and butter on medium heat, until melted and incorporated.  Do not let the mixture boil.
  6. While the butter is melting, beat eggs in a mixing bowl.  Add brown sugar, bourbon, vanilla, flour, and salt.  Whisk this mixture into the maple syrup and butter mixture.
  7. Bring to a slow, bubbling simmer and stir for five minutes.
  8. Remove saucepan from heat and add chopped pecans.
  9. Blind bake your pie crust for five minutes and then pour pecan filling into the pie crust.
  10. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the center is no longer in a liquid state, but still remains “jiggly.”

Tip:  Bake your pie a day before serving it.  On day two, the texture is perfect, the filling has integrated, and the pie holds together better.  The trick is not sneaking a slice during the waiting period!

You can definitely enjoy this pecan pie alone or alongside a bourbon on the rocks; however, if you can score some Vin Santo {translated, “holy wine”}, an Italian dessert wine, you just might experience the most perfectly paired ensemble.  Sigh.  And if you have not yet discovered the luxury and deliciousness of dessert wines, this may very well be a great place to start!  Need a good breakdown on sweet wines?  Read this brilliantly simple guide or skim over this one.

Castellare, S. Niccolo, Vin Santo del Chianti Classico, DOC, 2005

Breaking it down:  Castellare is the producer; “S. Niccolo″ is the name of the bottle; Malvasia and Trebbiano are the grapes; Vin Santo is the style; Chianti Classico is the region within Italy; and 2005 is the year the grapes were picked.  This sultry, amber-hued dessert wine is made from grapes that are harvested, dried in a ventilated room, and then fermented in small oak barrels.  The wine is aged five years in barrel and another six months in bottle.

  • On the eyes  –  brilliant amber, with rich, golden tones.
  • On the nose  –  toasted pecans, dried apricot, dates, golden raisin, browned butter, toffee, and spice cake.
  • On the palate  –  golden raisin, spice cake, buttery caramel, balanced sweetness and acidity, with a toasty, long finish, hinting at bitter black walnuts.
  • On the table  –  perfect accompaniment to shortbread, oatmeal raisin cookies, fruit tarts, and nutty pies.
  • On the shelf  –  around $25.
  • On the ears  –  I couldn’t resist pairing this duo with a track from the Avett Brothers.  “Kick Drum Heart” from their album, “I and Love and You,” highlights my excitement for this bourbon + maple + pecan pie.  The words are incredibly sweet and touching.

DSC_000

Sunday was an exceptionally productive day, as far as home improvements go.  I know that I am overdue on posting an update on our kitchen remodel, but we are waiting for the back splash tile and the cabinet hardware to arrive.  Soon, I promise!  That afternoon, we hauled out the table saw and finished making cuts for our hallway door frames and an oak shelf to provide a perch for some of our houseplants.  They’ve been living in a cluttered stack, under the front windows, and are ready for a better home.  Finishing that project this morning!  Closing with photos from Sunday afternoon…

Bitter and windy, despite the sun’s warm rays.

Steve getting ready for finishing the shelf.

Our houseplants’ current home: no room to stretch out or thrive. Problem solved very soon and very cheaply! I see a post in the making…

Our little Ash cat, getting used to her cat carrier, so that an upcoming trip to the vet will be a little less scary.

apple pie for one + tips for a perfect crust

Happy beginnings of the holiday season!  It is also the season for pie-baking, one of my favorite things to do.  Personally, there are times when I want to bake an entire pie and either share it with some friends or devour most of it myself.  There are other times, however, I just want to have one slice and then be rid of any further temptation to go back for seconds…or thirds.  Enter the “apple pie for one.”  Lately, I am beyond obsessed with all things miniature.  Aside from these apple pies being downright adorable, they are the perfect size for a decadent one-time session….

One of my favorite dessert spots in town, D Bar Desserts, specializes in baking chocolate chip cookies to order.  They are hot, fresh, delicious, and made especially for you.  They simply keep cookie dough at the ready.  I have been doing the same thing with pie dough, thanks to their inspirational idea.  I’ll make a batch of dough, divide it into small portions, and either refrigerate or freeze the rest.  I can quickly toss together an apple pie, a peach hand pie, or even a mini breakfast quiche at any time!  So convenient.

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how to make your own infused vodka with fruits + spices + herbs

Am I only one up late, perusing the pages of Pinterest, bookmarking recipes in my blog feed, and searching the likes of Foodgawker, Liqurious, and Tastespotting for the perfect fall or winter cocktails?  Beautifully constructed and tastefully paired cocktails can really set a table apart and send your dinner guests home with a memorable experience.  Better yet, creating a cocktail, using spirits you infused yourself, adds a personal touch, is an excellent conversation piece, and is equally self-rewarding!

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