Monday, January 22, 2018


This Ree Drummond recipe (Food Network's Pioneer Woman) makes Pumpkin Ravioli's so easy and if you didn't know you were not using pasta you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference.

I made these with the help of our good friends Dennis and Diana on the occasion of Dennis and Jerry's birthday last November. We always enjoy cooking together!
Birthday Boys, Dennis and Jerry
November 13, 2017
1 stick unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 large egg, slightly beaten
48 wonton wrappers
1 1/2 cups shaved parmesan cheese
6 sage leaves, rolled and very thinly sliced or I fried them.
Freshly ground pepper
Getting them filled.

"Many hands make light work"...
my Mom used to say that all the time!

Melt 2 Tbsp. of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and heat it for a couple of minutes (do not brown). Add the pumpkin puree, 1/2 tsp. salt and the chili powder. Cook this filling for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, to warm it and cook off some of the excess liquid. Remove from the heat and let it cool slightly while you get the other components ready.
Toast the pine nuts in a small skillet, set aside. Melt the remaining 6 Tbsp. butter over medium-high heat; let it cook and bubble up for an additional minute or so, until the foam is golden brown. Watch it carefully and take the pan off the heat as soon as it's ready. Because I decided to fry the sage I used this brown butter to fry the sage in which also gave the butter a lovely flavor. Finally, beat the egg with 1 Tbsp. cold water to use as your wonton glue. Now you're ready to form raviolis.
These raviolis were wrapped up in short time!
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Lay out a few wonton wrappers at a time (As you see we laid them all at once, no problem as we worked quickly. You don't want the raviolis to dry out.) and spoon about 2 tsp. of the pumpkin mixture in the middle of each one. Then, one at a time, dab your finger into the egg wash mixture and "paint" around the pumpkin on the wrapper. Lay a second wonton wrapper on top of each one, match up the edges and press the two wrappers together, gently pressing out any air bubbles as you go. To seal the ravioli, use a knife or square cutter to neatly trim the edges. Set them aside while you work on the rest. We decided to seal the edges of each ravioli tightly with our fingers and not trim giving them a more rustic look, but be careful of fingernails as they go through tender wonton wrappers very easily.
Diana's wonton is bleeding pumpkin!
We really brushed on the egg wash even
after sealing so the raviolis would stay together.
Drop a few ravioli at a time into the gently boiling water.

Boil them until tender, 2-4 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and place on a platter or serving plates. Spoon a little bit of the browned butter over the ravioli, then sprinkle on parmesan shavings, sage (either fresh or fried), toasted pine nuts and a little freshly ground pepper.

We completed the birthday feast with lightly steamed green beans in butter, very garlicy garlic bread and a tomato Caprese salad.
Diana was in charge of garlicy garlic bread.

And Dennis made the Caprese salads:
Sliced tomato, Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella, Basil, Olive Oil, S/P

And our finale was a French-style apple pie (Thanks to Martha Stewarts recipe:, scroll down to find the recipe. This was a LONG blog!) topped with home-made vanilla ice cream. I'm going to have to blog this recipe. It is my favorite vanilla ice cream!

Well, that's a wrap for today!
I love celebrating birthdays
and especially love Dennis and Jerry's!

Can't wait to see what we'll come up with next year!

Until next time...


Saturday, January 6, 2018


How did OXTAIL SOUP get its name since it is generally made from beef tail? From what I learned an ox is a castrated bull, but any breed of cattle can be trained to be an ox. Generally the largest bulls are selected so they are able to accomplish the most work. I suspect that OXEN are a different breed from BEEF, but in the same family, but am not sure. Possibly when oxen were more prevalent as 'beasts of burden' used for plowing fields, etc. you truly were eating ox tail, but now beef is much more common and I am sure the flavors are similar. Please weigh in on this debate!

Oxtails weigh on average between 2 to 4 lbs. Mine came from my rancher friend, Duncan Blair, and were already skinned and cut into pieces weighing about 5 lbs. total. They are bony and rich with gelatin and marrow. They need lots of cooking, which is why they generally go into a stew or are used as stock. I used my new slow cooker. Turns out they are eaten in most parts of the world, and why not?...Great taste, lots of nutrition and accessible if you raise beef or know someone who does. I have become a huge fan of eating every part of the animal. (I love Fergus Henderson's cookbook, The Whole Beast-Nose to Tail Eating). I found 3 different recipes online and took the best of all to come up with this simple, but delicious version.

5 lbs. oxtail
1 qt. beef stock
2 bay leaves
3 stalks celery, roughly chopped, include leaves
4 carrots, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 large sweet potato, peeled and roughly chopped
3 red bliss potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 cup good red wine divided in half
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp, allspice

14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup red wine
Several sprigs of fresh sage

Parsley for garnish
Our good neighbor Brian is an adventurous eater!
I didn't want to go too crazy with spices as never having eaten oxtail I really wanted to taste it, but you can add cumin, curry, scotch bonnet pepper, thyme, paprika, cinnamon, cardamom--these are all spices commonly found in other recipes. You can also add different types of beans--cannellini, kidney, shell, etc.; or grain, such as barley or faro. The spices vary regionally. I kept this dish more like beef stew.

I chose to cook over 2 days so I could skim off the excess fat after cooling overnight. Oxtail tend to be fatty.
Add all ingredients up to the diced tomatoes, second 1/2 cup of red wine and fresh sage to slow-cooker. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours. Let cool completely and refrigerate overnight. Next day remove most, but not all of the fat which will have hardened at top of dish. Return to slow cooker, set on low.

Add tomatoes, the second 1/2 cup of wine and several sprigs of fresh safe. Cook on low another 5 hours. Remove the sage. Adjust for seasoning. Garnish with parsley. You may either remove the meat from the bones or serve rustic style bones and all. That is what I did as picking up the bones and getting them very clean was half the fun. I served with a big green salad and hot French bread and lots of red wine. Next time I would cook for 13 hours. They were tender, but not completely falling off the bone.
Lori is about to dig in! We love dining with the Itule's!
I have some additional treats from Duncan Blair
including some beautiful hearts and kidneys
so stay tuned for more offal cooking!

After a big day of cooking there is nothing like
lounging on our front porch enjoying the late afternoon January sun!