Palate Pleasers

Archive for January 2012

Here is another great recipe from Cooking Light – this is so easy to make and can easily be used as a main dish or a side dish.  I added grilled chicken to this dish the second time I made it.  When I need something in a pinch, this is an easy, go-to meal.   When I started watching “Chopped” on Food Network, they were using cheeses such as Mascarpone which I’d never cooked with much less heard off.  Since then, I’ve bought it several times and added it to various dishes where I could use cheese – its something that can be used in savory and sweet dishes.    This recipe calls for Mascarpone and Parmesan which provides for nice balance and flavor.


  • 8 oz uncooked linguine
  • 1 cup 1% low-fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, divided
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup shaved (shredded) Parmesan Cheese, divided
  • 1-1/2 TBSP mascarpone cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.  Drain and keep warm.  While pasta cooks, combine milk, 2 tsp basil, salt and pepper in a bowl; stir milk mixture with whisk.

Heat a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Add flour to pan, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Ad milk mixture; cook for 3 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat, and add 1-1/2 ounces shredded Parmesan cheese and mascarpone cheese to milk mixture.

Add cheese mixture to pasta; toss to combine.  sprinkle with remaining 4 teaspoons basil and remaining 1/2 ounce parmesan.  Yield 4 servings.

COOKs NOTES:  I like a lot of sauce so I often double the recipe so that I have some extra sauce.  It’s definitely worth it.  I don’t really change too much but you can add whatever sounds good to the recipe including pork, bacon and chicken to name a few. It’s a good recipe and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!

Buon Appetito!


This recipe is from Cooking Light has become another favorite recipe that i made during the summer when Blueberries were in season.  But, recently I went to Sprouts and lo and behold, there were fresh blueberries, so it seems that they never really go out of season.   I made it for Dwaine & Naoma when they came to visit last July and then just recently for my parents when they came to visit.  And, I made it more times than I can count for Mike and me during the summer.    It’s moist and tender and has nearly 2 cups of blueberries in it.  I figure the more the merrier!   I have even doubled the recipe when I wanted to “beef” it up.  It’s fresh and easy and has things like buttermilk and turbinado sugar which gives it another level of texture.    I love turbinado sugar – you can find it at Trader Joes or Sprouts.  I’m always looking for other ways to cook with it.  I think  this will become a favorite to make for all of you too – it’s easy to make and everyone is sure to enjoy it!


  • 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour (about 6-3/4 ounces)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1-1/3 cups buttermilk (it suggests low fat buttermilk, but I use regular)
  • Cooking Spray
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 1 Tbsp Turbinado sugar

Preheat Oven to 350*

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.  Combine flour, baking powder, soda and salt stirring with a whisk.  Place granulated sugar and butter in a large bowl, beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 2 minutes).  Add vanilla, egg and egg white; beat well.  Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix after each addition.

Spoon half of the batter into a 9-inch round baking pan coated with cooking spray.  Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup blueberries.  Spoon remaining batter over the blueberries.  Spoon remaining batter over the blueberries; sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 cup blueberries.  Sprinkle the top evenly with 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar.

Bake at 350* for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan.  Cool completely on wire rack.  Yields 8 servings.


COOKs NOTE:  I follow this recipe to a tee – however; after I spray the baking pan with Cooking spray, I add Turbinado Sugar on the bottom before pouring in the batter.  And, then I add it at the end.  And, I just use a handful of sugar and sprinkle the top with the sugar.  The same applies to the blueberries – I just scatter a handful or so in the batter.  I love the juicy plumb pockets of berries packed into the cake.   I know you’ll love this and will enjoy it as much as we do!

Bon Appetito!

This is gotta be Mike’s favorite salad of all time.  When we were first dating, Mike impressed me with his culinary skills and made this for me.  It’s become one of our favorite salads, so I try to make it whenever possible.  I have to say that the first couple of times I made it, I attempted to change the ingredients by adding more or less of something, but ultimately, the way the recipe is is just about perfect.   I really just changed 2 things which I do think made it better and I’ll tell you what those things are at the end of the recipe in my notes.  I hope you enjoy it.


In a large bowl, mix the following together:

3 bags of pre-shredded red cabbage (you can also mix in some green cabbage)

3 green onions, slides (optional)

2 breasts of chicken, boiled and shredded (or use a rotisserie chicken)

5 TBSP Sesame Seeds (use Roasted if you can find them)

4 oz sliced or slivered almonds

3 packages ramen noodles, crumbled


In a measuring cup or small bowl mix the following together:

1 Cup Canola oil (less 2 TBSP)

2 TBSP sesame oil

6 TBSP white vinegar

6 TBSP sugar

Salt & pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients together.

Mix dressing into Cabbage Salad mixture.  Make sure to crumble the ramen noodles into small pieces.  I typically do this by smashing them in the bag and then mixing into the salad.  I also only use 2 bags of Ramen noodles (Using 2 bags of Ramen means that the dressing isn’t absorbed completely into the ramen noodles) and I use 6 TBSP (or to taste) of Sesame oil.   I like the taste of the Sesame oil and it’s a good balance against the white vinegar.

Once mixed, cover with foil and refridgerater for 4 hours or more before serving.  I like to make the night before so that all the flavors meld together before I serve for dinner the next night.

If you make this, please let me know – we tend to munch on this throughout the week since it lasts for several days.


In early November, I made Butternut Squash Ravioli’s with Brown Butter Thyme sauce for Mike and me.  They turned out so well that I took a few to my family to taste.  While there it was decided that we would have an Italian themed Christmas and I was asked if I would mind making about 100-150 ravioli’s to feed everyone.   (Plus, I offered to make a Lasagna – but that’s another recipe) We had about 20 family members join on Christmas Day.   Since we were about 6 weeks until Christmas, I figured I had plenty of time to make everything – but of course, December flew by and here we are the week of Christmas and I haven’t even started making these things.  I figured if I could knock out 50 a night for 3 nights I’d have it made.   So I started on Tuesday night (after spending 2 days baking with my nieces) and did 50 staying up until 2pm and then on Wednesday I made 80 more and that was the end of that.  By the end of 2 days, 130 Ravioli’s had been made and put in freezer bags awaiting a pot of boiling water on Christmas Day … Many have asked for the recipe so here it is … you’ll need to make it fit for you as I used a little of this and a little of that and will try my best to put this and that into measurement form.

What you’ll need:

1 butternut squash

Ravioli Stamp


Cut Squash in half long ways (top to bottom), scoop out seeds.  Heat oven to 300*

Drizzle Olive Oil over squash – put fresh thyme (or sage or other herb) on squash and salt.   Put on baking sheet/dish in oven (if you have a rack that can go on the cookie sheet or baking dish, use that) for 1-2 hours.  Make sure to check the doneness of the squash to make sure you do not burn it.

Once the Squash has finished roasting, set in place where it can cool.  Once cool – scoop out the squash and put it in a container for use later or put into food processor (or blender/mixer).

Blend, adding the following:

  • up to 1/2 cup brown sugar (to taste)
  • 4 oz marscapone cheese (Ricotta cheese can also be used)

Taste to make sure it taste good to you and is more savory than sweet.  It also needs to taste good to you.  My ravioli’s were savory with a hint of sweetness.  Once completed, you can either freeze the squash in freezer bags or containers or use it right away.

DOUGH RECIPE:  (Recipe from Giada DeLaurentis)

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour for dusting

1 cup very hot water

In a large bowl combine the flour and water.  Using a wooden spook stir to combine into a large ball.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 10 minutes.  (I used a kitchenaid mixer with dough hook)

To form the ravioli, cut the dough into 4 evenly sized pieces.  The dough should be slightly sticky.  Add extra flour as necessary for rolling, but use only a little as necessary.  Form each piece into a 2  by 6″ rectangle.  Recover the dough with the plastic wrap.

Lightly dust the work surface and a rolling-pin.  Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll the dough into a 4 x 19 inch rectangle.  Place 9 rounded teaspoons of filling about 1-inch apart down the center of the dough.  Fold the dough over the filling.  Press down around the edges of the ravioli with your fingertips or with the stamp as it will seal it.  Place the finished ravioli on a baking tray and continue forming the remaining ravioli.

When ready to eat, bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat.  Add half the ravioli and cook until the ravioli float stirring occasionally, about 3-4 minutes.  Drain into a large bowl with a slotted spoon and cook the remaining ravioli.

If from freezer, do not thaw – go straight from freezer  bag to boiling water for best results.

COOKs NOTE:  Since this is my recipe, you’ll have to add the things that work best for you including the taste of the butternut squash puree’  or shorten/lengthen your time in the oven.  You can also boil them if that is a faster process for you and add the sweet/savory once they are in the food processor.  The recipe for the dough comes from Giada’s Ravioli Caprese which I will eventually make.  It’s a very easy dough recipe.   You can make sweet dessert ravioli’s by adding more brown sugar both during the roasting process and in the food processor. I will make these again and stock my fridge with them since I really enjoyed them.  The Brown Butter Thyme sauce will follow this recipe.  I hope you all enjoy and if you have any questions, please let me know.

Buon Appetito!


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January 2012
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