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Red Beans and Rice

Based on my last few posts I’ve gone south with my cooking lately, and this is no exception!

Red beans and rice is that quintessential southern comfort food. All the carbs, all the spices, all the tastiness. I like to make this maybe once a month as it’s very filling, the leftovers are delicious, and it’s stupid cheap to make. It’s very hands-off and anyone can do this. I use dried beans in a Crock-Pot, however, you could just use canned beans and spice them up it would work just the same.

The ingredients:
1lb dry red beans

1/2 an onion, chopped fine

2 cups uncooked rice

A smoked sausage, andoui if you can get it but a kielbasa works just fine too.

1/8 tsp liquid smoke

1 tsp Cajun seasoning

Approx 6-8 cups stock, chicken, beef, or veggie.

The process:
This is a dump and go kind of recipe. First you should sort and rinse the beans, people say you do this to remove stones that may have been put in the bag or to remove less than tasty looking beans.  As for stones, in my lifetime I’ve never seen that happen, however, you do find some ugly looking beans every once in awhile so it’s good to toss them.

Place your beans, onion, liquid smoke, Cajun seasoning, and stock into your crock pot set to low.

Allow to cook 6 – 8 hours. Once beans are getting soft, extract about a cup of beans and liquid, set aside. 

Slice up your sausage and add it to the mix

Put the beans and water you set aside into a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Add back to crock pot. This is the thickener for your beans.

Let the beans cook for 30 more minutes with the lid off to reduce a bit.

While your beans are reducing, prepare rice as directed on the packaging.

Plate the beans and sausage and top with rice, dig in and enjoy.

Prep time: 8 hours

Serves:  10 – 12

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Ravioli (A Cheaters Guide)

Alright, I love food, Italian, Mexican, Korean, that melting pot of culinary creations we claim is American food. All of it!  And I hate paying an arm and a leg for something delicious and healthy(ish) that costs pennies to make.  So I like to cook up my own recipes, they usually start with a thought like, “Gee I wonder if I could do that…” and end either in terrible disaster or wonderfully full tummies.

Now I really like Ravioli. Pillows of cheese, meat, veggies, or some kind of mixture there in; that are drizzled in a light tasty sauce.  I hate store bought ravioli, only because the mark up on them is insane.  I look to make them myself only to find that the number on tools and the amount of knowledge is a bit daunting too.  So I settle for cheating where possible.  This is where Won Ton Wrappers come into play,  they are a pre-rolled dough I can easily use for my ravioli.  I was unsure with was a good idea, but upon searching Google for confirmation, I am well assured that its a thing that can be done.

 

The Ingredients:

  • Won ton Wrappers (these things are cheap and versatile)
  • 1 Cup Ricotta
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan
  • 1/2 Cup Mozzarella
  • 2 Egg
  • 2-6 Cloves Garlic, Chopped (depending on how you like it)
  • A few Dashes Italian Seasoning Blend

 

The Instructions:

In a large bowl, mix ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, Italian seasoning, garlic,  and 1 egg until smooth. 

Set aside for a few minutes. Lightly beat the remaining egg as an egg wash. Lay out the won ton wrappers on counter in front of you. Paint each one lightly with the beaten egg. Place 1 tablespoon filling in the center of each ravioli, I use a 1 Tbsp scoop to get as accurate as I can. Seal by placing 8 additional won ton wrappers on top to cover each square.


 Pick up each ravioli and press well all around edges to seal. For a good seal, keep the filling away from the edges. You can leave them square (the easy route) or get fancy and with a medium cookie cutter, cut them into shapes. Remember to leave a bit of space around the filling to make sure these babies don’t pop open while cooking. Place the ravioli upside down on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. I do these in batches, do 6-8 ravioli, lay them on the pan, then lay additional parchment or plastic wrap between layers of ravioli as you make each batch. The cookie sheet can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for like a day.

When ready to cook ravioli, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Lower heat to a medium simmer. Give the water a good stir to form a whirlpool effect and quickly drop in 10 raviolis one at a time. Keep string to keep them from sticking together. Boil/poach for 2 to 3 minutes, or until ravioli puff up and float to the surface. They will be a little see through at the center. Cook remaining ravioli in same manner. Serve with sauce, butter, or oil, or in broth, and with or without cheese.
Variations:

Seafood Ravioli– Into the cheese mixture you could add chopped crab (real or imitation), lobster (real or imitation), and/or shrimp. I would recommend serving these with a Butter Shallot Cream sauce.

Meat Ravioli- Cut the ricotta down to 1/2 a cup and fry off some ground beef, ground pork, or Italian Sausage. Mix filling using new ingredients and follow instructions as above.  It isn’t very Italian but I serve these with my Hearty Marinara.

Crispy Meat Ravioli– Follow the meat ravioli instructions, buy instead of boiling these little guys, drop them into a fryer. Admittedly not healthy… at all, but an awesome thing to serve at parties as a quick and easy appetizer.

Veggie Ravioli– Just like with the meat ravioli, cut back the ricotta to 1/2 a cup, and add in some steamed mashed sweet potato, or butternut squash. Then follow the instructions as usual.  These are an awesome winter/fall meal served with lemon sage butter sauce.

Ramen Shop Eggs

Ramen eggs are the perfect accompaniment to ramen.  Real ramen, or even that pack o’ saltiness if that’s what floats your boat.  Ramen eggs are soft boiled eggs that are pealed and marinated in some deliciousness. Ramen shops all have their own secrete ingredients but most everyone starts the same, some mirin (Sweet rice wine for cooking) and some soy sauce.  I like to add some ginger, garlic, spring onions, and a sliced chili to my marinade to really give it a zing. unfortunately I didn’t have those in the fridge at midnight when I made these so I settled for ground ginger, garlic powder, mirin and soy sauce.

The Ingredients:

2 large Eggs (keep in the fridge until you submerge them).

1/4 cup Soy Sauce.

13 Tbls Mirin.

Fresh ginger (Thumb size sliced thin if you are up for it, otherwise rough chopped).

3 Garlic Cloves Sliced.

2-3 Spring Onions rough chopped.

1 Gallon zip top bag

The Instructions:

  • Take the zip top bag and place it in a cup or bowl that will keep it upright.
  • pour in the mirin and soy sauce.  Chop or slice other ingredients and drop them in as well.  this will let the flavors mix while the eggs cook.
  • Set a Pan of water to boil, use enough water to cover the eggs.
  • Once the water is boiling remove the eggs from the fridge and place them into the water with a spider strainer, slotted spoon, whatever you have that will allow you to gently lower the eggs in.
  • Reduce the heat on you stove to a simmer. Make sure the eggs aren’t getting beat to death by bubbles in the water. if they are moving about you should lower the temp.
  • Simmer for no more than 7 minutes, 8 if you “must” have a firmer yolk.
  • Once the cook time is done, place directly into an ice bath
  • Once completely cooled peel the eggs and place into the waiting zip top bag.
  • Let the eggs marinate anywhere from 10 minutes to overnight (overnight makes them way more tasty)
  • Lastly slice the eggs and top you favorite ramen… please not top ramen…
    ramen 1
    These got more firm than I’d have liked. 😦