Homemade Ravioli - Cheese Filled but lots of other options! (Homemade Noodles too!)

This morning a friend commented she was hoping to make ravioli today, and once she said the word ravioli I couldn't get it out of my head.  I immediately was craving homemade cheese filled ravioli with an alfredo sauce, crumbled bacon and smoked provolone. 

So, that's what we're having for dinner tonight!

I actually remembered to grab my iphone and snap a couple pictures while I was making it.  Regular readers around these parts know I usually forget or just don't feel like taking pictures, so I don't.  Ha ha. 

The pasta recipe is adaptable - and it's one I've posted on An American Housewife many times before.  Use the basic flour, eggs and a bit of oil.  A little more flour or a little water to bring the dough together.  You can add things like jalapenos, spinach, etc. to the dough but today I went with a plain pasta except I added about 1/2 cup fresh ground whole wheat flour to my dough.

Homemade Pasta

2 1/4 c flour
1 t salt
1-2 t olive oil
3-4 eggs

In a food processor bowl, place the salt and flour. 
Put the top on and while pulsing or running on low, add a teaspoon-ish of oil and start adding eggs.  You probably only need 3 eggs if they are typical 'large' eggs so start with that.  Process/pulse just until the dough forms a ball shape.  If it hasn't gathered itself in a ball by the 3rd egg, you can add another teaspoon of oil or water or use a 4th egg.  Water or additional flour by the teaspoon will give you the texture you need for it to be a ball if it's too wet.

Let it rest 10 minutes.  Then either roll very, very thin with a rolling pin or use a pasta machine (my preference). Some people have a pasta making attachment on their mixers (like a KitchenAid, etc but I do not.)  I use a manual, hand crank pasta machine and starting with number 1, I run it through to a number 4.  You can then cut into thin noodles or use wide sheets to make homemade ravioli.

For tonight's ravioli I grabbed 4 oz. of cream cheese and just tossed in a few other cheeses we had on hand.  Today it was a bit of pepper jack, mozzarella and a bit of an Irish hard cheese similar to Parmesan.  Warmed in the microwave, stirred to mix and then by teaspoon full into the rounds of ravioli.

The extra dough was made into noodles.  I used the manual pasta maker but you can use a knife or pizza cutter to slice 1/2" wide noodles from your dough.  Toss into boiling water right away, or let them dry a bit and freeze for another day.  They only take about 3-4 minutes to cook for noodles and about 5 minutes at a rolling simmer for ravioli.  Drain and serve as you wish.

Just a quick photo as I was making the pasta.  I bought this manual pasta machine about 23 (?) years ago.  It's made in Italy and is heavy and sturdy and I love it!  It came with the ravioli mold at the time but I've made ravioli many times without it.  Just lay your pasta down, top fillings every 2 inches.  Lay another sheet on top and press around each round to seal, then slice to cut apart.  Although this mold does make it easier.  


Just a simple filling of various cheeses today.  I often add some garlic, jalapenos, crumbled bacon... just cheese today. 

To seal with a ravioli maker you just roll a rolling pin over and press lightly on the raised edges.

Ready to pop them out!

At first this photo throws you off a bit!  But it's right side up.  I wanted to show what the bottom of the ravioli mold looks like with the cheese filling them and getting ready to flip it upside down and pop them out.

Popped out on a tray to wait for me to drop them into boiling water.  When it comes to a boil again, turn it down to a simmer and let them cook just about 4-5 minutes.  Serve with your favorite sauce or just butter, salt and pepper.

Tonight we are having alfredo sauce on them with crumbled bacon and grated smoked provolone.

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Low Carb, Sugar Free Waffles! A dry mix to keep in your pantry to make as you wish

This is a healthier waffle we normally have on hand - in a Ziploc baggy in the pantry for quick and easy hot breakfasts whenever the mood hits.  I'm leaving my original recipe below - but I substitute ALL THE TIME based on what I have on hand.  I don't always have or use oat bran; sometimes I don't wheat germ.  Although I usually have vital wheat gluten on hand, I've left it out.  If you need gluten free, you can leave it out.  The only difference I've found is the waffles aren't as... sturdy?  They are more fragile and tend to break apart easier perhaps.  But it's still a waffle!  And when you are eating low carb and sugar free, being able to have a 'waffle' or 'pancake' is amazing when you are tired of items like eggs for breakfast.  Be sure to use a sugar free syrup of course but honestly, these are good as a Belgian Waffle with whipped cream instead of syrup too.

Waffle and Pancake Mix

2 c almond meal
1/2 c oat bran (I've also substituted Golden Flax Meal)
1 c vanilla flavored whey protein powder
2 T wheat bran flakes
2 T wheat germ
2 T vital wheat gluten
2 1/2 T baking powder
1 1/2 t salt

Blend ingredients in a food processor with a S blade.  Pulse a couple times until well blended.  Store in a Ziploc or other air tight container in the refrigerator or freezer.  Makes about 4 cups.  


Use 1 cup of your dry almond waffle mix
2 t sweetener
1/2 c half and half
1 egg beat with 1/4 c oil

Stir all together in a bowl while preheating your waffle iron.  Only stir until everything is moist, do not over stir.  Bake according to your waffle iron directions.  Serve with butter and sugar free syrup or cinnamon, sweetener, whipped cream, or whatever you wish!  This is going to average about 6 carbs per waffle when made with the oat bran but less if you substitute flax meal.

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My Favorite Beef Stew Recipe - Adapted for use in the Instant Pot Cooker

When I first started making this recipe I used the recipe that was made to simmer forever on the stove, into one I put in the crock pot/slow cooker.  Last night I adapted it for my Cosori Instant Pot Cooker as well.  This is because when I decided to make the beef and vegetable stew for dinner that evening, it was because I had diced meat pieces I wanted to use up but they were in the deep freezer.  Obviously frozen solid.  For tender bites of beef they need to cook slow and long... which wasn't an an option.

And then I thought "I'll just make it in the Instant Pot!"

So I did.

Play with this recipe on some of the ingredients - mainly the vegetables.  I actually bought a peas/carrots/corn veggie mixture specifically to make this recipe because we are *usually* lower carb so we don't keep potatoes, corn or peas on hand.  But... it's cold. And winter. And gray outside.  And darnit, a hearty beef stew on a cold winter day is just... comforting!

I didn't put mushrooms in this time.  No reason.  Just didn't feel like it.  Sometimes I dice up cabbage for this which I love!  But I didn't have cabbage in the house this week so... again, like I said; play with the recipe if you wish.

Beef and Vegetable Stew

3 c cubed, peeled potatoes
4 medium carrots, sliced
1 medium onion, cubed
2 lb. steak or other beef, cubed or cut to about 1" pieces
2 T oil
3 T flour
2 beef bouillon cubes
2 c water
1/4 c white vinegar
1/4 c ketchup
1 T prepared horseradish (I don't buy this but I have mild horseradish cream by Kraft (?) in the squeeze bottle)
1 T prepared mustard
1 T sugar
1 c peas
1 c corn
1 c fresh sliced mushrooms

In the instant pot, place the oil and use the 'saute' menu option.  Add the beef and brown it. (I put mine in frozen, straight form the freezer and broke it apart as it browned and thawed.)

When the beef is mostly browned and has color, sprinkle on the flour and stir a bit.  Add the beef broth (or 2 beef bouillon cubes with 2 cups water) and seal the instant pot.  I set the pot to cook on the 'meat' button setting.  Then quick released the steam to open the lid; add the potatoes, carrots (if you are using fresh sliced, which are harder than packaged, frozen) and fresh chopped onions.

Either in a bowl OR just add it to the pot; stir in the vinegar, ketchup, horseradish cream (if you are using), mustard and sugar.  Cover, seal and cook on 'soup' or 'stew' setting.

Quick release, add the peas, corn, and mushrooms.  You can add another 1/2 cup water if you need/want to.  If you need to serve immediately, set it for a short cook time like 8 minutes.  If you don't need to serve right away, seal it and use the 'slow cook' button so it cooks like a crock pot/slow cooker until you need it.

I served with fresh baked homemade rolls.

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Salted Nut Chews (Salted Nut Bars, Salted Nut Roll Bars)

Originally my bottom crust was completely made from scratch but later, I used the 'crust' part of my sister-in-laws version, which used a yellow cake mix.  Although I don't love the taste of store bought cake mixes, I did love how quick and easy these came together when making it that way!

In the end I almost always opt for this version of the crust - although I still play around with the filling because the original recipe called for a 12 ounce bag of peanut butter chips, but you know how companies love to 'downsize' their products while raising the prices!  Sure enough, they later started to make the packages of peanut butter chips in 10 ounce sized.  That's when I started to use a scoop of real peanut butter in my filling (among other little things I tweak as I feel like it).

So here is a basic recipe using the cake mix crust because it's a great crust - but I'll publish my really old 'other' bottom crust version below as well. 

Salted Nut Chews

1 yellow cake mix - dry
1/3 c butter, soft
1 egg
3 c mini marshmallows
2/3 c corn syrup
1/4 c butter
2 t vanilla
1- 10 oz. package peanut butter chips
1/3 cup smooth peanut butter (I just use a big spooned scoop out of the jar but I'm guessing it's around 1/3 cup)
2 c Rice Krispies (generic brands are fine!)
2 c salted dry roasted peanuts

Combine the dry cake mix with the butter and egg in a mixing bowl.  Press into a lightly sprayed 9X13 inch pan.  Bake at 350 about 13-15 minutes - you don't want it to be too brown or dry around the edges.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle the 3 cups of marshmallows on top of the crust.  Place it back into the oven for a few minutes until the marshmallows start to puff up.  Then remove and let cool while you make the topping layer.

In a saucepan, place the corn syrup, butter, vanilla and peanut butter chips - cook over a medium to medium low heat until melted.  Add the scoop of peanut butter and stir smooth.  Add the peanuts and cereal.  Spoon the topping over the marshmallows. Refrigerate or freeze until needed.

Years ago, before I started to use a yellow cake mix for the crust, I used this for the base:

3/4 cup butter
2/3 c brown sugar
2 egg yolks
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 t baking soda

Beat the butter and sugar with the egg yolks and vanilla.  Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and add to the butter/sugar mixture.  Mix until blended and crumbly.  Press into a 9X13" pan and bake approximately 12 minutes; top with the marshmallows and bake another 3 minutes.  Continue with the recipe as above.

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Homemade Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies

I make these every year and have for so many years I don't even recall the first I made them.
I don't have a recipe wrote down anywhere as it's really just so simple, only has a couple ingredients and it's really just a quick 'taste' test to know if you like the amount of peppermint and that's about it.

The things I would mention that I've learned or tested through the past 20 years of making these would be this;
  • Good quality/good tasting chocolate.
  • Peppermint oil not a water based extract.
  • A scoop of shortening to thin out the chocolate a bit
  • Mix the chocolate chips for the best flavor
I've made these with almost every brand and kind of chocolate out there.  For cost effectiveness coupled with affordability and topped for the flavor - I primarily use Ghirardelli.

I mix milk chocolate with semi-sweet chocolate for the best flavor that our family prefers.
A spoonful of Crisco shortening will help your chocolate melt smooth and not be too thick, yet won't affect the drying and hardening of the chocolate.  For 'new' bakers out there - don't add water to thin your chocolate!  It will make it seize up.  You need to use oil based everything in working with melted chocolate.

Faux Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies

Ritz Crackers
Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips and/or Milk Chocolate Chips
Peppermint Oil flavoring (more intense than extract)
A scoop of Crisco shortening

Amounts are completely up to you based on how many you want to make.

Start with the chocolate chips and either melt in the microwave, stirring often, or a double boiler method.
Stir in a spoonful or two of shortening.  I use about a tablespoon per 2 cups chips.  Give or take.
When melted, add your peppermint flavor.  Remember you want it to be a little strong, like Girl Scout Cookies are; but not too strong!  
Stir in about 1/4 t of peppermint oil to start. Add by drops until you get a strong, delicious taste you like. Stronger is better than weaker but don't trust your taste buds after the first taste or two, employ a 'helper' to dip a cracker and do a taste test.) I use LorAnn Peppermint Oil.

Work quickly so your chocolate doesn't set up while you are dipping, or keep it warming in a bowl or pan over another pan of hot water (double boiler style). You can get about 1 sleeve of crackers dipped with about 6-8 oz. chocolate chips.

Using a fork, dip the Ritz crackers one by one to cover in the melted minty chocolate coating and let the excess drip off before laying on parchment paper, foil or wax paper. Let harden or if you are in a rush, refrigerate to harden.

Ok... for those of you who want the chocolate wafers - I found this recipe although I don't make the chocolate wafer style.

1 package chocolate fudge cake mix
3 tablespoons shortening
1/2 cup cake flour
1 egg
3 T water
nonstick cooking spray

Combine the cookie ingredients in a large bowl, adding the water a little bit at a time until it forms a dough. Cover and chill for 1-2 hours. On a lightly floured surface, roll out a portion of the dough very thin (about 1/16 " thick). Cut out 1 1/2 inch wafers using a scalloped cookie or biscuit cutter. If you do not have one, use a juice glass, the lid of a spice jar or even a clean cutter from your kids play-doh set if they have one! Bake for about 10 minutes until crisp but don't let them burn. Let them cool completely and then dip the same way as stated above. If you make the chocolate wafers you'll need about 2 1/2 - 3 bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips to cover all the wafers.

Can be frozen for storage.

This is my second batch of the day - using the same bowl obviously so it's messy.  But, dipping chocolates IS messy.  One of the many reasons I hate dipping chocolate anything.

Freshly dipped.  Now let them set a couple hours and they will harden and be perfect!

Use a good quality peppermint oil - not a water based extract.  Water will make your chocolate seize up and get hard - you'll have to throw it out as you can't use seized chocolate for dipping!

I hate chocolate.
I hate dipping chocolate.
But I love my family.
And my family loves chocolate.

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Peppermint Meltaway Cookies with Crushed Candy Cane

The first batch are white on white with crushed peppermint candies

Peppermint Meltaways
1 c butter
1/2 c powdered sugar
1/2 c cornstarch
1/2 t peppermint extract
1 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 c powdered sugar
2 T butter
1/4 t peppermint extract
1 - 2 T milk
peppermint candies or candy canes, crushed

Combine butter and powdered sugar in a bowl and beat smooth.  Add the rest of the ingredients, beat well.  You can either divide the dough into fourths and roll each into a log about 1 inch in diameter, wrap in plastic wrap and chill, or place all the dough to chill for about 30 - 60 minutes.  If you chose to roll the dough into logs, slice each log into rounds, about 1/8" thick.  If you chose to chill the dough whole, shape rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into 1 inch balls.  Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake at 350 approximately 12-14 minutes.  Remove to cool completely.  Make glaze by combining the ingredients except the candy.  Use only enough milk to make it spreading consistency.  While wet, sprinkle with crushed candies.  Let harden.

The second batch were tinted red with white glaze and peppermint candies

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A Cookie A Day Until Christmas: Homemade Chocolate Truffles

I should probably post some new photos as I make these truffles every single Christmas (and a few times more during the year) - if you've gotten this recipe from me before in previous posts you recognize the photos.  These are so incredibly easy and so delicious!  In fact, so quick and so easy both my girls have made these themselves since they were early teens.  These in the photos were actually made by my 17 year old at the time - she needed very little help from Mom and managed to pull off some beautiful dessert truffles, which we packaged using (recycling) a "chocolate candies" box from Harry & David we had at the house.

You can change the flavor of your truffles by using other extracts/oils to whatever taste you prefer.

Almond Truffles

1/2 c evaporated milk
1/4 c sugar
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1/2 t almond extract
1 c finely chopped toasted almonds
OR 1 cup melted chocolate almond bark for dipping (or extra chocolate chips)
and melted white almond bark for drizzling

Combine evaporated milk and sugar in small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a full boil. Boil 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in chips and almond extract, stirring gently until smooth. Chill mixture about 45 minutes until it can easily be shaped into balls. Roll into the crushed nuts or dip in melted chocolate. Drizzle or sprinkle with nuts if desired. Chill until ready to serve.

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