Chicken Marsala Ravioli and Mushroom Bake

Note: These pics are not my best.  This dish is just NOT photogenic.

Some days I am lazy and want nothing more than some al dente pasta with butter and salt and pepper for dinner.  This is a regular (if moderately unhealthy) meal in my house.  I am always please by it, BF can make it if i’m not motivated, and it’s more or less fail proof.  When Buitoni contacted me about creating recipes for their delicious new refrigerated pastas I just couldn’t say no.  If I’m buying pasta in the refrigerated section of the grocery store I reach for theirs anyway – having fresh pasta is a great an simple way to fancy up a meal that can be a bit boring (pasta, butter, salt and pepper) or bring something that is awesome anyway to the level of extraordinary.
What I was not expecting was a thoughtful package that contained an ultra-soft bamboo fiber hand towel, an apron, and a cutting board from Vermont all artfully branded with the buitoni logo.  Not to mention the pasta – both bf and I fell in love with the pastas we were sent; a chicken marsala one that tasted of earthy mushrooms and sherry and a lovely butternut squash one that tasted like thanksgiving.
After indulging in each pasta doused in butter (I had to sample them to look for pairing flavors…) I started to plot recipes.  Initially I thought I would end up working with the butternut, it was definitely my preferred flavor, but then I had an idea sort of based on an old episode of The French Chef where Julia Child makes a mushroom lasagna with cream sauce.  I wanted to bake with the Chicken Marsala Ravioli, I wanted those complex flavor layers good mushrooms would give me.  I wanted rich heavy cream and butter.  I wanted cheese.  I wanted to make something for colder months because that’s when I most like stuffed pastas – when it’s cold and I want something hearty, filling, and rich. And that is exactly what this is. It is also great with a salad :)  Also, make sure to read down to the bottom for a fun giveaway!

Chicken Marsala Ravioli and Mushroom Bake

Note: I don’t care for mushrooms and as I ate my second bowl of this I was exclaiming that I couldn’t believe how much I liked it. Just saying.

  • 2 Packages Buitoni Chicken Marsala Ravioli
  • 1 lb Cremini mushrooms gently cleaned and sliced
  • 4 Tbs butter, separated
  • 2 Tbs flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tbs brandy
  • 1/4 cup swiss cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese (or any other hard cheese)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Preheat the oven to 350. Spray the inside of a medium sized casserole dish with cooking spray
  • In a medium saute pan melt two tbs of butter over med-high heat. Once the butter is fully melted and the pan is hot add the mushrooms. Saute the mushrooms gently until they are a nice golden brown all over, 5-7 mins.
  • Add the ravioli straight from the package to the mushrooms and gently toss everything together so it seems evenly mixed. Put the ravioli and mushrooms in your casserole dish and set it aside.
  • In a medium sized saucepan combine the two tbs of butter and the flour. Stir them until they form a paste then let them simmer for one minute without browning.
  • In a second saucepan (I know a lot of dishes, I’m sorry!) warm your milk to hot but not boiling or simmering. Gently stir the hot milk into the butter/flour roux, in pan 1. This will help prevent clumping. If you add the milk cold (like I usually do) you will have lumps; be okay with the lumps or have the patience to sit by while the whole thing cooks over low heat and you whisk it.
  • Add the brandy and mix well. Once the brandy has incorporated into the base white sauce add the Swiss cheese. Stir to combine and allow the cheese to melt into the sauce, it should take a minute or so.
  • Pour the cheese sauce over the ravioli/mushroom mixture. Top this with the Parmesan.
  • Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, until bubbly and light brown.
  • Remove it from the oven and let it rest for 5-10 mins. This is a perfect meal to make when your partner is dawdly about coming to the table.
  • Enjoy. Eat this with gusto. It’s pasta, that’s how you eat pasta.

 

Now the fun part! Did you see that pretty picture up there? That one with the snazzy apron, sexy cutting board and pretty kitchen towel? You could totally own ALL.THOSE.THINGS. and I will send you four coupons so you can hunt down and try some of this delicious pasta yourself! Just leave me a comment telling me what your favorite way to eat ravioli is. I will give you until July 13th to get your comment in. I like mine with a rugged red sauce if it’s ricotta filled or with a browned butter-sage sauce if it’s butternut squash. :)

Disclaimer: I was provided this pasta and the kitchen goods free of charge in return for this recipe/review. All opinions here are my own, I would (and do) buy this pasta on my own dime in the future.

Cheddar-Beer Mac and Cheese

Dinner

I love comfort foods – mac and cheese, beef stew, chicken soup, anything slightly salty and full of butter. I tend to reach for them when I’m having a bad day or just because. I turn to comfort foods in times of celebration or when I’m in need of comfort. This mac and cheese is no different. It’s something I have been perfecting for about two years. Tweaks and modifications have led to a perfect mac and cheese – one with body that isn’t too rich. This particular flavor combination comes from my love of Saus’s cheddar duvel sauce. Though, it’s evolved from there. Something that started with cheddar and beer became more – I added mustard, I experimented with different beers – stout, reds, i.p.a.s, lagers, you name it I probably tried it in this mac and cheese. I made this particular mac shortly before St Patrick’s day so I had a nice Harpoon Celtic Red around, and it was (and is) my favorite.

Beer + Bacon + Cheddar Cheese= LOVE

I make macaroni and cheese pretty regularly – pasta, milk, and cheese are ingredients I always have on hand so it makes a quick meal pretty much any night of the week. I think that’s one of my favorite things about mac and cheese. It will work with most any cheese and will accept any additions. It’s always familiar and different, which I love. But this mac and cheese is a special one; BF and I use it to celebrate – jobs, raises, pretty much anything positive in our lives means I make this mac and cheese. The beer makes it rich and the mustard adds a great sharp flavor. Also – the benefit of being able to drink a beer while you’re cooking is AWESOME.

There’s something so comforting about that beer at the end of the day, and pairing it with cheese and mustard basically makes it a much more filling pretzel. And we all know how I feel about those.

Cheddar-Beer Mac and Cheese

Adapted from the Betty Crocker Cookbook, though at this point it’s really all my own. I also crisped a handful of homemade bacon lardons to add to mine, but that’s totally optional.
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 2 Tbs flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese (sharper=richer)
  • 2-3 Tbs spicy mustard (I use Gulden’s, because it’s what I typically have on hand but your favorite will work just as well)
  • 1 cup beer (lighter is better, this isn’t great with stout)
  • 1 lb pasta, cooked to a bit less than al dente (I like a curly tube pasta, like cellantani or campanelle because they hold a lot of sauce and their shape)
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2-3 Tbs melted butter
  • 1 tsp crushed mustard seed (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Preheat your oven to 350 and oil a large ovenproof bowl.
  • In a medium, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat melt the butter and mix in the flour until it becomes a paste. This is a basic roux and can be used for thickening in lots of ways.
  • Add the milk to the roux and let it come to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the cheese and stir to melt. The sauce will be quite thick.
  • Stir the mustard into the cheese sauce. Gently add the beer, if the bottle is fresh it will be quite foamy. The sauce may slightly curdle at this point – don’t worry. Keep stirring and it’ll come back together.
  • Add the cheese sauce to the cooked pasta and stir well. Pour the cheesy pasta into the oiled bowl
  • Mix the panko crumbs, melted butter, and crushed mustard seed together. Spread the crumbs evenly over the cheesy pasta.
  • Bake the mac and cheese for 30-40 mins, until the panko is crispy and lightly browned.
  • Remove the mac and cheese from the oven and allow it to cool for 5-10 mins before eating.
  • Enjoy with a beer!

Scenes from events

I am a very busy girl -  over booking myself more often than not to come home in a stupor late at night to a BF that desperately misses me (after working late nights at HIS job).  So sometimes I attend pretty amazing events and just don’t have the time to write about them in depth here – but I still have pictures of these events, because I go with the best of intentions to share them.  Below are some highlights of meals I’ve eaten over the past few months because these are plates you simply MUST try if you are around these restaurants when they are serving them.

September saw me attend a blogger dinner at Lil’ Vinny’s in Somerville (which is sadly closed now) where I had a stunning bolognese and a truly fabulous ceasar salad (I know, I was surprised too).

October was truly packed with events that I just didn’t have the time to share but, again some highlights!

Remember when I went to Harbor Sweets and then told you all about the awesome Sweet Sloops?  I also went to Adriatic Restaurant and Bar that night where I was blown away by Goat Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms, the best pumpkin Ravioli I have ever tasted, and a wonderful almond tart stuffed with nutella and topped with house made hazelnut gelato.  I also managed to convert Megan into a crispy fried sage leaves convert here ;).

My second big event of October was with the lovely Renee when the Boston Brunchers turned 1!  This event was a huge success, where we came away with lovely (read GIANT) swag bags packed to the gills with some of the best gifts I’ve ever been given.  Seriously our sponsors for that event were FANTASTIC and they all gave us very generous gifts, from cookbooks to cookies to gift certificates.  It was fantastic.  And the food wasn’t bad either :)  The highlights of the meal for me were the amazing oyster shell wall at Island Creek Oyster Bar and the pastries.

My last little ode to fall happened at the tail end of October on a sunny Saturday with the fantastic Bernadette (old and very dear friend, she’s known BF since pre-school!) and a great many other fabulous bloggers.  We all went for a grand adventure at the Privateer Rum Distillery in Ipswich.  It was here that I fell hopelessly in love with this rum and their handcrafted cocktails, the Light and Stormy and the William Tell.  Both are addictive and refreshing cocktails, which I could drink a lot of.  Seriously.  See my previous post on dark and stormy cookies to read about my ginger obsession.  And the Privateer rum is sippable.  Look for it, try it you’ll see, and probably be a convert like me.