Homemade Pumpkin Ravioli

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I realize that recipe posting has been especially light here on Poor Little Rich Cook, but it’s not because I have decided I no longer like food. It’s also not because I decided I no longer like food blogging. It’s really quite the contrary! I love food (too much), I love talking about food, and I love posting recipes and taking photos of the things I cook. I promise you I’ll keep doing it until the day I croak. Or at least the week before I croak.

The truth is that the last 18 months of my life have been a bit hectic. Allow me to recap: three drastically different jobs, one (false) health scare, a few traumatic personal experiences, one stressful move across town and over TEN trips around the world. Both my inbox and my passport are full and I’m starting to wish my dog could double as a personal assistant. I don’t mean to moan but I simply haven’t had time to breathe let alone find time for creative outlets.

Unfortunately my day job does not afford much of an opportunity to leverage my artistic side, and as I’ve gotten older it has become more and more clear how important it is to me. I am not a professional chef, author, or trained artist by any means. Activities like cooking, writing, decorating and being a generally “crafty” person make me genuinely happy. So here is my commitment – I am going to try and write at least one post per week, but I do apologize if I fall short on this promise. Life will most likely get in the way again…sigh.

Ok enough complaining about problems that are relatively insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Let’s talk about pumpkins. Tis the season. I will admit that the pumpkin craze annoys me a bit. When October hits you will immediately find 18 to 32 year old females flock to Starbucks for Pumpkin Spiced Lattes and to Bath and Body Works for pumpkin scented candles. See meme below:

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You see… one bad thing that well-intentioned foodies do is get bored with things that are intensely popular. Because there’s this constant stream of food media coming in, with time the “hot new takes” on Brussels Sprouts begin to feel monotonous, the “cool new thing to do with cauliflower” can cause immediate, inward groans… and pumpkin spiced things? Woof, I’ll let them tell you: “America has gone entirely too far in its pumpkin spice devotion,” says Eater. “Pumpkin spice has ruined pumpkins,” says Alton Brown. The Washington Post has likened pumpkin spice lattes to “liquefied fall-scented potpourri.”

Despite all of this…despite my intense desire to break free of the Autumn- induced pumpkin spiced mold…I still love it. There- I said it. I love pumpkins. I love fall. I love Halloween, I love Thanksgiving, and I love everything that reminds me of pumpkins. So lets all rejoice in pumpkin praise and eat pasta filled with its delectable puree. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs Butter $.20
  • 2 cloves Garlic, Minced $.20
  • 1 15 oz can Organic Pumpkin Puree $2
  • 1/4 teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 cup Pine Nuts $3
  • 1 stick Butter $.75
  • 32 whole Wonton Wrappers $6  – This is a huge timesaver and pasta hack guys!!
  • 1 Egg, Beaten $.25
  • Pepper To Taste
  • Fresh Parmesan (optional) $.50
  • 1 tbs Fresh Sage, Sliced thin $1

Total: $13.90

Instructions:

Melt 2 tbs butter, add garlic and cook a few minutes. Add the pumpkin puree, salt and chili powder. Stir and cook over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let cool.

Toast pine nuts in a small skillet over low heat until golden. Remove from heat and pour the pine nuts onto a plate.

In the same skillet brown the stick of butter by melting it over medium heat, then letting it cook and bubble for an additional minute or so until the foam is golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

Assemble the ravioli: Lay out half the wonton wrappers and put 1/2 teaspoon of the pumpkin mixture in the center. Beat the egg a splash of water. Using your finger, smear the egg mixture all over the surface of one of the wrappers surrounding the pumpkin. Place a clean wrapper on top, matching up the edges. Press the edges together and get rid of any air pockets, Repeat with the rest of the wrappers. Do this quickly as the wonton wrappers can dry out quickly.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. 3 at a time, drop the ravioli into the water and cook for about 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and put the ravioli on a plate. Continue cooking the ravioli in batches of 3.

To serve, spoon a little browned butter onto each plate. Place 3 ravioli on each plate, then spoon a little more browned butter over the top. Sprinkle on toasted pine nuts, black pepper, parmesan, and a tiny bit of sliced sage. Voila!

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Braised Short Ribs

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Ok so this recipe doesn’t exactly fit the theme of my blog. I hate to start off my posts with an apology, but really… I’m sorry. You probably came here looking for a cheap, simple, yet gourmet tasting dish. This checks one of those boxes but not all three. If you’re looking for something satisfying yet inexpensive you can take a look at this recipe…or this one. I’m also sorry about the length of this post. This isn’t exactly an amateur recipe and I want to offer enough detail for you to be successful. I don’t want to fry your brain or your retinas but please just continue to read. Oh and I have one more apology. This recipe doesn’t exactly fit the current season – this is more of a Fall or Winter dish but honestly it’s so darn tasty that I’m ok with having it for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner any time of year.

The first time I made short ribs I freaked out. I will never forget opening the lid 15 minutes before my guests arrived and discovering a huge mess in my red Le Creuset dutch oven. The short ribs had lost their bones and were just floating in a reddish/ brown broth with some fancy herbs in it! I wanted to cry. Not only did I take off work early and slave over these slabs of meat but I made a huge mistake and violated one of Julia Child’s number one cooking rules. In general, she always advised not to serve guests something you’ve never tried or made before. You should never experiment when you’re having a dinner party unless you know what you’re doing. I’m all for taking risks in the kitchen but this just isn’t the time.

Luckily my fairy God Mother was looking out for me that day and these turned out AMAZING—I mean really, really good. It turns out that you want the beef to literally fall off the bone. I know that you don’t actually need or want to eat the bone, but I think its nice for presentation—a little Fred Flintstone flair never hurts a dish! I think I’ve pulled this off about 50% of the time and unfortunately I don’t have any secret tips for making the beef adhere to the bone completely. You should buy a lotto ticket that day if you can make it happen.

Before I took and initial stab at these I researched all sorts of recipes for beef short ribs – traditional, Asian, barbeque, you name it. I finally settled on a classic recipe for braised short ribs and I came to find out that braising is a beautiful thing. It requires very little effort, and once you get the hang of it you can get creative and adjust to your own palate. You can doctor up the braise with one or several herbs and spices, and you can simmer them in almost anything– from wine or beer to stock to hoisin or any combination thereof and the result is always magical.

These babies are best served with something creamy on the side and a nice green vegetable. I usually whip up some decadent, cheesy polenta or simple mashed potatoes. I suggest asparagus or Brussels sprouts on the side as well. Hungry yet?

Ingredients

  • 8 Bone-in Beef Short Ribs – $22.00
  • Coarse Salt and Pepper To Taste
  • 1/4 cup flour $.10
  • 5 pieces Pancetta, Diced (I buy the boars head pre diced kind) $5.00
  • 2 Tbs EVOO $.25
  • 1 Medium white Onion, Diced $1.00
  • 2 Shallots, Peeled And Finely Minced   $1.00
  • 5 whole Carrots, Diced (don’t peel, keep it rustic)   $1.00
  • 2 whole cloves garlic – peeled, not chopped $.10
  • 2 cups Beef Broth (enough To cover Ribs)   $3.00
  • 2 cups dry red wine $8.00
  • 3 sprigs Thyme   $2.00
  • 2 sprigs Rosemary   $2.00

Total: $47.25

Instructions

Cut all your veggies and get the pre-work out of the way. Preheat oven to 350.

Salt and pepper ribs, dredge in plenty of flour (I put the flour on a large cutting board so I have plenty of room to work). Set aside.

In dutch oven, cook pancetta over medium heat until complete crispy. Remove pancetta and set aside. Do not discard grease (leave it in the pot).

Add EVOO to pot with the grease, and raise heat to high. Brown ribs on all sides, about 30-45 seconds per side. You want a nice sear but don’t overdo it. Remove ribs and set aside. Bring heat down to medium.

Add onions, carrots, and shallots to pan and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in wine and scrape bottom of pan to release all the brown bits. Bring to a boil and cook 3 minutes. Add in the garlic cloves.

Add broth, 1 teaspoon salt, and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Taste and add more salt if needed. Add ribs to the liquid; they should be completely submerged. Add thyme and rosemary sprigs (whole, not chopped) to the liquid.

Put on the lid and place into the oven. Cook at 350 for 2 hours, then reduce heat to 325 and cook for an additional 40- 45 minutes. Ribs should be fork-tender and either off or falling off the bone. Remove pan from oven and allow to sit for at least 15-20 minutes, lid on, before serving. At the last minute, skim fat off the top of the liquid. Serve immediately on a bed of polenta or mashed potatoes and spoon some of the broth, carrot, onion mixture on top.

Enchilada Stuffed Peppers

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Ingredients

  • 3/4 lb ground beef (I prefer organic / grass fed) $8
  • 3 bell peppers (any color will do, green is least expensive) $3
  • 1 half yellow onion, chopped $.75
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped  $.10
  • 1 10 oz can red enchilada sauce  $2.50
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • Dash of black pepper
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 packet taco seasoning low sodium  $1
  • 1 box mexican rice low sodium  $1.50
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 cup Colby jack cheese  $1
  • 1 tbs cilantro (optional)  $.10

Total: $17.95

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Cook rice according to instructions on box, set aside
  2. While rice is cooking, brown the ground beef, onion and garlic. Make sure you break the beef into very fine pieces. Add in taco seasoning, chili powder, garlic powder, and pepper. Stir 3 minutes
  3. Add in water and stir 1 minute. Add half of a 10 oz can of enchilada sauce and stir. Combine with ¾ cup cooked rice. Bring to bowl then let simmer on low for 20 minutes.
  4. While mixture is cooking cut off the tops of each bell pepper and pull out seeds / stems. Place in a baking dish and microwave for 5 minutes. You may notice they produce some “water” after cooking, I just dumped this in the sink.
  5. Now you’re ready to stuff—fill up each pepper halfway with beef and rice mixture and put a tablespoon of cheese, then fill to top with beef and rice mixture. Top each pepper with a mound of cheese then put 1 tablespoon or so of enchilada sauce on top.
  6. Baked covered with foil for 25 minutes. During the last 2 minutes uncover turn the heat up to broil to brown the cheese a little. Top with sprinkled cilantro if you please!

Based on my previous post (which was far too long ago, I apologize), can you tell what my favorite genre of food is? That’s right- Mexican. Unfortunately it’s never easy to find Mexican recipes that are easy on the waistline yet still satisfying at the same time. Well..search no longer because I think I made one up last night!

I was seriously craving comforting, cheesy enchiladas but I didn’t want my hard work at barre class to be completely cancelled out. I had some leftover ground beef in my fridge that I needed to use up along with some shredded Colby jack cheese. With this in mind I headed down to the store and pushed myself to be creative. It would have been too easy to head straight for the flour tortillas but instead I went to the produce section and saw tons of green bell peppers on sale. If you were having company I would get a variety of colors but honestly, don’t they all pretty much taste the same? Green bell peppers are so much cheaper! I guess if you’re seeking a wow factor though, go with multicolor.

In this recipe I used a box of Knorr Mexican rice and I would strongly suggest looking for a variety that is low sodium. When you combine this with all the other ingredients such as taco seasoning you will find that you definitely don’t need to add extra salt! Also, remember that cheese often has plenty of that salty taste you love.

I nuked my peppers in the microwave for about five minutes in the same pyrex I baked them in – this is a crucial step to ensure the peppers are edible and not too hard. These are super irresistible and filling on your own but you could definitely do a side such as canned vegetarian refried beans (less cals in these) OR chips and homemade guac! I can also tell you these keep well in the fridge for the next day—I would know, I ate my cold the next day for lunch!

Vegetable Enchiladas

  • 1 whole Zucchini, Quartered ($.50)
  • 2 whole Yellow Squash, Quartered Lengthwise ($.75)
  • 9 whole white mushrooms, Halved ($1.00)
  • 1 large Red Onion, (thick slices) ($.75)
  • Salt And Pepper
  • Olive Oil spray
  • 3 cups Enchilada Sauce (canned is fine) ($3)
  • 12 Corn Tortillas ($3)
  • Vegetable Oil, For Frying
  • 5 cups Grated Monterey Jack Cheese ($4)
  • 2 whole Green Onions, Sliced ($1)
  • 3 whole Roma Tomatoes, Diced ($1.50)
  • Handful of Chopped Cilantro ($1)

Total: $16.50

Everyone knows that I LOVE Mexican food. I really could eat it everyday but unless you’re just eating salsa with a spoon, it’s hard to find health recipes out there. I recently started going meatless when I go to Mexican restaurants and its really not that bad! I am not a vegetarian by any means but I do find that using vegetables in place of meat packs the same amount of flavor and will definitely cure your craving. Added bonus: its much easier on your waistline….and wallet too if you’re cooking at home.

One of my favorite meatless Mexican dishes is in LA at a vegan restaurant called Gracias Madre in West Hollywood. If you’re ever out there you must try it! Below are a few pics one of my great meals there:

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Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Spray evoo on a grill pan. Sprinkle veggies with salt and pepper and lightly grill the vegetables. Cook until you see nice grill marks and the vegetables are slightly (but not overly) tender Remove from the grill and cut the vegetables into a large dice. Mix together and set aside. NOTE: You can also grill your veggies on a outdoor grill!

Heat the enchilada sauce in a separate pant until warm.

OPTIONAL: will add some more calories but the result will be more authentic. Heat 1/2 inch vegetable oil in a small pan over medium heat. Using tongs, cook tortillas one at a time for only ten seconds per side *don’t allow to crisp* Place on paper towels to drain

Using tongs, dunk one tortilla in the enchilada sauce. Lay it on a plate and spoon one or two tablespoons of the vegetable mix in a line down the middle. Top with some cheese and green onion. Roll the tortilla, then place it seam side down in a ceramic or glass 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Repeat with remaining tortillas.

Spoon a generous amount of sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle on the remaining cheese. Bake for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve immediately with diced tomatoes and cilantro for garnish

Kickin’ Chicken Pasta

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This pasta really is the total package: Hearty, spicy, full of cheese, and bursting with carbs! All the qualities I look for in a friend.

That made no sense.

Anyway, you really will love this pasta, as you get a bunch of spicy deliciousness without a whole lot of effort. Actually all the kick from this dish comes from the blackening seasoning that you’ll use on the chicken.

Full disclaimer: this isn’t the best pre-bikini recipe so make this on your “cheat day”. ‘There’s nothing good about it, except for how good it is. It’s evil, ridiculous, and an affront to good sense…but look at the bright side: I did you a favor in lightening up a bit by adding half & half. If you’re feeling extra decadent use 3 cups of heavy cream and omit the half & half — up to you! You could probably add a few more veggies such as asparagus or frozen peas, or even a sprinkle of parsley, but this recipe can stand on its own.

Here’s how to make it:

Ingredients

  • Four chicken breasts, slightly pounded (I prefer organic and air chilled) $9.00
  • 1/4 C Blackening spice ($1.00)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil ($.10)
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic ($.10)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine ($.75)
  • 2 cups heavy cream ($2.00)
  • 1 cup half and half ($.75)
  • 1 cup roughly chopped marinated sun-dried tomatoes ($1.50)
  • 1 pound fettuccine ($2.00)
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan ($1.50)
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion, for garnish ($.25)

Total: $18.95

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Heat cast iron skillet over high heat Dredge the chicken breasts in the Blackening Spice Rub. Place in the cast-iron skillet. Blacken both sides of the chicken, 3 min per side
  3. Transfer the cast iron skillet to oven and bake 10 minutes
  4. While chicken bakes, In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and lightly brown it, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the wine. Pour in the heavy cream, bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce is reduced by half.
  5. Remove chicken from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. After cooling, slice it on the bias
  6. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and chicken slices.
  7. Cook the fettuccine al dente, about 10 minutes or until al dente, Drain.
  8. When the cream sauce is at the desired consistency, stir in 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, the sea salt, pepper and pasta.
  9. Fold in pasta and garnish with extra cheese and sliced green onions

Spicy Skinny Chili

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It is getting cold and windy and shivery and frigid in DC, and to psychologically withstand such things, I had to make a big pot of something warm and comforting today. It’s also Sunday. Ahhh Sundays. It’s the one day where its perfectly acceptable to watch a marathon of Netflix and just relax in your PJs all day long. Sundays also = football. So, cold weather + Sunday + Football = CHILI. Yum. I love chili. Not only because of that familiar taste but because there are so many different variations and methods for cooking it. You can really get creative. I’ve been on a bit of a health kick so for this recipe I’m going with ground turkey. To make up for not using ground beef (which has more flavor in my opinion), I decided to kick up the heat.

Just like your standard beef chili, there are as many incarnations as there are grains of sand in all the beaches of the world. I know that everyone has an opinion on chili, especially people from Texas, and some will even claim that your chili isn’t chili if you add or omit certain things. If you really want a laugh check out some of the comments on chili recipes on sites like Epicurious. “No TEXAN would ever call this chili!” and “This recipe is blasphemous!” Then again, if you are from Texas you’ve likely got a recipe you were making since you were old enough to stand at a stove and don’t need my chili recipe, so there.

2 lbs 7% fat ground turkey ($5)
1 yellow onion, chopped finely ($.75)
5 cloves garlic, minced ($.25)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes ($1.50)
3 Tbsp tomato paste ($.50)
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp. Texas Pete hot sauce ($.05)
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed ($1)
1 red bell pepper, chopped ($1.50)
2 jalapenos, chopped and de-seeded ($.75)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
Pinch of pepper
1 packet Stevia or Splenda
3 Tbsp chili powder ($1)
2 tsp. oregano ($.20)
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper ($.05)
Total: $13.05

1. Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil until fragrant. Add bell pepper and jalapeños.
2. Add ground turkey and browned. Once cooked, poor off excess fat.
3. Add crushed tomatoes, hot sauce, spices, stevia and beans. Stir together and turn heat on low.
3. Mix tomato paste and water until combined and then pour in chili pot.
4. Let simmer on low for 60-90 minutes. Add more tomato paste/ water mixture if you want it less thick.
5. Serve with your favorite toppings– I like chopped green onions sour cream or cheese

*I cooked my chili in a dutch oven but you can easily do this in a crock pot and get the same result*

Katie’s Couscous

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Sorry for the long hiatus. Without getting into it, let’s just say life was hectic and exhausting for a few months. I’m back to normal now and have my head on straight (I think). I have a drawer full of recipes saved up so I’m going to make a commitment to post every couple days…I promise!

Today’s topic is couscous. I know you were expecting more from me after being inactive for so long but I assure you this recipe will not disappoint. It’s one of those dishes that you will find yourself snacking on for an entire week. The recipe makes enough for like 20 servings and it will stay fresh for up to 8 days if you keep it in an air tight container.

It’s sort of funny how this recipe came about. After living in Arlington, Virginia for three years I became absolutely obsessed with the Whole Foods there. I know what you’re thinking…she developed a strong personal attachment to a store that sells overpriced food? Weird. Well anyway it is MY store. MY stomping grounds…nobody mess with it! After being a DC resident for 2 months I was going crazy and I needed my Arlington Whole Foods fix so I made the 30 minute journey across the bridge. Upon arrival I discovered a sale on couscous AND couscous samples among other things. Inspiration! A recipe is born.

Just real quick on Arlington. It hasn’t even been that long but going back there now is like a confetti hitting a fan for me. I know it’s only what, a mile from DC, but it’s serious time travel whenever I pass through. Driving down Wilson Blvd, the Asian lady named Kim that has done my nails at least 50 times, the coffee at Northside Social. What about that mile long escalator at the Rosslyn metro stop that feels like it’s taking you to the pits of hell? Hah! And finally, the world’s worst shopping mall in Ballston…I love and hate that place at the same time. There are only two redeeming qualities for that establishment: The Chick-Fil-A and the ladies that do fantastic kiosk eyebrow threading for eight dollars. If it wasn’t for that– dynamite.

As corny as it sounds my three years there were really defining points in my life that I will never forget. A series of ups and downs, successes, failures and lessons learned. I refuse to wear anything but rose colored glasses when going back though. Whether its positive or negative I feel like things are always best the way I remember them. I find this sometimes comes in handy when I’m in a pissy mood, or you know, trying to figure out what to eat for dinner.

Now enough of me blabbing…ADD was kicking in. For those of you who are not familiar couscous, it is a popular staple in North African countries like Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. If you know me or follow this blog you should be aware of my quinoa obsession. While similar in taste and texture, I’m sorry to report that it’s not as healthy. Couscous is not a whole grain, in fact, its closer to a pasta than anything else…it’s basically formed from semolina flour. In practically any dish that you see couscous, a grain such as quinoa, bulgur or barley could be easily replaced for added nutrients and fiber. But it’s almost winter and I just can’t be so earnest every night. I was missing my couscous when I tinkered with this recipe. You cannot deprive a girl of her carbs! I did however make sure to include some healthy-ish ingredients in this recipe. You can serve as a side salad or eat on its own. I hope you enjoy!

Even dogs love couscous

Even dogs love couscous

Ingredients

1 box of cooked couscous (according to package directions) ($3.00)
1 1/2 cups frozen, cooked edamame ($2.00)
3/4 cup canned, drained corn ($.75)
1 can garbanzo beans ($1.00)
2 green onions, chopped fine ($.25)
1/4 cup dried cranberries ($.50)
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese ($.75)
1/4 cup pine nuts ($1.00)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar ($.20)
2 tablespoons honey ($.25)
Juice of 1 lemon ($.75)
1/4 cup olive oil (.50)
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Total: $10.95

Directions:

Cook couscous according to package directions. Fluff and let cool for 30 minutes. In a separate bowl add cooled couscous, edamame, corn, garbanzo beans, green onions, cranberries, feta and pine nuts.

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, honey, lemon, salt, and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil until smooth. Pour the vinaigrette over the couscous and toss to coat evenly. Chill in fridge at least 2 hours.