Simple Butternut Squash Ravioli and Grilled Vegetables

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The last few weeks have been about going out, working late, and eating out of the pantry and our half-empty fridge. I was so behind on grocery shopping, I even asked the husband to step in. He did. And although his intentions are good, he lacks the vision for meal planning while shopping, and buys random vegetables without having something in mind. However, since I didn't really give him a list, I couldn't complain (much). So we ended up with a little bit of everything. And it was up to me to make use of his selections.

For this meal, we kept things super simple. We grilled squash and asparagus with salt, pepper and olive oil. On the side, I prepared some Trader Joe's refrigerated butternut ravioli. Doesn't get much easier. I boiled the ravioli first, then sauteed the little pillow triangles in butter and olive oil. They were topped with freshly grated Parmesan.

When we finished eating, we felt super healthy. No heavy sauces, and plenty servings of vegetables. And of course a glass of wine for good heart health.


Soba Noodles and Red Cabbage, with Crab Cake

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Sometimes recipes just come to you. Sometimes you find something in the fridge you had forgotten about and are forced to use it. Sometimes it's both. I found a head of cabbage in the fridge. I said to myself, you better use this soon. Then, I envisioned combining the cabbage with the noodles. And toward the end, when I couldn't decide what to add to this dish to actually make it a meal (because vegetables and noodles don't make a dinner for us, non-vegetarians), I decided a crab cake on top would work well. I was right. A crab cake can fancy up any meal, and Trader Joe's frozen crab cakes are too convenient not to use. I always keep a couple in the freezer.

There's no real recipe here. I used a whole head of red cabbage. I sauteed it. For some time. Added garlic, ginger, soy sauce, hoison sauce, oyster sauce (basically all the sauces in my fridge). Once the cabbage was cooked through, but still crunchy, I added the cooked soba noodles, some green onions and sesame seeds. Then, the crab cake was placed on top, like a pretty decoration. Pretty delicious that is.

The dish was sweet and salty. The husband and I were both surpirsed at how well the flavors complimented each other. Although I acted like I knew all along.


Korean-Style Carrots (Russian Recipe)

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I've been thinking about making this recipe for years. I even came close several times at the condo. Then I got lazy, or couldn't reach my mom, or something or other, and it never got made. But when the husband came home with a bag of carrots from one of his gardens, I knew the time had come. I called my mom.

I often forget my mom worked in a restaurant. She studied to be a pastry chef, and actually baked for a living. A very short living. I don't think she lasted a year before having her pants charmed right off her, literally, and marrying my dad. Once married, she no longer had to work (sigh) and instead focused on making babies, not cream puffs. Growing up living with my grandmother, who was a cook, and my dad, who when not making the KGB cocktails, also liked to spend time in the kitchen, I often forget about my mom's brief culinary background. That is until she says something like, this is Korean-Style Carrots. I ask her what makes this recipe Korean. She shrugs and says. her cooking instructor had said it was, so there.

She gave me instructions, which were vague and very particular at the same time. The oil must smoke. You must use vegetable oil. You must do this. But when I asked her why, again the answer given was, this is what I was taught. She is militant about not straying from recipes.  When I asked for actual measurements, she had no details. She's been making this salad for so long, she can eyeball all the ingredients. So I did the same, a little unsure about the end result. But, it turns out with enough garlic and oil, it's hard to get things wrong. The salad was delicious. Lasted in a jar for over a week, apparently, it doesn't really go bad for a long time. And since it's rather strong, with the garlic and all, we ate a little at a time. Towards the end, the husband fell in love with it and would eat it straight from the jar, before or after dinner. I guess the Russians know a thing or two about making Korean carrots, although I have yet to come across this dish at a Korean restaurant.
Korean-Style Carrots
Makes a 1 pint jar or so

1 dozen or so small carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks (use a mandolin)
1 head of garlic, minced
1 tbsp of kosher salt (maybe a bit more)
1-2 tbsp of vinegar, I used fancy champagne, my mom uses regular white
vegetable oil (this you just have to eye, it should be enough to coat the carrots, but not have them be swimming in it)

1) Combine carrots, garlic and salt.
2) Heat your oil in a small pan until it begins to smoke. Then pour oil over carrots.
3) Add your vinegar. Stir well until everything is coated and combined.
4) Place carrots in a jar, let them cool to room temperature and refrigerate.
4) Marinate for at least 2 days and enjoy!