Friday, June 21, 2013

Lobster Ravioli

by Ann

When thinking of what recipes to post I need to take a step back and ask myself if the average busy person would take the time to prepare the dish I'm writing about.  Today's post is iffy on that account.  With that said, if you want a special occasion dish, Lobster Ravioli will not disappoint.

Most people don't own pasta makers, and really don't need to unless they are like me and love to cook, and get a hefty discount on kitchen gadgets (from my part time job at Sur la Table).  Prior to helping out at a Tuscan-themed cooking class I didn't realize that won ton wrappers can be used to make raviolis. If you want them generously sized, use the whole wrapper for square raviolis, but if that seems too large, fold them in a triangle shape to make a smaller version.  At Sur la Table the only time we get the pasta makers out is for classes that are specifically geared to teach techniques involved in making homemade pasta, which was my inspiration for buying the pasta attachment for the Kitchen Aid mixer.  Since this recipe is lengthy, I will do a post in a couple of weeks specifically about making homemade pasta, and focus on the filling and sauce this time around.

My original goal was to try out my pasta maker for the first time, so I did a Google search for ravioli recipes, and found this one on the blog, Half Baked Harvest

The first step was to prepare the seafood.  I got one beautiful lobster tail at Costco that weighed in at just over half a pound.
Before the shell was removed
After the shell was removed
Curious to see how much the shell weighed, I checked it out after removing  it to find that the shell weighed almost nothing.  We still had a half pound of meat.
Steam the shrimp and lobster -- Remove the shrimp as soon as they are done to avoid overcooking.
The butter needs to be cooked until it is a nice dark golden brown...
Then add the seafood....
Ok -- Little photography oversight -- there are no pics of combining the cheese and other ingredients to the seafood, or of making the sauce, but both are pretty straightforward -- just follow the directions on the recipe.  Heck, you would figure out how to do both of those things without written directions!  Moving on to making the raviolis...

Place a small amount of filling and sandwich it between two sheets of pasta or two won ton wrappers.  Be sure to seal edges with an egg wash and tightly press them together to avoid losing the filling in the cooking water.
Don't try to cook too many raviolis at once.  Keep them one layer deep.  Once they float to the top they are ready to gingerly add to the pan with the sauce.
Once all of the raviolis are cooked, lightly coat them with the sauce and put four or five on each plate.  Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and grated Parmesan cheese.

Click here for printable recipe

Lobster Ravioli in Tomato Cream Sauce


1 pound of fresh pasta dough, or a package of uncooked won ton wrappers
egg wash of 1 beaten egg whisked with 1 T water

8 oz lobster meat
4 oz uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 stick butter
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
¼ c fresh parsley, chopped fine
1 t lemon juice
½ - 1 t crushed red pepper flakes, dependent upon taste
8 oz whole milk ricotta cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Tomato Cream Sauce:

2 T olive oil
2 T butter
½ medium onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 oz-can tomato sauce
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
1 c heavy cream
¼ c fresh parsley, chopped fine
¼ c freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving


Place the lobster tail(s) on a cutting board and with a sharp knife, cut through the top shell lengthwise.  Gently pull shell away from the meat.  Using a steamer basket, steam the lobster tail and shrimp.  (The shrimp will cook much faster, and should be removed when done.)  After about five minutes, cut through the lobster tail(s) to see if done, and continue to cook until they are.  Place on cutting board and mince when cool.

To prepare brown butter sauce, place butter in skillet over medium heat and whisk when it bubbles, continuing to cook for 2-3 minutes until a dark golden color.  Remove from heat and add the garlic, continuing to whisk for another 30 seconds.  Add ¼ c chopped parsley, lemon juice, crushed pepper, salt, and pepper. 

Stir chopped lobster and shrimp to the butter mixture.  Add ricotta cheese and set aside.

Prepare the pasta dough, or better yet, get out the won ton wrappers! 

Prepare sauce:

Heat butter and oil over medium heat.  Add onions and sauté for about five minutes, and then add the garlic to cook for another minute. 
Add tomato sauce and diced tomatoes and cook covered for at least thirty minutes, but can simmer longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Smash the tomato pieces down with the back of a wooden spoon after they have cooked a while to create a relatively smooth sauce. Do not add cream until raviolis are cooking.

Pulling it all together:

If using fresh pasta, roll sheets thin and cut into 3-4” squares.

Place about 1 tablespoon of lobster mixture in the center of each square.  Brush edges with egg wash and firmly place a second piece of pasta or won ton wrapper on top, pressing layers together to create a seal.  Transfer onto lightly floured sheet pan until done.  Do not double layer.

Get a large pot of water boiling, and add a generous amount of salt (at least 1 T).

Add cream and ¼ c grated Parmesan to the tomato sauce.

Add raviolis to the rapidly boiling water, enough so they would not be more than one layer deep.  In about two minutes they will float to the top, indicating that they are done.

Drain raviolis and gently place them in the tomato cream sauce pan on a very low simmer.  

Continue to cook additional batch of pasta until done.

Gently fold sauce over pasta.  Carefully remove four or five raviolis to each plate.

Garnish with chopped parsley and additional grated Parmesan.

Yield:  40 large raviolis – with 2 batches of tomato cream sauce.
Lunch is ready!  Sheila and Heather came over for a blog pow-wow, so I made more pasta dough and sauce to use the extra filling.  (The full recipe makes eight generous servings.)

P.S. Our regular readers know that one of my personal blogging goals is to start reviewing products on posts.  (Free stuff!  Topics to write about!)  This past Tuesday I wrote my first post based upon a product provided to me as a blogger.  If you missed it and want to check it out, click here.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Travel Packing: Two Weeks, Two Bags, Scotland & Ireland

by Sheila

Dunluce Castle in northern Ireland. We saw Van Morrisson in concert here - Wow!
Yup, that's me front and center waiting for Van to come out!

I've been on the road again. We've just returned from a two week whirlwind tour of Scotland and Ireland. My weather research for packing said cool to cold, so not your typical warm summer travel.  This always complicate things a little.  Warm summer weather is easier to pack for simply because warn-weather clothes and sandals take up less room than boots and sweaters.  As always, the key is to bring items that layer and  work well together.  For this trip I decided to capture exactly what I packed, the activities, weather, and then document what I actually wore.  I am not suggesting that my wardrobe is worthy of the fashion chronicles (we leave that to Heather).  However, I do aspire to be appropriately and comfortably attired with the least amount of excess baggage as possible.  And of course, I'd like to think I pull it together looking good enough.
As I have said before; it's often cool on planes - more so if you are seated by the window.  However it was 96 degrees when we left Phoenix.  I have my comfortable maxi skirt (tencel denim look), a black tank and black mules.  In my carry-on is a long grey cashmere sweater, a large patterned scarf and warm socks.  This was comfortable and I must say looked more "put-together" than many of my traveling companions, many of whom were in baggy sweatpants, shorts, and tight jeans.  Don't get me wrong - I live in jeans, but I find then too restrictive for 12+ hours of flying.  A few other cute outfits I observed included leggings with a long tunic top, and nice black knit (yoga-style) pants with a comfortable top and drapey sweater.
My travel outfit; comfortable for the long haul.

Here is the list of what I brought:

1 maxi skirt (tencel - a soft denim look)
2 jeans (one skinny, one boot-cut)
2 capris (one black, one denim)
1 pr black slacks

3 tanks (one yellow, one turquoise, one black)
2 short sleeved T-shirts (one white, one black)
2 button-down shirts (one white long-sleeved, one black /white check 3/4 sleeved)

4 long sleeved tops (grey tunic sweater, black pullover, red sweater, black/white striped T-shirt)
1 3/4 sleeved red/white striped  scoop-neck T-shirt

3 layering pieces (one long yellow sweater, one black/white anorak jacket, one turquiose hoody)

3 pairs footwear (black mules, black boots, black sport walking sandals)

1 black knee-length raincoat
These are all my clothes, including scarves (lower right) and accessories (small bag, lower right)
The shoes; mostly wore the boots
My rain jacket; we were lucky with little rain, but I would love to have a short khaki trench coat instead.
My shoes in the bottom of my suitcase; tucked other stuff in and around these...
My bag is full but not "expanded".  Undies are in the Eagle Creek mesh bag; that way I know what's clean!
My dressiest outfit; worn only once for an important occassion; a memorial for my mother-in-law. 

Casual sightseeing...
More sightseeing...
Out in Belfast at Fibber Maggees...We danced a few jigs that night!
Laundry day at the VRBO in Edinburgh

Botanical garden touring

I had lots of mix and match and layering options with this collection.  I wore everything EXCEPT the yellow tank top.  That was a little too optomistic (weather) and didn't layer well with other items.  I only wore the red/white striped T once.  I would have liked a short khaki trench coat instead of my black raincoat (a little more summery in a cool climate).  I also could have left the yellow ensemble home and done better with another long-sleeved top in a fun color.  The moral of this story is solid and layering pieces win the day!     

Our trip was great.  We met so many fun, friendly people, connected with some of my husband's family and saw the amazing natural beauty and ancient history of this part of the world.  I can't wait to go back! 


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ageless Derma Eye Cream "Find"

by Ann
Don’t we all want to look our best?  I received the “I hope I look as good as you do when I am your age”   compliment a couple of times from younger teachers I’ve worked over the last few years.  OK – in retrospect what age did they think I was?  Regardless, I know that when I was told this it was meant it kindly!

What does it take to look good enough to inspire 20-somethings to comment?  I think several factors:
  • Clear, smooth skin
  • An overall healthy, fit physique
  • A cute, well maintained hair style
  • Age appropriate, yet stylish clothing
  • Well-rested and energetic

Hmm... the entries on the above list are my goals, anyway!  I jumped at the opportunity to review Ageless Derma Retinol and Vitamin K Eye Cream for a blog post.  The product’s goal is to reduce dark circles and puffy eyes.  Of the two, the dark circles are a bigger concern for me.

Not knowing anything about the active ingredients in this product, I looked at their website, which is where the company’s line of products can be purchased.  (Click here to see it - there's a very informative video!)  I found that the Vitamin K speeds up healing and rids skin of discoloration.  The goal of Retinol and Vitamin A is to help the skin regenerate,  even out skin discoloration and reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles.  Peptides, Vitamins C and E promote new skin growth and fight off damages caused by the sun’s UV rays.  The Ageless Derma line was founded by Dr. Mostamand, a physician in Orange County in 2004 to meet the needs of the women who visited his Medical Spa.  

How long does it take to see a difference?  Determining a timeline for my personal “trial” was quandary for me.  Blurbs in magazines often say “10 day trial period” or “results in two weeks.”  The box that the product arrived in states, “After 8 weeks of use, 81% of participants said that the cream had been effective, making a visible difference to the bruises and wrinkles around their eyes.” 

I guess I never thought of the dark circles as bruises.  Now that I am, I don’t like the idea.  I didn't want to wait eight weeks to tell our readers about this adventure, so I am planning to do this in a two-step process.  I have used the product for ten days.  Today’s review will give you the short-term synopsis.  I am making a note in my calendar to add a comment to my blog post the week of August 4 to give you the 8-week report.

One of the things I liked best about the Ageless Derma eye cream is that it was kind to my very sensitive eyes.  I try out all of the free samples of eye creams that come with departments store cosmetic “gift with purchase” bonuses, and find that I can actually use very few of them because anything with a scent or some unknown-to-me ingredient makes my eyes water.  This was not a problem at all with Ageless Derma, which is huge for me.

I developed a couple of new habits as a result of this experience.  The first is to apply the eye cream in the morning as well as at night, and the second is to be sure to put some on my “bruises,” those dark circles next to the bridge of my nose. 

The verdict?  After two weeks I am happy.  I love that I can use the cream without sensitivity issues, and feel that my eye area looks brighter and better rested.  I have to admit that the “bruises” are not totally gone, but remember, this is only the two-week report – be sure to check in six weeks from now!

Here’s to doing whatever we can to make ourselves be the best we can be!

Our regular readers know that one of my personal blog goals is to be able to try and review new products.  This is my first review for a product that was provided at no charge for a blog review.  The opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Maxi Style for Maxi Temps

by Heather

When the temperatures go over 105 degrees F, it's easiest to put on a maxi dress for total comfort. Sleeveless is best but sometimes a little bolero or cropped cardigan helps hide jiggly arms and offers a little warmth when the air conditioning is blasting.

We're attending five-year-old granddaughter Peighton's dance recital in the afternoon and this is what I'm wearing. After the recital, we're heading to our nephew's house to catch up with another nephew and his family from Lexington, KY. The nephews and their lovely wives have three boys under the age of six so it's going to be a weekend filled with little people! The maxi dress is comfy, easy to clean, and stretches to allow getting down on the floor to play with the great-nephews and the train set if that's where the action is.
Chico's black and white maxi dress; J Crew Panama hat; Banana Republic cropped sweater; WHBM black, white and silver earrings
New 3-ring set sterling starfish from oceandreamshawaii on Etsy; Michael Kors watch; Roberto Manatelassi eelskin and sterling bracelet; assorted WHBM bangles
Chanel sunglasses
Silver necklace (old) from Scottsdale Quarter; cleavage (also old) from Mom
Kate Sade black patent wedges; Michael Kors black and white Hamilton bag
A large purse is the ideal container for a water bottle (also a necessity in this warm weather) and my camera.

And now, on to the show...

I felt like I was watching an episode of Dance Moms sans the crazy moms and leaving just the great dancers. The youngest dancers were hilarious to watch with the littlest ones showing their style in a dance to the old song "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini." 
Peighton is in one of the youngest groups and she performed two delightful dances remembering her steps and her smile.
Little P with her dance buddies graciously posing for their fans
Great-nephew Rowan with his dad/my nephew Benjamin
Things were just as crazy with the nephews and great nephews later in the evening. Three little boys have a lot of energy! Benjamin made a pot of the best pulled pork I've ever had (his recipe: pork loin, root beer to cover, and seven hours in a slow cooker - mix with barbeque sauce when done) and with a little Skinny Girl White Peach Margarita (strong fresh peach flavor, fewer calories), it was time to chill with the out-of-towners until the sun went down.

Nothing quite like family to make for a wonderful weekend!