Slow Cooker Ramen

No one who lives in DC is actually from here.  “Home” is always a word for another state, another city, another place – even if that’s somewhere in the DMV area (so, I admit I don’t think Fairfax counts as DC).  Somehow, almost 14 years have passed since I first moved here, and when I talk about going home, I always mean Boston.

However, there are some signs that my son will mean “DC” when he talks about home.  Like the fact that we just bought a house here. (Side note:  Yea, so that happened, and it was terrifying.)  And he owns more DC-onesies than can fit in his chest of drawers.  And most importantly, the local ramen guy knows his parents, and always manages to squeeze them in ahead of the long line.  Thanks, Tony.

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Slow Cooker Ramen, inspired by Cooking Light

  • canola or olive oil
  • 2 pounds pork roast or loin
  • salt, pepper
  • crushed red pepper
  • 2 onions, peeled and halved horizontally
  • 8 cups chicken stock (can also use some water instead)
  • 1/4 cup  soy sauce, divided
  • 2 containers shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • about 2 inches of fresh ginger, sliced thinly
  • 1 package fresh udon noodles
  • one egg per servings planned (i.e., one egg per bowl)
  • 1/2 bunch scallions, sliced
  • a handful of sesame seeds
  • optional – 1 sheet nori, cut into very thin strips; 1 cup or so corn kernels

1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add oil to pan. Season the pork with salt and pepper, and then add pork to the pan and sear on all sides.  Place in the slow cooker.

2. Increase the heat of the skillet and add onions, cut side down.  Cook until charred, and then transfer to slow cooker. Add the stock and about two tablespoons of soy sauce to the slow cooker.  Shake some red pepper in there for heat. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and add those to the slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low for 7 hours.

3. Remove pork from cooker and let rest while you thinly slice the mushroom caps.  Strain the mushroom caps from the brother.  Add 2 tablespoons soy sauce, mushroom caps, sesame oil, and ginger to slow cooker. Cook on high for 20 minutes. Add noodles and corn to slow cooker; cook 5 minutes.

4. As the noodles cook, poach an egg or two to serve. Serve with the soup, sprinkle with sesame seeds, scallions, and nori, if using.

The Verdict:

No one will be replacing Sakuramen anytime soon, but goodness this was good.

Butternut Squash & Chard Lasagna

This month’s issue of Cooking Light is killing it.  Granted, it could be the preggo hormones talking, but I dog-eared almost every single page in the magazine when I got it.

Not that you asked, but here are my general thoughts on Cooking Light:

CL to me = what I imagine Pinterest is to other people.  (Pinterest is far too complicated for me to ever figure out.)  Take the recipe and then add your imagination (and more butter).  Also, I will never use anything but full fat ricotta.  So, of course this “lightened” vegetarian lasagna is really just vegetarian lasagna.  Still, way to go, CL.

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Butternut Squash & Chard Lasagna
  • 3- 4 cups cubed + peeled butternut squash
  • approx 1 cup veggie broth
  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • salt, pepper
  • dash nutmeg (really, small dash – I find nutmeg overwhelming)
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyere/Swiss
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 boxes mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 big bunch Swiss chard or other leafy green
  • half box no boil lasagna noodles
  • a little less than a cup ricotta cheese
  • parsley
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Combine squash, broth, milk, and garlic in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and then simmer until squash is tender (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat.
  3. Place squash mixture in a blender OR – use your immersion blender!! Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg and blend until smooth.   Add the Gruyere and about half the mozzarella to the mixture; stir until it melts all the way in.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and mushrooms; cook about 5-7 minutes or until browned and liquid evaporates. Add chard and a splash of broth. Cover and cook until chard wilts.  Drain the mixture – you want all that excess moisture out of there.
  5. Spread about a cup of the squash sauce in bottom of a glass/baking dish, arrange noodles over the sauce, and top with half of the the chard/mushrooms.  Dollop and spread a bit of ricotta all across.  Then, repeat the process – squash sauce, noodles, chard mixture.  Then, more squash, and finally, mozzarella cheese (and parm, if you feel like it).
  6. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 375 for 35 minutes.  Uncover and bake another 10 minutes – and then turn the heat up and broil the whole thing for the last 3 minutes.  Serve topped with parsley..and a side salad to cut all that cheese!

 

 

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The Verdict:

This is a cheese-fest. Which obviously means it’s an A+ in my book.  Bonus: it makes servings for dayyyyyyys.

 

Brown Butter Sage Ravioli with Roasted Vegetables

I’m sad to report that the last couple of meals chez nous have not been worthy of a post.  There was a failed curry.  There was a frozen pizza…and then pizza delivery.  And then for the last couple of days, there has been Lipton’s soup, as I struggle to fend off a cold.

But this meal redeems me to me.  And to my husband.  And based on the punches I received to my uterus, baby as well.  I guess butter + pasta will do that.

 

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Brown Butter Sage Ravioli with Roasted Vegetables

  • olive oil
  • 1 package pre-cut butternut squash
  • 1 package cremini mushrooms, sliced in half
  • 8 leaves fresh sage
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 package ravioli (I used root vegetable ravioli from TJ’s)
  • splash dry white wine
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • pepper, salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Spread the butternut squash evenly in a jelly roll pan, drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper and give the whole thing a toss.  Stick in the oven for 20 minutes – use this time to slice up your mushrooms and prep your garlic.
  2. At the 20 minute mark, add the mushrooms to the pan with the squash, give the mixture a toss, and then stick it back in the oven for another 20 minutes.  (This is actually the perfect amount of time to do the rest of the steps below!)
  3. Start boiling water for the ravioli – add a bit of salt for flavor.  Cook the ravioli according to directions; drain and reserve just a splash of the starchy water.
  4. While water boils, heat a small skillet over medium heat – when hot, add the butter.  When the butter starts to turn lightly brown at the top, add the garlic, cook for 30 seconds, and then add the sage.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, and then remove from heat.  Add a splash of wine, the lemon juice and just a touch of pepper.
  5. Take your veggies out of the oven.  Serve raviolio topped with veggies, and then drizzle the sauce over the top.  Don’t forget to garnish with the sage – this is delicious.

The Verdict:

HOLY DELICIOUS.  How have I never been taken aside before for an explanation of the glories of brown butter sage sauce?  Mom, where were you on this one?!

 

Mixed Mushroom & Barley Soup

Two things happened last week that could have put a real cramp in our babymoon-style.  (Yes, turns out I will do anything to take a vacation, including calling it a babymoon.)  In early December, I bought us tickets to St. Lucia.  I don’t know what it is about that island, but I have always wanted to go.  Maybe because my parents went when I was a kid, and I’ve always thought: man, when I grow up, I’m going to St. Lucia.

Then:

  1. Zika virus.  If you haven’t heard of this yet, count yourself lucky, because it means you haven’t been on the phone with cheapcaribbean.com fighting to get a refund.  Turns out Zika is a mosquito-borne virus – ripping through the Caribbean right now – that only infects pregnant women.  And then causes massive birth defects in babies.  Remember: St. Lucia.  Babymoon.
  2. Winter Storm Jonas.  If you’re not familiar with DC – the whole city shuts down when we get something vaguely resembling snow.  My hometown mayor, Marty Walsh, actually just said “I feel bad,” and then offered to lend my adopted town some snow plows.  Seriously.

So, instead, we pulled a last minute audible and spent the last few glorious days basking in the Southern California sunshine, hiking in the desert.  (Take that, mosquitoes.)  Turns out, Joshua Tree National Park really is all it’s cracked up to be.

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Then, we came home.  One look at the snow piles in the street & we knew, Marty’s help or not, we won’t be seeing our car until spring.  Only Ina could fix this mess.

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Mixed Mushroom & Barley Soup (adapted from Ina Garten)

  • 1 bag dried mushrooms (I had porcini)
  • olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3-4 stalks celery, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup pearled barley
  • 2 containers mushrooms, sliced (I used cremini and white button)
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 6 cups broth (veggie, beef, chicken, whatever you have)
  • 10 stalks thyme, tied together if you can
  • large handful parsley
  • salt, pepper & crushed reds
  • 2 tablespoons butter (optional)
  1. Put the dried mushrooms in a bowl and pour about 2 cups or so boiled water over them,  to reconstitute them.  Set aside while you prep the veggies and get the rest of the soup prepared.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot.  Add onions, carrots, and celery, as well as salt, pepper, and crushed reds, and saute until softened, about 10 minutes.  Add garlic and barley and cook, stirring for about two minutes.  Add the mixed mushrooms (not the reconstituted dried ones just yet) and the red wine, cook for about five minutes.
  3. If the dried mushrooms aren’t sliced nicely yet, now’s a good time to strain them (reserving the mushroom water!) and chop them.  Otherwise, dump the whole thing (mushrooms + water) into the soup pot.   Add the broth, thyme, parsley and and a little more salt and pepper.
  4. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 45 minutes or until the barley is tender.
  5. At the very end, it’s a little decadent to add a dollop of butter – not necessary, obviously.  Discard the thyme, adjust seasoning, and serve with a bit of parsley on top.

The Verdict:

Not going to lie, after a few days of In & Out burgers and shakes, my body was grateful for this type of sustenance.  Not only good, but good for you.  Of course, now that we’ve been home a few days…I could use another babymoon.

 

 

Smoky Chicken Breast with Roasted Vegetables

Last week we spent four glorious days in Burlington, Vermont with our family.  In addition to hiking, eating, and puzzle-ing, this included one of the most epic LNDPs in which I’ve ever participated.  Lesson learned – the power of an LNDP is heightened through 1) a straight T. Swift soundtrack and 2) your mom/mom-in-law.

I also think the universe is trying to tell me something about New England.  The Husband and I got caught on “flypocalypse” on our way home – meaning we spent an extra two days in Vermont (there are worse places to be stuck).  And…this weekend I head BACK to Vermont for my BFF’s wedding.  I’ll just let that marinate.

Given our quick three days at home, not a whole lot of fancy cooking going on in our kitchen this week.  I bought some fresh herbs, veggies, and fruit – but other than that, we’re making do with what we have on hand.  Like this chicken, inspired by Bon Appetit.

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Smoky Chicken Breast with Roasted Vegetables

  • olive oil (about 1/2 cup)
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 handful smoked paprika
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 (small) handful cumin
  • 1 (small) handful crushed red pepper
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 pound chicken breasts
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 container cherry tomatoes
  • **2-3 portabello mushrooms, sliced (see below)
  • arugula
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Mix olive oil through salt/pepper in a small bowl, whisk together.  Pour about half of the oil mixture into the yogurt, mix thoroughly, and set aside.
  2. Rub the oil mixture into the chicken on both sides and then place on a baking sheet.  Toss the remaining oil with the tomatoes, chickpeas, and mushrooms and spread alongside the chicken.  Season again with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast everything for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink.  Serve on top of arugula with yogurt and parsley.

The Verdict:

I got creative here with the addition of the mushrooms, but truth be told, this would probably be better without them – the roasting makes them release a lot of liquid, which then means the chickpeas don’t roast quite as well.  However, for a one pot meal, this is healthy, tasty, and easy.  The yogurt, says the Husband, is key.