Tuesday, November 3, 2009

WONDERING ABOUT STUPID STUFF….

“A dragon lives forever but not so little boys.
Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys.
One grey night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more
And Puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar.
His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain,
Puff no longer went to play along the Cherry Lane.
Without his life-long friend, Puff could not be brave,
So Puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave”

I love this Peter, Paul and Mary song. What could be happier than a song about Puff, The Magic Dragon? But I’ll be darned if every time I hear this song if I don’t get tears in my eyes. I can’t decide if I’m sad for Puff or mourning the loss of Jackie Paper’s childhood. Everybody grows up and discards things from their childhood so maybe I’m just wishing that fanciful things like magic dragons could be a part of us through our adulthood.

The line from Louis Armstrong singing What a Wonderful World about “hearing babies cry, and watch them grow – they’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know” unleashes those tears just as fast.

Hearing Karen Carpenter sing that she’ll “be home for Christmas” nearly has me sobbing out loud.

So what’s with that? Stupid stuff or just the realization of my own mortality? Just pondering.....

And don't tell me you're not either humming one of these or thinking of your own sad song!

DINNER ON A BUSY GROCERY AND LAUNDRY NIGHT

I’ve just come back from a week’s retreat visiting my parents in Florida. Three meals a day (I did manage to sleep through breakfast – but still managed to eat more than normal) did some damage to my semi-diet. So tonight I’m heading home to an easy dinner of handmade butternut squash ravioli in a sage butter sauce. I know it doesn’t sound light – but at about 400 calories per serving it’s not a bad entree for me. I made these little gems of ravioli several months ago based upon a Giada DiLaurentis recipe and then froze them in individual serving packets of 5-6 pieces each. One nights work to prepare these makes enough for about 8-10 meals for me.

I’m including here the original recipe from Food Network. I simply made the raviolis one night (might have been listening to some sad songs while I worked) and then froze them for later use. Take a packet out of the freezer, (see the packet here I took out today - enough for 2 servings) boil the ravioli and then toast them a bit the sage and brown butter sauce. Serve with a small salad and the Yum factor goes up a notch or two making it a full meal for a busy laundry night.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH TORTELLINI WITH BROWN BUTTER SAUCE

Squash Tortellini:
1 butternut squash, approximately 2 pounds, cubed (about 3 cups)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
1 1/2 teaspoon herbs de Provence
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2 large shallots, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
4 small amaretti cookies, crushed (about 1/3 cup)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 package small wonton wrappers

To make the tortellini, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. On a foil-lined baking sheet toss together the butternut squash, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, herbs de Provence, salt, and pepper. Bake in the oven until soft and golden, about 25 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a small saute pan over medium heat. Cook the shallots and garlic until lightly golden, about 3 minutes.

In a food processor, combine the butternut squash mixture, the shallot mixture, and the ricotta cheese and pulse a few times to blend. Add the crushed amaretti cookies, the nutmeg, and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pulse until smooth. The tortellini filling can be made one day ahead.

To make the tortellini, lay out 6 wonton skins, keeping the remaining skins inside the package or under a very lightly dampened paper towel. Place 1 tablespoon of squash mixture in the middle of each skin. Dip a pastry brush in a little water and wet the edges of the skin. Gently fold the square wrapper into a triangle, making sure the edges are securely closed and there are no air pockets inside. Dampen the two bottom corners of the longest side of the triangle and gently bring them together, pressing lightly to secure. Place the formed tortellini on a baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Before laying out another 6 wonton sheets, be careful to dry the work surface. This will help keep tortellini from sticking to the baking sheet. Continue until all the butternut squash mixture is used. There should be approximately 36 tortellini. (The tortellini can be formed, frozen on the baking sheet, transferred to a tightly sealed plastic bag or container and stored for up to six months. To cook, simply toss the frozen ravioli into the salted boiling water and cook for 4 minutes.)

BROWN BUTTER SAUCE for 2 Servings:
2 Tbls. butter
2 -3 torn fresh sage leaves
Sprinkle of toasted walnuts, chopped
Sprinkle of dried cranberries, or chopped dried cherries, or mixture of both
kosher salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
grated Parmesan cheese

To make the sauce and serve, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat.

Add the sage, walnuts and cranberries and let cook until the butter starts to brown, about 3 minutes. Turn the heat off and season with salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.

Then, gently place the tortellini in the boiling water and gently stir. When they begin to float they are done, about 3 minutes if thawed, allow a couple of extra if from the freezer. Using a slotted spoon, gently spoon the tortellini onto a serving platter, top with the brown butter sauce, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.

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