Making the Best of a Bad Situation

As I mentioned before, food is a centerpiece of our family get togethers.  Thus when we discovered that we had planned too much food to possibly consume (though we did give it our best effort), we edited our food plan and eliminated some meals.

We had planned a homemade ravioli meal for Sunday night.  Pat and I knew that the three of us enjoy cooking together, so we thought that preparing fresh pasta, filling and sauce would be fun and break up the work of this time consuming task.  After two days of eating though, we knew Sunday morning that we were not going to be hungry enough to eat this heavy meal that night.

But the pleasure of cooking together did make us decide to go ahead and make the ravioli and freeze it for future use.  Carol had never made homemade pasta so it was to be a learning experience for her.  Pat and I had made this recipe two years ago with the assistance of her husband.  We knew it was delicious so we were all in!

The process began.

We assembled ingredients...

We assembled ingredients…

We roasted red peppers and began to blend them with oil and eggs...

We roasted red peppers and began to blend them with oil and eggs…

We added semolina flour...

We added semolina flour…


We kneaded and added more and more flour...

We kneaded and added more and more flour…

Wrapped the dough and let it rest in the frig...

Wrapped the dough and let it rest in the frig…

At this point we combined the cheeses for the filling then began to roll out the dough.  Where was the camera when we were doing this?  Too bad, because it was at this point that the process took a definite turn for the worse.

I must confess that it was later in the day and a few adult beverages may have been consumed between the three of us.  I am not saying that it was the direct cause of the southward turn, I’m just sayin…

IMG_20130203_173504 (2)

We used the Norpro Ravioli Maker with Press. Handy.


We filled the ravioli and prepared to take the lovely pasta pillows out of the maker...

We filled the ravioli and prepared to take the lovely pasta pillows out of the maker…

Uh.  The ravioli would not come off the maker.  The cheese filling burst through the pasta.  The dough stretched and split as we gently…and later brutally…pulled it from the ravioli form.  The product: a cheesy, doughy mound of failure.

We put the remaining dough and cheese in the refrigerator to wait for a more temperate moment.  Carol swore that she had never made pasta before and she would not be attempting it in the future.  She, however, would not give up on our mound of gooey mess.

Carol won't give up on "perfectly good"  dough.

Carol won’t give up on “perfectly good” dough.

She patted it out on a baking sheet and baked it.  She cut it with cookie cutters and served it to the unsuspecting guys on the porch as an appetizer.  They ate it.  Actually, it wasn’t all that bad but it was probably flavored with laughter.

Two days later, fueled by coffee, I made the ravioli.

Roasted Red Pepper Ravioli

Roasted Red Pepper Ravioli

ravioli plated 2It was more than delicious.  Some of us will definitely make this again.

Four Cheese Roasted Red Pepper Ravioli

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 1-2 hours depending on your skill
  • Difficulty: time consuming and must use judgement
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Adapted from a recipe by Guy Fieri from Food Network

2 large red bell peppers
2 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for roasting
3 eggs, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for cooking pasta
12 to 16 ounces fine semolina flour, plus more for bench flour
1 cup all-purpose flour, for bench flour
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 cup grated Asiago
1/2 cup grated pecorino
1 cup ricotta
2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper

Roast the red peppers in the oven, on a gas burner or grill, blackening the skins.  Put the hot peppers in a paper bag or in a tightly covered bowl for a few minutes until cool enough to handle.  Skins should easily be removed at this point.  Place peppers in a food processor and puree.

Add 1 egg, 2 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, and salt; pulse to combine. Add in 12 ounces of the semolina and pulse to combine. A dough ball should start to form after 6 to 7 pulses. If the mixture is too wet, add more semolina until a dough ball forms. Process for 1 minute and turn the dough out onto a lightly semolina-floured cutting board. Sprinkle with a little more semolina and knead until smooth. (We needed to add all the semolina the day we made our ravioli but it will depend on the juiciness of your peppers and the size of your eggs.) Wrap in plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30 to 45 minutes.

Combine the cheeses with the pepper and stir in two beaten eggs.

If you have a pasta machine like we did.  Pass the dough through the machine until you have thin sheets.  We took ours to level 6 on our machine.  Guy Fieri suggests taking it to level 9.  We must have very different machines.  Our finished ravioli was tender and delicious at this setting.

Place a sheet of dough down, put small (1 to1 1/2 t) of filling at intervals on the dough.  Place another sheet over the filling and, working from the center out carefully seal the pillows.  Make sure you push out the air pockets as you gently work from the center of the dough outwards. I am sure there are a myriad of  Youtube videos on how to do this.  Or use a ravioli form like we did.  Very handy.  Just oil it so the dough doesn’t stick.

Cook the ravioli in gently boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes.  Treat the gently after all that work.  Serve with Tomato Vodka Cream Sauce (recipe follows).  Don’t worry, the sauce is easy peasy.

Tomato Vodka Cream Sauce

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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Adapted from a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated

  • 2 (15 oz) cans fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2cup vodka
  • 1 cup half and half
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon  sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt

Put garlic cloves through garlic press into a small bowl and add 1 t water.  Heat 2 T oil and the garlic and pepper flakes in a saute pan over medium heat until fragrant not brown (about 2 minutes).  Stir in tomatoes and simmer 5 minutes.  Add vodka and simmer another 5 minutes.  Stir in cream, pepper to taste, sugar and 1/2 t salt.  Simmer 2 to 3 minutes and serve.

Some day when you have time, patience, and want to create a delicious meal, try this one.  It is terrific!  Entertaining too!


Reunion… My definition based on childhood experiences would be “Relatively unconnected relatives getting together.”  However, the word took on a whole new meaning this past weekend.

I can remember family reunions all too well when I was growing up.  Visiting with family for the day…command performance…re-introducing, talking, eating, and leaving, all to be repeated at some pre-selected future date.

This past weekend was considerably different.  It should be noted that the last 3 times that my sisters and I have been together were for our Mom’s funeral, a Thanksgiving celebration with 40-plus additional family members, and our Dad’s funeral.

Time, distance and busy lives have circumvented a “Reunion”.

Over the past few years, Jan has wintered in the South and planned this winter to spend part of that time with Pat and her husband in Texas.

A window for a “Reunion” emerged if Carol could manage a trip to Texas.

Presidents’ Day Weekend was selected.

And so it was planned and so it took place.  Three days together, (husbands in tow).

On a small Texas ranch the 3 sisters Reunited, but more importantly, Reconnected, and Recommitted one to the other.

The idea for a blog was born over the course of the weekend, not as a vehicle to build any kind of an audience, but, initially, as a way to share recipes.  Ultimately it was decided not to have limitations, but to include any and all things that hold our interest and would keep us connected.

Thus the blog was born.  Hopefully it will prove to be important to us….and who knows, maybe bits and pieces will be meaningful to you.

Sumptuous Breakfast Casserole

Our mother taught us that meals bring families together.  Food has always been an important part of family get-togethers so this weekend when the three sisters and their husbands came together, we cooked, ate and drank our way through three days of joy.

We shared cooking duties.  Pat and I planned meals.  Carol planned beverages.  We will all be sharing our favorites from the weekend over the next days.

I will start with my breakfast casserole.  There are many similar recipes on the internet but this is my spin on a delicious dish that can be prepared the morning of or ahead of time and refrigerated before baking in the morning.

Jan's Breakfast Casserole

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: 1 hr prep 1 hr cook
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

breakfast casserole

Adapted  from “Chickens In the”


  • 1 lb bacon or bulk sausage or cubed ham, cooked (bacon cut into bits after cooking)
  • 4-5 cups crusty bread, cut in cubes
  • 1/2 c butter, melted
  • 2 c grated cheese (I use cheddar or mexican blend)
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 c milk
  • 1/2 c half and half (or just make it another 1/2 cup of milk)
  • 1/2 c sour cream
  • salt and pepper

Heat oven to 325 degrees (unless you are making this the night before).  Grease a 9×13 pan.  Cook your meat of choice.

Cut bread into 3/4 inch cubes.  Pretty much cover the bottom of the greased baking dish with bread cubes.  Just toss them in to cover, don’t go arranging them.

Pour the melted butter over the cubes, Give the cubes a bit of a toss so each has some of that buttery goodness.Cover with the shredded cheese.

Whisk the eggs, milk, half and half, and sour cream.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Pour the egg mixture over those cheesy cubes in the pan.

Sprinkle the bacon pieces (or other meat) over the top.  I mince some parsley and sprinkle it on but that is just me and is highly optional.

Cover with foil.  Bake for 45 minutes then remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes.

Serve.  (Stand back…there will be a stampede for the table!)

I have served this on many weekends for friends and family.  There are rarely leftovers but if there are it reheats well.

Who’s Bright Idea Was This Anyway?

For the first time in five years, the three sisters and their husbands were together for a weekend of pure fun and relaxation.  In fact, if we only count times that the focus was on fun, it had been much longer for the funerals of each of their parents had been what had drawn them together from across the country in the years before that.  One from Texas, one from Ohio and the other from Illinois travelling to a small Texas ranch to be together.

Out of that weekend of fun, food, laughter and discussion was born this blog.  A chance for them to share their ideas about good food, making a home, and living with families.  Each sister bringing her own, wide ranging experiences and attitudes to put her own spin on the topic.

So, we begin this adventure together.  Carol, Pat and Jan sharing our lives with each other and with you.

In Texas  on Pat's ranch.  Carol, Pat (in the back), and Jan.

In Texas on Pat’s ranch. Carol, Pat (in the back), and Jan.