Homemade Butternut Squash Ravioli

Since tonight is my first weekend night off in forever I decided to make something new and fantastic for dinner! Confession time: Butternut squash is my new obsession. It is so fall like. This girl might not be able to get a cider doughnut but at least I can have butternut squash.

I started by peeling and cutting up the rest of the remaining butternut squash. I roasted the whole thing and saved some for later.

I roasted the butternut squash with olive oil, honey, salt and pepper. I cannot get enough of this honey! I used less honey than last time and it gave the squash a light, sweet flavor that complimented the taste nicely.

Mix it up and roast at 425. Keep an eye on it. I think I left it in for about 35 mins.Once you remove it from the oven set aside a half cup or so of the squash and refrigerate the rest.

Time to get cracking on the dough! I used Jenna’s recipe because it only had three ingredients and was simple. Since it’s my first time making my own pasta I didn’t want to be too crazy.

Use a 3/4 cup of flour and a pinch of salt, make a volcano with the flour and put the egg inside.

Start to gently work the dough with your fingers and work it until it is in a ball.

Put in a bowl, cover with a damp towel and set aside for 45 mins.

Take a break, put on some music, check on your squash.

The squash should come out before the dough. I also sauteed garlic and onions. I added it to the butternut squash and mashed it up.

Set this aside and dig into your dough! Flour the counter and your rolling pin and roll it out really thin.

Cut the dough into strips and put butternut squash on the dough.

Take the squares and put their tops on, use a fork and compress on all sides.

Boil water and cook until the pasta rises.

While the pasta was cooking I made a simple butter sauce. I took 2 tsp. of butter and browned it with pine nuts. Put the ravioli on the plate and pour the butter on top of the pasta. Grate Parmesan cheese on top and enjoy!

I was worried that this wasn’t going to be a big enough serving but it wound up being quite the hearty portion. I love the browned butter sauce with parm. It is so easy to make especially since you’re already making a multi-step dinner with homemade pasta. The pasta itself was pretty good considering it was so simple. I am left wondering how hard it would be to make other kinds of pasta. I may have to try that soon! And the butternut squash? There are no words. I am in love and my new boyfriends name is ‘butternut’.

Butternut squash is a beautiful thing.


Project Food Blog Round 3: Champagne Luxury on a PBR Budget

Yesterday night I hosted a luxury dinner party for challenge 3 of Project Food Blog. Let’s just say that the theme of the night wound up being, “four guests, crazy honey”.

When I read the prompt for challenge 3 I was initially worried. “Throw a luxury dinner party?” I thought, “how can I do that when most of my friends don’t even have dining room tables?” I have maintained on this blog that just because you are a student and short on cash, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a fabulous party! Personally, I think there are two keys to this: 1) use ingredients you already have and 2) use a few, really special ingredients in simple dishes. I did both last night and I think I accomplished my mission.

I decided to throw the party at my friends Catie and Emily’s house because I have a midterm on Monday and it looks like a Wills and Trusts bomb went off in my apartment. Unless dozens of pages of tiny family trees with dollar amounts next to them is your idea of luxury I knew it just wouldn’t work. Plus, Catie and Emily have a big, open concept kitchen which allows for plenty of chef to guest interaction. The kitchen is the heart of every home and I love cooking surrounded by friends. Catie’s long time friend Jackie also attended.

My favorite part of dinner parties is cooking with everyone, sharing stories and laughing. We had to start with wine of course!

Once the vino is poured the party really starts rocken’.

One of my pieces of advice if your on a budget but want to host a luxe dinner party is to use what you already have plenty of. I happen to have a ton of honey leftover from making baklava last week so I incorporated it into every course. Honey was used liberally in the creation of this meal.

Explaining the importance of using what you got

As you might have gleaned from the title of my blog I am a bit of a Barefoot Contessa fan. I love Ina because everything in her world is always fabulous and even challenging dishes are so easy and simple to make. All I want to do is move to the Hamptons and eat leftovers with Jeffrey.

I always take study breaks when Barefoot is on and yesterday was no exception. While watching I decided I had to make a cheese appetizer she was featuring: Baked Brie with Honey and Pecans. I served it with farmers market fresh honey crisp apple slices. I made this first so my guests could enjoy it with wine while I prepped the rest of the meal.

Another Barefoot classic was the entree: Tagliarelle with Truffle Butter.

This dish is amazing because it has very few ingredients and you might actually have some of them lying around the house. One thing that won’t be lying around your house if you are a twenty something graduate student is truffle butter. Lucky for me, it was on sale at Whole Food this week! Even I can afford $7 for “the finest truffle butter in the world”.

Can you believe my friends had never tried truffle butter?

This dish cooks in a matter of a few minutes.

While the pasta was being prepared I honey roasted some fall vegetables. This is a simple recipe that utilizes honey, because I have an excess of it, and some great farmers market finds including the first butternut squash of the season, carrots, parsnips, and walnuts.

If you read my blog you know I’m a sucker for roasted veggies. This is a sweet twist on your typical roasted veggie.

And then, dinner was ready.

Tagliarelle with Truffle Butter

and Honey Roasted Fall Vegetables

Dinner is served!

Who says you can’t have a luxurious meal and sit on the floor? I think we proved them wrong last night!

And then it was time for dessert… Vanilla Ice Cream with Drizzled Honey and Raspberries.

Simply delicious.

I am so glad I have made it this far in Project Food Blog and was able to serve this fantastic dinner party to these fabulous ladies! I was able to combine simple and special ingredients with the ingredients I already had to craft a tasty dinner for everyone. The best part of any dinner party is getting together with old and new friends, swapping stories and laughing. We had a wonderful, food coma inducing time. Thanks for being a part of it!

Get Ready to Run

I’m back!

Tomorrow I am running in my first 10k, the Santa Monica 5000. I’m really excited to run the 10k! I think it will be a great opportunity to get more accustom to running long distance races. I hope I can figure out how to negotiate water stations etc. in advance of my half marathon in November. Because this is the first 10k I’ve ever run there is no pressure to set a personal record or anything. I just want to finish and enjoy the experience.

In preparation I made a delicious meal for dinner.

I breaded chicken tenders with panko and baked them at 425 for 35 mins. I also roasted potatoes, both red and purple, as well as my new favorite veggie, Brussels Sprouts.

I also made a honey mustard sauce.

I love me some honey mustard! I used the same recipe that I used for the honey mustard chicken I made a few weeks ago. It was a simple yet delicious dipping sauce for the chicken.

This meal was HUGE! I roasted way more veggies and potatoes than I really needed to but they are so good. I breaded the chicken with panko before I baked it. Panko is by far my favorite ingredient to bread with because it comes out crispy and delicious every time. I ended up saving one of the pieces of chicken.

My meal was so delicious looking, even Izzy wanted a piece of the action.

Now, now… back away from the dinner!

In other exciting news… guess who I get to see this week?


That’s right, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer! He is coming to UCLA to speak. Because there is limited seating there was a lottery to get seats and I got one. I am so excited I cannot even tell you. The Supreme Court is the pinnacle for attorneys and the Justices are kinda like rock stars. I’m even more excited because Breyer is one of the Justices I like (no offense to Scalia and Thomas).

In my google search for an image of Justice Breyer I found this image:


Obviously this had to be shared! I’m hoping that my legal career will be empowered by seeing Justice Breyer and I really hope he reads us “Oh The Places You’ll Go!” Here’s to hoping!

Honey Mustard Chicken with Corn and Roasted Potatoes

If there was one meal that I loved as a child it was chicken with honey mustard sauce. The sweet and tangy honey mustard has continued to be a favorite as I have gotten older. Obviously I am not eating chicken fingers with honey mustard all the time but I decided to try a more “adult” variation on the theme of chicken fingers with honey mustard.

I got my recipe from the Trader Joe’s cook book. It’s a great resource for easy recipes with a limited number of ingredients.

This is where I got my honey mustard chicken recipe from. Then I collected my ingredients.

This is what you need:

First things first: start the potatoes. Like I always do, chop up, add S&P and EVO. Toss and place in an oven heated to 350 degrees. Let it be while you prep the other food.

Then you have to prepare the chicken. In a small bowl take 1/8 a cup of flour and combine with salt and pepper.

Mix it up and coat both sides of the chicken. Make sure the excess is knocked off.

Then take out a pan, place one tablespoon of EVO in the pan, heat it up and brown the chicken on both sides.

And now, while it is browning, it is time to multitask! This is when we make the honey mustard. It’s super easy.

Take a 1/2 cup of mustard, and 1/2 cup of honey and some basil. I’m sure you could increase of decrease as you need to.

Super easy! Taste test and adjust as you need to. Side note: I had leftovers and put it on a turkey sandwich and it was ah-maz-ing.

At this point the chicken should be done browning. Take it off the heat and into a pan that can go in the oven. Spread over the top of the chicken and place in the oven for ten mins. Save some HM to apply to the other side of the chicken later.

While you are waiting for the chicken to cook uncork that bottle of wine.

I tried a petite syrah the other night. It was pretty good. I love red wine and I am quickly becoming an expert on the cheap side of the TJ wine section. If its a vino under $6 and its red, I’ve probably taste tested it!

While I cooked Isala watched and “commented”.

She’s such a character!

OK. Back to work! Take the chicken out and flip it after 15 mins. Apply more HM sauce and put back into the oven for 15 mins. Time to get cracken’ on corn.

As a Midwesterner I am skeptical of CA corn. However, my mother was with me last week at the FM and taught me how to evaluate corn to determine if its good. Mostly you want to see that the kernels are large and in a row. You also want the husk to be damp. At my FM some of the corn was already shucked which I was told is bad and will dry it out. Shucking corn isn’t that hard, don’t buy it pre-shucked.

It should look something like this:

Very good. Bring unsalted water to a boil and put the corn in until it seems done.

At this point, your also going to want to take out the potatoes. I have to say, the potatoes were roasted to perfection! Maybe its because I used a lower heat than I usually do to roast (350 as opposed to 425).

Holy Yum!

At this point the chicken should be done as well as the corn. Literally just take the corn out of the water and plop it on the plate. You, of course, want to make sure your chicken is fully cooked.

Yum. The potatoes were delicious and the chicken was super moist. As stated above, the honey mustard was delicious and simple. Great to use on sandwiches or as a dip! The corn was good. It’s not Midwestern corn but it isn’t half bad. A meal I will be making again and a great adult twist on a classic.

Linguine with Eggplant Puree

Since it is vacation week I have been trying to really step up my cooking. Tonight I adapted a recipe from Smitten Kitchen, a beautiful food blog! I’ve never made a recipe from Smitten Kitchen but I often salivate while reading her posts. Def check it out if you haven’t already. I love eggplant so this recipe was an easy choice.

First things first, you have to roast cherry tomato, egg plant and garlic. Chop up the eggplant and tomato and add S&P, red pepper flakes, and EVO. 400 degrees for 54 mins…

While doing that put a generous handful of pine nuts in a dish and put on the bottom rack of the oven for 5 mins.

I present before:

and now for after:

I highly recommend NOT skipping this step. Toasting the pine nuts really makes all the difference.

While all of this is going on, cook the pasta in salted water. It’s all about the multitasking people. Tonight I found a bag of linguine I didn’t now that I had so I used that. Side note: not a huge fan of trader joe’s linguine. It gets very mushy very fast. It was still ok but mushy pasta isn’t my favorite.

When the eggplant and tomato and garlic is done roasted combine it in the food processor. Smitten Kitchen warmed of the sauce not getting “saucey” enough. Probably due to the amount of tomatoes I roasted. Well mine was pretty saucey so I only pulsed the processor a few times.

Then transfer to the pot you used for boiling the pasta and add a small amount of balsamic vinegar and some pasta water. Add the pine nuts.

Then add Parmesan cheese. Heat and mix, then add the pasta.

Now I will admit that roasted eggplant isn’t exactly the prettiest thing on earth, but I love eggplant and thus I highly enjoyed this dish.

Final product:

I have to say, if you like eggplant, you will like this. The red pepper flakes add a little zing and the toasted pine nuts really stand out in this dish. I loved it, and a very easy sauce to make!

I will make this again but I will likely use a different pasta. Stay tuned for another EPIC dinner tomorrow night!

HBO Night

At the risk of sounding like an advertisement: If it’s Sunday, you know I’m watching HBO. What can I say? I love True Blood and Entourage is starting to get interesting again (in my opinion).

But first let’s rewind a little bit:

After my long run this morning I read some of my book, The Help, which I am loving! Then I spent some quality time with Izzy Cat. We played with her new bird toy:

Oh hi Izzzz!

Then I cleaned the house and prepared for guests. Emily and Catie came over to watch HBO and have dinner.

Before they came over I made some guacamole.

I made this last week when I made fish tacos and I ate it all week. I love the fresh, creaminess of the avocado. It’s great to put on sandwiches, dip veggies into or pita chips. Don’t you love the bright green color?

I also cracked open one of my favorite beers of all time, Sam Adams Summer.

I love Sam Seasonal. It takes me back to last summer and being around Boston. It’s the perfect cure for homesickness. Also, I’ve shared before that after running I sometimes crave a beer. After a long afternoon of cleaning it sure was nice to unwind.

Then I got down to the business of dinner. When having a group over, pizza is an excellent default. I started with Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat crust. Then I prepped my ingredients.

Holy Heirloom Tomato! Check out those colors! I know that I have blathered on in more than one post about the color of my foods, but I like to eat eclectic colors. It’s how you know you’re eating healthy.

A ball of mozzarella. Cheese is always better when it isn’t from a bag that says Kraft.

I also diced onion and garlic and I tore some pieces of prosciutto. When I constructed my pie I used those ingredients and S&P.

Check out the before. I sparsely distributed the  cheese and baked at 450 for 10 mins. While I waited for the pizza to cook I shredded some Parmesan from the biggest wedge of parm I have ever seen! Emily bought it from costco.

I present “After”:

I let the parm melt on top of the pizza after I took it out of the oven.

Simplistic but delicious, this was one of the best pizza’s I ever made.

Melting the parm on top of the good mozzarella was a great idea. I used a lot of tomato paste as a base and used a nicely proportioned bit of prosciutto. But the standout of this dish was the heirloom tomatoes. Let me tell you, they taste as delicious as they look. The heirlooms were actually kinda sweet compared to the best of the dish. Having simple, minimal ingredients really let the heirlooms stand out.  Now that they are in season at the Farmer’s Market I will have to cook with them more often. This is was way higher quality tomato then I typically use and I should utilize it more often!

This was my portion (+1 slice after this photo was taken). Definitely delicious and I will be making again.

Classic Pesto

Today while walking through the farmer’s market I was drawn to something that I couldn’t resist.

Who can say no to a bundle of pesto? Not me! I decided it would be nice to makes some classic pesto. Pesto is a great sauce/spread and it’s super easy to make. You can “wing” pesto which I like because I am not a super precise cook.

First I got together my ingredients.

Pine nuts

Minced garlic from 2 cloves


Parm. Make sure that it is from a block people. There is a difference between pre-grated and from a block. From a block is much better plus it’s an arm workout.

Put the parm to the side and combine all the other ingredients with S&P in the food processor. I like to start with less than more especially when it comes to the garlic. Unless, of course, you want it super garlickey.

Mix it up! The more you mix the better. Do a taste test, add more garlic or pine nuts or EVO if you want to. Once you like the flavor then you can add the parm.

Mix it up until the parm is combine. While mixing it pour yourself a nice glass of this…

While I was making the pesto I made pasta and roasted some eggplant to add with the pesto.

Yum! It’s been a while since I had fresh pesto and this was such a treat! I made two portions so I can have an easy lunch tomorrow after my run. Tonight I am going out for birthday drinks at Varnish, a speakeasy-ish bar in Downtown LA that I have been dying to go to for months! Love birthdays, you can go for drinks where ever you want!

Fish Tacos

Today I was craving guac and fish so I decided to make fish tacos for dinner. I started with the guac which is very simple.

I used avocado

I also added S&P, garlic powder, tomato,  onion, and lime

and then you mix!

Yum! I love fresh and chunky guac. This was perfectly salty because of the sea salt that I added. I enjoyed it with a guiltless pita chip.

Then I got around to the fish. I used about 3/4 lbs of tilapia (3 servings), dried it and cut it into pieces

S&P and broil for about 7 mins, flipping half way through

While the fish was cooking I heated up the corn tortillas

And prepped my toppings which included peach salsa, the guac, and goat cheese

Prepped tacos:

Finally the fish was finished cooking.

Final product:

Yum! I hate to toot my own horn, but this was DELICIOUS! I love fish tacos as demonstrated here, and this was good. I actually liked broiled as opposed to fried. Its just fresher. The guac was the perfect mix of salt and lime. The peach salsa added a sweetness to the mix and the goat cheese cooled it off. When have I ever not loved goat cheese?

Yummy, quick and simple! I cannot wait for the leftovers!

Buitoni Riserva Ravioli

Tonight I had a treat…

Before I blog, full disclosure: I got this ravioli for free, but my opinions are completely my own and are in no way swayed by the fact that it was free.

With that being said, I do love Buitoni. Whenever we had pasta growing up it was Buitoni, so I have fond memories of eating raw pasta while my mother cooked. I also love how easy and quick Buitoni is to make.

The I decided to make a sauce. I didn’t really have a concrete plan. I just kinda went for it.

Whoops, blurry shot! This has tomato, zuke, garlic, s&p, oregano, red onion and scallions. Let cook over medium heat and watch to tomato reduce.

Then I added in the pasta and of course decided to top it off with cheese.

The sauce turned out shockingly well considering I winged it. I would probably make this sauce again. The oregano was a really nice flavor and fresh tomato is really nice in contrast with the tomato paste I typically add to pasta sauce.

As for the pasta? Delicious. I generally don’t love packaged cheese ravioli. I have a thing against ricotta. Its the one cheese I just don’t love. This pasta was totally different though. I could barely taste the ricotta and the texture was not ricotta esque which made me a very happy camper.

Man do I love pasta.

Dijon Salmon Cakes with Couscous

As promised, something interesting on Left Coast Contessa!

Tonight Catie came over for our HBO night: True Blood, Hung, and Entourage. Can I just say True Blood is amazing? Franklin Mott is insane and I love it!

Before Catie some over I got cracking on Salmon Cakes, which is out of Augusts “Real Simple”. Combine in the food processor…

1 lb. of Salmon


S&P then mix it up! Once you have mixed a little bit add…

Panko (shout out to Catie’s mom who gave me some!)

Dijon Mustard. Then combine in the processor. Mix until combined.

You take the material and make a came out of it. 1 lb of salmon will make 8 cakes (there are 2 cakes in a serving).

How good does this look?

Obviously, at this point you want to get a pan out and put some EVO in it.

Cook for about 2 mins on either side. While this is going on its a good idea to make some couscous. I made a Trader Joe’s couscous mix and I added cut up olives and basil. I also put a small dollop of goat cheese on the cakes, because goat cheese is delicious and why not?

The final product:

Fantastic! These salmon cakes are so easy to make and could be served so many ways! I already have a creative idea for my lunch tomorrow since Catie and I ate all the couscous.

One more glamor shot!

I also made cookies for work tomorrow! Get excited law clerks!

In other interesting news: school starts in one month. This summer is flying by! Today I pledged to myself that I would be seriously committed to reading a few books that I have wanted to crack all summer but still haven’t read. First is “Fly Away Home” which I started today. I am about 60 pages in. Then I want to finish “The Help”, “One Day” and “Poison Wood Bible”. Today I might have spent 2 hours at Borders. I started to read “The Lonely Polygamist”. I have to say that it was a page turner but that I didn’t buy it. I just don’t want to spend part of the rest of my vacation reading about a man having a mid life crisis. Strong female heroines ahoy.