the ravenna girls

we blog!

Lemon House Loves: Kitchen Gadgets February 23, 2011

Filed under: shopping — ravennagirls @ 4:38 pm
Tags: , , ,

Time to start a new feature around here we’re going to call Lemon House Loves.  These are products that we either have, and well, love, or things we’ve spotted around the web that look especially groovy. And who knows, maybe we’ll buy them, try ’em out, and do a follow up review post. We thought it would be fun to share some of the things that we have or would incorporate into the day to day life of our lil bungalow. {Click here for why we call it our lemon house}.

First up: Kitchen gadgets! We both love to cook and of course, eat, so we thought we would share some kitchen items we couldn’t live without and some that caught our eye around the web this week. Since growing season is soon upon us, its fun to think of all the fun things to slice, dice, toss, and cook those beautiful veggies we plan on growing.

Oxo angled measuring cups. The benefit of these is that you can see your liquid measure from above, so you don’t have to do the hold it over your head and guesstimate mode. We have these in a couple different sizes (including the mini one pictured here) and could not live without them now.

Check out these awesomely fun lego utensils! Perfect for snacks and camping!

You know we love making homemade calzones, this calzone mold pops out perfect beauties everytime (we usually just go for the haphazard fork the edges route).yum.

Ever have trouble transferring soups and sauces? These cute and colorful Slip on Pot Pour Spouts are perfect for transfering liquids to smaller jars or dishes! I notice they say for pots with thin rims, though – anyone have a product that fits on Le Creuset?

This fresh herb grinder looks pretty fantastic. We don’t tend to keep our knives sharp enough to do justice to fresh herbs, and this seems like a great solution. I’d love to try it out to see if it does a good job cutting or if it smashes and bruises the herbs easily.

I love our magnetic trivet. As the advertising for it says, “when the pot moves, the trivet rides along”. This is great when you bring the pot right to the table, no more scrambling for a hot pad at family meals. Plus, magnets make storing on the side of the oven SO SUPER EASY.

So thats it for our first Lemon House Loves. What are your favorite gadgets that transform life in your kitchen? We’ve received some of the best tools as gifts or on recommendation from friends and we’re always looking to try new fun things.

{We were not compensated in any way for the products featured in this post, we just wanted to share with you all what gets us excited.}


Soupy Sunday: Roasted Garlic Soup February 20, 2011

Filed under: food — ravennagirls @ 5:16 pm
Tags: , , ,

This soup is for you if:

The cold temperatures are giving you a cold….

You buy enough garlic to feed an army and then attempt to use it before it sprouts…

You just love garlic, like a lot….

Then really you will love this soup as much as we do.  I mean, do people not love roasted garlic???  {if so, why not?  really honestly??  Not judging, just curious!}

To start, you begin by roasting your garlic.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Take 4 whole heads of garlic and peel off some of the paper outer layer.  Don’t peel the cloves.  Slice 1/4″ off the top of ea garlic head.  Place all four heads in a piece of foil in a baking dish.  The cut side should be on top.  You then drizzle about 1 teaspoon of olive oil over each head.  Bake these, uncovered, but slightly wrapped up in the foil for a whole hour.

Your house should now smell heavenly.

Cool slightly, just so you can hold each head comfortably.  Don’t let them get all the way to cool though, or the garlic cloves stubbornly won’t come loose.  Press the whole head with your hand all at once to release the garlic pulp.  Go in there with a chopstick and pry a bit if you need to….

For the rest of the soup you will need:

1 T olive oil

1 c chopped yellow onion

2 stalks celery, chopped

3 1/2 cups chicken stock

1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 t dried thyme

1 t salt

pepper to taste

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup milk (we used 2%)

grated parmesan for topping

NOW, warm the oil in your big soup pot.  Add the onion and celery and saute until tender.  Then add the garlic!


Next, add the stock, beans, thyme, salt, pepper and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer without covering for 15 minutes.

This is not the most colorful soup… but it is oh-so tasty.

Remove the bay leaf.  Then – Blend in your food processor or with your new immersion stick blender that Santa your little sister got you for Christmas.  Return the soup blended to the pot.  Now add the milk and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Serve, sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top, and eat, preferably with a crusty piece of bread, YUM.


Now, I don’t believe that either of us took  this soup to work for lunch like we normally do with our Sunday Soups…. But it sure made terrific dinners on crisp busy weeknights.

: )


Recipe adapted from The Big Book of Soups and Stews by Maryana Vollstedt.




What to do with duck? March 15, 2010

Filed under: food,Uncategorized — ravennagirls @ 9:34 pm
Tags: ,

A couple weeks back while organizing our freezer (I made turkey stock and had a lot to freeze!), I came across a couple of duck breasts we have had saved for the perfect recipe. These were wild duck breasts, boneless and skinless, so they required a recipe that wouldn’t rely on the duck fat and skin that you get on store bought duck.

After our goal of trying new recipes from all the cookbooks we own, D came across a great looking duck recipe that fit the bill for an early spring Sunday evening dinner, so we tried it out. In preparation for some money spent on vacay and home improvement, we’re trying to make use of all the food and ingredients we already have around the kitchen, so this fit the bill for that as well. We just had to supplement with a few fresh ingredients, and off i went!

The cookbook? Best of the best cookbook recipes from the editor of Food and Wine magazine (a very nice gift D received this Christmas).  This recipe was from the section devoted to Meditteranean Fresh by Joyce Goldstein (the other of her recipes in this Best of the best book also look DELICIOUS!).

My favorite part of this recipe is the introductory statement which says “More cooks should try duck instead of the usual chicken”. I couldn’t agree more. I try to order duck often on restaurant menus, because it is rich and flavorful without the heaviness of many beef and lamb dishes.

This recipe was light and crisp, and the flavors were unique and lively. Highly recommended.

Duck Breast with Pears, Walnuts, and Belgian Endive

Serves 4


2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

2 Tbsp Sherry Vinegar (I used red wine vinegar since it was in the cupboard)

1/3 c fresh orange juice

2 tbsp freshly grated orange zest

Sea Salt

1/3 c toasted hazelnut oil (I used sesame, again, in the cupboard)

2/3 c extra virgin olive oil


2 boneless duck breast halves 4-5 oz. each

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

pinch of ground cinnamon or cloves (recipe says options, in my opinion, not, this made all the difference in combination of flavors!)

4 tbsp walnuts toasted and coarsely chopped

2 or 3 heads belgian endive, leaves seperated and cut crosswise into 1″ wide pieces

1 head chicory, leaves seperated (we couldn’t find this at the store, so i skipped it, but it probably would be yum!)

2 small anjoy pears, halved, cored, and sliced

Make the vinaigrete.

Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl.

Make the Duck

Using a sharp knife, score the skin of the duck breasts in a crosshatch pattern, but do not cut into the meat. Rub the breasts with salt and pepper and a pinch of cinnamon, if you like. Let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place a large ovenproof sauté pan over medium heat. When it is hot, add the duck breasts, skin side down, and cook until the breasts render their fat, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain off the fat and slip the pan into the oven. Roast the duck for about 8 minutes for medium-rare. (If you like, you can finish the breasts on the stovetop, reducing the heat to low and sautéing, turning once, for 8 to 10 minutes.) Transfer the duck to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. When the duck is cool enough to handle, cut it on the diagonal into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

In a small bowl. macerate the nuts in 1 tablespoon dressing.

In a bowl, combine the Belgian endive and chicory. Sprinkle with salt to taste and toss with 1/4 cup dressing. Arrange on 4 salad plates. Top with slices of duck and pear and drizzle with another 1/4 cup of the the dressing (reserve the remaining dressing for another use). Sprinkle the nuts on top and serve.



New Recipe(s) for 2010 January 19, 2010

Filed under: food,Uncategorized — ravennagirls @ 11:12 pm
Tags: , ,

One of the best gifts in the world to give or receive is a book (or books!). Both of us have been fortunate enough to receive some awesome craft and cooking books over the last couple of years. Its tough, though, after you flip through books and see all the great ideas to remember exactly what you have access to throughout the year. We’ve made it a goal this year to make at least ONE thing out of each cookbook and craft book that we have received. No strict goals or deadlines, but i want to make sure i’m using all the awesome books i have and not just going to fall back favorites all the time.

The other night, i was home a little earlier than usual and ruminating on what to make for dinner. Not much in the cupboards after holiday cooking sprees, so i went and stared at the pantry for ideas. What i saw that caught my eye was a can of coconut milk and some white rice. Hmm…we always have frozen chicken in the freezer, and an array of asian spice in the kitchen, so i went and grabbed a cookbook off the shelf that we’ve only used once before. And wha-lah, chicken curry (modified for my sparse ingredient list, but also beefed up with some frozen veggies too).

On-hand veggies: Frozen Peas, Frozen Spinach, Frozen Corn

Fragrant Chicken Curry

Adapted from Thai: The Essence of Asian Cooking by Judy Bastyra and Becky Johnson

Serves Four


3tbsp oil (i like to mix sesame and peanut)

1 onion coarseley chopped

half a shallot minced

2 garlic cloves minced

2 tsp yellow curry powder (I might use more next time, it was a little lame on spice)

16 oz canned coconut milk (the can actually was only 13.5 oz so i filled out the rest with water)*

1 tbsp dried lemongrass

2tbsp apricot jam (admittedly i forgot this, but i do think it would have been good so i think i’ll try and include next time)

2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces

1/2 cup frozen corn

1/2 cup frozen peas

1 cup frozen spinach (we freeze extra leaves in the summer before they go bad)

salt and pepper

instant white rice (or jasmine rice if you’re fancy)


1. Heat the oil in  large pan (I used by 5.5 qt le creuset oven). Add onion and garlic and cook over medium heat until soft.

2. Add chicken and saute until lightly browned.

3. Stir in coconut milk, then curry powder, lemon grass, apricot jam, and salt and pepper.

4. Cover and simmer 10 min to allow chicken to cook through.

5. Add frozen veggies and stir. Cover and simmer another 5-10 minutes to warm veggies through and blend flavors.

6. Prepare your rice of choice (for instant, one part rice, one part water. Bring water to a boil, add rice, turn off heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes). Serve the chicken and sauce over a bowl-full of rice with a garnish of fresh cilantro if you have on hand.

Note: the recipe calls to puree the sauce (to better incorporate the onion flavor i suppose) then add back in. you COULD brown the chicken, remove from pan, make the sauce then puree, then add chicken and veggies back in. Buuuut, i like chopped onion and frankly, thats an additional 10 minutes and food processor to wash, so. . . .

*The recipe called for 2/3c greek yogurt in addition. I didn’t have any, so i just used the coconut milk and i thought it was PLENTY rich and thick. So, i’m not sure i would add this in, but if you want it even thicker you could try.