the ravenna girls

we blog!

Soupy Sunday: Chili February 6, 2011

Filed under: food — ravennagirls @ 3:28 am
Tags: , ,

On Sundays, we often make soup.  Evenings filled with deliciousness bubbling, using some veggies we have around the fridge, and creating some leftovers for the week.

Last Sunday, we made Chili for dinner with a little cornbread on the side.  YUM!


This recipe comes from one of our favorite, go-to soup books The Big Book of Soups and Stews by Maryana Vollstedt.  We modified it slightly based on some ingredients we had… so here is what we did:



1 T olive oil

2 C chopped yellow onions

1 C chopped celery

4 cloves minced garlic

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 lb lean ground turkey meat

28 oz canned diced tomatoes w/ juice

1 1/2 C beef stock

1 T Chili Powder

1 t dried oregano

1 t ground cumin

1 t salt

pepper to taste

toppings: cheddar, sour cream, avocado


In a large soup pot, warm olive oil.  Add onion, celery, and garlic.  Saute until tender.  Then add the ground turkey and let cook for 5 minutes while stirring.


Add remaining ingredients except the toppings.  Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes.

Place in bowls, sprinkle with your favorite toppings.




What is a sunchoke, you say? February 1, 2011

Filed under: food — ravennagirls @ 4:30 pm
Tags: , ,

We get a CSA box bimonthly around here.  It is terrific for many reasons, but today we are here to chat about one reason in particular.

Who has heard of a sunchoke without Wiki?


I didn’t think so!


So, anyway, our CSA box is delivered on Mondays.  We get a rough draft of what is in the box a few days before and an option to modify the contents.  One time recently we forgot to take a look at what was coming.

But, I’m glad, because it gave us the opportunity to try out sunchokes, which I never would have otherwise.

We made a Potato Sunchoke Gratin… {with a side of salmon, yum!}



  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon powdered cloves, according to taste
  • 3 teaspoons lemon thyme leaves
  • 3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
  • 6 sunchokes, peeled
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  In a small saucepan, combine the stock with the cream, sea salt to taste, and the cloves. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat.

Slice the gold potatoes and sunchokes into 1/8-inch slices.   Now, the sunchokes were a bit difficult to peel, and turned brown quicker than I was expecting.  So I would do this right before assemblying the dish for baking.

Place a half-inch layer of potato slices into the baking dish (I used a pie pan actually), sprinkle lightly with salt and a bit of dried thyme. Scatter half of the sunchoke slices over the top, then pour on 1/3rd of the stock/milk mixture. Repeat these layers once again. Finish with another layer of potatoes sprinkled with more thyme. Drizzle the remaining cream on top.

Bake uncovered for 25 minutes, then reduce the heat to 400 degrees F. and cook for 35 minutes or until fork tender. Rest at room temperature before serving.

Yield: 3 servings 

I modified the recipe found at, and it originally hails from Nick Tischler at Restaurant Zinc.


What about you?  have you ever tasted a Sunchoke?

I have to say, they were very tasty and flavorful!  I enjoyed them more then a simple potato!


mmm cookies! December 21, 2010

Filed under: christmas — ravennagirls @ 4:42 pm
Tags: , ,

Are you into the Christmas baking mode yet?

I have been in the Christmas eating mode since Thanksgiving… but this weekend cookies were pretty much my focus.

To begin, you can see and get recipes for some delicious Christmas cookies B and I made last year in this post.

This year, we were intrigued by the Martha Stewart December issue.  It featured one basic dough and then all kinds of cookies you could make from that simple dough!  It certainly has been handy to have around this season… you just whip up a new type of cookie for different events.

To start:

Make this Basic Vanilla Dough

{Slight dough variations include spice, chocolate, and citrus.}

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder (omit if making thumbprints, ball cookies, or spritz cookies)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

    Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Beat butter and granulated sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture, and beat until combined.
    Then wrap the dough and place in the fridge until you are ready to use it.
    On Sunday, I organized my small group’s Christmas party around cookies.  Decorating them mostly…. but eating too.  I wanted to bring a little sugar to get us going…. {we had a whole lotta cookies to decorate!}
    So I rolled balls of this basic vanilla dough that were about 1 1/4″ in diameter.  I then baked them at 350 degrees for 11 minutes.  After baking, let the cookies completely cool.
    Then, with B’s excellent skills at chocolate melting… we dunked each cookie in a pot of melted chocolate.  I crushed up some candies to put on the top.  Once finished, place the cookies in the fridge so the chocolate can harden.
    and … eat cookies!
    My small group, for the record, is full of the most creative, sweet, funny, amazing 13 year olds you could ever meet.  They took cookie decorating to a whole new level.  For example, who says you just should have the basic frosting colors?  No way!  They mixed up some coral, turquoise, and lime green.  And, who says you should just decorate one cookie at a time?  Instead, you could make a cookie sculpture complete with a four inch pile of cookie that you carve away at.
    All this while sticking firm to our beliefs that there is no such thing as too many sprinkles.

    Stuffed Acorns! November 21, 2010

    Filed under: food,Uncategorized — ravennagirls @ 12:56 pm
    Tags: , , ,

    How do you stuff an acorn, you ask?

    Well, its really acorn squash, which allows you a bit more room!

    Last Friday night we realized we had an abundance of fall veggies from our CSA box in the fridge. Acorn squash, collard greens, bok choy, potatoes, turnips, just to name a few. So, in order to have a hearty fall dinner and also plow through some of our delicious veggies, I found two recipes to try some fun new flavor combos.

    The salad recipe has several strong flavors: crisp peppery radicchio, tangy persimmon, and citrusy vinagrette. Its a salad that stands alone, thats for sure! The pear mellows it out a bit, though, and it definitely awakens your palatte during this time of fall comfort food. We ate it as a first course without worrying too much about flavor pairings, and I think it was pretty successful. It was crisp and interesting and I would certainly make it again.

    Our main dish, the acorn squash is also an interesting mix of flavors. I used bok choy in the stuffing, which may seem an odd choice of greens to some. I love bok choy as I’ve cooked with it more and more lately. I like its mellow flavor and the fact that it stands up well to being cooked. It doesn’t change color or get bitter as mustard/collard greens tend to. It almost always keeps the dish tasting fresh but without too much fuss or pizzazz. Add some soft cheese and a little nutmeg, and there were a round grouping of flavors whose texture contrasted nicely with the firm squash. Again, highly recommend. Plus, it was super easy even though it might  read as if it takes a bit of effort, I made the whole shebang in under 40 minutes.

    Recipe #1: Pear and Persimmon Salad

    Adapted from our CSA provided recipe from their  blog, Good Food Life

    2 Fuyu permsimmons, peeled and chopped

    1 Pear, cored and chopped (I leave the peel on)

    1 small head radicchio (from our yard!!)

    2-3 romaine leaves, chopped

    1/2 t minced orange zest

    2 T juice squeezed from orange

    1 t honey

    1 t red wine vinegar (the actual reciped called for Champagne vinegar which might be better but I used what I had)

    1/4 t salt

    3 T olive oil

    Loosely chop romaine and radicchio and place in shallow bowls. Arrange Persimmons and Pears on top.

    Pear, Orange, and Persimmon

    Radicchio and Romaine

    In a small bowl whisk together the rest of the ingredients except for the oil. When well combined, whisk in the oil in a steady stream until emulsified. Pour over salad and serve.

    Citrus Red Wine Vinagrette

    Flavorful fall salad


    Recipe #2: Acorn Squash Pasta Bowls*

    Adapted from  Big Red Kitchen, seen over at Tastespotting

    1 acorn squash

    1/2 pound penne pasta

    4 T. olive oil

    2 garlic cloves, minced

    1 medium onion

    1/2 cup mascarpone cheese (found near the ricotta at your grocery)

    1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg (great if fresh, its ok if not)

    1/4 tsp. Kosher salt

    4 grinds black pepper

    1 oz crumbled blue cheese or gorgonzola

    2 T. fresh parsley, minced (for garnish. I am lazy and skipped this step)

    Slice the squash in half and scoop out seeds. Drizzle the insides with olive oil and sprinkle with Kosher salt and pepper. You will have to turn the squash in your hands to get all of the insides covered. Roast squash in a 400 degree oven for 35 minutes or until fork tender.

    Beautiful Bok Choy

    Sauteing bok choy with onions and garlic

    In the last 20 minutes of roasting, start the ingredients for your stuffing. In a saute pan with a small bit of olive oil, cook onion and garlic over medium heat until onion is clear. Add in chopped bok choy and cook until slightly wilted. At the same time, boil your pasta until al dente and add drained pasta to vegetable mixture with 1 tbsp warm pasta water.

    Starting the pasta boiling while the veggies saute

    Ingredients for a light creamy sauce: mascarpone, nutmeg, freshly ground black pepper

    Add mascarpone, half your blue cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper, and stir slowly until cheeses are incorporated into a sauce and noodles are coated.

    Completed stuffing

    Ready to go back in the oven

    Spoon pasta into squash so that it is mounded slightly, but not spilling over the edge. Top with the remaining blue cheese and return to the oven for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with fresh parsley if you are extra fancy. Serves 2.

    Stuffed acorn!

    * I was actually glad to find a recipe like this similar to one I heard Dorie Greenspan talk about on NPR a couple weeks back. Not quite as cheesy or decadent, but a good fairly healthy alternative!

    So, in these two easy dishes, we managed to use a lot of things from our veggie stash: Persimmon, Pear, Radicchio, Orange, Bok Choy, Onion, and Squash!


    perfect for your weekend morning November 14, 2010

    Filed under: food — ravennagirls @ 5:45 pm
    Tags: , ,

    Sometimes I wake up ready to go on Saturdays.  B usually thinks I am nuts, but a little morning french press usually changes her tune.  Plus, fresh scones, straight from the oven.


    Mixed Berry Scones

    inspired from SmittenKitchen

    2 3/4 cup flour
    1/4 cup sugar
    1 tablespoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    6 ounces of butter, in 1/2-inch cubes
    1 cup fruit — I used mixed NW berries (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and marionberries) that were frozen.  I let them sit out of the freezer on the counter for 10 min before adding to batter
    1 cup buttermilk
    1/2 lemon, squeezed
    1 teaspoon of lemon zest

    Preheat oven to 375°.

    Mix together flour, b. powder, b soda and sugar.   Add COLD cubed butter to bowl and mix until the butter and flour mixture are the texture of coarse cornmeal.   I also sometimes use my fingers to incorporate the butter mixture.  Then add buttermilk and fruit and lemon zest & juice, mixing on the lowest speed until the dough just comes together.

    Turn out onto a lightly floured surface piece of parchment and knead gently a couple times. Pat dough with your palms so it is roughly flat and the same  thickness.  Then cut into squares but dont separate the dough. Cut those squares again on the diagonal, creating triangles. Sprinkle with coarse sugar, if you’re using it on top.

    Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until lightly browned.

    Best fresh from the oven, warm and fruity.

    Best served around here with french press coffee steaming in your mug, underneath a blanket while catching up on your DVR.


    the Calzone October 20, 2010

    Filed under: food — ravennagirls @ 11:54 am

     It is really the perfect food.  Yummy dough with cheese and sauce and veggies and meat all inside a little pocket.  We have been making these a lot over the past few months.  Not only are they delish, they make excellent dinners to take to friends who are sick or have babies or just need a little something yummy in their house! 

    The Calzone begins with regular ol pizza dough.  So yes, you can make pizza with this.  Now, in full disclosure…. Up until about a year and a half ago I used to buy Trader Joe’s pizza dough. I THOUGHT dough would be too hard to make and their dough was decent.  Making your own dough is, in my opinion, cheaper and much more delicious AND EASY! 


    1 teaspoon active/instant yeast
    3 cups flour, plus more to roll out…
    2 teaspoons coarse  salt
    2-3 pinches of sugar
    1  cups room temperature water
    2 -3 tablespoons olive oil
    Combine the yeast, flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. (I do this with my kitchen aide and a dough hook attachment.  I believe food processor works too.  Or, your hand and a mixing spoon, although then you must make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients to dump the wet ingredients into..)
     Slowly add oil as you mix.  Then slowly add the water (again, the dough hook takes care of the slow mixing part of this.  Basically you want a slow incorporation between the dry and wet ingredients..)
    The mixture should start to come together and form a ball.  It will be sticky if you touch it, but not too wet that it glues to your hand (add more flour if so) OR too dry that it won’t stick together really well (add more water).
    Then, after the dough is a ball, leave it in a big bowl.  Place a dishtowel over the top.  Place the bowl somewhere it can get a bit of heat.. (I have used a window sill, the top of my oven while I am baking something, on top of the heating vent… although the vent location makes the towel blow off so I have to rubber band that on.)  If nothing is noticeably warmer, your dough will still rise …It will just take a long time (like overnight).  With a little heat help, my dough has usually doubled in 3-4 hours. 
    Once it has doubled, take your fist and punch the air out.  I have left the dough as long as 24 hours out of the fridge.  Usually after I punch the dough I either use it or put the whole bowl in the fridge with the towel on top.  It will last in the fridge with the towel for a day (and will rise some more too..) or in a sealed tupperware for as long as 5 days.  If I cannot eat enough pizza before then, I freeze it.  Before using any dough I bring it to room temperature otherwise it is very difficult to roll out. 

    {ball of dough all ready to roll!}
    This recipe gets me 5 medium-sized calzones usually
    or two good-sized pizzas.  I tend to really roll my calzone dough thin though, but my pizza dough I am less concerned with.  And by “good-sized pizza” I mean occupies most surface area of a cookie sheet in a somewhat elliptical shape. : )

    For calzones — After you roll the dough out, place all the ingredients on one half of the dough and fold the other size over the toppings.   You can stuff them with just about anything.  My basic rule is:

    Cheeses + Sauce + Topping

    (just think of the possibilities here…. YUM!)

    I then use a fork to press down all edges.  I also use a fork to poke holes in the top of the dough so the calzone does not explode.   (I have also been known to use my fork prongs to differentiate a “M”eat calzone from a “V”eggie.. or the first letter of a new baby’s name….)

    {a whole bunch of calzones ready for parchment paper wrappings and delivery!}
    They cook for 22-25 min at 375 degrees –until there are golden brown edges.
    For pizza I simply load all my ingredients on and pop in the oven.  12-14 min on 360… and the edges are nicely golden.

    The best way to give these away is by wrapping them in a piece of parchment paper.  All the recipient has to do is unwrap and lay the parchment paper flat on a baking sheet and place the calzone on top.  The calzone will never stick and clean up involves tossing the used parchment paper.



    slaw: two ways August 3, 2010

    Filed under: food,Uncategorized — ravennagirls @ 9:20 pm
    Tags: , , ,

    Over the last 3-4 weeks, we have had a lot of cabbage around the house. Its been coming like gangbusters in our CSA box which is actually sort of nice because it spoils less quickly than some of the other greens.

    For a get together at our place a couple of weeks ago, D asked me to make a slaw to go with some grilled meats and veggie kabobs that we’d be serving. I made use of the green cabbage that our CSA box had delivered, baby fennel (also from the CSA), along with carrots, broccoli (leftover from kabobs), and walla walla sweet onions. I knew I wanted to find a new yogurt based dressing option for a couple of reasons. I don’t really like mayo, firstly. Also, its always nice to cut a few calories where you can and explore some lighter textures that you might not always see with typical southern cole slaw I had seen Giada make Perfectly Crunchy Slaw on her show a month back, so decided to start with that recipe.

    Fresh, summery ingredients

    Crunchy Yogurt Dressed Slaw

    Adapted from Giada De Laurentis Perfectly Crunchy Slaw


    1/2 green cabbage, shredded, about 2 cups

    2 medium carrots, peeled and grated/sliced (in food processor)

    1/2 sweet onion, sliced

    2-3 baby fennel bulbs, thinly sliced, about 1/2 cup

    1/2 cup dried cranberries

    1 1/2 cups plain yogurt

    2 tablespoons sour cream

     3 tablespoons honey

    1 tablespoon lemon juice

    2 cloves garlic, minced

    1 teaspoon kosher salt

    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


    Use a food processor with slicing blade to shred cabbage, carrots, broccoli, and sweet onion (this takes literally 4 minutes, its awesome). Baby Fennel will need to be chopped by hand.

    In a large bowl, mix together the cabbages, carrots, fennel, endive, cranberries and pine nuts. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, sour cream, honey, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss well until coated.

    Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.


    Light, crunchy: summer in a bowl (and vitamins too!)

    Then, last week our book club continued our summer tradition of picking a book on food writing (complete with recipes), then having a potluck dinner of different flavors. We read David Lebovitz’s Sweet Life in Paris. Once I stumbled upon Peanut Slaw i knew i had my recipe. I love love LOVE peanut sauce in all forms and i LOVE slaw, so it was the perfect combination. This is a delicious different spin on cole slaw, but its a really nice change of pace and its tangy and wonderful. (Note: this recipe isn’t very photogenic, so I didn’t bother, ha! I mean, its cabbage doused in peanut dressing, and it looks pretty much like you’d imagine. But make it. Despite its appearance, its delicious. I had it twice this week). David Lebovitz is primarily a pastry chef, but you can find more of his recipes including savory ones here.

    Peanut Slaw

    David Lebovitz


    1/4 c. smooth peanut butter (I used crunchy, i know, maverick)

    1 garlic clover, peeled and finely chopped

    2 tbsp peanut oil

    3 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice

    1 tbsp soy sauce

    1 tbsp water

    1/2 c. roasted, unsalted peanuts

    1 small bunch radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced

    1 carrot, peeled and shredded

    1/2 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley or cilantro, chopped

    6 cups green or red cabbage (DL cautions against using napa cabbage whose leaves are thin and will wilt quickly with the acidic dressing)

    Coarse Salt


    In a large bowl, mix peanut butter, garlic, peanut oil, lime juice, soy sauce, and water until smooth.

    Toss in the peanuts, radishes, carrot, parsley, and cabbage, mixing until everythings coated. Taste, then add a bit of salt and another squeeze of lime, if necessary.

    Make these both! They’re a great way to incorporate veggies into a side in a simple fresh and delicious way.