Baked Ravioli with Pesto, Artichokes, and Chicken Sausage

Welp, it’s been two months since I last blogged. Woops? I guess? I can’t really explain the absence, probably a combination of hating winter and blog fatigue. But! Here I am, back with a super easy, tasty dish that I whipped up in under 30 minutes.

A little while back I was contacted by Giovanni Rana about sampling some of their fresh pastas and sauces. I was sent some of their fresh raviolis, pasta, and sauces since they are now selling their products in grocery stores in Maine (I saw them at Hannaford near the deli department). I’ve sample a few of their products, and they all taste fresh and quite tasty. I used their Artichoke Ravioli and Basil Pesto for this recipe, which was delicious, but feel free to make your own!

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I love the combination of flavors here. The acidity of the artichoke plays nicely off the richness of the pasta and cheese, and the strong flavor of the basil and garlic in the pesto. The chicken sausage adds protein and a savory bite. I baked it for a mock lasagna, but you could skip that step.

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Baked Ravioli with Pesto, Artichokes, and Chicken Sausage
Serves 3-4

Ingredients
1 12 ounce package of ravioli (I used Giovanni Rana Artichoke)
1 14 ounce can artichoke hearts (you could also use fresh or frozen)
2 chicken sausages (I used a sun-dried tomato flavor)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup of pesto (I used Giovanni Rana)
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
fresh basil for topping

1.) Heat a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Preheat oven to 375*F.

2.) While waiting for pans and oven to heat, drain your artichokes and roughly chop them. Set aside. Slice your chicken sausages into 1/4″ disks.

3.) Add the oil to the pan and add the sausages. Cook for a 3-4 minutes, to get some color on them. Add the artichoke hearts and sautee for another minute or two.

4.) When the water is boiling, add the ravioli. Cook one minute under the suggested cooking time on the package since you’ll be baking them. Drain.

5.) Combine the drained ravioli, artichokes, and sausage in a mixing bowl. Stir in the pesto. Place the mixture in a baking dish and top with the parmesan cheese.

6.) Bake for about 10-15 minutes, until a little bubbly. I also broiled it for a couple minutes to brown the parmesan a bit.

7.) Serve with a sprinkle of fresh basil.

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Green Juice – Without a Juicer

I’m totally jumping on the “let’s make up for all the Christmas cookies and glasses of champagne we consumed in December and drink liquified greens in January!” train. But, to my credit, I’ve been drinking green smoothies for years. Typically, half a frozen banana, a few frozen berries, some kale, yogurt, etc. This isn’t new territory for me, but I thought I’d mix it up with a little “juice” this time.

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The problem? I don’t own a juicer, and I don’t really want to. I have enough dang appliances. The solution: blend and strain my friends, blend and strain. Simply blend your assortment of produce with water as long as you can stand the buzz saw noise, then pass the green gold throw a fine mesh strainer to remove the larger pieces of pulp. Huzzah! Green juice, sorta.

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After drinking my juice one morning, I felt as though I could tackle the world. See this tweet for evidence:

juice tweetSo, do it my friends! Pulverize your greens; feel like a super hero! You’re not perfect, but this juice sort of is, so you’ll feel like a good and righteous person after consuming it. Happy January!

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Green Juice – Without a Juicer
*serves one

Ingredients
1 heaping cup of kale leaves (packed)
1 heaping cup of baby spinach (or regular spinach) leaves (packed)
1 orange, peeled and segmented
1.5 cups of water
minced fresh ginger to taste, I use about one teaspoon because I’m a big fan
1-2 stevia packets, or honey to taste
optional: 1/8 teaspoon xantham gum (a natural thickener and emulsifier, this keeps the juice together)

1.) Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until totally combined. With my blender, it takes a minute or two.

2.) Place a fine mesh strainer over a small mixing bowl. Pour small amounts of the juice through the strainer. Use a spatula to work the juice through, mashing the the pulp a bit to extract the juice. Scrape off the pulp between each batch.

3.) Serve your juice super cold, I like mine with lots of ice and a straw.

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Chambray and Tweed

Whoopsie! Unintentional month-long blog break. Something about the holidays, a touch of what might be Seasonal Affective Disorder (I’ve been taking Vitamin D and I’m considering a Happy Light), and a lack of inspiration and I somehow vacated my little blog here. Ok, I’ll try to be better – let’s do this thing!

These pictures were obviously taken some time ago. Why is that so obvious? Because there is not two thousand feet of snow on the ground, that’s why. Ok, more like a foot or so, but still.

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Brown tweed skirt: H&M (old)
Chambray shirt: Banana Republic (old)
Brown tights: J.Crew
Tan suede booties: Audrey Brooke (DSW) (old)
Orange necklace: vintage

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One sure fire way to brighten my mood is with a punch of a bright citrus color, like this vintage necklace. I love these orange beads, and think they really complement chambray – like a little wink and a nod to South West style.

How do you combat the winter blues?

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Port Town Punch Cocktail

At the heart of it, I’m a wine girl. Ok, a champagne girl, more specifically. However, every so often the mood strikes and I’m in the mood for something a little boozy. Historically I’m not much for dark liquors – you can keep your straight whiskey and scotch, thank you very much. However, I have had a cocktail or two featuring bourbon, which I enjoyed, so I thought I’d try making a little cocktail perfect for the holidays.

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I based this concoction on a recipe for the Bardstown Sling (in this post, second one down). However, I wanted a touch of sweetness, so I doctored it up a bit with a lime simple syrup to counter the bitter, un-sweetened cranberry juice.

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You should totally shake up a couple of these for your next holiday party. OR, like me, on a random Saturday night at home with a special someone. Get festive, y’all!

Port Town Punch Cocktail
* makes two cocktails, with extra lime simple syrup
* based on this Cold Glass recipe

Cocktail Ingredients
2 shots of Bourbon (I used Maker’s Mark)
1 shot of Triple Sec
2 shots of un-sweetened cranberry juice
lime simple syrup to taste (I used 1 tablespoon)
ice

Lime Simple Syrup Ingredients
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup water
zest from one lime

1.) Prep the lime simple syrup in advance by combining the sugar, water and lime in a small pot. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Strain the syrup through a fine sieve (to remove the zest) and store in the fridge.

2.) For the cocktails, combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with a few cubes of ice. Shake for a minute or so to combine and chill.

3.) Strain the cocktail into two festive glasses, I used antique champagne coups.

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Maine necklace

When I got home from work and found a box from Turtle Love Co in my mailbox I was pretty pumped. Hooray for pretty mail! They sent it to me as a member of their Vintage Style Council. It was a sweet thank you for writing some blog posts for them and helping to model some vintage engagement rings in a fun photo shoot. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but was thrilled to bits to find a Maine state necklace nestled in a sweet little box.

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Love it! I’ve had it on pretty much non-stop for the past few days, so simple, and great for layering too.

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The snazzy news is that you can save 20% off of TLC exclusive necklaces (the mother and baby animal necklaces, state necklaces, and initial necklaces). Just use the coupon code sweetersalt now through December 10.

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Green suede skirt: vintage
Navy boots: vintage
Gray cardigan: Uniqlo
Watch: Kenneth Cole
Sun glasses: Chloe

Do you have enough state pride to wear it around your neck? I’m kind of hoping they come out with a New Hampshire necklace so I can represent my home state too!

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Buy your SWAP Soiree Tickets at the Portland Flea-For-All this weekend!

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The SWAPmaine SWAP Soiree is next Wednesday, December 5 – oh em gee! You can still purchase tickets online, just click here. However, if you’re into doing a little local holiday shopping this weekend, and you want to save on the service fee, just go to the Portland Flea-For-All to buy your tickets in person!

The Flea is a pretty amazing place, somewhere I plan to do some serious holiday shopping. They’re an indoor flea market with vendors selling art and handmade goods, vintage clothing and accessories, jewelry, furniture, and much more.

To purchase your tickets in person, just stop by the Portland Flea-For-All on Saturday or Sunday from 10:00am to 5:00pm. They are located at 125 Kennebec Street (on the corner of Elm Street) in Portland. Plenty of free parking is available.

You know you wanna!

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Turkey Stuffed Acorn Squash with Curry and Cheddar

If you’re like me you’re still working through a tub of leftover Thanksgiving turkey. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but I’m still trying to figure out how to use it up. This recipe was a good one – my giant stack of poultry diminished and we were left fed and happy. We’re big curry lovers in my house, and I have a deep seeded need to cover things in shredded cheese, so it worked out.

The spice from the curry powder, as well as some garlic, cinnamon, and black pepper gives it some kick. The raisins accentuate the natural sweetness of the squash and the sharp cheddar feeds my love of all things cheese. Go grab your rapidly aging turkey and give this a try!

Turkey Stuffed Acorn Squash with Curry and Cheddar
* serves two

Ingredients
1 acorn squash
1 cup cooked turkey (or chicken)
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock (or water)
1/4 cup cheddar cheese
1 tsp. earth balance or oil
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp. curry
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
salt to taste

1.)Heat oven to 400*F.

2.) Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out insides with a spoon. Cut a small sliver of the skin off the bottom of each half (so it will stand up easily when flipped over). Place the halves cut-side down in a baking dish, and pour enough water to come up half an inch or so on the squash. Bake for 45 minutes, or until tender.

3.) Meanwhile, heat a small pot to medium low heat. Add earth balance. Cook garlic for one minute, then add curry, cinnamon and black pepper. Cook another one minute, then add the stock. Stir in raisins and turkey. Keep warm over low heat, covered. Taste and add salt if needed.

4.) When the squash is baked remove from the oven and drain the water. Flip them over so the cut side is facing up. Sprinkle the inside of each half with a bit of salt. Spoon in the turkey mixture evenly. Top with cheddar cheese and bake until melted, about five minutes. You can also broil it, just watch it carefully.

5.) Optional: make sure your puggle doesn’t steal your squash as you’re photographing it.

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