Pumpkin Ravioli Soup

Pumpkin Ravioli Soup

October is our annual “go buy all things pumpkin from Trader Joe’s” month. Each year we pick up a variety of pumpkin goods ranging from pumpkin bagels to canned pumpkin to pumpkin ice cream. Our new favorite are the Pumpkin Joe Joe’s, pumpkin sandwich cookies with a pumpkin cream filling.

Inspired by the variety of pumpkin goods at Trader Joe’s, I came up with this recipe for Pumpkin Ravioli Soup. Made entirely of ingredients purchased from Trader Joe’s, the pumpkin gives the soup a creamy texture. Using the prepared ingredients also makes this a quick dinner to cook.

Prepared Honey Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli makes this soup a quick dinner to cook
Prepared Honey Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli makes this soup a quick dinner to cook

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 oz Trader Joe’s mirepoix (pre-diced celery, carrots, onions)
  • 2 Trader Joe’s sun dried tomato and basil chicken sausages
  • 14.5 oz can Trader Joe’s diced and fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon Trader Joe’s South African Smoke seasoning blend
  • 8 oz Trader Joe’s organic pumpkin
  • 15 oz can Trader Joe’s cannellini beans
  • 32 oz Trader Joe’s organic free range chicken stock
  • 8 oz Trader Joe’s kale
  • 1 package Trader Joe’s Honey Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli
  • Trader Joe’s pumpkin cornbread croutons
  • Salt

In a 5 quart pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, but not smoking, add in the mirepoix and stir until the onions become translucent, about 3 minutes. Remove the sausages from their casing. Discard the casing and add the sausage to the mirepoix, breaking it up into small chunks as it cooks. Cook the mirepoix and sausage until the sausage is no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Add in the can of fire roasted tomatoes and the South African Smoke seasoning and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. Add in the canned pumpkin and stir until the pumpkin dissolves into the mixture, then add in the beans. Carefully stir the mixture while pouring in the chicken stock. Bring the soup to a boil,  then reduce the heat to low. Let the soup simmer for 15 minutes. Add the kale and stir until wilted. Add in the pumpkin ravioli and cook for 3 minutes. Salt to taste and serve the soup topped with a handful of pumpkin cornbread croutons.

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Cornbread Croutons
Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Cornbread Croutons

The soup has a slight kick to it from the fire roasted tomatoes and South African Smoke seasoning, so substitute regular diced tomatoes and curry power or paprika if you prefer a milder soup.

Pumpkin Ravioli Soup
Pumpkin Ravioli Soup
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Pimento Cheese Love

I should probably start by saying that this post is not sponsored by Sweet Grass Dairy and I did not receive any products from them for this endorsement. I just really like their cheese and thought I would share some of my favorite ways to serve it.

Pimento cheese. Not normally something I would say I like. Growing up, those sandwiches with the bright yellow/orange filling and the little red bits weirded me out. I also don’t really like mayonnaise. It wasn’t until I (reluctantly) tried the pimento cheese at Sweet Grass Dairy that I fell in love.

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The first time I tried this pimento cheese was at a wine and cheese tasting. It was tucked into a deviled egg. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t like it, but I didn’t want to say so until I gave it a try. And I was pleasantly surprised.

The pimento cheese at Sweet Grass Dairy has great texture and flavor. It is creamy, tangy, and slightly spicy with just enough mayo to hold together the delicious Thomasville Tomme cheese and Piquillo peppers. Oh my. This pimento cheese is perfect on crackers, on crusty bread, in a deviled egg, or by itself on a spoon (don’t judge!). More than once, I’ve gone to a potluck with a tub of this cheese and a sleeve of crackers and there is never any leftover at the end of the night.

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Our favorite way to eat Sweet Grass Dairy pimento cheese is on bread, open-faced and topped with a pickled green tomato slice. We serve these yummy open-faced sammies alongside a simple salad dressed with olive oil and vinegar.

I highly doubt I would like any pimento cheese other than this one. We try to get up to Thomasville every few weeks and you can be sure whenever we are there, I come home with a tub of this cheese and plans for a simple, delicious dinner.

If you are interested in trying this yummy cheese and don’t like anywhere near Thomasville, you can order it online here: http://sweetgrassdairy.com/products.

SRSLY Chocolate

With the redevelopment of the Gaines Street corridor, All Saints District, and Railroad Square in Tallahassee underway, many funky little local shops and cottage industries have begun to take hold in that area of town. One of these industries is SRSLY, a local chocolate confectionery. SRSLY describes themselves as “bean-to-bar chocolate entrepreneurs” who begin with organic and fair trade cacao beans and end up with bar of chocolate that “preserve the beans’ distinctive flavors.”

Intrigued by this concept and wanting to support Tallahassee’s cottage industries, I decided to splurge and pick up a few bars of chocolate.

My first taste of SRSLY chocolate was their Strawberry Balsamic Truffles, a creation that immediately peaked my flavor imagination.

Box of SRSLY Strawberry Balsamic Truffles
Box of SRSLY Strawberry Balsamic Truffles

Slowly taking my first bite of a Strawberry Balsamic Truffle, the slight give to the chocolate coat gave way to an initial flavor of dark chocolate, followed by a velvety (and ever so slightly gritty) strawberry infused chocolate center, and a subtle balsamic finish. While it would be easy for the strawberry or the balsamic flavors to dominate the taste of this type of confection, the dark chocolate (70% cacao) remained the leading flavor in this very enjoyable chocolate morsel.

SRSLY Truffle
SRSLY Strawberry Balsamic Truffle Filling

My second exposure to SRSLY chocolates was a Sea Salt and Almond chocolate bar.

SRSLY Chocolate Bar
SRSLY Sea Salt+Almond Chocolate Bar

The first thing I noticed tasting the Sea Salt and Almond chocolate bar was the delightfully smokey flavor profile, pervasive throughout the entire bite of chocolate.

SRSLY Sea Salt+Almond Bar
Chocolate with Sea Salt and Almonds

In addition to the smokey flavor, the chocolate bar was made more interesting by its texture. The almonds and flakes of of sea salt both provide the chocolate bar with a nice crunch. Unlike other bars I’ve had before, the almonds in the SRSLY chocolate did not get soft and chewy. The SRSLY chocolate bar also let the sea salt do what salt does best – enhance the other flavors in the bar – without the salt becoming a flavor itself.

SRSLY chocolate is currently available at several local venues in Tallahassee, including New Leaf Market where I bought mine. The SRSLY website also appears to be in the process of setting in an online store where people can order their chocolates. However you procure your tastings of SRSLY chocolate, you should indulge soon. SRSLY.

Cult of the Rooster (Sauce)

A few days ago I took a photo of my hand holding a bottle of Huy Fong Sriracha sauce (Rooster Sauce) using Instagram. I didn’t think much of the photo at the time, but since posting it, I’ve received a surprising amount of feedback. A few people commented on Instagram and on Facebook, but several other people have told me in person how much they love Sriracha. I have enjoyed the garlicky, vinegary hot chili sauce for years. I’ve used it as a condiment, as a major ingredient, and as a substitute for hot sauce. I’m not sure how large of a the cult following rooster sauce currently has, but we always welcome new members.

Banana Peanut Butter Chip Pancakes

Banana pancakes are one of my favorite weekend breakfasts, but I do not make them often because Jill and I go out bicycling most Saturday mornings. A couple of weekends ago, we decided to take a Saturday off from bicycling and make brunch instead. With a box of Trader Joe’s Multigrain Baking and Pancake Mix in the pantry and a couple of bananas ready to be eaten, I decided to make banana pancakes for Saturday brunch.

For a tasty variation on more traditional banana pancakes, I substituted almond milk for the milk in the pancake recipe on the Trader Joe’s Multigrain Baking and Pancake Mix package to give the pancakes a slightly nuttier flavor. I then ladled the prepared pancake mix onto a hot griddle and dropped slices of banana and peanut butter chips onto the individual pancakes as they cooked. I flipped the pancakes over long enough to brown the natural sugars in the bananas and make sure the pancakes were cooked.

Pancakes with bananas and peanut butter chips
Pancakes with bananas and peanut butter chips

Cooking pancakes with almond milk and bananas gave them a taste almost reminiscent of banana bread. The hot skillet cooked the pancakes while softening the bananas and brining out their sweetness. The peanut butter chips, although decadent, proved to be a natural pairing with the bananas. The peanut butter chips also reminded me of another type of pancake I remembered loving as a kid – chocolate chip pancakes.

Banana peanut butter chip pancakes, turkey sausage, and hot coffee
Saturday brunch

Complemented with turkey sausage patties and a hot cup of coffee, these banana peanut butter chip pancakes made for a great Saturday brunch.

WHD Goes Grocery Shopping

I’m back! I pretty much ceded control of the blog to Artie while I was finishing my doctoral residency the past few months (24 credit hours in 12 months = very challenging) so I’m happy to have a few weeks between semesters to make up for my lack of summer posting. First up: a glimpse at a typical White House Dinners (WHD) trip to the grocery store:

Let’s face it – most of the food Artie and I eat goes undocumented on our blog (and honestly, a lot of what we eat is the same day to day and not worth extensive commentary). So knowing that most of what we eat is unpictured and not from a recipe, I thought it would be fun to show you what we subsist off of week to week. These pictures were taken a few weeks back. This was a pretty big grocery trip since both Artie and I had been out of town and the fridge was bare. We alternate our shopping between Publix, EarthFare, and New Leaf, depending upon what we need/want and what is on sale. This particular trip was to EarthFare.

Produce:

Usually the biggest component of our weekly grocery trips. The mushrooms and spinach were incorporated into a weeknight dinner (frozen gnocci, marinara sauce, spinach, and mushrooms – it was delish!). The greens were on sale (3 for $10) so I stocked up and ate a lot of salads that week. I eat at least one kind of fruit for lunch and another for snack every day. These were my three favorites at the time (at least two of which were in season…and one of which traveled here from around the world but that is another story for another post).

Dairy:

Artie puts milk on his cereal daily and I like to prepare my oatmeal with milk (it makes it nice and creamy). The Organic Valley is a great creamer. It has a hint of vanilla flavor without being overwhelming and the ingredients are so simple. My obsession with Greek yogurt is obvious. I eat one almost every day. Chobani is my affordable standby, Siggis is my decadent splurge (only available at EarthFare), and Greek Gods was a brand I hadn’t tried before (not much of a fan, in case you were wondering). Maybe one day I will do a Greek yogurt review for the blog…

Freezer items:

Our freezer is stocked with frozen veggies and freezer meals made from scratch (currently on hand are lasagna, peach curry, vegetable soup, and white chicken chili). We were (and are still) harboring a LOT of peach items from the Great Peach Cooking/Baking Fest of 2011 so I kept the freezer purchases light – one commercial frozen meal (I like to have at least one on hand for a go-to lunch or dinner) and some cutie patootie frozen waffles that looked like they would be a fun weekend breakfast.

Dry goods:

Finally the dry goods. I don’t often purchase dry goods because (for better or for worse) most of my favs are exclusively at Trader Joe’s). This means every few months we stock up on TJ’s staples (almond butter, cereal, pasta sauce, condiments) and the rest of our dry good purchases are limited to beans, snacks, and baking staples. I’m in love with Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks (but only Sunny Citrus flavor). They are especially easy to eat during a long bike ride (maybe I’ll do a post on cycling fuel one day, too). I usually don’t buy oatmeal in such a large quantity but that was the best deal at EarthFare.

Other household staples include brown rice, hummus, La Croix, local organic cheese, low-fat sour cream, butter, canned beans, and coffee. So there you have it – this give you insight into what we typically eat week to week.

What are the grocery staples in your household?

Burger Night!

Although we do not eat much meat at home, one of my favorite foods will always be a thick, juicy cheeseburger. Jill, on the other hand, does not eat any red meat at all (well, maybe she will steal a small bite of bacon from my plate on occasion). Despite the general lack of red meat in our home, I figured it was time to light up the grill and kick off the summer season with some delicious burgers.

While in her office a few weeks ago, my co-worker, Erin, gave Earth Fare’s bison and smoked gouda burgers rave reviews and insisted that I buy some and grill them. So, I did. The burger was made with bright red ground bison meat and shredded smoked gouda cheese. The burger was visibly fresh. For Jill I was hoping for a fresh salmon burger or a fresh turkey burger. Not offering these options at Earth Fare, I settled on some Blue Horizon Wild salmon burgers from the freezer case.

Burgers and veggies on the grill
Burgers and veggies on the grill

To go with the burgers, I grilled one golden zucchini from my garden and an eggplant. I chopped the grilled veggies up, mixed them with a freshly diced tomato, and seasoned them with some herbs de Provence to make a ratatouille-inspired salad. I also made kale chips out of some sesame kale from the Earth Fare deli.

The bison and gouda burger was as delicious as Erin promised it would be. Topped with a little spinach and some ketchup, and served on a ciabatta roll, the burger was better than any burger I’ve has in a very long time. The smoked gouda mixed into the meat really added to the flavor of the burger. I didn’t try the salmon burger, but it looked good and Jill said it was tasty. I cannot think of any better way to welcome in the summer than burgers and vegetables on the grill.

Burgers with ratatouille inspired salad and kale chips
Burgers with ratatouille inspired salad and kale chips