Pumpkin Ravioli with Sour Cream Sauce

Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - 
Pumpkin never goes out of season. I know this isn't just my opinion. Others clearly think the same. Examples include:
  • The sheer cry of "OMG, pumpkin spiced lattes are back!" as people enter the stores. Let's be honest though...real fans know the release date...it shouldn't surprise anyone.
  • Getting upset and vocally saying to a server at Cheesecake Factory "what do you mean you don't have pumpkin cheesecake yet? It is September after all!"  Settling for red velvet should never be a crime, but sometimes...
  • Getting concerned that a pumpkin shortage may strike again.
  • Having your husband say, "you talk like pumpkins have feelings." when you express how sad you are that some pumpkin don't get to leave the patch.
Clearly, I'm not saying these are prime examples of my behavior, but this gal does love her squash.

Surprising, being November 28, we still have fresh sage in the herb pot on our porch. Yes, we are the ones who haven't dug up the plants, or dried them for future use. We just let the parsley and sage be fall rock stars to say the least. I've utilized the sage on a weekly basis, not wanting to waste anything. But this projected snow may change all of that. It may be time to let go.Until then, I'll continue with the winter sage.

A classic preparation of pumpkin is pasta. Ravioli to be more specific. Normally, I make a brown butter and sage sauce for the rich ravioli, but this time around I tried something a bit different. We had sour cream in the fridge and I thought, "why not?"

Instructions and Ingredients
  1. Grab a pack of wontons or make your own pasta - whatever you are in the mood for. This time around, I grabbed wontons simply because I had them.
  2. Make or buy pumpkin puree. Take about a cup, add some spices (really, this is up to - think a bit of red pepper flakes, a dash of pepper, etc.) and a few fresh sage leaves chopped up. Simple.
  3. Make the ravioli by spooning about a teaspoon of the filling into a wonton wrapper and folding nicely (or messy - really up to you).
  4. Add ravioli to a boiling pot of salted water and cook until done - a few minutes will be perfect.
  5. While the ravioli are cooking, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and add 1/2 a cup of sour cream. Add some garlic powder, pepper and a chopped sage leaf and let it all come together to form a sauce. Serve over pasta, and sprinkle with some Parmesan and fried sage leaves if you'd like.
The pasta filling made around 3 dozen for me. We had some that night, freezed the rest (without the sauce) and had them a different night with leftovers for the next day.  The sauce above is enough for two servings - about a dozen raviolis. Make to your liking and tweak as you feel is appropriate by all means.

And then raise your fist and say "live on pumpkin. Live on."

An Inspirational Boat Ride

Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - 
Have you ever gone on a trip with high expectations, only to have them exceeded?  That is exactly what happened during my trip with the Sigma Kappa Foundation while in Maine.  In addition to spending a great morning in Waterville at Colby College, we were able to continue our pilgrimage to Bar Harbor.

Many people vacation in Bar Harbor.  The beautiful coast, all the lobster you can eat, and a community of friendly people.  But we weren't there just to take in all those great things.  We were there to experience the Maine Sea Coast Mission. A not for profit organization that helps the Maine coastal and island communities through a variety of programs, including youth development, medical assistance, and what Sigma Kappas know best, their Christmas program.

We spent the first part of our afternoon on the Sunbeam.  Yes, for all the SK ladies out there, THE Sunbeam.  Sunbeam 5 to be exact.  This glorious boat is more than a boat.  It is a sign of hope for communities across the coast.  A sign of inspiration to the people on the islands and in the communities.  To spend a few hours on this exceptional piece of inspiration was, well, inspiring.

This is your captain speaking...
Well, this is really your captain speaking. Thanks Mike!
I didn't know what to expect out of the boat, but it exceeded any thought I could have had.  It was roomy and full of capabilities that could help make lives better.  A powerful staff was on board - one full of a desire to help those around. You couldn't help but smile and feel like a part of their family. They were accommodating, welcoming, friendly and energizing. I learned so much about the organization I have supported for the past 11 years (and one that Sigma Kappa Foundation and Sorority have for 100 years!).  Thanks isn't enough to show the gratitude I feel for these men and women who serve this community.

And did I mention that one of the staff members, Pat, is an amazing cook?  Thanks for allowing me to continue my lobster mission with those fantastic lobster rolls - thanks Pat!

The experience on the Sunbeam is one I will never forget.  The staff was amazing, the experience was epic.  And knowing all of it is done for a cause that is larger than I thought is a cherry on top.  After a few hours we headed back to shore to spend sometime at the headquarters.  More to come on this...

(More) Stomping

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - 
A quick photo wasn't all that I would supply you with from my last post.  Absolutely not!  I took so many photos during my trip to Colby College in Waterville, ME that I did want to share more with you.  Photo recap...and go!

 These are photos of Coburn dormitory - named after one of SK's founders.

A group of 23 of us wandered our way around the Northeastern university located in Waterville, Maine.  We found two dorms named after two of our founders - Mary Low Carver and Louise Helen Coburn.  Plaques showcasing a bit of our history adorned buildings, for these women were extraordinary.  In the late 1800's, sometimes extraordinary was overshadowed.  Prime example, Carver was first in her class but she wasn't allowed to speak at graduation because she was a woman.  But this didn't stop these women from excelling.

Photos of Mary Low Carver's dormitory, another SK founder! 

When documents are kept on something or someone, you once again know they are extraordinary.  We were surprised by visiting the library and discovering all of these great photos and documents showcasing the Alpha chapter and founders.  A big thank you to the Sigma Kappa Foundation for working with the archivist at the library and making this possible.

A collage of just a few photos and documents from Colby's library.  

I'm not kidding when I say this.  The national president and I squealed when we walked into the room.  I got goosebumps. I felt water rising in my eyes (though it didn't come out).  Words can't describe how honored I am to have experienced this.

These two are my favorites.  Why?  Because we all know so many photos from that time period were bland. No smiles. No sort of reaction.  These photos show sisterhood to me - the finest you can show in that period of time. They look casual, comfortable and laid back. Love it.

And one last photo - my wearing (okay, really holding) an Alpha badge created for Mary Low Carver!  If you are a SK, you can geek out now....just sayin'...  If not, just know this is pretty fantastic!

All of this is only the beginning.  For anyone who is part of the fraternal community, I know I don't have to explain how inspirational and moving it is to experience the roots of your organization.  Even as I experience my organization on a daily basis through work and volunteering, I was re-energized and left full of a new appreciation. 

And finally, a note for my readers - my apologies for being MIA.  A few of you who I know personally have definitely given me a friendly slap for not being around, but that doesn't mean I haven't been doing anything!  If anything, it means that I HAVE been extremely busy...so busy, that blogging has been put on the back burner.  But alas, I'm still cooking, traveling and entertaining life daily...I promise.  More to come soon!

Stomping Grounds

Wednesday, November 9, 2011 - 
I was extremely fortunate enough to make a pilgrimage to Colby College this past weekend.  This is an extremely special trip to me because it is where my national sorority was founded. Colby is the stomping grounds of my organization.

In 1874, five extraordinary women came together and from an idea and friendship, formed an organization.  I bet they had no idea that someday, over 145,000 women would be part of this 'small' group of theirs.  And I know they had absolutely no idea that I would be visiting their university 137 years later.

Happy Founders' Day to all of my Sigma Kappa sisters across the world!

Christmas in Maine

Monday, November 7, 2011 - 
After spending a few hours on the Sunbeam, the group headed over to the Maine Sea Coast Mission's headquarters.  The building took my breath away - a gracious donation to the organization left a historical building that houses amazing work and programs for the coastal communities.

Once a family's home, this three story mansion has amazing architecture and history of family and servants living together.  Not to mention, a view.  A gorgeous view of the ocean and Maine coastline.  Once again, it took my breath away.

The first floor has a variety of rooms with archives, a conference room and kitchen for the staff members.  The second, what was once the family bedrooms is now the staff offices.  And the third floor - the third floor is something quite special.

What was once the servants bedrooms is now rooms full of items for children, adults, prisoners, and other members of communities the Mission serves.  These items are used for the Christmas Program.  The Christmas Program brings joy to many people during the holiday season, and our group was more than happy to have the opportunity to help bundle, wrap and label gifts.

It may not seem like much to you, but these few hours were inspiring.  I feel the desire to give more, to help more.  This is a rewarding program for all the volunteers as well as the recipients.

The whole weekend was a whirlwind of an experience.  I met some amazing women that I'm proud to call my sisters.  I met a dedicated staff of a great organization and was able to give a little back.  And I was filled with with a desire to keep on giving.  I am honored to have been given this experience, and I am responsibility for sharing it with my sisters, my friends.  Pride doesn't even begin to describe what I feel about my Founders' and all that they have done for my organization.

Apple, Leek & Squash Gratin

Wednesday, November 2, 2011 - 
Despite Halloween being over, I'm glad I am still able to indulge in my favorite seasonal tastes.  There is something about comfort food in the fall.  From gathering a group of friends or enjoying it by yourself on a lazy Saturday. I know I say it often, but fall has the best flavors and makes everything homey and comforting.

I remember reading about a squash gratin a few months ago in Whole Living as I was prepping my palate for the colder weather.  I had an butternut squash, some apples and a few leeks in the pantry.  I did have red cooking wine, so I knew I could make my own version with some substitutions.  Plus, I didn't use as much of the apples or butternut squash and it turned out just fine (actually, quite delicious!)

  • 2 apples, thinly sliced (I used gala, but any baking red variety would work I imagine)
  • 1/2 of a butternut squash, about 1.5 pounds, sliced
  • 2 leek, cleaned and chopped, white part only
  • Fresh sage leaves 
  • Red Cooking Wine
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Clove of Garlic
Cook the leeks in a few tablespoons of olive oil with some garlic.  Once they were tender, add a few leaves of chopped sage and about 1/4 cup of the wine until it is evaporated.

In a baking dish, layer the squash in an even layer.  Top with the leeks and layer the apples over the leeks.  Next up, grate some Parmesan cheese over it all.  Bake this in a preheated 450 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and browned.  The squash/apples will be done if they are fork tender.

Hubs wasn't feeling it until he took a fork full.  He even ate the leftovers the next day, which means this was a successful dish in my opinion.  It would be a great side for Turkey Day I'm sure.  I may make it for our small gathering.  Delicious.

Fall Harvest Dinner

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 - 
When you have friends who can cook, you eat.  That's the rule.  My friends can cook.  Every year, Rachel & Josh host a group of friends to enjoy the tastes of fall.  A quick history lesson - a group of friends get together on an annual basis to celebrate the flavors of fall.  Delicious - my kind of thing for sure.  I happily taste as much as I can while I'm there, and this year was no different.

I wanted to share with you a few photos and comment on some of the delicious food.

Wild Mushroom Risotto - creamy, delicious and oh so perfect.  I had not one, but two servings.  Maybe this is because of my recent risotto kick?  Or maybe it was because it was just plain delicious.  Kudos Unrue brothers!

Pumpkin soup - when I saw the cans and cans of pumpkin puree, I knew Rachel was serving up her pumpkin soup.  Creamy, bursting with pumpkin flavor.  And bleu cheese crumbles and bacon don't hurt either.

Sweet potatoes - I can't tell you how much I love these.  I was first introduced to this specific recipe a few years ago and ate loads of it.  I did so again this time around.  Thank you Rachel!

Pork wrapped in pork - you heard me right, pork loin wrapped in pork.  I haven't crunched on pork belly like this before.  It caramelized so well when it was cooked, that a knife and fork weren't going to cut it, literally.  And my dear friends, that is not a complaint by any means.  The pork was a little more than medium and extremely tender.  Seasoned to perfection, this was a pig I would eat over and over again.  My friend Steven, you are nothing less than extremely gifted when it comes to pig!

And to top it all off, hubs supplied some quality ESB and premium bitter beer for the event.  It was a different batch from our BrewMile, but same type.  Delicious for sure - I'm married to one talented man that is for sure!

Another great Harvest Dinner.  My stomach was full and my heart content - good friends, great food and happiness of the season!  Thanks dear ones!