Chicken Spaghetti

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It’s a busy time of year so I figured for my final post of 2018 I’d share one of my favorite make-ahead, enjoy-now or freeze-for-later meals!

Who doesn’t love a good chicken spaghetti, right? It screams comfort food.  Will and I have a difference of opinion on mix-ins or toppings for this one as he, for some strange reason unbeknownst to me, does not enjoy mushrooms and black olives.  So, you’ll see in the recipe how we navigate that craziness 😉

This recipe makes a healthy amount, so I typically bake one smaller dish for dinner and pack another up in a foil pan to freeze for later.  In this case, we even loaded up some small foil loaf pans to freeze for grab-and-go lunch options.  I love having this recipe, in large or small amounts, on hand!

I hope that you have enjoyed the recipes I’ve shared throughout 2018.  I’d love to hear if you have made one or two, how you enjoyed them and what you would like to see into 2019!  For now – sending you best wishes and many blessings this Christmas season and into the New Year!

-Lindsey


Chicken Spaghetti

  • 1 ½ -2 lbs chicken, boiled & shredded -or- 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 poblano pepper, diced (optional)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz Velveeta, diced
  • 8 oz cream cheese, diced/softened
  • 2 cans “cream of” soup – use chicken, celery, mushroom; mix & match
  • 1 can Rotel
  • 1 small can black olives
  • 1 small can mushrooms
  • 16 oz spaghetti

Preheat your oven to 350.

To start, you can make this recipe even easier by using a store-bought rotisserie chicken, I’ve done that often.  This time however, I picked up a whole chicken when they were on special and boiled it before starting the spaghetti.  If you boil your chicken, simply cover the bird with water and then add whatever veggies and seasonings feel right!  This time, I tossed in a couple carrots, one onion quartered up, a couple bay leaves and some thyme, a bit of parsley left from another recipe, freshly ground black pepper and caldo de pollo.  Whatever you do, add in some caldo de pollo – or in other words, chicken bullion.  It will add a boost of flavor to your stock and we’re going to use that stock later down the road.  So heads up – save the stock!

Once cooked, pick and shred the chicken.  Remember – save the stock!

You can use a variety of peppers here – I like the colorful assortment here of poblano and small sweet red, yellow and orange bell peppers.  Dice them up along with an onion and a few cloves of garlic.  Saute the veggies until they are soft, seasoning with salt and pepper.

If you have a family of mushroom-loving people, add the mushrooms in with the veggies and let them cook a couple minutes as the veggies soften.  Since we are a house divided, I hold off on the mushrooms right here.

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As the veggies are cooking, cook the spaghetti to al dente – just so it has a little bit left to it as it will cook a little more as the dish bakes. If you boiled your chicken, strain the veggies and herbs out of the stock and then boil the spaghetti in the stock rather than plain water so the pasta takes in that delicious chicken flavor.  If you are using rotisserie chicken, add a little caldo de pollo (bullion) to the water when it comes up to boil.  This is your chance to flavor the pasta itself.  Important:  when you drain the spaghetti, reserve about a cup of the pasta water/stock.  We’re putting that stock to use today!

In a large bowl, combine the two cream soups, Rotel, olives, Velveeta and cream cheese.  If you are an H-E-B shopper, there is store brand cream of poblano soup that works very nicely here!  For the Velveeta, you can cube up a brick or, as you see below, the shreds work nicely as well.  You do want to be sure the cream cheese if softened so it stirs in nicely.  Give the mix a taste and season with salt and pepper, if needed. Again, I skip the olives here…

To the large bowl, add the shredded chicken and the cooked veggies.  Give it a really good stir so the warm veggies starts to melt and combine all the cheeses.

Add the cooked spaghetti and stir well again.  This mixture will be thick – add that reserved pasta water/stock a little at a time until you get the consistency you are after. You want it to be well mixed and that water/stock will help to get all the yummy cheese mixture coating every noodle.

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Spray either one 9×13 baking dish or two small dished with nonstick spray and fill ’em up! Here’s where my mushrooms and olives come into play – they go on top of “my half” 😉

For the baking dishes – cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.

For the freezing dishes – let cool completely and cover with plastic wrap and foil. Freeze until ready to enjoy!

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Don’t worry – Will totally missed all the olives and mushrooms in the above picture.  😉

What’s your favorite comfort meal and/or freezer meal?  Let me know what you think!


Full Recipe

Chicken Spaghetti

  • 1 ½ -2 lbs chicken, boiled & shredded -or- 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 poblano pepper, diced (optional)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz Velveeta, diced
  • 8 oz cream cheese, diced/softened
  • 2 cans “cream of” soup – use chicken, celery, mushroom; mix & match
  • 1 can Rotel
  • 1 small can black olives
  • 1 small can mushrooms
  • 16 oz spaghetti

*If you boil the chicken, save the stock to boil the spaghetti in

Preheat oven to 350.

Saute onions, bell pepper, poblano pepper and garlic until soft.

Add the mushrooms and saute a few minutes.

Boil spaghetti (in stock, if available) and cook to al dente.

Reserve about a cup of the pasta water/stock after cooking.

In a large bowl, combine cream soups, Rotel, olives, Velveeta and cream cheese.

Season to taste with s&p.

Stir in shredded chicken and onion mixture.

Add cooked spaghetti to chicken mixture.

Mix well as the cheeses melt.

Add reserved pasta water/stock as need to desired consistency – up to 1 cup.

Grease a large baking dish (or two small pans) with non-stick spray.

Pour chicken spaghetti into dish(es) and cover with foil.

Bake for 45 minutes.

If freezing:  Let cool completely, cover pan with plastic wrap and foil and freeze.  Bake, from frozen, covered with just foil, at 350 for 45-60 minutes.

Grillades

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Confession: I’m a little obsessed with Tabasco products right now.

Will and I made an escape last week to Lake Charles.  It’s a favorite quick getaway for us, typically involving a little gambling, floating a lazy river and a visit to our favorite restaurant.  This time, we also included a jog over to Avery Island to tour the Tabasco Visitor Center and Factory.  I’d never been and it had been quite some time since Will had visited.  It also just happens to be the 150th anniversary of the brand!

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We started in the museum and then wandered through five different buildings on the self-guided tour, learning all about how Tabasco products are made and distributed.  Did you know that the peppers picked when the match the exact color red of the  ‘le petite baton rouge’ and then aged in white oak barrels for up to three years?

After the tour, we had lunch at Restaurant 1868 and toured the neighboring Jungle Gardens. If you have never visited Avery Island and the opportunity presents itself, check it out!

We most definitely hit up the gift shop after all the touring and I snagged a copy of the Tabasco cookbook (cookbooks, in my humble opinion, often make the best souvenirs). As we flipped through the recipes, knowing something Tabasco was in our foodie future, one recipe really caught our eyes.  Grillades.

Grillades (get your Cajun on and pronounce it “gree-yahds”) is a traditional Creole breakfast specialty of thin-sliced veal or beef braised in a tomato-based gravy until fork-tender and served with grits or spoonbread. Historically,  the dish is made, refrigerated overnight, then reheated and served the next day.  However, there’s no definitive history of the dish, no distinct origin or starting point.  The word sounds French, but there is not really a literal translation of the dish.  Regardless, grillades and grits continue to be a tradition at many a Sunday brunch in Louisiana.

So we tweak the recipe just a little by using cubes of chuck roast, swapping the typical green bell pepper for Hatch peppers and upping the amount of Tabasco just a bit.

Because, you know, Tabasco is my life right now 🙂


Grillades

  • 2 pounds boneless chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 T vegetable oil
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 ½ cups chopped poblano/hatch peppers (about 4 Hatch, 2-3 poblanos)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ¾ cup beef broth
  • ½ cup red wine
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ tsp Tabasco
  • 3 T fresh chopped parsley

Season the chuck roast cubes with salt and pepper.  Because this was a post-trip cook for us, we used Avery Island salt, freshly ground black pepper and the Tabasco pepper pulp to season the beef.  The pulp is really interesting – it’s what is left behind after the peppers and salt come out of the aging barrel, is mixed with vinegar and pressed.  It has the spice of the pepper and a hit of the vinegar that makes it Tabasco sauce.

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In a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, heat about 2 tablespoons of the veggie oil.  Work in batches so that you don’t crowd the pot and sear the meat on all sides.  As it is browned, remove the beef from the pot and set aside.

When the beef is browned, add the remaining veggie oil and the flour to the pot.  Stir the flour over medium heat for about 30 minutes to make a dark brown roux.  The last roux we made was for the Etouffee and we stopped that one at a “peanut butter color”.  This one goes further – to a nice, dark, chocolate brown.

Add the onion, the peppers and garlic. Cook for about five minutes, stirring often, until the veggies are soft.

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So, I know that in Creole cooking “the trinity” involves green peppers.  But… it’s Hatch pepper season and we had some at home, so why not use them? Just a heads up, they do provide a little extra heat to the grillades.

Add the tomatoes and thyme.  Cook for another three minutes or so, stirring often.

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Add the beef broth and red wine (you know the cooking-with-wine rule by now, yes?).  Stir well for several minutes, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.

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Return the meat to the pot and stir in the salt, bay leaf, Worcestershire and Tabasco.

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Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for an hour and a half.  Stir occasionally, until the meat is very tender.  Trust me, the time spent on this dish is worth it!

Remove the bay leaf and stir in the parsley, reserving some for garnish.

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So this is where you would typically let the dish cool, then store it in the fridge overnight.  We completely ignored that and served the grillades up with cheese grits.

Remember the Grits and Greens Casserole from a while back?  This would also be amazing here!

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Will and I plated a little differently… but both completely enjoyed this food souvenir. What’s one of yours?


Full Recipe

Grillades

  • 2 pounds boneless chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 T vegetable oil
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 ½ cups chopped poblano/hatch peppers (about 4 Hatch, 2-3 poblanos)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ¾ cup beef broth
  • ½ cup red wine
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ tsp Tabasco
  • 3 T fresh chopped parsley

Season the beef with salt and pepper.

In a Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat 2 T of the oil.

Working in batches, add the meat and brown well, removing each batch to a warm plate.

Add the remaining 2 T oil and the flour to the pot.

Stir over medium heat for about 30 minutes to make a dark brown roux.

Add the onion, Hatch/poblano peppers and garlic.

Cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, or until soft.

Add the tomatoes and thyme and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes.

Add the broth and the wine.

Stir well for several minutes, scraping up any bits form the bottom of the pot.

Return the meat to the pot and stir in the salt, bay leaf, Worcestershire and Tabasco.

Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 1 ½ hours, or until the meat is very tender, stirring occasionally.

Remove the bay leaf.

Stir in the parsley, reserving some for garnish.

Serve with grits right away -or- let cool, refrigerate overnight and reheat to serve with grits the next day.

Ravioli with Two Fillings – Mushroom and Sausage

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One of our favorite foods is pasta.  There are a million different ways you can cook pasta – tomato sauces, brown butter sauces, dried, fresh, stuffed, ribbons.  It can be a quick go-to weeknight dinner or, as we have done here, a Sunday project that takes a little more time and care. One of our first true “food adventures” would have to be making fresh pasta at home.  I won’t say we mastered it right away, our kitchen has most definitely been covered in flour…, and I will wholeheartedly admit that Will is much better at it (and bread making!) than I am.  However, we always have fun experimenting with fresh pasta.

Pasta dough itself is very simple.  It’s just flour and eggs kneaded together to get the gluten going and make a starchy pasta.  Will played with a basic recipe to find the mix we like the best, about 3:1 semolina flour and all purpose flour.  We have decided that we like the addition of the all purpose flour to make a smoother, less grainy dough.  You can most definitely play with the proportions to get the mix you like the best.  Several recipes we found use some egg yolks, make a well in the flour and knead in the eggs one at a time.  We kinda skip all that and keep it pretty simple with a stand mixer.  It shouldn’t be that complicated to make a good dinner, right?

In this recipe we are using the fresh dough to make a couple different raviolis – an Italian sausage and pepper mix and a mushroom ricotta mix.  Will and I have an ongoing battle about ricotta.  For a man that loves cheese, he has some strong opinions about ricotta.. so we split the recipe and work together 😉 We finish the ravioli in a simple tomato cream sauce.  This tomato sauce is way less involved than the meat sauce in the previous lasagna recipe and can easily be put together for a weeknight dinner in about twenty minutes.

Try it out!  And as always, let me know what you think!


Ravioli with Two Fillings

Pasta Dough

  • 1 ½ cups semolina flour
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • Pinch of salt

Tomato Cream Sauce

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 14 oz can tomato sauce
  • 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
  • kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Mushroom Ricotta Filling

  • 4 oz fresh mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 T snipped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ⅛ tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese

Sausage and Sweet Peppers Filling

  • 1 lb ground Italian sausage
  • 1 cup sweet bell peppers, diced
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes

 

Start with making the pasta dough as it will need time to sit and rest.

You can play with the amounts of semolina and all purpose flours to get the texture you like best.  Our favorite is 1 1/2 cups semolina to 1/2 cup all purpose flour.  The semolina makes a nice, starchy dough but the all purpose keeps it from getting too grainy for our taste.

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Knead the semolina, all purpose flour eggs and salt in a stand mixer.  Knead until it becomes a smooth ball of dough.  If it is looking a little dry, add a tablespoon of water at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.

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Roll the pasta dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap.

 

Let the dough sit for at least 30 minutes at room temperature.  If you aren’t using the dough for a while, it can chill for an hour or two in the fridge, you’ll just want to get it back up to room temp before rolling it out.  If you aren’t using the dough on the same day it will nicely freeze until you are ready to thaw it out.


In the meantime, make your fillings so they can cool – you don’t want the filling to be too warm when you stuff your fresh dough so that the pasta will hold its shape nicely.

For the Mushroom Ricotta Filling:

In a saute pan on medium-high heat, add the olive oil and butter.

Add the finely chopped mushrooms and saute for a few minutes, being careful not to crowd the pan too much.  *NOTE:  don’t add salt yet.  Salting will draw out the moisture of the mushrooms and cause them to steam more than saute.  By upping the heat, spreading out the mushrooms and waiting a bit to salt them you are giving them a chance to brown and get flavorful rather than just moisten.

 

Add the minced garlic and chopped parsley, saute a few more minutes until garlic starts to soften.  This is where you now want to season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.  Adjust the amount of red pepper flakes to your liking – I used about 1/2 a teaspoon here.

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Add the red wine, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of your pan, and cook until most of the liquid is evaporated.  Check your seasoning again!

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So… this is my all-time favorite wine.  Bogle Phantom.  It’s released once a year and I may or may not save a bottle every year for an eventual vertical tasting.  Will’s also been known to spoil me with a double magnum of Phantom that then just lends itself to having friends over for a wine dinner.  I’d say my love for Phantom is a problem… but it’s just not. 😉

 

Remove the mushroom mixture from the heat and let it cool little.

In a separate bowl, combine the egg yolk, ricotta cheese, and mushroom mixture.  Cover and chill until ready to use.

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For the Sausage and Peppers Filling:

Add a little olive oil to a skillet on medium-high heat. Saute the sausage for 4-5 minutes.

In this particular recipe, Will used some of his homemade Italian Sausage.  He often hunts, then will grind the venison/pork for our home use.  We have a great recipe for this Italian Sausage blend that you could use on store-bought ground pork.  Be looking for that in a future post!

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Add the sweet bell peppers.  We like the peppers to have a little bit of texture left to them, if you prefer them softer, you can definitely add them right with the sausage at the beginning.

Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.  Again, play with the amount of red pepper flakes to your taste!

 

When the sausage is fully cooked, set aside to cool until ready to fill the pasta.


Prepare the Tomato Cream Sauce:

Heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat.

Add the onions and saute for 5 minutes, or until they begin to soften and caramelize.

Add the garlic, salt and pepper and saute for a couple of minutes, until the garlic begins to soften.

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Pour in the whole tomatoes and tomato sauce.  Break up the tomatoes a little bit with your spatula, just so they start to break down.

I am a big fan of the San Marzano tomatoes. I like their sweet flavor and they are less acidic than other tomatoes. I think they just have a good, consistently sweet tomato kick.  If you can’t find them, or have a diced variety in your pantry, no worries!  You may want to add a tablespoon or so of sugar to your sauce to help cut back on some of that acidity.

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Stir the sauce and cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Use an immersion blender to smooth out the sauce now that the tomato chunks have cooked down.  Don’t have an immersion blender?  You can either transfer to a blender or just use a fork to break up any large chunks of tomato.  If you like a chunkier sauce just let it keep simmering away.

*Note: If you do use a normal blender to smooth out your sauce, make sure you vent the top/lid to allow steam to come out and shield the vent with a kitchen towel to protect yourself from any of the volcanic splatter.

 

Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the cream.  Add the shredded parmesan and check your seasonings.  Remember that cheese = salt so be sure to taste before adding more!

Cover the sauce to keep it warm until ready to use.


Now it’s ravioli-making time!

Once your pasta dough has rested and come back up to room temp, flour your counter or cutting board.  Cut the pasta dough into halves, then each half into quarters.

 

Being sure to flour the pasta itself as well as the pasta roller, roll the pasta dough into sheets.  I’ve never given in to the temptation of buying the pasta roller attachment of our stand mixer.  Sigh… maybe one of these days.  However, we have had much success with this simple hand roller that clamps to the edge of the counter top.  If you don’t have a pasta roller, you can most certainly put a little elbow grease behind a rolling pin – just know that it will take a few passes, just like in the roller, to it the pasta thin enough.

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Place a heaping teaspoon of the ravioli filling along the bottom half of the pasta sheet, leaving about a two-finger width between each dollop. As you can see in the pictures below, Will also added a little parmesan on top of each sausage “heap”.  Fold the top half of the pasta sheet over the filling and press all around each dollop to seal the pasta sheet together.  Use a ravioli stamp (or a glass cup) to cut out the ravioli shape.

 

 

Pinch along the edges of the ravioli to make sure that all the edges are sealed – if not, the filling will leak out as it boils.

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Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt the water.  This is your chance to season the pasta itself – don’t be shy with the salt added to the boiling water!

 

Carefully drop the ravioli into the boiling water.  Fresh pasta does not take long to cook, only about 3-4 minutes.  Use a slotted spoon or strainer to make sure the ravioli does not stick to each other as it cooks and notice when they really start to float.  Pull the ravioli out of the water as they are done.

Now… plate it up!  We like to put a little of the Tomato Cream Sauce on the bottom of the plate, top with ravioli, then a little more sauce, parmesan and chopped parsley on top.  How would you plate yours?

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Full Recipe

Ravioli with Two Fillings and Tomato Cream Sauce

Pasta Dough

  • 1 ½ cups semolina flour
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • Pinch of salt

Tomato Cream Sauce

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 14 oz can tomato sauce
  • 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
  • kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Mushroom Ricotta Filling

  • 4 oz fresh mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 T snipped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ⅛ tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese

Sausage and Sweet Peppers Filling

  • 1 lb ground Italian sausage
  • 1 cup sweet bell peppers, diced
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes

Make the pasta:

Knead flours, eggs and salt in a stand mixer until incorporated.

If dough is looking dry, add a tablespoon of water at a time until desired consistency.

Roll the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap.

Let rest at room temp for 30 minutes to an hour, or chill in the fridge until ready to use.  Bring the dough back up to room temp before rolling into sheets.

Make the Mushroom Ricotta Filling:

In a saute pan over medium-high heat, add olive oil and butter.

Add mushrooms, being careful to not crowd the pan too much, saute about 5 minutes.

Add the parsley, and garlic; cook and stir for 1 minute.

Add the salt, pepper, red pepper flakes

Add the red wine to the pan, scraping any browned bits from the bottom, and cook until most of the liquid is evaporated.

Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine egg yolk, ricotta cheese, and mushroom mixture.

Cover and chill until needed.

Make the Sausage and Peppers Filling:

Saute sausage until about halfway cooked, about 4-5 minutes.

Add the diced peppers and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.

Saute until sausage is fully cooked

Set aside to cool until ready to use.

Make the Tomato Cream Sauce:

Heat butter and oil over medium heat.

Add onions and saute for 5 minutes until they begin to soften and caramelize.

Add the garlic, salt and pepper  and saute for a minute or so.

Pour in tomato sauce and whole tomatoes.  Break up tomatoes a bit with your spatula.

Stir and cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Use an immersion blender or the back of a fork break any large chunks of tomato up.

Remove from heat and stir in cream.

Add cheese to taste, then check seasonings.

Make the Ravioli:

Flour your workspace and cut the rested, room temp pasta dough into halves, then quarters.

Being sure to flour the dough and the pasta roller, roll each quarter into sheets.

Place a heaping teaspoon of the ravioli filling on the bottom half of each pasta sheet, leaving about a two-finger width between each dollop.  For the sausage filling, add a little sprinkle of parmesan to each dollop.

Fold the upper half of the pasta sheet over the filling.  Press around each pile of filling to seal the pasta together.

Use a ravioli stamp, or a glass cup, to cut around each pile of filling.

Press the edges of each ravioli to ensure the edges are sealed.

Heat a large pot of water to boiling and add plenty of salt.

Gently place the ravioli in the boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes, just to al dente.

Remove from the water with a slotted spoon or strainer.

Plate the ravioli with the sauce and top with shredded parmesan and chopped parsley.