I have to be honest…pasta for dessert was pretty tough. But, after much internet searching, I settled on homemade chocolate ravioli with a peppermint cream cheese filling. Since I have never, ever, ever made pasta on my own, I found a chocolate ravioli dough online and simply cut it down to make less.  The filling was my own idea.  I will say that these were pretty good, but I think that having a pasta maker would be a huge advantage so that the dough gets thin enough… rolling it by hand just doesn’t get the dough as thin as it should be.  If I ever get a pasta maker, I will definitely revisit this recipe and try them again.

For the dough:
1 ¼ cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
Dash of salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 tablespoons water

For the filling:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
½ teaspoon peppermint extract
1 tablespoon crushed peppermint candy

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt.  Add the egg, oil, and water, and use a large spoon to stir until the dough starts to form.  Use your hands to get the dough completely mixed.  Set aside. 
In another large bowl, beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and peppermint extract together with a mixer until well mixed.  Stir in the crushed peppermint candy.

Roll the dough out on a floured surface as thin as possible.  Using a large, round cookie cutter, cut circles of dough out.  Put a small dollop of the cream cheese mixture in the center of each dough circle, then fold them over in a half-moon shape and crimp the ends together well.  (You may want to use a little water to seal the ends together.)

Fry the ravioli in hot vegetable oil, for 3-5 minutes on each side.  Drain on paper towels and sprinkle immediately with powdered sugar.

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     Sheesh. What a challenge! At first, I considered making a chocolate ravioli, a chocolate pasta from scratch, but I just wasnt happy with any of the filling ideas I had... So I found an orzo pudding recipe online, tweaked it a little, and here you go! Actually tastes a bit like tapioca. The only thing I would do next time is modify it for a pasta of even less... heft. Maybe a couscous! Enjoy!

Inspired by Bill Rodgers' Championship Orzo Pudding from Creamette.com 

½ bag semi-sweet chocolate pieces, melted
4-3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup (4 oz.) Orzo, uncooked
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup sweetened dried cherries, diced
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
slivered almonds, toasted, for garnish

     To melt chocolate, plate in saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally until completely melted. Coat the insides of six cupcake liners with melted chocolate. Set each on a plate or small baking sheet and refrigerate.
     In a heavy 4-quart saucepan, stir together milk and sugar; cook over medium-high heat until mixture just comes to a boil, stirring every 2 minutes to prevent scorching. Stir in pasta. Cook, uncovered, maintaining a slow boil for 25 minutes or until thickened (adjust heat between medium and medium-high to prevent overboiling). Stir frequently, about every 2 minutes or when skin forms on top. Remove from heat; stir in cinnamon. Add cherries and vanilla; pour into medium bowl. Cover; refrigerate 4 hours or until chilled, stirring occasionally (pudding will thicken as it stands). 8 servings (about 1/2 cup each). 
     WARM PUDDING VERSION: Prepare as directed above but reduce milk to 4-1/2 cups; do not refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature up to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
     Peel paper carefully away from molded chocolate. Spoon pudding into chocolate cups and sprinkle with toasted almonds.

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Yummy, Yum, Yum! I'm particularly proud of this pesto! My teenaged step-son is wary of anything healthy and green. So you can imagine my delight when, after hesitantly taking a bite, he said, "It's definitely not how I thought it would taste. It's actually not bad." Seriously. This is the kid that thinks Pop-Tarts and pizza rolls are awesome. He has served as my guinea pig quite a few times during this six month-long cook-off of ours, and enjoyed almost everything. Well, I have formed an appreciation for pesto, finding that it's good with lots of stuff, not just pasta! But here's my version of the classic dish. Bon apetit!
--- Jenny 

1-2 cups fresh spinach
1 cup fresh basil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup pine nuts
¼ cup slivered almonds
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup olive oil
2-3 chicken breasts or thighs
angel hair pasta

In a food processor, pulse to blend spinach, basil, garlic, nuts and cheese. Now, with processor on, slowly stream ¼ cup (or more as needed) olive oil. Set aside.

Pan-sear chicken pieces in olive oil, drain, and finish with a little salt. Boil pasta. Spoon about a half cup of pasta water into a large shallow pan over high heat to boil. Add pesto, then immediately add prepared pasta and mix well. Fold in prepared chicken, cut into bite-size pieces. If pasta seems a bit dry, add a little more pasta water.

Serve with buttered pieces of crusty sourdough.

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     I thought of this idea a couple of days ago, while I was trying to come up with ideas for a pasta side.  I wanted to use a small pasta because that seemed ideal for a side dish, so I decided to use orzo (it looks like rice, only a bit bigger).  
     I love to use shredded spinach or kale in pasta dishes, so I used kale as well as lemon, pine nuts, and a few other things.  The result is a quick, easy, and delicious side dish.  Make it tonight!



1 cup orzo
Olive oil
¼ cup chopped onion (I used about a quarter of a medium onion)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
Zest of 1 lemon
1 small bunch kale, shredded (about 4 large handfuls)
Juice of half a lemon
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
Salt and pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Cook the orzo in boiling water in a medium saucepan until al dente, about 5-6 minutes; drain and set aside.  In the same saucepan, heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and sauté 4-5 minutes.  Add the garlic and lemon zest and sauté for a minute.  Add the kale, one handful at a time, and stir until it just starts to wilt.  Turn off the heat, add the orzo and lemon juice to the kale mixture, season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir well to combine.  Top the orzo with pine nuts and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

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"Use your noodle." Yup. I definitely had to do that this week when trying to find pasta dishes. I didn't want to do things that everyone has seen before. Pasta can actually be, albeit delicious, pretty predictable. So as I scanned through a list of pasta recipes at Allrecipes.com, I came across one for Polish pierogies, and immediately said yes! I omitted a couple things and added my own. The only thing that could make them better is bacon, of course! Bon appetit!
-- Jenny

2 cups cold mashed potatoes
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
¼ cup minced parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1-1 ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

3 eggs
1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder

     For Filling, saute onion until translucent. Mix mashed potatoes with butter, onion, salt and parsley. Set aside.
For dough, whisk together eggs and sour cream until smooth. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder; stir into the sour cream mixture until dough comes together. Knead the dough (about 6-8 times) on a lightly floured surface until firm and smooth. Divide the dough in half, then roll out one half to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into 3 inch rounds you can use a biscuit cutter or drinking glass. If you can't roll out to 1/8, just do ¼ and after rounds are cut, you can stretch them out a bit.

     Place a spoonful of the mashed potato filling into the center of each round. Top with a small amount of cheese. Moisten the edges with water, fold over, and press together with a fork to seal. Repeat procedure with the remaining dough.

     Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pierogies and cook for 1-3 minutes or until pierogi float to the top. Remove with a slotted utensil to drain. After boiling all pierogies, heat about ¼ cup olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat and fry pierogies lightly and drain on paper towels.

Fresh Tomato & Garlic Sauce:
4-5 fresh roma tomatoes, diced
2 large cloves garlic, diced
2 tbsp tomato paste
½ tsp salt

     Over medium high heat in a small pan, heat tomatoes and garlic. When tomatoes have cooked down, add paste and salt. Cook long enough to mix in tomato paste thoroughly.

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It’s pasta week here on Kitchen Psycho!  I adore pasta, and there are so many things that you can do with it.  For my main dish, I stuck with a classic that’s easy and delicious, shrimp scampi.  I was only cooking for two last night, so adjust accordingly if you’re feeding more than that.  Serve it with crusty bread, a salad on the side, and a nice glass of wine.  Make it tonight!

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Cajun seasoning
1 small head garlic, cloves peeled and finely chopped
3 tablespoons capers, drained and chopped (I used the small ones)
Handful of Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped (regular parsley is fine too)
Juice of half a lemon
2-4 tablespoons white wine
Salt and pepper
4-6 tablespoons butter 
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Half a box of angel hair pasta

It’s important to have everything ready to go when making this dish, because it cooks quickly.  
     Prepare pasta according to directions. 
     Chop the garlic, capers, and parsley. Season the shrimp with Cajun seasoning, salt, and pepper to taste. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add shrimp and cook about 2-4 minutes. Spoon out shrimp and set aside. 
    Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the butter mixture, add garlic, stirring, for one minute. Add capers and sauté, while stirring, for one minute. Add parsley and sauté, while stirring, for one minute. Once again, add shrimp into butter, squeeze in the juice of half a lemon, and add white wine.  Let simmer for a few minutes, remove from heat, and salt and pepper to taste.  Serve over pasta.

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