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We have a tradition in our family for Christmas. Every Christmas day we have a big Italian dinner with homemade meat and cheese ravioli’s. From as far back as I could remember, my mother and father would set up their stations at the kitchen table and neatly wrap the ravioli’s. My siblings and I would gather around them and help fork the edges so they closed tightly. Festive music played in the background, smiles swept across our faces and anticipation stirred in our bellies. No store could come close to the greatness of our ravioli’s. My father would say, “No one would pack them like we do and hope for a profit,” it just would not make sense. At the end of the ravioli making fest we collect the scraps and boil them to make homemade noodles.

This year was almost the year without ravioli’s. My parents are older now and the process is a bit too much. It takes a long time to make the fillings not to mention all of the dough. “I think this year we will just buy ravioli’s,” my mother declared. It was as if someone announced there would be no more ravioli’s forever. None of us could fathom not tasting our ravioli’s. “Well then we will just have to make them ourselves,” my older sister called out. “Yeah, I agreed, we can’t eat someone else’s ravioli’s, we have to have our own,” It is not because we are spoiled and will not accept anything less; we couldn’t imagine breaking the tradition. Even though, we were all saying we would make them, in some subconscious way we were hoping my mother would change her mind. Then it dawned on us, she really is older and it is too hard for her. It is difficult to accept that our parents have slowed down and we need to step up to the plate if we want to keep traditions alive. Watching someone else do all of the hard work is always easier. We put a plan in motion and shared the responsibilities, instead of one person making everything.

We gathered at my parents’ house and sat around the table. They were there with us, but it was their turn, to sit on the sidelines and observe. I looked around for a moment and snapped a mental picture that I hope stays with me forever. It was never about the ravioli’s. It was about family. Making the ravioli’s was just the excuse for our family to sit around a table for hours, laughing, singing, and occasionally arguing. Deciding not to make them would have ended a chapter too soon. Our ravioli’s are still the best tasting in my book but I realize now it’s because I know first hand just how much love went into making them.

Thirteen Things about Maribeth

This week my mother celebrated her birthday. Everyone loves their mother’s cooking (I think). My mother is top notch when it comes to cooking and baking. For this Thursday Thirteen I have decided to list thirteen of my favorite dishes I love- compliments of my mother. I have learned to cook from her and hope one day my children will be just as excited by my cooking as I have been by hers. Bon Appetit!

1…. Meat Loaf, mashed potatoes and butter beans. She has a knack for Meatloaf – I love the ends the best, but we always had to leave them for my father. Once in a while I would sneak one.

2…Risotto- This is an Italian dish, It’s rice in a spaghetti sauce. Very delicious and goes great with her homemade meatballs. Yum

3…Oyster Stuffing-A Thanksgiving tradition in our household. I wait all year long to stuff myself with oysters-It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without this dish

4…Fresh Brewed Iced Tea-Since I was a little girl my mother has been making this, she used to make it in summer’s only but now it’s an everyday thing. She brews the tea bags on the stove and then makes a pitcher of sugar iced tea and a pitcher of unsweetened(my favorite, she knows exactly how much lemon juice to add to make it perfect)

5… Potato Salad-Summer cookouts are especially nice when mom’s potato salad is part of the smorgasbord.

6…Stew and Dumplings-The best stew ever, she drops bisquick dumplings on top of the stew which make this stick to your rib’s dinner the best on a cold winter’s night

7…Chili- Not everyone can make the perfect chili but my mother can (I learned from her so I have to say I make a mean chili too) Perfect with buttered bread and parmesan cheese. You can’t just eat one bowl

8…Rice Pudding-She makes the best rice pudding ever. The consistency is always perfect and it is especially good when still a little warm

9…Pies galore-Every pie she makes is to die for, Apple, Coconut Custard, Pumpkin, she makes a great Apple Dumpling too. I don’t know if I will ever inherit her knack for pie crust. As long as we are talking about baking-I better mention how much I love her bread pudding.

10…Pasties- I am a crust girl, anything with crust I love, so Pasties is definitely one of my favorites. She makes the traditional meat along with broccoli and cheese which are definitely my favorite.

11…Dough Ball Soup-I guess by now it is obvious I love dough (I’m Italian what can I say) this is not the correct name of the soup but it is what our family calls it. It is a tomato based soup filled with yummy dough balls. Again, you wouldn’t be able to eat just one bowl of this

12…Chicken Divan- I think this might be my FAVORITE- Broccoli, Cheese, Chicken and Bread Crumbs, scoop this dish over white rice and add lots of pepper, it is amazing.

13…Ravioli- Hands down the best cheese and meat ravioli ever. Another tradition we have, Christmas time is ravioli making time. I feel sorry for all of the people that never will get to taste one of my mother’s ravioli’s. They cannot be duplicated.

11…

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The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

I got some positive feedback from my crab-ravioli recipe so I thought what the heck I would throw another one out there. I am busy writing for a class I just started and only have a few minutes to spare for blog time. I thought this was the perfect opportunity to introduce another yummy recipe. Once again it’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I am sure you could make it work.

Mmm Mmm Mushrooms

6 Portabella mushroom caps

1 bag of frozen spinach

-clove of garlic

-roasted red pepper from the bottle

-tablespoon or so of olive oil

-pinch or more of parmesan cheese

-2 or three slices of cheddar cheese per mushroom

Defrost spinach in microwave to save time. Once done fill cap of mushroom with spinach.

Place sliced roasted red pepper on top of spinach 

Top with fresh garlic(as much or little as you like)

Place slices of cheese on top and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and a small shake of salt and pepper to top it off.

Wrap mushrooms individually in foil and heat for about ten to fifteen minutes.

You can use a conventional oven, a toaster oven or the grill (my favorite) to make these.

I have received many compliments on these and you will too.

Enjoy-Let me know how they turn out.

Today what popped into my head was not a story but a recipe that I created (Though there may be similiar recipes out there they were not my influence). Once you get to know me you find out quickly that I am organized in an unorganized way. This is exactly how I cook- A little bit of that, a dash of this and maybe a few pinches of whatchamacallit. But to my surprise and my family’s liking somehow it always turns out edible and actually quite delicious. You won’t find exact measurements for what I use but if you are anything like me you will make this recipe work.

Here we go…

A bag of your favorite frozen ravioli’s-any will do-cook them according to package.In a Sautee pan put a nice amount of olive oil-We like ours oily so I put more.

Slice roasted peppers (the kind you find in a jar) and imitation crabmeat (or real if you want to splurge-I never do:)). I usually like the peppers and the crabmeat slivered but still chunky-Again your choice. Throw both into the oil and add fresh garlic (as much or little as you like). You can use minced garlic in the jar if you don’t have fresh- A dash of salt a pinch of pepper and a handful or two of parmesan cheese.

Sautee all together for a few minutes, pour over ravioli and serve. Voila gourmet made simple. And if your kiddo’s aren’t into gourmet just butter their ravioli’s and they will be just as happy.

I’m sure you noticed by now this is my first attempt at putting a recipe up and it is not very organized. I apologize for this but I am pretty sure you will forgive me once you tried this dish. Next up my famous portabella mushroom recipe.

Enjoy!