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Homemade Cheese Raviolis

“Mom, do you know what you should make for dinner?”

What buddy?

“Cheese ravioli. Do you remember how good those are? With lots of red sauce…no meat..”

Yea, you’re right…I’ll make them one day when I have some extra time, ok?

*two days later*

“Did you have time yet? I’m going to write cheese ravioli on your meal plan, then you’ll have to make them.”

Umm, ok sure I’ll make them I promise.

*two more days later*

“So mom, how about those cheese ravioli?”

Me, silently thinking how have you not forgotten about these yet? Did I raise an elephant? *grumble grumble*

I’m going to the store today and I’ll get the stuff to make them. #surrender

My kids really think I can make anything their little hearts desire, like the lego marshmallows my little one requested a few months ago, or the soft pretzels, and so it shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise when M declared he wanted cheese ravioli and then wouldn’t give up until I actually made them. If anyone asks me what is the most important skill to have as an expat, my answer is, “the ability to cook anything from scratch.” For real. This challenge was less about having the ability to make ravioli and more about the actual process. There are no frozen bags of ravioli in Morocco, at least not where I live so off to the kitchen I went.

Homemade Cheese Ravioli

Most people think making fresh pasta is really hard – it’s not. Ravioli is just stuffed pasta dough, and the stuffing couldn’t be easier either.



  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup semolina flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • water

Cheese Stuffing

  • 16 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup mozzerella cheese
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp grated garlic
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • palmful of fresh chopped Italian parsley and/or basil



In a large bowl add flour, semolina flour and salt. Mix together and create a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Crack the eggs into the middle and add olive oil. Use your hands to mix together the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients. You can do this in a stand mixer of food processor but hands work just as well! Continue mixing until the dry and wet ingredients come together into a soft, pliable ball. You may need to add a little water if it’s too dry, or  a little flour if it’s too wet. Once the dough comes together, cover with a towel and set aside to rest while you prepare the filling.


There’s no right way to do this! Simply add all of the ingredients together in a bowl and mix! You can add more garlic if you like, or add different herbs. I like the 3 cheese mix because it’s the way these have always been made in my family, but you can omit the mozzerella or add a different cheese that you like.


If you have a pasta machine you can break off pieces of the dough and run it through your machine to flatten. If you don’t you can do the same thing with a rolling pin. Place a piece of parchment on your work surface and dust with flour. Dust the top of the dough with flour as well and put another piece of parchment on top. Roll out to 1/8″ flatness. Use a circular biscuit or sandwich cutter to make discs of dough.

Ravioli Discs


I like to make as many as possible to start with. You can set aside the scraps after cutting out the circles for another rest while you continue rolling dough. Roll them all together to use as much of the dough as possible. If you notice it getting too tough, set aside.

Once you have all of your discs cut it’s time to stuff the dough! Use a teaspoon to scoop the cheese filling and place in the center of the dough.

Filling Ravioli

I do this one at a time. Fold over the other half of the dough and use the back of a fork to seal the dough into half circles. Place on a lined cookie sheet. You can freeze ravioli at this point, on the cookie sheet. Once they’ve hardened transfer to a freezer safe bag. You also can cook them immediately.

Pressing Ravioli


To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a roaring boil and drop the ravioli in. Fresh ravioli will cook in 5-6 minutes while frozen will cook in 8-10 minutes. Once ravioli float to the surface they’re ready! Use a slotted spoon to remove from the water. Serve with marinara sauce with or without meatballs.  You can find my easy marinara sauce on this post for homemade gnocchi and red sauce.

When I make these I make a double batch. This recipe will make 2-3 dozen ravioli but I figure if I’m making the mess once may as well make lots. They freeze well and are perfect for those nights when you really don’t know what to make. Paired with a simple salad you can have dinner ready in under 20 minutes.

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Grandma’s Homemade Gnocchi and Easy Red Sauce

Leftover mashed potatoes have a special place in my kitchen. It began when I was a little girl and still today I always make more potatoes than I know we’ll eat. Because sometimes, the best things in life are better left for later. My grandma made a lot of homemade food and my sister and I were her helpers. Cookies, cakes, and pasta were the recipes of my childhood. But, our favorite thing to make and eat was gnocchi.

Gnocchi Dough

The trick to making this is having mashed potatoes that are a day or two old. Sure, fresh mashed potatoes will work but it just won’t be the same. The potatoes really need to sit and allow the starches to combine. If you eat a low-carb low-starch diet this recipe probably isn’t for you. But, you can swap out white potatoes for sweet potatoes. This dumpling is found throughout Italy and is peasant food – it’s a way to stretch cheap ingredients and fill up the stomach without breaking the bank. I can remember mixing HUGE bowls of mashed potatoes with flour and having dough up to my elbows as we combined the two.

Rolled Gnocchi

Once the dough came together, grandma would cover the counter top in flour and we would start to roll out the dough into long “snakes”. My sister and I were each equipped with a butter knife and fork to do the finishing touches. Each snake was cut into small pieces and pressed with a fork to make the trademark indentations of gnocchi. Finally we would coat them in flour, lay flat on a cookie sheet, and pop into the freezer for a flash freeze before putting into a freezer safe bag.

What I loved the most about making gnocchi was waiting for the little dumplings to float. Because as soon as they float they’re done! I would use a big straining spoon to pull out the gnocchi as I could see them at the top of the pot. If you’d rather serve this as an appetizer pan frying gnocchi, dusting with parmesan cheese, and serving red sauce on the side as a dipping sauce is equally delicious. Grandma always had red sauce, she would make and can it every summer. But it’s not difficult to make your own – in a smaller quantity!

With Thanksgiving around the corner, this is a great recipe to keep on hand to use up leftover mashed potatoes.

Gnocchi and Marinara

Grandma’s Homemade Gnocchi and Easy Red Sauce


  • 1 lb mashed potaotes (1-2 days old)
  • 2 eggs
  • flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Marinara Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 4 large tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste


    To Make Gnocchi
  • Remove mashed potatoes from the refrigerator and allow to warm up so that they are not quite room temperature but you can easily handle them without being too cold.
  • Add any salt and pepper - this will depend on how your potatoes were seasoned to begin with. If they lacked flavor add more, if they were already well-seasoned you may not need to add any.
  • Crack two eggs and add to the mashed potatoes.
  • Use your hands to mix together the potatoes and eggs.
  • Begin adding flour, a handful at a time.
  • Continue mixing and adding flour until the dough comes together and is no longer sticky.
  • Dust a cutting board or counter top with plenty of flour.
  • Take off a palm-sized piece of dough and roll into a long "snake".
  • Cut 1/4" pieces off of the dough and use the back of a fork to indent the tops.
  • If you are cooking right away, drop gnocchi into a pot of water at a rolling boil.
  • If you want to freeze and save the gnocchi, coat in flour, and lay flat on a baking sheet. Pop into the freezer for 15-20 minutes and flash freeze. Transfer gnocchi to a freezer-safe bag until ready to use. Gnocchi do not need to be thawed before cooking.
  • Easy Red Sauce
  • In a medium sized pot add 2 Tbsp olive oil. Grate 1/2 onion and 3 cloves of garlic into the pot.
  • Turn the heat to low and allow the onion and garlic to saute.
  • In a large bowl grate the 4 tomatoes and discard the skin.
  • Once the onion and garlic have softened, add the tomato pulp and whisk in 1 Tbsp tomato paste.
  • Finally add 1/2 tsp sugar and reduce the heat to low.
  • Allow the sauce to cook for 30-45 minutes, checking the taste and adjusting with salt and pepper as needed. .
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Manti for New York #FBS4Sandy

Last week I saw a post on Barbs’ blog Creative Culinary about a food blogger event to help raise money for the victims of Superstorm Sandy. I love the idea of sharing a recipe that brings comfort. I love even more the idea of doing something, even if it’s small to bring a little more awareness and maybe raise a little bit of money to help those in need. When I started to think about what I would make to share, the first thing that came to mind was manti.  Manti are a Turkish style dumpling.  They’re a bit like ravioli but are topped with a yogurt- chili sauce. It’s not exactly North American comfort food but here’s why I chose it.

This summer when we went to New York I was able to get together for dinner with my friend Kathy of The Experimental Gourmand who calls New York home. We went to Sip-Sap a Turkish restaurant on 2nd Ave one night for dinner. Kathy also had a friend from Australia who was visiting and joined us. Now I was ready to pig out (ps she doesn’t know this part of the story!) but I followed suit when our guest expressed she wasn’t very hungry. My initial plan was to order a big plate of manti for myself and appetizers but not wanting to look ridiculous instead opted to share a few smaller plates.  Ever since then I’ve been dreaming about manti. When Sandy hit New York I began to think about all my friends in the area and manti came back to my mind. With no Turkish restaurants for miles and miles, I had to make it myself.


Manti for New York #FB4Sandy


    For the Dough
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup of warm water
  • For the Filling
  • 1/2 lb ground meat (beef, lamb, turkey, chicken)
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • palmful chopped parsley
  • For the Sauce
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • handful of pine nuts
  • 1 cup Greek Yogurt


    Making the Dough
  • Mix together the flour, salt and eggs using your hand and slowly stream water until a slightly sticky dough has been formed. Allow to sit for 30 minutes.
  • The Filling
  • Combine all of the ingredients for the filling, mixing well so the spices are incorporated.
  • To Assemble
  • After the dough has rested, dust a work space with flour. There are two ways to make the dumplings.
  • The first way is to break off pieces of the dough, the size of a large gumball and roll out as thinly as possible. Add half as much filling to the middle and bring up the edges to pinch it like a small purse.
  • The second way is to divide the dough into fourths. Roll each segment out as thinly as possible. Use a pastry cutter to make 1-2" squares. Fill each square with half as much filling and pinch the edges to make a small purse shape.
  • Place the assembled dumplings on a floured plate.
  • Continue until all of the dough has been used.
  • To cook and serve
  • Boil a large pan of salted water.
  • Add dumplings once the water is boiling, taking care not to overfill the pan.
  • Cook for 20-25 minutes to ensure the meat is cooked through.
  • Drain the water well before serving.
  • Serving
  • In a saute pan add the olive oil, sprinkle in the chili pepper and turn to medium high heat.
  • When the oil starts to take on a reddish hue, add the pine nuts and toast until browned.
  • Remove the oil from heat and slowly stream into a bowl with the Greek yogurt. You must do this slowly or the hot oil could separate the yogurt.
  • Arrange the manti on a plate and top with the Greek yogurt.
  • Sprinkle pine nuts over the top.

 How can you help?

If you haven’t already, consider making a donation.  Here are a few suggestions;

  • American Red Cross is providing food, shelter, and other forms of support to hurricane victims. You can donate directly to the Red Cross or  you can also text the word “Redcross” to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
  • The Salvation Army is also focused on providing food, shelter, and support to victims, and takes donations for storm relief.
  • Feeding America is providing food, water and supplies to those who need it as part of their disaster relief program.
  • Islamic Relief is working with the American Red Cross to provide financial help and physical volunteers to help with the recovery effort.

Be sure to stop by Creative Culinary and Jenn Cuisine (the event organizers) to see the other dishes that are being shared.

What dish would you share with a friend in need?


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Good News and Greek Stew

It seems that there are so many good things going on lately for me and this little blog.  I started this site in 2007 because my younger sister was always bugging me for recipes.  I am so happy that it has become so much more than just a recipe dumping ground!  Only a few days ago I posted about Multicultural Familia a new website and resource for multicultural families.  I am really enjoying being a site contributor and hope you’ve had a chance to visit the site too.  I’ve got a lot more great posts coming up.

If you’re a Facebook fan or Twitter follower you will know that I am also a new contributor to American Muslim Mom.  I am just in awe right now of all these opportunities coming my way.  When Ponn asked me if I would be interested in writing for her site I was a little intimidated but soon realized I do have a lot to say that I don’t always feel belongs here.  Contributing posts to American Muslim Mom about being a Muslim mom working outside the home and about raising boys is offering me a chance to talk about things I am passionate about without cutting into the food time I share here.  I really encourage you to join me there if you’re interested in these topics.  Ponn has gotten together a great group of Muslim moms to talk about a wide range of topics and I know that it is really going to be great.  Stop over now to hear interviews with all the new contributors (including me)!

Now back to the food….

Have you noticed that it’s Balkan’s week around here?  I don’t know what it is but I was making Greek food and Lana was guest-posting so ultimately I think you’re the winner!  For me Greek food is summer food.  Maybe it’s because I went to Greece in the summer and so the correlation is always there.  Yiouvetsi and orzo was, at first bite, one of my favorite foods – ever.  Paired with a fresh and delicious Greek salad I always ordered this meal when it was available.   The taste that always stands out in this meal is the tomato, both in the yiouvetsi and the salad.  Fresh, sun ripened fruit, fresh in a cucumber, tomato, olive and feta salad drenched in really good olive oil and sea salt.  The same tomatoes combined with garlic and tender beef over al dente orzo made was simply a meal  from heaven.  You can make it at home easily too.


  • 1 lb (2 kg) beef short ribs (any beef will work, this is what I had)
  • 3 cloves of garlic chopped finely or crushed
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 c (8fl oz) of tomato sauce
  • 1/3 c (3-4oz) cherry juice*
  • 2 tsp white vinegar*
  • 2c  (16oz) water
  • 2 c (750g)  orzo
  • grated cheese for topping

*traditional Greek Yiouvetsi is made with red wine.  As we do not drink or use wine in cooking this is my substitute.  If you prefer to use wine 1/2c should do the trick.


I made this in a pressure cooker, but you can use a heavy bottomed pan instead.

  • In the bottom of the pressure cooker add the olive oil and brown the meat on medium high heat.  Add all of the remaining ingredients except for the oregano, orzo and cheese.  Cover pressure cooker and cook for 45 min – 1 hour.  Release the pressure and open.  Check the tenderness of the meat.  It should be falling off the bone.  Stir in the oregano at this point.  You should have a medium thickness sauce left over.  If there is too much water continue cooking uncovered until sauce reduces.
  • Boil 5-6 cups of water separately and add orzo.  Cook for 8-10 minutes until al dente.  Strain excess water and reserve to serve.
  • To finish the dish, spoon orzo at the bottom of the plate, followed by the meat and sauce on top.  Sprinkle or grate with a good Greek or Italian cheese such as kefalotyri, parmigiano, pecarino or romano.

Don’t forget your Greek salad on the side!!!


I removed the bone and chopped up the beef before reducing sauce.


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I’ve always wanted to give this style of rice a shot.  I’ve found that my family is more receptive lately to the idea of rice and other starches in place of bread.  That’s a good thing because I get really tired of so much bread!  This is my first attempt at an Arabic style rice and it turned out good!  As for the vegetables you can use anything you have on hand, or no vegetables at all.  

In a large saute pan, add 2 tbsp butter, 1 tsp garlic and 1/4 finely chopped onion.  Brown vermicelli noodles in butter.  I used about 3/4c of noodles.  Cook them until the noodles soften and start to turn brown.  



I had some white asparagus that I wanted to use.  I simply cleaned and cut off the tops to use.  I also used some frozen peas.  Next, I added in about 1 cup of white long-grain rice and 1 c of chicken broth.  Watch the water levels.  The consistency should be a little drier than a risotto.  Continue stirring.  Cooking time should take between 15-20 minutes.  




This is a great side dish or toss in some chicken or more vegetables for a healthy and tasty main dish!

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I love pasta.  If you told me that all I could eat for the rest of my life was pasta I would hug you and have a huge smile on my face for the rest of my life.  I just love it that much.  So much to my chagrin, upon marrying my husband I discovered he didn’t like pasta, no he hated it.  Hated pasta?  It can’t be!  After many attempts I finally discovered that he didn’t hate fettuccini alfredo.  Score!  I’ve played with this recipe a lot and I think right now it’s pretty great.  

9 oz heavy whipping cream
1 lb dry pasta
1/3 c grated parmesan cheese
1/3 c shredded mozzerella + 1/2 c shredded mozzerella
5 tbsp butter
3 tsp flour
1 1/2 tsp crushed garlic
salt and pepper to taste

In a large oven-proof pan boil water, and add 1/2 tsp salt.  Once boiling add the pasta and cook until almost al dente.  Preheat your oven to 375F.  Once pasta is cooked drain and set aside.  In the oven-proof pan begin to melt the butter on medium heat and add the flour, continually stirring to make a roux.  Slowly begin to add the whipping cream and continue stirring so that the cream doesn’t burn and the roux begins to combine.  When it is smooth add the parmesan cheese, garlic, and salt and pepper and continue to stir.  Add the 1/3 cup of mozzerella and mix until it is all melted.  You should have a semi-thick sauce at this point.  

Return the noodles to the pan with the sauce in it.  Mix the pasta in the sauce and combine.  Top with the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzerella and place the pan into the oven uncovered.  Leave in the oven for about 10-15 minutes allowing the cheese to melt and brown.  Remove from oven and serve while hot.  I usually accompany with broccoli, garlic bread and baked chicken cutlets.

Do you have a favorite pasta dish?  Please share!!

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