Lofty Leftovers: Chicken Ravioli, Two Ways

Lofty Leftovers: Chicken Ravioli, Two Ways

One of the things you figure out when you like to cook is that you usually make more than you need…and when you learn how to make leftover food recipes, the more meals, the merrier! Get my recipes for a hearty soup and a clever take on chicken ravioli, two ways. Click to skip to the recipe



One of the things you figure out when you like to cook is that you usually cook more than you need. This is a by-product of not getting it totally right the first time or making sure you don’t run out of food! 

On the one hand, say your making soup and upon first taste, you discover that you were a little heavy-handed with the salt. No problem, you just add more liquid or starch and the taste is repaired to delish status!

You now have not only yummy soup, but enough for an extra meal down the road. Win! Win!

On the second hand, you’ve invited pals to dinner who notoriously travel in packs and bring along more pals at the last minute. Therefore, you cook two chickens instead of one.

Both of these happened to me during the past week.

The results were some great leftovers that I morphed into two really yummy dishes. The first was what started out as my butternut squash soup and ended up as a cheesy, thick butternut and potato soup.

It’s hardly a recipe, but here’s the lowdown.

Cook onion and butternut squash chunks in oil in a deep pot over medium-high heat until the veggies are soft.

At this point, I remove the pot from the heat and a splash of sherry or dry white wine. I return the pot to the heat and add chicken or vegetable stock. Season with salt and pepper. Cool the soup to room temperature and use a blender to pulse the veggies to make a smooth soup.

But then, I returned the soup to the pot to reheat and found that it was a tad too thin and a bit too salty. So, I added a couple of spoonfuls of leftover mashed potatoes as I warmed the soup over medium-high heat. I tasted the soup and it wasn’t too bad.

So, I add more potatoes.

Then hubby came in and asked if I was making cheese soup. The butternut squash had given the soup a cheesy golden glow.

So, I nodded in the affirmative and added some grated cheddar cheese. I kept adding potatoes and cheese until the soup was rich, and velvety and hearty and really, really good.

I cooled it again, pulsed it again, reheated and poured it into bowls. Hot pepper sauce and parsley were the perfect garnish. Voila!

The second dish takes advantage of leftover chicken and wonton wrappers in place of pasta to make a yummy chicken ravioli that tastes as good as it looks. 

Leftovers are not an afterthought, they’re the new way to cook smart and cook well!


Chicken Ravioli: Two Ways

Tomato Pie


Make these on a day when you have leftover chicken. You can store extra ravioli in a single layer in a resealable plastic bag in the freezer. To serve, bring them to room temperature before you drop them into boiling water.

For ravioli:

2 cups cooked chicken

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish

2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated, about ½ cup

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

1 package Wonton wrappers, about 36

For brown butter sauce:

½ cup butter, 1 stick

4 to 6 sage leaves

For red sauce:

1 cup prepared marinara sauce

2 to 3 tablespoons half and half

Toasted pine nuts for garnish

Grated parmesan cheese for garnish

Servings: 4 or more

Time: 30-minute cuisine

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Place the chicken into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to mince the chicken. Place the ricotta cheese, basil leaves and Parmesan cheese into the bowl and pulse to combine. Season with salt and pepper and pulse a final time.

Spread four wonton wrappers onto your works surface. Place a spoon full of the chicken filling into the center of each square. Place a small basil leaf on top of the filling. Wet the border of the wonton square with water. Place another wonton wrapper on top. Gently press with your fingers to seal the ravioli. Use the tines of a fork to firmly seal the edges. Repeat with the remaining wonton wrappers and filling.

For the brown butter sauce, warm the butter over low heat until it begins to froth and turn golden, about 5 minutes. Toss in the sage leaves and continue cooking for two minutes more.

For the red sauce, heat marinara sauce over low heat. Stir in the cream.

Fill a deep pot with water and bring to a boil. Season the water with a generous amount of salt. Lower the ravioli into the pot, one at a time. Do this in batches so that you don’t overcrowd the pot and damage the ravioli. The ravioli will cook in just minutes. Use a slotted spoon to lift the ravioli from the pot. Transfer to the brown butter or red sauce. You pick! Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and pine nuts.

On Sauces, Saucery & Yummy Chicken Dinners

On Sauces, Saucery & Yummy Chicken Dinners

When I attended a Paris cooking class at the Alain Ducasse school, one of the items we dwelled on was a rich, au jus sauce to drizzle over our very delicate lamb chops. The sauce began with aromatics that we simmered for hours and then mashed through a fine sieve. The final step was swirling rich, creamy butter into the liquid to create a shiny, lush sauce. It was delish!

It’s been a couple of years since that class and in that time, I have managed to create a couple of shortcuts to the very traditional French sauces that allow me to pump up an average weeknight dinner. Even the most boring piece of chicken can become a masterpiece with a flavorful sauce drizzled over the top.

Here’s how I do it. First, I cook the chicken in a saucepan in a bit of olive oil and butter. Butter helps to brown the chicken and create those little brown bits of flavor in the bottom of the pan. I remove the chicken from the pan, and add the flavors I want in the sauce; you can try it yourself using the likes of onions, garlic, fennel, fresh herbs, and maybe some citrus, like lemon or orange. Check out how my combination of flavors looks in this C’est Magnifique photo!

It’s all so simple you don’t need a formal recipe – just let your imagination run wild!

Then I add some wine to the pan, and we’re talkin’ lovely coq au vin. I simmer the wine until it mostly disappears. The ingredients in the pan absorb the wine flavors. Next, I pour in chicken or vegetable broth. I simmer this until the liquid reduces a bit. I use a slotted spoon to remove all the aromatics from the liquid. Now it’s time to thicken the sauce. For chicken, I like to use mustard as a thickener. Just a tablespoon or so thickens the sauce and adds a bold, spicy note. For beef, I like to thicken with tomato paste; for others, I thicken with a bit of flour and butter mixed together. I place the chicken into the sauce and simmer until it is cooked through. A bit of fresh herb on top and voila…. we have a midweek meal fit for a Parisian!!

This is how my chicken turned out that night. See what I mean?

Try some herbal and wine infusions, and let me know how they turned out with that delectable chicken dinner – I’ll post your pictures ;)!

Just Another Chicken Dinner

Just Another Chicken Dinner

Every time my pals Doreen and Keith come to the mountains for a golf weekend, I offer to make Friday night dinner. More often than not, it is a combined effort where I bring some veggie sides and Keith grills his favorite dinner – chicken.

One weekend this past May – yes MAY – the temperature dropped into the thirties. Grilling on the back deck was not an option. Of course we still played golf (bundled up as if we were skiing) but we decided to cook dinner inside, at our house, instead of out on their back deck. Not wanting to miss out on any of the fun, I set a menu that I could make in advance. That way I am out of the kitchen, heading to the course in time to hit a few warm up balls.

After Golf Dinner with Best Pals

Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms
Bacon and Blue Cheese Bites

Chicken Milanese with Herb Salad and Lemon Vinaigrette
Chili Crusted Salmon with Pimento Cheese Grits
Baked Tomatoes

S’mores Cupcakes

The appys are made in advance and frozen until you are ready to bake them off, about fifteen minutes before the guests arrived. Vinaigrette is made several days in advance. In a food processor or blender combine shallots, lemon juice, white balsamic vinegar and a bit of Dijon mustard. Pour in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Delish!

I pound chicken breasts between plastic wrap to make sure that they cook quickly and evenly. Brush each side with mustard and dredge in bread crumbs. Sauté the chicken in olive oil and butter and place onto a baking sheet. You can do this a couple of hours in advance. Finish the dish in a 350° oven for about 10 minutes.

The salmon is easily prepared before your guests arrive. Squeeze lemon juice over a whole salmon filet. Sprinkle with spice rub. Mine combines brown sugar, chili powder, onion and garlic salts, ground cumin and paprika. You can prepare the salmon hours in advance then finish by baking in a 350° oven for about 20 minutes.

Ratatouille is a dish that combines veggies with fresh basil, tomatoes, and is topped with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. I sautéed onions, bell peppers, garlic, zucchini, yellow squash and eggplant. Stir in some crushed tomatoes and fresh basil. Pour everything into a casserole dish and top with cheese. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Finish the dish in a 350° oven until its hot and bubbly.

Have you noticed that everything is done before the guests arrive and that all of the dishes are finished in the oven at the same temperature? This, my friends and fellow foodies is my secret to being a relaxed hostess, one who sips her wine with her friends while dinner comes together. When it’s time to serve, everyone chips in and transfers food to waiting platters. We then sit down, toast our good fortune and enjoy the real reward for two days of playing golf in very chilly weather – just another (very yummy) chicken dinner.

Chick’s Night In

Chick’s Night In

Sometimes I find myself home alone.  When this happens I mostly occupy myself by doing purposeful projects like cleaning out the closet, rearranging the kitchen drawers, and stalking my children on Facebook. You know — the boring stuff. The one thing I absolutely cannot bring myself to do is eat cold cereal for dinner. I have friends that do this. Rather than nuke something or throw something into a pan they eat cold cereal from a bowl. I tried this once and then made my way directly to the stove and cooked a full meal. I guess I’m just addicted to good food.

Alone last night, I defrosted some chicken thighs and braised them with some chopped veggies, wine, beef broth and added some frozen okra and fresh thyme. Yes… it was yummy; and while the chicken cooked I rearranged my knife drawer, it’s in stellar condition.

I have a recipe in Sunday Best Dishes  for “Braised Chicken Thighs with Sweet Peas and Bacon” on which this dish is based. Here is my home alone adaptation.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 large (5 to 6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken thighs or 6 smaller thighs
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • ½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • 1 large white onion, peeled and diced, about 1 cup
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped, about ½ cup
  • 2 large carrots, diced, about ½ cup
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen okra, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Cook the chicken in the pan until browned on one side, about 5 minutes. Turn and brown on the remaining side, about 5 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a platter. Carefully pour out the fat from the pan, reserving about 2 tablespoons. Place the onion, celery and carrots in the skillet. Cook until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the wine, beef broth and tomato paste. Return the chicken to the pan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in the okra and thyme and cook for 3 to 5 minutes more. Serve with rice or pasta or just on its own – single.

What is your favorite chick’s night in dish?