Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dinner For Ruby's Parents

It was a few years ago that I first had the honor of meeting Shelley from FranishSpeaks. It was at the first Austin Food Swap and not knowing what to expect, I showed up so nervous about my wares that I simply looked for the friendly smile of anyone to cling too. I know that sounds cheesy but it's true. There was Shelley smiling away and eager to put the first handshake forward.  Since then we have become friends as well as fellow food bloggers. I cannot tell you how thrilled I was when she announced she was going to have a little girl. Her friend and fellow food blogger Ilke came up with this great idea to host a virtual food shower. Bloggers were invited to post one of there "freezer friendly" recipes during the week of June 27th. This would give plenty of time for Shelly to prepare and freeze a number of go-to, heat-and-serve meals for when that sweet little Baby Ruby makes her debut in August. So what do you cook for a dad who is a professional chef and a mom who is a trained pastry chef?  As daunting as that may seem, I know that their professions will be the last thing they are thinking about after being up all night with that sweet little one. Many of us have been there and we know that just about anything that can be thrown together quickly or heated up fast will fit the bill and be appreciated.  But even with that, the challenge is still to make a dish packed with flavor so I thought I would do a pasta recipe that my family loves and, as a Steel Magnolia once said, "freezes beautifully".  After all, Baby Ruby is a soon-to-be special dinner guest and though she may not be eating the same food as her parents, she will definitely be the honored guest at the dinner table... I'm jus' sayin'! 

Ruby Red Tomato Pasta Bake
  • 6 tablespoons butter, plus more for baking dishes
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound tube pasta such as penne or rigatoni (I used Trottole  because I had it on hand)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (8 ounces each), halved horizontally (I sliced mine 1/4" thin while still frozen.  Pre-cutting and cooking at this size saves valuable cooking time)
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. of crushed garlic
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 1 large portabella mushroom, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella (6 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan (4 ounces)
  • 1 cup of bread crumbs (I used day-old garlic bread that I put in my food processor to create crumbs)

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees farenheit. Butter two shallow 2-quart baking dishes. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 3 minutes short of al dente; drain pasta, and return to pot.
  • In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Season sliced chicken with salt and pepper. Saute until golden. Set aside.
  • In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and garlic; cook, whisking, 1 minute. While whisking, gradually add milk; bring to a simmer, whisking frequently. Add mushrooms and tomatoes; cook 1 minute. Off heat, gradually stir in mozzarella and parmesan.
  • Add chicken and pasta to pot; season with salt and pepper. Divide pasta mixture between baking dishes; sprinkle each casserole with 1/2 cup of bread crumbs.
  • Wrap one in plastic wrap and then foil to tuck away in the freezer. Make sure you put a little sticky note or write with a sharpie on the foil that there is a layer of plastic wrap under the foil. (no new parent should have to deal with that mess) Also, if you are giving the freezer one away, place a card with the re-heating directions directly with the dish.
  • Bake, uncovered, until top is golden and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Speck of Ruby Salad 


1 head of butter lettuce
1 Rio Red Ruby Grapefruit, peeled and supremed (reserve juice)
1 avocado peeled and sliced
Dried Cranberries
Crumbled Blue Cheese

Grapefruit Vinaigrette:

  • Reserved juice from grapefruit and enough extra to make up 1/4 cup of juice.
  • 1 Tablespoon of Agave or Honey
  • 1 Teaspoon of Honey Mustard
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 6 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • In a small jar combine the ingredients and shake vigorously until thick and emulsified. Keep leftover in fridge for up to 3 weeks.
  • Gently wash and tear lettuce into large leaf bite sizes. Arrange the avocado and grapefruit slices on lettuce leaves. Sprinkle dried cranberries and cheese over the top. 
    Drizzle with vinaigrette. 

Ruby Red Spritzer

Pomegranate Juice
Sparkling Water
Pitted Cherries.
Fresh Lime juice
Drizzle of Agave syrup (too taste)

In a tall, ice-filled glass, fill 1/3 of the glass with  pomegranate juice. Fill the glass with sparkling water and drizzle agave and squeezed fresh lime to taste. Garnish by floating a cherry or two on top. Now sit back for a moment and relax as theses moments will be rare. 

Check out all the other Bloggers that chimed in on Ruby's welcome.
Anna from Keep It Luce
Carrie from Bakeaholic Mama
Elaine from California Living
Esra from Irmik Hanim
Ilke from Ilke’s Kitchen
Jennie from Pastry Chef Online
Jennifer from Scissors and Spatulas
Lana from Bibberche
Lisa from Lisa Is Cooking
Renee from Sweet Sugar Bean
Robin from A Chow Life
Sarah from Snippets of Thyme


  1. lovely dinner! lovely idea! thanks for sharing... love from Istanbul...

    1. Esra thank you so much for stopping by (all the way from Istambul) that is so cool.

  2. YUM! Looks like a fabulous meal. That is a daunting task considering your audience:) They really know their food! Love the Steel Magnolia quote:) Congrats to the proud parents-to-be.

    PS Hope you are having a great summer and are staying cool. This heat is crazy!?!?

    1. Hey Steph, How are you? yes they do-lucky for me even though they are both chefs they are super down to earth and very cool folks. They are going to be amazing parents too. I'm having a good summer so far. Will be really busy in July-I have 30 students signed up for a cooking camp Yikes! Heat what heat? Oh you mean outside -I do everything in my power to stay indoors as much as possible. lol!

  3. See how lucky your friends (and so happy to count myself among them) are??

    1. Ahhhh! Thanks Maggie the love goes right back at ya!

  4. Wow, what a spread, I love how you integrated Ruby in it :)
    I am not pregnant but I will be making every single recipe in this round up :) Everybody is posting such cool recipes, hard not to try them.

    1. This was the best idea Ilke, I love that I am getting to know new bloggers it's just like meeting people at a real shower. Thanks again for putting this together.

  5. Kristina, you've outdone yourself- everything looks and sounds so delicious! And I love the Ruby theme in the naming- you are too sweet. Wish I had one of those Ruby Red Spritzers right now. I can't wait to try out your recipes- thanks so much for participating!

    1. Shelly, it was my pleasure and I am soooooooo excited to meet Ruby!

    2. Oh I also forgot to tell you to click on the link right under the vinaigrette recipe. It's one of my fav songs.

  6. Such a cute post! I love how you worked Ruby into your recipes. :) Everything looks wonderful and I can't wait to make them all.

    1. Thanks Elaine-I had fun coming up with dishes named Ruby-I just LOVE the name. I can't wait to hold sweet Ruby.

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  8. I just love that everything is named for Ruby!! Too cute. And that casserole? Pure comfort! I'm Jus' Sayin'... :) So nice to meet you through this virtual shower!

    1. Jenni, I am having so much fun meeting new bloggers through this shower. Ilke was on to a great idea. I am also pinning all of these recipes, it seems I have quite a handful of new moms right now that would love all of these recipes as well.

  9. That tomato pasta bake looks crazy delicious and creamy and gooey...and lovely!

    1. Yes it certainly is a comfort too the soul kind of dish. Funny I just started a pot of minestrone tonight for dinner and then I read your recipe.Perfect timing! I'm going to emulsify mine to make it creamy like yours. Great to meet you. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog.

  10. So great to have met you through Ruby/Shelley's shower! What a lovely post... and that spritzer looks YUMM!

    1. Thanks Carrie back at ya, Think I may make you're garlic sticks tonight with my minestrone soup.

  11. The sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms sound so good in the pasta. I wish I had a baking dish of that in my freezer today. I'd love a Ruby Red Spritzer today too!

    1. Hey Lisa, Next time you stop over for some tequila tasting I will have a Ruby Red spritzer for your other hand *wink*

  12. I am so thrilled that Ilke organized this as I get to meet a few new wonderful bloggers! I am impressed that you made the whole meal, not only one dish! I will be using your recipes for sure (my girls are 12 and 13, but I can still use some time-saving techniques:)
    Looking forward to getting to know you better:)
    BTW, my oldest is soon-to-be senior at UC Berkeley and I just LOVE that area. I know it's not really Northern California, but we are slowly exploring the state, as we moved to SoCal almost four years ago (and I have to say I am not budging from here:)

  13. Hey Lana, Yes this truly has been a fun shower. I have a 14 year old daughter and a 22 year old son. All the recipes from the bloggers for this shower are good for all ages lol! Berkley is great-I was born and raised in San Jose so I am familiar with the whole Bay Area. Cali is beautiful and I am thankful that my family still lives there so we get the pleasure of going back yearly for cool weather visits. Where in SoCal are you?

  14. Great looking recipes! I love how you ran with the "Ruby" theme. The spritzer looks especially fantastic :)