spinach and ricotta stuffed shells

sorry the picture above is not all that pretty.  but you know what the one downside with food blogging is?  having to wait to eat dinner because you’re trying to style your food just right so that you can take a pretty picture to post on your blog.  poor chris has to wait all the time – just one more second and we can eat, i promise!  a million seconds later and it’s finally time to eat.

well sometimes, i’m just so hungry that i’m not able to take all the time i would like to make the plate of food pretty.  this happened when i made these spinach and ricotta stuffed shells for dinner.  it was already past our dinner time and when i’m hungry, i get just a little cranky.  so i just plopped a few of the shells on a plate, snapped a couple pictures and we dug in.

so please forgive me for the less than beautiful pictures, but please don’t let that keep you from trying out this recipe – because it’s amazeballs.  yes, that’s totally a word (anyone else watch giuliana and bill?).

anyway, i stuffed the shells with a flavorful mixture of spinach, ricotta cheese, garlic, onions and herbs and then topped it all with some crockpot bolognese sauce and melty mozzarella cheese.  if you don’t happen to have bolognese sauce on hand (but who really does?  we only had some since i was on a crockpot/slow cooker kick) just use a large can of diced tomatoes or a large jar of your favorite pasta sauce.  the original stuffed shells recipe i used had sausage in the stuffing mixture, but i took it out since the bolognese sauce already had meat in it.  but if you plan on using just diced tomatoes or pasta sauce, i would definitely suggest adding the sausage back in.

start by boiling the shells.

once they’re done, rinse and drain the shells well and set them aside to cool.

then make the filling mixture.  saute some onions and garlic in 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  once the onions are translucent, turn the heat off and allow the onions and garlic to cool.

in a large bowl combine the ricotta cheese, spinach, parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, breadcrumbs, egg, salt, pepper, and basil.

then add the onions and garlic.

now the filling mixture is ready to be stuffed into the shells.

get ready, this is going to make a lot of shells,  so get 2 pans ready one 9 x 13ish and 1 8/8ish pan.  spread a little bit of the sauce on the bottom of each pan.

then start stuffing the shells and line them up in the pan.  big pan done…

and the little one.

now spread some bolognese sauce over the shells.

cover each pan with foil.

then bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes.  take the foil off and sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the sauce,

and bake uncovered for another 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

i’ll warn you, it’s going to smell really really good and you’re going to want to dive right in.  once you try it, hopefully you won’t blame me for not wanting to wait and take pictures and you too will want to just gobble these spinach and ricotta stuffed shells up.


spinach and asparagus quiche

whenever i think of quiche the first thing that comes to mind is those mini quiches you get as appetizers at catered parties.  often they are kind of soggy and just not really good.  but quiche is sooo much better than that.  quiche can be really good and really delicious.  i mean i guess it’s really just an omelet or frittata in a pie crust, but i absolutely love this stuff.

this quiche has spinach, asparagus, feta and mozzarella cheese, and bacon.  it’s based on a recipe i found on two peas and their pod.  but i made a few adaptations based on what i had available in my pantry.  that’s what’s so wonderful about quiche – it’s really versatile and you can easily make it your own by using different kinds of veggies, meats, and cheeses.

i have had a piece of this quiche every day this past week for lunch.  yeah i know – definitely not the healthiest meal but i mean it has a bunch of veggies in it so it’s kind of good for you right?  okay maybe not.  but with a fresh side salad or even some fruit on the side, this quiche makes for an absolutely lovely lunch.

quiche starts off with a pie crust.  i used my go to recipe, but you could use your own or even use a store bought frozen or refrigerated pie crust instead.  (just ignore the fact that my pie crust below is all weird and bumpy – i was having some trouble rolling it out and then making the edge pretty.  oh well it still ended up working out fine.)

then saute some onions, garlic, and asparagus in a medium pan until the asparagus is tender.

add the asparagus and onion mixture to the bottom of the pie crust in an even layer.

then sprinkle on the chopped bacon…

finally layer on the frozen spinach that has been thawed and well drained.

now in a medium bowl, add the eggs, milk, feta and mozzarella cheese, salt and pepper and mix well.  then pour the egg mixture over the spinach and other filling ingredients.

bake the quiche at 375 degrees F for 45 minutes or until the quiche is set and golden brown.  allow it to cool for 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

if you haven’t made quiche before, i would definitely suggest trying it out.  it’s pretty easy and the results are actually quite impressive.


tomato and sausage risotto

last weekend, i made this tomato and sausage risotto.  it was good.  really good.  i was super excited to post it on the blog until…

i looked at the pictures that i took of it – the risotto looked pretty gross.  sad panda.  but the pictures of this risotto certainly do not match its flavor.  but i’m not sure why (smitten kitchen‘s looks amazing!).  i’m thinking it may because my tomatoes weren’t the greatest so it didn’t give the risotto the pretty vibrant red color smitten kitchen’s risotto had.  it could also be because i probably need to get a new camera but can’t afford a really good one right now.  anyone want to buy me a new camera?  🙂

regardless, don’t let the semi-unappetizing pictures of this tomato and sausage risotto keep you from making some.  i hadn’t seen many risotto recipes that called for tomatoes so this was definitely an interesting addition.  it actually reminded chris of spanish rice and i would have to agree.  so i guess it’s kind of like an italian version of spanish rice?  i don’t know.  either way, i love that it’s kind of a one pot meal with veggies, starch and meat all in one.  awesome!

i did make just a couple changes to this recipe – i added some garlic.  also i didn’t do it this time, but i think it would be best to brown the sausage before adding the onions.  the sausage ended up getting boiled almost when cooked with the onions, yuck.  i also never have fresh spinach but always have a few boxes of frozen spinach so i used that instead.  all of these changes are noted in the recipe below.  enjoy!




sweet potato gnocchi with spinach cream sauce

last night i had a crazy idea.

i decided i would make gnocchi on a weeknight.

i know sooo crazy.

okay, i guess not so crazy but i definitely thought that it would take too long and we would be eating dinner at 10:00 p.m. by the time i was done cooking.

well you know the rebellious side in me decided to go for it and hooray, i was able to make sweet potato gnocchi with spinach cream sauce on a thursday night.  plus we ate dinner at 7:30 p.m. not bad at all, especially considering that i went to the gym right after work too.  so all in all it only took about 45 minutes to an hour.  not bad at all.  but i would say it  unless you happen to have peeled, cooked, and mashed sweet potato already on hand, i would suggest using canned pumpkin instead of sweet potatoes because it would definitely take longer if you had to cook and potatoes and all that jazz.

so start with making the sweet potato gnocchi.  i used the same recipe and cooking technique as the sweet potato with brown butter and sage i made a little while ago.

while you’re pan frying the gnocchi, fry up some bacon in a separate pan.  you know, bacon makes everything better!

this spinach and garlic cream sauce comes together very quickly.  i used frozen spinach but if you have some fresh on hand you could definitely use that instead.

then just put it all together.  easy peasy!

and there you have it homemade gnocchi on a weeknight.  totally doable and totally delicious.  rich, flavorful gnocchi plus a light spinach and garlic cream sauce plus crunchy bacon – you can’t go wrong.


roasted sweet potato and spinach risotto

the last time that i made risotto, i made it with tammy and we made a delicious herbed risotto with chicken and caramelized onions.  it was much easier than i though it would be to make risotto.  but you know why that was?  because we were using a non-traditional, hands free technique to make the risotto.  i guess we were kind of cheating – oops!  but  no wonder we weren’t stirring and stirring the risotto like i normally see people do on the food network.

well this past weekend, i made risotto the more traditional way and spent 45 minutes stirring.  fun fun.  but it was well worth the effort because we ended up with an amazing, creamy, roasted sweet potato and spinach risotto to eat with our apple stuffed pork loin roast (recipe coming soon).

we bought a humongous box of sweet potatoes from costco and it’s been lots of fun trying to figure out new ways to eat them besides baked sweet potato fries.  i think i’m going to try out sweet potato rolls next.  yum!  so anyway, the first step to making this risotto is to roast the sweet potatoes…

then saute the onions (the recipe called for shallots but i just used some red onion) and garlic in butter…

at the same time, simmer the chicken or vegetable broth in a medium pot.  it’s important that you add hot broth to the risotto as you’re making it (this picture was taken a bit into the risotto making so you’ll definitely need more broth than this)…

after adding in wine and stirring a bit, it’s time to start the constant stirring.  first you add a cup of broth and stir until it gets a bit dry.  then you add in another cup of broth and stir some more until it gets dry again.  you repeat this process until the risotto is cooked and you’ve used up all of the broth, which took about 40 minutes.  check out how creamy it gets after being stirred and stirred…

the final step is to add the roasted sweet potato, spinach (i used frozen spinach because that’s all i had on hand, but the recipe called for fresh), and parmesan cheese.  once everything is combine it’s all done.  time to eat!