pasta

Spinach and Cheese Manicotti

Spinach and Cheese ManicottiI’m approximately 0% Italian by blood. My husband is also 0% Italian I’m pretty sure. We are both pale, blue-eyed, and blonde-haired. I’m cool with that. However that doesn’t stop me from channeling my inner Italian to cook dishes like this spinach and cheese manicotti that are oh so *delizioso*. Yeah. That was my inner Italian coming out. Sorry.

Spinach and Cheese ManicottiI actually didn’t have manicotti to make this manicotti recipe because that’s how I roll. BUT, I was able to make some homemade lasagna noodles that I rolled up with the filling inside and it worked great! You certainly can buy manicotti or use store-bought lasagna noodles cut in half. Honestly, I couldn’t find manicotti at the store after I put everything else for this recipe in my cart. Since I’m too lazy to go to another store or ask where the manicotti may be, I made the noodles. The truth comes out. 

Spinach and Cheese ManicottiYou are also more than welcome to make your own pasta sauce for this recipe. I often do have homemade sauce in my freezer but for this recipe I took the easy way out and bought a nice store-bought sauce. It did the trick! 

Spinach and Cheese ManicottiOne thing I love about this otherwise cheesy and carb-filled recipe is that it does sneek some veggies in there! Apparently now that I have a little one I think about hiding vegetables in food. Such is life. The little guy’s only a couple months old though so he pretty much has a one track mind and it’s focused on milk right now.

Spinach and Cheese Manicotti
Manicotti stuffed with a 3-cheese and spinach filling and topped with your favorite pasta sauce
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 10 ounces frozen spinach
  2. 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  3. 1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  4. 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  5. 1 egg
  6. salt and pepper, to taste
  7. 10 manicotti, cooked*
  8. 24 ounce pasta sauce (homemade or store bought)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cook the frozen spinach according to packaging (I microwaved mine in a microwave-safe bowl). Place the cooked spinach in a kitchen towel and let drain. Squeeze the excess water out by twisting and squeezing the towel.
  3. Mix the spinach, ricotta cheese, 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese (the remainder is for the top), Parmesan cheese, egg, and salt and pepper together in bowl. Transfer to a zip top bag. Seal the bag and cut a corner off to create a piping bag.
  4. Squeeze the cheese mixture into the manicotti. This is easiest to pipe a little from each side to make sure you get the mixture all the way through the noodle.
  5. Spread 1 cup of the pasta sauce on the bottom of a lasagna pan. Place the manicotti in the pan, top with the remaining pasta sauce and reserved 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes.
Notes
  1. *I used homemade whole wheat lasagna noodles that I cut in half and rolled up once I put the filling in them. Either way works!
Adapted from The Cooking Jar
Adapted from The Cooking Jar
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/

Chicken Parmesan

Chicken ParmesanEvery once in awhile I get a hankering for a classic and simple dish like Chicken Parmesan. I mean, you can’t go wrong with a classic. It just so happens that this is a fairly classic recipe made oh-so-delicious with a panko breadcrumb and Parmesan coating. If you aren’t familiar with panko breadcrumbs, think breadcrumbs but lighter and crispier. You can find them in basically every grocery store, if not every one, so don’t worry that they’ll be hard to find. It’s worth it. For real.

Chicken ParmesanI’ve only ever actually made Chicken Parmesan maybe a couple times in my life. This is a dish that’s so easy to order at a Italian restaurant and it’s pretty much always delicious. Where can you really go wrong with breaded chicken, cheese, and pasta? It’s like you’d have to *try* to make those ingredients taste bad. Even though I’ve made it before, I for some reason was convinced that it would be hard to make and would be a disaster. False. Totally false. This recipe is not hard to make at all. And it totally was not a disaster. Note to future Steph thinking Chicken Parmesan is hard to make…IT IS SO EASY!

Chicken ParmesanThe main advice I have for anything breaded is just to prep well. As you may or may not know, I am a very experienced cook so you should all listen to any and all advice that I have. That’s a joke…my experience is limited. However, you can be assured that any advice I post is from personal experience. So that’s a win for you! Once you have the 3 pans (flour mixture, egg mixture, and breading) ready to go, you’re basically golden. The rest is just a little cooking on the stove top and in the oven. Easy peasy.

Chicken ParmesanThe moral of the story is that no matter how delicious Chicken Parmesan can be at a restaurant, you can easily make it just as (if not more) delicious in your own home. Your own home, folks.

Chicken Parmesan
Serves 4
Simple and delicious Chicken Parmesan with a light and crispy breading
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 boneless and skinless chicken breasts
  2. 1/2 cup flour
  3. salt and pepper, to taste
  4. 2 eggs, whisked
  5. 1.5 cups panko breadcrumbs
  6. 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  7. 1/2 cup olive oil
  8. 2 tablespoons butter
  9. 1 cup pasta sauce
  10. 4 slices mozzarella cheese
  11. basil, optional, to garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place chicken (1-2 breasts at a time) in a plastic zip top bag. Use a rolling pin to pound each chicken breast to about 1/2" thick. Set aside.
  3. Mix together the flour and salt and pepper, to taste. Pour mixture onto on a plate or large flat pan and set aside. Have another pan (with edges) ready with the whisked egg and salt and pepper, to taste. In a 3rd pan, mix the panko breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Dredge the pounded chicken in the flour mixture, coat with the egg mixture (let extra slightly drain off), and finally coat in the breadcrumb mixture.
  4. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large saute pan over medium to medium high heat. Once the oil is heated, add the dredged chicken into the pan and cook 2-3 minutes per side, until just golden brown.
  5. Place the chicken on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover each piece of chicken with about 1/4 cup of pasta sauce, mozzarella slices, and basil.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, until cooked through and the cheese is melted.
  7. Serve over pasta.
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/

Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

butternut squash mac & cheeseI’M BACK! *Finally*, after lots of holiday traveling (and fun!), website rearrangement/launching, and the craziness of going back to work after a couple weeks off, I am back and ready to keep on cooking and sharing more delicious recipes! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. We certainly did here!

Back to the serious business at hand…cooking! I made this butternut squash mac & cheese with a little caution. Yes, I was confident that I could make something edible, but I wasn’t looking for edible. I was looking for DELICIOUS! Luckily, with a little finagling this dish DID turn out delicious!

butternut squash mac & cheese
If you’ve ever worked with butternut squash, you know that it’s not necessarily scary or even hard to work with but that it takes a little bit of effort to peel and cut into pieces. You can always use pre-cut cubes that are often sold in the store, but where’s the fun in that?? Plus, you pay way more for the pre-cut stuff so I tend to take on the challenge of an extra few steps instead of forking out the money. Take a look at the notes in the recipe to learn how to cube a squash!

butternut squash mac & cheese
This mac and cheese ends up ooey and gooey just like any mac and cheese. The butternut squash just adds a fresh and unique flavor to an ordinary dish. Plus, for those of you with kids, the butternut squash is basically the same color as typical mac and cheese so it’s easy to slip it in there for some extra nutrition without anyone noticing. I wouldn’t call that sneaky, just…creative. Yeah, we’ll go with creative.

butternut squash mac & cheese
So if you’re ready for a different take on mac and cheese that will make you feel not-as-guilty about that New Year’s resolution that has been broken way too many times for the 2nd week of the year, this is the dish for you! I’m not saying that this dish is the most figure friendly dish out there, but it sure beats some other mac and cheese dishes!

Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese
Serves 6
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
Ingredients for the pasta
  1. 5 cups cubed butternut squash (about 1 squash)
  2. 1 1/4 cups chicken stock
  3. 1 1/2 cups milk
  4. 2 cloves garlic
  5. 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  6. 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (about 1, 5.3 oz containter)
  7. 2.5 cups shredded Gouda
  8. 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  9. 1 pound rotini, cooked
  10. salt & pepper, to taste
Ingredients for the topping
  1. 1 tablespoon butter
  2. 1 cup breadcrumbs
  3. salt & pepper, to taste
  4. 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, to garnish
Directions for the pasta
  1. In a medium to large sauce pan, add cubed squash, chicken stock, milk, garlic and nutmeg. Heat over medium-high heat until it begins to simmer. Cover and simmer about 20 minutes, or until the squash is fork tender.
  2. Add Greek yogurt, salt and pepper to pan. Use immersion (hand) blender to bend until smooth. Alternatively, you can transfer the squash mixture to a blender, add the Greek yogurt, salt, and pepper and blend until smooth.
  3. Fold in Gouda cheese and Parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
  4. Pour squash and cheese mixture into a large bowl or pot with the cooked pasta. Stir to blend.
Directions for the breadcrumb topping
  1. Melt butter in a small sauté pan.
  2. Add breadcrumbs and stir until breadcrumbs are crispy.
  3. Sprinkle breadcrumbs and parsley over mac and cheese to garnish.
Notes
  1. To cut the butternut squash into cubes, use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin. Cut a small piece off the side to help stabilize the squash when turned on its side. Place the squash on the flat surface you just cut and cut the squash in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the stringy flesh and seeds. Finally, cut into strips then cubes.
  2. You can make the sauce beforehand then heat it up when you are ready to serve!
  3. You can use any kind of melting cheese in place of the Gouda. Simple cheddar would be delicious as well!
Adapted from The Chew
Adapted from The Chew
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/

Lasagna with Meat Sauce

Lasagna is something that everyone seems to love. It’s ooey and gooey and saucy and full of flavor. Plus it feeds a lot of people! Don’t worry, I won’t be mad if you don’t like lasagna. Everyone has their own preferences. With that said, let’s be real…it would be rare that you have someone over for dinner and they are disappointed when lasagna shows up on the table. Seriously.

This recipe came from Travis’ family. It’s slightly adapted but it’s more or less the same as when I got it. Delicious as always! The main difference is that I typically use ground turkey instead of ground beef. Both add a good flavor. Plus with the sausage in there I honestly can’t tell the difference between ground beef and turkey. So use what you like or what you have!

Lasagna is a little bit of a process but in the end it is definitely worth it! One wonderful thing about lasagna is that you can easily freeze and thaw it before baking it so if you make it, you might as well make a lot of it so that you can have it more than once! Or, if you have company coming this is a great make-ahead dish so that all you have to do is pop it in the oven. Easy peasy.

Travis and I have been making homemade pasta for awhile now so we made homemade lasagna noodles for this. So. gosh. darn. good. Don’t get me wrong, this lasagna is scrumptious with or without the fresh noodles. BUT, lasagna with fresh pasta is like eating pillows of noodles covered in gooey cheese and meaty tomato sauce. Yeah. Just stop and think about that for a minute…pillows of pasta. gooey cheese. meaty sauce. Enough said.

Lasagna with Meat Sauce
Serves 8
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Prep Time
40 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr 40 min
Prep Time
40 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr 40 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 pound ground turkey (or ground beef)
  2. 1/2 pound ground Italian sausage
  3. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 1 can whole tomatoes (28 ounces)
  5. 1 can tomato paste (12 ounces)
  6. 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
  7. 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  8. 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  9. 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  10. 2 cups cottage cheese
  11. 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese + 1/2 cup for topping
  12. 16 ounces grated mozzarella cheese
  13. 1 box lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
Instructions
  1. Brown ground turkey and sausage in a large pan over medium heat. Drain any excess fat and add the garlic to the pan. Sauté 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Slightly break apart the tomatoes as you stir. Stir in the basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. In a bowl, stir together the cottage cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and grated mozzarella cheese.
  4. In an ungreased 9 x 13" pan, alternate layers of sauce, noodles, and cheese, starting with a little sauce on the bottom. End with a layer of sauce and sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese on top.
  5. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting.
Notes
  1. This recipe can easily be frozen after assembly then thawed and baked as directed!
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/
 

Turkey Meatballs

Turkey MeatballsThese meatballs are unofficially titled, “mama’s meatballs” in my house because my mama makes these meatballs…That probably didn’t need an explanation but you got one anyways. Not only are these easy and delicious, but they also remind me of home! How perfect is that??

Turkey MeatballsConsidering pasta was a staple in my house growing up, we had meatballs often. I’m pretty sure my dad could eat about a pound of pasta by himself given the chance. That tidbit is not a proven fact. Just a hypothesis. Dad, if you have eaten a pound of pasta solo let me know….

Anyways, these meatballs are definitely the finishing touch to an awesome spaghetti dinner. Great thing is, I make a LOT at once and freeze them. Then they’re ready to eat should a spaghetti night come around!

Turkey MeatballsWhen I started making these at home they were made with ground beef (which is actually very delicious in this recipe as well). At some point, I “accidentally” used ground turkey instead and “accidentally” didn’t tell my husband and he didn’t notice. So then I “accidentally” used ground turkey more often. When he found out he grumbled a bit about it but not to much effect because I already knew that he couldn’t really taste the difference.

Whether you use ground turkey or ground beef, just know that these will be simple, delicious, and worth the little time and effort they take!
Turkey Meatballs

Turkey Meatballs
Yields 35
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 pound ground turkey
  2. 1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese
  3. 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  4. 2 eggs
  5. 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  6. pinch of salt and pepper
  7. 2 tablespoons water, as needed
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix all ingredients together except the water until everything is just incorporated. You do not want to over mix. If the mixture is not easily able to be formed into balls, add a splash of water to loosen it.
  3. Form into 1-inch balls and place on an ungreased baking sheet.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, or until the cheese starts to melt and they are cooked through.
Notes
  1. These meatballs can be served immediately or frozen once cooked. To defrost, I place them in my pasta sauce to reheat for about 10 minutes. Works great! You can use ground beef with these as well and they turn out delicious (I originally made them with ground beef)!
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/