I’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.
I 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.
You 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!
One 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bake for 30 minutes.
*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!
In general, I have to be in the right mood to eat a salad. Like if I could choose anything in the world to eat, my first choice would not be salad. It’s usually something more like pizza. Just saying. However, Travis and I ate this entire thing one day for lunch and loved it! The orange gives it a fresh citrus flavor, the cranberry is a little sweet and sour, and the cashews are salty and crunchy. YUM! I also have some creamy fresh mozzarella on there. And let’s face it…cheese makes everything better. End of story.
The great thing about this salad is that it’s *super* simple to make but seems *super* fancy. You could totally bring this to a fancy party and fit right in. But you could also make it in 5 minutes while binge watching TV in your sweatpants. It’s your life…I won’t judge. It’s hard to find something appropriate for EVERYTHING. This is it. This is the side dish that is perfect in any situation. You’re welcome.
Talking about fancy, I am not very fancy. Fancy restaurants make me nervous and I usually leave hungry. Well, yesterday Travis and I went to this kind of fancy restaurant for an event with appetizers and such. As soon as we walked in I thought, “Something smells funky.” I mean I wish I spent the time enjoying meeting and talking to people but I mostly thought about how funky it smelled. I’m just being honest here. Anyways, they had some nice flatbread pizza and fancy fries and dips that of course we devoured. Afterwards, I told Travis that the funkiness was definitely from the fries. I thought it was a cheese or something but turns out they were truffle fries.
Now, here’s the difference between me and someone fancy with a refined “palete” (yes, I had to look up how to spell that because I don’t use that word in real life). Turns out, I HATE the smell and taste of truffles. A fancy person would say that’s crazy and I don’t know what’s good. I’m sorry, but I’m not a fan. It must be one of those acquired tastes that only fancy people like. Or maybe I can just blame my heightened sense of smell and taste on the pregnancy. Perhaps I shouldn’t rule out such a supposedly wonderful thing so quickly. So instead I will say that as of today, I am not a fan of truffles, but who knows what will happen in the future.
Anywho, getting back to the salad. Regardless of how refined you palate is, this is a fancy and simple salad that you will love!
Cut the skin off the orange with a knife. To do this, I cut the top and bottom of the orange off, then ran my knife around the orange from top to bottom. Make sure to get all the white pith off in this process.
Using a sharp knife, cut out the orange wedges by cutting just inside the white lines (see image above). This makes nice slices without the pith.
Squeeze the juice from the leftover orange pith into a bowl. Whisk in the balsamic vinegar, honey, mustard, and salt and pepper.
Slowly whisk in the olive oil until it comes together.
In a large salad bowl toss together the salad greens, dried cranberries, cashews, Mozzarella cheese, and a drizzle of the salad dressing, to taste.
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When I made naan recently, I told you all that I ate it with some green lentil dal. That probably didn’t mean much to some of you. If I were reading this about a month ago I would be just as lost as you most likely are. Here’s just a little background I learned through some major internet researching (Google, anyone?). “Dal” can actually mean a split lentil, pea, or bean. You might be thinking that I’m talking in circles because now all you know is that I made green lentil…split lentils. So helpful for you all. You’re welcome!
To be fair, “dal” can also mean a stew-like dish prepared with, well, dal. So turns out I’m not completely losing it! This means that in the simplest terms, this dish is a green lentil stew. Often served with rice and bread (hence, the naan), this dish is oh-so-much-more than just a stew. It’s full of flavor and spices that will make your mouth wonder why it has never tasted something so delicious before. Want. more. now!
*Side note: I’m not a pro at Indian cuisine, or any cuisine for that matter. This is seriously delicious stuff but don’t look at me for the traditional recipe that your great aunt twice removed from India used to make. I probably don’t have it here.
This is a vegetarian dish, which is cool. I’m not vegetarian and my husband is most definitely not a vegetarian. Every so often I try some tasty vegetarian dishes but if Travis had it his way we would probably be eating steak and chicken every day. Mostly steak. BUT, I must say that it’s big news that Travis actually told me this dish is a keeper and not a bit of meat was to be found. Must mean it’s pretty darn good without it. Just saying.
Green Lentil Dal
A delicious and vegetarian Indian green lentil stew served with rice and naan.
I originally made this dip for a party and it was gone in no time. In fact, I think I only got about 1 bite that I scraped off the bottom of the dish. Everyone was raving how good it was so of course I had to make it again to see what the hype was all about! Turns out the hype is that this dish is scrumptious and warm and gooey and makes your tummy happy.
I’ve realized that I am very much in love with spicy food. Everything I’ve made recently somehow has ended up spicy. I blame it on our garden this year that resulted in an abundance of jalapeño peppers. Those peppers ended up in a lot of things. They also made a lot of things oh, so yummy.
This dip is a perfect blend of spicy and creamy. In fact, you might be surprised that this dip isn’t as spicy as you might think. I mean it does have 6 fresh jalapeño peppers in it. Seems super spicy…but, milk is supposed to offset spicy food so I think the package of cream cheese, cup of sour cream, and cups of cheese do the trick. Yep. They also make this dip so delicious and gooey and melty and creamy.
Bottom line is that this is bound to be a hit at any party. Maybe make an extra that you can devour once the party is over because the one you bring will be gone in a flash!
I have no clue why pomegranate popped into my head the other day but it did. When something pops into my head I tend make it a personal challenge to use that ingredient. Well, I happened to have about half a head of red cabbage left after making veggie packed peanut butter pasta for the 1,000th time. Hence, the orange pomegranate coleslaw was born.
If you are afraid of pomegranate, please don’t be! It’s really simple to work with. I just cut mine in half and put both halves in a bowl of water. I broke it apart easily with my hands, pulling the seeds out as I went. The theory is that the white pulp/shell will float and the seeds will sink. It works simply enough with a little time. Once you have the seeds pulled out, skim the pulp off the top of the water and drain the seeds.
Pomegranate seeds are like little explosions in your mouth. It’s seriously a strange sensation at first. It’s like a little pocket of sweet juice with every bite. The seeds are also a bit crunchy so it adds nice flavor and crunch to the coleslaw!
I am not a huge fan of coleslaw. I’m not opposed, but it is for sure not my go-to side dish. I think it’s the mayonnaise and the bland looking mix of cabbage. It’s so…well, blah. It’s time to take your coleslaw to the next level! The red cabbage definitely adds some visual appeal to the mix and the bright pomegranate seeds are a beautiful addition.
1/2 large head of red cabbage, shredded (about 8 cups)
1 pomegranate, seeds removed
1 1/2 cups roughly chopped walnuts
1 cup raisins
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
Toss together red cabbage, pomegranate seeds, walnuts, and raisins in a a large bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together orange juice, apple cider vinegar, honey, mustard, and salt. Pour over coleslaw mixture and toss until combined.
This recipe lasts in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. To remove the seeds from the pomegranate, I cut the pomegranate in half and placed it in a bowl of water. The white pulp should float as you break the halves apart with your hands and the seeds will sink. Skim off the pulp and drain the water to get the seeds.
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