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!
Having a newborn has completely changed my view of food. My food thoughts these days consist of things such as: “How can a little baby pack away that much food? He must be a magician,” and “I’m SOO hungry…I will eat anything. Seriously. Anything.” (Breastfeeding moms, are you with me there? I can eat all day and still be hungry). Oh, and my favorite recently pondered question is whether or not I have somehow turned from human to milk-making machine. Because sometimes I feel like that’s my new job. Actually, that is my new job along with professional cuddler, diaper changer and swaddler. I’m learning on the job. I think my client is happy but he doesn’t talk yet.
Along with these very deep and profound thoughts (hey, they’re profound if you’ve been sleep deprived), there’s just no more TIME! I was always the person that used cooking and baking as my calming factor after a busy day. Kind of like yoga for someone who can’t balance on one foot. No joke, I made a hot dog the other day on an indoor electric grill and was proud of myself for the amazing feat I accomplished…I don’t even like hot dogs! Well, except for at a good summer cookout. But that was one good hot dog because I made it myself! One step at a time…I’ll get back to making full meals I’m sure!
So I guess where I’m going with all this rambling is that despite the fact that the next several recipes I’ll post, including this kohlrabi and potato recipe, are fairly simple and 100% delicious, I was smart enough to stock up on recipes and photos prior to baby’s arrival. I don’t feel like you all would be impressed with a recipe on how to make a hot dog. Just a hunch.
Back to the reason you’re here…I’m pretty sure everyone has heard of potatoes so let’s jump right to the kohlrabi. Kohlrabi is a mystery ingredient for many. I must admit I had no clue what it was or how to use it prior to acquiring this fine specimen from VanScoy Farms awhile back (again, I made this before the little guy arrived). After some research, I found a simple recipe and was on my way. I personally think kohlrabi kind of tastes like brussels sprouts a little. You can disagree though. I won’t take it personally.
To prep the kohlrabi, remove any stem or leaves. Slice it into quarters and cut the core out. Peel the kohlrabi through the outer fibrous layers (if you have a bigger kohlrabi like I did, make sure to get through all the outer layers to the completely white part or you’ll end up with tough sections. I learned from experience). After that, you’re ready to dice and use!
If any of you have been wondering why I’ve been MIA this past month or so, I swear I have a good reason. I went on a last minute cruise around the world…oh wait. This just in: that actually didn’t happen. That was someone ELSE I saw going on a cruise around the world in travel magazine. The REAL reason is *even* better! Travis and I met our handsome baby boy! He decided to come a couple weeks before his due date. Just like his dad–always on time and a little early, just in case. For any parent out there, you know what a whirlwind the first month is (little guy will be a month old already!). I’ve been SUPER busy with dirty diapers and feedings and keeping the guy happy but it’s all been more than worth it! I get to see him grow a little every day, which makes me so happy. I can already tell we’ll have so much fun together!
So with that said, I have had little time to shower (no joke, unfortunately), let alone time to think about blogging. Bummer, right? Well I thought I’d kick things back off with a very simple, but delicious tip about broccoli. Yes, who knew there could be a broccoli tip? The vegetable seems so straight forward! But I’ve been lacking in my knowledge of broccoli for years it turns out.
As an adult, I’ve always loved broccoli (not so much as a kid but I just didn’t know any better). I went about my cooking using the broccoli florets like it was my job, throwing away the seemingly useless broccoli stalk. For awhile, I bought just the broccoli “crowns” at the store because I started to wonder why I was paying for the stalk that I just threw away. Just recently, I realized that I could actually use the broccoli stalk in stir fry recipes and basically any other recipe that calls for broccoli. Am I late to the game? Probably. But my mind was blown nonetheless.
The broccoli stalk is just as amazing as the florets! And I hear it’s also good for you, but since I’m not a nutritionist I won’t even try to tell you why. You may wonder how to prep those stalks because they seem so tough and inedible. Here’s how I do it:
Cut off the florets and use as normal. Yum!
Cut off the top and bottom so you have a nice thick section of stalk to work with.
Cut off the thick outer layer of stalk. I cut off 4 sides so it looks like a square cylinder (see above picture since “square cylinder” really makes no sense otherwise).
Cube, slice, dice, shred, etc. the remaining inner section of the stalk.
You’re done! Use the broccoli stems in any recipe that calls for broccoli!
I used the cubed stalks from the pic above in some fried rice and it was oh-so-yummy. You could use the stalks in stir fry recipes, coleslaw, salads, etc. Opportunities are endless! I could get at least an extra cup of cubed stalk out of a large bunch of broccoli. I feel so sad knowing that I threw away all that good broccoli in the past! Here’s to learning something new every day!
Talking about learning something new, the little guy teaches me something new every day. So now back to diapers and learning new things. Hopefully another recipe will come soon, if the little guy cooperates! Wish me luck with that!
These fruit pizza cookies have been a long time coming. And when I say a “long time,” I mean a LONG time. I actually made these beauties LAST summer and they have been waiting to be posted ever since. Mostly because by the time I got around to posting them last year I realized it was practically fall and *way* too late to post a recipe featuring fruit and berries. I’m cutting it close this time but I’m going to declare that it’s still summer and I’m not late this time! I did just make them again recently, which helped prompt me to post them. Plus, I certainly cannot let another year go by without posting these because that would be depriving you of fruit pizza goodness. And I’m not a mean person like that.
What is a fruit pizza cookie? Simple…you take a fruit pizza (you all know what that is, I hope) and shrink it into a cookie size. Did I seriously have to explain that? Probably not, but I like to make myself clear. Best part is that you feel like you get to eat your own entire fruit pizza without having to share. WIN! You might even feel obligated to eat a couple, or few “pizzas” once you take into account that the fruit practically makes up for the heaps of butter, making them basically healthy…in a way. I would NEVER eat more than one though. Nope. Never…The baby wanted one too though so I may have eaten one for him. It totally counts.
These are great for parties because they can be easily picked up on the go! No cutting required! Even better, leave the cookies, frosting, and fruit out for a decoration station AT the party. First, you have less work to do to frost and decorate them and second, you just became every child’s best friend. Or mine, if I’m at the party. If you do make them ahead, I would suggest that you frost and put the fruit on not much more than a couple of hours before you serve them or else they will get a little limp. I found that they mostly will get a little soft when they have strawberries on them, which makes sense since strawberries have a lot of water in them. Also, make sure you get the fruit as dry as you can prior to decorating for this exact reason.
Once the fruit pizza cookies are frosted and decorated, I keep them refrigerated until serving to keep the fruit pretty and the cream cheese frosting chilled. I found that if I put parchment paper between the layers of cookies, it helps keep everything from becoming a sloppy mess. If it did become a sloppy mess though I’m sure someone would still be willing to eat them. If you can’t find anyone, you can always call me and I’ll find someone to take care of eating them…yeah.
Fruit Pizza Cookies
Mini fruit pizzas! Delicious sugar cookies with cream cheese frosting, topped with fresh fruit and berries.
Fruit and berries of your choice (I used kiwi, blueberries, and strawberries)
Directions for the cookies
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cream 1 cup butter and sugar in a large bowl using a mixer. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, and 1 teaspoon vanilla until well combined.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and combine (I used the mixer but you can do this by hand).
Cover and chill the cookie dough in the refrigerator for at least 20-30 minutes.
Once chilled, roll out the dough to 1/4" thickness on a well floured surface and use a cookie cutter (or a mason jar works!) to cut out circles. I made about 36 cookies using a 2.5" diameter cookie cutter and about 28 using a 3" cutter. Keep in mind they will spread, so they will end up slightly bigger than what you cut out.
Place cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet with plenty of space between the cookies (I only put 5 per sheet for the 3" cookies).
Bake for 8-11 minutes (smaller cookies require the low baking time and large require the longer time) or until the edges are just starting to get golden brown.
Remove from the oven and let cool on tray for 1-2 minutes before moving them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
Directions for the frosting
To prepare the fruit, cut into desired sizes/shapes and place on a paper towel. Pat dry using paper towels. Let them sit on the paper towel until ready to use to make sure they are very dry.
Combine cream cheese, 1/2 cup butter, confectioners sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon vanilla with a mixer starting on low and moving to medium speed. Once combined, add the milk and mix on medium-high for 1-2 minutes.
To prepare the cookies
Frost the cookies with the cream cheese frosting and decorate with the fruit.
I use parchment paper between layers when storing the cookies to keep them separated. I would recommend frosting them and adding the fruit not much more than a couple of hours before serving for the best result, as they can become a little soft if they sit for too long.
By Flavor From Scratch
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/
There’s nothing more summer-like than fresh green beans. So green and fresh and crisp. YUM! We’re growing green beans in our backyard…the rabbit that keeps popping up around our yard appears to enjoy them. There are lots of blooms on our green bean plants. The baby green beans look like they have great potential. Usually the day after I notice a couple green beans that are close to full grown we find some nice stems that were eaten clean by that very sneaky bunny.
However, I have to say that I did save 1 green bean from said rabbit and it can be seen here in these pictures! Yes, one single green bean. A little sad, but still, I’m like a proud parent. I have no idea which lonely green bean is ours unfortunately, but it’s in there! The rest came from my mother-in-law, who brought them from VanScoy Farms, so I could still be assured that they would be fresh and delicious.
This recipe is little different from other green bean recipes with its slightly Asian inspired ingredients. I guess you could say I’m embracing the spirit of the Olympics and thinking more global. Plus they’re delicious. Let’s be honest, delicious is my main concern here. Also, slightly spicy, which adds a new and interesting flavor to the green beans. I’m so used to the typical salt and pepper take on fresh green beans, which is also delicious, I may add. This just seems like a great way to “spice” up your green bean eating experience…no pun intended. Ok, pun intended.
Speaking of the Olympics, have any of you been sucked into the games like I have? I’ll start by saying that I don’t know much about sports. The only sport I ever participated in was cross country. If anyone knows the rules to cross country you know there aren’t any really. Pretty much just stay on the path and run the fastest. However, I somehow legitimately feel like I’m a sports expert all of a sudden for every summer sport ever. Travis and I have no problem doling out scores on gymnastics and diving, talking about who has the best chance for swimming or cycling based on their turns and form, and watching beach volleyball like our lives depend on it. I’m pretty sure the irony only grows when you think about the fact that I’m almost 9 months pregnant, sitting on the couch, and eating ice cream while this occurs. Maybe I’m living vicariously through the athletes, remembering what it was like to touch my toes…
Bring large pot of water to a boil. While it is coming to a boil, prepare an ice bath by adding ice to a large bowl of water.
Add the beans to the boiling water for approximately 4 minutes (a little less if they are small or more if they are large). Remove beans from the water with tongs and place directly in the ice bath. This will help stop the cooking and keep the beans bright green. Let them sit about 5 minutes in the ice water.
Drain the beans and pat dry with a towel. You can refrigerate them at this point to finish later, if desired.
Mix the honey, vegetable oil, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, and Sriracha in a bowl.
Pour sauce mixture into a large saute pan over medium heat. Stir continuously until the sauce becomes bubbly (about 2 minutes).
Add in green beans. Heat until warm. Add in peas and salt and pepper, to taste. Saute until peas are heated through. Top with sesame seeds.