Tag Archives: mozzarella

Sausage and Spinach Pasta with Homemade Ricotta

18 Mar
Sausage and Spinach Pasta with Homemade Ricotta

Sausage and Spinach Pasta with Homemade Ricotta

This is a very quick and easy dinner to throw together, especially if you have your favorite homemade spaghetti sauce stashed in the freezer (nevermindthefacthatIjustgotlaidoffanddon’tneedtimesavingrecipesrightnow). And if you make the ricotta in the morning (or even use store-bought) then you are way ahead of the game! And pssst, did you know making your own ricotta is super easy? I sure didn’t!

Prior to my life-changing event on Friday, I was always looking for dinner shortcuts. When I saw my friend Debbie’s post for Baked Pasta with Meatballs and Spinach, I knew it was something I totally wanted to make, but didn’t have the time to bother with making meatballs. So I did the next best thing and used the meatball ingredients as the base for the pasta. In hindsight, if I had made this in my large cast-iron skillet, I could have just popped it straight from the stove top into the oven! (I didn’t have the foresight, but I’m going to remember this for sure next time.)

Sausage and Spinach Pasta with Homemade Ricotta
Adapted from The Mountain Kitchen

2 cups dried pasta (I used Mostaccioli)
8 ounces ground hot Italian sausage
6 ounces baby spinach
Ground pepper, to taste (some red chile flakes would be great too)
4 cups homemade spaghetti sauce, or your favorite jarred
1 cup shredded mozzarella (not bagged variety)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese (homemade or store bought)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, cook the sausage in a large skillet (cast iron if you have one!) until cooked through. Drain any grease, if necessary. Leaving the sausage in the pan, add 1/4 cup water and the spinach, stirring until wilted. Season with ground pepper, to taste.

Sausage and Spinach

Sausage and Spinach

Add the spaghetti sauce to the skillet, combine, and bring to a simmer.

Sauce Mixture

Sauce Mixture

Pour into a large casserole dish (or leave in in the skillet if using cast-iron), then stir in the cooked pasta, half the mozzarella and half the ricotta cheese. Sprinkle with the rest of the mozzarella and place dollops of the remaining ricotta over top.

Casserole Ready to Bake

Casserole Ready to Bake

Place in oven for about 10 minutes, then turn the oven to broil and cook until golden brown on top, about 5 to 7 more minutes. Serve immediately. WOW, so much flavor for so few ingredients!

Sausage and Spinach Pasta with Homemade Ricotta

Sausage and Spinach Pasta with Homemade Ricotta

BONUS! Here’s Debbie’s recipe for Homemade Ricotta:

Homemade Ricotta

4 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar or lemon juice

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Add 2 layers of cheesecloth (I used meshed cotton veggie bags) over a sieve or strainer on top of a bowl. Pour the milk and cream into a saucepan and bring to a full boil, stirring occasionally. Watch it carefully so it doesn’t overboil! Turn off heat and stir in the vinegar or lemon juice and let it sit for a few minutes. Pour the mixture over the cheesecloth and allow it to drain for about 25 minutes. Then place in refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Store unused cheese in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.

Spinach-Stuffed Chicken Mozzarella Rollups

21 May
Spinach-Stuffed Chicken and Mozzarella Rollups

Spinach-Stuffed Chicken and Mozzarella Rollups

My daughter and I were browsing through Pinterest recipes last week looking for dinner ideas. This one immediately caught her eyes and she said “Make THAT ONE for dinner sometime!” So, I did! This came out so purdy and tasted so good — it is even dinner guest-worthy. But what’s even better is it is not that overly difficult to make and can be prepared in just under an hour. You just have to be set to get bread crumbs all over the place if you’re as sloppy a cook as I am!

When I went shopping for the cheese I accidentally bought shredded Parmesan instead of grated.

Shredded Cheese and Bread Crumbs

Shredded Cheese and Bread Crumbs

I really didn’t want to use the fake-shake cheese in a green can that is used in emergencies, so I did the next best thing. I simply put some of the shredded cheese into my Ninja food processor and BAM! Instant grated cheese. I just love that little appliance!

Now on to the recipe:

Spinach-Stuffed Chicken Mozzarella Rollups
Adapted from Pinch of Yum Baked Mozzarella Chicken Rolls

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts (2 large breasts)
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup Italian style bread crumbs
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
3 ounces fresh baby spinach (about 4 cups, chopped)
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
Drizzle of olive oil
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons part-skim ricotta cheese
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
4 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
Spray oil
Marinara sauce, for topping
Fresh basil, ribboned, for topping

Slice the chicken in half lengthwise into 4 pieces. Cover with plastic wrap and pound the pieces with a meat mallet until they are about 1/4 inch thin. (I used a smallish cutting board so had to keep moving them over as I pounded each one.) Season both sides with ground black pepper, to taste.

Chicken Pounded Thin and Seasoned

Chicken Pounded Thin and Seasoned

Add the breadcrumbs to a shallow bowl and mix in half the grated Parmesan cheese. (I used the glass lid off one of my Pyrex dishes.) Set all aside.

Grated Cheese and Bread Crumbs

GRATED Cheese and Bread Crumbs ~ Note the Grated Part

Drizzle some olive oil into a skillet over medium heat. Add in the spinach and garlic and saute it for just a few minutes until the spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and add the spinach to a bowl.

Spinach and Garlic

Spinach and Garlic

Add the ricotta, the rest of the Parmesan, and 1 tablespoon of the beaten egg into the bowl with spinach and combine well. Place the rest of the egg in another shallow bowl (or in my case, another glass lid). Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Spread 1/4 of the spinach-cheese mixture over each of the chicken pieces.

Filling Spread Over Chicken

Filling Spread Over Chicken

Roll one of them up starting with the narrowest end. Gently dip the entire chicken roll in the egg, then gently roll it in the bread crumbs, patting the crumbs into the chicken. Place in a 2-quart baking dish sprayed with oil, seam side down. Repeat process with the other three pieces.

Chicken Rollups Ready to Bake

Chicken Rollups Ready to Bake

Spray the top of the chicken lightly with oil and place in preheated oven. Bake for 25 minutes.

While that is all cooking, slice your fresh mozzarella and chop up any salad fixin’s you want on your green salad, if you are serving the dish with that.

Mozzarella and Salad Fixings

Mozzarella and Salad Fixin’s (and the forgotten breadsticks)

Remove from oven, then spoon desired amount of marinara sauce over the chicken. Top each piece with a slice of fresh Mozzarella. Place back in oven and bake for another 3 to 5 minutes until cheese is melted. Remove from oven and sprinkle with fresh ribboned basil.

Spinach-Stuffed Chicken and Mozzarella Rollups

Spinach-Stuffed Chicken and Mozzarella Rollups

Serve with a light green salad and Italian breadsticks or garlic bread. (In our case, we ate the breadsticks AFTER dinner because I forgot to serve them — DOH!) I’ll be making this dish often in our household, as it was fairly easy to make and the flavors are outstanding! And my daughter, who picked out this recipe, really loved it.

Download and Print this Recipe

Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

 

Spinach Lasagna Roll Ups

3 Apr
Spinach and Lasagna Roll Ups

Spinach and Lasagna Roll Ups

About everyone and their brother has made this and posted it on Pinterest, BUT not everyone has made it with Paul’s Spicy Spaghetti Sauce! Paul whipped up another big batch of his sauce the other night, and I took the liberty of crafting these cute lasagna roll ups before the sauce got all bagged up for the freezer. Recipe here.

I do have a complaint of about 90% of the recipes I looked at. Most of them said to use 2 tablespoons of filling for each noodle. No-way, no-how would 2 tablespoons cover a lasagna noodle. I used at least 1/4 cup for each noodle before rolling them up. Just don’t roll them until you’ve exhausted all the filling, then you can rob Peter to pay Paul if the last couple of noodles are shy of filling.

Spinach Cheese Mixture Spread on Lasagna Noodles

Spinach Cheese Mixture Spread on Lasagna Noodles

Cooking a lasagna this way isn’t necessarily a time-saver, but you do end up with an easy way to package and store leftovers for the freezer. My husband said “This is really good!” so I gathered he liked this version of lasagna. So did my daughter, but she wasn’t very hungry and only ate one. More for the freezer!

NOTE: This can be made vegetarian by subbing in a marinara sauce for the meaty spaghetti sauce.

p.s. I’m traveling out of town this weekend to meet up with about 15 wild and crazy friends, so there will be no weekend post.

Spinach Lasagna Roll Ups

12 uncooked lasagna noodles
3 cups Paul’s Spicy Spaghetti Sauce, or other prepared sauce
1 15-ounce container Ricotta cheese
2/3 cup shredded Mozzarella
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
2 teaspoons minced garlic
10-ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 large egg, beaten
Ground black pepper, to taste
Salt or Mrs. Dash, to taste
Pinch of ground nutmeg
3/4 cup shredded Mozzarella, for topping
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan, for topping

Spinach Lasagna Roll Ups Ready to Bake

Spinach Lasagna Roll Ups Ready to Bake

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cook the noodles to al dente according to package directions. While the noodles are cooking, combine the Ricotta, garlic, spinach, egg, pepper, salt or Mrs. Dash, and a pinch of nutmeg in a medium bowl.

When the noodles are done, drain the noodles, let cool a bit, pat dry with paper towels, then lay them on parchment or wax paper in a single layer.

Spread 1 cup of spaghetti sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 12 baking pan. Spread 1/4 cup or so of the cheese and spinach mixture onto each lasagna noodle. Roll the noodles and place seam-side-down into the pan.

Pour 2 cups of spaghetti sauce over the lasagna rolls. Top each roll with 1 tablespoon of Mozzarella and 1 teaspoon of Parmesan, then cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes, uncover and turn on the broiler. Broil for about 5 to 10 minutes until cheese is browned and bubbly.

Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with a green side salad and garlic bread. You can freeze the remaining roll ups in Ziploc bags for a quick and easy future meal!

Spinach and Lasagna Roll Ups

Spinach and Lasagna Roll Ups

Download and Print this Recipe

Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

Cheesy Baked Goulash

26 Mar
Cheesy Baked Goulash

Cheesy Baked Goulash

How many of you have moms or grandmas out there that made this when you were growing up? (Or at least a version of it.) Lots of hands, huh? I am in that crowd of hands, except my mom made it with that red and white can of tomato soup. Yes, I loved it growing up, too. But tastebuds mature, and I fell away from thinking I would ever like Americanized Goulash again.

Until the night I made this from scratch! Wowee! What was I waiting for? I even got thumbs up from my teenage daughter and her friend spending the night, and that is AFTER they ate a value-meal Sonic hamburger (at their begging) at almost 4 pm in the afternoon as a snack. (My husband dutifully drove them to the fast-food drive-in, as I was still working. It’s Spring Break this week in my neck of the woods and the kids are restless and hungry all the time!)

I hauled out my old cookbooks from college where I figured there would be a version or two of this recipe to adapt. I was astounded I couldn’t find any variation of it, even in my trusty Good Housekeeping cookbook from 1981. Am I dreaming I ate this growing up? I wondered then if it was a Hamburger Helper version I was thinking of that my mom added the soup to. Or maybe she made it up herself? Nonetheless, I scraped together a recipe from all the online versions I found. I am happy to say that it’s a keeper, and definitely in the rotation for a quick weeknight meal made with ground beef. One cannot have too many of those on hand with a hungry teenager around.

Cheesy Baked Goulash

Cheesy Baked Goulash Just out of Oven

Cheesy Baked Goulash

1 pound ground beef
2/3 cup chopped onion
Ground black pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 cup dry elbow macaroni pasta
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce (or 2 8-0unce cans)
1 jar homemade canned tomatoes diced, or 1 can low-sodium diced
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and set a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the burger and chopped onions, then grind a bunch of black pepper over it. Cook until beef is browned and onions are translucent. In the last minute or so, add the minced garlic. Drain any grease, if needed.

Browned Burger and Onions

Browned Burger and Onions

When the water is boiling for the pasta, add the macaroni and cook until just before al dente, then drain and set aside. It will cook more in the oven. Meanwhile, add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, soy sauce, sugar, and herbs to the ground beef and stir to incorporate.

Cooked Macaroni and Tomato Beef Sauce

Cooked Macaroni and Tomato Beef Sauce

Or you can be like me and forget the parsley until later. Next add the cheddar cheese (or perhaps parsley if you forgot) and mix until cheese is melted. Stir in the cooked macaroni until combined.

Cheddar Cheese and Parsley Added

Cheddar Cheese and Parsley Added

Pour into a 2-quart casserole dish sprayed with oil. Top with the Mozzarella cheese and bake for 30 minutes.

Cheesy Baked Goulash

Cheesy Baked Goulash

Let rest about 5 minutes, then serve with buttered bread, and a salad if you want.

 

Download and Print this Recipe

Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

Cheesy Baked Goulash

Cheesy Baked Goulash

 

Baked Ziti and Sausage in a Creamy Cheesy White Sauce

18 Aug
Baked Ziti and Sausage in a Creamy Cheesy White Sauce

Baked Ziti and Sausage in a Creamy Cheesy White Sauce

It is really difficult to take a photo of a casserole dish that looks good. And it is really, really difficult to take one when the only chance you had to grab a shot was when there was just a wee portion of it left. That being said, I have this fantastic recipe to share for you of this pasta dish my husband made earlier in the week. Paul is a hero. I’ve been working overtime for the past week and he has cooked every single night! And I’m not talking mac and cheese out of the box or take-out pizza either. Homemade food. Comfort food. Lovely fresh salads with tomatoes and chives from our garden. And this casserole. I just LOVED this meal and ate the leftovers until it was gone, gone, gone.

p.s. After last night’s dinner of grilled New York steak, baked potato, and garden salad, I squeezed the recipe out of him. I would only make minor changes to this if I made it. And I DO plan on cooking this myself when I crawl out of the weeds.

Baked Ziti and Sausage in a Creamy Cheesy White Sauce

2 1/2 cups uncooked Ziti pasta
1/2 pound ground hot Italian sausage
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon Mrs. Dash regular blend
Ground black pepper to taste
2 cups milk (he used 1%)
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 egg
2 cups cottage cheese (he used 4%)
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (he used low fat)
Hungarian paprika, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain, and set aside. In a skillet, brown the sausage until cooked through thoroughly, drain, and set aside.  In a saucepan, melt the butter and add the garlic. (For future versions, he thought adding some chopped onions and mushrooms at this point would be excellent.)  Stir in the flour, Mrs. Dash, and pepper. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly, until smooth. Bring up to  a slow boil, and continue whisking until thickened. Take the pan off the heat, then stir in 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. In a large bowl, add the cooked pasta and pour the cheese sauce over it and stir to coat.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, add the egg, cottage cheese, parsley, the other 1/4 cup of Parmesan, and more Mrs. Dash and black pepper, to taste. Layer about half the pasta/cheese mixture in the bottom of a 2-quart casserole dish sprayed lightly with oil. Pour the cottage cheese mixture over it evenly. Now mix the sausage in with the rest of the pasta then layer that evenly over the casserole. Top with the Mozarella cheese, and shake the paprika evenly over the top, to taste. My husband used a lot of it, which I liked!  Now bake the casserole for 35 minutes or so, until hot and bubbly.  Creamy, comforting food for the weary. ‘Nuff said.

Baked Ziti and Sausage in a Creamy White Sauce 2

Baked Ziti and Sausage in a Creamy White Sauce

Additional notes: I would use 1 cup milk and 1 cup homemade chicken broth instead of all milk for the sauce for a richer flavor. I also liked his idea of adding onions and mushrooms.  Last, I’d probably mix everything up in one bowl instead of doing the layering thing to save both a bowl and time.

Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Tomatoes

10 Jul
Artichoke and Spinach Stuffed Tomatoes

Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Tomatoes

The first of our cherry tomatoes have ripened on one of our plants! I do believe this is a record for us, to have some ripe tomatoes in early July. So I was flying solo last night (hubby is out of town overnight and the daughter left for a four day camping trip too) so I decided to whip up something “just for me” using three of our ripe wee tomatoes, plus one organic tomato hanging out on the counter.

Ripe Cherry Tomatoes

Ripe Cherry Tomatoes

I scrummaged through the fridge and pantry to see what I could concoct out of these beauties. I found a lonely Laughing Cow Garlic and Herb Cheese wedge, a bag of spinach I brought on our camping trip last week and in dire need of using up, a half lemon, and a can of quartered artichoke hearts. OK. So it’s only me. I can do this. I will use part of the spinach and open a can for one artichoke heart quarter, but I promised myself I’ll make something out of the rest when the fam gets home.

Tomatoes Spinach and Artichokes, et. al.

Tomatoes, Spinach, and Artichokes, et. al.

I seriously just made this up on the fly. I’d briefly googled some recipes with a few of the ingredients, but nothing really popped out at me so decided just to throw some stuff together and see what happened. I ended up using twice the amount of spinach in my photo, as I still haven’t mastered the art of how much fresh spinach reduces but I have the correct amount below for one serving.  Since this is only a recipe for one, feel free to double, triple, or quadruple the amount! Oh, and yes, this was divine. Very decadent, just the right amount of spice, herbs and all over yumminess. I so enjoyed popping those stuffed cherry tomatoes just out of the oven into my mouth with the creamy spinach filling. I can’t wait until we have more tomatoes for more great recipes!

Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Tomatoes

1 small tomato plus three cherry tomatoes
Spray or splash of olive oil
2 large handfuls of fresh spinach, chopped
1/4 artichoke heart, chopped small
1 wedge Laughing Cow Garlic and Herb cheese (you can sub with some cream cheese with fresh herbs mixed in)
1 lemon wedge, squeezed
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 wee pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Shredded Parmesan or Mozzarella cheese for topping
Bed of fresh spinach

Cut off a small slice off the top of the tomatoes, then core them. So what did I do with the centers and seeds? I ATE them! I simply could not throw out the centers of my first cherry tomatoes and a lovely organic one. Yumm. Nothing wrong with eating the centers of tomatoes, I can tell you that.

In a skillet over medium heat, spray some olive oil and add the spinach, artichoke hearts, cream cheese, lemon juice, sour cream, and crushed red pepper flakes. Stir around and smoosh around until spinach is wilted and cheeses have melted. The sour cream was a last minute addition as the one small wedge of cream cheese just didn’t cut it. Remove from heat, then stuff the cored tomatoes. Eat any amount that doesn’t fit in the centers, OK? Now top the tomatoes with shredded Parmesan or Mozzarella cheese. I was out of Parmesan and would have preferred that but the Mozzarella was a good sub.

Place the tomatoes in a foil lined pan under the broiler for about  five minutes until the cheese starts to melt and brown. Remove from pan with tongs and serve over a bed of fresh spinach. Chow time!

Cored Tomato and Juices

Cored Tomato and Juices ~ Eat all the centers of them!

Easy Low-Cal Spinach Lasagna – A Hit with the Family!

13 Apr
Plated Spinach Lasagna

Voila! Plated Spinach Lasagna

So where have I been since Easter Sunday, you ask? (OK, maybe not…lol) Well I have been sipping supper through a straw the past several days after having my tongue biopsied for a “suspicious” white patch under my tongue. NOT something I would EVER put on my bucket list of things to do again, that I can tell you. Thankfully tongues are quick to heal, and after a couple of days of excruciating pain, (mitigated by one day of happy pills – blech, do not like taking those…) I am once again on the road to recovery. Still waiting on biopsy results, but I’m pretty sure they’ll come back OK, both the dentist and oral surgeon said they were not alarmed but thought with my recent bout of skin cancer it better get checked out.

Chopped Spinach and Mozzarella

Chopped Spinach and Mozzarella, ready for the rest of it...

I still need to eat fairly soft foods, so thought a spinach lasagna would do well for me if I ate teeny bites on one side of my mouth. The thing is, I had to work at the office today so I strategically planned this all out. I stopped by the store on the way home and bought a few items I would need to add to what I had in the fridge and pantry, then set to it straight away when I got home. One of my strategies was to try the no-boil noodle method, and I’m not talking buying the no-boil noodles, but using the dried regular ones straight out of the box.  It was a fantastic hit with the family, and my daughter had a friend over spending the night and she also approved! I was very happy with how this turned out, and it’s a low-cal version too! Great flavor, great texture, great all the way around.

Low-Cal Spinach Lasagna

1/2 pound lean burger
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, finely diced
1/2 small onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Black pepper to taste
Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb
1 1/2 jars of spaghetti sauce, (32 oz.) any kind, or homemade
2 cups low-fat shredded mozzarella cheese
2 1/2 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
1/2 cup non-fat cottage cheese
1/2 cup skim milk Ricotta cheese
2 eggs, whisked in a cup or bowl
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
8 0z. dried lasagna noodles
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Pizza blend cheese

Cooked Lasagna

Cooked Lasagna

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (I did 370 due to high altitude, I was worried about the noodles not cooking all the way.) In a large saucepan, brown the burger with the mushrooms, onion, garlic, pepper, and Mrs. Dash. Drain off any fat and add the spaghetti sauce. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Set aside. In a large bowl, add the Mozzarella, chopped spinach, cottage and Ricotta cheeses, whisked egg, and garlic powder. Mix well. Line the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch pan with half the noodles. Spread half the sauce over the noodles. Next spread all of the cheese spinach mixture over that. Place another layer of noodles on top of that then spread the rest of the meat sauce over. Pour the half cup of water over the lasagna and around the edges then swirl the pan around to make sure it gets spread evenly underneath. Cover tightly with foil and cook in the oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven, remove the foil, and sprinkle the last two cheeses over top. Return to oven uncovered until the cheese melts, about 10 to 15 more minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes, then dig in!

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