Recipe Files: Spinach Baked Ziti

Please forgive the terrible pic, but the pasta was steaming hot, and it kept fogging up my camera!

Please forgive the terrible pic, but the pasta was steaming hot, and it kept fogging up my camera!

I am so sad, y’all! Our local Krispy Kreme had a fire recently and will not be reopening in the near future. According to the company, they are currently looking for a new building space to relocate (hopefully nearby and hopefully soon!) AND if that wasn’t bad enough, now our Dunkin Donuts is closed for renovations and when they re-open they will no longer have the Baskin-Robbins half of the store!!!!! What is the world coming to? My all-time favorite ice cream ever is Baskin-Robbins peanut butter and chocolate. It’s the only brand that does the whole peanut butter and chocolate ice cream correctly. Everyone else does either vanilla ice cream with a fudge swirl or adds in chunks of Reese’s cups. Travesties, I tell you. Baskin-Robbins knows to rely on just their delicious chocolate goodness of an ice cream with real swirls of peanut butter throughout. It’s the best ever. And I just want to cry that I won’t be able to get it anymore!

Add on to that that my car is in the shop for what I’m sure will not be a cheap repair (because when are they ever?) and that my legs have been tight and cramping for several days, and this week is just so much less than awesome!

On days like this, let’s be honest. Only good comfort food will do! So, since I can’t have doughnuts or ice cream (!), it’ll have to be something good for dinner. Which brings me to one of my favorite baked pastas. It’s tasty, fairly easy to throw together, and gives good a comforting feel to your meal without being too terrible for you! A serving of spinach baked ziti with a little salad is perfect for pretty much any night, especially when you need something hearty to fill up that emptiness in your heart … I’m looking at you, owner of our local DD/BR store!


Spinach Baked Ziti

This recipe makes 6 servings, each serving being around 450 calories apiece (depending on your brands of ingredients). It takes about one hour from start to finish.

To begin, you’ll need:

  • 1 lb of whole wheat ziti (penne and rotini pasta work well too)
  • 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 8 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 t. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 8-10 oz fresh baby spinach leaves, chopped
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 1 T dried basil (Of course, you can use fresh herbs as desired.)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 oz ricotta cheese (either part-skim or fat-free)
  • 1/4 c Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 c. mozzarella cheese, shredded, separated

Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees and spraying a 9×13 baking dish with Pam or another nonstick cooking spray. Cook your pasta according to package directions.  While the pasta is cooking, add the olive oil to a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Next, add your spinach, crushed tomatoes, and tomato sauce to the pan. Salt and pepper to taste. As the spinach wilts, add the basil and oregano. Let this simmer for about 5 minutes. Then, in either the saute pan or a large bowl, combine the pasta and sauce. Add the ricotta, the Parmesan, and one cup of the mozzarella to the pasta. Stir to combine. Pour this mixture into your baking dish and top with the remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake for around 25 minutes, until the top starts to brown. Then enjoy!

This recipe is based on the original found here, from

*Linking up this week with parties at Couponing & Cooking (Mealtime Monday), The Mandatory Mooch (Tasty Thursdays), and I Heart Nap Time (Sundae Scoop). Do visit these guys to get more great cooking ideas!

Vino Mercoledi!


Or Mercoledi de Vino? So, I’m not entirely sure of how that one translates. Forgive me, please! Either way, it’s Wine Wednesday! And yes, that is a Christmas decoration in the picture, and no, I do not still have Christmas decor up, ha. I’m just that far behind on my reviews! But those are my super-cute Christmas wine charms that I love! Anyhoo…

Nothing too terribly exciting is going on this week in the Life Happens household. The Husband did run in his big marathon this past weekend and beat last year’s time by over 15 minutes. He managed to come in just under four hours, so he was quite happy with that! And of course, I am happy for him! Other than that, we continue with our landscaping projects, organizing, travel planning, and work.

In all of that travel planning that I mentioned last post (along with some forward thinking/planning for next year), I am reminded of our past vacations and how much fun we’ve had over the last several years setting out and exploring just some of what this great world of ours has to offer. We are unbelievably lucky in that we have the resources available to take some amazing adventures. I just cannot imagine living my life without getting to see so many other cities, states, and countries, or doing all of that without my wonderful husband! AND… this all ties in quite nicely to this week’s wine selection because it is one that we discovered on last year’s trip to Italy (which of course you can read about here).

While in Naples, we enjoyed several really amazing meals with some of the Husband’s colleagues. One of these fellows is quite the wine aficionado himself and said that he was determined to order a few bottles of a local wine that was made from grapes that had been grown on Mt. Vesuvius. This wine is called Lacrima Christi, or Tears of Christ. And it is DELICIOUS! We ended up trying several different bottles at a couple of different restaurants and it was truly some of the best wine that we had on our trip. When we returned from Italy, both the Husband and I expressed our disappointment at having not been able to bring some of this back. We did bring a few bottles of Italian vino back with us, but we didn’t purchase any Lacrima because of our travel schedule and needing to get it safely back to Rome before heading home. We were, however, lucky to come across one brand of it at a Total Wines once back in the States. While this bottle certainly wasn’t AS good as the ones we sipped while in Naples, it certainly was tasty and I highly recommend that anyone interested in a good, bold Italian take the opportunity to try some Lacrima Christi, if you can!

This bottle of De Angelis Lacrima Christi del Vesuvio was a 2011, bottled in Sorrento, Italy. It retails for around $22.

My notes:

  • color- dark plum
  • scent- earthy, mineral
  • spicy at first
  • earthy
  • has a mineral quality
  • full-body

Notes from the experts are a little sparse on this one, so you’ll just have to trust me that it really is worth a glass (or two).