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 skinnytaste.com.

*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!

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Recipe Files: Spring Veggie Stir-fry

stir-fry

Now that Spring has sprung, it’s time for a quick and easy dinner that is delicious and good for you! We get about 3 servings out of this and it takes about thirty minutes, if you’re being slow on prep work, like me. It’s tasty with just a touch of heat and includes lots of great green veggies.

To begin, you’ll need:

  • 8 oz (an overflowing cup) of jasmine rice
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 heaping T. green curry paste (I usually add another teaspoon or so for extra flavor)
  • 6 green onions, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 zucchini, cut into sticks about 2 inches long
  • 4-6 ounces of green beans, cut into pieces that are about 2 inches long
  • 6-8 ounces of asparagus, cut into pieces that are about 2 inches long

Start by cooking your rice according to package directions. Once cooked, place it to the side so it will “dry.” While the rice is losing some of its wetness, heat the oil in a wok or large pan. Add the curry paste and stir for about 1 minute. Then add the garlic and onions, cooking until fragrant. Add in the zucchini, green beans, and asparagus. Cook until tender, around 5 minutes. Add the rice into the wok and stir with the vegetables. Heat through, taking 3-5 minutes. And you are done! Plate and enjoy this tasty vegetarian Spring dish!

*adapted from Perfect Vegetarian

–linking up with The Southern Institute