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Spinach Pasta Bake – Throwing Food Together

Spinach Pasta Bake – Throwing Food Together

In my marriage, one of the strongest connections The Hubs and I have is to food. It can also be one of our biggest disconnects. We both love food and love trying new things, however, we eat and cook very differently.

One of the biggest reasons for this is how we view cooking. When The Hubs cooks, he likes to peruse recipe books or recipes online and then goes to the grocery store for ingredients. He then uses most of the skillets and saucepans, utensils, and bake ware that we own to cook the dish. The dish will most likely contain butter and cream; always delicious, rarely healthy. I like to plan ahead, but because of my job that doesn’t always work. Sometimes I have to just throw together what I have on hand. This ends one of two ways in the household: they love it or they hate it.

Earlier this week I knew I was going to have to throw something together for dinner. As I was putting things in a casserole dish The Hubs started walking into the kitchen. “I’m not sure you want to see what I’m doing”, I said casually. He stopped walking and then boldly took a few more steps so he could look in the dish. “I’m not sure I should have”, he muttered as he walked back out of the kitchen.

A half an hour later dinner was on the table. The girls and The Hubs were glancing from their plates to the other faces and back to the plates. Finally, Daughter Number Four took a bite. Then she took another bite. (whew) At least someone was going to eat. That encouraged Daughter Number Three and The Hubs to also try the dish. They all cleaned their plates, and Daughter Number Three took a little bit more. The only comment from The Hubs was that he wasn’t sure it even needed “the meat”. Really? He’s the only reason I put “the meat” in it! I noticed yesterday evening when I got home from work that the large container of leftovers had been completely devoured!

Here is the creation that I pulled out of the cabinets and fridge, threw together, and served to the family for dinner (and apparently the next day’s lunch)…

The dish was easy, inexpensive, relatively healthy, and yummy. Oh, and it was quick, too. You can’t ask for more than that!

Spinach Pasta Bake

  • 1 package Rigatoni (cooked)
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 package chicken sausage (fully cooked (I like Aidells), cut in coins)
  • ½ jar spaghetti sauce
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. 

  2. Layer sausage, spinach, cottage cheese, pasta, and spaghetti sauce in dish. 

  3. Bake, covered, for 15 minutes. Stir gently, recover, and bake for 15 more minutes until hot through. 

Serve with Italian bread.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on December 18, 2013 in Dinner Recipes

 

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Wholesome Nut & Grain Pancakes

Wholesome Nut & Grain Pancakes

Healthy Pancakes

I am a carboholic. Not new news. Don’t praise me for coming to terms with it. I’ve known this for over thirty years now. I love bread, pasta, rice, grains, and most things made with grains. That is probably why ‘breakfast food’ is my absolute favorite. When I say breakfast food I do not mean bacon, sausage, and eggs. I mean pancakes, waffles, French toast, crepes, blintzes, bagels, English muffins, scones, oatmeal, cold cereal, farina, and mush – to name a few. I could (and do) eat these foods morning, noon, and night. Out of this love came a healthy pancakes recipe.

That breakfast carb love is why I am constantly on the lookout for a healthier version of these dishes. Probably fifteen years ago I came across a cookbook that contains Low-fat recipes. The book by Dean Ornish, Everyday Cooking has a Wholesome Pancakes recipe in it that I come back to from time to time. It has oatmeal and whole wheat flour in it, so it is definitely a little more dense than, say, a buttermilk pancake. I love them.

Several weeks ago I was at a restaurant whose name actually has the word ‘pancakes’ in it! Yes, IHOP. I tried the ‘Harvest Nut and Grain’ pancakes and it was love at first bite. (overdone?) They were reminiscent of the Ornish pancake, with a little more substance. I, of course, wanted to do my best to replicate these at home.

My first try was a success. I altered the Wholesome Pancakes recipe by adding some chopped walnuts and pecans. The girls liked them, too.

A short while later (2 or 3 days) I was hungry for pancakes again. So I whipped up the Wholesome Nut & Grain pancakes, and added a new twist; pureed spinach. I worried that the girls would NOT want anything to do with them. To my surprise the girls liked them. They even asked for seconds! So, I found a healthy way to get greens and nuts into the girls without feeling bad about eating pancakes! Win-win!

I have several people in my family who do not like syrup on their pancakes (or waffles, French toast). Some use peanut butter or eat them with cut up fruit. This makes the health pancakes even healthier. That is one of the best parts of pancakes, is the versatility! If I make extra, I can wrap them in foil or plastic wrap (I know about the environment!) and have a great easy breakfast (or lunch) for the following day.

I hope you enjoy these morsels and feel compelled to try these healthy pancakes experiment with your own healthy options.

 

Wholesome Nut & Grain Pancakes

  • ½ cup rolled oats (quick are fine, not instant)
  • 2 ½ cups almond milk (soy or nonfat if preferred)
  • ½ cup baby spinach
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 egg whites (or liquid egg substitute equivalent, beaten)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup walnuts and pecans (chopped)
  1. Preheat an electric griddle or nonstick skillet over medium heat.

  2. In a blender combine ½ cup milk with spinach and puree. 

  3. In a medium bowl, combine oats with spinach mixture and remaining milk. Stir gently and set aside. 

  4. In a large bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir until well blended. Add egg whites and vanilla to oat mixture; stir to combine. Add wet ingredients to flour mixture and stir until all ingredients are moistened. Gently fold in nuts. Do not over mix. 

  5. When griddle is hot, pour pancake mixture, using ¼ cup per pancake. When bubbles on top of pancake begin to pop, flip pancake over. Cook until both sides are browned.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on December 12, 2013 in Recipe

 

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Tortellini Soup

Tortellini Soup

I have to share what has become a definite ‘maker-againer’ in the family rotation. I made it a week ago when Daughter Number 2 came home from college for the weekend. It is a very easy Tortellini Soup recipe.

It was cold outside, and I have to be careful to modify to vegetarian or poultry when she is eating my cooking. She cannot eat red meat or ground meats. She would like to eat red meat, however, her body does not process it. So she sticks to poultry, no fried foods, and no ground meats.

My boss had told me about a soup that she makes in her slow cooker that was a hit with her family, including her “Meat and Potatoes” husband. I didn’t write it down, but remembered the basics of it, so thought I would replicate it to the best of my abilities. My family is NOT as much a fan of soup as I am. During the colder months I could eat soup every day. Them…not so much.

So, when they were seated at the dinner table that night looking at their bowls of soup and slices of bread I could tell this was an uphill battle that I was not likely going to win. The Hubs muttered something about “no meat” while the younger girls looked somewhat disgustedly at the green stuff floating in their bowls. I assured The Hubs that there was meat in this dish and explained to Daughters Three and Four that it was spinach, and they liked spinach.

With that we all began to eat. I could see a few surprised looks on the faces of the family seated around the table. Then came a few glances toward me. Then came the words. They liked it! They really liked it! Daughter Number Two exclaimed that this was the best soup she had ever eaten and she sure hoped no one else liked it because she was having the leftovers for lunch the next day. The Hubs quickly put a stop to all of her crazy talk by letting her know that he WOULD be having seconds. And so he did. Daughters Three and Four completely emptied their bowls. I do not think they have emptied a soup bowl that did not first start in a Campbell’s can ever.

When I was asked where I got the recipe and I shared with them who I got it from. “Give her a high-five from me, Mom”, Daughter Number Four said. That was echoed by the rest. I made sure the Facebook her that she was getting ‘high-fives’ for the soup.

Below is the recipe that I used to make this delicious soup; so delicious in fact that I made it again this weekend, when Daughter Number Two was home, with a friend, from college. No leftovers this time, either.

 

That’s it. It is done in under thirty minutes and is hearty and warm and delicious.

Everyone was as happy with it the second night as they were the first.

I hope your loved ones enjoy this soup as much as mine did. This little bit has definitely made its way into our lives!

Tortellini Soup

  • 4 cups Organic vegetable broth (low sodium (or chicken))
  • 2 cups water
  • 8-10 ounces Tortellini
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 package chicken Italian sausage (sliced, optional)
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  1. Combine the broth and water in a large sauce pan or Dutch oven on the stove top. Heat to boiling. Add the Tortellini, and cook to al Dente, stirring occasionally. Add the Italian seasoning and sausage.

  2. Cook for 2 minutes add spinach. 

  3. Remove from heat. Let the spinach wilt and stir gently.

I use precooked sausage. If you do not use precooked sausage, cook according to package directions before adding to the soup. 

 
2 Comments

Posted by on November 10, 2013 in Recipe, Soup Recipes

 

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