Spinach, cheese and ravioli bake

Michigan May temperatures are still chilly, though the sunshine has been warming me up for some outdoor gardening and exercise. I had some ingredients ready to go for another dinner dish, but decided to pair them up and make a classic comfort meal last week. I have made variations of this dish, already on this blog, but just made up this recipe and it was equally delicious.

I also wanted to test out my new box cheese grater, which is a huge improvement over other types of old-fashioned graters.  This easy pour grater by Venn Kitchen has four stainless steel grating sides which are very sharp.  The base is also non-slip with a design that can be used in two directions–vertical or horizontal, depending on personal preference.  Also included and what gives this grater a market advantage, is the unique compartment which collects the grated ingredients neatly and easily.

I loved the grater which I used for this recipe, and it made the whole dish come together so fast.

Here is how to make this comforting meatless pasta dish.  Gather these ingredients:  Pasta sauce, frozen mini cheese ravioli, shredded mozzarella cheese, shredded Parmesan cheese, frozen spinach

Start by shredding the cheeses.  I used one cup of shredded mozzarella and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.  Layer the casserole dish with a thin coat of pasta sauce.  Add a layer of ravioli, top with cheese and then the spinach layer.

Layer 2-3 more times to complete the dish. Finish the top of the dish with grated Parmesan. Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 45 minutes or until the casserole is bubbling hot.

Serve with a side salad.  This recipe freezes well for future leftovers.

For more information on Venn Kitchen products, follow them on Facebook.


Ham and red onion quiche

I am a breakfast for dinner person.  Actually, I can eat breakfast any time of day.  So, quiche recipes seem to creep into my weekly dinner menu plan.  I have featured many on my blog and they are easily searchable. Any that I have posted are my favorite recipes.  This recipe is an adaptation of one of them and can easily be even substituted with other ingredients.  It is a basic standard recipe to have on hand to serve to breakfast guests.  It works every time.

I use a store-bought pie crust from the refrigerated dairy aisle. Thaw the crust according to directions. Place into a ceramic pie plate and keep cold until all ingredients are ready to fill the dish.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  On the stove, lightly saute ham pieces and sliced red onion until lightly browned in one tablespoon olive oil.  Remove the crust from the refrigerator and add the onions and ham to the dish.  Sprinkle with 2 cups shredded mixed cheddar cheese and then add fresh herbs to taste.  I used fresh basil and fresh dill.

In the same skillet, add 3/4 cup half and half and add the two beaten eggs, whisking them in to incorporate and warm gently.  Season as desired and pour over the quiche mixture.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the quiche is set.  Serve with a side salad, cup of soup, or a crusty roll.  For breakfast, serve with fresh fruit and a blueberry muffin.

Chicken with white wine

Traditonally Coq au Vin is made with red wine.  In fact, I posted a version of that recipe on my blog back in 2012.  It is an excellent recipe from the Barefoot Contessa, which I adapted and truly enjoyed.

Recently, I found another recipe that I was inspired by in Southern Living magazine. Since I am becoming very skilled with one-pot meals in my Staub pot, I decided to try this one made with white wine. We really enjoyed this recipe and the delicious flavor from the wine after it is cooked on top of the stove and in the oven.

This is not a quick recipe, as it took me about one hour in prep time and then the dish baked in the oven for 70 minutes. It was certainly quite delicious.  The ingredients can be increased for a larger family.

Gather these ingredients to make this dish:  salt, pepper, 2 leg quarters, olive oil, 4 slices bacon, 4-5 large white stuffing mushrooms, 2 celery ribs, one yellow onion, tube of minced garlic, small can tomato paste, 2 1/4 cups white wine, 1 cup chicken broth, thyme, parsley, 1/2 package baby carrots, butter or margarine

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Season the chicken.  Brown the chicken in the Staub pot in 1 tablespoon margarine and 1 tablespoon olive oil on both sides.  Remove the chicken from the pot.

Next, cook the bacon in the dutch oven until crisp.  Remove from the pot and drain.  Saute the chopped mushrooms, onion and celery in the pot in some of the bacon drippings.  Stir in a squeeze of garlic to taste. Stir in the whole 6 ounces can of tomato paste and 1 cup of wine.  Cook until boiling for about 5 minutes.

Add chicken and crumbled bacon back into the vegetable mixture. Add broth, seasoning as desired, herbs, and carrots.  Bring back up to a simmer.  Cover the pot and place into the oven.

Bake for 70 minutes and serve with crispy potatoes, crusty bread, noodles, or even rice if desired.  This is a comfort meal all by itself without anything else.

The liquid used needs to be enough to cover the vegetables and the chicken. If more vegetables or chicken is added to the recipe, be sure to increase the liquid.  The liquid measurements do not have to be precise.  I used more liquid this time than I would recommend as it is not necessary.  I already adjusted the ingredients to reflect how I would change the liquid quantities.

Such a yummy meal for a chilly night.

Shrimp Alfredo in a pressure cooker

Would you believe that it is possible to cook delicate shrimp in a pressure cooker?  Well, it is possible and was super easy to make and serve a dinner very quickly with this recipe.

I have had some fears about using an electric pressure cooker.  So much so, that I have kept mine in a box for many months.  I would read the recipes and think about the process and then say, “well, maybe another day.”

So that day came.  And, the process was super easy.  It took only this recipe to convince me that pressure cooking is really all that has been proclaimed. Put ingredients into a pot, close the lid and “presto” a meal has been created.  That actually happens.

Here is how I made the magic happen with shrimp.  Gather these ingredients:  olive oil, 1 medium yellow onion, 2 cups tri-color penne pasta, 12 to 14 ounces of frozen shrimp, 2 1/2 cups chicken stock, 1 Tablespoon Pensey’s minced garlic, 1 teaspoon shrimp boil, 1/2 cup of half and half, 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese and 1/2 cup of grated Swiss cheese, 2 teaspoons Wondra flour, salt and pepper to taste and parsley flakes.

Using my Cuisinart pressure cooker, I heated a couple Tablespoons of oil and browned the onion for about 2-3 minutes.  Next, I added the dry pasta, shrimp, chicken stock, garlic, and shrimp boil seasoning to the pot.  I locked the pot and cooked on High for 7 minutes.

I used the quick release and removed the pressure. I opened the pot and added the half and half, Swiss cheese, Parmesan cheese, flour, salt and pepper and simmered for 6 minutes.  Serve with parsley flakes and enjoy.

This is a quick dish and will serve 2-3 people.

French onion and mushroom soup

Over the years, I have made French onion soups or mushroom soups, but never the two have been combined.  This recipe, inspired by Rachel Ray, is a true classic.  It comes together quite fast and is not one of those many hour French onion soups.  Surprisingly, it has a great flavor and is super tasty.  I certainly would recommend this one, even for beginner home cooks.

Gather these ingredients:  1 red onion, 2 white onions, 1 small box white mushrooms, sliced and cleaned, dried thyme, salt and pepper, 1/2 cup red wine and shredded Swiss cheese.

Saute the sliced onions with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. I used my Staub pot for another one-pot meal.  Once the onions are slightly browned, add the sliced mushrooms.  Brown and add 4 cups beef broth, 1/2 cup red wine and continue to heat. Simmer on low until ready to serve.  Freezes well too.

Serve with crusty bread topped with melted Swiss cheese under the broiler, or just top the bowls with some shredded cheese, or just serve with crusty bread.  A side salad would also be delicious.  Easy to make, serve and enjoy !


Mushroom spaghetti risotto

In recent weeks I have been trying some different cooking methods with great success.  This dish showcases a cooking method that is used to make risotto. Typically, in that technique, broth or cooking liquids are added slowly, allowing the starch to cook gradually.

With this dish, the spaghetti is cooked in the same fashion and yields an amazing taste profile, second to none that I have made in past years.  If you are willing to stand and cook at the stove for a short while, this is a dish for you.  It will impress anyone who is served.  I promise.

I used my Le Creuset cast iron pot which retains heat well and keeps the temperature constant while cooking.  I added 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 chopped white onion, and a small squeeze from my minced garlic tube.  Then, I sautéed the onion and seasoned with salt and pepper to taste.

In another skillet, I softened one package of sliced white mushrooms with 1 tablespoon margarine.  In addition, I made 4 cups of chicken stock. Combine the two and bring up to a boil and add 1/2 cup of Pinot Grigio wine.

In the cast iron pot, I then added about 1/2 package of broken spaghetti.  Saute the dry spaghetti for about 5 minutes to allow the flavor to come alive.  Slowly, one ladle full at a time, add the wine, broth, mushroom mixture to the spaghetti.  Allow the liquid to absorb into the spaghetti before adding more liquid.

To finish the dish, add shredded Parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons margarine and incorporate.  Plate and top with parsley flakes. Serve with salad or crusty bread.

This dish was inspired from Rachel Ray’s Look and Cook cookbook, published 2010.

Zucchini zoodle lasagna

I have been experimenting with my Paderno spiralizer and tried this recipe which was especially tasty.  This would be a wonderful one to try with children, as they would not even know that zucchini were a main ingredient of this dish.

I adapted the recipe from Better Homes and Gardens one-pan recipes and added some additional ingredients which made it closer to a pizza or lasagna without the noodles or crust.

Here is how I made this lasagna which could also be named a casserole pizza. I used two zucchini, spiralized them, salted and placed in a colander to drain for 20 minute prior to starting to assemble the dish.

Pat dry the zucchini.  Mix 2 eggs, 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup cake flour, and 2 tablespoons cornmeal in a bowl.  Add the zucchini.

Place in a ceramic baking dish which has been prepared with Pam.  Add 3 chopped green onions, freshly ground black pepper, and one chopped sweet red pepper to the top of the baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes and remove from the oven.

Then, add 3/4 can of pizza sauce to the top of the dish, top with 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella,  1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, mini pepperoni, sesame seeds and parsley flakes.  Bake 20 minutes or until cheese is well melted, and edges are crispy.

This dish is perfect to make ahead and store in the refrigerator to serve later in the day or within a few days.  I used my LidLover to cover the casserole and keep it fresh for heating up at a later time.