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.

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Chicken and Tomatoes

Another great way to prepare chicken is with tomatoes.  Over the years, I have found many chicken recipes that include tomatoes from soups and stews to slow cooker dishes.  This recipe is similar to a Chicken Parmesan but is baked in the oven. I found it online at the Taste of Home website.  We enjoyed this meal for dinner, and it can be adapted to prepare for a large group or for a “just for two” meal.

Here is how I prepared the dish.  Gather these ingredients:  1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup egg beaters, 4 boneless and skinless chicken thighs (or chicken breasts), 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon margarine, 1 can diced tomatoes, dried basil, salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Dip the chicken in the flour, then the egg.  Place in a greased baking dish.  Mix the cheese, bread crumbs, and melted margarine.  Sprinkle over the chicken.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Uncover, and bake for 10-15 more minutes or until almost done.  Drain and then toss the tomatoes with basil, salt and pepper.  Spoon over the chicken and bake another 10 minutes or until hot.

The tomatoes could also be heated on the stovetop and simply served with the chicken or added already heated to the dish and returned to the oven for the remainder of the cooking time, or just combined for serving.

I prefer the taste of chicken breasts over thighs, but both work equally well in this dish. This is a great tasting dish that can become a family favorite.


Shortcut lasagna

When short on time but still craving the taste of a cheesy lasagna, try this shortcut ravioli lasagna recipe. I found this recipe in the Taste of Home magazine and found it to be extremely tasty and easy to prepare on a weeknight. Choose between either frozen meat ravioli or just cheese ravioli and put together this dish in minutes, ready to bake in the oven for a delicious hot meal.

Purchase the following ingredients and get ready for a delicious dish.  One jar of pasta sauce, 1 bag frozen ravioli, 1 1/2 cups fresh spinach, shredded mozzarella cheese.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Heat the pasta sauce in a saucepan before beginning the recipe layering.  Begin by spreading some pasta sauce in the bottom of a lasagna pan. Add a layer of ravioli, a layer of spinach, some shredded mozzarella cheese, and then begin again with the sauce until using up all the ingredients.


The top should have a nice layer of mozzarella cheese.  I also topped with shredded Parmesan cheese and sprinkled with parsley flakes.  Bake uncovered for 45 minutes.  Serve with a side salad, crusty bread, and a warm beverage.



Pasta with peas and mushrooms

Summertime pasta dishes tend to be lighter without sauces, and mixed with fresh vegetables.  Here is one of those delightful recipes that can be made with a variety of pasta noodles.  I had tri-color penne pasta, but this is always a favorite made with medium size pasta shells.

Start the preparation with a pot of boiling water and 2 cups of pasta.  Boil for about 10-12 minutes.  In a medium-sized skillet, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and 3 chopped green onions (white and green stems) and 3-4 chopped porcini mushrooms.  Cook and then add three strips of chopped cooked bacon into the skillet.  In a large skillet, add 1 1/2 cups chicken broth.  Add 1 cup frozen peas and heat.


Drain the pasta, but reserve 1 cup of hot pasta water to add into the dish if needed.  Add the pasta to the large skillet, along with the ingredients from the medium-sized skillet.  Toss and coat the pasta.

Season with ground black pepper and parsley flakes to taste.

If the pasta needs more liquid to move easily, add some of the pasta water slowly to the dish.  Finish the dish when serving with shredded Parmesan cheese, either by adding to the warm pasta in the skillet or on top of the dish at the table.  Serve with a fresh green salad.


Parmesan Mushrooms

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAre you looking for an easy side dish to serve with chicken, red meat or even fish?  This is one of those easy dishes that can be made in less than twenty minutes, and will be enjoyed by everyone.

A variety of mushrooms can be used and will change the flavor profile for this side dish.  By adding just the right amount of seasoning, these mushrooms become so much more than a mushroom saute.

Simply add lemon, thyme and Parmesan and enjoy how those flavors blend to make an excellent tasty dinner accompaniment.

To make the mushrooms:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Using spray Pam, coat a ceramic dish to prepare for baking.  Slice one box of white mushrooms.  Mix together in a small bowl the following ingredients:  3 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 teaspoons dried thyme, 1/4 cup grated Fresh Parmesan cheese, and salt and ground black pepper to taste.

Pour over the mushrooms and mix well.  Place into the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until tender.

Serve as a side dish.


Inspired by: damndelicious.net

Smashed potatoes with chives and Parmesan cheese

Just before the holidays I tend to experiment with new recipes.  I certainly don’t want to try a new dish on guests.  So, I usually make a list of ideas and menus to prepare within six weeks of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.  This year, I concentrated on several side dishes from Ina Garten’s cookbooks.

All of the recipes were delicious, and I would make them again. I just opted for different choices for this year’s holiday menus.

These smashed potatoes are from Ina’s “Make it Ahead” cookbook that was published this year.  For this recipe, the potatoes are first boiled, then smashed, and then roasted in the oven.  The potato texture is what makes this side dish so tasty.  There is a strong contrast from the soft potato taste with a crispy outer layer.  Superb!

To make the potatoes:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place desired number of small Yukon Gold potatoes in a pot.  Cover with cold water and boil for about 20 minutes. Drain and place the potatoes on a sheet pan. They will not be fully cooked.

Mash with a potato masher to about 1/2 the size of the starting potato.  Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.


Roast for 30 minutes in the oven until nicely browned.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and roast for another 3 minutes to melt the cheese.

Garnish with chives and parsley to serve.  Serve hot from the oven.

On the evening that I prepared these potatoes, we also enjoyed roasted kale.