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.


Cheesy Chicken Spinach Pasta

Searching through my favorite magazine recipe file, I found a chicken pasta recipe that was easy to make and quite delicious.  It was published in Cooking Light magazine, December 2014.

I followed the recipe, but changed up the ingredients as I often do to make the recipe my own.  This saucy pasta can be a perfect dish for those cold winter nights when only a comforting meal will help you stay warm.

Here is how I made the dish:

Cook 8 ounces or one cup of penne pasta until done.  Drain and reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water to use in the recipe.

Next, heat a skillet on the stove and add one tablespoon olive oil.  Add one large chicken breast, which has been cut into bite-sized pieces to sear and cook.  Sprinkle the chicken with a seasoning of choice.  I usually use Pensey’s Parisian Herbs.  Remove the chicken from the pan when done and place aside.


Next add one tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, and add 1/2 of a chopped green pepper, with minced garlic to taste.  Stir to warm and begin to cook.  Add, one box of chopped and drained fresh green spinach.  As the spinach is cooking, add pasta, chicken, and 2 ounces of low-fat cream cheese and 2 ounces of Parmesan cheese. To thin, begin to add the pasta water until the proper sauce is formed.  At least 1/2 cup of the water should be used.   Serve and enjoy with those you love.


pasta shells florentine

Yesterday afternoon we had some light snow showers.  Our snow totals here in Michigan have not even eclipsed totals from last year.  However, the snow was so pretty, it motivated me to make spinach stuffed shells.  This is a recipe I found years ago, and has come through several variations over the years.

Since we try to avoid red meat sauce in lasagna or recipes like these shells, I tend to substitute other vegetables for the bulk of the recipe.  These stuffed shells are very tasty and loaded with carbohydrates, but to keep warm on a snowy day, it just felt right.

This is a recipe for a crowd, or one to freeze for left overs.  The pan will serve 8 people.

To make the spinach shells:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and then boil one box of jumbo pasta shells for 14 minutes.  The box will indicate a longer boiling time, but the shells will bake in the oven completing their total cooking time.


While the shells are cooking, prepare the filling.  In a bowl, add one 10 ounce package of frozen spinach that has been thawed and completely drained, to 4 ounces of shredded mozzarella,  15 ounces of ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese), 1-2 egg whites, 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, salt, freshly ground pepper, and dried parsley flakes.  Set aside.  Open one jar of Barilla Marinara sauce.

When shells are done, drain and cool with running water to easily handle.  Using a large lasagna pan for the recipe, which has been prepared with PAM, begin to prepare the shells.  Taking each shell, fill with 1-2 tablespoons of mixture and place the shells into pan.  When all the shells are done, cover with pasta sauce.  And, top with another 3-4 ounces of shredded mozzarella and 1-2 ounces of Parmesan cheese.

Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes until bubbly.


Serve with a tossed salad and if desired, garlic toast.

I had the opportunity to test out AYL silicone grill gloves while baking these recipe.  The non-slip gloves are perfect for baking or grilling and withstand heat up to 425 degrees.  Usually large full pans of pasta are difficult to carry when hot from the oven, but these gloves worked perfectly.



For more information on silicone gloves, follow this link:  http://www.amazon.com/AYL%C2%AE-Silicone-Resistant-Grilling-Gloves/dp/B00PBWAK8Y