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.


Springtime Spinach Spread

March Madness is upon us again, and there is always another event where a new appetizer could be shared.  Here is an easy recipe that comes together in less than 30 minutes and is very creamy and tasty.  This recipe makes a lot of spread, so it can either be frozen for later events or only plan to make this recipe for a gathering.  It will become your next favorite recipe.

Gather these ingredients:  one package of crumbled real bacon, 8 ounces of low fat cream cheese, 3/4 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan and Romano cheese, 2 tablespoons low fat mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, one box frozen spinach thawed, 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, salt, pepper, and dried parsley flakes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a ceramic pie dish with Pam to coat.  With an electric mixer, cream together the cream cheese, sour cream, cheese, mayonnaise, and the Worcestershire sauce. Next, stir in the spinach-fully drained, mozzarella and cheddar cheese, salt and ground pepper to taste.  Spread into the prepared dish.  Sprinkle with more cheddar and mozzarella as needed to cover the dish.  This will be about 3/4 cup of additional cheese.


Bake for 20 minutes until slightly brown and very hot.  Garnish wish parsley flakes and serve with an assortment of crackers or crusty bread. Yum.


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.



spinach and cheese appetizer

Holiday season is here and most hostesses like to have a few easy appetizers to serve to guests, as they are waiting for the holiday meal. This is one of those easy recipes that have been around for a long time, but I have never featured on my blog.

I am not sure if this is healthy, based on the use of a refrigerated crescent roll dough, however; I tried the reduced fat version of the dough, and the results were just as tasty.  Here are the easy directions, with the option of using a variety of shredded cheese flavors.

Open a tube of crescent dough and place on waxed paper, stretching to both close the seams and elongate to a 12 inch rectangle.  Top the dough with thawed and drained frozen spinach and about 3/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese.  Season with salt and pepper to taste or if desired.  Roll into a log from the more narrow end of the roll.

Slice into eight wheels.  Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven on a parchment lined pan or a silpat mat for 15 to 20 minutes until browned.

Serve hot.


vegetable lasagna (mushroom and spinach)

Summer pasta dishes are often lighter when served during the summer months.  We prefer to eat less pasta during the summer overall, but sometimes the selection of summer vegetables encourages me to add them to even more main dishes than in the winter.  This recipe is one of my favorites when summer vegetables are ready for being the main attraction.

Here is how I made this dish:

In a large skillet, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and add these ingredients:  one medium chopped white onion, about 3-4 large carrots cleaned and chopped into smaller size pieces, and 3-4 stalks of celery diced.  After cooking down for a few minutes, add 1 tablespoon minced garlic and 2 tablespoon tomato paste.  Cook together.

Next add about 15 chopped white mushrooms, which have been cleaned well.  Add salt and pepper to the mixture, while cooking at least 5 more minutes until the mushrooms cook down.  Next, add one 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes.  Heat until all ingredients are well blended and warm.

While these ingredients are cooking, make the cheese layer for the lasagna.  I used 5 ounces of shredded Parmesan cheese, mixed with 8 ounces of shredded mozzarella cheese, 8 ounces of ricotta cheese, one egg, and one drained and squeezed box of frozen spinach.  All of these ingredients will mix well into a bowl and be ready for the layering process.

In a large 13 by 9 by 2 inch baking dish, use some of the tomato mixture to line the bottom of the pan. Next add 3-4 no-cook dry lasagna noodles.  For the next layer, add tablespoons of the cheese mixture over the noodles and spread to form a layer.  Next add another layer of tomato sauce, and noodles, and cheese.  Layer until the ingredients are used fully. Make sure the top layer of the lasagna is the tomato sauce. For the final topping to the lasagna, I added more shredded mozzarella, fontina, and Parmesan cheese.

Baking directions:   For the first half of the baking time, cover the dish with tin foil completely.  For the second half of the baking time, remove the foil.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 50 minutes.

Summer variations:  Use fresh chopped tomatoes, Use fresh spinach which has been sautéed down in a skillet prior to adding to this dish, Use fresh onions of all types, Use fresh chopped zucchini.  Many fresh herbs can be used. Some of my favorites are fresh oregano, parsley, thyme, chives and sage. A variety of mushrooms can also be used.

Cheese variations:  Fontina cheese is delicious in this recipe.  Fresh mozzarella can also be used.



Martha’s spinach dip 2.0

Another March madness favorite has to be spinach dip.  I have posted on this blog in past years other versions of spinach and artichoke dips, but this one is super easy and from Martha Stewart.  She has updated the dip with ricotta cheese and even suggests that it can be made with other greens, such as kale or chard.


I used the traditional box of frozen spinach, thawed, and it was delicious.

To make the dip:

Mix 1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese with 1 cup frozen spinach which has been thawed.  Season to taste.  I used ground black pepper and a dash of sea salt.  Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for about 12 -15 minutes, or until the top is browned.

Serve with crackers or crusty bread.

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.