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.


Spinach and Tomato Tortellini

After doing an Internet search, I was not able to find a recipe which comes close to how I have prepared this dish several times.  It is quite tasty and has gone through some variations in the past years. I have finally settled on this method which produces a very delicious quick and easy dinner.

I use microwave bacon to start, which immediately speeds up the cooking process. In a large 10 inch deep saucepan, I heat 5 strips of bacon with just a teaspoon of olive oil.  Remove the bacon and set aside to cut into pieces.  In the pan, brown one white chopped onion.


Next, add 1/2 of one frozen box of spinach, which has been thawed and drained.  And, also 1/2 bag of frozen tortellini, which have been thawed, but not yet cooked. Stir to combine and heat slightly.  Then add, one canned of drained diced tomatoes.

Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Then add bacon pieces and cook and additional five minutes.

Top with Parmesan cheese and parsley flakes. Serve and enjoy.

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.



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.


spinach lasagna


since we are still suffering with extremely cold temperatures in Michigan, i decided to pull out a recipe from one of my garden club friends.  the ultimate comfort food for those cold winter days has to be lasagna.  instead of making the traditional meat lasagna, i opted for a vegetarian recipe of spinach lasagna.  this was an excellent recipe and one that i will make again

the recipe was taken from our garden club cookbook that was published a couple of years ago. the cookbook is filled with so many home cooked favorites of friends of mine in midland.

i made the recipe exactly as written and it was delicious.  here is the recipe:

28 ounces spaghetti sauce, 2 eggs, 15 ounces ricotta cheese, 1/2 tsp salt, 10 ounces frozen spinach, 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, 1/2 pound grated mozzarella cheese, 1/2 pound uncooked lasagna noodles.

preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  thaw and drain the spinach.  beat eggs in bowl, add ricotta, spinach, salt and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.  lightly spray bottom of baking dish with oil.  start the layers with the sauce.  cover bottom of dish, layer noodles, half ricotta mixture, half mozzarella cheese, then sauce.  repeat.

sprinkle the top with the remaining parmesan cheese. cover the dish with foil.  bake 40 minutes and uncover for 20 minutes for a total of 60 minutes bake time.  let stand for about 5 minutes before serving in squares.