Quick Eats: Creamy Spinach Tortellini

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If I was a superhero (and really- who’s to say I’m not?) my one weakness wouldn’t be some strange element from another planet, or bullets (okay- probably bullets)– but it WOULD be pasta. Whenever there’s any form of pasta in front of me- I just continue to eat it until I can’t move and am rendered useless for the remainder of the day. Add cheese to it and I’m pretty much done for.

A friend, knowing my weakness well, forwarded me this 20 minute recipe for cheesy spinach tortellini- which happens to be my favorite type of pasta- and I ended up clearing an entire afternoon so I could prepare it, eat a serving (or two) and then lay motionless for a few hours until it digested and I could stand up and walk around without needing a long nap, first.

Carb Counters beware- this recipe isn’t for the faint of heart- but if you’re feeling a little indulgent on your “Cheat Day”, I say go big or go home and try your hand at this one!

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WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 20 oz. package Three Cheese Tortellini (or your favorite kind!)
  • 1 8 oz. package of cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 6 cups loosely packed baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup Cheddar Jack or mozzarella cheese, shredded

OKAY, HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

1. Cooking the package of tortellini according to package instructions.

2. Meanwhile, in a large, oven proof skillet, simmer the cream cheese with chicken or vegetable stock for about 10 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 400℉.

4. Add spinach to the cream cheese sauce and simmer for another 5 minutes.

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5. Add tortellini, mix everything well and sprinkle the shredded cheese on top.

6. Place the skillet in the oven and bake for about 7-10 minutes, until the shredded cheese melts.

7. Serve hot- and enjoy!

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This stuff hit the spot. It was really filling, but not in the “I feel sick” way- and that’s coming from someone who ate a pretty good sized portion. The spinach was a nice addition, too- since it broke up the heaviness of all the cheese and tortellini in every spoonful.

If I could make a recommendation, I would flavor this with a little salt and pepper, too. I didn’t do that at first- and while the completed recipe did taste good all on it’s own- I found it needed just a small amount of flavoring to really knock it out of the park. A sprinkle of salt and pepper helped enhance the taste. Just keep that in mind if you make this on your own!

I’ll definitely be cooking up this one again!

xx

Quick Eats: Butternut Squash Ravioli

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It’s been a while since I’ve done a cooking/baking post for the blog, mostly because of my schedule and the majority of my meals being unremarkable (not that they’ve been bad, but they weren’t really worthy of their own post,) but tonight I put some time aside to plan dinner- and this post. I have to say that it feels really good to be back in the kitchen cooking up different things again and adding some variety & flavor to the mix. Butternut squash ravioli is a delicious and filling seasonal dish that is perfect for this time of year. My recipe comes in two parts, the ravioli itself and the sauce, and is also made from scratch- which results in the ravioli not looking perfectly squared and cut like the traditional store bought kind- but tasting 10x better.

YOU WILL NEED (RAVIOLI:)

* Immersion blender

* Rolling pin

* 1/2 Pre-peeled butternut squash (totaling 5 cups after being rinsed and cubed)

* 2 Cups chicken stock

* 2 Cups flour

* 4 Eggs

* 1/4 Teaspoon of olive oil

* 3 Tablespoons of butter

* 1/4 Cup of brown sugar

* 1/2 Cup of potato starch

* 1/4 Teaspoons of nutmeg

YOU WILL NEED (SAUCE:)

* 3 Tablespoons of butter

* 1/4 Cup of flower

* 16 oz. (1 pint) of light cream

* 1 Cube of chicken bouillon

* Shaved Parmesan cheese

* Pinches of salt, pepper, and nutmeg

OKAY, HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

1. After rinsing and cubing the 5 cups worth of butternut squash, set it in 2 quarts of cold water and begin to boil on the stove. While the water is heating up, add the 2 cups of chicken stock. It’s going to take a little while for the squash to become soft and mushy, so you can work on making the dough for your pasta while you wait.

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2. Pour the two cups of flower on your baking surface. From there, add the 4 eggs, and begin mixing and kneading thoroughly until the dough begins to thicken in texture and consistency.

3. Add the 1/4 tablespoon of olive oil to the dough. Continue to knead. When the dough is thick and evenly mixed, rest a clean, damp cloth over it to keep it from drying out for about 10-15 minutes. Now you can focus on the squash again, which should be tender and ready to be strained by now.

4. After straining the squash and pouring it back into the pan, add the 3 tablespoons of butter, the 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and the 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg to the squash- and begin pureeing with the immersion blender.

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5. After pureeing the mixture for a few minutes, add the 1/2 cup of potato starch and continue using the immersion blender to mix it into your butternut squash filling. This will keep it from being watery or runny when you put it into the pasta and cook it. Once you’re thoroughly mixed everything together and your pureed squash has a rich consistency, feel free to do a taste test to see whether or not you want more nutmeg- and add whatever you feel is an appropriate amount (I just mixed in a couple more pinches to add a little more flavor.)

6. It’s time to go back to the dough. After flouring your rolling pin, roll the dough flat and cut into four inch strips. From there, scoop spoonfuls of squash along the strips of dough.

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7. Fold the dough over the spoonfuls of squash, creating pockets, and cut them into squares. Use a fork or your fingertips to flatten the edges around the squares, keeping the butternut squash filling inside the pocket and giving the ravioli it’s shape.

8. Set raviolis on a floured baking pan, and let them sit for 10-15 minutes while you mix the sauce.

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9. Using another pan, melt the 3 tablespoons of butter and gradually add the 1/4 cup of flour  and the 16 oz. of light cream. Begin to stir/whisk the ingredients together.

10. Add the 1 cube of chicken bouillon to the mixture, as well as pinches of salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Continue to stir/whisk until the consistency of the sauce is nice and thick. *IF THE SAUCE BECOMES TOO HEAVY, YOU CAN THIN IT OUT BY ADDING A LITTLE MILK TO IT.*

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11. While letting your sauce simmer, you can now add your ravioli to a pot of boiling water to finish cooking. When it’s done, strain the excess water from the pan and add the sauce to the pasta- making sure each piece is generously coated.

12. Serve the ravioli with the shaved Parmesan cheese and pinches of nutmeg for added flavor.

13. Spoon ravioli into face.

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These ravioli tasted so, so good, and were absolutely worth the mini-mess I made in my kitchen with the flour and brown sugar while I was preparing them.

Beach Bum.

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Just a few shots (one including my strange looking toes) from a drive to Hampton Beach I took this past Sunday afternoon. When I wasn’t perusing the surfboards, the shoes, and the bohemian style tops at Cinnamon Rainbows (my favorite surf shop), I was perched on one of the concrete walls by the water- taking in the sound of the waves, the salty air, and the sun on my face. Heavenly.

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Also, it’s not so much a “Quick Eats” recipe post, but I just wanted to share that I absolutely love cooking the above-pictured spinach penne, chicken, and vegetables dish. It’s delicious, good for you- and so easy and fast to make.

You just need:

One package/box of spinach penne pasta

1/2 pound of chicken (cut into pieces)

1 thinly sliced yellow squash

A handful of fresh snap pea pods

And as much broccoli as you want.

While you’re boiling the spinach pasta, you simply sauté the cut chicken pieces, the thinly sliced pieces of yellow squash, the snap pea pods, and the broccoli in some olive oil until everything is cooked and crisp.

Strain the pasta, mix all the ingrediants together into your sauté pan, and voilà!

The dish I prepared was served with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese and garlic toast.

So yummy.

Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice!

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Sometimes all it takes is a little wild-colored pasta to turn an otherwise blasé meal into something fun. Such was the case the other night when I cooked up this black and white swirled all-natural bow tie pasta I had picked up at a farmers’ market a few weeks ago. There were a few other variations: checkered macaroni and rainbow spaghetti, for example, but these bow ties reminded me of the movie “Beetlejuice” and I just knew I had to cook them up.

A little butter and a pinch of salt, and voilà! Dinner was served. The pasta itself tasted fine. I think I’m going to try the rainbow spaghetti next time.

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