Saturday, October 30, 2010

Spinach and Mushroom Manicotti

Lately we've been on a mushroom kick around my house. I used to almost never cook with mushrooms, and in the last couple of months, I've bought fresh mushrooms several times for use in different dishes. Here's the latest dish. I found the original recipe on Pioneer Woman's Tasty Kitchen (posted by doubledippedlife), but I changed the cooking method as well as some of the ingredients. So what you see here, is what I did. You could substitute frozen chopped spinach for the fresh spinach, just remember to thaw and drain the excess liquid before adding it in. I actually prefer fresh spinach to frozen because I find it has a less earthy flavor, but either will work.

Spinach and Mushroom Manicotti

1, 28 oz. jar of marinara sauce (or for a homemade version, try this recipe)

2 Tbl olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced (I used a garlic press)

10 oz. weight Fresh Spinach, chopped

8 oz. fresh button mushrooms, chopped

2 whole eggs, beaten

16 oz. weight ricotta or cottage cheese (I used cottage cheese)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

8 oz. weight manicotti shells

2-1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese (I used the stuff from a can)

Cook the manicotti shells according to the directions on the box, but subtract one minute on the cooking time (this will under cook the pasta by just a little, but they will be easier to fill and they will finish cooking in the oven). Drain the pasta, and set out (separately) on a wax paper for them to cool.

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Add chopped spinach and mushrooms, stirring until mushrooms are cooked and spinach is wilted (the spinach should still be green, not brown). Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 340* F while you assemble the filling and fill the shells. For the filling, beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add ricotta/cottage cheese, salt, pepper, and 1 cup mozerella cheese. Stir to combine. Add in the spinach and mushroom mixture and stir.

Spread some marinara sauce (probably 1/4 to 1/2 cup) on the bottom of a 9 x 13" baking pan. Fill the manicotti shells with the filling (I just used a small spoon and made sure that the shells were stuffed, but becareful to not break the shells). Arrange the shells in the baking pan. Top with remaining marinara sauce and top with the remaining mozerella cheese and the parmesan cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Homemade Marinara Sauce

I was going to direct you to this recipe in a dish I will be posting later this week, but I was shocked that I hadn't posted it yet! This is a great marinara sauce that has a lot of flavor and can be used as a dipping sauce, pizza sauce, or of course, a pasta sauce. The sauce also freezes well for future uses. Thanks goes to my mom for this recipe!

Marinara Sauce
1/2 cup oil
2 medium garlic cloves, diced or crushed (I used a garlic press)
3-1/2 cups, or a 28 oz. can, crushed tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried chopped parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp pepper
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until lightly browned. Add remaining ingredients and cook rapidly, uncovered, for 15 minutes. (The oil will separate from the tomatoes if allowed to stand for a long period of time, so just stir it to redistribute it again.)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Zucchini and Mushroom Chicken

I love Chinese food, so when I come across a recipe, I always make a mental note of it. This recipe has been stewing in my head for awhile, but when we needed to get rid of a giant zucchini a neighbor gave us, I knew what I'd be making! It was really good and I've had requests to make it again. Sesame oil can be pretty expensive, so use it if you have it, but I didn't have any so I just doubled the vegetable oil. Thanks to Blog Chef for the recipe!

Zucchini and Mushroom Chicken


1lb boneless skinless chicken breasts

cornstarch (for dusting)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I doubled)

1 tablespoon sesame oil (I didn't use)

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 garlic cloves (minced)

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 package fresh button mushrooms (or 8 oz.)

4 small zucchini (or 1 giant)

Cooking Instructions:

Step 1: Cut chicken and zucchini into 1” chunks. Lightly dust chicken with a little bit of corn starch until lightly coated.

Step 2: Add vegetable and sesame oil to the wok and fry chicken pieces until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Step 3: Add zucchini and mushrooms to the wok and stir fry for a few minutes. Add soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, minced fresh garlic, and ground ginger to the wok stirring to coat and stir fry until mushrooms and zucchini are fully cooked.

Step 4: Return chicken pieces to the wok and coat with sauce, heat thoroughly and serve.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Acorn Squash

I love squash. In fact, I think it's my favorite vegetable. And this is the time of year to enjoy it! This is a really easy, tasty way to cook it up. And healthy too! I use very little butter, and no milk or cream. (In fact, you could probably get by without the butter even, but that's for you to try, not me.)

1 acorn squash

2 T. butter (approx.)
all spice and/or nutmeg to taste

1. Cut off the end opposite the stem. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut each half into halves again.

2. Place squash in a pot with enough water to just cover them (lay them on their curved backs). Bring the water to a boil and boil for about 15 minutes, checking occasionally with a fork.

3. When the squash is tender enough to mash or whip, take it out of the water and let it cool enough for you to handle it. (I'd say maybe 8 to 10 minutes.) With a spoon, scoop out the insides into a mixing bowl.

4. Add butter; beat with a hand beater (or mash with a potato masher, whatever you want to do). Add spices; beat again. Taste and adjust as desired.
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