Tag Archives: pasta

Baked Rigatoni with Spinach and Meatballs.

Happy Friday, everyone!  This blog update is actually a two-fer.

A few weeks ago, we had some spaghetti and meatballs that a friend had made.  Turns out, the Fruitaholic really went crazy for the meatballs.  When I asked my friend for the recipe the other day, she kind of laughed and said that they were from Trader Joes!

So, I was all set to run over to TJ’s to stock my freezer when I came across a recipe for a pasta bake with mini meatballs.  BINGO.  I had found tonight’s dinner, and already had most of the ingredients at home.

I tweaked the recipe a bit for both the meatballs and the pasta bake and they came out great. I added an entire bag of baby spinach, which allowed me to “sneak” another vegetable into the Fruitaholic’s diet.  I’m really glad that we decided to split the dish into two small casserole dishes and freeze one so that we have another one waiting for a day when I’m too lazy to cook!  We used all of the meatballs in the pasta bake (except for the 6 or so that the Fruitaholic gobbled down) so I’m going to make another batch for the freezer this weekend.

This recipe can be made even healthier by using whole wheat pasta, adding additional vegetables, and subbing ground turkey or chicken for the ground beef.  It’s super adaptable, which I love!

Baked Meatballs – inspired by The Parsley Thief

– 1 Lb Ground Beef
– 1/2 Cup Panko
– 1/4 Cup Parmesan
– 1/4 Cup Fresh Parsley, Chopped
– 1 Egg, Lightly Beaten
– Generous Splash of Milk
– Generous Splash of Worchestershire
– Salt and Pepper, To Taste

Preheat oven to 425.

Combine all ingredients and mix gently by hand.  Form into balls (size of your choice) and place on a lightly oiled, foil lined baking sheet.  Bake for 12-25 minutes, until browned and cooked through.

Baked Rigatoni with Spinach and Meatballs – inspired by and adapted from The Parsley Thief

– 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
– 1 Onion, Chopped
– 4 Cloves Garlic, Smashed and Sliced
– 1 Can Diced Tomatoes, Drained
– 1 Jar Pasta Sauce
– 1 Box Rigatoni, Cooked Al Dente
– 1 16 oz Bag Baby Spinach, Chopped
– 1/4 Cup Fresh Parsley, Chopped
– 1 Container Ricotta
– 1/4 Cup Parmesan
– 1 Container Baby Mozzarella Balls, Halved
– Baked Meatballs (see above recipe)
– 1 Pinch Nutmeg
– Salt and Pepper, To Taste

Preheat oven to 350.

Warm olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes and cook 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to low, add sauce and cook an additional 10 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, combine spinach, parsley, ricotta, parmesan and nutmeg.  Add pasta, meatballs and sauce and mix to combine.  Reserve some sauce for serving.

Transfer to baking dish and top with mozzarella.  Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and bake until browned, about 5 minutes.

Pumpkin Lasagna

It might not be pretty, but it is delicious!

Well, there’s no arguing around these parts that it’s Fall.  The cooler weather has taken over and the leaves are changing colors and falling off the trees.  I’ve traded in my tank tops and capris for hoodies and jeans.  It’s my favorite time of year.

Sure, it means Summer is over and Winter and it’s nastiness is right around the corner, but there’s just something about Fall that makes everything seem right in the world.  Fall brings the arrival of Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Bacon and Cheddar Apple Pies (check back soon for the recipe).  Fall is made for family gatherings around the dinner table or at the apple orchard.  It’s the flavors and aromas that I love about Fall… The scent of burning leaves when you step outside, the warmth of the fire from the fireplace, the mugs full of hot chocolate and yummy things baking in the oven.

Once the weather turned, I was chomping at the bit to make this recipe.  I combined two different recipes and added a few things on my own to create just the right flavor I was looking for.  The touch of sweetness was a welcome addition… Not too overwhelming. The Husby claimed it was like “dinner and dessert all in one bite.”  My original plan was to use chicken and apple sausage as the protein but, of course, the grocery store was out.  Luckily, I found a sweet italian turkey sausage that worked just fine.

What is your favorite thing about Fall?

Pumpkin Lasagna – Adapted from Prevention RD and Food Mayhem

– 1 Package No-Boil Lasagna Noodles
– 1 Package Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage, casings removed
– 1 Onion, chopped
– 1 Package Sliced Mushrooms
– 1 Bag Baby Spinach
– 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
– 2 Tbsp. Butter
– 3 Cloves Garlic, minced
– 2 Cans Pumpkin
-1 Cup Half and Half (I used fat free)
– 2 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
– 2 tsp. Maple Syrup
– 1 tsp. Cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
– 1 Tbsp Dried Sage
– 15 oz. Ricotta
– 1 bag Shredded Mozzarella
– 1 cup Parmesan
– Salt and Pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375.

Saute mushrooms and onions in the olive oil until tender, about 10 minutes.  Add spinach and cook until wilted.  Set aside.

Brown sausage and set aside.

Melt butter in a saucepan.  Add garlic and stir until golden brown.  Add pumpkin, half and half, sage, brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Stir until warm then set aside.

In a 9×13 baking dish, spread a layer of pumpkin sauce, followed by a layer of noodles.  Add another layer of pumpkin sauce.  Top with half of the vegetable mixture, sausage, ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan.  Repeat once then top with remaining noodles and sauce and the remainder of the mozzarella and parmesan.

Cover dish loosely with foil and bake for 45 minutes.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Orzo Salad with Watermelon and Feta.

yeah, i could really use a new camera. sorry for the ugly picture.

My son is what we like to call, a fruitaholic.  It’s always a sure bet that no matter what else is on his plate, he will immediately lunge at the fruit.  While he enjoys all types of fruit, his favorite is definitely watermelon, and it is his unconditional love that inspired this dish.

In the summer months, we always have had watermelon in our fridge, seeded, ready and available for all of the Fruitaholic’s fruit needs.  So when I came across this recipe, I was really intrigued by it.  And when MC suggested a Mediterranean theme for our dinner party, I knew this side would be the perfect addition to our menu.

And now that the weather here in Chicago has turned (boo), I apologize for tempting you with such a crisp and refreshing dish that is perfect on a warm summer night.  But I look at this recipe as a stepping stone…  It would be equally as delicious substituting  a combination of grapes and blue cheese, peaches and shaved parm, gorgonzola and pear, or pomegranate and goat cheese for more of a fall flavor.

Orzo Salad with Watermelon and Feta – From Weight Watchers

– 1 cup Uncooked Orzo

– 2 cups Watermelon, seeded and diced

– 1/2 cup Feta Cheese

– 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

– 1/2 cup Fresh Basil, sliced thin

– Salt and Pepper, to taste

Cook orzo according to package directions.  Drain and rinse under cold water, allow to cool.  Toss with remaining ingredients in a medium serving bowl.