Guest Post: Spinach Manicotti with Tomato Cream Sauce

Well, I’ve made it safely back to the U.S.! This week I am in Ohio visiting with family/friends and picking up my kitty cats and next week I will be returning to San Diego to get our new home set-up! As I mentioned last week, because this is such a busy time for me,  I’ve asked a few friends to help me out over the next few weeks. Today, I’m happy to have Krissy, from Dainty Chef, as a guest poster. I could spend hours going through her posts and drooling over her delicious photos, just check out this Apple Cheesecake or these Cinnamon Roll Pancakes or these Sweet Potato Cakes with Black Bean Chipotle Salsa. Yum! And this manicotti is definitely going to the top of my “to-make” list when I get in the new kitchen! Thanks, Krissy!

Hello Sunny Side Up Readers, my name is Krissy and I am the blogger behind Dainty Chef. This is a busy time for Jessica so I told her I could help her out with a guest post, and I am so happy to be here. Last October, I was in the same boat as Jessica, my husband and I were settling on a new house, so now I am returning the favor for her. Over on my blog, I try to post a variety of recipes ranging from sweet to savory, of course the sweet ones have a tendency to outweigh the savory :). Today, I wanted to share with you a quick and easy, but somewhat elegant weeknight meal.

Since I am a teacher, this is still a busy time for me since we are just about a month into a new school year. If things couldn’t get any more hectic, I decided to switch grade levels so that adds a whole new dimension of busy in my life. I moved from fourth grade to second grade and those little guys literally suck out all the energy from me each and every day. The last thing that I feel like doing when coming home from work is cooking a labor intensive meal. That is when I turn to recipes that I know will be delicious, but won’t take much time.  These Spinach Manicotti may look intimidating, but they come together quickly and are easy to make! The reward is a satisfying and healthy dinner for your entire family. We ended up enjoying these for two nights in a row. They were perfect with a glass of wine, salad, and some bread to clean up all that extra sauce! I hope you enjoy them as much as we did and thanks again Jessica for having me!

 

 

Rigatoni with Chicken, Bacon, and Mushrooms

It’s recipe swap time again! I was excited to see that I was assigned Sarah’s blog for a few reasons. First, Sarah runs the recipe swap! Second, she’s been blogging for over 5 years, so she has lots to choose from. Third, we share a deep love for pasta. Her blog is loaded with delicious pasta recipes, so many that I had a really hard time narrowing it down to just one. In the end I went with what I knew would make a lot and be a crowd pleaser because we have visitors in town!

Jesse’s parents made the long journey to China last week and we have gone non-stop since they arrived. They have done a pretty great job trying (and liking!) lots of new foods, but after 4 days in Hong Kong, I knew they would appreciate something familiar. I made only a few slight changes to this recipe (added garlic and a few minor direction changes). I’m happy to say, they were huge fans of this pasta and so was I (no surprise there).



 

Also, check out what everyone else made for the swap!


Summer Sweet Corn Fettuccine

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, one really great thing about living in China is the accessibility to all sorts of fresh produce. I’m within walking distance to a wet market with probably 20 stands of nothing but fresh fruits and vegetables. A lot like the farmers markets that take place on the weekends in the summer in the US – except that it’s every day all year long.  Even better are the prices. And the freebies – the girl at my favorite stand won’t let me leave without giving me something (usually green onions and cilantro) for free. 🙂 The corn has been especially delicious lately and it’s been made a lot of appearances at our dinner table.

This Summer Sweet Corn Fettuccine seemed like a perfect use for the corn cobs I came home with a few weekends ago. And I really did love it. I did make a few adjustments to the recipe. I initially was going to cut everything in half, but then the sauce didn’t seem like it would be enough for the pasta (even though I was using less pasta) so I added additional milk. So in the end I used less corn than the original recipe, but it honestly seemed like just enough, any more might have been *too* much. As always though, I’ll list the recipe as I made it and link to the original, so it’s your call!

 

 

Vegetarian Enchilada Casserole

I belong to a message board where I chat with others who share my love (obsession?) of cooking, baking, and all things food. In fact, lots of those ladies also like to make food, photograph it, and write about it on the internet. For a long time now, many of them have participated in recipe swaps. I’ve really wanted to join in the fun, but with moving, living in a hotel, and traveling, I didn’t think it would be fair to commit to participating and then not being able to hold up my end of the deal. Now that we (finally!) are starting to settle in and things feel normal (well, as normal as they can feel when you live in a country and culture very different from your own!) I can finally play along!

Each recipe swap has a different theme, and usually the blogger submits a specific recipe that fits within the theme. This time, however, it’s Blogger’s Choice style! So we each are assigned a blog and get to choose any recipe. I was assigned Kate’s Recipe Box. I am not super familiar with Kate’s blog, so I spent a good amount of time going through the archives and bookmarking things. In the end, I kept going back to this casserole. Something about it was just calling my name.

Jesse and I were both really happy with my decision. Later in the evening I overheard him talking to his dad on Skype and telling him about the delicious “Mexicanish” dinner I made. Then he said something about chicken which really made me laugh, there is definitely no chicken in this meal. Haha.

I made only a few minor changes to the recipe, using my own Enchilada sauce recipe, and a couple small adjustments to ingredient amounts. I also made Mexicorn (recipe to come) as a side dish and wouldn’t you know, we both just mixed it right in to the casserole. Next time I might consider adding corn right to the dish. All in all, a big win for us!

Vegetarian Enchilada Casserole

Ingredients
8 oz. dry pasta
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped (I used red and yellow)
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp taco seasoning mix*
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups Enchilada sauce, divided (recipe below)
1 cup cheese, divided (Cheddar, Mexican blend, or Monterey Jack)
1/2 cup chopped green onions, plus 1 Tbsp for garnish
2 Tbsp cilantro, plus 1 Tbsp for garnish
Salt & pepper, to taste
20 tortilla chips (about 2 handfuls), crushed
Sour cream, salsa, and/or avocado, for serving

*The enchilada sauce I use was pretty heavily seasoned, so I only added 1 tablespoon worth of additional seasoning (1 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp oregano)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare pasta to al dente, according to directions on box, drain and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the red onion, jalapeno, bell peppers, and garlic, saute for 6-7 minutes., or until vegetables start to become tender. Stir in seasonings, black beans, and 1 cup of enchilada sauce, cook for another 5 minutes. Add the pasta, 1/2 cup of cheese, green onion, and cilantro. Stir until the cheese has melted and the pasta is evenly coated with sauce.

In the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish, spread 1/2 cup of Enchilada sauce. Pour the pasta into the dish, using a spoon to evenly distribute in pan. Pour the remaining 1/2 cup of Enchilada sauce over the pasta, top with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese on top is melted and bubbly. Sprinkle with crushed tortilla chips, green onions, and cilantro. Serve with sour cream, salsa, and/or avocado.

Slightly adapted from Kate’s Recipe Box, originally from Oh She Glows

Enchilada Sauce

Ingredients
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup bell pepper, very finely chopped
1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
2/3 cup water
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp dry parsley
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp kosher salt
pepper to taste

Directions
In a small sauce pan heat the vegetable oil and cook the bell pepper until tender. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients from tomato sauce to salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.

*I made this sauce the day before I needed (and stored in the fridge until I was ready to use it) making the pasta that much easier to throw together. Bonus, the added day in the fridge gave the flavors lots of time to meld together and enhance.

Source: My mom, as posted previously for Beef Enchiladas