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!

 

 

The 3 Ingredient Pasta Sauce

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This may or may not be groundbreaking news for you. If you read a lot of food blogs, it probably won’t be because it’s gone around like wild fire. If you don’t, or if you haven’t already seen this, it will be because this sauce is one of the easiest things I’ve ever made but it’s also simply delicious.

A 3 ingredient sauce is perfect for weeknights or weekends when you have lots of running around to do or a laundry pile that is waist high. You can get this sauce started (ie. throw 3 things in a saucepan) in less than 5 minutes and then you’re basically free to do anything that needs to be done for at least the next 45 minutes.

As for the flavor, it’s simple, smooth, and mellow. The tomatoes are the star player in this sauce so it’s important to go with a good brand of canned tomatoes. I’ve had luck with Trader Joe’s brand as well as San Marzano. Once I tried it with Von’s store brand and I wasn’t as happy with the results, so keep that in mind. Also something to note, almost every time I see this online people include salt on the ingredient list (as will I) but they all say they didn’t need it. This was true with me too, no extra salt, hence the title 3 Ingredient and not 4 Ingredient. I did however top mine with lots of fresh Parmesan before eating (not pictured) because that’s how I roll. Some may disagree that this sauce needs the cheese, but to me all sauce needs it.

3 Ingredient Pasta Sauce

Ingredients
28 ounces whole peeled tomatoes from a can *
5 Tbsp butter
1 medium-sized yellow onion, peeled and halved
Salt to taste, though I have never needed it

* Once I accidentally bought a can of whole tomatoes with basil, and it also did well. Some would say the basil takes away from the simplicity of the sauce but it tasted good, so it can’t be “wrong”.

Directions
Place the tomatoes, onion, and butter in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer for at least 45 minutes, occasionally stirring and using the spoon to begin to break down tomatoes. At the end of the simmer remove the pan from the heat, discard the onion, and use a wooden spoon to crush the tomatoes on the side of the pan. Season with salt only if needed.

Serve with pasta shape of your choice and grated Parmesan cheese for topping. I also served with a side of broccoli.

Source: Smitten Kitchen

Classic Lasagna

Some of the things I missed the most while I was in China were cheese, bread, and dessert. I got my fill of good vegetables, meat, and seafood, but nothing quite filled the hole in my heart (or stomach, in this case) that cheese and carbs left. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that my first meals back were loaded. Driving back from the airport we even made an emergency pit stop at In-N-Out Burger. Double double mustard fried with grilled onions and a Neapolitan shake? Yes please! Next up on my must-have-soon list was an over the top cheesy pasta dish, and lasagna fit the bill perfectly.

I’ve posted a vegetable lasagna recipe already, but this craving was for the classic version. So I whipped up a classic lasagna and enjoyed every last bite of the delicious cheesy, carb loaded, meat filled goodness. Then, yesterday I read online that July 29th is National Lasagna Day. Perfect! I bumped this recipe up the line so you’ll be prepared to make your own for the special day.

Classic Lasagna
(Developed over the years by me)
Ingredients
1 box no-boil lasagna noodles

1 15-oz container of Ricotta cheese
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/2 cup frozen spinach, thawed and excess moisture squeezed out
4-5 fresh basil leaves, julienned (or 1 tsp dry basil but I really recommend finding some fresh!)
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of black pepper

1 lb Italian sausage (I used sweet, but also like spicy)
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dry basil
1 tsp dry oregano
1 tsp dry parsley
1/4 tsp dry rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
1/3-1/2 cup dry red wine

1 16-oz ball of fresh mozzarella, shredded (to equal about 2 cups)*
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

*As with many things, I think that real fresh mozzarella is key. Of course it’s really up to you, but I don’t think a block of Kraft mozzarella will cut it! You can find real balls of fresh mozzarella in the specialty cheese section of any well stocked grocery store. If you have trouble shredding it you can cut it into slices. Or do what I do it and hand it to the nearest strong man and make them do it! 🙂

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large skillet, brown and crumble the Italian sausage. When the sausage is cooked through and browned add the tomato paste and garlic. Cook for 30 seconds or until garlic is fragrant. Stir to coat the sausage with the tomato paste. Season with dry basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 more minute. Stir in the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce and bring to a simmer. Add the red wine and continue to simmer for 10 minutes.

While the meat sauce is simmering, combine the ingredients for the ricotta filling in a medium sized bowl.

Spread 1/3 cup of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Then lay out 4 noodles, slightly overlapping. Make 3 sets of layers in the following order:

  1. Noodles
  2. 1/3 of the Ricotta filling
  3. 1/4 of the Meat sauce
  4. 1/4 of the Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese

After the 3rd group of layers, top off the lasagna with another layer of noodles, the last of the sauce, and the rest of the shredded cheese.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes. (I also gave mine 2 minutes under the broiler to make the cheese a deeper golden brown)

Serve with a green salad and garlic bread. (Yes mine is totally Texas Toast, not homemade or gourmet but Jesse loves it and it was fast!)

Shrimp in Tomato Sauce with Feta

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I am working on a verrrrry long China post (hopefully will be posted tomorrow morning), so this is going to be short and simple! Much like the preparation of this meal.

The most time consuming part of this dish was removing the shells and de-veining the shrimp. Luckily you can purchase raw shrimp without the shell. I forgot that half of the shrimp in my freezer had the shell/vein so when it came time to prepare the meal I was happy to have my mom there to help me get through it quickly. As a side note, I can appreciate the tail on for the appearance of the dish, but when it comes to eating I think it would be more pleasant to have the tails removed. It’s really up to you and the dish will turn out great either way.

I think this shrimp would go wonderfully with a simple side of pasta in garlic butter, with rice, or, as I served it, with a nice crusty bread brushed with garlic butter. I liked to use the bread to sop up the extra sauce. Add a green salad or green beans and you have a well rounded meal that will be well received by guests, but also simple enough for week night.



Shrimp in Tomato Sauce with Feta
(Adapted from Annie’s Eats)

3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes, with liquid
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1½ tsp dried oregano
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
3 tbsp minced fresh parsley
1.5 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails on if you like)
5 oz. crumbled feta cheese
Juice of 1 lemon
Fresh lemon wedges, optional for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil . Then add the onion and cook until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine to the pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits stuck to the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by half.

Reduce the heat to low. Stir in the tomatoes with the liquid, tomato paste, oregano, salt and pepper and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

In a small bowl, toss together the bread crumbs, parsley, and the remaining tablespoon olive oil.

Carefully pour the tomato sauce into a medium size casserole dish, then lay the shrimp in a single layer on top of the the tomato mixture. Sprinkle the feta cheese then the bread crumbs over top of the shrimp.

Bake for 15 minutes until the shrimp is pink and the bread crumbs have started to brown. Squeeze the fresh lemon juice over top and serve immediately.