Baked Pasta with Ricotta & Spinach

This was enjoyed by the pickiest eater in the house, my 6-year-old daughter.  In fact, she gave it an A+.  Out of the mouths of babes...or should I say IN them...
Don't be afraid to heavily season this dish as it can be on the bland side otherwise.  As always, don't be afraid to substitute if you don't have the exact ingredients I used.

1 box pasta, your choice
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 bag frozen spinach, cooked and squeezed dry
1/4 c flour
1 1/2 c milk
2 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 c ricotta cheese
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
crushed red pepper to taste, depending on how much heat you want
a dash of nutmeg
1 c seasoned panko breadcrumbs

Cook pasta, drain, set aside.

Heat butter over med-high heat.  Saute onion until just brown.  Add garlic, cook one minute more.  Reduce heat to med-low, add the greens.  Let cook for 5 or so minutes.

Sprinkle the greens with the flour.  Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly (it will burn and stick otherwise).  Gradually add the milk, stirring well.  Cook 5 minutes, stirring often, until thickened and smooth.

Remove from heat, stir in the pasta, cheddar, ricotta, sugar, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, nutmeg, garlic powder and cumin.  Spray a large casserole dish with nonstick spray.  Spoon into dish.  Sprinkle top with the panko breadcrumbs, then gently spray the breadcrumb topping with nonstick spray (so it will crisp while baking).

Bake 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees, or until it is heated through and the top is browned.  I put mine under the broiler for the last few minutes to really make the breadcrumbs crispy.

Chicken Vegetable Tortellini

I wasn't going to post this one, but there was some interest, so here it is.  My kids love tortellini, but I wasn't in the mood for sauce.  This turned out awesome.

1 to 1 1/2 lbs chicken, cut into bite size pieces
extra virgin olive oil
1 c chicken stock
3/4 c white wine
2 cloves garlic, minced
soy sauce to taste
Worchestershire sauce to taste
ground black pepper to taste
salt to taste
onion powder to taste
1 bag frozen stir fry vegetables (or whatever veggies you want)
2 c fresh broccoli florets
1 bag frozen tortellini

Drizzle a large skillet with the olive oil, heat to med-high.  Add the garlic, cooking and stirring until it starts to brown.  Add the chicken, black pepper, salt, and onion powder, cooking for 4-5 minutes, until browned.  Remove chicken to a plate.

Deglaze the pan with the wine.  Add the chicken stock, soy sauce, and Worchestershire.  Again, season the liquid with the spices used previously.  Add the vegetables, stirring to coat with the liquid.  Return chicken to pan and stir.  Reduce heat and cook 20 minutes or until vegetables reach desired doneness.

While that's cooking, boil the tortellini according to package directions.  Drain.  Once the vegetables are done to your liking, add the tortellini to the vegetables and chicken, stirring to mix.  Let simmer for 5-10 minutes to allow the flavors to mix with the tortellini.

Apricot Pork Tenderloin

I've been trying to come up with different ways to make pork, as it seems to be all that's in my freezer.  I don't know if it's the only thing that's been on sale or what, but for some reason I have a freezer full.  This is my latest version of pork loin.

2 lbs pork tenderloin
Yukon Gold potatoes
carrots, any way you like them

1 1/2 c white wine
1/4 c Gray Poupon (yeah yeah, giggle if you must)
a splash of extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
1 small onion, grated
1/4 c soy sauce (low sodium)
1 c apricot preserves
1/2 c brown sugar
black pepper to taste
cumin to taste
ground ginger to taste

Combine all ingredients for the marinade in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce and let simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, let cool.

Place tenderloin in a Ziplok bag, pour marinade into bag over the meat.  Refrigerate overnight.

The next day, brown the tenderloin in a skillet with a little olive oil, reserving the marinade.  Wash and halve potatoes, put in Crock Pot.  Peel and dice carrots, add to potaotes.  Place the tenderloin on top of potatoes and carrots; pour the reserved marinade over the meat.  Cook on high for 4-5 hours.

Chicken Vegetable Tortellini

Beef and Bean Soup

Pot Roast