Tag Archives: Mozzarella

Gives a Smile

4 Cheese Pasta Bake

mushroom_spinach_bake 

Nothing like a dairy challenge to get my husband involved with planning a meal – so thank you /52weekofcooking for that!  He tossed around lots of ideas, and at least one of them will be making an appearance in a few weeks, but for today I’m sticking with a super cheesy pasta dish that comes together in record time.  In fact, if you have some pre-made sauce in the freezer this delicious dish can be on the table well within an hour of getting home!  This was also my first time testing out some treats from Gourmet Garden, which I got as part of a blog challenge I’m participating in come February.   As for the cheeses, well I just grabbed whatever I thought would work – and then grabbed a few more!

Gives a Smile

Serves: Serves 5-6

Ingredients

  • 1 lb angel hair pasta, precooked and set aside
  • 2 cups favorite pasta sauce
  • 1 vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp Gourmet Garden Chunky Garlic Paste
  • 1 tsp Gourmet Garden Italian Herb Paste
  • 1 cup spinach, rinsed and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup baby bella mushrooms, diced
  • 1/2 cup shredded Provolone cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Mix the egg with the Parmesan cheese until smooth then stir in the two pastes along with the spinach, onion, and red pepper flakes. Set Aside
  3. Spread 2 tbsp of sauce along the inside of a 2qt casserole dish, to include the sides
  4. Spoon 1/3 of the pasta in the casserole dish, then top with half of the ricotta cheese, half of the mushrooms, half of the onion/egg mixture, and 1/4 cup of the provolone cheese and 1/2 cup of sauce. Repeat, switching the provolone with the mozzarella cheese. Top with the last of the pasta and cheeses before finishing with the remaining sauce (1 cup) and left over provolone and mozzarella cheeses.
  5. Bake for 35 minutes, or until cheese is brown on the edges and the sauce is bubbling. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before Serving!

Notes

If not using gourmet garden pastes, sub with three cloves of minced garlic and 1/2 tbsp dried Italian herb blend

http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2015/01/gives-a-smile.html

Needless to say one must really enjoy cheese in order to enjoy this dish, so if you’re vegan or lactose intolerant this might be a good recipe to skip.  It can be easily adapted for gluten free by switching out the whole grain pasta for a gluten free variety, of which there are more and more available!  For even more vegetables, I love that there are more and more vegetable flavored pastas – tho it does keep me from making my own.   For a super healthy option, switch out the pasta entirely for spaghetti squash – just reduce the cooking time to 25 minutes to prevent the squash from becoming totally dried out.

I have to say, using the Gourmet Garden pastes really sped up the process – and the flavors were fantastic!  I only wish more of the pastes were vegan, with the collection I got only the ginger was whey free and while that isn’t a HUGE issue for me it would still be nice.  However the convenience of the products is insane and I love that the ingredients are all organic, plus it tells you right on the container how many fresh cloves, bunches, etc went in to the container.

 Note:  I received a bunch of Gourmet Garden pastes and herbs as part of the #TripleS blog challenge, which starts February 2nd.  I was not required to use the products, or post anything about them outside of acknowledging that I received them, so all opinions and experiences are my own.    

Gotta Get Out

Stuffed Shells Casserole

Stuffed Shell Casserole

I’ll admit it, sometimes I don’t want to cook or at least don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen.  For example I’m a huge fan of stuffed shells but they take much longer than I’m willing to spend on the average work night.  So I decided to cut a few corners and make a stuffed shell casserole with all of the flavor and half the prep time.  To further speed up the process I used some frozen pomodoro sauce, leftover form a large batch I made in my slowcooker.  I swear one of the best things about my slow cooker is the ability to prepare huge batches of sauce (and other yummies!) and saving them for the future.  I simply placed the frozen sauce in the fridge before I left for work and then zapped it a bit to finish the process, adding a few more leaves of basil to make sure it had the right taste.

Stuffed Shell Casserole

Serves: Serves 4-5

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 cup baby bella mushrooms, diced
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach, well washed and torn
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 lb precooked small shells
  • 2 cups favorite pasta sauce
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. While oven preheats heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan. Add the spices and toss in the oil for 30 seconds before adding the onion, mushrooms, and garlic. Cook until soft then remove from heat and pour in to a large bowl.
  3. Add the spinach and ricotta cheese to the bowl and mix well.
  4. Spoon 1/4 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a large casserole dish. Add half of the pasta, then top with a third of the mushroom and ricotta cheese mixture. Top with 1 cup of sauce and then repeat the layering finishing with the cheese mixture before topping with the remaining sauce. Finish with the shredded cheeses and then bake, covered, for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove the cover and then bake for a final 10-15 minutes, until cheese on top is brown and bubbling. Serve and enjoy!
http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2013/04/gotta-get-out.html

The photo might not be the best, but it’s delicious and quick and easy – which is all that matters after a long day at work.  I served this up with some oregano bread but would be just fine on it’s own.

Take the Sky

Stuffed Crust OOP Pizza

Stuffed Crust Pizza

 

Time for another fridge cleaning adventure!  This time I had some left over mushrooms and pineapple from a stir fry, olive and onion from a lentil soup dish, and a lot of cheese from some baked pasta dishes.  I decided that instead of just tossing all of the cheese on top of the pizza I would stuff the crust with a variety of the cheese.  I was more than a little nervous regarding this venture since dough and I don’t always get along.  I used my bread machine to prep the dough, going with my sour dough oregano standby.  Once I rolled the pizza out I debated between the standard under roll to form the crust or to try rolling over, which is the one I went with in the end since it seemed the easiest for stuffing crust.

Take the Sky

Serves 4-5

Ingredients

  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • 3/4 cup starter
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 1/4 cup provolone cheese
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Add ingredients to bread machine per instructions, setting it for Pizza-Dough Medium if you have the options.
  2. Once dough is ready roll out onto a 12 inch pizza pan. Use a tablespoon to place cheese in the "crust area" - starting about 1 inch from the edge. Roll the crust over the cheese and use a fork to form a seam.
  3. Allow to rise covered for 30 minutes before adding any topping. Once topped place in a cool oven, then turn heat to 450 and bake for 35 minutes.
  4. Enjoy!
http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2013/03/take-the-sky.html

I was thrilled when I took the pizza out of the oven and realized that all of the cheese stayed within the crust.  I had horrible images of trying to take a slice off the stone and there being a huge hunk of cheese left behind.  The combination of cheeses gave a variety of textures, with the stringy mozzarella, the sharper Parmesan, and the creamy provolone.  This crust is so versatile, I can’t wait til April’s pizza night!

If At First

Homemade Veggie Lasagna

A few months ago I attempted, and failed at, making homemade ravioli.  I was resolved that once I got my stand mixer I would try again to make my own rolled dough, and after a month of psyching myself up I finally did it!  Having the stand mixer not only greatly reduced the extreme mess, it also allowed me to focus more on what the dough looked like to insure the right balance of flour, egg, and oil.  I also made sure to take the time to let the pasta rest, and in the end I had dough that was rollable and edible.   I thought about making ravioli, or tortellini again, but wanted to make sure I could handle the basics first.  So I cleared off the space where my microwave once sat, laid out the parchment paper, and got to work.   I divided the dough into three sections to make the rolling more manageable and occasionally got out my hubby’s measuring tape to see how thick the dough was.  For the filling I used a combination of vegetables, based on what I found in the local section of the grocery – gotta love hothouse vegetables in December!

Homemade Lasagna

Serves 5-6

Ingredients

  • For Noodles:
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp EVOO
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • For Filling
  • 1/2 cup Mozzarella, shredded & divided
  • 1/2 cup Ricotta, divided
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 vidalia onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup oyster mushrooms, well washed, diced, and divided
  • 1/2 cup baby bella mushrooms, well washed, sliced, and divided
  • 1/4 cup Italian brown mushrooms, well washed, sliced, and divided
  • 1 1/2 cups favorite sauces, divided

Instructions

  1. For Pasta: Add the flour to a large bowl, make a well and crack the eggs in to the well. Use a dough hook to slowly beat the eggs and flour, go slow to make sure you don't mix in to much flour. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on parchment, then remove any extra flour from the bowl and place the dough back in the bowl. Cover with a towel or wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  2. After 30minutes remove the dough from the fridge and divide in to three balls. Keep two in the bowl under the cover, and prepare an area to roll out the third ball. I used parchment paper with about 2tbsp of flour on the paper and another 2tbsp on the rolling pin. Roll out the dough until it is around 1/8 of an inch thick or thinner. Cover with a paper towel and repeat with the remaining two bowls. Allow pasta to rest on counter for about 10 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 375
  4. Place 1/4 cup of the sauce onto the bottom of a 9x9 casserole dish, and spread out along the bottom and side of the dish. Cut the pasta dough in to 3x3 strips and place one layer on the bottom of the dish. Then add half of the vegetables and half of the Mozz and Ricotta cheese and 1/2 cup of the sauce. Repeat with the remaining vegetables then add one last layer of pasta before adding the Parmesan cheese and remaining 1/4 cup of sauce.
  5. Bake for 35minutes, cheese should be brown and the sauce should be bubbling. Allow to sit for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!
http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2012/12/if_at_first.html

I’m not sure if I’m ready to try long noodles or shapes yet, but I’m hoping that after a few more goes at lasagna and ravioli I’ll have the rolling technique down enough to start cutting the dough.  If that ever happens I can promise a very happy blog post.