I am a homebody. I would much rather stay at home, pop in our over-played DVD of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and pour a glass of cheap Trader Joe’s wine than go out of the house. And this isn’t even when it is cold or if there is snow on the ground!
During the winter months, I transform into, well, a squirrel. When I do go out and go shopping, I buy a lot of food. The reason I do this is mainly to prevent other trips out into the cold. Plus, if I can cook enough during the week, this will also eliminate weekend outings. Let’s face it, I already cook for a family of four even though it is just the two of us, so to say it gets worse, is an understatement.
I think that I just cleaned out all my chili, meat sauce, marinara, and salsa that I stockpiled in the freezer from last winter. Seriously, they could make a show about me. Hoarders: Food Edition. And, since I don’t go out in the winter, I would probably watch it!
Today, I am going to do something rare. Instead of putting my surplus of roasted tomato marinara in the freezer for a snowy day, I am going to keep it in the refrigerator and use it in another recipe right away! Don’t worry about my freezer collection being depleted before it even gets started snowing outside, because I already have a surplus of tomatoes on my grocery list for next week.
Ingredients for Filling
2 Cups of Ricotta
1 Cup of Shredded Mozzarella
½ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
10 oz Frozen Chopped Spinach, defrosted and drained
1 Teaspoon of Salt
½ Teaspoon of Pepper
½ Teaspoon of Garlic Powder
In a large bowl combine all of the ingredients for the filling. Mix until the spinach has been evenly distributed throughout the cheese mixture.
Add the shells to a large pot of boiling water. Boil the shells for approximately 8 minutes. They will not be cooked all the way through. Drain shells and immediately place them on a sheet pan to dry and cool.
Coat the inside of a 7”x11” Pyrex dish with a tablespoon of olive oil. Coat the bottom of the dish with a thin layer of sauce to prevent sticking. Take a heaping spoonful of the cheese and spinach mixture and gently place it into each shell. Then arrange the shells into three rows in the dish.
Cover the shells with the remaining sauce, then the shredded mozzarella, and then the large slices of fresh mozzarella.
Bake the dish in the oven for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. If you like a more golden and crispy top, leave it in for five minutes longer.
You can also make this with the Bolognese sauce if you want something a little heartier.
When you have sauces like the roasted tomato marinara at your disposal, and can make dishes like this, it is sooooo easy to stay in!
I am Stefanie and I am a Food Hoarder. Look for it on the next episode of True Life.
I admit that most of my recipes, although delicious, are not always the healthiest. Today I decided to switch things up. This recipe I am sharing with you today is for my health conscious and vegetarian friends.
I know that sometimes I harp on the vegetarians out there, but that is only because I used to be one so I feel like I have a connection to their plight, which entitles me to make fun of them every now and then. (Come on veg-heads, you know you get a little full of yourselves every now and then, right? Remember I know, because I used to be one of your kind.)
In all seriousness, during the ten years of eating only vegetables and grains, I would get so mad at places for not having some sort of vegetarian option. It was also frustrating going out to dinner and being faced with having an entire meal made up of sides; side salad, side of rice, side of vegetables. You can be more creative than that people!
Think about the time we live in. We have access to wonderful produce pretty much all year long. How hard is it to come up with something flavorful for a vegetarian to eat?
Most places these days have caught on to the healthy, organic, vegetarian, gluten-free movements going on in the world. This is wonderful for not only the dietary selective people, but for the rest of us omnivorously oblivious eaters. It gives us a chance to broaden our food horizons and try something new that might also benefit us in the long run!
Next time you go out, order the vegetarian option, get something gluten-free, or the next time you reach for a jar of marinara in the store try buying fresh tomatoes and making this instead! Trust me. Your stomach, taste buds, and vegetarian friends will thank you.
Ingredients (Makes 4 cups of Sauce)
4 Large Tomatoes, roughly diced
1 lb. Cherry Tomatoes, halved
4 Cloves of Garlic, peeled and halved
1/3 Onion, roughly diced
1 Teaspoon of Salt
½ Teaspoon of Pepper
3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
A Handful of Fresh Basil Leaves
Remove the core out of the four large tomatoes. Roughly dice them into approximately same-sized pieces. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half length-wise. Roughly dice the onion. Peel the garlic and cut the cloves in half length-wise. Add all the ingredients to a large baking sheet.
Season the tomatoes, onion, and garlic with salt and pepper. Let the tomatoes sit for about ten minutes so the salt starts to leach some of the liquid out of the tomatoes. After ten minutes, add the olive oil. Mix the tomatoes, onion, and garlic to evenly coat them in the olive oil and seasonings. Spread the tomatoes out so there is just one even layer on the pan.
Roast the tomatoes, garlic, and onion in the oven at 325 degrees for two hours*. Every half an hour take the pan out and flip/mix the tomatoes, onion, and garlic to prevent burning.
*If two hours is too long for you, you can always use the broiler on low for 30-45 minutes. Just make sure to keep the oven door cracked open to keep an eye on things so the tomatoes don’t burn.
When the tomatoes are done roasting, remove them from the oven. Let them cool for about ten minutes and then add them to a food processor or blender. Toss in the basil leaves. Puree the mixture until smooth. (You might have to add some water or olive oil to loosen the sauce up a bit during the pureeing process.)
See, that was easy! A bright, flavorful, healthy, sauce that requires little clean-up… These vegetarians have the right idea. Sometimes.
Now that the haze from my weekend long food coma has lifted, I find myself inspired by my friend’s Italian creation over Friendsgiving. Well, that’s partially the reason behind this week’s recipes.
To be completely honest, I have all the Italian ingredients because I was supposed to make a pasta dish for Friendsgiving. When the menu was revised, my good friend with a case of pregnancy brain forgot to tell me the main dish now consisted of pasta. I’m not just going to let all these ingredients go to waste…
So, Italian food it is!
2 Stalks of Celery, roughly chopped
2 Carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
½ of an Onion, roughly chopped
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
1 lb. of Ground Beef
4 Links of Mild Italian Pork Sausage, casings removed
1 Teaspoon of Salt
½ Teaspoon of Pepper
½ Teaspoon of Dried Oregano
½ Teaspoon of Dried Basil
½ Teaspoon of Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1 Cup of Red Wine
2 Tablespoons of Tomato Paste
2 Cans of Crushed Tomatoes
2 Tablespoons of Fresh Basil, finely minced
Place the celery, carrots, onion, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse the ingredients until they are finely minced. Add the olive oil to a large stock pot and bring up to temperature over medium heat. Add the carrot, celery, onion, and garlic combination to the pot. Cook over medium until the mixture releases most of its moisture, about five to ten minutes.
Combine the beef, Italian sausage, and seasonings in a large bowl. Use your hands to make sure all the ingredients are properly combined. Raise the temperature to high heat. Add the beef and pork mixture to the pot. Break the meat apart into small chunks using a rubber spatula. At this time there will still be a good deal of liquid in the pot. That is ok, we want all that beef and pork flavor in the sauce.
When the meat is slightly browned, add the wine, and reduce the heat to medium. Using a rubber spatula, remove all the bits of meat which have seared to the bottom of the pot. Let the wine simmer for about fifteen minutes.
When the wine has reduced, add the tomato paste. Mix until the tomato paste has combined with the wine. Then add the crushed tomatoes. Simmer the sauce over low heat for about an hour to get the maximum amount of flavor from all the ingredients.
After an hour, add the basil. Remove from the heat. Let the sauce cool for about fifteen minutes before serving.
Bolognese. Not only is it fun to say, but it is also a sneaky way to get a serving of vegetables into the diet of the carnivore in your life!
This year, my friends and I decided to start a new tradition. The busy holiday season makes it difficult to get everybody together on the same date. Some of us have two to three Thanksgiving dinners to attend with family. So we figured, why not add one more dinner to the weekend of gorging and celebrate Thanksgiving with each other.
The original plan was to have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner: turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, etc. However, when talks were leaning towards a “Turducken,” we knew the menu planning got a little out of control. We snapped back to reality and realized we are not hosting our own Friendsgiving Day special on the Food Network, and decided to make lasagna.
Unfortunately, I had already cooked ten pounds of potatoes for the original plan of a traditional Thanksgiving Day dinner. Oh, well. In the grand scheme of things, mashed potatoes and lasagna sound like a perfect pairing, right? A little extra carbo-loading never hurt anybody!
There were ten of us total for the first Friendsgiving. We enjoyed a massive, seven layered lasagna filled with a blend of cheeses and a homemade three meat sauce. My contributions of homemade sourdough, a warm arugula and spinach salad topped with lemon pancetta dressing, and mashed potatoes seemed like nothing in comparison with this behemoth of a lasagna (the thing was cooked in a large roasting pan for God’s sake!).
By the time the first slices (measuring 6” W x 6” D x 4”H) were dished out our calm and low key Friendsgiving suddenly turned into a Man vs. Food challenge. The men were sweating and breathing heavily trying to finish these giant slices while the women of the group shook their heads in disgust and ate their lady sized portions.
When dinner was over, we played The Game of Things. Which if you have never played, you simply must! It is like Apples to Apples except you make up your own answers. Playing in mixed company, women and pre-pubescent man-children, definitely led to some funny and inappropriate answers.
During a round of the game, somebody’s bad handwriting was misread as U.S.S. lasagna instead of less lasagna. The nickname stuck and our first Friendsgiving will forever be known as the tale of the U.S.S. Lasagna.