Tuesday, June 12, 2012

italian sausage, tomato & spinach pasta bake

sorry for the lack of posting. had a few things going on this past month... like a car dying and getting another. and our anniversary [listed here & here] and jason being at annual training [which means me alone and sad and trying to find things to do which generally don't include productivity for some reason or another].

this recipe originates from my mother-in-law who has a knack for creating tasty, healthy dishes on a small budget. she inspires me in the kitchen :] i have made a couple notes/small changes in a few areas, i've also done some research on the nutrition aspect of it. this is a meal for those trying to eat smart as it is low calorie, and a great source of vitamins A & C.

most would generally not think of italian sausage when trying to eat healthy, but this meal makes it work!

this meal has also been wholeheartedly approved by those who generally do not like eating vegetables [sources: john daniel].
ingredients (roughly):
(don't you love the pasta photoshopped in?)

one of my favorite activities is cooking with my husband. hearing him trying to pronounce neufchatel, wanting to combine all the ingredients, anxiously anticipating the dish to be finished ("is it done yet? i'm so hungry!")... it's just the best.
so you're gonna wanna get your water started for the pasta, then you're gonna wanna fry up the meat. if you're wondering why we're wearing mitts to fry meat... i have this dish that is used as the container for the crock-pot (not the base that heats it, which doubles as a griddle. i love multipurpose tools.) that can be used to fry and bake... not just crock. it's so amazing. so i used it to fry up the meat and be the container for the whole dish to put in the oven (oh, heads up, we use a toaster oven to save money!).
so as you saw in the previous image above, we were frying up the meat, and draining the fat. you should probably preheat your oven to 350 about now.
after your pasta is cooked and drained, add the pasta. also add cream cheese, tomatoes, spinach, spices, and a partial amount of your mozzarella and parmesan if you like. combine by mixing thoroughly.
if you don't have a cool multifunctional frying/baking/crocking dish like me, you'll want to lightly grease a baking dish and pour all your ingredients in at this time.
then put the rest of your mozzarella and parmesan on top.
aw, it's so cute, just sittin there!
then cover with foil and put in oven for 30 minutes, remove foil and cook another 5 minutes.
should look a lil somethin like this when you're done:

looks deeeelish, eh? serve it up after it's cooled a bit, and enjoy!

hope you all enjoy this dish as much as my husband and i do [as well as our guests, oh and my family-in-law... want to credit my mother-in-law again. she's just great!]. if you try it, let me know what you thought of it as well as any edits you made!
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the recipe: italian sausage, tomato & spinach pasta bake

portion size: this recipe is good for roughly 4-6 people. it may vary for your family!

what you need:
1lb pasta [rotini or egg noodles, i always choose whole wheat]
1 lb sweet italian sausage [you can also do 2lbs to make it meatier, i always love meatier]
1 can italian style diced tomatoes, undrained
1 10oz package of frozen spinach, defrosted [you could also use fresh, roughly 8oz]
1 8oz package of cream cheese [neufchatel is preferred to cut down fat content, you can make this richer by adding more cream cheese]
2 cups shredded mozzarella [or italian blend with parmesan]
1/2 cup parmesan
eyeball spices like salt, pepper, basil, oregano, rosemary, parsley, thyme, onion, garlic to taste

what you've gotta do:
first, get some water in a pot and begin to boil it [cook the other stuff while this is coming to a boil to save time], cook pasta according to cook time on package.
preheat your oven [or toaster oven!] to 350.
put some olive oil in a pan/skillet and fry up your sausage [do note, if your sausage has casings, you need to remove them from the casings]. drain the grease.
drain your pasta. add sausage and cream cheese to the pasta. combine. then add spinach, tomatoes, and spices - combine. add half of your mozzarella and parmesan if you like.
find a baking dish, lightly grease it if need be.
add ingredients to dish.
add the rest of your mozzarella and parmesan to the top.
cover dish with foil.
put in oven for 30
minutes. remove foil and bake for 5 more minutes.
let cool, serve, and enjoy!

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