what’s cookin? spinach edition

Thanks for the kind feedback on my last post. Sometimes I feel like such a child when things like that happen and I get so upset, but writing them out really helps calm me down, so there that is. And maybe I am a child. So what.

Remember the Great Cookbook Challenge? Well..I keep forgetting to restart that. I will one day, but I think I’ll always prefer online recipes. I love seeing a photo of the finished dish. Even if mine doesn’t look like it (nor do I necessarily aspire to), I need to see a picture to see if it looks worth my time.

A few things I’ve made recently:

Roasted Red Pepper and Sausage Alfredo

I love italian sausage. It is probably my favorite meat. I would eat it 2-3 times a week if I could. Keith is not a huge fan, but I can sneak it in 1-2 times a month. I hadn’t made it in a while, so when I came across this recipe, I was sold.

It combines pureed roasted red peppers, pasta, spinach, sausage and goat cheese to make a creamy and super flavorful pasta.  We don’t eat pasta too often, so when I do eat it, it has to be worth my while and this definitely was.


If you don’t like goat cheese or are not familiar with it, I think this would be a great starter recipe because it’s not very in-your-face. I didn’t even tell Keith there was goat chese and he probably had no idea. You could also definitely leave out the sausage for a vegetarian version.

The best part is it is all made in one pot!

The second best part is I finally have a use for the rest of the goat cheese when I make another favorite dish:

Chicken apple burgers with cranberry and goat cheese.

These are based off a burger Keith and I had in NYC many moons ago, sometimes I will go all out and shred a granny smith apple, mix into ground chicken, make burgers, top with sliced granny smith apple, cranberry jam* and goat cheese. Other times I totally cheat and buy Johnsonville Chicken Apple Sausage and put those on a bun with the apple/cran/goat cheese. They are a super delicious and quick meal. It probably only takes 10 minutes total when I use the sausage. The problem is, you only use a little bit of goat cheese and then the rest of the tube lingers in the fridge until I become afraid of it and have to throw it away.

This recipe solves that! It calls for 8oz of goat cheese but I used the partial tube in my fridge and it was still great! So now those are going to be two back-to-back recipes in my arsenal. Love when stuff works out like that.

The only critque from Keith about that pasta was that it needed more meat. Of course. Every recipe I make I usually add 50% more meat for him and it’s still not enough. I got about 6 servings from this, so on the 2nd and 3rd go-rounds for Keith, I just gave him less pasta with a piece of chicken on the side and he was happy.

Another recipe I’ve tried is these Spinach Enchiladas.

One morning, on a mad dash to the grocery store for lunch, I grabbed Amy’s Enchilada Verde. It wasn’t until I went to heat it up that day that I realized that they were spinach enchiladas, but I shrugged and soldiered on. AND THEY WERE SO GOOD. I have no idea what they do, maybe it’s the queso fresco, but I like spinach well enough and I love cheese, but somehow this combination is SO MUCH BETTER THAN THE SUM OF ITS PARTS. Sorry to yell, they are just that delicious.

But at $5 a pop, a little too expensive for my tastes, so I figured I would try my hand at making some. I googled til I dropped trying to find some sort of copycat recipe, with no luck. Finally I just settled on the above linked recipe. It calls for ricotta, which Amy’s enchiladas don’t have…but I love ricotta, so I went with it.

I subbed verde salsa for the enchilada sauce, regular onion for green onion and only used half the cheese. I only got 6 enchiladas out of the filling. They were not *quite* Amy’s, but they were still great. Keith didn’t eat these, I took them all for lunch. I think next time I will add more spinach, and maybe some chicken. Also queso fresco to see if I can get closer to that taste.

What are you cooking?

 *I still don’t know the difference between jelly and jam but I said jam so you know it’s not a gross can of cranberry jelly, but rather something spreadable from a glass jar. The original burger used cranberry spread but I’ve used cranberry/raspberry spread as well as black raspberry. I don’t think anything super sweet like grape or strawberry would work but anything tart like raspberry/cranberry is great.

what’s cooking?

I spent quite a few hours in the kitchen Monday night and figured I’d share some of the deliciousness that I cooked up.

First up was Monday (and Tuesday) night’s dinner. Creamy Caprese Pasta from How Sweet Eats. I’ve made this a few times, but Keith and I really cut back on our pasta consumption so I haven’t made it in a while. I had a bunch of cherry tomatoes from my CSA so I decided it was time to make it again. It couldn’t be easier and I barely glance at the recipe anymore.



You start by chopping up your tomatoes, I usually just halve them, julienne your basil, and drain your mozzerella. In the past I’ve used a big ball of mozzerella but l think these pearls are so much cuter and zero work. I think the recipe calls for 4oz of cheese, but I always use 8, because c’mooooooooon.



Since Keith is now power lifter extraordinaire, I knew he’d want some protein so I cooked up a few (chicken) sausages and added them. I was tempted just to stop there and eat it like that.

The next step calls for adding 1c of tomato sauce and 1/3 cup heavy cream and tossing. I don’t usually have heavy cream and don’t buy it for that small of an amount so I just use some milk. Skim, 2% whatever is in the fridge.

Then you bake it for 20-30 minutes. Her recipe doesn’t say to but I think you should cover in foil while you bake. Each time I’ve made it, I haven’t and the top noodles get a little too dry. It doesn’t look nearly as amazing once it is all done, but it is pretty great.


I actually forgot to take a picture until it was all pyrex-ed up and ready for the fridge and it doesn’t look too appetizing, haha. It looked a bit better on the plate. Next time I’d add more than 2 links of sausage. Keith actually requested I add chicken, but since I like sausage better, maybe I’ll do both! Oh, it also begs to be served with garlic bread. Any excuse for garlic bread.


I also had two eggplants in the fridge that I needed to use, so I made these eggplant parmesan boats from Skinnytaste for my lunch. Again, forgot to take any pictures, but here is an iphone snap at my desk yesterday. It was really good! I might be sick of them after 4 days in a row, but I am looking forward to lunch today!


And my third culinary creation actually wasn’t finished until yesterday because I decided to tackle beef jerky. I read up about making it in the oven and it seemed pretty easy. Since I have a beef jerky addiction, I wanted to try out making it myself since it is so stupidly expensive.

So Monday I got a flank steak and popped it in the freezer while I cooked everything else. As the pasta was finishing up in the oven, I pulled it out and sliced it thin. Mixed up a marinade and threw it and the meat in a zilpoc to get to know one another for a day.

Avert your eyes, vegetarians.



Yesterday when I got home from work, I turned my oven as low as it could go (170), pulled out the oven rack and got to laying out the meat. It was pretty messy. Also the grates in my oven are pretty wide so there was a small amount of strips I couldn’t use because they were too small.


(It was at this point that I found my kitchen faucet totally detached itself from the sink. I didn’t like it anyways, it’s way too low/probably 30 years old, so I am using this as an excuse to buy a nice new one this weekend, yay!)

The recipe I was following said to line the bottom of your oven with foil, but the foil I JUST bought has magically disappeared, so I just put my largest cookie sheets below the jerky to catch drips.

Then I just cracked the oven door with a wooden spoon and let it go to town for 4.5 hours. The recipe said anywhere from 2-6 hours so I kept checking (and also had to go to bed at some point), so 4.5 seemed good for mine.


It said to let it cool/dry for 24 hours before you package, but you could eat it immediately. Well, I tried a piece…and wasn’t too thrilled. I figured maybe just because it was warm. Tried another piece this morning and it was better, but I’m still not thrilled. The marinade I used contained soy sauce and that’s pretty much the only thing you can taste. It might be an acquired taste, so I will keep snacking away on it and try a different marinade next time.

My 2# flank steak was 16.00 and I had everything else on hand so it was quite a bit cheaper than store bought. Not as delicious, but I guess I’ll work on that.

(If I’m going to play foodblogger, I really need to pull out my real camera instead of the iphone. Sorry, won’t happen again!)