Cheese & Spinach Pasta Rolls with a Parmesan Butternut Squash Sauce

Oh Yum. I found this recipe on skinnytaste.com (via Pinterest) and knew I had to try it, pronto. I am a HUGE fan of butternut squash, and since fall is here in full force now I figured what better time to have some? This has all the elements of a perfect meal – lots of cheese, spinach, pasta, and butternut. We ended up taking this to our friends’ house for the evening and it traveled really well, so it would be a great meal to take to a new mom as well. 

For the Butternut Parmesan Sauce:

1lb butternut, peeled & diced

Olive oil

1/4 cup shallots, very finely chopped

Crushed garlic (I used 2 tsps)

2 1/2 tbsp grated fresh parmesan cheese (it is very important to use FRESH parmesan as opposed to the crumbly stuff you can buy in a tub)

salt & pepper

For the Lasagna:

12 lasagna noodles, cooked al dente (don’t cook too much or they’ll be very mushy), and dried out a little

10oz package frozen chopped spinach

15oz ricotta cheese (the recipe called for nonfat, but I just can’t do nonfat cheese!!)

1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese (I added more than 1/2 a cup!)

1 large egg

salt & pepper

9 tbsp shredded Italian cheese (usually a blend of mozzarella, parmesan, etc)

– Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the diced butternut and cook until soft. My cubes were fairly small but they still took a good 20-25 minutes to soften. While the butternut is cooking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and sautee the shallots and garlic until soft in olive oil and set aside. Remove the butternut with a slotted spoon, but keep the water to one side to thin out the sauce once it’s pureed. 

Puree the butternut in a blender or with an immersion blender until smooth, adding some of the reserved water to thin it out some. Go for the consistency of a good tomato/marinara sauce, like what you would put in lasagna or on top of stuffed shells. 

Mix the butternut and the shallots/garlic, season with salt and pepper and if you need to, add some more of that water. Stir in 2 1/2 tbsp parmesan cheese until melted. Ladle about 1/2 a cup of the sauce into the bottom of an ovenproof dish (9X12) and spread it out. Combine the spinach (thawed and most of the water squeezed out), ricotta, parmesan, egg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. 

On a piece of wax paper lay out a lasagna noodle and spread a heaped spoonful or two of the spinach/cheese mixture on top. I managed to get 12 rolls with some filling to spare, so you just have to eyeball it. Roll up carefully and place seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat with the rest of the noodles. 

Ladle the rest of the sauce over the rolls, and pile up the Italian cheese on top. Cover with foil (I forgot this step, but it still turned out well!) and bake for about 30-40 minutes until cheese is golden and bubbly. 

 

 

Cheese & Spinach Pasta Rolls with a Parmesan Butternut Squash Sauce

Choccie Pud, a childhood favorite!

This is a recipe that I only just remembered a few days ago. My Mom used to make this often during the winter months in South Africa, and it is SO easy, completely from scratch, and super yummy. Since it’s cooked in the microwave, you don’t even have to wait for the oven to preheat! This dessert is hot, fudgey, chocolatey, cakey – everything you’d want on a cold fall or winter’s day!

Choccie Pud 1 Choccie Pud 2

For the cake part:

A stick and a tablespoon of butter (or 125g)

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup flour

3/4 cup milk

1 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp cocoa (unsweetened)

– Beat together in a medium sized bowl, then transfer to a microwave proof dish/bowl of some sort. I used a rectangular Pyrex dish.

For the Chocolate Gravy part:

2 cups boiling water

1 tbsp cocoa (unsweetened)

3/4 cup sugar

– stir together until sugar is dissolved, then pour on top of cake mixture but… DO NOT STIR!

– Cover dish in cling wrap, and microwave for 9-12 minutes. Yummy, yummy!

Choccie Pud, a childhood favorite!

CrockPot Moroccan Lentil Soup

This soup has beautiful flavors, is packed with veggies (lentils, cauliflower, carrots, tomatoes, onion) and is super easy to put together! The original recipe did not call for chicken, but I am so glad I added it as it made the soup that much more amazing.

Morccan Soup

2 cups chopped onion (or half a large onion)

2 cups chopped carrots

Crushed garlic, to taste (I put a lot in because we have been sick this week!)

2 tsp olive oil

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp curry powder or turmeric

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

6 cups chicken broth

2 cups water

3 cups frozen cauliflower florets

1 1/2 cups lentils

28oz can diced tomatoes

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 rotisserie chicken

4 cups chopped fresh spinach (bought this but totally forgot to put it in! I will next time as we love spinach)

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (again, totally forgot!)

– Put all ingredients in crockpot except for chicken, spinach, lemon juice and cilantro. Cover and cook until lentils are tender, about 4 hours on high and 6-8 hours on low. 

30 minutes before serving, add in the spinach, chicken (removed from the bone) and lemon juice. I also added more spices at this point, as the long cooking time tends to dull down the curry flavor. Stir well and enjoy with some fresh cilantro!

CrockPot Moroccan Lentil Soup

CrockPot Pasta E Fagioli Soup

This was a delicious CrockPot full of comfort on a chilly fall day, and there was plenty to have for leftovers the following night! A great Pinterest find, once again!

photo

1lb ground beef or turkey (I used turkey because it’s leaner and we actually prefer it!)

1 small onion (or half of a large one), finely chopped

1 cup finely sliced celery

Some crushed garlic (amount depends on how garlicky you like things to be)

28oz can of crushed tomatoes

2 x 8oz can tomato sauce

2 x 15oz can beef broth (I actually completely forgot to buy this so we just used water and did not lack in flavor at all!)

15oz can kidney beans, undrained & unrinsed

15oz can Great Northern beans, undrained & unrinsed

salt & pepper to taste

Italian seasoning to taste

1/2 cup apple juice (we drank all the apple juice by mistake so didn’t end up adding this, will do so next time to see if it enhances the flavors!)

8oz ditalini pasta (or if your grocery store doesn’t have that, any kind of small, dry pasta will do. To add fun for kids you could get some of those little pasta stars)

– Brown your meat in a skillet over medium heat until no longer pink, and drain most of the fat off (I like to leave a tiny bit in the pan for flavor).  Add everything (including the meat) except for the apple juice and the pasta to your CrockPot and cook on low for 8-10 hours (4-6 hours if you have an unusually hot CrockPot like mine). 

In the last 15 or so minutes of cooking add in the apple juice and cook your pasta until just done (don’t overcook otherwise it will become mushy in the hot liquid of the soup) on the stove and add it in too. Serve with cheese on top (fresh parmesan or some shredded mozzarella) and some yummy crusty bread!

CrockPot Pasta E Fagioli Soup

CrockPot Recipe: Creamy Chicken & Tomato Soup

This recipe is one that I am very excited about.  I found it on River North Paleo Girl. It is creamy and rich, without being unhealthy! I love that it uses coconut milk for the creaminess instead of a ‘Cream of’ soup or cream cheese. Chris loved this, and has asked for it since I made it (only a few days ago!)

4 or 5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, frozen

Italian Seasoning, salt and pepper (I just eyeballed the amount)

Crushed garlic (to your taste)

1 onion, chopped

2 x 14oz cans coconut milk, shake before opening as the milk separates

28oz can diced tomatoes, undrained

2 cups chicken broth (I just made some up with chicken bouillon cubes and hot water)

a small can of tomato paste

14oz can tomato sauce (I only used about 3/4 of it)

– Put all the ingredients in the CrockPot, and cook for 7-9 hours on low (since my CrockPot runs hotter than most, I did 5 hours on low and another 2 on warm). About an hour before serving, take the chicken out and shred with a fork. Et voila! All done with minimum effort and happy bellies afterwards.

*Because I love curry flavors, especially when mixed with the creaminess of coconut milk, I always season this soup with cumin, curry powder, a bay leaf etc. You could also season it Italian-style with garlic and oregano. Anything goes!

CrockPot Recipe: Creamy Chicken & Tomato Soup

Book Review: Women Living Well by Courtney Joseph

1-WLW-cover

I am so excited about this new book by Courtney Joseph (visit her website HERE) that I had to share it with all of you, even though I haven’t finished reading it yet! I happened upon this book on the day that it was released through a post on Joy Forney’s (from the blog Grace Full Mama) Instagram account. Needing some extra encouragement this week I decided to check it out and I am so glad that I did. I’m only part of the way through but it is rich with wisdom for wives and mothers, and full of practical tips on how to keep Christ at the center of your life in the midst of the chaos of family, marriage and everything else we are involved in. Here are some favorite quotes so far:

Living well in this modern world is a challenge. Increased responsibilities, kids’ activities and the new front porch of social media have changed the landscape of our lives. Women have been told for far too long that being on the go and accumulating more things will make our lives full. As a result we grasp for the wrong things in life and come up empty.

My walk with God often feels more like a hike than a leisurely stroll…along the way I have encountered both valleys of despair and mountaintop experiences.

We must slow down and create calm moments. It is in our unhurried moments that we can see and hear clearly… It is in our slow moments when we best connect with our Creator.

I charge my cellphone daily because without power it goes dead. Similarly, we need to plug into God’s power daily. We need to be recharged by His words and His strength daily. Reading God’s word every day will change the entire course of our lives.

God has communicated with us in writing. His Word, the Bible…So writing our pleas, our praise, our prayers – this is not a one-sided communication. God will hear, and He will answer…

So far I am still in Part 1 of the book which is “Your Walk With The King”, but I am so looking forward to moving on to “Your Marriage”, “Your Parenting” and “Your Homemaking”. This book has offered me so much advice on practical ways to focus on what’s important while honoring the Lord in my daily life – it has been extremely helpful for a sometimes overwhelmed new mama! Unlike other books that I’ve read in the past, this one has a beautiful undertone of grace for a busy wife/mother that does not make you feel guilty about only having 5 minutes to sit down and meditate on the word or about leaving the pile of laundry unfolded for a day or two. The way she writes is honest and real, and very easy to relate to. I will try to remember to write a full review when I’ve read the book in it’s entirety, but I wanted to let you know about it in the meantime so that you can start reading it asap!

To purchase this book on Amazon (and you won’t regret it, best $10 I’ve spent in a while!) click HERE.

Book Review: Women Living Well by Courtney Joseph