Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Spinach and Ricotta-Stuffed Shells

* From Real Simple magazine, May 2010--found online here.

PREP: hands-on 20 minutes, total time 45 minutes

20 jumbo pasta shells (about half a 12-oz box)
1 24-oz jar marinara sauce
2 15-oz containers ricotta (I used one low fat and one part skim)
2 cups baby spinach, chopped (I used closer to 3 cups and could have used more)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (2 oz)
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup grated mozzarella (4 oz)

1. Set an oven rack to the highest position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Cook the pasta according to the package directions; drain and run under cold water until cool. (The shells I made were too soft, so next time I'll cook them for 1-2 minutes less than recommended so they're more al dente.)

2. Spread the marinara sauce in the bottom of a large broilerproof baking dish. (I used a glass casserole dish.)

3. In a bowl, combine the ricotta, spinach, Parmesan, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Spoon the mixture into the shells and place them on top of the sauce. Sprinkle with the mozzarella and bake until the shells are heated through, 10-15 minutes.

4. Increase heat to broil. Broil the shells until the cheese begins to brown, 2 to 5 minutes.

Serving Suggestions: a leafy green salad

Andrea's Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

PREP: 10 minutes
SERVES: 12-18

1 box (15 oz.) spice cake mix
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
2 cups chocolate chips

Combine dry cake mix and pumpkin and mix well. Add chocolate chips and mix. Spoon mixture into paper-lined muffin tins. If you're making 18 muffins, fill to about 2/3 full. If you're making 12 muffins, fill just above the top. If you're making 4 dozen mini-muffins, use a scoop like this one--one scoop per muffin cup. The batter is very thick and doesn't settle, so you may want to smooth out the tops. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.

Classic Barbecue Spareribs

*From Real Simple magazine, June 2010--found online here.

PREP: hands-on 30 minutes, total cooking time 3 hours
SERVES: 4 (ours actually made 6 servings of 4-5 ribs per person)

1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp ground coffee
1 tsp ground cumin
4 Tbsp brown sugar, divided
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper, divided
Kosher salt and black pepper
6 lbs spareribs (2 racks), trimmed of excess fat
3/4 cup ketchup
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup molasses
2 Tbsp tomato paste

1. Heat oven to 275 degrees. Make the rub: In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, coffee, cumin, 2 Tbsp of the brown sugar, 1/2 tsp of the cayenne, 2 tsp salt, and 1 tsp black pepper.

2. Place the ribs on a large rimmed baking sheet. Rub the ribs with the spice mixture and tightly cover the baking sheet with foil. Bake until tender and the meal easily pulls away from the bone, 2-1/2 to 3 hours. (I baked mine for 2 hrs 45 min and they were great!)

3. Meanwhile, make the sauce: In a saucepan, combine the ketchup, vinegar, molasses, tomato paste, the remaining 2 Tbsp of brown sugar and 1/4 tsp of cayenne, and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer 1/2 cup of the sauce into a small bowl for serving.

4. Heat grill to medium-high. Grill the ribs, basting with the remaining sauce and turning occasionally, until just beginning to char, 4 to 5 minutes. Serve with the reserved sauce. (I broiled my ribs at 500 degrees in the oven for the same amount of time and they turned out wonderfully.)

Serving Suggestions: baked sweet potatoes, corn bread muffins, or a salad.