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Pasta with Spinach Cheese Marinara

Pasta photo by JeffreyW

Pasta w/Spinach Cheese Marinara Sauce:

  • 2 tsp to 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 4 mushrooms, washed & sliced
  • ½ green pepper, chopped
  • 2-14 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste*
  • 3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 2 tsp basil, crushed
  • 2 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 1 tsp thyme, crushed
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ cup grated Romano cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 12 oz bow-tie pasta (farfalle)

2 saucepans

Bring water for pasta to a boil in large saucepan, add pasta and cook according to directions to al dente.

Meanwhile, heat oil in the other saucepan; sauté onions, mushrooms & peppers until onions are golden.  Add remaining ingredients (except pasta) bring to a low boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to med-low, cover and let simmer until pasta is done cooking. As the pasta finishes up, add a ladle or two of pasta water to the sauce.

Drain pasta well and toss together with sauce.  Serve with additional Parmesan & Romano cheeses if desired.

*you can freeze the remainder in an ice-cube tray and store in a freezer bag.




This poor thing was brought in with two broken legs, the one appears to be less of a problem than the other, going strictly by the casts.  I have no other info but he is in good hands at St Francis.Made some mayo from scratch.  The other day I roasted a bunch of garlic cloves in olive oil and used a 1/4 c of that oil in this.  The recipe for the basic mayo is easy – put an egg with 1/4 c oil in the bowl of a processor, add a pinch of salt and 1/4 tsp of dry mustard and give it a spin.  Start drizzling in more oil until you’ve used about a cup, total, or until it gets to the consistency you are going for.  I added canola oil for the drizzle.  This turned out very garlicky.I used it on this sammich – very good!  I assembled it after the photo, and went sans lettuce.  That’s more of my maple pepper bacon.  Yum!Now here comes Bitsy, slowly, a step at a time.  Head on a swivel, looking for threats.  She finally made it all of the way in.  Yay!This was Taco Tuesday for us.  I’m torn between piling on the goodies or going sparingly with them for a better picture.  These white corn tortillas are smeared with refried beans, layered with smoked pork, cheddar, shredded cabbage, and pico de gallo.This looks like a short loaf of banana bread but it’s actually made with figs.  We had a fairly good batch we weren’t quite sure what to do with.I quartered them and stuck them in the dehydrator overnight – too long, alas.  They were barely pliable and too tough.  We dropped them into a stout blender and whirled them with water to break them up.  The result looked much like bananas that had been pureed so they went into a banana bread recipe.This is one of those soups that come from what I think of as a “bottomless” soup pot – I keep adding to it as we eat out of it.  Those diced potatoes were not in there yesterday and I added more carrots.  The beef will get scarce after a few iterations, but right now there’s still plenty.I’ll wind this up with another shelter kitteh.  This one looks like our own Ginger Boy.

Tomatoes with Green Chilies

We are down to one tomato bush, it had a dozen or so ripe tomatoes when I looked yesterday, and there were enough poblanos to make it worth roasting them for a nice rotel copycat recipe.   I chopped several small sweet onions, the roasted green chilies, and a couple of jalapenos and added them to the tomatoes to simmer for a while.  I had enough for six pints.  This stuff is great for chili or mixing in with cheese for a nice dip.  There are a bazillion recipes for soups that include it – just plug rotel and soup into your search engine, rev it up, and pop the clutch.


Mrs J says these are the last of the tomatoes by which she means these are the last she is going to pick.  They have pulled out of their doldrums and have really come on.  Might have been the heat.I skinned them all, crushed them, added green peppers and onions, and boiled them down just a little…ending up with 15-1/2 quarts total in quart and pint jars.  Took the best part of a day – peeling the skins was the hardest part.  It didn’t take all that long to cook them, nothing like as long as it takes to cook the juice down when making soup.  It did take three pressure cooker loads to finish them, with the ramp up to pressure and the cool-down included it took over an hour per load.I hoisted down the big enameled cast iron pot from its usual spot atop one of the cabinets for cabbage and sausages.  (And carrots, potatoes, and onions.)Made enough for lunch the next day.  The sausages were particularly good – some were ordered up from Louisiana through the Cajun Grocer, and there were a couple left over from the package that I broke open for breakfast the other day.Sous vide is the killer app for steaks.  These were cooked to 138 degrees for half the day and were as tender as you would expect.Chili dogs!  Yay!  I keep cans of chili in the cupboard for those days when I’m just about covered up with other chores (canning tomatoes).I’ll wind up this one with Gabe keeping watch over the back yard.  There is often something to bark at and he doesn’t want to miss out.  Homer is keeping him company though his vigil.

Fresh Tomatoes

We’re still turning out nontrivial numbers of tomatoes and the odd pepper or two.  You can deal with them one at a time with a simple sammich.I like these on fresh bread or toast with mayo and plenty of salt and pepper.  The classic summer salad of tomatoes and cucumbers in vinaigrette is good but were are just about wore out eating it.To deal the rest I’ve gone to, mainly, stewing them with onions and peppers.  Mac in stewed tomatoes is a simple pleasure.The classic version of this is made with elbows but I ran out of my favored jumbo, ridged elbows to I subbed these small shells.  I like mine with Parmesan and a light sprinkle of red pepper flakes.The rest of the latest batch went into this chili.  I’ve been using annatto in my chili and I think it adds an interesting flavor.  Masa flour makes a nice thickening agent and adds a nice flavor to the dish, as well.

We’ve more tomatoes on the way…

Stuffed Mini-Peppers

I’ve been growing these in a container in the patio garden.  They are green bell peppers in all but name – I’m not sure what the tag said.  I managed to stuff about a tablespoon or so of my Italian beef/rice filler into each one.They are cute as can be!  Here they are after blanching.I went with cooked and crumbled Italian beef mixed with rice and some stewed tomatoes.  Actually, I started with the stewed tomatoes – Mrs J delivered a dozen or so ripe ones that I de-skinned and boiled down with onion and jalapeno peppers.  We had a regular sized green pepper in the fridge so I made sure to make enough stuffing for it, too.Mozzarella made the perfect topping, I cooked them side by side in the toaster oven, the taller pepper browning better than the minis.  Since the filling was already cooked, they just needed enough time in the 375 degree oven to make the peppers tender.Each one was two bites and gone – note that they have relatively thick skins compared to other small peppers.

Stuffed Peppers

These came out well but they really needed more gravy.  I used this recipe and will use it again, adding another can of tomato bits or sauce to the casserole dish before it goes into the oven.  These three took a good hour at 350 to give me an internal temp of 160, they were on the large side for green peppers.Like I said, they really, really needed more gravy.  I may have cooked the veggies down a little too far.  I added about half of them into the meat/rice mixture and used the rest to top off the peppers.  Maybe I should have left it soupier and added that to the bottom of the dish.  Next time, I fix.


Tomatoes!  So many!  The weather has been playing havoc with the yields, it may have slowed but it hasn’t stopped them.  Brings up the dilemma faced by most all tomato growers:  What to do with them all.Everyone loves the BLTs, what we have here is a TLT.  Tuna salad is a summer favorite of ours: Tuna, mayo, pickle relish, chopped celery, chopped egg, chopped green or red bell peppers, minced onion, and this one even has shredded cheddar.The classic summer salad of sliced cucumbers and tomatoes.  I make a dressing of 2 parts water to 1 part rice vinegar, a splash of canola oil, and seasoned with salt and pepper.  If you like you can add a bit of granulated garlic and a dried herb or 2, basil and thyme or oregano.  It’s better the next day after an overnight in the fridge.Macaroni and tomatoes is one of those simple dishes that are so good you should make some right away.  Drop the tomatoes into boiling water for a minute then transfer them into an ice water bath to take off the skins.  Chop them up and simmer them for a half hour in a pot in which you have softened some minced garlic in a little oil.  Garnish with fresh basil and eat hot or cold.Green beans boiled with potatoes in ham broth is another summer favorite.  We use cured chunks of ham or smoked ham hocks.  Boil the ham and a sliced sweet onion in chicken stock for a few hours then drop in the potatoes.  We used fingerlings for this but any small potato will serve, or just cut bigger potatoes into smaller pieces.  Give the potatoes a head start because they will take longer to cook through, then add the green beans.  Don’t be afraid to cook the beans for an hour or more.  Cornbread is the perfect side.I did the sous vide ribs thing again, worked great again.  We ate gratin potatoes and baked beans with them this time.  Mrs J declared this “a full meal deal”.The potatoes were easy enough:  I sliced these with my mandoline with the skins on, then arranged them in a casserole alternating layers with sliced onions.  Pour on a cheese sauce and bake, covered for 45 minutes or so, uncover for the last 10-15 so the top browns.  I made this one with cheddar.This is a dish full of chicken and rice enchiladas in a tomatillo sauce.  It doesn’t look like much but it was tasty.

Gyro Burger

I didn’t feel like going full on Alton Brown on the little bit of ground lamb I had so I just added a ton of garlic, cumin, ginger, and a store bought Greek seasoning powder and fried it up like a basic burger.  I very nearly ruined the tzatziki.  Never use a stick blender if you think the cukes are not diced finely enough.  Just don’t.

Christmas Eve Menu: Spinach Lasagna Dinner

Lasagna snap3

I’ll update the photo if I get a good one this Christmas Eve

Tossing around ideas for my Christmas Eve party and settled on lasagna this year. It will once again be gluten-free using specialty noodles. Excited to have our traditional party in the new house.

On the board:

  1. Spinach Lasagna
  2. Tossed Salad
  3. Garlic Bread*

This recipe takes about an hour to prepare and another hour to cook. It easily serves 6 – 8. I will make it a day ahead and refrigerate. It will need additional cooking time to bring center up to temperature.

Spinach Lasagna


  • 3-15 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 2-6 oz cans tomato paste
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 2 tsp basil, crushed
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled & finely grated
  • pinch of sugar (reduces acidity of the tomatoes)
  • Optional: ½ lb ground beef and ½ spicy Italian sausage, browned


Add all ingredients to saucepan on medium-high, stirring constantly until it begins to boil lightly. Turn to low and let simmer while you prepare the remaining ingredients.


  • 1 pkg lasagna noodles (16 oz), cooked and placed in cool water until layering
  • 16 oz ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz package frozen spinach, thawed or 8 oz fresh, washed and dried
  • 1 egg
  • 12 oz sliced mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese

13×9 baking dish (I prefer glass), lightly oiled

To prepare: Mix ricotta, spinach and egg until well blended. Ladle a layer of sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Cover in a single layer of noodles. Ladle sauce over noodles. Spoon ½ of the ricotta mixture evenly (if you place large dollops evenly like putting cookie dough on a baking sheet, fairly close together, it will spread as it cooks, no need to smooth it). Layer 1/3 of the mozzarella over the ricotta. Repeat: noodles, sauce, ricotta, mozzarella, noodles. On top of the last layer of noodles, add remaining sauce, mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, uncovered – I like to place the baking dish on a baking sheet to catch any spills as it bubbles. Place knife through the center, if it comes out heated through, remove and let stand for 10 minutes before cutting and serving. If it needs more cooking time, you can cover with foil to keep the cheese from burning and cook 10 more minutes. Let stand uncovered before serving.

Garlic Bread

*I’m going to purchase a gluten free loaf  (we have a great local bakery for that) and I’m also going to make this Slow Rise recipe.  Making the garlic bread is easy. I slice the loaves in half lengthwise, melt butter, add a healthy amount of crushed garlic and brush liberally on each loaf half. Then I top with shredded mozzarella and Parmesan.  Broil until cheese is melted and bread is golden brown. Slice and serve.

Tossed Salad

I try to change it up each year, and I don’t know how I’m going to do this time. Maybe spinach/raspberry or a veggie toss with romaine.

Next up: Dessert Menu