Penne with Spinach-Ricotta Sauce

Snowy winter days bring carb cravings. This recipe will satiate those cravings. I can’t even pretend it’s healthy but it’s delicious. You can add a salad on the side. I prefer to serve it with sausages. Since it’s a simple recipe with few ingredients, buy the best ingredients. Splurge on the pasta, buy a creamy ricotta, toss in fresh baby spinach and grate your own parmigiano-reggiano. Honestly, I often double the sauce recipe. Also, this recipe takes about 30 minutes in total.

I’m a believer of prepping before you cook. Fill the pasta pot with water and put it on the stove. Put an inch of water in a second pot for the spinach, I use a 10 inch fry pan, and place it on the stove. Dice your onion and place it in a bowl. Pull out the your butter and measure the ricotta and cream. My whole nutmeg tends to get pushed into the back of my baking shelf, so I take it out and find the grater. Once I get cooking I don’t want to be slowed down by having to search for ingredients. Being organized makes the cooking experience more pleasant.


6 ounces fresh baby spinach

1/2 medium onion, finely diced

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 pound penne

3/4 whole-milk ricotta

1/3 cup of heavy cream

1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Bring your pasta water to a boil.

Bring the spinach water to a boil. Add about a teaspoon of salt. Once it’s boiling, toss in the spinach and stir it. It will greatly reduce, so if your pan is small, you add it a little at a time. The spinach should take about 5 minutes to cook. Once it’s completely wilted, drain in a colander. Let it cool for a couple of minutes. You can use the back of large spoon to squeeze out the water or you can use your hands. Transfer the spinach to a cutting board and finely chop it.

Melt the butter in a large skillet and add onions. I like to cook my onions at a low temperature to soften and caramelize them

When the water for the pasta is boiling, add two tablespoons of salt and the penne. Cook per directions on package. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water in case you need to thin out you ricotta sauce.

When the onion is ready, add the cooked and chopped spinach to the skillet and saute, stirring often for a few minutes. Add the ricotta, cream, and nutmeg, and cook, stirring, until the ricotta is heated through and the cream has reduced considerably. Taste and season accordingly with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

When the penne is done, drain it well, and toss it with the spinach and ricotta sauce and the parmigiana-reggiano. I pour the pasta into the pan with the sauce. You can mix it in another bowl. If the sauce still seems thick, add a little pasta water and stir. This is handy way of making a sauce creamier.

Serve at once. Simple and delicious.

Here is the original recipe.

Flatbread Pizza with Spinach, Caramelized Onions, and Feta!



I know I have posted this before. This recipe absolutely deserves to be revisited. What do you make when you don’t feel like cooking? THIS! You can eat in 30 minutes.The hardest part is caramelizing the onions. If you can thinly slice onions and turn on a burner, you are almost done! If you are good at planning (not particularly, thank you) you can make the onions the night before and then put them in the fridge. You can do this while cleaning up dinner dishes, or throwing in some laundry. It will take about 15-20 minutes. Pour olive oil in a hot pan, place thinly sliced onions into pan. Sprinkle salt on onions. Stir. Stir. Stir. When the onions start to soften, put a lid on the pan and lower the heat a little. Check them after 5 minutes. They should start to brown. Cook until they are as brown and soft as you like. You can Google other ways of doing this. Easy!

Naan or other flat bread

Alfredo Sauce

Fresh Baby Spinach

Cooked chicken

Caramelized onions (I use two large onions)

Feta cheese

Layer the above ingredients on the flatbread/naan and cook at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. I start with the Alfredo sauce on the flatbread/naan. There are no measurements. You can be as heavy-handed as you like! I like to use rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. If you don’t like Feta, I don’t wanna hear it. Change your cheese. Any of your favorites will do. The spinach wilts, the Alfredo heats up… is so simple and delicious. So make this for goodness sake!

Here’s the original recipe from Our Best Bites.


Dinner in a pinch!


Flabread Pizza with Spinach, Caramelized Onions and Feta

Week.night.dinner. Did you just roll your eyes and sigh? Me too. As much as I love to cook, I don’t enjoy cooking on weeknights. By the time you get home, the thought of making dinner is a bit overwhelming. Add traffic, a stop at the grocery store and other errands, and the dinner clock is ticking at half-past-where’s-dinner. The Greek chorus is crooning, “we’re hungry, feed us NOW!” The sun is setting and I am longingly looking at my knitting. Sigh. I often call on my standard, uninspiring failsafe meals like pasta, sauce and sausages. My kids know it’s Monday when I make this dinner. Quick and simple. Last night I had to stop at the grocery store for dinner makings. It had been a gloriously sunny day and making dinner was not on my mind until my lunchtime walk. Luckily I remembered this wonderful recipe. It needs only a few ingredients that you may have already. I grabbed all of them in a few minutes and headed home. It’s delicious. You can use a combination of any cheese that you have around the house; it doesn’t have to be feta cheese. The boys aren’t fans of caramelized onions or feta, so they went without the onions and I used a blend of cheese. Still delicious. If you have any leftover cooked vegetables, you could toss these on before you add the cheese. Use your imagination. Just remember one thing, keep it simple. Sometimes simple is delicious.

Naan or other flat bread

Alfredo sauce

Fresh baby spinach leaves

Cooked chicken

Caramelized onions

Feta cheese, or other cheese of choice

I usually make one flatbread pizza for each person. I buy them 2 to a package at my grocery store. I try to keep a few in the freezer for emergencies. I buy the Alfredo sauce. If you don’t have leftover chicken, a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store is perfect for this. Caramelized onions take about a half hour to cook. I start these right away when I get home. Once they are on the stove, I look at the mail, check my email and glance at the news. When the onions are almost done, I start to assemble the flatbread pizzas. No fancy pans or machines needed. Easy cleanup too! You can use as much or as little of each ingredient. It’s up to you!

Layer the above ingredients on the flatbread and cook in a 400-degree oven for about 10 minutes. Shall I repeat this? Just a word to the wise, the feta cheese doesn’t melt. The combination of cheese that I use does melt, so I put that on and then the feta. Since everything is cooked, you are really waiting for the cheese to melt and the spinach to wilt. This is a perfect meal for one or however many people you have to feed. I am using the leftover spinach, chicken, and cheese with some hardboiled eggs for my work dinner salad tonight. Nothing’s wasted here!

Here’s my Ina moment, “How easy is that?”

Credit to Our Best Bites for the original recipe!

Winter Vegetable Soup


Winter Vegetable Soup

My friend Lisa gave me this recipe last winter. I made it once and was discouraged since all I had was an old blender. It worked well, but it was late in the day and I was losing patience. The soup tasted wonderful, but it wasn’t the experience I had hoped for. I just recently bought an immersion blender. It made such a difference. Don’t get me wrong, the blender worked. I had just been too tired. It’s times like this that make me wonder what did we ever do before we had these contraptions. I guess with this soup, you would have withheld most of the liquids until the potatoes were cooked and mashed them. It could work! I am a novice with immersion blenders and I went a little too crazy with it. Next time I will follow her directions to the word and puree half the soup and then add the rest of the spinach. Ooops!

I hope you try this soup. On a cold and snowy night, a bowl of soup and a hunk of bread will fix what ails you!

4 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces (or more if you love bacon)

4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) butter

2 cups finely diced leeks (white part and 1 inch of green)

1 ½ cups finely diced onion

1 cup finely diced celery

1 ½ tsp. dried tarragon

½ tsp. dried thyme

salt and pepper to taste

5 cups of chicken stock or canned broth

2 ½ cup finely diced potatoes (about 4 potatoes)

1 lb. fresh baby spinach

½ cup heavy or whipping cream

This potato/leek soup is easy. But I have to stress that you need to do your prep work before you start. You should cut you leeks, onions and celery ahead of time. I peel and dice the potatoes while the other vegetables sauté.  Trust me. It makes cooking more enjoyable if you are prepared. As the French stay, “mise en place”….everything in place.

If you haven’t cooked with leeks, you should know they can be very sandy. I usually cut them, and then let them soak in cold water. The sand will drop to the bottom of the bowl. You just scoop out the cut leeks when you need them. You can drain them in a colander or on paper towels. Simple. Effective.

In a large pot (at least 4 ½ quarts), cook the bacon over a low heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisping. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon. Drain the bacon on a paper towel. I used it as a topping for the soup. It really makes the soup magnificent.

Add butter to the pot and sauté the leeks, onions and celery. You wanted them wilted, not brown. Cook them on a low heat and stir them. You can always take the pan off the heat for a minute if they are cooking too quickly. Add the tarragon, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir well. Keep in mind you will season it again with salt and pepper before serving.

Add the stock and potatoes. Cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender, but not mushy. This will take about 15-20 minutes. I used only 4 cups of stock. I like my soups thicker. That’s my preference.

Add half the spinach. Simmer for about one minute.

Remove the soup from the heat. Put half of the soup in either a blender or food processor. If you are using an immersion blender, put the soup in a saucepan or deep bowl. Puree this. If you are using a blender, be careful. Let the soup cool for a few minutes. Blenders are temperamental about hot liquids. Pour the pureed soup into the original pot and heat on a low heat. Add the remaining spinach and the cream. Heat through, stirring well, but do not boil. Adjust the seasoning, top with the bacon bits, and serve.

For those of you worried about the cream, don’t! I mistakenly left it out last night and the world did not end. It would have added some color and smoothness, but the soup was still delicious!