Butternut Squash and Spinach Pasta Bake

Butternut Squash and Spinach Pasta Bake | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

If this isn’t your first time here, you know that I love my slow cooker.  Like a lot.  Like use it whenever I get the chance.  So of course, when I saw on Pinterest that it was possible to cook a butternut squash in the slow cooker, I jumped.

I love butternut squash, but the cooking process always really annoys me.  You’re either trying not to cut your finger off, hacking away at it with a huge knife or trying to peel off the skin, and then scraping the seeds out like a pumpkin.  On top of it, you have to bake it for an hour before you can even really get started with your recipe.  So ugh to that.  Too much work for a normal day with a toddler and an infant.

Butternut Squash and Spinach Pasta Bake | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

When I read online how easy it was to cook it in the slow cooker, I thought it was wrong.  It couldn’t be.  Simply wipe the skin clean and pop it in for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.  Remove, cut in half (easily, without risking your fingers), and scoop out the seeds (without having to scrape the heck out of it) and use a spoon to scoop out the delicious cooked insides.  That’s it, people.

Butternut Squash and Spinach Pasta Bake | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

I didn’t believe it could be true.  Too easy to be true.  I couldn’t have been spending all of these years and risking all of these fingers for there to be this easy of a solution.  That requires a crock pot.  Which I clearly already have living on my kitchen counter and use any excuse that I can to plug in.  But it was so true my friends.  I will never bake another butternut squash as long as I live.  Crock pot forever!

Mmmk so the recipe.  I was envisioning this as kind of a lasagna type dish and then Trader Joe’s was out of lasagna noodles and I was too lazy to drive all the way to Target.  Fun fact, if you mix lasagna ingredients into pasta and bake it, it makes a delicious dish reminiscent of said lasagna without all of the obnoxious work of layering.

And it’s cold and rainy and yuck here.  So anything with squash and pasta and warmth and deliciousness is just right in my boat.  Enjoy!

Butternut Squash and Spinach Pasta Bake | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Butternut Squash & Spinach Pasta Bake
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 1 medium butternut squash, cooked and skin and seeds removed
  • 2 cups spinach, chopped
  • 1 lb pasta, cooked according to package
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1½ cups mozzarella
  • ½ cup parmesan
  • 1 T preminced garlic
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t black pepper
  • ¼ t nutmeg
  • ¼ t cinnamon
  • A dash of ginger
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
  2. Mash butternut squash in a large bowl
  3. Add chopped spinach, ricotta, milk, garlic, salt, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger and stir to combine.
  4. Stir in 1 cup mozzarella and cooked pasta
  5. Spray a 9x13 pan with nonstick cooking spray and turn entire mixture into the pan
  6. Top with remaining ½ cup mozzarella and parmesan.
  7. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, then uncover and cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and slightly brown.

Butternut Squash and Spinach Pasta Bake | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Cheesy Bacon & Vegetable Tortellini Bake

Cheesy Bacon & Vegetable Tortellini Bake | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

And just like that, It’s the new year.  We’re supposed to be setting resolutions, eating healthier and moving in new and exciting directions with our lives.  But right now I feel more like pouting that the holidays are over and snuggling up under a warm blanket.

This is the perfect recipe to warm those tummies in the cool weather and bring the family back together around the table.  Is it healthy?  Oh heck no.  It’s creamy, indulgent, cheesy and delicious.  And bacon.  Because, why not?  I keep it healthy around here most of the time.  And you can diet next week.

Cheesy Bacon & Vegetable Tortellini Bake | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

I’m keeping this one short and sweet, because there are so many other things to do right now to clean up from the madness of the last few weeks, so I’m going to be #lazyblogger today.  Go crank up the Christmas music and pretend we don’t have to wait another 50 weeks until Santa comes back around!

Cheesy Bacon & Vegetable Tortellini Bake | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Creamy Bacon & Vegetable Tortellini Bake
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • 20 oz tortellini, cooked according to package and drained
  • 6 pieces of bacon
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 T preminced garlic
  • 1 - 1.5 cups asparagus, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 t basil
  • 1 t oregano
  • 1 t parsley
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t black pepper
  • 1½ T flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cook bacon in a large skillet on medium high until crispy. Set aside and pat dry with paper towels.
  3. Drain all but about 2 T of bacon fat from the pan and add onion and garlic, and cook for 3-5 minutes
  4. Add asparagus, zucchini, bell peppers, basil, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes.
  5. Stir in flour until everything is coated and there are no chunks
  6. Stir in milk and let cook for an additional approximately 5 minutes.
  7. Stir in cooked tortellini, crumbled bacon and 1 cup mozzarella until heated and combined.
  8. Spray a 9x11 pan with nonstick spray
  9. Turn tortellini mixture into the pan and top with remaining 1 cup mozzarella and 1 cup parmesan.
  10. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, or until bubbly and beginning to brown
  11. Enjoy immediately topped with additional parmesan cheese if desired.

Cheesy Bacon & Vegetable Tortellini Bake | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Easy Orzo and Meatball Alfredo | Semi-Homemade

Easy Orzo and Meatball Alfredo | Semi-Homemade | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Tis the season to have sixty bajilion things on your to do list, amiright??  And I kept seeing scrumptious orzo and meatball recipes popping up on Pinterest and they sounded like they would totally hit the spot on a cool winter night.  But then there was meatball making and sauce making and as much as all of that is spectacular, I just don’t have the time or the energy some days.  So I thought I’d simplify things.  A lot.

Easy Orzo and Meatball Alfredo | Semi-Homemade | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

You’ve heard the phrase semi-homemade right?  I usually try to be a good little food blogger and make my own sauces, slave over my own meatballs, etc.  I really do enjoy my time in the kitchen when I have time to enjoy time in the kitchen.  But when I don’t have time and it still sounds yummy I settle for semi-homemade.  And honestly, with a few little simple additions here and there, the whole meal was just perfect.  Hot, creamy, filling, and with leftovers for days.

Easy Orzo and Meatball Alfredo | Semi-Homemade | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

On top of all that, here’s a fun fact, if you chop up cauliflower enough and put it in a white sauce with orzo, no one will even realize it was there.  I honestly think that both Hubby and the toddler inhaled it without even having a clue.  Not that this was a healthy dish by any means, but at least I got some veggies in there somewhere.  #mommyforthewin

Easy Orzo and Meatball Alfredo | Semi-Homemade | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

 

Easy Orzo & Meatball Alfredo | Semi-Homemade
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb orzo, cooked according to package
  • 1 bag precooked Italian meatballs, cooked according to package
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 T preminced garlic
  • 1½ cups frozen peas
  • 1 cup cauliflower, chopped finely
  • 2 t basil
  • 1 t black pepper
  • 1 jar of your favorite alfredo sauce
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, plus more to top
Instructions
  1. Cook orzo and meatballs according to package instructions.
  2. While they are cooking, heat olive oil on medium high heat in a large skillet.
  3. Add onion and garlic and heat for about 5 minutes or until fragrant
  4. Add peas, cauliflower, basil and pepper and cook for an additional 5-8 minutes, until beginning to soften.
  5. Stir in alfredo sauce and milk and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until combined.
  6. Add cooked orzo and meatballs and stir until combined.
  7. Stir in parmesan cheese until melted and all is combined.
  8. Serve hot and top with additional parmesan cheese.

Easy Orzo and Meatball Alfredo | Semi-Homemade | Little Kitchen, Big Bites Easy Orzo and Meatball Alfredo | Semi-Homemade | Little Kitchen, Big Bites Easy Orzo and Meatball Alfredo | Semi-Homemade | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

 

Spicy Taco Chicken Pasta | Slow Cooker

Spicy Taco Chicken Pasta | Slow Cooker | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

I don’t know about you, but sometimes spicy food is just what I need to warm up my soul when it’s getting a little chilly outside.  But I don’t always want to have to slave away in front of a hot stove to do it.  In fact, I don’t really ever want to slave away in front of a hot stove…even if it’s cold outside.  That’s what my crock pot is here for.

Spicy Taco Chicken Pasta | Slow Cooker | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

So this one.  Taco.  Pasta.  Two staples in our house.  Put them together and it’s magic…and with just a little bit of extra effort your boring ol’ pasta or your simple ol’ tacos turn into something new, fun and exciting.

Spicy Taco Chicken Pasta | Slow Cooker | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

And it was so easy…the toddler and I threw the ingredients into the slow cooker together after lunch {I cut, she pours…often into her mouth…}, I added a few things and popped some pasta on to boil right before dinner and voila!  Enough spicy goodness to enjoy that night and leftovers for many days to come.

Spicy Taco Chicken Pasta | Slow Cooker | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

If your family isn’t as into “spicy” you can omit the green chiles, swap the pepper jack for cheddar, and opt for a low heat taco seasoning.  We usually dig it over here.  And we’ve convinced the toddler that milk helps if it gets too spicy {truth} so she ends up chugging down her often untouched milk on spicy food days.  #dontjudge

Spicy Taco Chicken Pasta | Slow Cooker | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

 

Spicy Taco Chicken Pasta | Slow Cooker
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I use frozen. If you use fresh, err towards the lower ends of the cooking time)
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped into large pieces
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes in juices
  • 1 small can green chiles
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • ½ cup greek yogurt
  • ¾ cup pepper jack cheese, plus more to top
  • 1 lb pasta, cooked according to package
  • Optional to garnish: pepper jack cheese, cilantro
Instructions
  1. Combine chicken, bell peppers, onion, tomatoes (including juice), green chiles, taco seasoning and broth in a slow cooker.
  2. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-6 hours.
  3. Shred chicken with forks or remove and cut into bite sized pieces.
  4. Stir in greek yogurt and pepper jack cheese and let cook for another 10-15 minutes, or until fully combined and cheese is melted.
  5. Stir in pasta until fully coated and combined.
  6. Enjoy hot and top with additional cheese or cilantro.

Spicy Taco Chicken Pasta | Slow Cooker | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Creamy Shrimp and Vegetable Fettuccine

Creamy Shrimp and Vegetable Fettuccine | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

This was meant to be a different meal.  I chopped and prepped and threw everything in the slow cooker as usual.  Except, as I may have mentioned, I’m using my janky old slow cooker because I’m too cheap to get a replacement pot for my new one.  It has a dial on it and doesn’t light up to tell me it’s working.  But 7,320,302 slow cooker meals later, I assume everything is fine.  Except when I walk over three hours later and see that it’s not steamed up.  And put my hand on it and it’s cold.  #slowcookerfail

So we went to plan B.  I threw together this pasta with some frozen shrimp, a box of fettuccine and some vegetables we had on hand.  I used one big ol’ skillet for everything except for cooking the pasta, and I’m not going to lie, this was great stuff.

Creamy Shrimp and Vegetable Fettuccine | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

As I finished serving up Hubby and I, my two year old was already chowing down and I noticed that she was making some cute “yummmmm” noises.  I asked her what she was doing.  She said “this is yummy mama!”  Completely unprompted.  And then “I love you mama!”  And then my heart melted just like all of that delicious cheese that I threw in the pasta.  Clearly she’s just like her mama and the way to her heart is through her tummy.

Creamy Shrimp and Vegetable Fettuccine | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Hubby loved it too.  But his reaction wasn’t nearly as darling.

This made a humongous amount of food, which was perfect for leftovers for days afterwards.  It’s good, hearty, soul warming food, which is perfect as we slowly enter the cooler seasons of the year.

So clearly I’ll be making this again.  Because you can’t beat that kid’s reaction.

Creamy Shrimp and Vegetable Fettuccine | Little Kitchen, Big Bites Creamy Shrimp and Vegetable Fettuccine | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Creamy Shrimp & Vegetable Fettuccine
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • 1 T + 1 T olive oil
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • 1 T preminced garlic
  • 1 lb shrimp, cleaned, peeled, deveined and tails removed {you can use fresh or frozen}
  • 1 t + 2 t salt
  • 1 t + 2 t pepper
  • 1 t + 2 t basil
  • 1 t + 1 t parsley
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 zucchini, chopped
  • 1½ cups mushrooms, chopped
  • ¾ cup milk {I used nonfat}
  • 1 T flour
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded, plus more to top
  • 1 lb fettuccine, cooked according to package and drained
Instructions
  1. Heat 1 T olive oil, onion and garlic in a large skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Add shrimp and cook for 2 minutes on each side, seasoning with 1 t salt, 1 t pepper, 1 t basil and 1 t parsley.
  3. Remove from pan.
  4. Add an additional 1 T olive oil and heat.
  5. Add bell pepper and zucchini and cook for 4-5 minutes
  6. Add mushrooms and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes
  7. Stir in shrimp mixture, milk, flour, and cheeses. Cook for 4-6 minutes, or until everything is combined, hot, and the sauce has thickened.
  8. Stir in cooked fettuccine and make sure all is combined and pasta is coated with sauce
  9. Serve hot and garnish with additional parmesan cheese.

Creamy Shrimp and Vegetable Fettuccine | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Sausage & Pepper Tortellini

Sausage & Pepper Tortellini | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

My husband is…how do I put this delicately…well he’s slightly…he’s kind of….not the best most imaginative eater?  He’s picky.  There, I feel better.  He’s sometimes pickier than the two year old.  But he puts up with a lot from me in the kitchen in the name of “trying new things.”  There aren’t a lot of repeat meals around here as we explore the culinary world.

Sausage & Pepper Tortellini | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

So this one was kind of for him.  My man is a pasta lover and a sausage lover, so I married the two together on his behalf for what turned out to be quite the spectacular dish.  There was a grand battle over who got to eat the leftovers for lunch for the next few days.  All three of us were big fans, and I loved that the little one was happily getting in bell peppers, tomatoes, chicken sausage and cheese in one bite.  The most wholesome meal in the world it is not, but it’s well rounded and delicious.

Sausage & Pepper Tortellini | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

This was a relatively simple recipe {but you’re making your own sauce which makes it feel a little more special to me} and you could easily be made with a box of regular pasta instead of tortellini for just as delicious of a meal.  We already had the frozen chicken apple sausages in our freezer {Costco for the win}, but you could use spicy Italian sausage and it would be spectacular too.  Any sausage that you prefer will do.

Sausage & Pepper Tortellini | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

As much as I hate to repeat, this one may be on the menu again sometime soon.  Especially if my professional taste testers have anything to say about it.

Sausage & Pepper Tortellini | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Sausage & Pepper Tortellini
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • 5 sausages, cooked and cut into half moons {I used the precooked chicken apple sausages, but feel free to use your favorite}
  • 2 bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 package refrigerated cheese tortellini, cooked according to package
  • 2 cans chopped tomatoes in juices
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T preminced garlic
  • 1 T basil
  • 1 T oregano
  • 1 T parsley
  • 1 t red pepper flakes {more or less if you prefer it more or less spicy}
  • 2 t black pepper
  • 1 T garlic salt
  • Additional salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat
  2. Add onion and garlic and let cook for 3-5 minutes
  3. Add sausages and let them begin to brown, approximately 5-7 minutes
  4. Add bell peppers and continue to cook for another 3-5 minutes
  5. Add tomatoes {in juice} and all spices and let simmer for 8-10 minutes
  6. Stir in cooked tortellini and cheese and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, until combined and cheese is melted
  7. Serve immediately, and garnish with additional cheese, parsley, and red pepper flakes

Sausage & Pepper Tortellini | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Garlic Three Cheese Mac & Cheese | Microwavable Mac & Cheese Hack

Garlic Three Cheese Mac & Cheese | Microwavable Mac & Cheese Hack | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Ok you’re either going to really love me or hate me for this one.

I keep a stash of the Trader Joe’s microwavable mac and cheese in my pantry.  Yes, I’m talking about the single serving, throw in the micro, drop some powdered cheese stuff on top and voila mac and cheese.  College style.  At least the TJ’s kind feels a little better than Easy Mac, with organic wheat macaroni and white cheddar.  But I digress.

Every once in a while I’m at a loss for what to serve for the munchkin and myself for lunch.  It’s usually a Monday and we have no leftovers from the weekend and I have five minutes to come up with something good before she loses it or until lunch time starts to creep into nap time {which is completely unacceptable}.  So every once in a while, we turn to the mac and cheese.

Garlic Three Cheese Mac & Cheese | Microwavable Mac & Cheese Hack | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

And like I said, I give it to Trader Joe’s for fancy-ing it up a little bit, but it still is what it is.  So one day, I decided that maybe I could spice it up a little.  And all it needed were a few little enhancements {like some real cheese} and one extra minute to make it feel more like a meal and less like something out of the box.  Guys, it was good.  Like creamy, cheesy, comfort food-y, completely unhealthy goodness.

PS we’re calling this three cheese, which includes the powdered white cheddar in the box.  Because if I’m doing this, I might as well go all the way.  Judge away, if you must.  Or next time you’re feeling desperate, give it a try.

PPS this is for a single serving.  I haven’t tried, but I would assume if you want to make two servings, just doubling the recipe should work.  If we’re even calling this a recipe…

Garlic Three Cheese Mac & Cheese | Microwavable Mac & Cheese Hack | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Garlic Three Cheese Mac & Cheese | Microwavable Mac & Cheese Hack
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
  • 1 packet single serving microwavable mac & cheese (I used the Trader Joe's kind)
  • 1 T milk
  • 1 T shredded cheddar
  • 1 T shredded mozzarella
  • ½ t garlic salt
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Microwave macaroni with water as indicated on the instructions on the packet
  2. Immediately add powdered cheese packet, milk, cheddar, and mozzarella and stir vigorously to combine.
  3. Add garlic salt and salt and pepper to taste, and top with additional shredded cheddar if desired.

Garlic Three Cheese Mac & Cheese | Microwavable Mac & Cheese Hack | Little Kitchen, Big Bites Garlic Three Cheese Mac & Cheese | Microwavable Mac & Cheese Hack | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Baked Turkey & Vegetable Meatballs {Healthy & Toddler Friendly!}

Baked Turkey & Vegetable Meatballs {Healthy & Toddler Friendly!} | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

I know what you’re thinking.
“Girl, it’s the week of Thanksgiving…where’s my stuffing recipe??”
First of all, I use the boxed stuffing from Trader Joe’s and it is incredible.  Second of all, I have a hungry toddler to feed for the next three days before turkey day.  And these are turkey meatballs, so technically, they’re totally appropriate.

Everyone used to tell me that toddlers were picky eaters, and I would look at my deliciously chunky baby and laugh.  “This child will never refuse a meal,” I would say.  They were right.  I was wrong.  Gone are the days when she would demolish a plate full of steamed vegetables and slow cooked chicken breast like it was a cheeseburger and fries.  My little darling has decided that she wants to eat whatever we’re eating.  Period.  End of story.  Which, really, has been a great thing because it’s forced us to be more healthy.  Instead of pizza and burgers, we bake up some vegetable packed meatballs.

Baked Turkey & Vegetable Meatballs {Healthy & Toddler Friendly!} | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

One of my friends mentioned that she had used meatballs to hide loads of veggies in a delicious little toddler-friendly package.  So I went to work with some leftover vegetables and these meatballs were born.  The recipe below lists what I used, but really you can throw in any vegetables that you have laying around.  Like the ones left over from your Thanksgiving dinner on Friday morning.

I cook up a big batch of these suckers, throw them in the fridge, and heat them up with some marinara sauce and a little bit of cheese right before meal time.  They’re a huge hit.  You can also cook up some pasta and throw them on top with the sauce and the cheese and the hubby will be eating his vegetables too.  Because the toddler isn’t the only one who’s picking about eating veggies.

Baked Turkey & Vegetable Meatballs {Healthy & Toddler Friendly!} | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

 

Turkey & Vegetable Meatballs {Healthy & Toddler Friendly!}
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 25-30 meatballs
 
Ingredients
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cups chopped vegetables {I used 2 zucchini, 2 bell peppers, 1 cup of mushrooms, and 2 cups of spinach}
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 t preminced garlic
  • 1 T basil
  • 1 t oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 - 1.5 lbs ground turkey {sub ground beef if desired}
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • Marinara sauce, parmesan or mozzarella cheese, and/or cooked pasta to serve with, as desired
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat
  3. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent, about 3-5 minutes
  4. Add other veggies (except spinach) and cook for an additional 5 - 10 minutes, or until softened. Add spinach for an additional 2-3 or until wilted.
  5. Remove veggies from heat and let cool in the refrigerator
  6. While the veggies are cooling, mix ground turkey, egg and panko bread crumbs in a small bowl
  7. Once veggies are cool, add turkey mixture to veggie mixture and use your hands to fully combine
  8. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper
  9. Roll meatballs from approximately 2-3 T of the turkey veggie mixture and place on cookie sheet
  10. Bake for 30-35 minutes
  11. Serve as desired, with marinara, cheese, and/or pasta, or as is

Baked Turkey & Vegetable Meatballs {Healthy & Toddler Friendly!} | Little Kitchen, Big Bites Baked Turkey & Vegetable Meatballs {Healthy & Toddler Friendly!} | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Spinach & Basil Tortellini

Spinach & Basil Tortellini | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

One of our resolutions this year is to spend less money.  I guess it’s always a good resolution, but it’s especially important now that we’re down to only one income.  One of the things that we could easily cut back on is the amount of money that we spent on food.  I always knew that I could come up with recipes that used some fresh ingredients, but did so cheaply and used things that we already had on hand.

I think we’re probably going to be eating a lot more pasta, but we’re going to try to do it in a way that’s still moderately healthy, and doesn’t get too boring.  Hopefully, we’ll come up with some fun ideas that you can use at home too.

Spinach & Basil Tortellini | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

This recipe was simple and delicious.  You make your own sauce out of things that you probably already have in your kitchen, and it has loads of spinach, tomatoes and onions that give it a little more than your average pasta.  Added bonus?  It was quick and easy to whip up while my husband played with the baby on the floor.

Spinach & Basil Tortellini | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Spinach & Basil Tortellini
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 bag dry tortellini {I used pesto tortellini from Trader Joes}
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 T flour
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • ½ t red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups chopped spinach
  • ¼ cup diced onion
  • ¼ cup basil, cut into thin strips
  • 1 - 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 T minced garlic
  • 1½ t salt
  • 1 t pepper
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, plus more to top
Instructions
  1. Cook the tortellini according to the instructions on the bag
  2. While it's cooking place olive oil, onion and garlic in a large skillet at medium high heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add flour and milk and whisk to combine.
  4. Add basil, salt, pepper, and red pepper and whisk to combine. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add diced tomatoes, including juices, and whisk to combine. Continue cooking at a low simmer for 4-5 minutes.
  6. Add spinach and cook for an additional minute, or until wilted, and remove from heat.
  7. Drain pasta and place back in the pot.
  8. Pour sauce over pasta and stir in Parmesan.
  9. Serve hot and top with additional Parmesan.

Spinach & Basil Tortellini | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

Easy Garlic Pesto Gnocchi & Cooking Planit T-Fal Giveaway!

Easy Garlic Pesto Gnocchi | Little Kitchen, Big BItes

So there’s this app for your iPad or iPhone.  It’s called Cooking Planit.  And it’s pretty frickin amazing.

It’s not just your average recipe app.  Yes, it does have amazing recipe ideas and a grocery store portion that makes it super user friendly.  But it also puts together full meal ideas for you, including side dishes, and lets you pick how many people you’re cooking for. And gives you a list of what cooking tools you’re going to need {because I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely gotten into a recipe and realized that I have to improvise because I didn’t realize that I was going to need to pull my deep fryer out of the garage…}.

And then when you’re actually ready to cook, it literally walks you through it.  Like turn by turn driving directions, except for your meal.  And it helps you coordinate it so that everything is ready at the same time.  This may not be revolutionary for everyone, but it sure is for me.  It’s always a struggle to try to figure out if the sides are going to be ready at the same time as the main course and if everything will make it to the table nice and hot.  That’s why I use my slow cooker so often and do my one pot wonders…then I don’t have to worry about it.  But with Cooking Planit, there are no more worries.  Just simple instructions to put together an easy, delicious, hot meal without a second thought.  It’s perfect for dinner parties, or just for throwing something nice and well balanced together for your family at the end of the day.

Easy Garlic Pesto Gnocchi | Little Kitchen, Big BItes

 

In addition to being awesomely amazing, Cooking Planit is partnering with me and other bloggers to give away a whole new fabulous set of T-Fal Stainless Steel with Thermo-spot 12-Piece Cookware Set, including an 8” Sauté pan, a 10” Sauté pan, a 1 Qt. saucepan & cover, a 2 Qt. Saucepan & cover, a 3 Qt. Saucepan & cover, a 5 Qt. Dutch Oven & Cover, and a 2 Stainless Glass Lids.  It’s a gorgeous stainless steel, nonstick cookware set with technology that indicates when the pan is perfectly pre-heated and ready to go.  Are your pots and pans getting a little nasty?  Is it time to upgrade your cookware?  Just click below to enter in the seriously easy rafflecopter and you could win the Cooking Planit T-Fal giveaway!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Phew.  And finally, here’s the recipe, which is slightly modified {as usual} from the brilliance that I found on the Cooking Planit app…

5.0 from 1 reviews
Easy Garlic Pesto Gnocchi
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup basil
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 3 T preminced garlic
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound premade gnocchi
  • 2 T pine nuts
  • 3 T + 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Put garlic, basil, parmesan, pine nuts and 3 T olive oil in a food processor and pulse to combine
  2. Cook gnocchi according to package instructions
  3. Drain gnocchi and return to pan.
  4. Add olive oil and heat on medium.
  5. Stir in pesto until gnocchi is well coated, and then remove from heat.
  6. Serve hot.

Easy Garlic Pesto Gnocchi | Little Kitchen, Big Bites

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