Well, I’m officially off school for summer vacation! Fahrney and I announced it on instragram.
It isn’t a break for long, though, because I’m on the move this summer. First up is BlogHerFood 2013 in Austin, TX. If you’re going, track me down! That, in combination with a college class, and some other various traveling, means I’m pretty busy this summer.
Not too busy, however, to make sure I enjoy this baked oatmeal many times. This is a recipe that I make often for people in need of casseroles (new babies, condolences, etc) but I’ve never blogged it. It is nice for giving away because it isn’t pasta and marinara sauce AND isn’t dinner. It reheats well and is so delicious it might just pass as dessert.
I used strawberries and bananas but you could probably incorporate many fruits in place of the berries. I suggest leaving in the bananas, though, because they dissolve away to impart a delicious sweetness throughout. The Omnivore, who has the most tarnished impression of oatmeal, ate this under peer pressure from me and a friend and declared it a favorite. So make it for you and make it for a friend – and be sure to make a double batch!
Strawberry Banana Baked Oatmeal (adapted from Heidi Swanson via Annie’s Eats)
- 2 sliced bananas
- 1 cup strawberries, sliced
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 2 cups milk (2%)
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- Brush butter in a 9×13 inch baking dish.
- Combine milk, rolled oats, beaten eggs, cinnamon, vanilla, baking powder, maple syrup, and sliced bananas in a large bowl.
- Pour into the prepared baking dish and then top with sliced strawberries.
- Bake in a 350 degrees preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the top is set.
I think this was my first time having stuffed shells. I know my mom didn’t ever make them and I am quite sure I never would have chosen them off a restaurant menu. I sometimes see them peeking through the foggy grocery store frozen aisle doors reminding me they exist.
I am not quite sure what influenced me to buy the pasta shells; I usually am very loyal to only whole wheat pastas and I haven’t seen a wheat variety of these shells. Anyway, when I got home that very afternoon and got to making dinner, I opened the box of these so called “jumbo shells” and screamed “JUMBO MY ASS!”
Seriously. The shells seemed smaller than a radish. They seemed as if they’d be perfect for Velveeta Shells n Cheese (which I’ve still never eaten). How on earth was I supposed to stuff these shells with deliciousness?
And while the non-jumbo pasta shells boiled, I went through a semi-tirade:
-wouldn’t it all taste the same if I just mixed any sort of pasta up with spinach and cheese and baked it?
-why must I laboriously stuff these stupid shells?
-am I going to have to eat like 12 shells to feel full?
It turns out the shells puffed up respectably while boiling. And stuffing them didn’t take that long. And they sure do make for a neat presentation, which breaks the cycle of uuuugh more pasta with red sauce. They were tasty and reheated well so I’m sure I’ll make them again.
Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells (adapted from Eating Well)
- 24 jumbo pasta shells, (8 ounces)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 2 pounds fresh spinach, trimmed and washed
- 2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
- 3 cups prepared marinara sauce, preferably low-sodium
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Cook shells in a large pot of boiling water, stirring often, until just tender, about 15 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes.
- Add spinach in batches to the pan and toss with tongs until wilted. Let cool.
- Combine ricotta,1/4 cup Parmesan and nutmeg in a bowl; mix well. Add the reserved spinach and season with salt and pepper. Stir in egg white.
- Stuff each of the reserved shells with a generous 2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture.
- Spread 1 cup marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
- Arrange the stuffed shells in a single layer. Top with the remaining 2 cups of the sauce and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
- Bake until the top is golden and the shells are heated through, about 30 minutes. (If the top browns too quickly, tent loosely with foil.) Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
My mom used to call pizza the “King of Junkfood.” What she meant was pizza feels like junk food but is actually healthy – with bread and vegetables and cheese. I truly think your average pizza is decidedly not healthy, but that’s not a problem. Everyone needs some cheese and carbs every once in awhile.
This pizza might deserve the “King of Junkfood” title more than any other pizza around, though. I found some whole wheat pizza dough in my freezer (aka the blackhole) and recognized that I had a pound of brussels sprouts ready to be used.
Most pizza recipes with brussels sprouts contain bacon also because obviously the two are a winning combination. I ran across a vegetarian rendition of the pizza, though, and keeping with the healthy theme of the whole wheat dough decided to try it out.
Are you scared of lemon on pizza?
Don’t be. What a delicious surprise! The cooking mellows them but they retain their juicy bite and go perfectly with the cheese and veggies. Be sure to slice them thinly so they just sort of dissolve into your pizza.
Who loved this pizza the most? The Omnivore. That doesn’t mean, however, we won’t be fighting over the lone leftover piece. By the way, the recipe is a Martha Stewart recipe so of course the Omnivore couldn’t resist cracking jokes about learning amazing recipes in jail throughout our dinner.
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3/4 pound pizza dough
- 3 ounces lightly salted fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 ounces finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese (about 2/3 cup)
- 3 cups shredded brussels sprouts (from about 1/2 pound)
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 5 paper-thin lemon slices, cut into half-moons (from 1/2 lemon)
- Preheat oven and pizza stone to 550 degrees.
- Work dough into a round pie (if it retracts, let rest 5 minutes before continuing). Place dough round on a pizza peel or the back of a cookie sheet dusted with cornmeal.
- Brush a 1-inch border around edge with 1 teaspoon oil.
- Scatter mozzarella and half the Pecorino evenly over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border around edge.
- Toss brussels sprouts with remaining Pecorino, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Scatter sprout mixture over cheeses, and top with lemon.
- Turn over to broil (high if you have the option) and slide pizza onto prepared pizza stone. Cook 5-7 minutes until crust is browned, cheese is melted, and toppings are cooked.
- Transfer pizza to a cooling rack so that crust does not get soggy.