Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Polenta & Spaghetti Squash Bake

This recipe is combination of lasagna & baked spaghetti, but with a twist. I love cooking with polenta. I'm surprised how many people don't know what it is or where to find it. (At my supermarket they have it in the rice/pasta aisle, but I have seen it near the produce. It does not need to be refrigerated!) For this recipe it serves as a great substitute for lasagna noodles. The recipe below will make enough to fill two 8 x 11 casserole dishes. Fill to eat for dinner that night & one to freeze for later.  

olive oil
1 medium to large sized spaghetti squash
1 tube of polenta 
1 small onion, diced
2 medium sized zucchinis, sliced & halved
2 tbsp of minced garlic (or a few cloves of garlic, minced)
20 oz bag of spinach
3 to 4 cups of marinara sauce
2 cups of shredded mozzarella
fresh tomatoes, diced (optional)
fresh basil or italian seasoning (optional)

This is what burnt spaghetti squash looks like. Not so nice from the outside, but it was still quite yummy on the inside! I made the mistake of cooking on 450 instead of 350, oops!


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare the spaghetti squash by cutting it in half (carefully) and then cooking it in the oven for 40 minutes OR by putting it in the oven for 40 minutes, then cutting it in half once it's softened. (Both methods have pros & cons and both methods can be tricky). 
Once you've removed the spaghetti squash from the oven remove the top part with seeds. Season with salt & pepper and scrape out the rest of the insides. You'll see how nicely it comes out with a fork looking like spaghetti, set aside.
When done, increase the oven to 450 degrees.
Coat a baking dish with cooking spray.

Meanwhile, when the spaghettis squash is baking you can get started on frying the polenta. Slice polenta into thin slices.
Heat about 2 tbsp of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
Add polenta & cook on each side for 5 minutes or until crispy & golden brown. Then transfer to bottom of baking dish. 
In a large pot add additional tbsp of olive oil and heat over medium heat.
Add onion, zucchini, & garlic. 
Cook until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
Add 1 cup of water and then slowly add then add the spinach.
If you are unable to fit all the spinach at once, add a little, cover with the lid and wait until wilted to add some more. 
Feel free to add italian seasoning or fresh herbs at this point. 
After a few minutes add the marinara sauce and spaghetti squash and heat up for a few minutes. 
Make sure it's all stirred together well. Feel free to add more marinara sauce or spinach, if needed.
On top of the polenta layer in the casserole dish add a layer of cheese (i had fresh tomatoes so I chopped them up and added them to the cheese layer) then a layer of the vegetable/sauce. Repeat with another layer of polenta, cheese, then sauce again.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. 

What do you think? Comments? Suggestions? I would love to know that you visited my blog. Please leave me a message letting me know you were here! Did you try out a recipe? Let me know! I would love to hear from you :-)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Semi-homemade Chocolate Sprinkle Cake

Every year in my classroom I run a March Madness bracket with my students. Some of my students have never filled out a bracket before and don't understand what it is, so it's a fun experience to get to teach them. When the NCAA tournament is over, the winner of my bracket receives a prize and that prize is that I bake them a cake. Here is a go-to recipe that I picked up a few years ago. A very decadent, moist cake that tastes homemade, but takes some shortcuts. It's delicious, I promise. But so easy as well!

1 box of chocolate cake mix (it can be devil's food or dark chocolate or whatever)
1 package of instant chocolate pudding mix (5.9 oz)
2 cups sour cream
1 cup melted butter
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
rainbow sprinkles (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a bundt pan.
Pour together cake mix with the pudding mix.
Stir in mixes with sour cream, butter, eggs, & vanilla extract into a an electric mixer.
Beat on low/medium for 2 to 4 minutes.
Mix in chocolate chips.
Dump rainbow sprinkles on bottom of Bundt pan (optional)
Cover with batter.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes.
After cake cools then turn upside to serve. ENJOY!

The sprinkles don't necessarily make it taste better, but they are cute & fun :-) 

What do you think? Comments? Suggestions? I would love to know that you visited my blog. Please leave me a message letting me know you were here! Did you try out a recipe? Let me know! I would love to hear from you :-)

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