Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Valentine's Day Dinner

It was a lovely Valentine’s Day.

Beautiful roses from my fiancé.

Every year my fiancé and I trade off who gets to plan Valentine’s Day. Neither of us really likes going out on Valentine’s Day (everything is so crowded and expensive), so we spend the evening at one of our homes and enjoy a nice relaxing dinner.

This year was my turn!

For dinner I made Stuffed Shells with a spinach cheese filling and served it with salad and chopped garlic bread of course.

Top View

Side View

For the stuffed shells I modified a recipe from one of my cookbooks. I adjusted amounts of ingredients and added in some additional seasoning to the cheese and spinach filling to make it similar (but not exactly the same as) Noni's lasagna filling. I did, however, use a canned sauce as the recipe suggested because we had some other things going on earlier in the day that prevented me from having enough time to make the family sauce. Plus, I finally found a canned sauce that is actually pretty good and has a fresh taste…Muir Glen Organic Italian Herb Pasta Sauce.

Spinach-Stuffed Shells

24 dried jumbo pasta shells
1 12-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
3 eggs
4 cups shredded Italian cheese blend (16 oz)
2 ¼ cups ricotta cheese
2 25.5 oz jars pasta sauce
black pepper (to your preference, about ¾ teaspoon is a good start)
dried parsley (to your preference, about ½ teaspoon is a good start)

Cook jumbo pasta shells according to package directions or slightly less than package directions. Drain pasta and rinse with cold water; drain again.

While pasta is cooking or after draining pasta, drain thawed spinach very well.

Preheat oven to 350F. In a bowl, prepare filling by mixing spinach, eggs, 3 ½ cups of shredded Italian cheese blend, ricotta cheese, a pinch or more of dried parsley and ground black pepper to your personal preference.

Spoon about 2 tablespoons of filling into each shell and place shells in a 13x9 baking dish. Pour sauce over shells.
Cover with foil and bake for about 40 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle remaining ½ cup of shredded Italian cheese blend on top and place back in the oven for 5-10 minutes. Let stand before serving.

For dessert I made a Caramel Walnut Tart and served it warm with vanilla bean ice cream.

This dough was actually the second half of the dough I made for the fruit tart. I wrapped it up in plastic wrap and put it in a freezer bag and placed it in the freezer. I took it out a day or so before I needed it and let it thaw out in the fridge.

The caramel was made from scratch, with honey! It’s the first time I’ve made homemade caramel and it was yummy.

I’ll post this recipe later along with the recipe for the fruit tart.

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