Friday, June 15, 2012

Comforting Cheesy Pasta Bake

The other night I went to spin class after work. Man, did it kick my butt. It was a 60 minute class and the instructor was a bit intense. At the beginning of class she went over the "agenda" for the class and I was pretty excited to hear that there were several intervals and only 3 climbs (I admit, they aren't my favorite). I don't know what happened throughout the class, but it seemed like she kept changing her mind after one interval. I can't say it was my favorite spin class/instructor, but it till got my heart rate up and I was definitely sweating.

I had dinner planned from the second I woke up that morning and saw it was raining out. I was craving something comforting and immediately thought about a pasta bake that my mom told me she made the other week. I emailed her for the recipe and checked out the ingredients. We had most of the ingredients at the house, but after spin I made a quick stop a Trader Joe's to pick up some stuff I needed wanted.

The recipe is from called Three-Cheese Chicken Penne Pasta Bake. I decided to make some changes based on what I had in the fridge and my own cravings.

Modified Ingredients:

  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1-1/2 cups multi-grain fusilli pasta, uncooked 
  • 1 pkg. (9 oz.) fresh spinach leaves 
  • lb. White Meat Ground Turkey (from TJs) 
  • dried basil leaves (I didn't really measure this)
  •  1 can (14-1/2 oz.) fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained
  • About 14 oz. spaghetti sauce I had in the fridge 
  • 1 wedge of The Laughing Cow Light Queso Fresco & Chipolte 
  • 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese, and another handful to top it off
For the preparation and cooking, I followed the recipe pretty closely. First I preheated the oven to 375, put on some water for the pasta, and cut up the onion, spinach, and zucchini.

While the water was boiling/pasta was cooking, I sauteed up the onions and zucchini and in a separate pan browned up the ground turkey with the dried basil. When the turkey was browned, I added in the can of drained fire roasted tomatoes and spaghetti sauce until it was mixed well and brought to a boil. 
Once boiling, I added in the wedge of Laughing Cow Cheese and let it simmer until the cheese was fully melted. Then I drained the pasta over the fresh package of spinach (quick and easy way to wilt it!) and combined all three mixes in the big pan where I had the onion and zucchini cooking. Finally, I added the cheese and put everything into a 2QT dish. Into the oven it went for 20 minutes. 

While I waited I took a quick shower and then made up a quick salad to have on the side. When the timer was down to 3 minutes, I topped the dish off with another handful of cheese and put it back in the oven to melt. The result, comforting cheese pasta goodness.

Needless to say it was a hit!

Xox. Kaylin

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