Spanikopita Pasta Bake

We’re coming down the home stretch with wedding preparations, and let’s just say I’m getting super stressed.

Among other things, I feel like there are so many incompetent people that I’m dealing with, or maybe I just see them that way, but it’s making me seriously worried that things aren’t going to get done on time…and to my liking.

Do I just have high expectations? or maybe I’m asking for things that normal people don’t ask for? But whatever it is, I feel like no one “gets” what I want! I just really hope that in the end it all turns out ok.

Spanikopita Pasta Bake

Nate and I have been watching Bridezilla on the WE channel. I hope that’s not how I come across to the people I come in contact with.

I made an appointment over a month ahead of time for the only person I trust to do my eyebrows. The salon called me on Sunday to tell me that they had to cancel my appointment because the woman (with whom I had already made an appointment) decided she’s going on vacation FOR A MONTH. Seriously?!

They told me she’d be back on October 16th, which is exactly one day before I leave to head down to PA for the wedding. I’m not sure if you know this about me, but I like to do NOT like to leave things til the last minute because I always expect the worst to happen.

She’s foreign so I have a feeling she’s going home to visit her family in Europe, but the vacation seems so sudden that now I’m paranoid she won’t be back on the 16th and I’ll be stuck with no one to do my eyebrows. I was so worried that I dragged Nate with me to the salon to talk with them in-person to assure me that she was in fact only going on vacation and that she’d be back on the 16th.

After 5 minutes of listening to me voice my every concern, the guy at the front desk told me there was no reason to think she wouldn’t be back in time for my appointment…and then he turned to Nate and said “Are you sure you still want to marry her?”

 Spanikopita Pasta Bake

The only benefit of being stressed is losing my appetite. At least I hopefully won’t have to worry about not being able to fit into my dress that has now officially been taken in. They still have some adjusting to do with other parts, so I suppose they could change the size a bit if they had to.

Although depending on how stressed I am, sometimes I eat more. Let’s hope that’s not the case this time.

Spanikopita Pasta Bake

A dinner like this won’t hurt too much in your weight loss goals. If you’re trying to lose a few pounds like me, you could easily serve it with a nice green (or Greek!) salad and take a smaller portion.

I got inspired by a recent orzo pasta bake on saw on Smitten Kitchen’s site. I thought if I subbed the mozzarella for feta, it seemed kind of Greek-inspired. I tried to figure out what else I could add to feta and when I thought of spinach, I knew I had to try to create the flavor of Spanakopita.

Spanikopita Pasta Bake

I looked up a few spanakopita recipes to get the ratio correctly and then just kind of winged it. This recipe uses several tablespoons of butter but it’s spread over the entire pan. This was so good I kept going back for more…perhaps the only negative thing about making it :)

“Spanakopita” Pasta Bake

Recipe by Me

Print this recipe!

Serves 8-10

3- 10 oz. packages chopped frozen spinach
16 oz. Orzo shaped pasta
2 large onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 Tbsp butter
2 tsp salt + pepper to taste
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped
12 oz. feta cheese
8 oz. Ricotta cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350.

Boil water and cook pasta. While pasta is cooking, thaw spinach in microwave and drain THOROUGHLY. You will need to squeeze as much water as possible out of the spinach. Set aside.

Melt 4 Tbsp butter in a large saute pan. Add onions and cook 5 min. Add garlic and cook til onions are soft. Stir in spinach and warm through. Stir in salt, pepper, nutmeg and dill. Cool slightly.

In a very large bowl, combine feta, ricotta and 2 eggs together. Stir spinach mixture into egg mixture and mix thoroughly. Stir in drained pasta.

Pour mixture into a 9×13 baking pan. Bake 30 min or until top is crispy and mixture is bubbling at bottom. Let rest for a few minutes before digging in.

Honey White Challah

I’ve been so busy lately that the Daring Bakers completely slipped my mind and I hadn’t done it for a couple months. I finally remembered to check on this month’s challenge and was super excited when i saw it was challah!

The braided challah, which is made with eggs, is the Jewish Sabbath‑and‑holiday bread. It is surrounded by folklore and tradition and loaded with symbolism. On festive occasions a blessing is said over two loaves, symbolizing the two portions of the manna that was distributed on Fridays to the children of Israel during their Exodus from Egypt.

Honey White Challah

Challah is made in various sizes and shapes, all of which have a meaning. Braided ones, which may have three, four, or six strands, are the most common, and because they look like arms intertwined, symbolize love. Three braids symbolize truth, peace, and justice. Twelve humps from two small or one large braided bread recall the miracle of the 12 loaves for the 12 tribes of Israel. Round loaves, “where there is no beginning and no end,” are baked for Rosh Hashanah to symbolize continuity. Sweet challahs with honey or raisins are baked during the festive season to bring joy and happiness.

The name “challah” is derived from the Hebrew word used for “portion” in the Biblical commandment “of the first of your dough you shall give unto the Lord a portion for a gift throughout your generations.” Jews were biblically commanded to separate from their doughs one twenty‑fourth and give it to the kohanim (priests) every Sabbath. (source)

 Honey White Challah

Honestly, I didn’t really know (or remember) the significance of challah although I’m sure I was taught it in Hebrew School.

I’ve actually made Challah before but was really excited to give it another shot. Since Nate likes bread with his dinner on a daily basis, I knew it wouldn’t go to waste.

While Nate was in California last weekend, I whipped up some of the dough and let it rise in between my wedding crafts (i made our cake topper!). It was super easy, and having the first rise in the fridge overnight was a huge time saver.

Honey White Challah

The Challah recipe I used was a honey white version and it came out just slightly sweet and as doughy and delicious as my favorite grocery store version. If you live near Shoprite supermarkets, they happen to have the absolute best challah. Anyway, this was pretty darn close!

I should have added raisins but couldn’t be bothered at the time. Luckily it wasn’t dry at all and was able to hold up on its own.

Blog-checking lines: May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.

Honey White Challah

Honey White Challah

From Tammy’s Recipes

Print this recipe!

makes 2 gigantic loaves


1 ½ cups (360 ml) warm water, separated
1 Tbsp. (15 ml) (15 gm/½ oz sugar
2 Tbsp. (2-2/3 packets) (30 ml) (18 gm) (2/3 oz) dry active yeast
½ cup (120 ml) honey
1 Tbsp. (15 ml) oil (light colored vegetable oil, or olive oil if you prefer)
4 large eggs
1 ½ tsp. 7½ ml) (9 gm) (1/3 oz) salt
5 cups (1200 ml) (700 gm/25 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour, plus more as needed (up to 8 or 9 cups total)
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water

In mixer bowl/large mixing bowl combine ½ cup warm water, 1 Tbsp. sugar and 2 Tbsp. yeast. Allow to proof approximately 5 minutes until foamy.

To the yeast mixture add the remaining water, honey, oil, eggs, salt and 5 cups of flour. Knead (by hand or with your mixer’s dough hook) until smooth, adding flour as needed. Knead for approximately 10 minutes.

Transfer dough to a clean, oiled bowl, turn to coat or add a bit more oil on top. Cover bowl with a kitchen/tea towel. Leave to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 ½ hours (**optionally you can have the first rise in the fridge overnight, which is what I did to save time. The next morning, remove from fridge and allow to come to room temp then move on to next step).

Punch down the dough, divide it into two sections. Use one half to make each loaf (shaped or braided as desired).

Place loaves on parchment lined or greased baking sheets, cover with a towel, allow to rise 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Brush tops loaves with egg wash. (Sprinkle with seeds or toppings here if wanted.)

Bake loaves 30-40 minutes until done.

Cool on wire racks.

Storage & Freezing Instructions/Tips:
Once cooled, challah loaves which will not be eaten right away (or in the next couple of days) should be bagged in heavy duty freezer bags. Remove excess air from the bag before securing it tightly (tying a knot or using tape). Put the bagged loaf/loaves into the freezer as soon as possible to ensure fresh taste; frozen challah will keep approximately three months.