Gnocci with Spaghetti Squash, Spinach and Rosemary

I’ll have a festive Christmas brunch/breakfast recipe for you soon. Nate and I finally got into the holiday spirit. It’s my first Christmas season as an honorary (by marriage) Christmas celebrator.

Speaking of marriage, we got our wedding photos on cd today! And the photographers sent us one of EVERY photo!!! So so sweet of them. Can’t wait to pick out which we want for our album :)

Anyway, the first thing I did for our Christmas decorating was pick up a cute cotton ball and jingle bell wreath from Target. I didn’t want anything too Christmas-y since we are still a multi-holiday household. I thought the wreath was a little too boring though, so I bought a couple different sized berries branches from Michaels and I cut them up and hot glued them on. Muuuch better I think :)

Upgraded Target wreath

We have a tiny apartment and a michievous feline, so we knew we couldn’t get a full-fledged Christmas tree yet. Instead we went to Michael’s to see what we could find. We ended up getting the cutest miniature tree and there were all kinds of mini ornaments and garlands you could get to decorate it!!! Btw, I love anything in miniature. We also picked up a silver reindeer from Home Goods and I broke up some branches to make a little festive setting on our living room mantle dresser.

I have also since pulled out our gorgeous new menorah that we got for a wedding present. I’m so excited to finally have a nice menorah :)

All this holiday decorating was done in preparation for our little cookie-decorating party we hosted this past weekend. Since all my friends who came are cat lovers like us, I baked up some gingerbread cookie paws and cats in addition to the traditional gingerbread men. After we exhausted the possible decorating combos for the paws/cats, we decided to get creative. This was what I came up with:

cat paw cookie turned sideways and upside down!

LC even put on her Christmas best in honor of the party.

a most photogenic feline- photo credit, Erica Harmon :)

It was a fun weekend. Despite the fact that we both OD’d on cookies throught the day, Nate and I had this delicious gnocchi dish for dinner.

We eat a decent amount of pasta, but I never think to cook gnocchi. It wasn’t until I made this recipe that I realized how quickly it cooks (if you buy it rather than making it) and how much I love it’s chewy texture.

Gnocci with Spaghetti Squash, Spinach and Rosemary

I randomly came across a Food Network recipe and since I didn’t have any of the ingredients, I subbed in my own similar ones and it was a major hit. Nate and I couldn’t stop raving about how delicious it was.

Gnocci with Spaghetti Squash, Spinach and Rosemary

Gnocchi with Spaghetti Squash, Spinach and Rosemary

Adapted from the The Food Network

Print this recipe!

Serves 4

1 small-medium spaghetti squash
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Kosher salt
1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth or water
11 oz package baby spinach
1 17.5-ounce package potato gnocchi
3/4 cup grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese

Cut squash in half, remove seeds, and put cut side down in a microwaveble dish. Put 1/4 cup water in bottom of dish, cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 11 minutes (you want it cooked but still slightly “al dente.” Cool til you can handle it and scrape pulp out into a dish.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the squash, garlic, rosemary, red pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon salt; cook until the garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.

Preheat the broiler. Add the chicken broth to the skillet. When it starts to simmer, stir in the spinach and cook until it wilts slightly, about 2 minutes. Add the gnocchi, stirring to coat. Cover and cook until the gnocchi are just tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover and stir in 1/4 cup parmesan and the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup parmesan; transfer to the broiler and cook until golden and bubbly, about 3 minutes. 


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.

Note: I’m still working on another Passover recipe or two, so check back next  week!

When I was growing up, my mom used to have company over fairly often. Whether it was a casual dinner party, a holiday meal, or small catering job, there were certain foods that were her entertaining staples. One of her favorites was a pass-around spinach ball hors d’oevure, both because of its simplicity and its popularity.

My brother and I were usually given the task of rolling the mixture into balls before putting them in the oven, and then later arranging the cooked ones on a platter and sticking a decorative toothpick in each one for serving. I don’t think that there was ever a time during this process that my brother and I didn’t eat at least 2 spinach balls ourselves for every dozen we nicely arranged on the tray.

Whenever I smell them baking in the oven, I am instantly transported back to those special occasions. Start making these now and I bet they’ll soon be making memories for you as well.

Spinach Balls

Print this recipe!

Makes 32 pieces

6 eggs, beaten
2- 10 oz. pkg frozen cooked chopped spinach, thawed & well drained
2 medium onions, minced
1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
1/2 tsp or more salt, to taste
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cups herb stuffing mix

Combine all but stuffing, mix well. Add stuffing, mix, and set aside for 1/2 hour.

Form heaping teaspoonfuls into balls. Bake at 350 for 20 min on a greased baking pan. Serve hot.

*Can be frozen raw
**I didn’t feel like rolling them ALL into balls, so I put about half in a small casserole dish and just cooked it for a little longer and it came out just as good, although a little greasier since the oil couldn’t run off anywhere. But if you get lazy, this is another option.