Wednesday, March 5, 2014

More Comfort Food

Yes, I've been cooking a lot of comfort food lately. It's March and New England weather is so cruel and it's been getting me down. My comfort food routine has been mostly re-heatable dishes and casseroles that allow me to spend some time chatting with my friends on the internet and not slaving over a stove after a snowy ride home from work (like today). My friends are a lot like me, and Carol J (another New Englander) has a recipe on Just a Pinch that I recently "pinched" that most definately had my name on it. I kept hearing it talk to me in my head saying, "Try me. Try me". And so I did. It's definately blog worthy and I hope you'll give it a whirl. It's meaty, cheesy, and contains quite a bit of spinach, my kind of food for sure. I made a few minor changes and tried to cut the calories and fat wherever I could, 'cause that's what I like to do so I can maybe fit into my spring clothes.

Ground Beef, Spinach and Cheese Casserole
Inspired by Carol J from Just a Pinch Recipe Club

12 oz frozen chopped spinach
8 oz neufchatel cheese at room temp
1/2 cup low fat sour cream
3 T skim milk
1 T Boursin spreadable cheese
1 scallion chopped
1/2 medium onion diced
1 pound lean ground beef
2 cups uncooked penne pasta (I use Dreamfields low carb)
15 oz marinara sauce (homemade is best, store bought is fine)
1 cup lower fat shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper

Cook spinach. I used the microwave on high for 3 minutes.

Let cool and squeeze out all the moisture. Set aside and cook the penne according to package directions. While pasta is cooking brown your ground beef with diced onion on medium heat. Add a little salt and pepper if you like, I did. I also would recommend some crushed red pepper flakes. I forgot to do that (but I did add it when I served myself a heaping portion at the dinner table).

Now I'm not into stress in the kitchen, but if you can handle this... while beef is browning and pasta is cooking, mix your cream cheese, Boursin, milk and chopped scallion in a bowl and set aside. I was actually able to do this. And I pre heated my oven to 350 degrees as well.

When pasta is done, drain and add to beef mixture. Make sure you drain off any excess fat from the beef before you do this. Now add your marinara sauce. Doesn't this look like a meal on it's own?

Time to get the casserole together. I used my large souffle dish of course, because every casserole deserves to be served in a nice dish, plus it's my all time favorite. Spritz your casserole dish with a little cooking spray and place half your pasta/beef/sauce mixture in the bottom. Top with half the cream cheese mix and top that with all the spinach.

Add the rest of your pasta beef mixture, cover your dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30-40 minutes. Remove from oven, add the remaining cream cheese mixture and top with shredded cheddar. Bake for another 10 minutes uncovered and you're ready to eat this melty, ooey, gooey, yummy meal. 

I served this with some toasted slices of parmesan pita triangles so I could scoop up some of the cheesy goodness and was a very happy gal. And no salad needed with this casserole, my veggie was waiting for me inside. Great dish Carol J, it's a definate keeper!.

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