Tag Archives: black olives

Easy “Baked Spanish Penne”

I have this great recipe, Spanish lasagna, that uses artichoke hearts and black olives for the filling. As I am mad for those two ingredients, not to mention pasta, tomato sauce, and cheese, it’s a favorite,Ā  a “treat” dish that I make once in awhile (since Ricotta & artichoke hearts can be a bit pricey). I also occasionally make Baked Ziti or Baked Penne, so, since I didn’t have any lasagna noodles, I got the idea to make a combo of the two dishes. Here’s the ingredients.

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That’s a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes. I only used half of the 2 lb Ricotta (it was on sale and larger sizes are generally cheaper per pound anyway). That’s 6 slices of Mozzarella pictured but you could also use shredded. The artichoke hearts in the jar were marinated; you could use unmarinated, typically sold in cans, but using the jarred marinated type meant I didn’t have to add any additional seasonings (I am ALL about shortcuts). This is a large jar; you could also use two small 6 oz ones which are more readily available in stores.

 
I boiled and drained a 1 lb box of Penne.

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Trust me that there’s a pound of Penne somewhere in there

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Next I rinsed and broke up the black olives. The easy way to break them up is by hand, plus it’s knd of fun.

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My best, or one of my best kitchen tricks, is mixing thingsĀ in the sink. It’s easier on the armsĀ  and any slopping goes in the sink.Ā  Here is the tomato sauce with black olives and drainedĀ artichokes added to a medium size bowl. I didn’t use quite all the artichokes since I wanted to save a few for salads.

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I used clean kitchen scissors to cut up the artichoke hearts right in the bowl.

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In a large 4 qt bowl I put the cooked Penne and then the sauce mixture, topped by a pound of Ricotta and broken up pieces of Mozzarella.

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I then mixed it all up. (It kind of turns pink, do not be alarmed!) I added no extra seasonings except fresh ground pepper. As I mentioned, marinated artichoke hearts come with seasoning and the cheese and tomato sauce both contain salt.

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I then spread the mixture into a 9×13 pan. It was risky making a huge pan of an experimental recipe but I gambled that I’d like this. On top I drizzled a bit of olive oil and sprinkled on a modest amount of shredded Parmesan.

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I topped it with a loose sheet of foil.

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I baked the dish about 35 minutes at 325Ā°.Ā  Basically you want to heat it through – since there is no egg added there’s no worry about undercooking.

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Was it good? Hell yes it was good! In order to not wolf it all down in a matter of days and to have the pleasure of spreading ny treat out over time, I habitually freeze lasagne portions.Ā  That worked now too. The easy way is to slice portions and freeze them on a cookie sheet. After they’re frozen you just wrap them in individual portions.

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Dollar Tree at the Holidays, fa, la, la

So I went into Dollar Tree yesterday. Normally I wouldn’t go anywhere near a store like that the week before Christmas but in this case, I stopped in because I didn’t have to and knew I could leave immediately if the atmosphere irritated the hell out of me. Surprisingly, while the shelves, particularly in the Christmas section, were a bit picked over, the store wasn’t bad. They had several registers open (this store almost NEVER does that), shoppers seemed to be in decent spirits, and even the employees didn’t look as if they wanted to throttle anybody. Not right then anyway.

I assure you I was NOT there to buy Christmas presents (ahem) although I did look at the decorations. I wanted a big red bow but the ones they had looked a bit shabby so I passed. I got a pack of twenty little red bows from there not long ago and have used them to decorate, including myself (I tuck one into a hat band for instance).

 

While in the Christmas section I saw something I felt I must share. The sight of the hard candies brought back old memories from childhood, nice ones. These candies however, were not quite the same. Yes, the canister is festive, although that “artificially flavored” business doesn’t warm the cockles of my heart.

 

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For whatever reason I flipped the can over and saw something I’ve never seen printed on a food item before. I knew I must share these words with you.

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Do I even WANT to know what part??

 

After returning the scrumptious, partially genetically engineered treats to the shelf I ccontinued on to my favorite section, the FOOD aisle. If you’ve never been to a Dollar Tree or checked out the dry foods available, you might want to if you have any interest in cutting food costs. There are excellent deals to be had. Some of the stock stays the same but a number of items come and go so you never know what you might find. (If you don’t have a Dollar Tree, there’s a website and I noticed they occasionally do special discounts on shipping costs which might otherwise eat too far into any potential savings.) Here are the few things I bought yesterday.

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The “Made in Mexico” taco shells, which I’ve purchased several times before contain only yellow corn flour, yellow precooked corn flour and corn oil, no weird additives or extraneous junk. I like ’em a lot.

I used the lasagna noodles to make a favorite dish last night, Spanish Lasagne, a meatless entree which features artichokes and black olives. It is TO DIE FOR if you are a rabid fan of pasta, cheese, tomato sauce, artichoke hearts and black olives as I am. In a nod to health, I use part skim ricotta and part skim mozzarella, and not as much of the latter as the recipe says. I freeze several slices on a pie plate and then wrap them in foil so I don’t just eat it all up in a few days. (At the time I made this dish last night I wasn’t thinking about including photos in the blog so they aren’t as blog-ready, aesthetically, as I might prefer. But I can’t cheat you out of photos so I fished these slices out of the fridge & freezer for photos.)

 

Awhile ago I thought I’d do a post on the variety of foods I’ve found at Dollar Tree. I never wrote that post so I’m going to just throw in the picture now. Again, you can’t just walk into a Dollar Tree and find all of these; some I never saw again. Not only are the prices good, some of the foods are sold in larger packages, for instance spaghetti usually is sold in 1.5 lb boxes. Brown rice is sold in a two pound bag and so are pinto beans. All for a dollar apiece. The way I figure certain costs in life are nonnegotiable – rents, mortgages, car payments, electric bills, etc – but expenses like food are variable, so why not save where you can?

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Cheap food, yay!

 

 

Pizza post

I wanted to take photos of my food for a long time. Now I can. In part I just like to look at photos of food (so much the better if I might actually get to have it), but also pictures remind me of what I cook and inspire me to make dishes again in a way written recipes alone do not. Healthy, delicious pizza is a staple very week. I make the crusts from whole wheat and white flour combined with a small amount of canola oil. The whole wheat makes it healthier and more filling. I always add a drizzle of olive oil on top. The toppings shown are meatless since I’m a mostly-vegetarian (I don’t miss it on my pizzas at all). Here’s a few samples.

Crushed tomatoes, mozzarella, grated Parmesan/Romano, olive oil and fresh oregano.

Crushed tomatoes, mozzarella, grated Parmesan/Romano, olive oil and fresh oregano.


Whole wheat pastry flour crust, diced tomatoes, black olives, onion, and just a bit of mozzarella.

Whole wheat pastry flour crust, diced tomatoes, black olives, onion, and just a bit of mozzarella.


Mushrooms, canned spinach, black olives, capers, mozzarella, olive oil

Mushrooms, canned spinach, black olives, capers, mozzarella, olive oil


Chopped clams, onion, mozzarella, grated Parmesan/Romano, olive oil, oregano

Chopped clams, onion, mozzarella, grated Parmesan/Romano, olive oil, oregano


Diced tomatoes, mozzarella, diced jalapenos, olive oil, chili powder

Diced tomatoes, mozzarella, diced jalapenos, olive oil, chili powder


Fresh spinach, onion, garlic, mozzarella, fresh oregano, olive oil

Fresh spinach, onion, garlic, mozzarella, fresh oregano, olive oil


Red onion, black olives, mozzarella, olive oil, oregano and a smidge of hot pepper flakes

Red onion, black olives, mozzarella, olive oil, oregano and a smidge of hot pepper flakes


Petite diced tomatoes, onion, black olives, 4-cheese mix (Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Asadero, Queso Quesadilla), fresh oregano, chili powder, olive oil.

Petite diced tomatoes, onion, black olives, 4-cheese mix(Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Asadero, Queso Quesadilla), fresh oregano, chili powder, olive oil.