Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Pasta

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Pasta, it tastes good, looks good, and is full of iron.

It was one of those Sundays where time passed as life between meals. It is my favourite kind of life.

My stomach was a bottomless pit, and I had little else to do but cook lots. And lots. I made a cake too, but that was not enough.

Sometimes I like a challenge, so I chose this, inspired by GHK food again. It looks visually like a lot of work! Truth is it isn’t that much work at all, just some serious stuffing skills.

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Pasta

You will need:

  • 450g fresh spinach
  • 125g ricotta
  • 1 medium free range egg
  • A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • 25g grated parmesan
  • 225g conchiglione shells or large enough pasta to stuff, I used this
  • 25g each grated parmesan
  • Your favourite tomato sauce recipe
  • 1 tbs cream cheese

1) Make the sauce (I fry off 2 cloves of crushed garlic, add 1 tsp oregano, one can tinned tomatoes, pinch of sugar and a splash of Worcestershire sauce). Then set the oven to 180 degrees celsius.

2) Wilt down the spinach in a large pan and squeeze out most of the moisture. Run the spinach under some cold water first if you are squeezing it with your palms!

3) Chop the spinach finely, then stir in the the ricotta, egg, nutmeg and parmesan.

4) Cook the pasta for 10 minutes, then use a teaspoon to fill each pasta shape with the spinach and ricotta filling.

5) Pour the sauce into an oven proof dish, stir in the cream cheese then arrange the shapes.

6) Grate over more parmesan or cheddar if you prefer, and bake for 20-25 mins until bubbling and slightly golden.

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Pasta

Quick and Cheap Student Pizzas

This easy recipe leaves your wallet full and your tummy fuller.

Being back at my university house for just a week has left me with minimal ingredients and to be honest, minimal enthusiasm about cooking! Que, this student pizza, it’s cheaper than dominoes (although this doesn’t come with the garlic sauce which is so worth it!)

Quick student pizza

You will need:

For the base

  • Your favourite wraps

For the toppings

  • Cream cheese
  • Pasata
  • chopped onions/ spring onions
  • Mozzarella
  • Cheddar
  • Your favourite toppings

This is the laziest recipe ever, but I guess it’s short and simple

1) Set the oven to 180 C grill

2) Spread the cream cheese on the wrap, followed by the pasata and chopped onion

3) Add the mozzarella and grated cheddar cheese

4) Top with your favourite toppings- I used mushrooms, pesto and rocket!

5) Grill for 5-10 mins, keep an eye on them! One is great for lunch, or have 2 for dinner. You could even sandwich together the wraps with cheese to make a stuffed base

I ate mine with a pot of garlic mayo… not quite the same as dominoes sauce but it did the job. If you have any other quick, cheap recipes feel free to share.

Quick student pizza

Polenta Pizza with Mushroom, Leek and Mascapone

A polenta base pizza with fresh creamy pesto, soft leeks, mushrooms and mascapone cheese.

What cheese do you use to hide a horse? Mask-a-Pony. (Wheyy)

I have been extremely intrigued by polenta lately, so I thought I would try it in something which I love; Pizza.

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Polenta is gluten free, so this pizza is a lot less bloating. It is also so easy and cheap to make. So next time you reach to ring up dominos, think twice and make this instead! Unless you wan’t stuffed crust, I admit that stuffed crust is hard to beat.

I was a bit scared making this base from scratch because I had never cooked with it. I have experienced some horrid kitchen disasters and I had a gut feeling that this could be an addition to the list… but it went surprisingly well so clearly anyone can do it.

You will need:

For the base

  • 500 ml veg stock
  • 300 g dried polenta
  • pinch garlic salt
  • tsp oregano
  • tsp dried basil

For the topping

  • 1 leek
  • 4 mushrooms
  • 2 tbs mascapone
  • 1 tbs fresh pesto (or the jar stuff)
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 50g grated cheese

1) Bring your stock to boil before adding the polenta, herbs and salt. As you add your polenta keep stirring the mix untill it forms a sort of bright yellow dough

2) Find a saucepan or large round tin and press the doughey mix into it, then leave it in the fridge. Mine looked like this, but don’t use foil like me! It made the bottom of the base soggy not crispy:

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3) Pop it in the fridge for 30 mins. When its cooled you can begin to make your topping. All you need to do is fry the leek, garlic and mushrooms in a pan until they have softened. Then spoon your pesto on to the base and spread it around. Next chuck on your garlic, leeks and mushrooms, before finally spooning on the mascapone and grated cheese.

4) Put it in the oven in the pan you used at 200 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

You can pretty much top this with anything you like! But I loved this combo. You could also add toasted pinenuts, or avocado like me when it is cooked. Let me know if you have ever tried polenta and know any great dishes, it is still so alien to me! And let me know if you try it, I would love to see what you think.

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Halloumi Mexican Wraps

I laaaaaaavvvv mexican. And Halloumi, and lemon salted courgettes, and avocado. So I combined them all in a wrap and fed them too my hungry housemates.

Bethany even said the words “this is the best thing you have ever cooked me.” plus she didn’t put ketchup on it, so it must have tasted OK.

It is a great meal for sharing, and it gets a bit messy so is fun to eat! Unless you don’t like mess in which case use a knife and fork, clever.

Halloumi Mexican Wraps- The Vegaquarium

This served 3. You will need:

  • pack of 6 wraps
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 block halloumi
  • 1 tin tomatos/passata
  • 2 chopped red onions
  • 3 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 pack of fajita spice mix
  • 1 tin kidney beans
  • handfull chopped spinach

For the courgette:

  • 2 courgettes
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • half lemon squeezed
  • pinch pepper

1) Start with the courgettes as they need roasting which takes about 40 mins. Simply chop them into batons and shake them on the baking tray with the salt, a generous amount of oil, and some pepper.

2)Pop them in the oven at 200 degrees for 40 mins. While they are cooking you can get going on your wrap sauce!

Halloumi Mexican Wraps- The VegaquariumFor the sauce:

1) Fry off your onion and garlic with a pinch of sugar, then add your kidney beans and fajita spices to make a pastey looking mix!

2) After about 5 mins, add your tomatoes and leave to simmer for 30 mins.

3) 10 mins before you are ready to serve, chop up the avocado and prepare on a plate with a squeeze of the rest of the lemon you used earlier. Then slice up your halloumi into strips.

4) Fry the halloumi with a bit of oil and tsp of paprika in a frying pan, turning every few mins, after a while they will start to brown off and go crispy on the outside and gooey in the middle, this is why I love it!

5) Then put everything on the table, with the wraps and some sour cream/ greek yoghurt to serve, and let them get stuck in!

Halloumi Mexican Wraps- The Vegaquarium

Halloumi Mexican Wraps- The Vegaquarium

Halloumi Mexican Wraps- The Vegaquarium

If you want to follow suit, we then had Ben and Jerry’s for desert!

Creamy avocado pasta

One hungover day, when the time for porridge and cereal was long behind me, I decided to make this meal my breakfast (technically). But I would do it again! I know, another pasta dish, but this one is special and I’ve been meaning to try something like it for ages!

The thing I like about this pasta is that it is so creamy you feel like it should be a huge calorific bomb, but it is actually pretty green and healthy! If you don’t like avocado, don’t ditch me just yet, as this is avocado in a whole new light.

My recipe serves 2, but you can double or tripple your ingredients, make up a huge batch of this stuff and feed it to your friends, family, pets, I reckon it would go down a treat.

I would have liked to have made this with spagetti, but penne was all my cupboard had to bare.

You will need:

  • 125g of your favourite pasta
  • 2 soft ripe avocados
  • 1 squeeze of lemon
  • 1 tbs mayonaise
  • 30g grated parmesan
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • pinch of black pepper and pinch of salt
  • Peas or spinach (optional)

To be honest, the recipe from here requires little explanation!

  1. Cook your pasta for 10 minutes in boiling water, and remember to add your peas about 3 mins before the end!
  2. Meanwhile mash or blend up the avocado, mayo, lemon, pepper, salt, and garlic into a big paste. Then stir in your pasta and parmesan.
  3. Finish with more seasoning to taste and serve with a garnish if you are feeling posh/pretentious like me. Told you it was pretty simple, so no excuses not to try.

While I am here, I feel I would also like to show the cake I made my friend Jessica yesterday. She is an avid fan on Strictly Come Dancing, has been to see it twice, and will end up on the show one day… we hope. Therefore the obviously the only appropriate cake was Strictly themed. I was going to do a whole post on it, but after the trauma of it nearly looking like shiny football, spraying shimmer in my eye , getting red food dye everywhere and spilling silver balls all over the floor, it became too much to re-live. It is a very nearly disco ball, but the sponge should taste good.

Happy birthday Jess!

The Perfect Fishfinger Sandwich

Vegaquarium by name but unfortunately not by nature… Until now.

It occurred to me that while I claim to eat fish, I have never actually shared any fish related recipes with you. I am currently a fraud. So, of course the only place to start is with the humble fishfinger sandwich, one of my all time favourite go to meals. They are perfect for any time of day, and they are an especially good hangover cure!

Lets face it, this isn’t exactly a recipe, but there are some certain techniques which will perfect your sandwich.

You will need:

  • 2 slices of thick, squishy fresh farmhouse bread. Granary or white.
  • 4 proper fishfingers. NO Asda’s smartprice malarky, I honnestly thought I had just eaten chicken when I tried one, and the fish is very unlikely to be sustainably reared! Classic Birdseye will do you fine.
  • Spread of salted butter
  • Handfull of green leaves, I prefer spinach.
  • SAUCE: This is up to you what sauce you use, but make sure you use one! There is the classic ketchup option, but you could also try tartar sauce, mayo, garlic mayonaise (my personal favourite as I am such a garlic whore) or sweet chilli. Or a combination of the above!! Mayo and sweet chilli is amazing.

1) Set your ovan to 200 degrees on GRILL! Grill your fingers!! It makes the bread crumb coating crispy, which is the best contrast to the soft squidgey bread. Once the ovan is heated, put them in for 6 mins on one side, then turn them and cook for another 6 mins on the other side.

2) Spread the butter then thickly spread your sauce on both sides of bread.

3) Why 4 fishfingers? Because this is the perfect amount for fitting onto your bread. Placing your fingers together is key because you don’t want a bare bit of bread with no fishfinger. It is an art. Then place the green leaves on top (if you like them) and pop the other bit of bread on. Sorted.

How it cures a hangover, science bit: the omega 3 in the fish help mop up horrible things which are produced when alcohol is broken down. Vitamines in the green leaves detoxify your body and are strong antioxidants. They help replace the salts you lost when dancing your little self into the next morning. Serve with a glass of orange juice full of vitamine C, to protect your liver, and sugary coffee or coke to wake up your suffering brain and start to hydrate it!

I promise to provide you with a few more fish recipes from now on!

Twice Baked Sweet Potato Skins

Ok I lied. I only baked them once because I am a big lover of the microwave at the moment. Don’t judge, its quick and I like to think it uses less electricity…

It doesn’t really matter though because they still tasted like sweet bowls of amazingess.

I’m sure you have all come across potato skins before, however they are likely “cook from frozen”, covered in plastic cheese and bacon pieces. My potato skins are healthier, yummier and not covered in bacon pieces. Plus as you know, I am a big fan of sweet potatoes, especially in the form of wedges. Saying that, you could just as easily use a regular joe potato and I am sure these will taste just as good.

You can pretty much put anything you like on these, but mine are sour cream and chive, with spinach and lots of bubbly melty cheese.

You will need:

  • Sweet potato
  • Spring onion
  • 1 clove of galric
  • handfull of spinach
  • 2 tablespoons of sour cream/ greek yoghurt
  • lots of cheeeeeeeese

1) Bake your tatty! Or cheat and microwave it for 10 mins. Sweet potato skins are more sugary and harder to crisp up, so it doesn’t actually make much difference if its baked or zapped in the microwave. Once it is cooked, leave it so it is cool enough to handle, then cut it in half and scoop out all of its mushy insides. Be careful to leave the skin in tact so that you can refill it later and make your potato whole again.

2) Fry off your spring onion, garlic and spinach before adding your potato squidge for a few minutes. Then pop it all in a bowl and mix in the sour cream.

 

 

 

3) Now all you need to do is refill the skins with your mix and top them with cheese. Put them in the oven at about 200 degrees for 15 minutes.

 

Other ideas for potato stuffings could be:

  • Brie and cranberry (and bacon if you eat it)
  • Greek style- feta, tomatoes and olives
  • Pizza style- Mozzarella and tomato
  • Hawaiian- Cheese and pineapple
  • Cheese. Just lots and lots of cheese.

In my hungover state that is all I can think of right now… But please send me all your ideas! These are so easy and quick I think I will be cooking them a lot more often!