I finally got my hands on Half Baked Harvest’s Super Simple Cookbook that came out October of 2019! This book by Tieghan Gerard is amazing.
There are beautiful full-page photographs for each recipe, which I like. It’s nice to see what the end result is supposed to look like, even if mine don’t really ever turn out like the photo.
The first recipe I wanted to make is Spinach and Artichoke Mac-and-Cheese Bake on page 125. You may notice a tiny discrepancy between the original name and my Spinach, Pasta and 3-Cheese Bake. There’s a reason for that…
I’m really, really trying to use up what’s in my fridge and cupboards, so the ingredients are adjusted accordingly. I’ll post the recipe the way I made it (because it came out fantastic) and then in the Tips and Stuff will let you know what I changed.
This looks like a super simple recipe, and it is, but you should have the ingredients cut, chopped and ready for when they need to go into the pot.
The original recipe calls for artichokes, which I like, but didn’t prefer in this recipe. You can add them – your choice.
This Spinach, Pasta and 3-Cheese Bake is a super cheesy, tasty pasta dish with pockets of spinach and is finished off with a buttery, crunchy topping. It’s pretty versatile, so add or subtract whatever vegetables you have. Chopped broccoli or asparagus would be good in this too!
You know what makes this recipe so simple? To make the pasta, you boil 4 cups of water, add the pasta for 9 minutes, then add the milk and cheeses right to the pot without having to drain the pasta. It saves time and you don’t have to dirty up a colander. I hate cleaning colanders.
To us, it’s best served almost room temperature. That way you can taste all of the delicious flavors and it’s better when that cheese just slightly sets up.
I’m totally enamored with Tieghan Gerard’s HBH Super Simple and highly recommend it. I’ve tagged about 15 of her recipes and am amazed that they really are simple and mostly use ingredients I already have!
Looking for more amazing casseroles?
- 6 tbsp butter, chopped then set out at room temperature
- 12 oz orecchiette, macaroni or other small pasta of your choice
- 2 C milk
- 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, cubed
- 2 C shredded cheese (colby jack or cheddar)
- 1/2 C shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground pepper
- ground cayenne pepper, to taste
- 3 C packed fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 C crushed Ritz Crackers
- 1/2 tsp garlic salt
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- Preheat the oven to 375°. Spray or butter a 11 1/2 x 7" baking dish (or similar-sized dish).
- In a very large saucepan, bring 4 cups of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 9 minutes, stirring occasionally. Lower the heat to medium and add the milk and cubed cream cheese.
- Stir and cook until the cream cheese has melted, about 5 more minutes. Pasta should be al dente.
- Remove the pan from the heat. If you have plenty of room in the large saucepan, stir in 1 1/2 cups of the cheddar cheese and the 1/2 cup of mozzarella (if needed, carefully transfer mixture to a very large bowl to add the rest of the ingredients). Stir in 3 tablespoons of the butter.
- Season with the salt, pepper and a pinch or two of cayenne. Stir in the spinach until thoroughly mixed. There should be plenty of sauce, so add another 1/4 to 1/2 C of milk if needed, and stir to mix. Taste and add salt and/or pepper inf needed.
- Transfer the mixture to to the prepared baking dish. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the Ritz crackers, the remaining 3 tablespoons of diced butter, garlic salt and onion powder.
- Mix well until butter is incorporated thoroughly (I used my fingers to combine everything). Sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly over the top of the casserole.
- Place a baking or cookie sheet on the lower rack in the oven (in case of drippings), then place the baking dish on the rack above it. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly. Let cool for 10 minutes, then serve. Store leftovers in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.
Tips and Stuff:
Changes from the original recipe: calls for 16 oz pasta, I use 12 oz.; calls for 3 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese, I used mixed cheeses; calls for 2 cups of baby spinach and an 8 oz. jar of drained and chopped artichokes; calls for 3/4 tsp of garlic powder, I changed that to garlic salt and onion powder.
This dish is really best served close to room temperature to get all the flavors melded together.
Some substitutes/additions: chopped broccoli; chopped fresh asparagus; peas and chopped cooked chicken. Very versatile!
Update: This is great warmed up in the microwave. Put a slab of it on a plate, cut it into a few pieces so it can warm up evenly and cover with a paper towel. Nuke it for a minute to minute and a half. A little side salad and a sliced peach and you have a great leftover meal.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 413Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 63mgSodium: 706mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 15g
Nutrition Values are Approximate