For the most part, I've really enjoyed living in Champaign-Urbana. The town is a good size, our house is awesome, everyone is friendly, and the weather has actually been really nice. But, I'm starting to see one of the major downsides to living this far north and east. It gets dark super early! I am not exaggerating when I say that when I leave work at 4:30 p.m., it is already dusk. It's so depressing! I always feel so tired. So, I haven't really felt like doing much of anything in the evenings. I usually just park it in front of the TV. (I know, not the best way to get out of a funk, but I can't help it).
Anyway, I haven't felt like cooking anything complicated for dinner lately. I think it's mainly psychological. I feel like it's already so late when I get home that I don't have time to make anything. It's totally ridiculous because it's only 5 p.m., but I can't seem to get my mind to grasp that. Last night I made one of our favorite dishes, and it's incredibly easy and good. I hate it when cookbooks or magazines have recipes labeled as quick weeknight dinners but they still involve lots of chopping and/or peeling. In my book, that's not quick. This recipe involves no chopping and can literally be on the table in 15 minutes. And it has spinach so you can feel like it's healthy. :)
Italian Sausage, Tomato, and Spinach Pasta Toss
From: Kraft Food and Family (Can you tell I like this magazine? Just to warn you, most of my recipes are from the older issues. They've switched to mainly advertising for their pre-packaged foods in more recent months.)
2 cups penne pasta, uncooked
1/2 lb Italian sausage, casings removed
1 bag (6-8 oz.) baby spinach leaves
1 can (14 1/2 oz.) Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained (Or you can just use regular diced tomatoes and add basil, garlic, and oregano yourself)
1/2 cup Italian dressing
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup or so grated Parmesan cheese
Cook and drain the pasta. While the pasta's cooking, in a large skillet, crumble the Italian sausage and cook until brown. Drain. Add the tomatoes, Italian dressing, and spinach. (Don't do what I did and forget that your bottle of Italian dressing is not a squeeze bottle. I accidentally dumped way more than 1/2 a cup in the skillet. It still turned out good, but it's a little tangy!) Cook until spinach wilts, about 5 minutes. Toss with pasta. Stir in cheeses.
I made a quick cheesy bread to go with the pasta. Just cut a store-bought French or Italian loaf in half. Spread butter or margarine on top. Sprinkle on some garlic powder (or minced garlic, if you're not lazy like me), and a handful of cheese. I like to use a combination of cheddar and mozzarella. Broil 5-7 minutes until lightly browned and bubbly. Mmmmmm... And since your pasta has spinach in it, you don't have to worry about the calories from the cheesy bread. It's all about equilibrium.