3.30.2014

Tortellini Spinach Bake in Creamy Lemon Sauce


Sometimes we feel like our lives are soaked to the bone in complete monotony. 

Every day follows the same sequence, same take-husband-to-the-train-to-go-to-work, same peanut butter sandwich for the toddler at lunch, same holy-smokes-my-pants-are-getting-tight, same walk up and down three flights of stairs to the apartment, same mess to clean up after the day, same laundry to clean and fold, same naptime battle, same stories to read at night, same everything. 

We look around and feel the day we're living is the same as the last, and tomorrow is almost guaranteed to be a repeat. Like we're somehow trapped in too much of the same. Groundhog day comes to mind. Ever seen that show? 

The sad part is - sometimes we wish that monotony away. We get so caught up in what everyone else is doing via social media, where they're going, how they're having a baby and we (once again) missed out this month, and what amazingly fabulous lives other people seem like they're living, that we forget to appreciate our very own lives, and the very simple things that make it possible - even the monotonous things. 

We forget to look around in thoughtful gratitude and soak in how blessed we are.

 Somewhere out there, someone is praying for that monotony. 

Looking over my day I previously complained about, I then thought to myself:

Someone out there is wishing their husband (or themselves) had a steady job to depend on, when we're complaining that taking him to the train (that heads to his steady job) takes a half hour out of our morning. 

Someone out there is trying their hardest to get their horrifically stubborn picky eating toddler to eat even that simple peanut butter sandwich, when we are sick of making your toddler the same thing yet again. 

Someone is struggling deeply with an eating disorder; fighting the battle to even fill those pants we barely can fasten the button on. Yet we complain because we ate too many cupcakes. 

Someone is wishing they had the ability to walk those three flights of stairs we begrudgingly trod up several times a day. 

Someone is wishing their home was filled with the sounds of little children, even with that sweet little mess they leave behind, when we get sick of picking up the same mess day after day. 

Someone is sitting at the laundromat, wishing they had that washer & dryer you've had in your home since the second you moved in - only steps away, might I add. Or a step further, someone is wishing they had enough warm and dry clothes to make it through even half the week. 

Someone is out there is wishing they were given the blessing of having children (or even more children), despite and even longing for the naptime-struggles-and-the-same-story-at-bedtime-yet-again. They ache for it. 

They long for our monotony. They wish for that life we may be living. They want what we have, but under appreciate. That everyday same-old-same-old we find ourselves surrounded by. Or perhaps they had it at one point, and something tragic happened in their lives - leaving them wishing for the uneventful "monotony" we complain about. 

I know I'm at huge fault for forgetting, and fall into this category more than I dare say. I have been blessed with so much, been given so much, that I've grown accustomed to that beautiful life surrounding me. Yet I find myself easily tossing it aside and wishing for more. If I could only have that beautiful dress, that nationally successful blog, that faster car, that huge incredible home with the double-ovened kitchen, the floor that's always clean, the longest lashes, that singing voice like an angel, the disposable income to eat out often, the body that fits into my jeans comfortably, the luck and blessing of positive pregnancy test once again... 

 When the beautiful truth is: I already have everything I need.

The monotony is the blessing. 

I'm not saying we shouldn't make change in our lives the way they are - especially if you have a dream to catch. But that there is beauty in the simplistically sweet life already around you. 

Look around today, and count those blessings that surround you. Your home, your family, your lives. If they seem like a trial, they're most likely an incredible blessing in your life in disguise. You'll find that seemingly monotonous day or moment immediately transform into a beautiful gift. 

Soak it in. Breathe it in. Find that blessing in every day. And enjoy the plain and simple moments it delivers to your doorstep. 

- - - 

Yes, the food. Sometimes this is a food blog, I guess :) Here we go...

This dish is pretty awesome. It's one of those one-pot-wonders you can serve up with a bunch of fruit and call it good. The tortellini is beautifully filled with cheese (or you can choose a different flavor if you prefer), and the surrounding mozzarella and parmesan take everything to a creamier level. Stir in as much spinach as you want. There's no way to go wrong here with that green stuff! Also, hiding in little crispy crunchies of bacon in all that reach creaminess goes a long way - and topping off the dish wish just a handful more gives the dish a little visual contrast on top. Your family will eat this stuff up like crazy. Literally :) 


Tortellini Spinach Bake in Creamy Lemon Sauce
makes 4-6 servings

ingredients:
12oz bag Cheese Tortellini 
4 strips of bacon
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 T flour
2 C milk
3/4 t kosher salt
1/8 t black pepper
1 t chopped fresh basil
1/4 t red pepper flaked
1 medium lemon
2 C loosely packed fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1/4 C grated mozzarella cheese, divided
3/4 C grated Parmesan cheese, divided

method:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degtees. Bring a large pot with salted water to a boil. Add tortellini, turn down heat, and cook according to directions on the package. Drain. Put back into large pot, and set aside. 
2. Place bacon in a medium sized skillet over medium-high heat and cook until crispy. Remove bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and dry on a paper towel. Before you discard all the bacon grease, save about 2-3 T on the pan, and discard the rest. 
3. Add garlic to the pan and cook until fragrant and tender, about 1 minute. Whisk flour into the pan and form a paste. Slowly add milk and continue to whisk until smooth. Toss in salt and pepper, basil and red pepper flakes, then bring to a simmer and form a hearty sauce. 
4. Zest lemon until you have 1 teaspoons zest, and squeeze lemon until you have 2-3 T lemon juice. Add measured zest and juice to the sauce. Add more zest if lemon is your thing. Continue to stir sauce. Remove from heat after a couple minutes. 
5. Reserve 2 T of the cooked bacon and add the rest to the pasta mixture. In the large pot, add spinach, 1/2 C mozzarella, and 1/2 C parm. Add sauce to the pot as well and gently stir to combine. Place pasta mixture in a greased 9x9 or large circle ramekin/baking dish. Top with remaining mozzarella, parm, and crumbled bacon. 
6. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes, remove foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from oven, cool for 10 minutes. 

recipe adapted from: Our Best Bites

11 comments:

  1. That was an absolutely wonderful post!! I know a lot of people who long for the kind of monotony we have in our lives. You are so right!

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    1. Thank you so much - I'm glad you agree :)

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  2. So very true!!!

    Charlotte Moore

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  3. Thank you for this post, I have been struggling with similar silly forgetfulness... Now I'm thinking it will help to make cheesy noodles for dinner!

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  4. That looks very good and somewhat very constipating. ( sorry for the bluntness).

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    1. Glad you think it looks yummy! We're all pretty regular around here, haha ;)

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  5. Such a well written post. We all need to step back and be thankful for what we have. Thanks for making me reflect on that today! Can't wait to try the tortellini - yum!

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  6. Wow! This is such a well written and thought out post. I totally agree with you. We truly have been so blessed.

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  7. I was feeling more than a little sorry for myself when even more freezing rain and sleet pounded the northeast. I longed for my previous single life in Florida and forgot for a bit how blessed I am with my little girl and her wonderful daddy. Like all before me have said, thank you for helping us remember to reflect on all that we have and to APPRECIATE it! KJones

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