Spaghetti with Spinach & Ricotta Cheese, & Peanut Butter Cheesecake

Hey friends! Hope you’re hungry, because we are once again cookin’ up a delicious meal in The Waking kitchen! Spaghetti with Spinach & Ricotta Cheese, and Chocolate Drizzled Peanut Butter Cheesecake are the specials on our menu today. So sit back, relax, and enjoy!

Spaghetti with Spinach & Ricotta Cheese

I’m a huge fan of pasta, and I’m also a huge fan of ricotta cheese (okay, so really i love any kind of cheese lol.), and since this recipe combines both of those lovely ingredients i made it as soon as I found it online! I did however substitute the spaghetti for penne, just because the sauce is really thick and i think penne holds it better, but I’m sure spaghetti would be awesome as well! As i mentioned, the ricotta cheese sauce is very thick, but it is also rich and creamy, mixed with nuts (we used pecans), spinach, and mozzarella, it’s delectable! The red pepper flakes in the sauce give it the perfect spicy kick! This dish is yummy and satisfying, as well as being very pleasing to the eye, which is why it makes for the perfect dish to serve to special dinner guests!

Ingredients:
1 lb. fresh spinach, washed, trimmed, and coarsely chopped
¾ cup fresh Ricotta cheese
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
1/3 toasted chopped walnut or whole pignoli nuts
½ lb. whole wheat spaghetti
¼ low fat milk

Directions:
1. Place the chopped spinach in a colander or metal mesh basket and steam over boiling water until wilted, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a small sauté pan, toast the chopped walnuts or pignoli nuts over medium-low flame until fragrant. Stir frequently as nuts go from toasted to burnt very quickly.

3. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta according to package directions. When the pasta is al dente, scoop out about ¾ cup of the pasta water before draining in a colander. Return the pasta to the pot and add the reserved pasta water and low fat milk. Stir to combine and keep warm over a low flame.

4. Meanwhile, in a larger sauté pan, melt the butter and heat the olive oil over medium flame. Combine the wilted spinach, Ricotta, parmesan cheese, and red pepper flakes. Sauté over low flame until the mixture has heated through and the cheeses are melting. Add the toasted nuts and serve over the prepared pasta. Sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese, if desired.

Chocolate Drizzled Peanut Butter Cheesecake

(Recipe found @ Hersheys.com)

As we all know peanut butter and chocolate are a perfect dessert combo. But what could make it even better you ask? Well the answer is Cheesecake, my friends! We made this delectable Chocolate Drizzled Peanut Butter Cheesecake for our mom on Mother’s day and it was a hit! It was very rich and creamy, and the peanut butter and chocolate compliment each other perfectly. Also, don’t worry about it being too sweet because, much to our surprise, it wasn’t at all. This yummy cheesecake is the perfect end to any meal.

Ingredients:
GRAHAM CRACKER CRUMB CRUST (recipe follows)
3 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1-2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.) REESE’S Peanut Butter Chips
1/4 cup milk
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
CHOCOLATE DRIZZLE (recipe follows)

Directions:
1. Prepare GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST. Heat oven to 450°F.

2. Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl on medium speed of mixer until smooth. Place peanut butter chips and milk in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) 1 minute; stir. If necessary, microwave at MEDIUM an additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, just until chips are melted when stirred.

3. Add peanut butter chip mixture to cream cheese mixture, beating just until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over prepared GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST. Bake 10 minutes.

4. Reduce oven temperature to 250°F.; continue baking 40 minutes or until set. (Center will be soft but will set upon cooling.) Remove from oven to wire rack. With knife, loosen cake from side of pan. Cool completely; remove side of pan.

Prepare CHOCOLATE DRIZZLE; drizzle over cheesecake. Refrigerate before serving. Cover; refrigerate leftover cheesecake. 12 servings.

GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST: Heat oven to 325°F. Stir together 1 cup graham cracker crumbs, 3 tablespoons sugar and 3 tablespoons melted butter or margarine in small bowl. Press mixture onto bottom of 9-inch spring form pan. Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven.

CHOCOLATE DRIZZLE: Place 1/4 cup HERSHEY’S SPECIAL DARK Chocolate Chips or HERSHEY’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips and 1-1/2 teaspoons shortening (do not use butter, margarine, spread or oil) in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) 30 seconds; stir. If necessary, microwave at MEDIUM an additional 10 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth when stirred.

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