Camper Cooking: Spinach Stuffed Shells in the Convection Microwave Oven (Vegetarian)

I have an additional cooking theme besides vegetarian and healthy. It’s “Shane loves this!” 🙂 I love to cook, and Shane loves what I cook because “it’s made with love.” He swears he can taste it, and it’s delicious.

Tonight I’m making spinach stuffed shells. As I gathered my I ingredients, I realized I didn’t bring any basil or oregano or marjoram or parsley or any Italian blend of spices! I also forgot to buy the fresh mozzarella balls. *sigb* I blame my headache. But, nonetheless, dinner will be fine anyway. I would recommend you not leave out the spices or fresh mozzarella balls though.

Other than those mentioned, you’ll need jumbo pasta shells, one egg, bag of shredded mozzarella, tub of spinach, 15 ounce tub of ricotta cheese (the Giant Eagle doesn’t carry the Organic Valley or Kroger’s Simple Truth brands), and your favorite tomato sauce. I prefer a homemade tomato sauce with red wine and fresh basil but no fresh homegrown tomatoes available in February, and fresh jarred sauce never lasts too long in the pantry!

While you boil the shells, steam your spinach. While your spinach steams, beat the egg in a bowl then mix in the ricotta. If you didn’t forget your spices or chopped fresh mozzarella, sprinkle and dump those in now and stir.

Squeeze out the excess water from your spinach and add it to the ricotta mixture. Stir it all together for a beautiful swirl.

Only cook the shells until al dente (cooked but with firm texture). They’ll retain their shape when stuffing them and will cook further in the sauce.

You’ll fill half your pan or Corning bakeware (I can’t fit a 9×13 pan) with sauce. If you want saucier shells, you can cook the rest on the stove and ladle more on your plate.

Drain the shells and allow them to cool before handling them. I have the coolest pot. It has its own colander lid! No need to store a space greedy straining bowl.

Ahem..back to your regular scheduled recipe. 🙂

Spoon in as much spinach ricotta mixture as you can into your shells.

Place as many as you can into the saucy cauldron. Then wash your hands. 🙂

Top with shredded mozzarella cheese. The whole bag. Don’t chintz on cheesy goodness.

In a convectional oven, you need to elevate your dish so the warm air can circulate beneath it for even cooking. A convection microwave oven has a fan and exhaust system a conventional oven does not. Supposedly this means shorter cooking times. Also if you’re looking at recipes for conventional ovens, you need to set the temperature 25*F lower for convection ovens.

I’m not sure if that’s 100% true for my tiny camper convection microwave oven. I feel like I have to cook things longer. Maybe it’s the size of the fan and amps that matter. Size matters. 😉

Conventional recipes say to bake at 350* for 30 minutes. I always bake until cheese is very brown. I think that’s longer than 30 minutes. More like 45-60. This is why fresh mozzarella stuffed in the shells is divine. You get both velvety gooey cheese and the crunchy cheese we like. Each to their own! I mean I ❤ burnt chocolate chip cookies too. LOL

But our camper’s convection microwave oven doesn’t like to melt and brown the cheese. :/ Not even after an hour and a half! So much for 3 times faster. Seems to be our unique problem. But this is the second u satisfactory cheese melting. Problem with our camper’s unit since we have problems with its water heater, TV DVD player, seams…? Not sure, but it’s frustrating.

But it still tasted good. I missed the fresh mozzarella balls, but Shane didn’t notice. Guess that’s a plus. I wonder how the spinach stuffed shells would turn out in the Instant Pot? Hmmmm…

Ingredients

  • Jumbo shells (9 for my Corning casserole dish)
  • Half jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
  • Fresh spinach
  • 15 ounce tub of ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • Italian spices
  • Fresh mozzarella balls
  • Shredded mozzarella (optional)

Bake at 325*F (350*F conventional oven) for 30 minutes. Serve with garlic bread.

First Adventures in Convection Microwave Oven Baking: Otherwise Known as What to Do After You Accidentally Make Clotted Cream

How did we accidentally make clotted cream? Well we had a mason jar of Snowville heavy cream in the refrigerator. Seems it was a bit too cold, and the cream solidified. I sampled it to see if had gone rancid, but it tasted buttery and sweet, like clotted cream!

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But what use did we have for clotted cream? Yes, scones of course. 🙂 I love tea, tea parties, and baking. See my Pinterest board on the topic:https://pin.it/cjyh3nxjram6rr

However, I hadn’t yet experimented with the camper’s small convection microwave oven for baking.

And, I had only ever made one low-carb, gluten-free scone in a conventional oven (pumpkin scones—a surprising hit at the tea party! I’m the only one with the restrictions.).

This would be a challenge!

I don’t like most of the recipes for low-carb gluten-free, so I’ve been trying to create my own, to suit my bakery snobby tastes.

I didn’t have a lot of ingredients on hand, so I worked with we had. They didn’t need to be fancy, and we didn’t have jam. The only acceptable option was cinnamon scones.

As a cheat to moisten dry almond and coconut flours, I use 2 ounces of cream cheese. I blended this with 2 eggs, 1/4 cup of Swerve and 2 tablespoons of coconut sugar, a cup of almond flour, 1/4 cup of coconut flour, teaspoon of baking powder, half teaspoon of baking soda and salt, teaspoon of vanilla, and teaspoons of cinnamon because you can never have too much cinnamon. 🙂

For scones, you’re supposed to keep everything cold, especially the butter. You cut it into pats and blend with flour until mealy. Then add the wet.

The pastry batter will not be as firm as regular scones. But you can shape it into a round. I didn’t bother to cut into wedges. I didn’t know if the baking would work because roasting still has its quirks.

But it baked well enough at 350 for 15-20 minutes. Though cutting them into wedges before baking would’ve been better. Still, I enjoy the extra moistness from not cutting them.

I enjoyed my tea time too! Cinnamon scone smothered in clotted cream! Yum!

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 4 ounces butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 c Swerve
  • 2 tbs coconut sugar
  • 1 c almond flour
  • 1/4 c coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tsp cinnamon

Bake at 350 (convection) for 15-20 minutes. Serve with clotted cream, sprinkle of cinnamon, and your favorite cup of hot tea.

However, Shane didn’t care for the low-carb, gluten-free scones. They’re not sweet enough for him. Me? Im deprived of sugary light and fluffy sweet, so this will have to do. If I could eat a rich scone, not a keto scone, I would prefer it too! I’m still not a huge fan of low carb, gluten-free baking.

Thus, because I spoil him, I created a new recipe for him. Full of gluten and sugar. Sigh. I miss sweet stuff like that, but I can’t cheat on my lifestyle diet unless I want a very, very bad headache, the kind that tempts me to cut out the pain with a knife or bash my brains in cool wall art. No thanks.

For the mini cakes, I melted a quarter cup of butter and mixed two eggs after the butter cooled. Then I added a half cup of sugar and blended until thickened. I could’ve added a whole cup, and you can if you want it sweeter. I’m still going for a less sweet tea cake. At this point I experimented: into the mixture went 2 tablespoons of clotted cream. Next I added a cup and a half of flour, teaspoon of baking powder, half teaspoon of baking soda and salt, teaspoon of vanilla, and 3 teaspoons of cinnamon. Do you remember why? 🙂 To moisten it a bit, I added a couple tablespoons of milk.

I poured the batter into 4 mini heart pans. Love is baking for the one I love.

They baked at 325 for maybe 30 minutes. I did encounter some issue with the oven baking timer. Couldn’t reset it after the first try didn’t completely bake the cakes.

But, success!

I drizzled on some cinnamon glaze because you can’t have enough cinnamon! 🙂

Ingredients

For cake

  • 4 ounces melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 tbs clotted cream
  • 2 1/2 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tsp cinnamon

For glaze

  • 1 c powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • Either water, milk, or cream for consistency, more for thin, less for thick.

Bake at 325 (convection) for about 30 minutes. Drizzle with glaze. I have a trick where I catch the drizzle-off in a pan and glaze again and again. 🙂

You can serve the mini cinnamon cakes with clotted cream and cup of hot tea. Or enjoy them as is, with love!