Someone forgot to tell Mother Nature that today is Groundhog Day. Seriously. I am sure that little animal was very tempted to poke his little head a half inch out of his hole (if the hole wasn't buried under ten feet of snow). I truly just don't believe the silly news stories that he didn't see his shadow or whatever he is supposed to do. I think he didn't even come out and they used a stunt double. End of story.
On the good side, I did get a snow day as a result of Mother Nature's fury (well, kind of - it's really a work-from-home-in-between-snow-removal-efforts-day). On the bad side, people don't seem to understand "No, I can't get you a truck from Upstate NY to Oklahoma City today". "Yes, the drivers are shutting down; I know that truck drivers are tough, but they also need to think of their personal safety - an accident is in no one's best interest." "No, I am not going to beg." "No, I can't help that the trains are not moving in the mid-West - ice & snow and rail don't mix well..." Yeah, that was a large part of my day yesterday and today... [Bangs. Head. Against. Wall.]
Oh, and while we are on the note of driving and weather - I implore people, please, please, please clean off your cars (not just your windshield and rear window) - and that includes the chunk babies hanging to your tires. No one enjoys the blizzard coming off the back of your car, nor do they like swerving in lanes covered with six inches of slush when that three foot slab of ice comes flying at them from the top of your Chevy Impala. Just saying.
Now that I am done with my rant, let's get to the good stuff...
Days like this make one yearn for comfort food. Something that will "stick to your ribs". Something a little off the beaten path, with just enough decadence to make you feel like you are having a treat - but with enough "good stuff" thrown in that you can mentally justify it as health food.
For me, artichokes are one of those items that take food from "everyday" to "something special" and elevate this dish a step above "mac-n-cheese" (not that anything is wrong with mac-n-cheese, mind you - nope, I love me some good mac-n-cheese).
See spinach! Health food. I told you so... We won't talk about those cups of cheese or the butter - uh, that's dairy.
I had a few odds & ends of cheese, so I also shredded up the scraps (because, you can NEVER have too much cheese...). Bake it all up, and oh, yeah, baby!
Spinach & Aritchoke Pasta
Adapted from Food Network.com
2 (10-ounce) boxes frozen spinach - thawed, drained & squeezed dry
1 pound pasta or macaroni (any short cut pasta)
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
2 cups artichoke hearts coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 tablespoons butter
3 slightly rounded tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cups Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 cup Parmesean cheese, shredded
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, heat 2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat and add the shallots and garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add the artichokes and cook until they are lightly brown. Add the wine to deglaze the pan.
While the artichokes and pasta cook, in a medium size saucepot over medium heat, add the butter. When melted, slowly whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute or so, then slowly whisk in the milk and season with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg. Cook 5 to 6 minutes, or until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, adjust salt & pepper to taste and stir in the Gruyere cheese. Combine the sauce with the spinach, pasta, and artichoke and stir until just combined. Transfer the mixture to a baking dish and cover with the remaining cheese.
Bake in warm oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until sauce is bubbly and cheese is lightly browned.