Thank you to BJ’s Restaurant and Pollinate for sponsoring this post!
A deliciously creamy, cheesy artichoke spinach pasta salad that is quick and easy to make with phenomenal results!
Plus, a little documentary of our experience dining out with our two very energetic kids.
Welcome to a day in the life of the Killebrews. Specifically, our recent dining out experience.
We rarely dine out with our kids. Rarely. Why? Because they’re like untamed monkeys bursting with energy and curiosity and almost always inevitably end up swinging on the chandliers or climbing over the tables and booths (figuratively speaking. Well, in the case of the chandeliers anyway. As to the tables and booths, read on!) Things are nice and calm initially, but by the time we’ve sat down, wait for the waiter to come, order our food, get the food, wait for our bill, pay the bill…the kids have had it. And so have mommy and daddy! And so yes, taking the kids out to restaurants doesn’t happen very often. In fact, I think it’s been at least 8 months since we last did. Until now.
I think BJ’s Restaurant must have been secretly observing the Killebrew family through the occasions I described above and, out of tremendous empathy, released an app that was designed just for us (but we’ll share it with you too, of course). They offer two features to make your restaurant experience hassle-free and to save you a lot of time: Dine In Order Ahead and Mobile Pay, available for both iPhone and Android. These apps enable you to order your food and pay in advance so all you have to do is go to the restaurant, eat your food, and leave. Sound like a dream? We felt hopeful and thought we’d give it a try.
Come join our family for an evening out at BJ’s Restaurant!
We were seated and the kitchen was notified to start cooking our food. Crayons and activity sheets were immediately brought out and the kids got to work.
So far so good.
Drinks are brought out and that provides renewed distraction. Emily sips her water while Liam plays with the ice cubes. Good. Everything’s still calm.
They’re monkeys, but they sure are adorable!
And speaking of monkeys, the distractions of the crayons and drinks begin to wear off and the kids start seeking new entertainment. Aaaaaaaaaaah!! See, what did I tell you about the booths?
Just in the nick of time, the food arrives! The kids sit down (well, partially) and eat. WHEW!
Nothing like an All-American burger.
Emily goes for the garnish. Next time we’ll know to order her a salad.
Some crayon tossing begins and one lands in the water. Time to go. Perfect, because we’re done eating!
We made it!!! Everyone leaves the restaurant happy and fed.
The Dine In Order Ahead and Mobile Pay apps saved us quite a bit of time in the actual restaurant and made it easier for us to enjoy a dining out experience with our little ones. We were actually able to get through the entire meal before complete chaos broke out! And that broke a record for the Killebrews. Thank you for joining us!
And now for the Creamy Spinach Artichoke Pasta!
Let’s get started!
Chop up the spinach, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic.
Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook the garlic for 2 minutes.
Add the cream cheese and stir until softened. It will remain lumpy.
Pour in the milk and bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking frequently until the lumps are all dissolved.
Add the salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Add the artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh parsley and simmer for another 3 minutes.
Add the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and simmer until melted.
Stir in the spinach and simmer for 3 minutes or until the spinach is wilted and soft.
You now have your deliciously creamy, cheese sauce!
Add the pasta, stirring to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Pour the hot pasta into a large serving bowl and sprinkle with panko breadcrumbs and shaved Parmesan cheese. Serve warm immediately.
- 12 ounces dried bowtie (farfalle) pasta, cooked al dente according to package directions
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 8-ounce package cream cheese
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 14-ounce cans artichoke hearts, quartered
- ⅓ cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 6-ounce bags baby spinach leaves or two bunches spinach, stalks removed
- Panko breadcrumbs for sprinkling
- Parmesan cheese shavings for garnish, optional
- Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook the garlic for 2 minutes.
- Add the cream cheese and stir until melted (the cream cheese will remain lumpy). Add the milk, bring to a simmer, and whisk constantly until no lumps are remaining. Add the salt and freshly ground black pepper and simmer for 3 another minutes.
- Add the artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes and parsley and simmer for another 3 minutes.
- Add the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and stir until melted. Stir in the spinach and simmer for 3 minutes or until the spinach is wilted and soft.
- Add the pasta, stirring thoroughly to coat, and add salt and pepper to taste. Pour it into a serving dish. Sprinkle with the panko breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese shavings. Serve warm immediately.