Tag Archives: pasta

Making The Most Of It

24 Oct

As the holidays approach I have been paying a little more attention to how much I’m spending and on what. One area that I know we have an issue with over spending is definitely on food. I’ve been making an effort to be smarter about menu planning over the weekend as well as making dinners that will stretch into two nights or I can take leftovers for lunch the next day.
While I was making my delicious lasagna soup I realized that my package of Italian turkey sausage was going to make much more than I needed, but I didn’t know how long I could store it before it would go bad. I decided to brown it up (breaking it up with a spoon) in a small frying pan with just olive oil over medium heat. I also only had four more lasagna noodles left in my package after I was done with the soup and felt silly about storing just a couple so I boiled them according to the package. I had extra mozzarella cheese from the soup, extra ‘everything’ veggie pasta sauce (which I always do because I have a difficult time figuring out portions for only two people). I happened to have ricotta cheese which I had planned to use in another recipe later but I only needed a little. I checked out Pinterest for the layering and storage and decided that it would be quite delish to make lasagna roll ups for a later date. It was so easy, allowed me to use the leftover ingredients I had from my original meal, and make a great pop-in-the-oven meal for another day.

Lasagna Roll Ups
4 Lasagna noodles cooked per package instructions
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Italian turkey sausage casings removed, crumbled and cooked
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
1 cup tomato pasta sauce
Take this noodle by noodle. Place noodle on a surface that it can lie flat.

Spoon and spread ricotta evenly over noodle.

Spoon sausage crumbles even over ricotta.

Sprinkle shredded mozzarella over meat and cheese.

Spoon pasta sauce over cheese and meat.

Roll noodle and stuffing up ‘jelly roll’ style.

Repeat with all other noodles.

Top all with sauce and more mozzarella cheese.

I decided to freeze mine for later but you can either heat these in the microwave for a minute on high or in the oven at 350 for 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted and the rolls are heated through. If frozen, they should be fully defrosted before reheating.
I like roll ups because you can make less than a full pan if you desire and even though you use your hands it’s less messy than a traditional lasagna.


Summer Chicken & Veggie Pasta

23 Sep

I have been trying to be better about buying more ingredients and scratch cooking more days a week then eating out- a very bad habit that my husband and I used to fall into regularly in our last home. We lived around a lot more restaurants and there was this magical app called Grub Hub which we could order food from restaurants via our phones, it became too convenient. When we moved I had a bigger kitchen, more time (due to a commute cut in half), and less access to not only restaurants that deliver- but also just the plethora of options for dining out. So when I go to the grocery store and have load up my cart with more vegetables and fresh foods than packaged items I feel pretty good.

What I do need to get better at doing is going through my pantry and fridge, making a list of those things I need, AND planning meals for the week before heading to the grocery store. I got one request from my husband while we were in the store and that was my Summer Chicken and Veggie Pasta. This is an easy pasta that can be made quickly and ingredients can be interchanged easily for whatever you like. I used chicken breast that my husband grills with broccoli, carrots, onion, zucchini, green beans, and peas (which I forgot to add). I typically marinate my chicken breast with Italian dressing for about 20-30 minutes before grilling it, however I ran out of dressing so I made a simple mix of 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon balsamic, dash of salt, dash of pepper, 1 crushed clove of garlic which I placed in a Tupperware with chicken and the lid on and shook to combine. The marinating helps to add subtle flavor to the chicken and makes it very tender and juicy. I let the chicken breast rest for about 5 minutes before slicing it for the pasta.

Summer Chicken & Veggie Pasta: serving size 2

1 grilled marinated chicken breast sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small head broccoli trimmed up and chopped
2 carrots peeled and chopped
1 zucchini quartered and chopped
1/2 yellow onion chopped
handful of green beans trimmed
1 clove garlic crushed
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup white wine
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
Pinch crushed red pepper
2 servings cooked pasta (rotini, penne, rigatoni, etc)

Heat a medium to large pan to medium heat and add olive oil till warmed, add the broccoli, carrots, onions, and green beans to the pan, saute for about 5 minutes over medium heat (reduce if onions begin to brown). Add salt, black and crushed red pepper. Add garlic and zucchini and saute until tender. When pasta is finishing up add wine and butter to the vegetables and heat through. Once pasta is drained drizzle lightly with olive oil (about 1 tablespoon). Serve vegetables over pasta and add the sliced chicken to the top.

If using frozen peas add approximately 4-5 minutes before the end of cooking so they are heated through.




This is a great light dish if you are looking for something with a nice fresh taste with simple ingredients and especially if you don’t have much time. It’s one my of my husband’s favorite dinners.

Quick pasta bake

6 May

I happen to love lasagna and lasagna soup too (OMG Bobby Deen’s recipe is to die for). But traditional lasagna takes a long time to make and frankly boiling the noodles and not having them break, making sure the filling is solidified, cooked thoroughly, and that it ‘stands up’ rather than sliding into a sloppy mess on your plate- without overcooking the dish and making the cheese rubbery can be difficult. I could use ‘oven ready’ noodles but there is just something about the ┬átexture that I am not a fan of. I try to make a home cooked meal most nights and that sometimes means starting dinner around 6:45 pm after commuting, picking up my daughter, errands, getting Madeline settled, straightening up the house, etc so when I want the lasagna feel but don’t want to waste my time with all the difficulties associated with making it and I don’t have a lot of time, I do this. Here are my short cuts:

First I boiled about half a pound of penne pasta, cutting the time about a minute short of the cooking instructions. I took my “Everything Veggie Pasta Sauce” (https://amyblandes.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/everything-veggie-pasta-sauce/) and spread it over the bottom of a medium size Pyrex baking dish, then I dumped about half my strained pasta and spread that out. Then I simply took spoonfuls of ricotta cheese and spread them (as well as I could, plain ricotta is a little hard to spread) took a little more sauce and spread it over those and then added the rest of the pasta, sauce and then covered the top with shredded mozzarella cheese. I covered it with foil and baked for 15 minutes and it was perfect. All the things I love about lasagna but made so much easier! It had the creaminess of the ricotta without having to wait for it to cook through as there was no egg added, the melty gooey mozzarella cheese. It was totally easy and quick! This can work with alfredo sauce, a butternut sage sauces, or even pesto. *This made more than one meal so I saved it and we reheated it covered with foil at 360 degrees for about 20 minutes and it was still very tasty two nights later.