Posts Tagged ‘Pasta’

Taco Bake Casserole

I first made a variation of this recipe about nine months ago and since then it has become a family favorite. Casseroles are great for many reasons. First, they are most always comfort food and who doesn’t need some of that? Second, they are usually easy to put together and most can be made a bit ahead of time. Third, there are always leftovers!! This casserole has the added benefit of giving me a taste that I sometimes crave, tacos, without all the prep work and messiness of regular tacos. Yesterday was Cinco De Mayo and even though this is not anywhere near a traditional mexican recipe it was a nod to the holiday. It was also a nice way for me to get back into cooking with a meal I knew would be loved by all. I hope your family enjoys this as much as we do.
Not pretty but oh so yummy!!
Not so pretty but oh so yummy!!!

I like to mix mine up!
I like to mix mine up.

Taco Bake Casserole

1lb ground beef
2 packets of taco seasoning
1 15oz can of tomato sauce
1 15oz can of diced tomatoes – you could use plain or ones with green chilies or jalapenos if you like
1/2 cup of your favorite salsa – I’ve used Chevy’s and Chi Chi’s medium
6oz softened cream cheese
6oz sour cream
12oz cheddar cheese – I like to use the taco flavored kind
12oz cooked short pasta – you could easily make 16oz of pasta to stretch this a little further, just make sure to increase the cream cheese and sour cream to 8oz each

Brown ground beef in a large, deep skillet. Drain. Add taco seasoning, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and salsa. Allow to simmer for approx. 20 mins.

In a medium bowl combine cream cheese and sour cream and mix well.

Coat a 9×13 casserole dish with cooking spray. Add the pasta and cream cheese/sour cream mixture and combine thoroughly. Layer the ground beef mixture evenly over the pasta. Top with cheddar cheese.

Bake in a 375 degree oven till cheese is thoroughly melted, approx. 20 mins.


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Crab Macaroni and Cheese

Saturday was turning out to be quite dreary and it was the last day of lent so I wanted something comforting but new and impressive for dinner that night. We had made it through lent without any meat but we still had one dinner to go. I had bought some crab meat about a week ago with the intention of making corn and crab bisque but that had not yet happened so when I came across a recipe for Crab Macaroni and Cheese that became “What’s For Dinner”. I had all the ingrediants except for some Fontina cheese. Unfortunately it did not appear that my local grocery store carried Fontina. However we did find Fontinella Cheese which we assumed had to be closely related but it turns out we were wrong. Since this turned out so delicious I guess that it didn’t matter that we were wrong, and since I still don’t know what it was suppose to taste like (I’m not sure what Fontina tastes like) I will pretend, and from now on state, that this was the perfect combination. Ed loved this! In the future I would lower the amount of liquid (maybe a 1/2 cup) as ours came out slightly soupy and I would love to add just a little Old Bay or maybe a bit of Sherry but this was an excellent recipe as is. Enjoy!!!

cab mac and cheese 2

Crab Macaroni and Cheese
adapted from Northwest Noshings who adapted it from Everyday Pasta by Giada De Laurentiis

12 ounces macaroni
1 ¾ cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream (I ran out of heavy cream so I used 1 1/2 cups heavy cream and 1/2 cup regular whipping cream)
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (packed) grated fontinella cheese
¾ cup cheddar cheese (I used a mix of white and sharp cheddar)
½ cup (packed) finely grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup (packed) grated mozzarella cheese (I used shredded)
¾ cup ricotta cheese
10 ounces Dungeness crab meat
4 TBSP breadcrumbs (I omitted)
2 TBSP unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces (I omitted)

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Spray a 9 x 13 x 2-inch glass baking dish with a butter flavored cooking spray.

Cook the noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes (I cooked them for about 7 minutes). Drain well (do not rinse).

Whisk the milk, cream, flour, salt, and pepper in a large bowl to blend. Stir in the fontina, cheddar, Parmesan, mozzarella, and ricotta cheeses. Add the macaroni and toss to coat. Fold in crab meat.

Transfer the macaroni mixture to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle breadcrumbs and place butter pieces on top of breadcrumbs.

Bake until the sauce bubbles and the cheese melts and begins to brown on top, about 15 minutes (It took ours closer to 25 minutes). Let stand for 10 minutes. Serve warm.

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I know, right now you’re thinking to yourself “really, brussel sprouts?!” Well you’d be surprised. I have been wanting to try stuffed shells for awhile now. I’m not really sure how I’ve never made them before but so it is. Anyways, once I decided to make them I was having a hard time deciding what to actually stuff them with. I didn’t want them to be just cheese and the next natural thought is spinach but it just wasn’t appealing to me. I remembered a sauteed shredded brussel sprout side we’d had awhile back and started to think that it would go well with the ricotta cheese mixture for stuffed shells and as luck would have it I had bought a large container of brussel sprouts just a couple of days ago. It turned out that we also had a container of mushrooms in the fridge so brussel sprout and mushroom stuffed shells it was. To Ed’s credit he didn’t even bat an eye when I suggested it. This turned out very good. The only thing I would do differently is increase the amount of the brussel sprout and mushroom mixture in the filling by a half. The recipe below is how I made it today. Give it a try…you just might like it! That means you brussel sprout nay sayers too. Oh, and it is a great way to get the kids to eat some veggies. Gabriel didn’t know what hit him.

Brussel Sprout and Mushroom Stuffed Shells by Me

3/4lb brussel sprouts trimmed, cleaned, and shredded – you may want to increase a little
8oz mushrooms minced – you may want to increase a little
3tbsp butter
32oz ricotta cheese
2 eggs
2oz shredded parmesan cheese
1 tsp fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups marinara sauce
4oz mozzarella cheese
12oz jumbo shells prepared per instructions on box
**I forgot to add some garlic which you may want to do.

Melt butter in a large sauce pan. Add brussel sprouts and mushrooms and saute until the mushrooms are soft and have released their juices. Lightly salt and pepper and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine ricotta cheese, eggs, thyme, and parmesan cheese and mix well. Add brussel sprout and mushroom mixture and combine well. Salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a 9×13 baking pan (note that there will probably be enough shells to fill a smaller pan also) spread a small amount of marinara sauce across the bottom. Fill each shell with ricotta mixture and place in pan. When finished top shells with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. Bake for 30 mins or until cheese is melted.


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I enjoy shrimp scampi. You’ve got melted butter, garlic, lemon, and shrimp. What’s not to like? However, for some reason, every time I think of shrimp scampi I also envision pasta. So the last time that I felt like I wanted shrimp scampi I decided to make it into a pasta dish. This has since become one of our favorite dishes around here. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
creamy shrimp scampi pasta
Creamy Shrimp Scampi Pasta by Me

1 lb 31-40 count shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cut into thirds
2 tbsps butter
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1 small onion diced
1/3 cup white wine
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
salt to taste
1 lb pasta cooked per package directions- we used fusilli

Heat butter over medium high heat, add mushrooms, onion, thyme, and garlic and saute til mushrooms are soft and starting to brown. Add white wine, lemon juice, and shrimp and cook until shrimp are white. Add cream and cayenne and allow to very gently simmer for approx. 5 mins. Finally mix in the parmesan cheese and stir until cheese is completely melted and has become a part of the sauce.

Combine sauce and pasta, mix well, and ENJOY!!

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Tuna Nuna Casserole

When I think back upon my childhood and food Tuna Nuna Casserole or ,as it’s more commonoly known, tuna noodle casserole holds center stage. I do remember other food like the liver that I refused to eat, the chili that was way to spicy for my delicate tongue, and how could I forget the Rocky Mountain Oysters I was tricked into eating. Nothing leaves a warm feeling in me like my Dad’s Tuna Nuna Casserole. I don’t remember the first time I had it but I can’t remember a time without it. Once I moved out whenever I would come over for dinner and my Dad would ask what I wanted it was always Tuna Nuna Casserole and I always took the leftovers home. Well since I’ve started making it myself I have changed it a little bit but it is still my go to comfort food and I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.

Tuna “Nuna” Casserole by Me

2 5oz cans of tuna fish
2 10.75oz cans of cream of mushroom soup
1 15.25oz can of corn or 3 medium cobs of fresh uncooked corn
8oz of fresh sliced mushrooms (larger pieces broken in half)
1/2 tbsp garlic salt
1/2 tbsp onion powder
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup shredded or grated parmesan
1lb wide or extra wide egg noodles
1 cup milk
1/2 sleeve of saltines
butter or margarine
***Please note that I never measure spices or the cheese so this is an approximation and please play around with it till it fits your tastes***

preheat oven to 375 degrees

Cook noodles per instructions on package.

In a 9×13 casserole dish place the first 8 ingredients and mix well. After you drain the pasta add it to the casserole dish and combine thoroughly. Pour milk evenly over top. Crush saltines evenly over top. Liberally dollop with butter or margarine.

Bake for 1hr
tunanuna 2


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I thought that this recipe was long lost. I had made it once, years ago, and then forgot where it came from. I however did not know that I forgotten where it came from. I was sure that is was from a cookbook called the
Occasional Vegetarian. I was so sure that when I didn’t find it in the cookbook the first time I looked, I looked at least three more times on two different occasions. Guess what? It wasn’t in that cookbook. I finally found it the other day in The Ultimate Italian Cookbook I ended up modifying it a lot but it turned out to be a nicely flavored and comforting meal. The only issue was that I feel that the sauce was bit too thick so you might want to use a little more milk or mix some of the pasta water in.
pasta with cauliflower and mushrooms

Pasta with Cauliflower and Mushrooms adapted from The Ultimate Italian Cookbook pg. 92

1 med head of cauliflower separated in florets
2 cups milk
1 tsp dried thyme
4tbsps butter + 2tbsps
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup flour
1 cup of shredded italian blend cheese
8oz sliced mushrooms
salt and pepper to taste
1lb penne pasta

Bring a large pan of water to a boil. Cook cauliflower for 8-10 mins or until tender. Using a slotted spoon remove the cauliflower from the water and reserve the water to cook your pasta in. Cut up the cauliflower into bite sized pieces.

Melt 2tbsps of butter in a saute pan and cook mushrooms until staring to brown.

Add 1tsp of thyme to the 2 cups of milk and heat but do not allow to boil. Melt 4 tbsps of butter in a medium saucepan, add the minced garlic and saute for 1-2 mins. Add the flour to the butter and whisk to combine. Slowly whisking in the warm milk til the sauce is smooth. Allow to cook for 2-3 mins stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add salt, pepper, and cheese. Mix until the cheese is fully integrated and melted.

Meanwhile cook the pasta according to instructions on the box using the pasta water. Drain the pasta.

Combine pasta, cauliflower, mushrooms, and sauce. Mix well.


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Tuna Pasta Salad

When summer comes around you will often find this salad on our dinner table. It is so simple and fast not to mention yummy! Well it is still winter here but the weather has been fairly warm here this past week, I needed a quick and simple meal since I had been in class all day, and my daughter requested it so here it is. To me it seems like such a simple recipe that I hesitated to blog it but part of the purpose of this blog is for my daughter to have a reference to find her favorite recipes when she is on her own. So simple or not it is one of her favorites so it has a place here. I hope that you enjoy it as much as we do.

Tuna Pasta Salad by Me

1lb short pasta – we tend to use farfalle or wagon wheels
2 cans tuna – drained
1 1/2 bell peppers diced – we use random combinations of red, yellow, or orange. The more colorful the better I say
2 whole dill pickles diced
1 small red onion diced
1/2 cup of mayonaise – I always use Hellmans
salt and pepper to taste
I often add some capers but my daughter is not fond of them

cook pasta, drain, and run under cold water until the pasta is cold to touch
combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well


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Ed, who can commonly be referred to as my husband, and I decided to go pescetarian for Lent. Well actually I suggested that he should go pescetarian for Lent as I am not Catholic, though as a loving wife I would support his sacrifice 100%. This suggestion was not made completely selflessly as I have been wanting to try more vegetarian recipes. I now not only have an excuse to cook all vegetarian but Ed is actually on board. I don’t mean to say that he ever really complains about what I cook but he does like his meat and I sometimes feel a little guilty when I stray a little too far from meat and potatoes or, in his case, rice. Lent started last Wednesday and since then we’ve had salmon, scallops (at which I failed miserably), frozen cheese pizza, vegetarian Chipotle, and the sides at a dinner centered around ham. Not very exciting so far. Today I had 16oz of ricotta cheese in the fridge that had to get used so I started looking for a vegetarian lasagna to make. I was thinking a red sauce but Ed was thinking white and it just so happened that I had just finished looking at a blog update for Spinach Lasagna. Using that as a jumping off point the idea for a Mushroom, Brocolli, and Spinach Lasagna was born. It turned out mighty tasty if I do say so myself but it turns out that I don’t really have to as Ed and Gabriel, my 1 1/2yr old son, will very willingly tell you for me.   Ed did however say that he might of left the tomatoes off but I really liked them. You decide.

Mushroom, Broccoli, and Spinach Lasagna by Me

1 package no boil lasagna noodles
16 oz mushrooms
1 10 oz package frozen broccoli pieces -thawed
1 10oz package of frozen spinach – thawed
16oz ricotta cheese
12oz mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1tbsp minced garlic
1tsp + 1tsp thyme
1tsp rosemary
1 egg
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
1 recipe of Béchamel sauce – recipe below

preheat oven to 400 degrees

In a large saute pan heat olive oil and add mushrooms, garlic, 1 tsp thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Saute untill mushrooms have lost all their moisture and have started to brown. When done mix in the broccoli and béchemal sauce. Combine well and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a medium sized bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, egg, spinach, thyme, rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste.

In a 9×13 baking dish put a small amount of the béchemal mixture on the bottom, then place 3 lasagna noodles side by side making sure that they don’t touch, cover with half the ricotta mixture, next layer a little less than half the béchemal mixture, spread half the can of tomatoes over, and finish off with 4oz of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat one more time starting with the noodles. When finished with this place 3 more noodles on top, cover with the remaining béchamel mixture, make sure to cover the noodles, and the remaining mozzarella.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 50 mins. Remove the foil and continue baking for 10 mins or until cheese is starting to brown.


Béchamel Sauce

source: Giada De Laurentiis, Everyday Pasta, page 225

5 tbsp butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups warm whole milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground white pepper
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg – I omitted this

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the warm milk, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thick, smooth, and creamy, about 10 minutes (do not allow the béchamel sauce to boil). Remove from the heat and stir in the salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

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