Jan 11, 2013

Garden Veggie Pasta Bake

Garden Veggie Pasta Bake

(makes 2  9x13)

10 cups cooked pasta (see note below)

3 jars 24oz Garden Vegetable pasta sauce (my favorite is Prego)

2 LBS cooked ground beef (could omit to make it vegetarian)

2 PKG 16oz frozen California-style veggies, thawed or added to pasta water (or Italian - the mix my local store carried had snap peas which I like fresh but not frozen so look for a veggie mix that appeals to you and your family)

8 oz Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

16 oz shredded mozzarella

Save a step - after pasta has finished cooking, toss in frozen veggies for a couple minutes into the boiling water.  Drain together.  Combine all ingredients except mozzarella in a large bowl.  Divide between 2  9x13 or 4 8x8 freezer proof baking dishes.  Top with mozzarella.  Cover with plastic wrap and foil.  Freeze.  Thaw in fridge 1 day ahead.  Bake 350 for 40 minutes UNCOVERED (remove plastic!)

The inspiration for this came from a recipe I found on-line y-e-a-r-s ago and I have lost where it came from.  I did change it a little, but the concept is still the same.  I love how the veggies are hiding in the yummy pasta!

Jan 10, 2013

Chicken Sausage and Spinach Pasta Bake

Mozzarella and Garlic Chicken Sausage Pasta Bake with Spinach

Makes 2  9x13 (created by me)

5 links mozzarella and garlic chicken sausage, chopped into small pieces (Sams Club is where I got mine)

1 large onion

4 cloves garlic

10 cups penne

24 oz mozzarella cheese, grated

67oz jar pasta sauce - good quality makes all the difference I think.  Go for Garlic flavored if you can

1-2 boxes frozen spinach, thawed and drained (fresh spinach could be substituted, but the mixture would have to be hot to wilt the spinach when you added it)


Cook pasta according to directions on the box for Al Dente.  Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium heat.  Add sausage.  Cook until starting to brown.  Add onion and garlic.  Cook until onion begins to brown - don't burn the garlic.  Return drained pasta to the large pasta pot.  Add mixture from the skillet, jarred pasta sauce, spinach, and about 1/2 the cheese.  Pour into two 9x13 pans.  Top with remaining mozzarella.  If baking immediately, bake for about 30 at 350.  If freezing - cover with plastic wrap and foil.  Label and freeze.  Thaw 1 day in advanced before cooking.

Creamy Black Bean Burridos

Creamy Black Bean Burritos
created by me
(makes 2 9x13 pans)

16 (10 inch) flour tortillas

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 red bell peppers

2 large onions

1 TBS and 1 tsp minced garlic
2 minced jalapeno peppers, stems and seeds remove

4 (15oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
8 to 12oz cream cheese

1 tsp salt (or more to taste)

1 tsp cumin

1/2 cup (or more) chopped fresh cilantro

3 cups thick and chunky Salsa (a 24oz jar will do)

1 cup dried rice + 1 cup uncooked quinoa, OR 2 cups rice (I cook my rice and quinoa together in the microwave - I feel like the quinoa gives a little more nutritional value and flavor)

4 cups shredded cheese - cheddar, Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, or a mix - your choice

 optional: diced green chilies

Cook rice or rice and quinoa according to directions.

Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet or other large pot over medium heat. Place onion, bell pepper, garlic, and jalapenos in skillet, cook for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Pour beans into skillet, cook about 3 minutes stirring.  Add salt, and cumin.  Reduce heat to low.

Cut cream cheese into cubes and add to skillet. Gently stir until blended throughout. Turn off heat.  Stir in cilantro.

Heat tortillas in small batches in the microwave until pliable. 

To assemble place rice, salsa (optional), and bean mixture down the middle of the torilla and roll up.  Place in 2 9x13 or 4 8x8 (lightly oiled).   Top each burrido with a little salsa (optional), and top it all with cheese.  Either Bake immediately at 350 for about 30 minutes, or cover with plastic wrap and foil and freeze.  Thaw before baking or cook 3 hours covered in foil, uncovering for the last half hour.  Make sure to spray the foil with some oil to prevent it from sticking to the cheese.

***I didn't put in the diced green chilies because my kids would balk.  I also used mild salsa and a combination of cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese which was yummy.  If you want more heat, try the chilies and pepper jack cheese, and salsa with more kick. OR if you like a more mild taste, leave out the salsa.  The jalapenos really don't add much heat.  We all really liked this one.**


Jan 8, 2013

Chicken Bruschetta Penne
Created by me

2 chicken breasts, chopped
1 large onion
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
jar roasted red peppers, drained and diced
1 bunch basil, chopped
16 oz (total for all) Provolone, Mozzarella, and Parmesan mixed
about 5-6 cups penne
doubled recipe for Guiltless Alfredo from ourbestbites.com

Cook penne according to package directions. 
Heat a little EVOO in a large skillet.  Add chicken.  Cook for a few minutes (leave it alone to brown a bit - don't scoot it around the pan just yet).  When chicken looks mostly cooked through, add onion and garlic.  Cook until onion is translucent.  Remove from heat.  When pasta is done, drain and return to pot.  Add chicken/onion mixture, and Alfredo sauce.  Add about 1/3 of the roasted red peppers.  Stir to combine well.  Pour into a 9x13.  In a separate bowl, combine basil and red peppers with a little bit of olive oil.  Spread on top of casserole.  Top with cheese.  Bake 350 about 30 minutes or until bubbly and hot.  Serve with a salad.

*I made this up the other day and played with it a bit.  I *hope* I remembered it properly and not for doubling (in which case you would need 10 cups pasta and 4 chicken breasts) because I doubled it to freeze one, but then played with the extra one a bit.  So be flexible, but it is yummy.  All I remember was thinking it needed more alfredo - so maybe 1 1/2 the recipe would be OK.  Using sundried tomatoes in the alfredo mixture is good too.  Like I said, I played with it a lot

Alfredo recipe from Ourbestbites.com:

Guiltless Alfredo Sauce

2 C low-fat milk
1/3 C (3 oz) low fat cream cheese
2-3 T flour
1 t salt
1 T butter
3 garlic cloves
1 C grated Parmesan cheese


Place milk, cream cheese, flour, and salt in a blender and blend until smooth. In a non-stick sauce pan, melt butter on med-high heat and add garlic. Let the garlic saute for about 30 seconds, you don’t want to burn it.

Then add milk mixture to the pan. Stir constantly for about 3 or 4 minutes or until it just comes to a simmer. Keep stirring and let it cook for a few minutes more. It should be much thicker now.

When it’s nice and thickened remove the pan from the heat. Add the cheese, stir it up and then cover immediately. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before using. It will continue to thicken upon standing. Season with additional salt if needed. Also, if you have leftovers in the fridge, the sauce will thicken almost into a solid. Just re-heat and add a little milk and it will be back to normal again