Red and white pasta

I found this recipe on here via Pinterest. In fact, it’s all over Pinterest, as it should be! It’s great! I added some Italian sausage because we’re meat eaters around here, and I had some in the freezer anyway. This is great without being too spicy, and is so quick to throw together on a weeknight! I actually divided the mixture and froze half of it in a zip top bag — bonus, two meals for one prep! This is definitely worth adding to your rotation.

Red and white pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 box penne pasta
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage, browned and crumbled
  • 1 (15 oz.) jar Alfredo sauce
  • 1 (24oz.) jar marinara sauce
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta for three minutes shorter than package al dente directions*; drain
  2. Stir Alfredo sauce, marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and cooked sausage together in a large bowl, then add cooked pasta and stir to coat
  3. Pour mixture into a 9×13 baking dish (I coated mine with olive oil for easier cleanup) and bake at 350F for about 25 minutes or until dish is bubbly; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted

Notes

For cooking the pasta, if the package says “cook for 12 minutes for al dente” then cook for 9 minutes; you’ll be baking it in the sauce, and mushy pasta is not your friend.

I’m never sure what to serve with pasta dishes besides the obvious garlic bread. What do y’all do? Would love your side dish suggestions!

Sweet potato bake

Kiddo is not really a huge fan of sweet potatoes (or many other vegetables),  but he LOVES this. He calls it “the sweet potatoes with the eggs” and is almost guaranteed to eat it. Peanut loves it too, and this cooks up thick enough that I can cut it and give her little finger-food sized pieces. Honestly, I love it as well! I’ve yet to meet a sweet potato I didn’t like, but these are especially good.

Sweet potato bake

Ingredients

  • 3 sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • extra cinnamon sugar, optional

Instructions

  1. Bake the sweet potatoes (or microwave!) till completely soft; discard the skin
  2. Use a fork to mash the sweet potatoes, then mix together with sugar, beaten eggs, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla
  3. Dot the top of the mixture with butter, and sprinkle with extra cinnamon sugar if so desired
  4. Spoon into a buttered casserole dish and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes until lightly browned

Notes

After baking, I slice this like a pie and freeze the pieces individually; they warm up beautifully in the microwave and are a great way to add easy veggies to lunch!

Of course sweet potatoes make me think: what is your stance on the mini marshmallows on sweet potatoes? Yay or nay?

Tex-Mex Stuffed Shell casserole

I’ve had this recipe bookmarked forever, and finally got to play around with it. And I’m so glad I did! Mine is, um, not photogenic. But it sure is tasty! It’s like Tex-Mex comfort food, which is exactly what sounds great to me this time of year. Well, really, any time of year, if we’re being honest here. It’s a nice departure from my standby of cultural divide casserole (have you weighed in?) which gets made a lot in winter weeknights.

Tex-Mex Stuffed Shell casserole

Ingredients

  • 1 12-oz box large pasta shells
  • 1 large (29 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 can Ro-Tel
  • 4 Tbsp. (or one packet) taco seasoning
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • Salt
  • 2 oz cream cheese
  • 1.5 cups shredded cheese (I used cheddar)

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Boil the pasta shells in well-salted water for about four minutes less than the time indicated on the box for al dente (mushy noodles = bad)
  3. Make the sauce by combining tomato sauce, Ro-Tel, taco seasoning, and black beans; heat to a low simmer in a saucepan
  4. Make the ground beef mixture by browning the beef, onion, and garlic together, then stirring in cumin, chili powder, and salt; turn off the heat and stir in the cream cheese
  5. Assemble the casserole by putting in a bottom layer of shells into a large baking dish, each shell stuffed with about a Tbsp. of the ground beef mixture (a small cookie scoop works great for this), follow with about half the tomato sauce mixture, then a layer of cheese. Repeat the layers, then cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes or so until cheese is bubbly

I would love to hear what your cold-weather favorites are! What else should I try?

Pork chop rice bake

This was inspired by Vintage Victuals’ Cheddar-Bacon-Ranch Chicken & Rice Bake. The flavors are so great, and this adaptation works perfectly with pork chops too. The original recipe calls for a can condensed cream soup which I didn’t have, so I made a substitute; you can do either depending on your tastes and time, obviously. I also cut the portions in half since it was just for the Yankee and me, but it can be easily doubled.

Pork chop rice bake

Ingredients

For the casserole:
    • 2 pork chops
    • 3/4 cup uncooked rice
    • 1 can cream of chicken soup, cream of mushroom soup, or one recipe cream soup substitute (see below)
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1/2 milk
    • 1 packet ranch seasoning mix
    • Salt and pepper — about 1/2 tsp each
    • 1 diced red pepper, optional
    • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
For the condensed soup substitute (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons bacon drippings or butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

First method:
    1. Preheat oven to 350F and mix together rice, soup, water, milk, ranch seasoning, salt and pepper and red pepper. Pour into an 8″ or 9″ casserole dish and lay pork chops on top. Salt and pepper pork chops, then cover dish tightly with foil. Bake for 45 minutes; remove foil and stir rice mixture, then top dish with mozzarella cheese; cover again and return to oven for another 15-20 minutes or until internal temp of pork measures 165F
Second method:
    1. Preheat oven to 350F and mix together rice, soup, water, milk, ranch seasoning, salt and pepper and red pepper. Pour into an 8″ or 9″ casserole dish cover dish tightly with foil before placing in oven. Bake for 45 minutes; when 15 minutes remain on the timer salt and pepper the pork chops and start browning them over medium heat in a heavy skillet. Cook for 4-6 minutes per side till you get some nice color. When the timer beeps for your rice, remove casserole from the oven and stir mixture, then lay pork chops on top. Sprinkle over mozzarella cheese; cover again and return to oven for another 15-20 minutes or until internal temp of pork measures 165F
To make the condensed soup substitute (if not using canned soup)
  1. Melt bacon drippings or butter in a saucepan or skillet till foam subsides; add in flour and whisk, cooking for 1-2 minutes. Still whisking, add in chicken broth and milk and cook till thickened; add salt and pepper

Notes

You have a couple choices when it comes to actually cooking this; either bake it all together, or pan fry the pork chops to brown them up a bit, then add them to the rice mixture for the last 15 minutes.

Enjoy!

Cheeseburger macaroni

I found this recipe at KevinandAmanda.com and it is such a keeper! I’ve made it three times already, and it easily converts to a freezer meal — something I’ll be needing before too much longer with baby girl on the way. It’s got a little kick of spice to it without being overwhelming, and it’s just such a comfort food. It’s everything you wanted that supper-in-a-box to be. ;)

Cheeseburger macaroni

Ingredients

    • 1 lb lean hamburger meat
    • 1 pkg taco seasoning
    • 1 can Ro*tel
    • 2 cups beef broth or water
    • 1 cup elbow macaroni
For the sauce:
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Instructions

  1. Brown the hamburger meat and drain off any grease, then stir in taco seasoning, Ro*tel, broth or water and macaroni. Bring to a boil then turn down to medium/low and cover; simmer for about 12 minutes or until macaroni is tender
  2. While it’s simmering, make the cheese sauce: in a saucepan melt the butter then whisk in the flour. Cook while whisking for about five minutes until the roux turns light brown, then keep whisking while you pour in the milk and bring to a boil. Keep whisking (see a trend?) until the mixture is smooth and thick, then remove from heat and stir in the cheddar cheese till it’s completely melted in. Add in the salt and pepper, then pour over the hamburger mixture and stir it all together. Supper is served!

Notes

To make this a freezer meal let the macaroni cook for only about six minutes, but complete other steps as written. Pour the whole thing into a casserole dish then cover with a layer of plastic wrap then a layer of foil; when it’s cooled off, pop it in the freezer. When you’re ready to heat it up, thaw it in the fridge overnight, then bake at 350F for 30 minutes or so until heated through.

Taco pasta bake

This is an interpretation of a dish I saw at Carrie in the Kitchen (originally at About a Bit of Everything). It’s SO tasty, but rather unphotogenic — as I suppose a lot of casseroles are.

Regardless, you should try this. Just, you know, don’t sign it up for a food modeling contest.

Taco pasta bake

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/4 cup taco seasoning
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, cubed
  • 8 ounces dried pasta
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 can Ro*tel

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Cook pasta in salted water for two minutes less than lowest time recommendation on box (e.g. if “cook 7 minutes for al dente” then cook yours for 5 minutes); drain
  3. Brown ground beef and drain any grease; add water and taco seasoning, stir, and let simmer uncovered 5-10 minutes; stir in cream cheese, cooked pasta and RO*TEL
  4. Spoon into greased casserole dish and top with mozzarella cheese; bake for 20 minutes or so until cheese is bubbly and starting to brown around the edges

Bonus: this freezes like a dream! Make two and freeze one covered in a layer of plastic wrap then a layer of foil — just remember to remove the plastic wrap before baking!

Cornbread taco pie

A few months back I tried to make something out of an old cookbook of my mama’s; it was similar to this but used polenta and unseasoned ground beef. It was… dismal. So last night I decided to make up my own version. Success! SO tasty and good gravy it smelled amazing. The Yankee ate three helpings for supper; this counts as a thumbs-up, no?

Cornbread taco pie

Ingredients

  • One pound ground beef
  • One packet taco seasoning
  • Water
  • One cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar)
  • One box Jiffy corn muffin mix
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 eggs

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F
  2. In a deep skillet (I obviously used cast iron) brown up and drain the ground beef; add in taco seasoning and 2/3 cup water and let it simmer (i.e. follow directions on taco seasoning packet)
  3. Mix up Jiffy cornbread according to package directions, but use two eggs instead of one to give yourself a little extra batter
  4. Turn off the heat under the ground beef and sprinkle on shredded cheese; spread cornbread batter over the top and bake at 400F for about 15-20 minutes or until cornbread is lightly browned on top

That’s it! This is perfect for a quick fall supper that tastes like you put hours of work into it. So warm and filling without you actually having to stand over the stove forever and a day. What’s not to love?

Disclaimer: Jiffy cornbread does not know that I exist; I just love the stuff.