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?

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!