Baked Pasta with Italian Sausage

Baked-Pasta-with-Sausage-3Pasta is a great family dinner because it is easy to prepare, delicious and cost effective.  Being a cheese lover, I actually prefer a baked pasta over just plain pasta with tomato sauce.  The added cheese mixture of ricotta, parmesan and mozzarella adds great texture and flavor to the dish.  It also can serve more people because it is more filling (extra bonus).  Plain baked pasta is great, but I’m also always trying to find ways to add some meat to dinner dishes for the hubby.  He likes his meat, so I try to always add some in somehow into dinner.  Having extra sausage in my freezer, I decided to dress up baked pasta with some delicious hot sausage.  Feel free to use sweet as well, it will be equally delicious.  This recipe serves a bunch, so feel free to half the recipe, or even freeze the leftovers for another dinner.  Two in one, how great is that.  So jazz up your baked pasta and enjoy.  Make the first bite count!



Total Time:  1 hour

Servings:  6-8



1 box (16 ounces) pasta, any kind you prefer (I used Farfalle)

5-6 sausage links, hot or sweet (depending on your preference)

1 (15 ounces) container of ricotta cheese (I used part-skim)

2 eggs

1 and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried parsley

3 1/2 cups tomato sauce (a jar or homemade), divided

fresh basil, optional (for topping)



1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Season generously with salt and add the pasta.  Cook about 2 minutes less than the time on the box for al dente.  It will continue to cook in the oven.  Drain and reserve.

3.  While pasta is cooking, heat a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Remove the sausage from its casing and add to the pan.  Break up into pieces and cook until no longer pink, about 5-6 minutes.  Remove and place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain some grease.

4.  While sausage is cooking, in a medium bowl combine ricotta, eggs, 1 cup of mozzarella, parmesan, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dried parsley.

5.  I like to use a tin foil pan (for easy clean-up) about the size of a 13×9 pan.  Add the pasta, cheese mixture, and 3 cups of sauce.  Stir to combine right in the foil pan.  Spread to make an even layer.  Pour the remaining 1/2 cup over the top of the pasta and then sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese.

6.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes until the cheese on top melts.  Serve with fresh basil on top, if desired.


Italian Meatball Pizza

Traditional Pizza with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and homemade meatballs for a topping.

My husband is back from his ski trip and loved every minute of it. He also realized I stole a few meatballs I made for him to take on his trip to make this great tasting pizza. Sometimes pizza just needs a little pizzazz and adding toppings is a great way to jazz it up. I cut up some homemade meatballs and placed them on top and it added just enough to give this pizza a little something extra. I made a homemade dough using my bread maker, but I have used the can of dough from the refrigerator isle and it works just as great. So do what’s easiest for you to make this great weeknight dinner. Make the first bite count!


Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Pizza Dough, enough for 1 pizza
1 cup tomato pizza sauce
4-5 Italian meatballs, recipe HERE
4 ounces fresh mozzarella
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon oregano

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a baking pan or pizza pan and roll out dough to desired thickness.

2. Evenly coat dough with tomato sauce, leaving space around the edges for a crust.

3. Crumble the fresh mozzarella evenly over the tomato sauce. Then sprinkle the shredded mozzarella over top.

4. Cut the meatballs into quarters and evenly space them out on top of the pizza. Sprinkle the freshly grate parmesan and oregano over the top and bake for 15-20 minutes until cheese is bubbly. If you desire a golden brown top, place pizza under broiler for 3-5 minutes, watching carefully so not to burn. Allow to cool a few minutes, the slice and serve.

What’s for Dinner? Week of November 3, 2013


So a day later than I wanted to post, but better late than never.  This weekend was crazy.  Friday afternoon we left to visit my husband’s family.   My brother in law got engaged and there was an engagement party Saturday.  So between visiting with family, helping to prep for the party and enjoying great food and drinks, I sort of lost track of time on the menu.  Sunday was still spent with family and we didn’t get home until almost 10 pm Sunday night.   But tonight, you get to enjoy!

There is a Chinese-inspired beef and broccoli, healthy buffalo chicken salad, Italian-inspired spinach cheese chicken roll-up and a tortellini and sausage dish.  Even if they can’t fit into your meals this week, I encourage you to add these recipes to a future menu.  They are all delicious.  And there is a great variety of meats and pastas, to please your entire family.  Getting ideas is sometimes the hardest part of weekly menu planning but hopefully browsing through these posts will help.  Another idea of how to decide on meals for the week:  have each member of the family choose a dinner.  That night that family member can take pride in having helped choose the meal as well as maybe even helped prepare it.  So browse through, get some ideas, plan that weekly dinner menu and get cooking!  Make the first bite count!


MondayTortellini and Sausage

TuesdayBuffalo Chicken Salads

WednesdayBeef and Broccoli | Rice

ThursdaySpinach Cheese Chicken Roll-ups | Pasta


What’s for Dinner? Week of September 1, 2013


There was a little gap in the menus, but I’m back on track now.  School is about to start up and I have been prepping my lesson plans and seating charts for the upcoming year.  Getting back on a schedule will definitely be a good thing for me.  I don’t know about you, but I seem to get more accomplished throughout the day when I have a schedule of events to follow.  My husband and I are continuing our date night tradition and this past week we went to Miyako, a great BYOB sushi place in one of the beach towns near us.  We ordered gyoza (pork fried dumplings), spicy tuna rolls, Godzilla rolls, and my husband ordered 2 pieces of fresh tuna to start.  Everything was delicious and we have already planned to go back soon.  It’s a little sad to see summer slowly end but I am also excited about the fall with football games and pumpkins and cooler weather.  The menu this week reflects some great dishes that will certainly be making appearances again this fall.

When planning dinners, one great way to get ideas for the week is to link meals together.  What can you make one night where the leftovers can be used on another night?  That’s what I tried to do this week.   Whenever I make tomato sauce (or gravy as my grandmother used to call it) I always make extra.  The same goes for meatballs.  Must be the Italian in me to make plenty of extra food.  Anyway, I planned to have pasta and meatballs one night and then use the meatballs again for another meal, Meatball Sandwiches.  If you are ever having difficulty coming up with ideas for the entire week, see if you can make the leftovers from one night into something new and delicious another night.  Make the first bite count!


Sunday – Rigatoni and Meatballs in Tomato Sauce | Salad | Fresh Italian Bread

Monday – Chicken Marsala with Angel Hair Pasta | Roasted Parmesan Broccoli

Tuesday – Meatball Sandwiches | Salad

WednesdayDate Night!

ThursdayChicken Divan


What’s for Dinner? Week of August 11, 2013


With the family visiting last weekend, I made a big dinner so we had lots of leftovers, which is why you will see in the Menu below 2 separate leftover nights. I was never a big leftover fan, but I hate seeing food go to waste even more than I hate leftovers. So I have learned to make the best of it. Sometimes I reheat leftovers in the toaster oven rather than the microwave, and it keeps most of the delicious flavor it had when you originally made it.

Also, mixed in to the week of dinners was a date night. This past week we did not go visit a beach town, but rather went to a local BYOB (Bring Your Own Beer) Mexican restaurant that we have not visited in a while. The tequila lime wings, empanadas and quesadillas are just amazing. Great Mexican food and the best part is we could bring in our own Coronas to drink. We have even brought a bottle of tequila before and ordered a flavored slushie drink they serve, which is great too. It was a very enjoyable night out and Mexican was a nice change-up to the menu.

When planning your menu, try to vary the meats and types of dishes. If I plan chicken for Monday, I try to plan another type of meat for Tuesday, maybe pork or beef, and then chicken again on Wednesday. Also, being Italian, I could eat Italian food everyday, but I try to vary that as well so my husband gets a little variety. Planning your meals can be a family experience that you have fun doing together. Spouses and children are great for giving you ideas as well. Make the first bite count!


Sunday – Family Dinner

Eggplant Parmesan | Grilled Beef Tenderloin | Roasted Asparagus | Tomato and Mozzarella Salad | Roasted Potatoes


TuesdayWhite Pizza with Chicken, Tomatoes and Arugula

WednesdayGrilled Sweet and Sticky Chicken with Harissa | Roasted Parmesan Broccoli

ThursdayDate Night!