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.


Sausage, Peppers, and Onions Sandwiches


It’s the middle of summer and summer is not complete without sausage, peppers and onions.  I recently bought a new cast-iron skillet so I was anxious to use that to prepare this delicious dinner.   But don’t be afraid to prepare the same dish on the grill. In these warmer months, I also throw the pepper and onions and all the seasonings right into an aluminum pan and place that right on the grill. The vegetables brown up just as nice with the added smoky flavor while the sausage cooks on the grill along side. Placing the sausage, peppers and onions on a fresh baked roll makes it just taste that much better. So enjoy a taste of summertime and cook up some of these delicious sandwiches tonight for dinner. Make the first bite count!



Total Time:  30 minutes
Servings: 4



4-5 sausage links (hot or sweet, depending on taste)

4-5 green peppers, thinly sliced

1 large Spanish onion, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

4 Tablespoons olive oil, divided

Salt and pepper, to taste



1.  Place 2 tablespoons in skillet and heat over medium heat.  When hot, add the sausage and cook about 4 minutes per side or until cooked through and no longer pink in the middle.  Remove sausage from pan, place on a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.

2.  With skillet still on medium heat, add the remaining 2 Tablespoons of olive oil.  When hot, place the peppers, onions, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper in the pan and toss to coat all the vegetables.  Cook until slightly softened, about 4-5 minutes.  I like the vegetables slightly more tender, but feel free to cook longer if you like them softer.

3.  Place the sausage back in the skillet with the vegetables and serve with fresh rolls.

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 October 13, 2013


Well the weather is finally starting to cool down in our area and it is feeling more and more like fall. I decided to start the week off on Sunday by making a delicious Baked Ham. Served with cheese and chive potato casserole, it was a great comfort food meal on a cool, fall day while watching football. The rest of the menu covers a little bit of everything from sausage to pasta to steak to chicken. If I have trouble coming up with dinners to make for the week, one of the first things I do is try to very the protein selection. As you can see, this week I did just that, which is why there is such variety. It is also helpful to cook for the weather. In cooler weather, people tend to gravitate towards hearty, comfort foods. So that can always be a way to give you ideas as well. I hope you enjoy. Make the first bite count!


SundayBaked Ham | Corn | Cheese and Chive Potato Casserole

MondayPasta with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

TuesdayHam and cheese sandwiches (from the leftover ham on Sunday)

WednesdayStuffed Flank Steak with Gravy | Mashed Potatoes

ThursdayChicken Francese with Pasta | Roasted Parmesan Broccoli