Dinner, Pasta

Italian Sausage and Shells Dinner

Quick Dinner idea! Do you have pasta, sausage and diced tomatoes on hand? Heavy cream as well? Then this would be a great weeknight dinner that comes together really quickly. This made a really great meal paired with a salad for Eric, Emily and I last week when she was here for dinner between calls.. Emily was going to take the leftovers home for her boyfriend’s dinner but forgot! So lucky me – great lunch today!

  • 8 ounces uncooked medium shells
  • 1 lb. Italian sausages (spicy or mild) crumbled
  • 1/2 medium onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 (14 fluid ounce) can diced tomatoes with juices
  • 1 (14 fluid ounce) can finely chopped or crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup heavy/whipping cream
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Fresh basil, torn to taste (optional)
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese to taste
  1. Boil a salted pot of water for the pasta. Cook the shells al dente according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, chop the onion and take the sausages out of their casings and crumble it into a skillet. Sauté the onion and sausage over medium-high heat for 7 minutes, stirring it occasionally.
  3. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Drain the fat from the pan.
  5. Add the canned tomatoes to the pan. Simmer the sauce for 10 minutes.
  6. Stir in the cream, basil, and season the sauce with salt & pepper as needed. Cook for another minute or two and then toss with the drained pasta.


Homemade Tomato Soup with Cheddar Cheese croutons

Last Saturday morning there was a little chill in the air and it looked like it was going to rain all day.  So we planned our menu based on the feeling of fall.  I made the Awesome Mac and Cheese and Hubby made this soup that we found the recipe on top of a can of tomatoes.  So quick and easy!  This will warm your soul and your senses this fall.

P.S.  Weather turned around and it was very humid by dinner time. 


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup milk
2 (14.5 ounce) cans petite diced tomatoes
1 (28 ounce) can  crushed tomatoes with basil
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth

Cheddar Cheese Croutons 

1 loaf baguette, small
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese


In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook until soft. Add flour; cook and stir until moist. Gradually add milk, cooking and stirring about 2 minutes or until smooth and bubbly.

Stir in crushed and petite diced tomatoes, basil, oregano and broth. Cover and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes. Stir frequently and do not allow mixture to boil.

To make Cheddar Cheese Croutons, cut baguette into cubes and toss with olive oil and cheddar cheese. Spread onto baking sheet and place into a preheated oven at 350 degrees. Bake until croutons are golden brown and cheese is melted. Top soup with crouton.


Chicken Riggies

Want something locally inspired and hot and spicy?  Hubby wanted to give Chicken Riggies a try on Saturday night and we found a recipe to work with.  Once we put this idea together we invited our Foodie Friends over for a little wine and dinner.  This might be a little late for Valentine’s Day dinner, but why not give this a try this weekend?  Everyday is Valentines;’s Day when you share it with someone you love!


1 (16 ounce) package rigatoni pasta 
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut in bite-sized pieces
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 onion, diced 
2 Cubanelle peppers, seeded and thinly sliced 
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
3 roasted red peppers, drained and chopped 
2 jalapenos, seeded and minced (or 2 hot cherry peppers)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh basil, for topping


Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add rigatoni pasta and cook until tender yet firm to the bite, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and keep warm.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and cook in the hot oil until lightly browned on all sides, and no longer pink in the center, about 7 minutes. Remove the chicken from the skillet and keep warm.
Stir onion, Cubanelle peppers, and garlic into the skillet. Cook and stir until onion softens, about 4 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and hot cherry peppers. Bring to a simmer. Stir in cooked chicken and heavy cream; simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in cooked pasta.
Serve garnished with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.


Quick and Spicy Tomato Soup

After a weekend away enjoying some great food and wine, one might want to make a just have a simple soup.  That is exactly what we did this past Sunday.  We had a great weekend in the Finger Lakes with our Foodie Friends.  Tasted some local wines, enjoyed the sites at a local state park and then ended our evening with a wine dinner at a local inn.  By Sunday Afternoon, we were a bit tired, still stuffed from the great food we had.  I remembered this soup we had made several times from Giada.  Very simple and delicious.  And the best part we had all the ingredients!  


3 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (26-ounce) jar marinara sauce (recommended: San Marzano brand)
2 (14-ounce) cans chicken broth
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup orzo pasta (or any small pasta)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, onion, and garlic and saute until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the jar of marinara sauce, chicken broth, cannellini beans, red pepper flakes, pasta, salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes. Ladle into bowls and serve.

SERVINGS: 4 (MAIN); Calories: 430; Total Fat: 16 grams; Saturated Fat: 2 grams; Protein: 15 grams; Total


Bow Tie Pasta with Sausage, Olives, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Cream

We are generally leaving our dinner decisions to the last minute, with work schedules and running our son to and from obligations after school.  We are not as well prepared as we should be with dinner planned out for a week in advance that some people tend to do.  We are lucky when we have a couple of days planned out, but most of the time we are going day to day. When it comes to dinner the joke in our house is “Let’s go with your plans!” knowing that the other one does not have any plans yet.  So I took the reins on this one last Wednesday.

I knew before I went to work we would be doing something with Italian Sausage because I pulled a pound out of the freezer.  All I had to do was find a quick recipe that would have dinner on the table as soon as hubby and our son got home from baseball training.  Luckily I received an email from Fine Cooking, a magazine that I subscribe to that morning at work. I did a recipe search with the Italian Sausage as the main ingredient an found this recipe. At lunch time I ran to the grocery store and picked up the small amount of ingredients I knew I would need.  When I got home I was able to quickly throw this together along with a salad and vegetable side dish.  Hubby and my little guy (not so little anymore, but will always be my little man) got home just after six with dinner just minutes away from the table. It was delicious, easy and pleased my guys after a long day!  

Bow Tie Pasta with Sausage, Olives, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Cream

  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 medium clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-1/4 lb. hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine 
  • 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup (about 6 oz.) oil-packed sun-dried tomato halves, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 lb. dried farfalle 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat.
Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. 
Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic
and cook for 1 minute. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it into 
bite-size pieces with a spoon, until just cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes.
Spoon off the fat if it’s excessive. Add the wine, increase the heat to medium
high, and cook, scraping up any browned bits in the pan, until most of the 
wine is evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the olives and sun-dried tomatoes 
and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the cream, increase the heat to high, bring to a boil, and cook, stirring 
occasionally, until the cream thickens slightly, 2 to 5 minutes. Stir in 2 Tbs.
of the parsley and 2 Tbs. of the Parmigiano. Keep the sauce warm over
low heat.
Cook the pasta in the boiling water until al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup of the 
cooking water and then drain the pasta. Return the pasta to its pot, add the 
sauce and the reserved cooking water, and set the pot over high heat. Gently
toss the pasta for 30 to 60 seconds and season to taste with salt and pepper. 
Divide among warm bowls and sprinkle with the remaining 2 Tbs. Parmigiano 
and 2 Tbs. parsley.

Adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine

Penne, Sausage and Tomatoes – Who doesn’t love this one!

The garden is winding down now and we had an abundance of tomatoes to use.  I felt like I hadn’t cooked in a while and it was my turn to put together a new recipe.  Rummaging through the freezer in the morning I found a pound of Italian sausage that would be the base of my dinner. I checked out the   web I found an article on the 25 healthiest pasta dishes on Cooking Light’s My Recipes.com  site.  This one called out to me and I knew it would be a hit with hubby and our pasta loving son.  And given that we have a growing 14 year old boy at home, I doubled the recipe.  (This kid knows how to put away the pasta)

Fresh Tomato, Sausage and Romano Penne

8 ounces uncooked penne
8 ounces sweet Italian sausage
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup vertically sliced onion                            

2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/4 pounds tomatoes, chopped
6 tablespoons grated fresh pecorino Romano cheese, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves


Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove casings from sausage. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add sausage and onion to pan; cook 4 minutes, stirring to crumble sausage. Add garlic; cook 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in pasta, 2 tablespoons cheese, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese and basil.


Easy Cheesy Zucchini Bake

 So I started this blog to share recipes  with my friends and family.  At first it was very private and I didn’t even share it with my husband and kids.  Then, once I felt comfortable I let them know about it and then slowly started to place post on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.  Now 2 years later my husband has taken over the kitchen and prepares some new and old favorites.  This one is an old favorite I have made before, but now it was his turn.  You should see him once he has plated something he immediately says “Take a picture”.  

This recipe came from the Penzey’s spice catalog and is great at this time of year to use up your zucchini and summer squash along with any tomatoes you may have.  A great early fall dish to accompany any dinner.   Wonder what he is making later this week?

Easy Cheesy Zucchini Bake


2 medium tomatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
2 small zucchini, sliced
2 small yellow squash, sliced
1/2 tsp thyme
1tsp basil
1tsp granulated garlic powder
1/2c shredded cheddar cheese 
1/2c grated parmesan or romano cheese 
1/3c dry bread crumbs
1c shredded mozzarella cheese 


Preheat oven to 350. Combine the tomatoes, zucchini, squash, seasonings, and cheddar cheese. Place in a 1.5qt baking dish. Top with the parmesan or romano cheese and bread crumbs. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. If you want, you can then sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the top and let stand 5 minutes, so the cheese melts before serving.