Baked Ziti with Sausage

This recipe is all about me! 😊 When I’m having a “hungry” day and want to eat a comforting meal, this is what I make. It feels like a holiday meal, but I make this all throughout the year. There is usually enough leftover for dinner another night. Don’t let the name fool you. It is not your typical baked ziti with tons of ricotta cheese(not that there’s anything wrong with that!) It’s a vodka sauce, but light. Not too creamy and heavy. Just perfect.

Adapted from Martha Stewart

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Baked Ziti with Sausage

Ingredients

  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 3/4 of a red onion, diced small
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup of vodka
  • 2 cans(28 oz. each) of crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream(you can use half and half to keep it lighter)
  • 1 pound of pasta(I always use Ziti Rigati with the lines to catch the sauce)
  • 10 ounces of baby spinach
  • 12 ounces of chicken sausages(I buy organic chicken and kale and it is yummy, but any Italian sausage will do)
  • 1/4 cup of grated Pecorino Romano

Directions

Sausages:

  1. Preheat oven to bake 425
  2. Bake sausages for about 20 minutes or until brown and cooked completely.
  3. Put aside for now.

Sauce:

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and cook about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the garlic and remove from the heat.
  4. Add the vodka, then return the skillet to the heat. Cook until almost evaporated. About 1 minute.
  5. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and oregano. Cook on low for about 10 minutes.
  6. Add the cream and cook another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Pasta:

  1. Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Cook pasta in the boiling water until al dente according to package.
  3. Add spinach and cook until just wilted.
  4. Drain and return pasta and spinach to the pot.

Combine:

  1. Slice the sausage in half and then cut into small pieces about 1/4 inch thick.
  2. Add about 1/2 of the tomato sauce, sausages, and grated cheese. Toss to coat.
  3. Season with salt and pepper and put all contents in a shallow baking dish. Depending on the size of the baking dish you may want to divide it into 2 separate baking dishes. This is great if you want to freeze one for another night or bring it to a friend’s house.

Bake:

  1. Top with a little more sauce and grated cheese.
  2. Bake until browned and edges are crisp, 20 to 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

I love pasta!  If you’re not feeling this dish here are several others that are delicious also!

Sunday Dinner

Orecchiette with Sausage, Mushrooms, and Tomatoes

Ravioli with Crushed Tomato Sauce

Bowties with Broccoli

 

 

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Mini Tortellini, Sausage and Spinach

I found these little bitty mini pesto filled tortellini at Trader Joe’s. They do not have to be refrigerated since they are not filled with cheese. So, they’ve been hanging out in my pantry waiting to be used. After writing up the spinach tortellini soup recipe, I have been on a tortellini kick! I think I have to stop eating tortellini…

Or not.

This is another super easy, delicious dinner.  Perfect for a weeknight when you are rushing around.

 

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Mini Tortellini, Sausage, and Spinach

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of Italian Sausage, out of the casing
  • 1/2 of an onion, chopped small
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2(28 oz) cans of crushed tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 big handfuls of baby spinach
  • 1 bag of Trader Joe’s pesto filled tortellini or any tortellini you prefer
    • Optional:  1/4 cup of half and half or heavy cream
  • Pecorino Romano cheese

Directions

  1. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Cook tortellini per directions on bag. Drain and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet brown the sausage.
  4. Then add the onion and cook with the sausage until the onion is tender.
  5. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
  6. Add the crushed tomatoes.
  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Stir and bring to a simmer.
  9. Cook for about 10 minutes.
  10. Add the spinach and stir until wilted.
  11. If using half and half or cream stir that in now.
  12. Put all the cooked tortellini in the sauce and combine.
  13. Top with grated pecorino romano and ENJOY!


If you enjoyed this recipe, you have to try these…

Spinach Tortellini Soup

Baked Ziti with Sausage

Orecchiette with Sausage, Mushrooms, and Tomatoes

Poolside Pasta Primavera

We all have that friend that we’ve known since we were kids.  Michelle is that friend to me.  We met in 2nd grade and became best friends in 6th grade.  Even though she lives in New York and I live in Florida, we remain best friends.  We don’t have to talk every week or see each other often, but we always stay close.

When we do get to see each other, it is refreshing and needed.  We get to be ourselves, talk and eat!  She has 3 boys and I have 2, all around the same age!  So it’s always fun! And she always has plenty to eat for everyone and extra fun stuff for the kids.

The boys and I visited for some poolside fun and it was a blast like usual.  Michelle put so much thought into everything she made!  I will be sharing some of the other things she prepared in future blogs, but this is my favorite!  Pasta Primavera!

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Pasta Primavera

Ingredients

Michelle topped the Pasta Primavera with sliced grilled chicken breasts(It does not need it with all the yummy veggies, but of course add it if you like.)

  • olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes(Use less if you don’t like it spicy and more if you prefer it spicier).
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 2 pints of cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots(buy them already shredded)
  • 1 package of mushrooms, sliced(my favorite are baby bella)
  • 1 zuchini, sliced
  • fresh basil
  • grated pecorino romano
  • 1 box of your favorite pasta

Directions

  1. Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet.
  2. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes.  Saute until golden.
  3. Add the tomatoes and mushrooms and cook on medium heat until the tomatoes burst and create their own sauce.
  4. Add the carrots and zucchini and and cook for about 10 minutes.
  5. Set aside.
  6. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook per directions on box.
  7. Put a cup of pasta water on the side in case you need more liquid for the pasta.
  8. Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with all the vegetables.
  9. Drizzle with a little olive oil and top with grated cheese and fresh basil.

Enjoy!

Michelle served this with a simple arugula salad and it was perfect!

arug.jpg

  • Arugula
  • salt and pepper
  • grated pecorino romano
  • oil and vinegar

Stir and serve!

Other pasta dishes that make me smile⇓⇓

Sunday Dinner

Orecchiette with Sausage, Mushrooms, and Tomatoes

Ravioli with Crushed Tomato Sauce

Bowties with Broccoli

Baked Ziti with Sausage

Broccoli Rabe

Broccoli Rabe is a veggie my mom frequently makes.  It is packed with nutrition and is delicious!  I don’t make it much because half of my family likes it and half of them don’t.  But I love it when it’s made right.  And my mom makes it perfect.  I love it tossed with pasta, of course.  But you can make it as a side dish to sausages or any meat.

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Broccoli Rabe

Ingredients

  • EVOO
  • crushed red pepper flakes(add as much as you prefer)
  • garlic, 6 cloves peeled and sliced
  • 2 bunches of broccoli rabe(rinse, cut off the bottom of the stems and chop in big chunks)
  • Optional(pasta of your choice)

Directions

  1. Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet.
  2. Add crushed red pepper flakes and garlic.
  3. Saute for about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the broccoli rabe.
  5. Let it sizzle for a few minutes.  Then add in about 1/2 inch of water to the pan.
  6. Drizzle the top with some olive oil.
  7. Cover and steam on medium heat until soft(about 10-15 minutes)

Serve as a side dish or mix with your favorite pasta(you can add a little pasta water if you want more “juice”) and top with grated cheese!

Enjoy!

Other pasta and veggie dishes that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE!

Bowties with Broccoli

Sunday Dinner

 

Bowties with Broccoli

 

Bowties with Broccoli

It’s not a secret that I love pasta and I love vegetables.  So, this is one of my favorite inexpensive, quick dinner meals!  My whole family loves broccoli, so this is a good one because at least I know they won’t pick out the healthy vegetable.  I actually consider this comfort food.  Something about it makes me happy…

Ingredients

  • 2 bags of broccoli florets
  • 6 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • evoo
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 cups of low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 pounds of bowtie pasta(Or any pasta you prefer)
  • grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to roast 425.
  2. Arrange all the broccoli on a baking sheet so that it is spread out in one layer.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Roast in oven for about 20 minutes.  After 10 minutes toss and add the sliced garlic.  When done broccoli should be crispy and brown on the edges.  (My oven was broken so I sauteed the broccoli in a pan.  That is another way of getting the broccoli cooked and crispy)
  6. Meanwhile cook the bowties per directions on the box.  When done save about a cup of pasta water and set the pasta aside.
  7. In a large skillet heat the chicken broth on low to medium heat.  Add the roasted broccoli and garlic to the chicken broth.  Let it cook on low until the broccoli stems are soft.  Don’t let it cook too long to where it gets too mushy and falls apart.
  8. Add the pasta to a large bowl.  Pour the broccoli and chicken broth over the pasta.  Stir gently.  (It may seem like there is too much liquid, but that is the best part and the pasta soaks it right up.)  If you need more liquid, you can add the reserved pasta water.
  9. Serve in individual bowls and sprinkle with grated cheese.

Enjoy!

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Orecchiette with Sausage, Mushrooms, and Tomatoes

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Orecchiette with Sausage, Mushrooms, and Tomatoes

This pasta dish is too good to be true. It’s my kind of pasta dish because of the veggies.  My family enjoys it because of the sausage!

 

Ingredients

  • 2 boxes of orecchiette pasta
  • 1 package of Italian sausage out of the casing(I used mild but you can use spicy or sweet if you like)
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 4 coves of garlic, sliced
  • 2- 8 ounce packages of baby bella mushrooms, rinsed and sliced
  • 2 pints of grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup of low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup of Pecorino Romano grated cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • EVOO

Directions

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of EVOO in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the sausage to the pan and cook until it is brown.
  3. Drain and set aside.
  4. Add the green onions and cook until tender.
  5. Add the mushrooms. Season  with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Cook for about 10 minutes.
  7. Add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes.  Set to the side.
  8. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  9. Add the pasta and cook according to package. Drain and reserve 1-2 cups of pasta water.
  10. Put the cooked pasta back in the large pot.
  11. Bring the skillet back to the heat and add the tomatoes.
  12. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  13. Add the chicken broth and the sausage and cook for 1 more minute.
  14. Dump the sausage mixture right into the pot with the cooked pasta.
  15. Stir in the grated cheese and some pasta water if needed.
  16. Serve in individual bowls and top with some more grated cheese.

Enjoy!!

 

Meat Sauce

Meat Sauce

Meat sauce is my go to sauce when I just don’t want to make meatballs. It’s the lazy way out, but it doesn’t matter. It’s still so good! And ridiculously easy, healthy and fills the bellies up real good.

 

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Ingredients

  • 4 cans of whole peeled plum tomatoes(San Marzano if available)
  • EVOO
  • A pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 12 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/4 of a small onion minced
  • A splash of red wine
  • About 3 lbs of meatloaf mix or lean ground beef
  • Crushed black pepper
  • 4 big spoonfuls of grated pecorino Romano
  • A big handful of Italian parsley chopped

Directions

  1. Brown meatloaf mix or lean ground beef in medium sauce pan until no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Drain and set aside.
  3. In the same pan heat two tablespoons of EVOO.
  4. Sauté onion until tender and crushed red pepper.
  5. Add garlic and a splash of red wine.
  6. Saute until golden.
  7. Add tomatoes.
  8. Use immersion blender to crush tomatoes until it is a smooth consistency.
  9. Add crushed black pepper to taste.
  10. Add parsley(basil also if you have it on hand).
  11. Add cheese.
  12. Stir until combined.
  13. Simmer for at least an hour.

Serve with your favorite pasta and ENJOY!

Other recipes you will LOVE:

Call it what you want…

Ravioli with Crushed Tomato Sauce