Recipe HIT – Baked Penne with Italian Sausage & Peppers

Spaghetti Sunday was last night, and I blew my Husb’s mind with this dish.  It’s heaven in your mouth.

Baked Penne with Italian Sausage & Peppers


  • 1 package of penne pasta (I like Barilla Plus)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 jar of Ragu sauce
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes with garlic
  • 1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Oregano, to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet.  Add the garlic, onion, and red peppers.  Cook for a few minutes until the peppers become tender. Add the sausage and cook over medium high heat until the meat is evenly brown.  Drain fat.
  3. Pour in white wine and cook for a few minutes, stirring to deglaze the pan.
  4. Stir in Ragu, diced tomatoes and tomato paste.  Combine everything and add oregano, salt and pepper to taste.  Let it simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Toss the sauce with the cooked pasta (use the pot that you cooked the pasta in).
  6. Spread the pasta and sauce mixture into a 9×13 baking dish. Sprinkle the grated mozzarella on top.
  7. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.
  8. Serve it and be prepared to blow some minds.

Serves 8.

baked penne picture


Recipe HIT – Cheese & Spinach Stuffed Shells

This was last week’s Spaghetti Sunday supper (8/4).  It was really good.  I adapted this from quite a few different recipes, only to realize that this is basically the Stuff Shells recipe that you’ll find on the back of any box of Jumbo Shells.  Oh well – sometimes those are the best recipes!  And this one was mighty tasty and earned positive reviews from the Husb, so who cares if it’s on the back of a box?!  Not me.  I liked this recipe because it’s hearty but surprisingly lighter than other stuffed shells recipes I’ve tried.  Probably because I lightened up some of the ingredients.  Anyway, make this, it’s good.

Cheese & Spinach Stuffed Shells


  • 1 package of jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 cartons (15 oz. each) part-skim ricotta cheese (plus a bit more to sprinkle on top)
  • 1 cup light Mozzarella cheese (plus a bit more to sprinkle on top)
  • 1 package (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1.5 jars of Ragu sauce


  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350.
  2. Cook pasta according to package instructions.  While the pasta cooks, combine the egg (don’t forget to lightly beat it), ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, spinach, Parmesan, salt, oregano and pepper in a large bowl.
  3. Drain the shells and rinse them in cold water (prevents them from sticking to each other).
  4. Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with Pam.
  5. Spoon the spinach/cheese mixture into each shell and place them into the greased baking dish.
  6. Pour spaghetti sauce over the shells.  Top with additional grated Parmesan and Mozzarella.
  7. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30-40 minutes.
  8. Mangia! Mangia!

Serves 8.

picture stuffed shells


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Recipe HIT – Bow Ties with Bacon

Yesterday’s Spaghetti Sunday was a big success.  I made Bow Ties with Bacon, and this might just be my favorite dinner I’ve ever made.  Actually, it definitively IS my favorite dinner ever.  And it’s easy and you probably have most of the ingredients on hand…making it inexpensive.  It earned rave reviews from the Husb too, so it’s a “man friendly” meal as well.  You should make it because you’ll love it.  I promise.

Bow Ties with Bacon

  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 package of turkey bacon (I like Butterball), diced
  • 3/4 cup of dry white wine (I used a Chardonnay)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 28-ounce can of San Marzano peeled tomatoes
  • 1 box of Barilla Plus Farfalle
  • 1 16-ounce bag of frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup of heavy cream
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons of sugar
  • Dried oregano
  • Dried basil
  • Fresh Parmesan cheese (optional)


  1. Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the turkey bacon and saute it until it starts to brown and crisp (several minutes).  Add the onions and minced garlic and cook until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add the white wine to the saucepan and turn up the heat a bit.  Let the wine cook until the smell of alcohol is gone.
  3. Add the tomatoes to the saucepan. If you are using whole tomatoes (I do), just smash them with your wooden spoon and break them up into smaller chunks.
  4. Season the sauce with salt and pepper (to taste).  Add 1-2 tablespoons of white sugar (start with 1 tablespoon and add more to taste). Sprinkle in some dried oregano and dried basil to taste (again, start with a little and add more if you see fit).  Stir it all together, turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Cook your frozen peas according to package directions
  6. Cook your pasta according to package directions
  7. Once the sauce has simmered for 20 minutes, stir in the heavy cream and add the peas. Toss it all together with the drained pasta, top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Bon Appetit!

bow ties with bacon

Weekend Cooking Plans

We’re heading out of town on Tuesday, so I don’t want to get too crazy in the kitchen this weekend since nobody will be around to eat the leftovers.  And that would be a crying shame (assuming they’re awesome).  I am super excited about this week’s Spaghetti Sunday recipe…Spicy Turkey Sausage Pasta.  If it turns out as good as it sounds, the Husb is going to flip.  I’m also making these cool looking peanut butter/chocolate cookies that look like ying yangs.  Remember ying yangs from when we were kids?  I’m really going through a throwback phase this morning between the Wagoneer and the ying yangs.  I’ll let everyone know how things taste! TGIF.

Quick & Easy Dinner

The Husb and I work out with our demonic trainer on Tuesday and Thursdays, right after work.  We don’t get home until 7:30 and we’re always completely exhausted. I never cook anything earth-shattering on those nights.  That said, I’m always on the look out for quick and easy things to throw together.  Last night it was store-bought pesto and pasta. I kicked it up a notch with freshly-grated Parmesan cheese.  It was yummy, relatively healthy (I used reduced-fat pesto and protein pasta), dirt cheap, and it was ready in under 20 minutes. I’d call that a win.

pesto pasta

Recipe HIT – Best Bolognese Ever!

My Husb and I have started a dorky little tradition called Spaghetti Sundays.  It’s pretty self-explanatory.  On Sunday nights, we throw caution to the wind and do some serious carb loading.  It’s fun to cook a new recipe and not feel guilty about it.  We generally try to keep our carb intake low, and I’m constantly tempted by the millions of amazing pasta recipes out there.  Hence, Spaghetti Sunday was born.

This week’s Spaghetti Sunday was a smash hit.  I made Barefoot Contessa’s Weeknight Bolognese, and it was to die for.  So, without further ado…

Barefoot Contessa Weeknight Bolognese


  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil, plus a bit more to cook the pasta
  • 1 pound lean ground sirloin
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/4 cups dry red wine, divided
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 box pasta (I use Barilla Protein Plus Spaghetti)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I didn’t have any nutmeg so I omitted this)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving


Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the ground sirloin and cook, crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon, for 5-7 minutes, until the meat has lost its pink color and started to brown. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 more minute.  Pour 1 cup of the wine into the skillet and stir to scrape up any browned bits. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper, stirring until combined. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a tablespoon of salt, a splash of oil, and the pasta and cook according to the directions on the box.

While the pasta cooks, finish the sauce. Add the nutmeg, basil, cream, and the remaining 1/4 cup wine to the sauce and simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened. When the pasta is cooked, drain and pour into a large serving bowl. Add the sauce and 1/2 cup Parmesan and toss well. Serve hot with Parmesan on the side.

Makes 4-5 servings.