Recipe: Meaty Baked Pasta!

We eat a lot of veggies in this house, but recently I picked up a few pounds of bulk hot Italian sausage and I was jonesing for a meaty baked pasta dish. We don’t eat a lot of meat, so 1 pound for this recipe is a lot for us. If you are a big meat eater, you can add up to an extra pound of sausage to make it extra meaty.

This recipe makes a lot, but, it keeps well for leftovers and you can freeze leftovers as well.

Meaty Baked Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 1 box pasta (whatever variety you like best), cooked per package directions
  • 1 lb. bulk Italian sausage
  • 2 T. butter or oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium-sized zucchini, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 32 oz of your favorite red pasta sauce
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups mozzarella, divided
  • 1 cup parmesan/romano blend cheese, divided

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cook pasta per directions, drain off the water, reserving 2-3 Tablespoons.
  3. In a large pan, cook and crumble Italian sausage. After it is cooked, drain it on a paper towel.
  4. Using the same pan, saute onion and pepper for 10-15 minutes, until the onions are clear and have started to caramelize.
  5. Add in garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 3-5 minutes.
  6. Add in zucchini, sauce, and tomato paste- cook until sauce comes to a simmer.
  7. Add meat back in, and stir to combine.
  8. Add reserved pasta water to the sauce and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  9. In a baking dish layer sauce, pasta, cheese, and sauce. Repeat until the baking dish is full and top with the remaining cheese.
  10. Cover the baking dish with a lid or tented foil and bake for 45 minutes.
  11. Remove the lid/foil and cook another 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  12. Serve with a green salad and garlic bread!

This recipe made a 9×13 baking dish, which will serve 6-8 people a hearty portion.

If you need more veggies in your life, add carrots, drained diced petite tomatoes, more peppers, and even a few handfuls of spinach!

This meal was so satisfying. I’ve had leftovers for lunch twice now.

I ended up with extra sauce, and I plan on making calzones with it.

Family Recipe: Tortellini Salad

This is a super easy recipe that my mom has been making for 25+ years. She got the idea from a recipe in a cooking magazine that started with a bag of frozen veggies that was thawed.

She subbed out the frozen veggies for fresh ones, added some cubed cheese, and tortellini salad became a family hit! It is great for picnics, potlucks, and family parties. It’s a staple at our July 4th party!

Tortellini Salad 

Ingredients:

  • 1 package cheese tortellini, cooked per package directions, drained, and rinsed.
  • 1 cup of your favorite Italian Salad Dressing
  • 1 cup cubed mozzarella cheese
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained. and chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 small package pepperoni (or salami- your choiceof), cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 small can sliced black olives, drained

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl combine the cooked and cooled tortellini, cheese, veggies, meat, and salad dressing.
  2. Store in the fridge covered for at least overnight before serving it. Add additional dressing as needed (sometimes the tortellini soaks up a little bit of dressing).
  3. As a side dish, it serves 6-8, and as a main dish 3-4.

 

Substitutions:

  • If you are vegan, sub out vegan tortellini and vegan cheese.
  • If you are Gluten Free, sub out GF tortellini.

If you like tomatoes, it’s also great with about 1 cup of cherry/grape tomatoes (I slice them in half).

 

Dream Dinners Fundraiser: Feed 37 people when You Buy 3 Meals for $50!

This just popped into my inbox, and I had to share.

You could feed a classroom full of children when you buy 3 Meals for $50 at the Dream Dinners Foundation Fundraiser.

When you buy 3 Medium Meals for only $50 for you to take home to enjoy with your family, the Dream Dinners Foundation will match the donation. The money raised from this fundraiser will go directly to pay for the supplies needed to pack 20,000 meals! The meals will be distributed to families with food insecurities both locally and abroad.

There are 5 options to choose from, and they are all GREAT. We love the Central Park Garlic Chicken with Oven Roasted Broccoli.

Meals will be available for pick up on Wednesday, May 18th, Curbside Pick up 4pm -6pm.

If you are interested in attending the volunteer meeting to learn more about how you can participate, you can also purchase this fundraiser special and attend the meeting. Call/Text 619-460-6800 or email lamesaca@dreamdinners.com for more details about that meeting.

hand to handmeal packing volunteer tablegirls with plates

Feeding San Diego Together Tour: More Free Food In Your Neighborhood!

Y’all know I post a list of free food resources monthly, but this one just came to my attention courtesy of Brooke from Saving in the 619.

Feeding San Diego has a Together Tour, where they work with local venues to host drive through food giveaways throughout the month all over San Diego County. No proof of need required!

Every registered attendee will receive about 50 lbs worth of dry goods, fresh produce, and frozen meat protein.

During the event, you will receive valuable resources on how to access other Feeding San Diego distributions close to your home. In addition, our team can provide information about CalFresh, and how to apply.

Visit the website here and find your next local event! From Chula Vista to San Marcos, there are events all over the county all month long, all year long!

4/7/2022: Celebrate National Burrito Day with Rubio’s!

Burritos are the best.

They are handheld and full of comforting food, and they are good for any meal (or snack). Tomorrow celebrate National Burrito Day with Rubio’s!

Tomorrow, Thursday, April 7, is National Burrito Day and Rubio’s Coastal Grill is celebrating by offering every burrito on the menu for $6.99. Guests receive a once-a-year deal on all the popular burritos today, including the California Burrito, Shrimp and Bacon Burrito, and the Chicken Burrito Especial.

$6.99 for a burrito is an amazing deal!

Simply order online at Rubios.com, or through the app, and enter coupon code BURRITO at checkout, or scan the QR code on the coupon in restaurants. Guests are encouraged to order ahead through the Rubio’s app or Rubios.com. For more information about Rubio’s Coastal Grill and to view the menu, visit Rubio’sFacebook, and Instagram.

I love the Burrito Especial with Grilled Veggies, but you can’t go wrong with any burrito. I know we’ll be enjoying ours from the comfort of our burrito blankies, watching a cooking show.

Talk Back: What kind of Burrito will you be getting tomorrow?

4/5/2021 Weekly Meal Plan!

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpg

The CSA emails us in advance to give us a heads up as to what may be in our boxes on Monday, so that’s helped me be able to meal prep and write up this post.

I usually spend time over the weekend getting the meal plan and prep started. Saturday I made banana bread (recipe here), and a big box of chicken brown rice. I portioned the cooked rice out so we can have it for lunch and dinner as a side dish a few times this week.

Sunday I made chicken stock using the rotisserie chicken carcass I had tossed in the freezer a few weeks ago, along with the veggie scraps I keep in a large bag in the freezer. It’s usually celery tops, carrots bits, onion skins, and the ends and pieces from various vegetables from my weekly veggie prep. I cooked the stock most of the day, strained off the solids, and used the stock to make a yummy chicken vegetable soup. I used this recipe, substituting the chicken stock for veggie stock.

I did a grocery trip on Saturday- Milk, eggs, cheese, and butter. We are pretty well stocked on most other stuff. I went to Costco last week and did the quarterly stock-up trip- Snacks for lunches, coffee, powdered peanut butter, trash bags, laundry soap, paper towels, and toilet tissue, and a few other things fell into my cart.

Veggies and fruit are delivered each Monday by Yasukochi Family Farms CSA. For $25, it’s a great deal. I don’t have to pick anything, go to the store, or carry it upstairs. I can’t go to the store and get the same amount we get weekly for $25. Seriously. It’s a deal.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I try to update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for a kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids.  The kids are nuts about pancakes. The Big Kid has been on a protein shake kick in the AM.

Lunch: The little kiddo and I usually have something quick and filling, lately it’s been sandwiches on croissants, and strawberry yogurt.  Big kid takes his lunch to school.

Dinner: Usually, I do a crockpot meal on Mondays, but now that we are home all the time, we’ve been having an odd combination of fully home-cooked, scratch meals, and frozen entrees and veggies. I have been posting our meal plans on Instagram too- As well as pics of stuff we are doing to keep busy.

  • Sunday: Vegetable Soup, homemade apple sauce, sourdough toast/Banana Bread
  • Monday:  Poached Eggs with Hashbrowns, fruit salad, Protein shakes (Big kid doesn’t like eggs)
  • Tuesday:   Tamales, Salad, Rice
  • Wednesday:  Roasted Veggies, Baked Potatoes (with an array of toppings)
  • ThursdayCheesy Bacon Meatloaf, Roasted Broccoli, Noodles (or rice)
  • Friday:  Pizza/Takeout Night
  • Saturday: Leftover Fiesta

Please stay safe you guys! The sooner we flatten the curve, the sooner life can go back to normal- whatever that means.

Talk Back: What are you cooking for dinner this week?

3/8/2021 Weekly Meal Plan!

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpg

Our second CSA Box is being delivered today! To learn more about Yasukochi Family Farms and our first box, click here. A lot of our meals this week are going to be veggie-heavy. We eat a lot of produce anyway, but now we’re eating more local produce!

I hit up the grocery store over the weekend for some much-needed bread, milk, and butter. I’m waiting for the grocery ads to come out for this week to see if I can find some deals on chicken or beef. I really would like to make a meatloaf to have for lunch this week (and meatloaf sandwiches for another lunch).

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I try to update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for a kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids.  The kids are nuts about pancakes. The Big Kid has been on a protein shake kick in the AM.

Lunch: The little kiddo and I usually have something quick and filling (I’ve been prepping bean and rice bowls on Sundays for us to have during week) so we can get back to our adventures.  Big kid takes his lunch to school.

Dinner: Usually, I do a crockpot meal on Mondays, but now that we are home all the time, we’ve been having an odd combination of fully home-cooked, scratch meals, and frozen entrees and veggies. I have been posting our meal plans on Instagram too- As well as pics of stuff we are doing to keep busy.

  • Sunday: Badas Burgers (it’s an amazing food truck that’s taken up residence across the street from our house- so dangerous!)
  • Monday: Salad, Nuggets, fries
  • Tuesday:  Entrees & Fruit Salad
  • Wednesday: Breakfast for dinner: Pancakes, Eggs (scrambled with veggies and cheese), fruit
  • Thursday: Skillet casserole, roasted veggies
  • Friday:  Pizza Night!
  • Saturday: Leftover Fiesta

Please stay safe you guys! The sooner we flatten the curve, the sooner life can go back to normal- whatever that means.

Talk Back: What are you cooking for dinner this week?

3/1/2021 Weekly Meal Plan

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpg

I’m up to my eyeballs in soup! Looking through the freezer to do the meal plan for this week, I discovered that I’ve got 3 different kinds of soup in the freezer.

So on Tuesday we’re having beans and rice OR soup to go with our quesadillas. The kids will probably pick the beans and rice.

I went to the grocery store on Friday for milk, eggs, cheese, and bread. We were still good on everything else. We’re almost out of meat in the freezer, but the meat sales aren’t too great during Lent. I’ll keep my eyes open, but we may be eating more meat free meals until after Easter. That’s part of shopping and meal planning around what is on sale, rolling with the punches, and eating what’s on sale and in season.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I try to update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for a kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids.  The kids are nuts about pancakes. The Big Kid has been on a protein shake kick in the AM.

Lunch: The little kiddo and I usually have something quick and filling (I’ve been prepping bean and rice bowls on Sundays for us to have during week) so we can get back to our adventures.  Big kid takes his lunch to school.

Dinner: Usually, I do a crockpot meal on Mondays, but now that we are home all the time, we’ve been having an odd combination of fully home-cooked, scratch meals, and frozen entrees and veggies. I have been posting our meal plans on Instagram too- As well as pics of stuff we are doing to keep busy.

  • Sunday:  Flavors of East Africa (we’re getting take out)
  • Monday: Salad, Black Bean Burgers on rolls
  • Tuesday:  Quesadillas, and beans and rice OR Soup
  • Wednesday: Nugget Night with veggies, fruit salad, and cheezits
  • Thursday: Quiche, toast, and fruit salad
  • Friday:  Pizza Night!
  • Saturday: Leftover Fiesta

Please stay safe you guys! The sooner we flatten the curve, the sooner life can go back to normal- whatever that means.

Talk Back: What are you cooking for dinner this week?

2/21/2021 Weekly Meal Plan

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgThis week is going to be a lot calmer/slower than the past few weeks. We are down to our usual weekly appointments only. Thank goodness, I don’t think I could handle a third marathon week.

I cleaned out/rearranged the freezer, fridge, and cupboard this weekend. I found a lot of great stuff I had forgotten about. I did the quarterly trip to Costco yesterday and grabbed a few things beyond our usual stock up of household goods (trashbags, laundry soap, dishwasher tabs, etc.). I grabbed a rotisserie chicken (good for at least three meals) and some fruit to get us through the week. If you need ideas for what to do with rotisserie chicken, there are ideas here, here, and here.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I try to update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for a kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids.  The kids are nuts about pancakes. The Big Kid has been on a protein shake kick in the AM.

Lunch: The little kiddo and I usually have something quick and filling (I’ve been prepping bean and rice bowls on Sundays for us to have during week) so we can get back to our adventures.  Big kid takes his lunch to school. He’s been digging on Bear naked protein granola in his lunch lately. It’s his new favorite.

Dinner: Usually, I do a crockpot meal on Mondays, but now that we are home all the time, we’ve been having an odd combination of fully home-cooked, scratch meals, and frozen entrees and veggies. I have been posting our meal plans on Instagram too- As well as pics of stuff we are doing to keep busy.

  • Sunday:  Rotisserie Chicken, Salad, & Roasted Veg
  • Monday: Hashbrowns, eggs, Banana Bread, fruit
  • Tuesday:  Dream Dinners Entree (our last one), Roast Veg
  • Wednesday: Nugget Night with veggies, apple slices, and cheezits
  • Thursday: Crockpot Meal
  • Friday:  Pizza Night!
  • Saturday: Leftover Fiesta

Please stay safe you guys! The sooner we flatten the curve, the sooner life can go back to normal- whatever that means.

Talk Back: What are you cooking for dinner this week?

Frugal Recipe: Beef Machacas (Slowcooker recipe)

Look at the delicious marbling!

This is an easy recipe, and it is divine! You may already have most of the ingredients in your kitchen too!

It’s pretty flexible when it comes to the meat- You want a good roast with some marbling. Chuck Roast, Tri-tip, Round Roast, Rump Roast are all good options. This recipe cooks low and slow all day. Break out your slow cooker my friends!

Let’s dive into this beefy, delicious recipe!

Machacas

Imgredients

Directions

  1. In a heavy-bottomed cast-iron skillet or dutch oven, heat canola oil, add beef, and sear each side for 5-8 minutes. You want a nice brown crust on each side. If the piece is large, cut it in pieces to fit into your slow cooker.
  2. As the meat is searing, in your slow cooker pour frozen vegetables.
  3. In a mixing bowl, mix tomato sauce, salsa, and spices.
  4. Place the meat in the slow cooker, and pour water into the pan that browned meat. Stir and scrape off any browned/burned bits off the bottom of the pan. Pour that water into the sauce bowl and mix thoroughly.
  5. Pour sauce over meat and cook on low in the slow cooker for 10+hours.
  6. Pull meat out, and shred with two forks. Return to the slow cooker, and keep simmering on low until the sides are ready to eat.

I serve this meat with beans, rice, tortillas, Corn and Avocado Salsa, and a green salad. It keeps well in the fridge for a few days, and you can freeze it as well. It’s also excellent in the morning with eggs in a breakfast burrito.