Penne with Vodka Sauce

I made this once before but never blogged about it, because I didn’t quite feel like I had the right proportions for the ingredients. So I did a little research and read lots of recipes. I  decided to use Giada’s recipe for Penne with Vodka sauce. It did not fail!

I used my sauce recipe instead of hers, which you can find here (minus the meat).


  • 1 quart Simple Tomato Sauce
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 pound penne


Simmer the tomato sauce and vodka in a heavy large skillet over low heat until the mixture reduces by 1/4, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Stir the cream into the tomato and vodka sauce. Simmer over low heat until the sauce is heated through. Stir in the Parmesan cheese until melted and well blended.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta and transfer it to the pan with the sauce, and toss to coat.

I added 2  shredded chicken breasts to the mix for a little extra protein. Next time I might throw in some broccoli or other veggies for a nice vegetarian version.


Baked Shells with Sausage and Ricotta

Happy Friday everyone! We made it! My parents came over for dinner, and I made this yummy meal. Tonight we are just relaxing and catching up on our TV shows! I am researching Sloppy Joe recipes…the girls have been asking me to make some, so I am looking to switch it up! I’m planning on making them tommorrow night, so I will let you know how they turn out! Yea for the weekend!!!!

Baked Shells with Sausage and Ricotta


1 package of jumbo pasta shells
1 lb Italian sausage
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 small container ricotta
salt and pepper
1 package mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 350.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet, cook Italian sausage until no longer pink. Drain fat. Stir in can of diced tomatoes and cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in ricotta cheese, salt and pepper.

Spread a few spoonfuls of spaghetti sauce mixture over bottom of a casserole dish. Stuff the shells with the meat and cheese mixture and place in pan. Pour the jar of sauce over shells and top with Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes then place under broiler until cheese is browned.


Chicken Carbonara

Evening guys! Catching up on the blog this week. My girls have discovered Netflix and You Tube, so they have been dominating my computer. It really sucks to blog on my phone! Last night I made this yummy pasta. Looking at adding the leftover pasta to my pork dish tomorrow night!

Chicken Carbonara


2 chicken breasts, cut in to bite sized pieces
4 ounces pancetta or bacon, cut into small dice
2 egg yolks (or 3, to make it extra creamy)
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
3/4-1 pound pasta- The girls picked corkscrews, but any thick short or long pasta will do (think Buccatini or Rigatoni)


Bring a large of salted water to a boil over high heat. In a medium sized sauté pan, cook the pancetta over medium heat until crispy, 5 to 7 minutes.

Combine the egg yolks, whole egg, Parmesan, and pepper in a large bowl.

Cook the pasta according to the package instructions until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the hot pasta cooking water (the temperature is important because you are going to use it to cook the egg).

While your pasta is cooking, cook your diced chicken in the same pan as you cooked your panchetta. Add a touch of olive oil with salt and pepper.

Next, drain the pasta and add it to the bowl with the cheese and eggs, tossing immediately to mix everything together.

Add the pancetta, chicken, and any rendered fat from the pan to the bowl, toss to coat, and add the pasta water 1 tablespoon at a time until the sauce reaches a creamy consistency. Be patient and really mix slowly.

Taste and add any more cheese, pepper, or salt that you may need to add! Enjoy!


Spaghetti with Asparagus, Mushrooms, and Tomatoes

Evening all! So I made this dish for dinner tonight (just me) along with some smoked sausage, peas, and Alfredo pasta for the rest of the family. It was enough to feed four, so I have leftovers for myself and 2 coworkers.  I also ate some sausage. It was super yummy! img_6011

Spaghetti with Asparagus, Mushrooms, and Tomatoes


1/2 pound spaghetti (or whatever pasta you have)
1 container of mushrooms, sliced
1 container of cherry tomatoes
1 bunch of asparagus, cut in small pieces- snap the bigger ends off and disregard
1 clove garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper- add just more than you think
2 tablespoons heavy cream
However much Parmesan you want


Cook your pasta (or use leftovers)
In a skillet heated with 1 tablespoon butter and olive oil, cook down all your seasoned veggies for a good 15 minutes. In the last 5 minutes cover you skillet to burst your tomatoes. Add in your pasta with the rest of the butter and oil. Mix well. Add in your cream and cheese. Combine well. Vegetarian’s delight! Make vegan by disregarding the butter and cream. Add sausage, chicken, or shrimp for a protein packed meaty meal. The possibilities are endless!

Swedish Meatballs

Hey guys! I made this last night for dinner and got two thumbs up from everyone! It does not really photograph well, but the recipe turned out pretty yummy. You can make your own meatballs, but it is a Monday night and no one really has time for that, so I used frozen ones. I am also researching ways that I can use my crock pot, so be on the lookout for that.


1 bag of frozen meatballs
1 tbsp. olive oil
5 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. flour
2 cups beef broth
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste


1. In a large skillet heat olive oil and 1 Tablespoon butter. Add the meatballs and cook turning continuously until brown on each side and mostly cooked throughout. They may still be a bit frozen in the center, but you are going to add them back in for a few minutes at the end. Take out the meatballs.

2. Add 4 Tablespoons butter and flour to skillet and whisk until brown. Slowly stir in beef broth and heavy cream. Add Worcestershire sauce and Dijon mustard and bring to a simmer until sauce starts to thicken. Salt and pepper to taste.

3. Add the meatballs back to the skillet and simmer for another 1-2 minutes. I served them over egg noodles.


Chicken Pasta Carbonara

Hey guys! Here is what I made for dinner last night. The family loved it! Can’t go wrong with bacon and pasta, though! See ya back here later for an easy healthy lunch recipe!

Chicken Pasta Carbonara

2 chicken breasts, cut in to bite sized pieces
1 Tbsp olive oil or unsalted butter
1/2 pound thick cut bacon, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 cup frozen peas
1 container of mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup white wine
4 whole eggs
1 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
1 pound pasta
Salt and black pepper to taste

Heat pasta water. Put a large pot of salted water on to boil to cook pasta.

While the water is coming to a boil, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crispy. Add the garlic and cook another minute, then turn off the heat and put the bacon and garlic into a large bowl.

Add in a bit more oil. Cook your chicken until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Take out the chicken and add in your onions and mushrooms. Cook for a couple of minutes and add in your wine. Cook down, about 3 minutes. Add in your frozen peas. Mix to combine.

In a small bowl, beat the eggs and mix in about half of the cheese.

When the pasta is finished cooking, strain the pasta and move it to the bowl with the bacon and garlic. I used one of those spider strainers to move my pasta. Reserve some of the pasta water.

Toss everything to combine, allowing the pasta to cool just enough so that it doesn’t make the eggs curdle when you mix them in.

Add the beaten eggs with cheese and toss quickly to combine once more. Add salt to taste. Add some pasta water back to the pasta to keep it from drying out.

Top with more cheese!


Baked Ziti

Happy Saturday everyone! A couple days ago, I made this very yummy and easy meal. I have made baked ziti a few times on the blog. On the weekends I usually make the sauce all afternoon and add it to my ground beef/sausage/veggie mixture and pasta. Well, Publix was having a BOGO on one of my favorite jarred sauces, so I decided to let the good people of Bertoli do all the work this time.

Easy Baked Ziti
Ingredientssausage (sub in ground beef or leave out the meat to make it vegetarian)
1 box of ziti noodles -or what ever tube shaped pasta you like
1 jars of your favorite pasta sauce- I used Bertoli- marinara and 3 cheese
2 med. bags or 1 large bag of mozzarella or Italian Cheese Blend
2 tablespoons Italian Seasoning (oregano, marjarum, thyme, etc)
2 teaspoons onion powder and garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350.
Brown your meat and add all your seasonings. Drain grease out of meat.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil- salt the water liberally
Cook pasta
Assemble in a large casserole pan layering sauce, pasta, meat, and cheese.
Cook for about 30 minutes or until cheese is melting and turning that yummy brown color.
Lots of leftovers!

Sausage and White Bean Pasta

Good afternoon! I hope everyone is doing well. SO happy that tomorrow is Friday! The pool opens this weekend and there are only 2 weeks left until summer vacation!

Last night I made this yummy pasta. I had a package of ground sausage, so I was thinking pasta sauce or a meatloaf.  Pasta always wins in my family, so I wanted to come up with something different! I  spied some white beans in the cabinet, so I thought I would throw those in there. Something different and unexpected!  My girls love beans,  so I was hopeful that this would work.


Sausage and White Bean Pasta


1 pound pasta- I used spaghetti
1 onion, diced
1 pound ground pork (use ground turkey or chicken to make this healthier)
1 container jarred pasta sauce
1 can cannellini beans (white beans), drained and rinsed
about 1/2 cup of red wine (or stock)
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta one minute shy of the directions. Save some starchy cooking water.

In a large dutch oven, brown your seasoned pork and onions in a few tablespoons of olive oil. I did this to save time; normally I would brown the pork, take it out, then add in the olive oil and onions to saute.

Add in then red wine and reduce a few minutes. Pour in your pasta sauce, beans, and Worcestershire. Stir in all together and cook until the pasta is ready.


Add the pasta to the sauce. Stir together and coat pasta evenly with all the sauce. Add in a bit of your pasta liquid if needed. Add as much Parmesan as possible =)   It turned out amazing! A quick and easy dinner for a busy family!620

Dinner with Friends

Happy Sunday guys! I just got a message congratulating me on my third year blogging! I can’t believe that it has been that long. I appreciate every one of my friends, family, and fellow bloggers who have supported and read my little blog. I have enjoyed the ride and experience in the kitchen. My life has totally changed in the last few years, and I am happy to have the chance to go on this food adventure with you guys!

We had some super friends over for dinner last night. I started with my deviled eggs. Simple recipe. I started with a dozen boiled eggs. I learned a trick recently to start the eggs in boiling water instead of cold water. Say what? I add a good heaping of vinegar, cooked 10 minutes, took them off the heat and let then set 2 minutes. Then I took them out of the pan, rolled each one on the counter for a second, then peeled them under cold water. PERFECT BOILED EGGS!

I took all of the yolks out and put them in a bowl. I also chopped one whole egg and added it to the mix. Then I slowly added in some mayo and whipped until I got a nice creamy mixture. I put the deviled egg mix in to a zip top baggie and sniped the end. Once they were all filled, I topped most with chopped bacon, a few with just paprika, and a couple with sweet relish and bacon. They were pretty amazing, if I do say so myself.



Mozzarella Cheese!!!! These are one of the girls favorite snacks. We have actually made them from scratch lots of times, but these time savers are cheesy and delicious.

   We also used this delicious tomato sauce as a dip for the mozzarella sticks.

 These sassy girls kept us entertained!img_2563

Main Event- Chicken Parmesan Bake with Spaghetti and  a side salad


Chicken Parmesan Bake

Ingredients- 7 adults, 2 kids ( 2 1/2 chicken breasts leftover)
9 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 containers of your favorite marinara sauce
10 large slices of mozzarella or provolone cheese
3/4 cup bread crumbs- I had lots of stale bread, so I made my own in the food processor. I added a good heaping of Italian seasoning. Canned bread crumbs are yummy, too!
3/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, shredded
1/2 stick butter, chopped
Preheat oven to 350.
Spray a large baking dish with cooking spray. Place the chicken breasts flat on the bottom of the large baking dish.
Cover with the marinara sauce.
Put the cheese slices over the sauce.
Mix the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese and then spread the mixture evenly over the top of the dish. Top chopped butter cubes evenly over the top.
Bake 45 minutes- 1 hour, depending on the amount and size of the chicken.
I served with a side of spaghetti and a side of salad.

Pan-Seared Catfish with Spinach and Pesto Pasta

Hey guys! I hope you are having a great weekend! So far, it has been pretty nice and relaxing. Yesterday the girls went to a fun birthday party and played outside. I relaxed, caught up on my DVR, and cooked this yummy dinner. I hope you give it a try!


4 Catfish Fillets (any white fish would work)
3/4 pound of Linguine Pasta
1/2 cup of flour
1/2 pound fresh spinach
6 tablespoons of butter- or olive oil (I like to do a combo of both)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 small container of prepared pesto
about 1/2 cup of dry white wine


Cook the pasta in heavily salted boiling water. As always, reserve about a cup of that starchy cooking water.

While the pasta cooks, begin cooking the fish. Put the flour on a plate. Make sure you pat the fish dry. Salt and pepper each side of the fish. Coat the fish in the flour, tapping off any excess. Melt about 3 tablespoons of butter in a pan and cook the fish on the first side for about 6 minutes, or until golden brown. Flip and add the white wine and a small glug of olive oil. Cook the fish on the other side for about 3 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fish.

Stain your pasta. Add your spinach in the same pan you cooked your pasta in (less dishes!)Cook down just about 3 minutes or so. Add in your pesto and cheese. Stir back in your pasta. If it looks thick, loosen it up a bit with that starchy cooking water, a bit at a time. I top with just a bit more olive oil.


034Leftovers consist of lots of pasta and 1 fish filet. Thinking of some ways to change up my leftovers…1. Fish Tacos  2.Add shrimp or chicken to the pasta 3. Add in more sauteed veggies to the pasta for a vegetarian meal  4. Sauteed fish cakes 5. Soup- Pesto Noodle Soup or Fish Curry Soup… So many ideas!

If I come up with something good, I will let you know!

Happy Sunday!