Caprese Pasta Salad


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Caprese Pasta Salad is full of juicy and colorful heirloom tomatoes, Bocconcini mozzarella balls , and freshly hand picked basil. Use your favorite type of noodles for the pasta to make this a fun Summer time salad.

Went to the farmer’s market on Saturday morning before my gym class and picked up these beautiful heirloom tomatoes.

I also got some golden potatoes and made a hash with them which I should have taken a pic of but never did. That was delicious. Maybe next time.

I’ve got heirloom tomatoes growing in my garden, but those won’t be ready until probably Fall. The basil is ready but I noticed something or some tiny critter has been eating them. Don’t know if they’re bugs or rabbits. Stop eating my basil please! I couldn’t wait to make this salad until Fall, so bless those farmer’s markets for allowing me to make this early. If only they sold fresh mozzarella cheese. My farmer’s doesn’t, but maybe yours does?

Today was spent getting rid of clutter. I didn’t know how much kitchen crap I had until today. My closet in the dining room was chuck full of everything so I went through it all and got rid of stuff I’ve never used in a long time. There were lots of magazine cook books, tuperware containers, and jars that were tossed out or will eventually go to the boys ranch. There were a stack of plates in the closet that I never even knew were in there until today. Haven’t used them for a long time, and yes, I collect plates. Some people may collect other things like baseball cards, cds, legos, comic books, or action figures. Me, I collect plates. Pretty plates from all over place, and there’s quite a few of them. I could have a get together of about 40 people and each of them would have a different plate and napkin to go with it. I’m crazy I know.

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Caprese Pasta Salad
Serves: 4
  • 6oz Bowtie Pasta
  • 1 pint of heirloom tomatoes
  • ½ a package of boccini mozzarella balls
  • 6 large basil leaves, cut into strips
  • 2 teaspoons of chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Cook the pasta for 8 minutes or until the pasta is al dente.
  2. In a bowl combine the the tomatoes, boccicini balls, basil, and salt and pepper.
  3. In a skillet, heat the two teaspoons of olive oil and garlic until fragrant.
  4. Add the olive oil and garlic into the tomato, mozzarella and basil. Then the cooked pasta. Enjoy.


Mexican Stuffed Shells

Mexican Stuffed Shells

Just look at all that cheesy taco-y goodness in a jumbo pasta shell!. Mexican stuffed shells are going to be your favorite dish to make for Taco night!

I was very tired today and really wanted to come home and take a nap. Instead, I ended up cooking and made three things. A frozen key lime pie, banana bread muffins, and this dish for Mexican stuffed shells. I am home alone this weekend and decided to make these Mexican stuffed shells since there was cheese on top and cream cheese in the middle. Boy let me tell you something, these Mexican Shells did not disappoint. I used lean ground beef and low fat cream cheese to keep these a tad on the lighter side. For garnish  used some tomatoes and parsley. One of the best pasta dishes I’ve made in a long time. Will definitely make this dish again.


Mexican Stuffed Shells

Mexican Stuffed Shells

Recipe adapted from Like Mother Like Daughter

5.0 from 1 reviews
Mexican Stuffed Shells
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ cup yellow onion, diced
  • 2 TBS taco seasoning
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • about 8 oz jumbo pasta shells (some may break - I used 21 shells total but cooked 25)
  • 10 oz enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1¼ cup cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup mozzarella cheese
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil.
  2. Boil your pasta shells for about 10 minutes until cooked al dente. Rinse shells when done cooking.
  3. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Meanwhile, cook up your ground beef and onions over medium high heat until cooked thoroughly.
  5. Drain the excess grease from the pan.
  6. Add in taco seasoning and stir to mix.
  7. Add in cream cheese and cook over medium heat until cheese is mixed in and melty throughout. Set aside.
  8. Combine your enchilada sauce and salsa in a small bowl.
  9. Pour about half of your enchilada sauce salsa mixture into the bottom of a 9x13 pan and spread around.
  10. Fill each jumbo shell with a heaping 1 TBS of meat mixture and place into pan with sauce.
  11. Repeat until all shells or meat mixture is gone.
  12. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce salsa mixture over the tops of the shells.
  13. Wrap pan in aluminum foil.
  14. Bake for 30 minutes.
  15. Remove foil and top with cheeses.
  16. Return to oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.
8 PP per serving
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 6 Calories: 323 Fat: 11.21g Carbohydrates: 32.27g Fiber: 2.4g Protein: 23.36g


Amatriciana Sauce

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Do you like spicy? Amatriciana Sauce is the sauce for you! Bacon is cooked in a pan until golden crisp. Don’t drain the bacon fat either. That is the other part of the beauty of this sauce. Smoky bacon and spicy red pepper flakes. Top this sauce with some parmesan cheese and fresh parsley or basil. I’d definitely make this dish again. Found this recipe in Food Network’s magazine and the couple who made this is Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos from Cooking Channel. They have a show called Extra Virgin. I know I know… I watch way too many cooking shows. I like to watch that show because Debi has a pretty fashionable wardrobe. It’s kind of fun to see the different kinds of outfits she wears while cooking in the kitchen. I’m also jealous they live in Tuscany.

I also made this garlic cheese bread from the Pioneer Woman. Yet another tv on Food Network. Dear Lord, somebody tell me to stop watching cooking channels! Now I better go and clean the kitchen because red sauce splattered everywhere on my stove. lol.

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Amatriciana Sauce
  • 1 28 -ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • ¼ pound guanciale or pancetta, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 6 fresh basil leaves, torn
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound bucatini or spaghetti, cooked until al dente
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
  • Grated parmigiano-reggiano or aged pecorino cheese, for serving
  1. Puree the tomatoes to a smooth, creamy consistency in a food processor or with an immersion blender; set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. When hot, add the guanciale and saute 5 to 7 minutes, until golden brown.
  3. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute 1 minute. Add the pureed tomatoes, basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to medium low and stir well. Cook, uncovered, 15 minutes, or until the sauce darkens and thickens. Toss with just-cooked pasta and serve with a sprinkling of parsley and cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.



Alton Brown’s Stovetop Mac and Cheese

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Did you know Alton Brown’s Stovetop Mac and Cheese is one of the most searched for recipe on foodnetwork’s website? Well, it is and I can see why! This recipe was so good, I made it twice it one day! I’m not joking either! The second time I made it with some crumbled bacon on top and that brought this mac and cheese over the top! Everyone make fun of me and laugh, I am a fan of the boxed mac and cheese in the grocery store. I like how creamy  those boxed mixes are and how easy they are to make. However, I am not a fan of the macaroni that gets baked in the oven. That stuff is terrible in my opinion (Sorry in advance). I’ll probably never buy a box of that stuff again after making this recipe. I’ll just have to make sure there’s some cheddar cheese and elbow macaroni in my house at all times!

I also like this recipe because you can easily make enough for 1 person.  It also comes together in under twenty minutes. If you want bacon on top, just make sure and have some already made.

Dear Alton, I really miss your show called Good Eats on Food Network. Please bring it back!

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Alton Brown's Stovetop Mac and Cheese
Alton Brown's Stove Top Mac and Cheese
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: Mac and Cheese
  • ½ pound elbow macaroni
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 oz. evaporated milk
  • ⅛ tsp. ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more for boiling
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. stone ground mustard
  • 10 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add a sprinkling of salt, then boil your noodles according to package directions. Once al dente, drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the butter and stir until butter has melted.
  2. Meanwhile, in a separate small bowl, whisk together the eggs, evaporated milk, cayenne, 1 tsp. salt, pepper and mustard. Once the noodles are cooked, drained and the butter has melted, stir the milk mixture into the noodles until incorporated. Add in the cheese and stir over low heat until cheese has melted, approximately 3 minutes. Serve immediately.


Chili Mac and Cheese


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Why on Earth have I never tried this before until now? Creamy mac and cheese mixed in with some homemade turkey chili? Oh my heavens! It was so good.

I made some turkey chili tonight and decided that I wanted mac and cheese too. I didn’t want to spend all that extra time making homemade mac and cheese. Waiting for noodles to boil and making a rue for the cheese sauce wasn’t something I really wanted to do tonight, so what did I do? I used a box mac and cheese. Yep, that’s me. I deserved it too, because I went to spin class tonight and let me tell it was so good. I just love spicy chili with  mac and cheese. Now it’s my new favorite!  Just use whatever chili recipe you love and use the cheaters way out like I did. My favorite chili recipe just happens to be from the Pioneer Women, it’s called her Perfect Chili recipe. You can find it on her website.


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1/2 Cup of your favorite chili recipe

1/2 cup of already made mac and cheese


Stir together two together and Enjoy. No Joke! Easiest recipe ever. :)

Baked Ziti

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Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh my god this was sooooooooooooo good. I’ve already made two recipes for the Pioneer Woman’s episode that was on Saturday and they were both fantastic! Many of my friends are now making Chocolate lava cakes for Valentine’s Day now. :)

I changed a few things. I like beefier meat sauce so I left out a 15 ounce can of whole tomatoes and used a 15 oz can of whole tomatoes and 1  15 ounce can of tomato sauce. Ground beef and sausage together is a genius combination in a meat sauce. If you’re looking to make this a low fat version use lean ground turkey sausage and lean ground beef as a combo.  My husband is lactose intolerant , so I made half of the casserole without cheese. I didn’t  half the cheese portion of the recipe  on my half, and I think that is one of the reasons it was so good. Who doesn’t like extra cheese?

I really hate it the next day when you have leftovers how have of the liquid from the sauce has been absorbed by the noodles. That makes the noodles extra soggy to me. Yuck, with how meaty the sauce is I don’t believe I’ll have that problem with my leftovers tomorrow.

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Recipe from Ree Drummond


  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 whole Large Onion, Diced
  • 1 pound Italian Sausage
  • 1 pound Ground Beef
  • 1 can (28 Ounce Can) Whole Tomatoes, With Juice
  • 2 cans (14.5 Ounce) Tomato Sauce Or Marinara Sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 16 ounces, weight Ziti Or Mostaciolli, Cooked Until Not Quite Al Dente
  • 1 tub (15 Ounce) Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
  • 1-1/2 pound Mozzarella Cheese, Grated
  • 1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 whole Egg
  • Fresh Minced Parsley

Preparation Instructions

Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for several minutes, or until starting to soften. Add Italian sausage and ground beef and cook until browned. Drain off fat, leaving a bit behind for flavor and moisture.

Add tomatoes, tomato juice, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Stir and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. After that time, remove 3 to 4 cups of the sauce to a different bowl to cool down.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a separate bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, 2 cups of the grated mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, and salt and pepper. Stir together just a couple of times (do not mix completely).

Drain the pasta and rinse under cool water to stop the cooking and cool it down. Pour it into the bowl with the cheese mixture and toss to slightly combine (there should still be large lumps.) Add the cooled meat sauce and toss to combine.

Add half the coated pasta to a large casserole dish or lasagna dish. Spoon half of the remaining sauce over the top, then top with half the remaining mozzarella cheese. Repeat with another layer of the coated pasta, the sauce, and the mozzarella.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbling. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving.


Panera Style Mac and Cheese

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A Panera opened up on Monday in our town. We ended up going on Wednesday night and we had to wait 10 minutes in line to take our order and then about 40 minutes to get our food. The line was going out the door pretty much the whole entire time we were there. I wanted to go before that but I waited. It was well worth the wait. I now want to make my own bread this weekend and make my own sandwiches like that at home. I had the Smoked Turkey Bacon Club sandwich and couldn’t finish it all so I ended up taking the rest of it home for lunch the next day. It was super yummy. The kettle chips there are pretty amazing too. So is their mac and cheese. The only thing I didn’t like about this recipe was the mustard. I don’t recall any mustard flavor being in the mac their mac and cheese. I can’t wait to go there and try everything else.

Here is a recipe similar to the mac and cheese Panera has at their restaurant. I wish they sold bags of pre shredded extra sharp white cheddar cheese in the grocery stores. You can find the extra sharp cheddar cheese that’s the orange color everywhere but not the white. This was in a brick and I admit that I actually like buying the bags of shredded cheese at the super markets. There’s nothing wrong with that I think.

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Recipe from Kristine’s Kitchen

16 oz. package shell pasta
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups 2% milk
4 oz. white American cheese, chopped into small pieces
8 oz. extra-sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
1-2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. hot sauce (optional)


Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente, drain and return to the pot; set aside.
Melt butter over low heat. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute, whisking constantly.
Slowly whisk in milk and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens and bubbles, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat.
Stir in cheeses, a little bit at a time, stirring until cheese melts completely. Add mustard, salt, and hot sauce, and stir until well combined and sauce is smooth.
Pour cheese sauce over pasta and stir to combine. Serve immediately.

Caprese Orzo Pasta

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Another caprese dish. Yep, they never get old!

I cooked a little bit of garlic in some olive oil in a pan and added the orzo. Cooked that for a bit and added in 2 cups of water. The water eventually all obsorbed and the orzo became almost like risotto. I added in some parmesan cheese to the orzo and then cut up the 3 main ingredients to the caprese part. Tomatos + Basil, + Mozzarella. Yum! I loved this.

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1 cup of orzo
1 tsp garlic
1 tsp olive oil
2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese
1 tomato diced or you can use grape tomatoes
2 tsps of basil, finely diced
1/2 cup of cubed mozzarella cheese
salt & pepper to taste


In a medium sauce pan cook the garlic with some olive oil. Add the one cup of dried orzo and stir so the orzo becomes toasted. Add the 2 cups of water and wait until the orzo has absorbed all the water.

While the orzo is cooking prepare your mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil. Once the orzo is cooked, stir in 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese and the rest of the ingredients.