Spicy Pasta with Sausage


Food photography is not my field. Despite the semi-boring photo above, this pasta had amazing flavor. Follow info below for a less-spicy version, as I will next time I make the dish for my pale-skinned Midwestern family.

1lb chorizo sausage**, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
1 onion, chopped fine
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 C chicken broth
1-10oz can Ro-Tel tomatoes**
1/2 C heavy cream
12 oz penne pasta
salt and pepper
2 C shredded pepper jack cheese

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and preheat broiler. On stovetop cook sausage and onion in a large oven-safe skillet (I used my Le Creuset dutch oven) until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

2. Stir in broth, tomatoes, cream, pasta, 1/2 t salt and 1/2 t pepper and bring to boil. Cover pan and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring frequently, until pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.

3. Off heat, uncover pan and stir in 1/2 C cheese. Top with remaining cheese and broil until cheese is melted and spotty brown, about 3 minutes. Serve.

**If you want a less-spicy dish or can’t find Ro-Tel tomatoes, substitute 1 1/4 cups canned diced tomatoes. Andouille, linguine or kielbasa sausage can be substituted for the chorizo.

One Pot Pasta Bolognese


This recipe is a keeper (thanks, Morgan at Host the Toast!) and is particularly well-suited to hosting a larger gathering of friends or family. Or, if you’re like my family of three, it will serve leftovers for a few days afterwards. If you’re replacing the tagliatelle noodles with fettucine—heads up—you might add a few minutes to your cooking time. The al dente was a step or two shy of al dente-ness, though that meant the reheating process the next day yielded a perfect noodle.

PREP TIME: 10 mins, COOK TIME: 40 mins, TOTAL TIME: 50 mins

Serves: 6 servings


  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes, plus more to taste
  • 1.5 lb ground chuck
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups reduced sodium chicken stock (or 2 cups chicken stock and 1 cup wine)
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 1 pound tagliatelle or spaghetti
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves



  1. In a dutch oven or large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until lightly crisped. Mix in the onion, celery, and garlic, and season liberally with salt and pepper. Mix in ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes, adding slightly more if you prefer more heat in your sauce. Cook together until the onion has softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add in the ground chuck. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, for 5 minutes or until browned all over. Once browned, stir in the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, chicken stock, and thyme.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Then, uncover, remove the thyme sprigs, stir the pasta in, and continue to simmer for 15 minutes or until the pasta is cooked through and the sauce has thickened, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir in the milk, parmesan cheese, and shredded basil, and adjust the seasonings to taste. Serve with additional basil, to garnish.

Spinach & Spaghetti

(Originally published February 2008) Marlene Lehl (from Zion Church) brought me this as a mercy meal (I think it was when Liv came home) and it was delicious. I passed it on as a mercy meal last night and wanted to share this meatless main dish with the rest of you.


  • 4 ounces spaghetti
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 teaspoons minced dried onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • dash pepper
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions, drain well.
  2. Combine egg, sour cream, milk, 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, onion, salt and pepper; add monterey jack cheese and mix well.
  3. Add spaghetti and spinach and mix well.
  4. Turn into a 8 x 8-inch square pan. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan. Bake covered at 350 for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15-20 minutes more or until warmed through.

Spinach Pesto

We are big fans of pesto around here. Sadly, we ran out of last summer’s homemade pesto long ago, and I forgot to pick up a jar from the grocery store this week. I remembered spinach, though, and I vaguely remembered seeing a recipe (or three) for spinach pesto, so I Googled it and came up with a bunch of recipes. This is a combination of three or four of them because, yeah, I didn’t have all that stuff. It was tasty and super easy — had it not been crazytime at our house, it probably could have come together in about 10 minutes.


  • 2 cups fresh spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro (I used cilantro because I had it on hand, but the “real” recipe called for Italian flat leaf parsley)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or pine nuts, toasted (I used walnuts because, again, I had them; I just toasted them in a skillet. I don’t know if I did it right, but they tasted just fine)
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and grind to a fine paste.
  2. Taste and adjust seasonings.

We like to toss our pesto with pasta (and sometimes we add chicken too).

Lazy Day Lasagne

This recipe is from the (old) Zion Cookbook. I think Brook has a similar recipe from her mom. It’s on the menu at our house this week.

1 12-ounce carton cottage cheese

2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

2 eggs

1/3 cup parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 jar spaghetti sauce

1 pound ground beef or sausage, browned

9 lasagna noodles, uncooked

1/4 cup water

Parmesan cheese, grated

In a large bowl, mix cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, eggs, parsley, onion powder, basil, and pepper; set aside. In medium bowl, mix spaghetti sauce and ground beef; set aside. In a 9 x 13 pan, spread 3/4 cup meat mixture in bottom. Layer with 3 uncooked noodles. Spread half of cottage cheese mixture and 1 1/2 cup meat sauce. Layer with 3 more uncooked noodles. Spread remaining cottage cheese mixture over noodles. Top with remaining noodles and meat sauce. Pour water around edges. Cover with foil. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 15 additional minutes or until golden brown. Just before serving, sprinkle top of lasagna with Parmesan cheese.

Chicken Pomodoro

This is a quick, easy, inexpensive, delicious sauce with a fancy name. The recipe comes from Cooking during Stolen Moments (via Pinterest).


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (I used less)
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons pesto or 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, torn or cut chiffonade style
  • 1/2 pound chicken breasts, cooked and cubed (I used more)


  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add onion, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook until onions are nearly translucent, about 3 minutes.
  2. While the onion and garlic cook, pour the tomatoes (with liquid) into a food processor or blender. Process until coarsely chopped to desired consistency. (Process less time for a thicker, heartier sauce or longer for a creamier sauce.)
  3. Add the tomatoes and sugar to the skillet. Simmer for about 5 minutes, until very fragrant and somewhat thickened.
  4. Stir in the pesto and simmer an additional 5-10 minutes. (If using fresh basil, let the sauce simmer for 10-15 minutes and then stir in the basil after removing from the heat.)
  5. Stir the chicken into the sauce just until warmed through. Serve over pasta.

Spaghetti and Meatball Casserole with Basil Cream

Today was the second time I made this casserole, and to be honest, I had forgotten how many steps there are. Don’t necessarily let that scare you off, though — if you don’t have cranky, clingy kids underfoot, the 25 minutes of “hands-on time” that Clean Living Magazine claims may be more accurate for you than it was for me. The steps are actually very similar to making a lasagna. In any case, it’s really good and definitely worth it — the basil cream sauce makes it memorable, and I keep trying to think of other uses for the delicious (and easy!) addition. (And, yes, this is the second time I’ve made a creamy basil-y sauce today.)


  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 pound spaghetti noodles
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, finely grated, divided (I used more than twice this amount, family preference)
  • 1/3 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 6 ounces extra-lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon wheat germ
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/4 cup finely diced onion
  • 2 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish with cooking spray; set aside. Cook spaghetti to al dente according to package directions. Drain pasta, rinse under cold water and drain again; set aside.
  2. In a food processor fitted with a chopping blade, add garlic and pulse until finely chopped. Add basil and pulse again until finely chopped. Add oil and half of Parmesan and pulse until well blended. Remove 1 tablespoon basil mixture and reserve in a medium bowl. Add cottage cheese to food processor and process until smooth and blended.
  3. Add beef, wheat germ, and milk to bowl with reserved basil mixture and mix gently until blended. Form mixture into rounded teaspoon-size meatballs (about 24 total). Heat a large heavy nonstick skillet over medium -high heat. Spray skillet with cooking spray and add meatballs and onion. Cook, turning occasionally, until meatballs are browned and onions are translucent, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and bay leaf to skillet, reduce heat to medium and simmer until meatballs are cooked through and sauce is beginning to thicken, about 8 minutes. Discard bay leaf.
  4. Spoon 1/4 cup tomato-meatball mixture into bottom of prepared casserole dish. Toss spaghetti with remaining tomato-meatball mixture and transfer half of spaghetti mixture to casserole dish. Dot tops of noodles in dish with half of basil mixture then cover with remaining spaghetti mixture. Dot top layer of noodles with remaining basil mixture and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Cover with foil and bake in oven until bubbling, about 10 minutes. Then remove foil and continue to cook until top is browned, about 10 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.