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Baked Ziti {freezer friendly}

7 Sep

We are expecting our second baby, and I have begun stocking my freezer with meals in preparation. I know I will be busy with a toddler and a newborn! I still want my family to enjoy home cooked meals while we transition into this new life ūüôā I have made this recipe twice now, and we all enjoyed it, even my 2 year old. I have 2 9×9 pans of this in the freezer for us to enjoy as well. I haven’t tried any of the frozen ones yet.

Baked Ziti
source: slightly adapted from Six Sisters

1 pound ziti pasta
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 pound lean ground beef
2 (26 ounce) jars of spaghetti sauce
8 slices of provolone cheese
1 1/2 cups sour cream
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook ziti according to package directions; drain. Brown ground beef and onion powder; drain. Add spaghetti sauce to beef and simmer 15 minutes. Spray 2 9×9 inch pans with cooking spray. Layer as follows: 1/4 ziti, 1/4 sauce, 4 slices provolone, 1/2 of sour cream, 1/4 ziti, 1/4 mozzarella cheese, and 1/4 sauce. Top with grated Parmesan and remaining mozzarella.

If you plan on freezing this right away, do not bake first. Cover with 2-3 layers of foil before freezing. When ready to eat, thaw in fridge for 24 hours. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted. You may need to bake on a pan if ingredients are all the way to the top of the pan, so they don’t bubble out into oven during cooking.

baked ziti

Traditional Lasagna

29 Feb

I have tried lots of lasagna recipes, and for one reason or another never found one I really like…until now. I thought this recipe turned out great. It had tons of great flavor from the pasta sauce, and I love how it includes 3 different types of cheese. This makes a ton, so be sure and serve when you have guests coming over. It does take some time to prepare, so plan ahead.

Traditional Lasagna

Source: adapted slightly from Taste of Home


1 pound lean ground beef

1 pound bulk pork sausage

3 cans (8oz each) tomato sauce

2 cans (60z each) tomato paste

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

3 eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons dried parsley

3 cups 2% small curd cottage cheese

8 oz ricotta cheese

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

9 oven ready lasagna noodles

10 slices provolone cheese

3 cups shredded part skim mozzarella cheese, divided

In a large skillet, cook beef and pork sausage together over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Add the tomato sauce, paste, garlic, sugar, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a large bowl, combine eggs and parsley. Stir in the cottage cheese, ricotta, and parmesan cheese.

Spread 1 cup of meat sauce in greased lasagna pan. Layer with 3 noodles, provolone cheese, 2 cups cottage cheese mixture, 1 cup mozzarella, 3 noodles, 2 cups meat sauce, remaining cottage cheese mixture and 1 cup mozzarella. Top with remaining noodles, meat sauce and mozzarella.

Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 50 minutes. Uncover; bake 20 minutes longer or until heated through. Let stand for 15 minutes before cutting into 12 pieces.

Stuffed Pepper Soup

29 Jan

I have had this recipe bookmarked for a long time, and just got around to making it. I thought it was really good, we will definitely be repeating it in our house. This soup is very thick, more like a stew. I actually reduced the amount of rice in the recipe by 1/2 cup, but it was still really thick. Next time I will only use one cup of rice total in the recipe, as I like a little more broth. I also reduced the amount of ground beef, and thought it turned out perfect. I topped this with shredded cheddar cheese, and served a loaf of cheese bread from the deli on the side. I’m posting the recipe with the changes I made, and with the adjustments I will make next time I make it.¬†This recipe makes alot (about 12 cups), so I plan on freezing the leftovers for another night.

Stuffed Pepper Soup

Source: adapted from Stick a Fork in it


1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef

2 large green peppers, diced

1/2 onion, diced

29 oz can tomato sauce

28 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained

1 cup long grain brown rice, uncooked

32 oz beef broth

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Brown ground beef in a large stockpot, drain. Finely chop onion and green pepper, and add to ground beef. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the peppers are tender and the rice is cooked. Top with shredded cheddar cheese if desired.

Taco Soup

21 Oct

It’s recipe swap time once again, and this time the theme was soups/stews. I submitted a recipe for chicken gnocchi soup (a copy cat version of the popular Olive Garden soup), and received this recipe for tortilla soup¬†from Sweet Beginnings.¬†Be sure and check out all the recipes on A Taste of Home Cooking.

I thought this recipe sounded alot like taco soup, so I thought I would change up the ingredients and share a recipe for taco soup instead. I have been making this recipe for years, and I never seem to make it the same way twice. Just like the tortilla soup recipe, you can use chicken in the taco soup. I have even used ground turkey, but I prefer lean ground beef the best. A lady I worked with made this taco soup for us one time, and I have been making it ever since.


Taco Soup

Source: adapted from Chris Morey


1 pound lean ground beef

2 (80z) cans tomato sauce

1 packet dry ranch dressing

1 packet taco seasoning

1 (15 oz) can corn, undrained

1 (15 oz) can hominy, undrained

1 (15 oz) can ranch style beans

1 (15 oz) can chili beans

1 (10 oz) can rotel, undrained

1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained

1 medium onion, diced


tortilla chips (I love to use Tostito’s Scoops)

shredded cheddar cheese

sour cream

Brown ground beef and onion in a large skillet. In a large crockpot, combine all ingredients, except for toppings. Cook on low 8-10 hours. Serve with tortilla chips, shredded cheddar, and sour cream.

**Note** You can use any combination of beans in this soup. I usually just throw in what I have in the pantry.


Baked Ziti

17 May

I was pleasantly surprised with the way this baked ziti¬†turned out. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. In the past, I have always thought baked ziti¬†was a little bland and dry for my tastes. This ziti¬†was moist and delicious. I loved the hidden layer of provolone cheese and sour cream that is included. I think it really gives it a special twist. I assembled this a day before I baked it, and kept in the refrigerator. It turned out great, I just had to double the baking time. This dish would probably freeze really well for future use.¬†Enjoy!

Baked Ziti

Source:Adapted from See Jane in the Kitchen


1 pound Smart Taste pasta, I used mini penne

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 pound lean ground beef

2 jars spaghetti sauce

6 ounces sliced provolone cheese

1 1/2 cups fat-free sour cream

6 ounces part skim mozzarella cheese

2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Preheat¬†oven to 350 degrees. Cook ziti¬†until al dente, drain and set aside. Cook the ground beef with the onion powder until browned. When the ground beef is almost done, add in your minced garlic cloves. Drain if needed (I used the leanest ground beef, and there was nothing to drain). Add the spaghetti sauce and Italian seasoning to the beef. Let simmer for 15 minutes. In a 9×13 inch pan, add a layer of the spaghetti sauce to the bottom of the pan. Next, layer 1/2 of the ziti, all of the provolone¬†cheese, all of the sour cream, and half of the spaghetti sauce. Next add the rest of the ziti, the rest of the spaghetti sauce, and the mozzarella cheese. Top with the 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, or until bubbly.

**I think this recipe would taste great without the beef too**

Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce

18 Jan

I grew up watching my Dad cook spaghetti on a weekly basis. My dad is a great cook, and he doesn’t use recipes that I have ever seen. When I make spaghetti sauce, like my Dad, I just eyeball everything. The problem with this regimen is that you never end up with a consistent end product. You may produce an excellent spaghetti sauce, but will you be able to repeat it again?¬† I spotted this recipe on, and thought it looked alot like something Dad or I have made in the past.¬† Eric thought the spaghetti sauce had too many seasonings, I thought it was just right.¬†The next time I make this I will cut down on the spices.¬†I halved this recipe, and omitted the ground pork. I think it would be wonderful with the addition of the pork, and I will probably add¬†it the next time I make this sauce. This makes a very large amount of sauce, so be sure and make it when you are having guests over.

Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce

Source:, user Hey Jude


1 lb ground beef

1 lb ground pork

1 medium onion, chopped fine

2 (28 oz) cans diced tomatoes, with juice

2 (6 oz) cans tomato paste

2 ( 8 oz) cans tomato sauce

2 bay leaves

5 garlic cloves, pressed

4 teaspoons dried oregano

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

4 teaspoons dried basil

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon dried thyme

  • ¬†Brown meats and onion in a skillet and drain well.
  • ¬†Transfer to your crock pot.
  • ¬†Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
  • ¬†Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.
  • ¬†Serve over hot spaghetti noodles.
  • Goulash

    28 Nov

    Goulash is such a comfort food to me, perfect for cool fall weather. This is easy to put together for a weeknight.


    Source: Adapted from The Comfort is Always Here


    1 pound lean ground beef

    1 medium onion, diced

    3 cloves of garlic, minced

    1 quart whole canned tomatoes, squeezed

    16 oz tomato sauce

    1 tsp salt

    1 tsp black pepper

    1 tsp dried oregano

    1 tsp dried basil

    1 tsp worcestershire sauce

    1 tsp sugar

    1 tsp garlic powder

    8 oz macaroni, cooked al dente

    Brown hamburger in a large pot. Once browned, drain fat. Next, add onions and garlic, and cook for another 5 minutes with hamburger. Add salt and pepper and mix. Add in the whole tomatoes, squeezing them as you place in pot. Add in the tomato sauce, oregano, basil, sugar, garlic powder, and worcestershire sauce and give a good stir. Meanwhile, cook your noodles according to instructions on box. Drain, and add into tomato/hamburger mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Serve in a bowl with grated parmesan cheese.

    Easy Mexican Casserole

    18 Nov

    One of my favorite blogs, Sing For Your Supper posted this recipe a couple of months ago. She says that the recipe is from her mom, so I was immediately interested in it. A while back, I made her mom’s no bake stuffed peppers¬†and they were divine. They went into my special recipe folder of recipes I want to keep forever. I love Mexican food, so I was really looking forward to trying this recipe! Well, her mom didn’t let me down, this recipe was a winner too!

    Easy Mexican Casserole

    Source: Sing For Your Supper


    1 pound ground beef
    1 can Ranch Style beans
    1 10-12 ounce bag tortilla chips, crushed
    1 can Ro-tel tomatoes (I used the hot version)
    1 small onion, chopped
    2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
    1 package taco seasoning
    1 can cream of chicken soup
    1/2 cup water
    sour cream and salsa for serving

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large skillet, brown meat and drain off fat. Stir in the beans, Rotel, onion, taco seasoning, soup, & water. Simmer over medium-low heat until everything is combined and heated through. Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan. Put a layer of crushed tortilla chips in pan, followed by a layer of the meat & bean mixture, then half of the cheddar cheese. Repeat layers. Cover with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until bubbly. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve with sour cream and salsa.

    No Bake Stuffed Peppers

    23 Aug

    Stuffed peppers are one thing my mom made when I was growing up that I absolutely dreaded! It’s funny how your tastes change as you age. I really enjoy stuffed peppers now that I’m older. This recipe was was really delicious, and I loved that I didn’t have to turn my oven on!


    No Baked Stuffed Peppers

    Source: Sing For Your Supper


    • 2 medium bell peppers (any color, I used green and red from our garden)
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon basil
    • 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
    • 1 pound lean ground beef
    • 1 small onion, diced (I used onion powder, about 1 tsp.)
    • 2 cups rice, cooked
    • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese (I used Colby and Monterrey jack)
    • salt to taste
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced (not in original recipe)

    Cut peppers in half lengthwise. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, drop peppers in and boil for 5-6 minutes. In a small bowl, mix tomato sauce, basil, and sugar and set aside. Brown meat and onion in a large skillet. I added the garlic for just a few seconds at the end to prevent it from burning. Drain the meat. Stir in 1/2 the tomato sauce, 1/2 cup of the rice and the salt. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes; stir in the cheese. Spoon meat mixture into peppers and place into skillet. Pour remaining tomato sauce around peppers; cover and simmer. Top with additional cheese if desired. Serve on top of remaining rice.

    stuffed p

    Cheesy Mini Meatloaves

    19 Mar

    mini-meatloavesI absolutely love meatloaf……weird I know. My husband on the other hand hates it, while I crave the stuff. I have never attempted to make meatloaf for him, but I thought I would give this recipe a try. He also refused to eat sloppy joes from a can until I made them from scratch and he loved them. So, what’s the worst that can happen? He won’t eat it and I’ll have to eat all the leftovers?¬† ūüôā

    Mini Meatloaves

    • 1 egg
    • 3/4 cup milk
    • 1 cup shredded cheddar¬†cheese
    • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats (I subbed 1 cup whole wheat soft bread crumbs )
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 pound ground beef
    • 2/3 cup ketchup
    • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar (I only used 1 tablespoon)
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons prepared mustard (I used 1 teaspoon dried mustard)
    • 1 teaspoon each of garlic powder and onion powder (not in original recipe)
    • 1/4 teaspoon pepper (not in original recipe)

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the egg, milk, cheese, oats, and salt. (this is where I added the other ingredients). Add the ground beef, mixing well, and form this mixture into eight mini meatloaves. Place these in a lightly greased 9 x 13 inch pan (I used my muffin pan instead). In a seperate bowl, combine the ketchup, brown sugar and mustard. Stir throughly and spread over each meatloaf. Bake uncovered, at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. I served these with steamed broccoli and garlic mashed potatoes.

    Verdict: I thought the mini meatloaves were really good. I couldn’t get Eric to even try them, oh well!