#TBT – Clam Spaghetti

Here is one of my family’s favorites that comes together quickly and is a great choice for a meal when you have guests. The sauce cooks in the time it takes to prepare the pasta, and if you keep canned clams on hand, you probably have everything else you need to make it. It is good served alone, but is even better (and more balanced) if you add garlic bread and a salad.  

For the original post, click here.


#TBT – Dressed Up Mac & Cheese

I seldom use boxed macaroni & cheese, but usually keep it on hand for when my grandchildren visit since it is a sure winner with most of them.  It also comes in handy if I need to fix a last minute meal and am fresh out of inspiration or have extra people to feed.  It is easy to stretch it out for more servings and add greatly to the taste with a few simple additions.

Read the original post here for some suggestions, and then let your imagination be your guide.

Mac & Cheese One-Dish Meals

I don’t usually use boxed macaroni & cheese, but when you have a hungry family and not much time, there are ways to beef it up to make a one-dish meal.  

I am cooking lunch for 15 people at Maia Mom’s Dream House every Thursday, and the challenge is to use what they have on hand without buying a lot of other ingredients.  They are able to get groceries from the Dream Center food pantry, so the food on hand changes every week.  This past week I used boxed macaroni & cheese, canned pinto beans, ground beef, leftover cooked chicken, and canned tomatoes to make two different versions, one taco with ground beef & beans and one Italian with chicken and tomatoes.  Everyone ended up taking some of each, and they were both surprisingly good.
Taco Mac & Cheese
Serves 8
  • 1/2 lb ground beef, browned
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained
  • 1 packet taco seasoning*
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 boxes macaroni & cheese, prepared according to package directions
Combine all ingredients except the macaroni & cheese, and simmer for a few minutes while you prepare the mac & cheese dinner.  When the mac & cheese dinner is prepared, add the meat mixture and mix well.  (I added some crushed tortilla chips to the top.)  *Instead of the taco seasoning mix and the diced tomatoes, I used salsa,chili powder, salt and pepper to taste.

Italian Mac & Cheese
Serves 4
  • 1 cup diced cooked chicken (or browned ground beef or turkey)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes 
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasonings (or to taste)
  • 1 small can chopped black olives
  • 1 box macaroni & cheese, prepared according to package directions
Combine all ingredients except the macaroni & cheese, and simmer for a few minutes while you prepare the mac & cheese dinner. When the mac & cheese dinner is prepared, add the chicken and tomato mixture and mix well.
The inspiration for these dishes came from this blog post by The Humbled Homemaker.  (Check out that post for several other suggestions.)

#TBT – Feta Pesto Pasta

I want to keep up our trend of dishes that require minimal cooking to get us through these hot days of summer, and this is a real winner.
I am happy to report that Kayte is no longer pregnant as shown in the lead-in picture, and little Iris Ophelia is now six weeks old and absolutely adorable.  I will try to get Kayte to do a quick post to introduce her to all of you.
For the original post and the recipe, click here.

#TBT – Clam Spaghetti

Although I love to cook, when the weather is hot and the days are long, the last thing I feel like doing is standing over a hot stove.  Clam spaghetti is a good choice since it comes together in minutes, and it is also a perfect solution when cooking for company.  It is something I have been making for years, and it has become a family favorite.  For the original post, click here.

Feta Pesto Pasta

This meal is so simple I’m a little embarrassed to even make a blog post out of it. I wouldn’t, except it’s become a family favorite and my husband would happily eat it every night of the week if it were up to him. These days I’m feeling less than inspired to be ambitious in the kitchen, being 33 weeks pregnant and sporting a significant waddle. Honestly, all I want to do is sit on the couch with my feet up, eating my fetus’ weight in Butterfingers, and work on various craft projects for the nursery. 

What Butterfingers do to ya.
This meal is almost exclusively from Costco (everything but the pasta), but can easily be done with ingredients from a regular grocery store. You just won’t be able to brag that you made 8 meals out of a $9 jar of (the best ever) pesto sauce! Considering a small 4 oz jar at the grocery store is about $5, that’s a very good deal. This dish is so quick to prepare that it is literally done by the time you boil the pasta.

A great use for leftover rotisserie chicken.

My method is to start my pot of water to boil, roughly chop leftover cold chicken (don’t forget to save the carcass for chicken broth), and dice the onion before adding the pasta to the boiling water. Next I throw the onions in a hot skillet to sauté, then add the sun dried tomatoes and chicken just long enough to heat them through. The results look like this:

Onions, sun dried tomatoes, chicken.

When I strain the pasta, I add the cold pesto sauce to the hot pot and dump the pasta in on top of it. This is referred to as “Being Too Lazy To Dirty Another Pan.” Next I simply combine all the ingredients and stir, topping with feta. Voila!

This is probably the tastiest 15 minute meal I know how to make. I have bags of Costco rotisserie chicken in my freezer that will make this meal even easier (as if that’s possible) after this baby comes. The onions and sun dried tomatoes are completely optional, and I’ve substituted fresh chopped tomatoes, broccoli, goat cheese, and other frozen veggies in the past. 

Feta pesto pasta

Feta Pesto Pasta

  • 1 box pasta (penne or rotini works best IMO)
  • 1-2 cups diced cooked chicken (rotisserie works great)
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 heaping tablespoons sun dried tomatoes (optional)
  • 3 heaping tablespoons pesto
  • feta cheese

Cook pasta according to package. In the meantime, chop onions and chicken. Saute onions, adding chicken and tomatoes and stir until heated through, then remove from heat. When you strain the pasta, add the pesto sauce to the hot pan and cover with hot pasta. Stir all ingredients together and top with desired amount of feta. Serve with garlic bread for best results (and maximum carb overload).

Ramen Noodle Soup

When my kids were growing up, one of their favorite snacks or quick meals was the packaged Ramen noodles.  It was cheap, quick, tasty and they could make it themselves.  I like them, too, but I don’t like all the extra ingredients.  Since I have been trying to clean up what I eat, I don’t buy them anymore.  
I am fortunate to have a large Asian market close by, and I was fascinated by the large assortment of noodles they carry.  As I looked at them, I thought that it couldn’t be too difficult to make my own Ramen noodle soup. I have tried several different kinds of Asian-style noodles by now, and will continue to experiment with others.  Some of the packages have English translations, but many of them don’t.  Below is a picture of what I used this time, and it had no English so your guess is as good as mine as to what kind they were.

Ramen Noodle Soup
Serves 1

  • 2 cups broth (chicken, beef, vegetable)
  • 1/2 cup frozen mixed vegetables
  • Pinch of oregano
  • Dried noodles
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce (or to taste)

Add oregano to broth along with vegetables and cook until vegetables are tender.  Add noodles and simmer until done (it doesn’t take long), then add soy sauce and serve.
Feel free to change anything you like in the above recipe.  I used my homemade bouillion to make the broth. Use whatever veggies you have on hand or prefer.  If they are fresh, maybe stir fry them in a little sesame oil instead of boiling them.  It is also a great way to use up leftover veggies.  I added oregano just because it seemed like a good idea. Thyme or basil would also be good choices.  If you don’t have Ramen-type noodles, use thin spaghetti or angel hair instead.  To make it more substantial, add small pieces of cooked meat or seafood, although I find it pretty filling without.  This is the perfect recipe to experiment with to make it your own!