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The Mama’s Ultimate Pizza

Pizza  night. Do any of you have one night a week that’s pizza night? We do around here not just because we love pizza, but because at least once a week we need something speedy. Pizza is a very quick dinner to make. Especially if you simplify things and buy the dough in the refrigerated section of the store. Super easy. Just roll it out, press to fit, and top it with whatever you like.

Here’s one of they ways this mama likes to do pizza. We call this The Mama’s Ultimate Pizza.

First I take out my baking sheet and line it with foil for easy clean up. I really hate doing dishes. Then I spray that lightly with some cooking spray. Then pop your dough out of the can, and starting in the middle of the pan, unroll the dough, and press it and spread it to fit as best you can. See mine, doesn’t have to fit perfectly. It’ll be ok, I promise. Now to ensure that the dough is cooked completely when the entire pizza is done, I slip this into the oven at 425 degrees for about 8 minutes, just to partially cook the crust. You don’t want to cook it completely through at this point. Just give it a little head start. Then set that aside.

Now I prepare my toppings. I brown up some ground Italian sausage. You can go hot or mild on this. I prefer the mild. Don’t forget to drain it.

Then I chop up my bell peppers. I like to use two different colors here just to make it pop. I love the brightness of the red and yellow, but you can choose any bell peppers you want, whatever colors you want. I also had the hubster slice up some red onion. He never cries when he cuts onions. He says “the idea is to not develop an emotional attachment.”  😂

And because we love meat so much, I sliced up some smoked sausage. We also added sliced pepperoni, which was already sliced, and some sliced black olives, neither of which are pictured, and again, those were already sliced. Notice I’m using cheapy paper plates to put my prepped toppings on? Did I mention I hate doing dishes? 🙃

Now the fun part! The layers! Slather on as much or as little sauce as you want, I used store bought pizza sauce. Then some pizza blend cheese, which came already shredded. (Gee, ready made dough, pre-sliced olives, pre-sliced pepperoni, ready sauce and pre-shredded cheese. This recipe was half done before I even got started! SCORE!) A little note about the amount of cheese used, in the written recipe, I was trying to be reasonable on the measurements. Honestly, use as little or as much as you want. Obviously I did! Then I spread on my meats and veggies, and then cover that in more cheese. Sprinkle some Italian seasoning over the top (that was my mom’s idea. Thanks mom!).  Now it’s ready for the oven.

Just look at that slice of happiness! Definitely need a fork for this, but totally worth it! I hope you try it, and enjoy!

 

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The Mama's Ultimate Pizza Yum
Recipe by: Christine Titus
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Starting at the center of the baking sheet, unroll dough, pressing it out to fit baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes just to partially bake the crust.
  3. Spread sauce over crust; top with 1 cup of the cheese. Top cheese with meats, olives, onion and bell peppers. Top with remaining 1 cup of the cheese and sprinkle with Italian seasoning.
  4. Bake for 5-7 minutes, or until the crust is a crisp deep golden brown, and the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Recipe Notes

For a spicier version, use spicy Italian sausage, and sprinkle the pizza sauce with some crushed red pepper.

Use as much cheese as you like! If you like cheese as much as we do, you'll likely want to use more than 2 cups.

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Lighter Three-Cheese Pasta Bake

Happy Friday everyone! Wow did this week go flying by, or is it just me? I’ve been so busy with back to school stuff that it just seems like it flew by! Can you believe it’s time for back to school already?! I managed to get all of the school supplies, sports physicals are done, we’re working on clothes, and more paperwork for the schools. It hardly leaves time for anything else it would seem.

However, if you are a planner like I am, you probably plan ahead your meals. Or at least your dinners. One thing I have been doing lately is planning budget friendly meals, mostly because of the expenses of back to school. With budget friendly meals, it always helps to have at least 1 meatless dish a week, and lets not forget to keep it healthy! Budget friendly doesn’t have to mean “bad for you”.

So, I’ve got a great meatless casserole for you today! Originally I found this casserole over on Krystin’s blog, Lil Luna. Her recipe is phenomenal! Don’t get me wrong! In fact I love it so much, I really wanted to make it a bit healthier so I can enjoy it more often. Plus I made a few other minor changes to make it more of a meal. By the way, if you don’t want this to be a meatless dish, you can always add some chopped cooked chicken, turkey or ham to it as well.

So here’s what I came up with to lighten it up, and twist it a smidge. First of all, you want to get your ziti pasta cooking. Cook that according to the package instructions until it’s al dente. While that’s boiling away, heat your broccoli cuts according to package directions. Now I bought frozen steamable broccoli cuts, so I just had to plop the package down in the microwave and nuke it according to what the package said. Drain  your pasta, put it back in the same pot, add your broccoli.

Now, take your Alfredo sauce and sour cream and mix that together real good.

Then dump that sauce into the pot with your ziti and broccoli. Toss that together until it’s all evenly coated.

Spread half of the noodle mixture into a lightly greased 13×9 dish.

Now combine together your ricotta, eggs, Parmesan, salt & pepper.

Spread that evenly over the pasta mixture in the baking dish. Spoon the remaining pasta mixture on top of the ricotta mixture.

Sprinkle the top with mozzarella cheese.

Bake it at 350 degrees F. until bubbly and the cheese has melted.

Just look at that cheese! Using light roasted garlic Alfredo sauce, light sour cream, ricotta cheese made with part skim, and reduced fat mozzarella cheese, you’re still left with a rich, creamy, delicious pasta casserole. By the way, no one in this house had a clue I used light or reduced fat anything in this recipe. Now I can enjoy this casserole more often with reduced guilt!

One last note, to make it a bit more healthier, and if you wish, you can replace regular ziti pasta with whole grain or whole wheat ziti. We are just not fans of whole wheat pasta, but that doesn’t mean  you aren’t! Enjoy!

 

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Lighter Three-Cheese Pasta Bake Yum
Recipe by Christine Titus
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Prepare ziti according to package directions until al dente; drain and return to pot.
  2. While ziti is cooking, heat broccoli cuts according to package directions. I used steamable, so just used my microwave.
  3. Once ziti is drained and returned to the pot, add the broccoli
  4. Stir together Alfredo sauce and sour cream; toss with ziti and broccoli until evenly coated. Spoon half of mixture into a lightly greased 13x9-inch baking dish.
  5. Stir together ricotta cheese, eggs, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Spread evenly over pasta mixture in baking dish. Spoon remaining pasta mixture evenly over ricotta cheese layer; sprinkle evenly with mozzarella cheese.
  6. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until bubbly.
Recipe Notes

Feel free to add meat to this dish if you want! Just throw in some chopped cooked chicken, turkey or ham with your pasta and broccoli.

Substitute whole grain or whole wheat pasta if you like.

Adapted from lilluna.com

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Penne Marinara Casserole with Brown Sugar Bourbon Smoked Sausage

Ever find yourself without a plan for dinner? I’m a planner, it’s what I do. I have to have a plan for just about everything and that includes dinner. Sometimes though, plans fall through, or I forgot a minor detail that turns out to be a huge big deal! This is how this Penne Marinara Casserole with Brown Sugar Bourbon Smoked Sausage was born. My plan for dinner fell through because of a few forgotten ingredients and so I found myself at the last minute digging into my freezer and cabinets saying to myself “Now what?!” Since I live way out in the countryside, just jumping in the car and going to the store for forgotten items just isn’t all that feasible, or appealing. 😂

This turned out to be great though! It wasn’t a disaster at all. My kids gobbled this casserole up, and I gotta say, I enjoyed it too. You can use any variety of sausages in this casserole, but the Brown Sugar Bourbon Smoked Sausage is what I had on hand. I really liked the subtle sweetness it gave the dish. It’s not overpowering at all, just a background sweetness. You’ve just got to try it! Here’s how to make it! It’s easy peasy!

First you want to get your water going for your pasta, and cook your pasta according to the directions on the package. Just until al dente (cooked, but firm to the bite). While that’s doing it’s thing, you can brown up your ground beef (or turkey if you prefer) along with your onion and garlic. Once the beef is cooked, then just slice your sausages into coins, like above. Toss that in the skillet with the beef.

Toss your pasta sauce and seasonings in along with your sausage and stir it up to combine. Then just let it simmer and heat through while your pasta finishes cooking. Once the pasta is done, drain it and return it to the pot.

Take your meat mixture, and dump that in with your pasta and give it a good stir.

Transfer the pasta to your prepared casserole dish, and top with the cheeses. It is now ready for the oven!

Pop that in a 350 degree oven, and in about 10-15 minutes (or until the cheese is melted and the casserole is heated through) you have a delicious dinner.

Full of two different kinds of meat and cheesy goodness, what more do you need?! Perhaps a fresh, crisp green salad to go along side it wouldn’t hurt. 😉

 

 

Print Recipe
Penne Marinara Casserole with Brown Sugar Bourbon Smoked Sausage Yum
Recipe by Christine Titus
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 2 1/2 – 3 quart baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions, until al dente.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook beef with onion and garlic until beef is no longer pink and vegetables are tender.
  4. Slice sausages into coins, and add to the skillet along with pasta sauce and seasonings. Stir to combine, and let simmer to heat through while pasta finishes cooking.
  5. When pasta is cooked, drain thoroughly and return to pot.
  6. Stir meat mixture into pasta and transfer to prepared baking dish.
  7. Top with Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.
  8. Bake for 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese melts and heated through.
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Mashed Potato Hot Dish

This casserole is the perfect dish to serve your family on busy weekdays. You probably have all of the ingredients already in your pantry. This dish has a lot going on for it. It’s budget friendly for one, it’s easy to put together, and it tastes fantastic! All you need to round it out is a simple salad to serve on the side. Easy Peasy! Oh, and one other thing I love about this recipe, it’s topped with my favorite mashed potatoes. I make double the mashed potatoes for what I actually need in this recipe, so there are leftovers that I can serve as a side dish the next day. I mean, if I already have to make them, I might as well double up. That makes for an easy dinner the next day, since I don’t have to worry about a side. The potatoes go with anything, meatloaf, chicken, steak, pork chops. Oh I can name a million things that go with mashed potatoes, and trust me, after you taste these, you’re going to want more.

So lets get cooking!

There’s nothing to it really.  You’re just gonna take your ground beef, garlic and onion, and toss that in a large pan. Brown  up that hamburger and drain the fat if necessary. Then add your green beans, cream of chicken soup, and salt and pepper. Next layer!

Cheese! Oh yea. You’ve got to have cheese. If you’re worried about the fat content in this recipe, don’t be worried! I’ll let you in on a little secret. I used low fat cream of chicken soup, reduced fat cheese, 1/3 less fat Neufchatel cheese (instead of full fat cream cheese), and light sour cream. No one noticed! Just as I suspected. If you’re worried about the beef, switch it out for ground turkey. It’ll work out just the same and be fabulous, just the same. In fact next time I’m going to use ground turkey. So there go, don’t be scared, now put that cheese layer on. Next layer!

The mashed potato layer. These potatoes are easy to make, and this is also where the cream cheese, sour cream, butter and ranch dressing mix comes into play. But like I said above, you can lighten it up. I did! So spread that deliciousness over the cheese.

No, I’m not kidding. More cheese. That’s your final layer. Now plop that in the oven at 350 and bake it until it’s bubbly and the cheese is melted. About 20-25 minutes, which was the perfect amount of time for me to clean up those pans I used, and toss together a crisp green salad.

Enjoy!


Print Recipe
Mashed Potato Hot Dish Yum
Recipe by Christine Titus
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Place potatoes in a large pot. Cover with water, and bring to a boil. Boil potatoes for 15-20 minutes or until fork tender; drain well.
  2. Return potatoes to large pot and add cream cheese, ranch dressing mix, sour cream and butter. With an electric hand held mixer on low speed, blend ingredients together. Once combined, turn to faster setting and whip potatoes until smooth. Cover and set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, cook beef, onion and garlic over medium heat until no longer pink and onion is soft. Drain if necessary.
  4. Stir in soup, green beans, and salt and pepper to taste
  5. Transfer beef mixture to a greased 2-qt. baking dish. Top with 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese. Top cheese with mashed potatoes. Sprinkle top of potatoes with remaining cheese.
  6. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is melted.
Recipe Notes

This recipe makes double Mashed potatoes than what you will need for this casserole. I like to make extra and then eat the left over potatoes as a side dish the next day. If you don't wish to do that, then just cut the mashed potato recipe in half.

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Simple Ravioli Casserole

Happy Friday everyone!

I don’t know about you guys, but my whole week was full of frustration and technical difficulties, so I’m really really happy it’s Friday. Have you ever heard that song from Brad Paisley called Crushin’ It? Yea, that’s my theme song currently! LOL!

So enough with things being difficult! Lets do something simple! I love simple. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m all about simplicity. Keeping things simple, means you don’t have to rush. It means more time with those you love, less stress, and maybe even make space to relax with your feet up while enjoying your favorite wine. So lets keep it simple.

We’ll start with this Simple Ravioli Casserole.  All you need to round out this delicious dish, is a nice crisp green salad, and some crunchy garlic bread. In fact, that’s what I did. I tossed together a quick Caesar salad and baked up some of that garlic Texas toast you find in the freezer section at the store. Talk about simple eh?

First of all, you want to take that frozen ravioli and cook it in a big pot. Which takes almost no time. I mean, seriously. Takes longer to boil the water than to cook these suckers.

Now, spread a little bit of your pasta sauce on the bottom of your 13×9 dish.

Then we simply start layering. Start with half of your ravioli.

Then the rest of the pasta sauce from the first jar, and then sprinkle with some Italian seasoning. Just sprinkle to your own taste.

Spread on the cottage cheese. Oh yea, did I mention that this dish is loaded with cheese? You got the cheese filled ravioli, the cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese and some Parmesan cheese. Cheese cheese everywhere cheese!!! YUM!

Here comes more cheese. Put some of your mozzarella on, and then some of your Parmesan. Now… are you ready for this? Repeat the layers one more time. The rest of your ravioli, all of the pasta sauce from jar #2, Italian seasoning, cottage cheese, mozzarella and Parmesan. Now you’re ready for the oven!

Isn’t she a beauty?! Just about half hour in the oven, uncovered, at 350 and there she is! Let her rest for about 5-10 minutes while you toss together a salad and warm up some bread.

I hope you all enjoy and have a marvelous weekend!

 

Print Recipe
Simple Ravioli Casserole Yum
Recipe by Christine Titus
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Spread 1/2 cup of pasta sauce in an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish.
  2. Layer half of the ravioli on top of the pasta sauce. Then spread remainder of first jar of pasta sauce evenly over the ravioli. Sprinkle pasta sauce with Italian seasoning, to taste. Next spread 1 cup cottage cheese, and 2 cups mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle 1/4 cup Parmesan over mozzarella.
  3. Repeat the layers 1 more time. Ravioli, all of pasta sauce from jar #2, Italian Seasoning, cottage cheese, mozzarella and Parmesan.
  4. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 30-40 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.
  5. Yield: 8
Recipe Notes
  • This dish makes a lot and is perfect for potlucks or big families. You can also split it up between two smaller casseroles to bake one now, and freeze the other. To freeze, just assembled casserole up to baking. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and then add a layer of heavy duty aluminum foil. Mark and date it, and freeze. When you're ready to eat it, thaw in the fridge, bake as directed.
  • This also reheats really well for lunches the next day.

Adapted from Taste of Home

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Meatless Chili Pasta Bake

Hello everyone!

It’s a beautiful Tuesday afternoon here in my little corner of the world in the southern half of Indiana. A bit humid though. I love the sunshine, but the humidity I can do without. I am very grateful for my air conditioning. My kids, however, are enjoying playing in the sprinkler. When they are done, they like to towel off and dry in the sun while eating a Fun Pop. Once spring hits, I always make sure I have a package of those in the freezer.

Enough about my day, lets talk about menu planning for just a minute. Do any of you menu plan? I always work out a menu plan before I make my shopping list, and I work by the week. I also only do dinners. I don’t plan breakfast and lunch. Each individual is on their own for that one. I always have everyone’s favorite things on hand though, so it’s easy for them to find breakfast and lunch.

Do any of you do themed menu planning? I absolutely love doing my planning that way, because I get so bored doing it. I mean lets face it, menu planning and grocery shopping are not really the most enjoyable thing to do. They are tasks and they must be done. But why not have fun with it? If I start getting bored I just change up my theme. I do have some constants though that always seem to make it into the plan somewhere. One of those is a meatless night.

I have discovered that lots of people do “Meatless Monday”. My meatless meal may not fall on a Monday, but it’s the same concept. I’ve also discovered that having at least one meatless meal a week, will save money in groceries. One last thing I’ve noticed, when I make a meatless dish, no one seems to notice or even miss it. How cool is that?!

So that’s what I have for you today, a meatless dish that you’re going to want to add to your menu to try. It’s incredibly budget friendly, and so yummy! My son wolfed it down, and then the kids polished off what was left of it the next day for lunch. I served it alongside some corn bread and a tossed crisp green salad. Easy, quick, cheap, and yummy! What could be better?! Let me show you how easy this is…

First you’re going to cook the pasta according to the package directions. Then drain it, and add it back to the pot. Then mix in your chili, salsa and corn.

Transfer that to a 13×9 casserole dish.

Now sprinkle on the cheese.

All that’s left is to pop it in a 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, or until it’s bubbly and the cheese is melted.

I hope you and your family enjoy this delicious dish together! We sure did!

A few of my favorite things in this recipe:

  • Pyrex glass 13×9 baking dish – Mine’s blue, and also probably older, but these Pyrex dishes are perfect for just about anything. They don’t absorb food smells or stains, they are dishwasher, refrigerator, microwave & oven safe, and the lid makes taking a dish to a potluck a lot easier!
  • Oxo Good Grips nylon spoon – These are safe for non-stick cookware and also heat resistant up to 400 degrees.
  • Paula Deen cookware – I absolutely love my cookware set. I have had these for quite awhile and still don’t need to replace them. They are very reasonably priced for great cookware.


Print Recipe
Meatless Chili Pasta Bake Yum
Recipe by Christine Titus
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a large pot, cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Return pasta to pot and add in the chili, salsa and corn. Mix well to combine.
  3. Transfer to a greased 13x9 baking dish and sprinkle with cheese.
  4. Bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from Taste of Home

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Chicken, Veggie & Rice Casserole

After this long weekend and returning to every day life, you’re probably going to be looking for an easy weeknight meal. Well, surprise surprise, I have what you are looking for! Today I’m sharing with you my Chicken, Veggie and Rice casserole. It’s so simple, and just perfect for busy weeknights, or for when you’re just tired and don’t want to spend forever in the kitchen. I mean, you need time to put your feet up and have a glass of wine. I’m just saying.

This recipe calls for cooked chicken, which increases the ease of it. If you already have cooked chicken in your freezer (which I like to keep stocked up on), or if you have leftovers from the night before, great! If you don’t have any already cooked chicken, to keep this recipe simple, you can grab a rotisserie chicken from your grocery store deli. That will do just fine.

All you need to round out this meal is a tossed salad. So lets just jump right in so you can get to relaxing!

A few of my favorite things I used in this recipe:

  • Pyrex 4 qt. glass mixing bowl – I love this giant bowl. I use it to mix casseroles together before putting them in the casserole dish, and I also love it because I can make a huge batch of salads to take to potlucks or to have at any party. Lots of space in this one. Plus Pyrex is non-porous so it won’t absorb food odors, flavors or stains, and it’s oven, microwave, refrigerator, freezer and dishwasher safe.
  • Paula Deen Cookware – I absolutely love my cookware set. Paula Deen has many different sets, but this is the one I have and I love it. Always cooks evenly, washes easily, never stains.
  • Pioneer Woman Ceramic Bakeware Set – I just got this set and I adore them! They’re so pretty, not to mention easy to wash.


Print Recipe
Chicken, Veggie & Rice Casserole Yum
Recipe by Christine Titus
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Prepare your rice according to the package directions.
  3. In a very large bowl, combine rice, chicken, soup, milk, carrots, green beans, and tarragon. Season with salt and pepper to your taste. Spoon into a 2 1/2 - 3 qt. casserole dish. Top with bread crumbs.
  4. Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes or until heated through.
  5. Flip on the broiler, and broil for a minute or two, just to brown the bread crumbs. Watch closely so you don't burn it.
  6. Serve & enjoy!
Recipe Notes

Adapted from Del Monte.

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Enchilada Bubble Bake

Mmmm Enchiladas. I can’t get enough of them! It’s one of my favorite flavors, that red enchilada sauce, therefore, one of my favorite Mexican dishes. Enchiladas are easy to make too, in fact I posted my take on some easy enchiladas which I named Awesome Beef Enchiladas. If you missed that, be sure to check it out.

But speaking of simplicity and my obsession with enchiladas, this dish I bring you today is even easier than my Awesome Beef Enchiladas! So if you don’t feel like rolling up tortillas with delicious enchilada fillings, and just wish you could have enchiladas you can just throw in a 13×9 and be done with it, well… your wish is my command!  This is exactly that easy. There is  just one little thing I would like to point out. I used to have a horrible time with dishes like this because it seemed like it would take FOREVER to get the biscuits to cook all the way through and even still, you might find one or two still a little raw in the center. Used to make me NUTS! The secret, make sure your meat mixture is piping hot when you add your biscuit dough to it. This will help those biscuits cook on time, evenly, and completely through.

So now, I bring to you….

I hope you enjoy!

Print Recipe
Enchilada Bubble Bake Yum
Recipe by Christine Titus
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large skillet, cook beef over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink. Drain, if necessary.
  3. Meanwhile, separate each can of dough into 10 biscuits. With a knife, or I like to use a pizza cutter, cut each biscuit into quarters.
  4. In large bowl, stir together beef, beans, and enchilada sauce. Add biscuit pieces and toss gently to coat. Spread mixture evenly in baking dish. Sprinkle cheese over top.
  5. Bake 25 to 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Recipe Notes
  • You will want to make sure your meat mixture is piping hot when you add your biscuit dough to it. This will help those biscuits cook on time, evenly, and completely through.
  • You can top this delicious casserole with any of your favorite toppings like sour cream and/or guacamole.
  • You could also use ground turkey in this recipe.

Slightly adapted from Betty Crocker

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Baked Spaghetti Casserole + Wine Pairing

I know, I’m a bit late for Wine Pairing Wednesday. But to make it up to you, I’ve got a two-fer! Not only are we going to talk about wine, and maybe call this Thirsty Thursday 😂, but I have a great recipe to share with you that pairs perfectly with this beautiful wine!

Meet Los Andicos. A red wine, Malbec,  from Mendoza, Argentina. I found this at Aldi to be honest with you. If you have an Aldi nearby, you should really check out their wine and beer selection. They have some interesting things there and I love trying new wines. Not to mention they’re cheap too. I paid about 6.99 for this bottle. This is the third bottle of wine I have tried from off of Aldi’s shelves, right in this price range of 6.99 – 9.99 and I have not been disappointed. So lets talk about the Malbec a little bit. I have seen it labeled as a full bodied red and also a medium bodied red. I think both might be true. I am not a full bodied red fan. When I hear full bodied red, I instantly think of Cabernet Sauvignon which is my “cooking” wine and I don’t care to drink it. I was a little hesitant about trying the Malbec since the bottle says it’s a full bodied. However, this tastes like a medium. Odd, but whatever. It’s delicious! Most full bodied reds pair well with heavier meats like the Cabernet. For the Malbec, it’s softer with less tannins than other reds. “What the frack is a tannin” you ask? Good question cause I had no idea either. I had to look that one up. According to vinepair.com, “Tannins are naturally occurring compounds that exist inside grape skins, seeds and stems. The scientific word for these compounds is polyphenols. Polyphenols release from the skins, seeds and stems when they soak in the grape juice just after the grapes have been pressed and are what give certain wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, their characteristic dryness or astringency. You experience the effect of tannins any time you drink a wine that creates a drying sensation in your mouth. Depending on how dry your mouth feels, you can determine whether a wine is high or low in tannins. We say a wine that is high in tannins is tannic.” So now we know! With that said, since the Malbec has less tannins, you’ll want to pair this with leaner meats like barbecue beef, ribs, rich red sauce pastas. I hear it also pairs very well with duck. For cheeses, you might consider mild cheeses like Gouda, Gruyere or Provolone.

I paired this with pasta. Which brings me to the recipe! Yes! Baked Spaghetti Casserole. This recipe comes out with layers of texture and flavor. The pasta is rich and creamy, and the meat sauce is saucy, and the cheese is so cheesy! I Served this up with some Garlic Texas Toast and it was out of this world! Especially when paired with this lovely Malbec.

Grab your ingredients! Lets get started!

You’re going to want to get your pot of water for your pasta on the stove first and cook your spaghetti according to the package directions. While that’s going on, you can go ahead and brown your ground beef right along with your chopped onion and minced garlic.  Once that’s all cooked through, drain any fat if necessary, then dump your spaghetti sauce into the skillet, along with about a tablespoon of Italian seasoning and combine it with the meat.

Once your spaghetti is cooked, drain it, but don’t rinse it. Put it directly back into the warm pot and add your cream cheese. Stir until it’s melted and combined, then add your sour cream and combine that.

Now just spread your noodle mixture in a greased 13×9. You can also split this up into two 8×8 casseroles and have one to freeze.

Then, spread on your meat sauce.

Top with a ton of mozzarella, and a sprinkling of freshly shredded Parmesan cheese, and it’s ready for the oven. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30-35 minutes.

Once it’s finished, let sit for about 5-10 minutes before serving, which is the perfect amount of time to bake up some of that Garlic Texas Toast, and open that bottle of Malbec. Enjoy!


Print Recipe
Baked Spaghetti Casserole Yum
Recipe by Christine Titus
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions. Drain, do not rinse, and return to warm pot.
  3. Add cream cheese immediately to the spaghetti, stir together until the cream cheese has melted. Add in the sour cream, and stir to combine.
  4. Put spaghetti mixture into a greased 13x9 baking dish.
  5. In a large skillet, add ground beef, onion and garlic. Cook and stir until the meat is no longer pink. Drain if necessary.
  6. Add the pasta sauce and Italian seasoning to the meat and combine.
  7. Spread meat sauce over pasta in the dish.
  8. Top sauce with Mozzarella and then the Parmesan.
  9. Bake at 350 for 30- 35 minutes or until hot and bubbly and cheese has melted.
  10. Let it stand for 5 or 10 minutes before serving.
  11. Freeze Option:
  12. You can make this, and instead of using a 13x9, divide it up between two 8x8 baking dishes. Assemble casserole as per the directions. Do not back, but instead, wrap in plastic wrap, and then a layer of heavy duty aluminum foil and freeze. When ready to bake, let casserole defrost in the fridge, then bake as directed.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from food.com

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Awesome Beef Enchiladas

Cinco De Mayo 2017 has passed! Not that I need an excuse to devour Mexican food, but if I ever do, that will be my excuse. Mexican food is my favorite kind of food, in fact most of my menu this week is made up of Mexican inspired food. Italian is a close second. I do cook a lot of Mexican and Italian inspired recipes. We had a lovely couple over to our home on May 5th. My husband has known them since he was just a kid, and had not seen them in quite some time. So I knew I wanted to make something really good, and since it was Cinco De Mayo that they came over for dinner, it wasn’t difficult for me to figure out the menu.

This recipe is my very first recipe that I developed as my own. I have made it several times in the past, and it always goes over well with my family and company alike. It’s super easy, and it makes a lot, so it’s perfect for feeding a crowd or taking to a potluck. I always make two pans of these because one is never enough, even for just my family. Plus, they reheat really well and we like to have leftovers for lunch the next day. Since I had not made this recipe in quite some time, simply because I’ve been too busy trying out new recipes, I felt it was the perfect dish to serve to our very special guests. Needless to say, it went over great with them too! Super easy and quick, and all you really need is some tortilla chips and salsa to serve along with them. You can top these with anything you like. We had sour cream, guacamole, cilantro, salsa and verde sauce. You could even top these with some shredded lettuce and fresh chopped tomato if you wish.

So, you want to try them? Good! Let me show you how easy this is. First, you want to prepare your Spanish rice mix according to the package directions. I do this well in advance so it’s cool enough to handle when I’m ready to roll these babies up. You can use your favorite brand of Spanish rice mix. I use Zatarain’s.  Set that aside. When you’re ready to start cooking the whole… enchilada… (HA!) just brown up  your ground beef in a very large skillet, stock pot, or dutch oven. Crumble it up as you go until no pink remains.

Once it’s cooked through, remove it from the heat and drain any fat if necessary. Now add in your prepared and cooled Spanish rice (warm is ok, you just don’t want to burn your fingers here in a minute), some cheese, and some enchilada sauce. I don’t measure the enchilada sauce, I just add some. You want the mixture to be moistened with the sauce, not drowning in it.

Now, mix it all up.

Now the fun part! Spoon some of this delicious enchilada filling onto one end of a tortilla and roll it up.

Place seam side down in baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas. A 13×9 baking dish should hold 10 enchilada’s.

Once you have all of your enchiladas rolled up and in the baking dish, pour the enchilada sauce over them. As much as you like. We like ours saucy. Then cover in cheese. I use a lot of cheese. You can never have too much cheese. I use about two cups of cheese on each baking dish. Then top with sliced black olives. Into the oven at 375 it goes!

You’re gonna bake these for about 15-20 minutes, depending on how hot your oven is. Remember not all ovens are created equal, so check them at 15 minutes and go longer if needed. You want the cheese melted and the sauce bubbly.

Let it sit for just a few minutes, then dish ’em up, top them with whatever you like to top your Mexican food with, and enjoy! Don’t be afraid to spice this up if you like things spicy. Add jalapenos to your toppings, use hot enchilada sauce instead of mild. Add spicy chiles to the filling. Whatever your family likes, mild or spicy, this is the perfect dish. See, nothing to it! I hope you and your family and/or friends enjoy this as much as we do.


Print Recipe
Awesome Beef Enchiladas Yum
Recipe by Christine Titus
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Prepare Spanish rice mix according to package directions, using the diced tomatoes and butter (I do this in the microwave). Set aside to cool.
  2. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease two 13x9 glass baking dishes.
  3. In a 10-inch skillet, cook beef over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly cooked; drain. Stir in the prepared Spanish rice, about 1 cup of cheese, and some enchilada sauce (you want it moistened, not drowning).
  4. Spoon enchilada filling onto tortillas; roll up and place steam sides down in baking dish.
  5. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over tops; sprinkle with remaining cheese and black olives.
  6. Bake 15-20 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
  7. Serve with sour cream, salsa, or any of your favorite Mexican toppings.
Recipe Notes
  • Let the enchiladas sit for a few minutes after taking them out of the oven, for easier serving.
  • Don't be afraid to spice this up if you like things spicy. Add jalapenos to your toppings, use hot enchilada sauce instead of mild. Add spicy chiles to the filling.
  • Top with your favorite Mexican toppings like sour cream, guacamole, salsa, cilantro, shredded lettuce, fresh chopped tomato, taco sauce, salsa verde. The options are endless.
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