Blog Archives

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!

 

Print Recipe
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

Share this Recipe

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.

Share this Recipe

Make-Ahead Breakfast Burritos

Have I mentioned how much of a morning person I am not? I hate mornings. It doesn’t matter how much sleep I got the night before, I just hate mornings. Unless it’s a real special occasion, you will not see me get up in the morning, and make breakfast. I’m a morning zombie. Doing stuff in the morning, does not happen. However, I still have to provide things for my family to eat. Everyone can operate a microwave all by themselves, so that opens up lots of things for breakfast! Like these incredibly delicious breakfast burritos. These are perfect for make-ahead. They’re also perfect to make for dinner! I’m a huge huge huge fan of breakfast for dinner because like I said, I’m no morning person, but on the other hand I LOVE breakfast foods.

So, if you’re like me, and it takes all you’ve got just to make coffee in the morning, you’re gonna love this! It’s super easy, and it freezes and reheats well. Perfect to zombie your way to the freezer, snag one, and stuff it in the microwave. Or for your kids to grab for breakfast without waking you up 😂. Or  you can skip the freezing, and do what I love, breakfast for dinner! Here’s all you do…

Brown up your bulk pork sausage in a large skillet until it’s no longer pink and then drain the fat. Dump in your frozen potatoes o’brien, and cook until it’s heated through and soft. Then dump your lightly beaten eggs in and stir and cook until your eggs are set.

Now comes the fun part! Spoon some sausage mixture a little off center of your tortilla, top with some cheese, and roll it up like a burrito. This took me a few tries and a youtube video before I finally got it. So not kidding. I’m not the world’s best burrito roller-er. 😆

Then just plop those babies in a lightly sprayed 13×9 baking dish. Yes, we’re going to bake them just for a few minutes, because trust me, by the time you get them all rolled up, they’ll be cold. We’re just going to heat them up in the oven is all.

Once heated through, serve them with your favorite toppings, and enjoy! If freezing these ahead of time, obviously you don’t need to heat them through in the oven. Just go from rolling them up, to packaging for the freezer.

Print Recipe
Make-Ahead Breakfast Burritos Yum
Recipe By Christine Titus
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Mexican
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Mexican
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink and then drain off any fat. Add the potatoes with onions and peppers and cook and stir for 6-8 minutes or until tender and heated through. Add eggs and cook and stir until set. Stir in salt & pepper to taste.
  2. Spoon filling off center on each tortilla, sprinkle with cheese and fold sides and ends over filling and roll up burrito style. Place your burritos in a lightly sprayed 13x9 baking dish. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, just until heated through and warm. We're not trying to crisp them up or turn them brown. We just want to serve them warm. Serve with whatever toppings you desire.
  3. To freeze and reheat burritos: Prepare burritos as directed up to oven heating. Skip the oven and wrap each burrito tightly in plastic wrap, then place in a zip top freezer bag. Freeze up to 3 months. To use, remove from zip top bag, and remove plastic wrap. Place one burrito on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave on high for 60-90 seconds or until heated through.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from Taste of Home

Share this Recipe

Cheesy Broccoli Chicken Casserole

Any recipe that has a name that starts with “Cheesy” will have my full and undivided attention! We love cheese around here. In my opinion, you can NEVER add too much cheese. The more cheese, the better it is. There’s just something about that ooey gooey goodness that is so incredibly comforting. Especially when you add pasta to it

This recipe makes a ton. I’m not gonna lie. 😁 I had enough to feed an army, I’m not kidding. That’s not always a bad thing. There’s nothing wrong with leftovers. I meant I didn’t have to cook the next night and could take the night off. What’s bad about that? Also, since it makes so much, and it’s soooo good you’re going to want to share it, it’s perfect to take to a potluck. Not going to a potluck anytime soon? No big deal, you can turn this one casserole into two separate casseroles and cook one tonight, freeze one for later! I’m a huge fan of cooking ahead and stashing homemade meals in the freezer. They’re better for you than what the freezer section at the grocery store has to offer, they taste better too, and those nights you just don’t feel up to cooking, no problem! Dinner’s already made. Just have to pop it in the oven.  Anyway, lets get on with this recipe so you can go make it for your family.

It’s not a difficult casserole to make, as most casseroles aren’t. First we’ll start with the elbow mac. Cook that according to the package directions until they are al dente (cooked, but firm). While that’s cooking, throw some steamable frozen broccoli in the microwave and cook that according to the package directions, and set aside. While that’s all going on, you can be shredding your cheese.

I bought the sharp cheddar already shredded, so I got to skip that step. I know, I’ve heard it a million times, and people everywhere are saying this, that pre-shredded cheese in the package, do not melt as well as shredding it yourself. I disagree, because I’ve never had that problem. Like ever. Maybe I’m lucky, I doubt that strongly, but hey! Maybe that’s my super power. Pre-shredded cheese melts for me. The only kind of cheese I have found this to be true, is pre-shredded Parmesan. That really doesn’t melt as well as shredding it yourself. So, for the Gouda I had to do myself, and I recommend you do the Parmesan yourself too. Stop and snack a little, it’s ok. Who is going to know?! 😋

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to chop up your chicken.

Now, the best part, making the cheese sauce! Just a little butter and flour, whisked together, and cooked only for a couple short minutes to get that floury taste out. Then slowly add your milk, cream and seasonings, whisking all along the way until it’s nice and thick. Then you add your cheese, handful at a time, whisking until melted. NOW, we get to mix it all together!

Oh man… look at that cheese!!! 😍😍😍 Mix all that yummy together, and spoon it into your prepared 13×9.

Toss your topping ingredients together and sprinkle on top.

Pop that beautiful thing into the oven to bake, 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees. Check it at 20, you don’t want to over cook this or it can dry out. You just want it to be nice and hot and bubbly.

All that’s left is to serve, and enjoy!


Print Recipe
Cheesy Broccoli Chicken Casserole 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 degreees.
  2. Cook macaroni according to package directions. While macaroni is cooking, steam broccoli in microwave according to package directions, set aside.
  3. Melt butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Whisk in flour and let cook 2 minutes while stirring. Slowly whisk in cream, milk, and seasonings. Cook over medium heat while stirring until thickened. Remove from heat and stir cheeses until melted.
  4. Toss cheese sauce, pasta, broccoli and chicken together. Taste, and adjust seasonings as desired. Pour into a greased 9x13 pan. Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over macaroni.
  5. Bake 20-25 minutes or just until hot and bubbling. Do not overcook, you don't want it to dry out.
Recipe Notes
  • If you are pre-cooking chicken for the purpose of casseroles, I season my chicken breasts with Garlic Pepper prior to cooking them. You can just salt & pepper them as well, or season to your liking. I do not recommend leaving them unseasoned. The more flavor the merrier!
  • No cooked chicken on hand? No problem! Grab a rotisserie chicken at your local grocery store deli, or check out the freezer section and grab a package of fully cooked grilled chicken breast strips.
  • Freeze Option: You can split this huge casserole into two casseroles. I like to use the throw-away foil baking pans for this purpose. Prep casserole as per directions above up to baking, pour into your aluminum baking pan, wrap with a layer of plastic wrap, then a layer of heavy duty aluminum foil, tightly. Label and freeze. To use frozen casserole, thaw in the fridge. When ready to bake, bake as per directions above.
Share this Recipe