by amanda

Caesar Pasta Salad

July 1, 2013 in pasta by amanda

I made my husband cook pretty much every meal this past weekend. Even though it was his birthday weekend. And I totally tricked him into it by tossing the new grilling issue of Bon Appetit at him on Friday afternoon. I was hoping he’d find at least a couple things that he needed to make immediately and he came through for me. On Saturday he made some grilled chicken tacos and then on Sunday he made the always popular beer can chicken.

I decided to actually get off my butt and make some pasta salad to go with the beer can chicken but don’t worry, I didn’t push myself too hard. This is one of the simplest pasta salads ever! It’s made with bottled Caesar dressing so other than cooking the pasta and bacon, you’re really just throwing a bunch of ingredients together.

The whole family loved this one! I was worried the Caesar would be a little too tangy for the tiny ones but they ate it up. And these kids usually don’t eat olives or tomatoes! I added chicken to mine to make it a one-bowl meal and it was delicious!

Caesar Pasta Salad

adapted from Big Sis Lil Sis


1 pound mini farfalle pasta
1 pound bacon
1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup Caesar dressing
1 cup black olives, sliced
1/2 cup Parmesan
juice of 1/2 lemon


  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water to al dente, then drain.
  2. Meanwhile, cut the bacon into bite size pieces and cook in a large skillet until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Discard the bacon grease; leaving just a teaspoon or so in the skillet. Add the sliced tomatoes and minced garlic and toss in the skillet for just a couple of minutes to cook the garlic and soften the tomatoes. Remove from heat and let sit until cool.
  3. Stir together the pasta, bacon, tomato mixture, Caesar dressing, olives, Parmesan, and lemon juice. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

by amanda

Lumberjack Mushroom Penne (+ a cookbook review)

October 31, 2012 in pasta by amanda

Oh man. This pasta.

It might be my favorite pasta in the history of pastas. And just wait until you see the ingredient list. It’s so simple.

I’m participating in a blogging book tour (hosted by Ginny of Cooking with Chopin, Living with Elmo) for the cookbook A Family Farm in TuscanyI chose to make this pasta which in Italian is called Penne alla Boscaiola - that just sounds delicious, right? Like I said, it’s so simple! It’s just a basic red sauce but with a ton of mushrooms. My kids don’t eat mushrooms but they gobbled this up and asked for seconds.

I cannot even get over how much I loved this. I, sadly, am low-carbing it until my husband comes homes (I know!) so I only allowed myself one serving of it. It KILLED me to heat up the leftovers for the kids the next day. The smell of the sweet Italian sausage I used with the mushrooms and the sauce was too much. I can’t wait to make it again so I can eat my weight in it.

The book is an absolutely gorgeous cookbook with photos of Fattoria Poggio Alloro as well as recipes. It’s written by Sarah Fioroni who is the chef, cooking instructor, sommelier, and the manager of the farm. The first 40 pages of the book is all the history of the farm and of San Gimignano, the small city where the farm is located. It’s fascinating and made me really want to visit! The recipes in the book are divided by month and showcases the ingredients that are in season during that time. (This recipe is from the October section – imagine that!) The recipes all use simple, fresh ingredients and all of them sound delicious. There are recipes for pasta, cakes, soup, crostini, mousse – you name it, it’s in here.

A Family Farm in Tuscany is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other booksellers.

One year ago: Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
Three years ago: Apple Custard Pie

Lumberjack Mushroom Penne

serves about 8


1/2 cup red onion, cut into small dice
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups fresh white mushrooms, cut into small pieces
10 ounces ground pork sausage
3 cups tomato puree
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 - 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
3 pinches salt, or to taste
4 to 6 quarts water
2 tablespoons salt
1 pound penne pasta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)


  1. Cook the onion with the olive oil in a medium, heavy-bottomed pot for about 5 minutes. A the mushrooms and cook an additional 10 minutes. Use your hands to break the sausage into smaller chunks and add to the pot. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until the sausage is cooked. Ad the tomato puree, warm water, red pepper, and salt. Simmer for 30 minutes over medium-low heat.
  2. In another large pot, bring water to a rolling boil. When the water is boiling, add salt and the penne pasta. Cook pasta until al dente, about 7 minutes, using the package instructions as a guide. Remove and drain.
  3. Put the sauce in a large frying pan and add the pasta. Stir over medium-high heat for 3 minutes and serve. Top each serving with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

by amanda

Spaghetti Pie

July 23, 2012 in pasta by amanda

I know what you’re thinking.

“What the flying eff is that?!”

But let me explain.

Last week I shared the meal my 2 year old chose and today I’m bringing you the one my 5 year old chose.  This was a tough decision for him – he went back and forth between a burger and this for probably and hour before I finally demanded an answer. And then every night he’d ask “Is it spaghetti pie night?! Is it?! IS IT?!”

This pie is great because it’s one of those things that looks a lot more complicated than it is. It’s almost like a lasagna but more fun since you see all the thin spaghetti noodles when you cut into it. All you need to do is make your regular spaghetti recipe and then you pour it into a springform pan lined with puff pastry and top it with another sheet of puff pastry. Seriously, it could not be easier. It does have to bake forever so it’s not something you can whip up after work but it’s great for maybe a Sunday dinner.

My kid has raved and raved about it to anyone who will listen and I’m sure it will be one of the first thing he asks me to make for his daddy when he comes home.

One year ago: Baked Potato Salad
Two years ago: S’mores Granola Bars

Spaghetti Pie


8 ounces spaghetti
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 pound mild Italian sausage
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
8 ounces sliced mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups jarred (or homemade!) marinara sauce
½ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese (4 cups)
½ cup grated parmesan
1 (17¼-ounce) package frozen puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed


  1. Cook the spaghetti according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until no pink remains, breaking up the pieces as you go. Drain and return to pan. Add the green pepper, onion, and mushrooms and cook until vegetables are softened. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Stir in marinara sauce, crushed red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper as needed. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
  4. Toss the cooked pasta with the sauce. Add the mozzarella and parmesan cheeses and toss to combine. Cool completely before proceeding.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375F. Roll out 1 of the puff pastry sheets on a lightly floured surface to a 13½-inch square. Transfer dough to a 9-inch springform pan. Allow the excess pastry to hang over the rim. Press the pastry sheet gently into the sides of the pan to ensure the dough won’t break when you spoon in the the pasta. Fold creased pieces of the dough flat against the side of the pan. Spoon the pasta mixture into the pan. Place the second pastry sheet over the pasta filling. Seal the pastry sheets together by pinching the ends together. Trim the overhanging pastry edges to about 1 inch. Fold the pastry edges in to form a decorative border. Cut a slit in the center of the top pastry to allow the steam to escape.
  6. Bake in preheated oven until the pastry is brown and puffed on top, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let stand for 20 minutes before removing the sides of the springform pan.

by amanda

Sausage, Tomato, and Arugula Linguine

June 12, 2012 in pasta by amanda

Anyone else not feel like cooking these days?

Actually, I have zero motivation for anything besides this:

That’s what summer is for though, right?

We’ve been eating a lot of sandwiches, a lot of hot dogs, and a ton of take-n-bake pizza. Which explains why I haven’t been posting around here. But a girl can only survive on pizza for so long before she starts craving a home-cooked meal.

This is the perfect summer meal! It’s so fast and so light and so full of fresh veggies!

Instead of a typical pasta sauce, the cherry tomatoes are cooked quickly and then mashed to get all the juiciness out – then you add some pasta water and it creates a nice little sauce that coats the pasta well but doesn’t feel heavy at all.

Two years ago: Tempura Fried Asparagus

Sausage, Tomato, and Arugula Linguine

adapted from Cooking Light


½ pound whole wheat linguine
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ pound Italian chicken or turkey sausage
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups arugula leaves
2 ounces Parmesan, shaved


  1. Cook linguine according to package instructions. Set aside ½ cup of cooking liquid before draining.
  2. Heat oil over medium-high heat. Remove sausage from casings and add to pan, breaking up with a wooden spoon. Cook until browned, about 3 minutes, continuing to break up the sausage. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and pepper; cover and cook for 2 minutes. Remove cover and use a wooden spoon to mash the tomatoes. Cover pan, reduce heat to low, and cook for 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat; add drained linguine, reserved pasta water, and arugula; toss together. Serve with shaved Parmesan on top.

by amanda

Monterey Gourmet Foods $100 Visa Gift Card Giveaway!

April 3, 2012 in pasta by amanda

Family dinners are very important around here, and we make a habit of sitting down at the table each night (as long as my husband is home; when he’s not here, all bets are off).

It is a time for us to share our days, laugh at the kids, and enjoy delicious food. The days when those family dinners don’t happen never really seem complete to me.

Monterey Gourmet Foodsâ„¢ recently sent me a few of their raviolis and sauces to try out during our family dinners.

I was incredibly excited about them because they included their butternut squash variety, and pasta is always a winner around here! And ravioli is seriously one of the quickest things in the world to cook; just a few minutes in boiling water and you are good to go, especially if you pair it with one of Monterey Gourmet Foods sauces.

My kids especially loved the chicken and mozzarella kind and were asking for more long after the package was gone! I served the ravioli with a simple marinara sauce, and it was perfection. A salad on the side completed the meal.

Quick, easy, and family-pleasing! It was the perfect meal for us to chat and laugh over.

(I kept the butternut squash ravioli all to myself, in case you were wondering. SO good.)

Monterey Gourmet Foods has a wide variety of products that will add excitement to your life every day. (Helllooooo shrimp and lobster ravioli!) I am positive you will be able to find a ravioli to make everyone around your table happy.

They also make a killer pesto that would be perfect on top of the ravioli, but I have become addicted to smearing it all over my sandwiches.

One of the best things about Monterey Gourmet Foods is all of their pastas and sauces are all natural! They make sure to follow the 8 strict All Natural Principles so you can be positive you are feeding your family only the best!

Try Monterey Gourmet Foods Pastas and Sauces today. Discover more about Monterey Gourmet Foods at

One lucky reader will win both a $100 Visa gift card and VIP coupons for Monterey Gourmet Foods. To be entered for a chance to win, please tell me what you would make using a Monterey Gourmet Foods pasta or sauce product. If you’d also like to share a recipe, feel free to post it on your blog/website and include a link to it in your comment.

SWEEPSTAKES/GIVEAWAY RULES No duplicate comments. You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods: a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post b) Tweet about this promotion and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post c) Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older.

Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail.

You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 4/2/2012-5/31/2012.

Be sure to visit the Monterey Gourmet Foods page on where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!

Monterey Gourmet Foodsâ„¢ is a registered trademark of Pulmuone Foods USA, Inc.

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