Category: Pasta


Easy Pasta Salad

Easy Pasta Salad

Though it’s a very low number, there are a few meals that the girls and I love that Mike isn’t crazy about. These end up being the dinners that I make when he’s out of town for work so I don’t feel guilty about making him eat something he doesn’t like (not that I would, but sometimes it’s been so long since we’ve had one or another that they end up on the menu anyway!).

One of those meals is, to my amazement, pasta salad.

I mention this because he actually used to love it as much as we did. He’s explained that the combination of the oil and vinegar dressing, the cheese, and even the tomatoes just, well, got old. And while I understand tastes changing, this made me sad for one reason: I thought for sure I’d be making it a lot less!

However, he’s been in charge of a gigantic project at work for the last year or so which involves travel to their out-of-state locations. For those nights, I tell the girls to come up with the dinners that they miss, and that’s what we have.

So this past weekend was one of those occasions, and the votes were unanimous: I was making pasta salad!

I started making this about 12 years ago, when the twins were babies, because I could get it done early in the day and have nothing to do in the evening, when the crazies seemed to hit everyone. (Now that I think about it, my hmm… over-reliance? on this easy meal could be one of the reasons Mike got tired of it!)

Easy Pasta Salad

I always double the recipe when I make it because it makes the perfect lunch the next day, too. I finally ended up using my last two boxes of free pasta from last spring!

Easy Pasta Salad

I also just use packaged provolone. You can buy it at the service deli in a big block, but I actually like using the pre-packaged slices. It cubes up just fine, and truth be told, the dryness of the provolone can get a little boring in big chunks, so being able to break them up a little bit is nice.

Easy Pasta Salad

Good-bye, free pasta.

Easy Pasta Salad

Like I said, if you’re feeding more than three people, double the below recipe if you’d like leftovers. (I don’t double the cheese, however, and there’s still plenty of it.)

Heather’s Easy Pasta Salad

1 16 oz package of penne
1 c halved cherry or grape tomatoes
6 oz provolone cheese, cut into cubes

2/3 c vegetable oil
1/3 c apple cider vinegar
3 tsp dried basil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tb Dijon mustard
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp onion powder

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and rinse with cold water. Place in a large bowl and set aside.

In a blender, combine oil, vinegar, basil, garlic, mustard, salt, sugar, and onion powder until well blended.

Pour dressing over pasta and add the tomatoes and cheese, stirring gently until just combined. Refrigerate until serving (at least four hours).


Cheesy Tuna Casserole

Cheesy Tuna Casserole

I never really cared for casseroles growing up, but when I started cooking for my own family I discovered how convenient and diverse they really are.

Though it was probably my least liked as a kid, one of my favorites has become tuna casserole, and thankfully my own kids don’t seem to share my propensity for the tuna hate, and ask for it often.

I came up with this one after several attempts with different recipes, and finally hit on a combination that isn’t bland or boring. You can use chopped broccoli florets in place of the peas, or even cauliflower or small chopped pieces of asparagus. Though the rest of the ingredients aren’t the healthiest, just remember you’re not eating the whole thing yourself, and it’s perfect with a salad or some steamed veggies. Read More


Baked Ziti

It’s been nice and chilly here in Vegas for the last few days (you can’t even really call it cold) and because I know these days are limited I’ve been pulling out my dinner recipes that require the use of an oven. I do baked meals during the hot months too, of course, but even then I tend to put them in our (very awesome) toaster oven to bake rather than fire up the big one. A hot kitchen in the middle of a Vegas summer is miserable indeed.

Anyway, this baked ziti is one meal that I haven’t made in a while — in fact, it’s apparently been so long that my grocery store no longer even carries ziti, and I had to use rigatoni instead. Penne would work really well too, depending on what you can get.

Baked Ziti

1 pound dry ziti or penne pasta
1 pound lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 (26 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce (or equivalent homemade sauce)
1 1/2 cups sour cream
12 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook about 8 minutes; drain.

In a large skillet, brown onion, garlic and ground beef over medium heat. Add spaghetti sauce, and simmer 15 minutes.

Butter or spray a 9×13 inch baking dish. Layer as follows: 1/2 of the pasta, 1/2 the mozzarella, all the sour cream, 1/2 sauce mixture, remaining ziti, remaining mozzarella cheese and remaining sauce mixture. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheese is melted.

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