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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Stuffed Pasta Shells


I’ve been making these stuffed pasta shells for about eight years now. You can use all beef or all turkey, but having tried both I prefer the combination. You can also use homemade pasta sauce, which works really well, but if you don’t have it on hand the jarred kind can be tasty, too.

The recipe below makes about 30 shells, or two casserole dishes-worth. My family of five gets through about a pan and a half, and the rest go in the fridge for leftovers. If you don’t have that many people to feed it halves very easily.

Stuffed Pasta Shells

30 jumbo pasta shells (or one 12 oz box)
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground turkey
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 lb shredded mozzarella cheese
1 26.5 oz can spaghetti sauce (or about 3 cups of homemade sauce)

Cook shells according to package directions. Drain and set aside to cool a little. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter in a large skillet and saute onion and garlic until tender. Add turkey and beef and cook until browned. Drain and mix in basil, oregano and 2 cups of the cheese (it’ll be very cheesy and stringy – perfect!).

Spread about half a cup of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of each 9×13″ casserole dish. Stuff cooked shell with the meat and cheese mixture and place meat-side down in the casserole dish. Spoon remaining sauce over top. Cover with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove foil, add remaining cheese over top and cook for an additional six or so minutes or until cheese is melted.