Easy Freezer Friendly Baked Ziti

If your looking for  the perfect meal to feed a crowd of hungry people, here is one of the best Italian meals I’ve come across.  We made this for our family reunion this weekend and it was a huge hit.  The great thing about this meal is it’s super tasty, filling and fairly inexpensive. We fed 65 adults and kids and it was so good we’re adding it to the menu again next year!


1 pound ground beef
1 box penne pasta
1 (15 oz.) jar Alfredo sauce
1 (24oz.) jar Marinara sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 375° F.  Spray a 9 x 13-inch pan with nonstick spray; set aside.  Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.  Return cooked pasta to pan; do not return to heat. Brown and drain your ground beef and add your jar of marinara sauce and set aside.20140527-131908.jpg

Add Alfredo sauce, to pasta and mix well and pour into a prepared pan.


Gently layer marinara sauce on top of pasta and sprinkle with mozzarella and parmesan cheese.  Bake uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted.  We served this up with a wonderful chop salad and fresh garlic bread and it was delish!

Stuffed Manicotti

We are HUGE pasta fans in our house.  We typically eat at least one pasta dish a week and this is one of our favorites!  Making this dish is a bit time consuming so I normally make double and freeze a batch for another meal.  Don’t worry if someone doesn’t like ricotta or cottage cheese…blended in, it only adds flavor.  My daughter Kinley doesn’t even notice.  Enjoy!


1 (8 ounce) package manicotti pasta
1 pound lean ground beef or 1 Pkg. Johnsonville Ground Italian Sausage
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese or ricotta
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (32 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce


Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cool boil pasta to half the recommended time on the package- then place ice cold water over manicotti. 20140114-121923.jpg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large skillet brown beef on medium heat. Drain and cool.  Combine beef or sausage, cottage cheese, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, egg and oregano. Mix well.


Stuff shells with mixture. The key to stuffing the manicotti is by using a pastry bag or zip-lock bag (with corner cut).  Or just hold the noodle in one hand and plug the end with your fingers and stuff it with the other.


Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish. Pour enough spaghetti sauce in dish to cover the bottom. Place stuffed noodles in the dish.


Cover with spaghetti sauce and top with the remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Bake covered in preheated oven for 50 minutes. Enjoy!

Freezer Friendly Meatballs

The best week nights are the ones you can pull out a freezer meal and have dinner ready in minutes.  I found this true a few nights ago when I wasn’t feeling well and needed a miracle to happen in my kitchen.  HA!  I’m sure any mom can relate to this dilemma.  Below is a great recipe for freezer friendly meatballs I found from RecipeGirl.com  but you can make up meatball mixture using your own favorite recipe if you have one.   Also, make sure you check out our Sweet and Sour Meatballs for another great recipe!



1 lb. ground beef
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
2 large eggs
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
splash of milk
olive oil
6 cups marinara sauce or our homemade pasta sauce 


For the meatballs… they are a simple combo of ground beef, garlic, fresh parsley, eggs, Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, salt/pepper and a splash of milk.  Form them using an ice-cream scoop; place in a single layer on a greased baking sheet.


Place sheet with meatballs in freezer for approximately 30 to 40 minutes.


Transfer frozen meatballs to labeled freezer bags, and freeze.


On cooking day, brown meatballs toss them in marinara sauce and top a pile of freshly cooked noodles with them, or stuff them into a roll to create a meatball sub sandwich with melted mozzarella.  Make your own hot dog buns by going here!  Enjoy!

Easy Homemade Lasagna

Lasagna is a good staple food around our house.  Everyone loves it!  I posted recently about my totally from scratch lasagna.  It is pretty fantastic, but I don’t always have time to do it this way.  This is my easy breezy recipe!

Here is what you need:

9 uncooked lasagna noodles

1 jar pasta sauce

1/4 cup water

16 ounces ricotta cheese

16 ounces mozzarella cheese

2 garlic cloves, pressed

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon italian seasoning

1 pound cooked ground beef (or sausage)

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

20130908-191640.jpgIn the bottom of your pan, pour a couple of spoonfuls of sauce in the bottom.  Your noodles have to be moist to cook thoroughly. Lay three noodles across the top.

20130908-191652.jpgIn a large bowl, mix together your remaining pasta sauce, water, ricotta, mozzarella, meat, garlic and salt

20130908-191705.jpgLayer your sauce on top of your noodles.  Repeat three times until you have used the last of your noodles.

20130908-191726.jpg It is important to make sure that the noodles are completely covered up since you are not pre-cooking them.

20130908-191736.jpgSprinkle your parmesan evenly over the top.  Bake on 350 for 45 minutes.  Enjoy with some awesome cheesy garlic bread 🙂

Homemade Pasta Sauce

Spaghetti, lasagna, ravioli…..all of these things end up on the family menu regularly.    A few months ago I went to make dinner and didn’t have a jar of spaghetti sauce in the pantry.  So, I decided to experiment and made my own.  I have tweaked it a few times and landed on this recipe.  Delicious!  It only takes about 5 minutes to throw it together and I always have the ingredients on hand!  (I have been growing a tomato garden this year and I can not wait to make this with my fresh tomatoes!!!!)


Here is what you need:

1    6 ounce can of tomato paste

2   8 ounce cans of tomato sauce

4-6 ounces of water (Depending on what you are making.  Lasagna needs a wetter sauce)

2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1 tablespoon Onion Powder (You can substitute for chopped onion!)

1 teaspoon Pepper

1 tablespoon Oil


Dump your tomatoes, water, garlic, and Italian seasoning into food processor or blender.


Pulse until well mixed.

photo(39)Dump into a saucepan and add your pepper, onion powder and oil.  Mix well and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Wha…..Lah!  Delicious sauce for all your favorite pasta dishes.

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