Italian, Pork, Vegetables

Sausage and Zucchini Lasagna

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I didn’t change a thing about this recipe that I found on All Recipes and I’m in love with everything about it!  Lasagna is one of my favorite foods but I do not like the idea of taking all that time to prepare the dish.  For some reason, this recipe seemed extremely simplistic an I was skeptical that it would turn out alright.  I added yellow squash that we’d harvested, with our own hands, from a local farm which may or may not have added to this seriously, ridiculously tasty dish!  No Stouffers required!


  • 1/4 cup spaghetti sauce
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pound bulk pork sausage
  • 2 zucchini, quartered and sliced
  • 1 medium yellow squash
  • 1 pound ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg white
  • 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 6 no-boil lasagna noodles, or more if needed
  • 2 cups spaghetti sauce, divided
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

  1. Pour about 1/4 cup of spaghetti sauce into the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish.
  2. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat; cook and stir the sausage and zucchini until the meat is no longer pink and the zucchini pieces are tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain excess fat from the skillet, and set the sausage mixture aside. While the sausage and zucchinis are cooking, mix together the ricotta cheese, egg white, mozzarella cheese, and 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese in a bowl until well combined.
  3. Place 3 lasagna noodles into the bottom of the baking dish on top of the spaghetti sauce, overlapping noodles slightly if necessary. Spread half the sausage-zucchini mixture on top of the noodles. Spread half the cheese mixture over the meat and zucchini, and pour 1 cup of spaghetti sauce evenly over the cheese mixture. Spread the sauce over the cheese mixture with a spoon or spatula. Repeat layers, starting with 3 more noodles, the rest of the sausage mixture, the rest of the cheese mixture, and 1 more cup of spaghetti sauce. Sprinkle the top with 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven until the lasagna is bubbling and the Parmesan cheese has browned, about 45 minutes.
Dressings, Italian, Salads

Pizza Pizzazz Salad


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I started receiving the Better Homes and Gardens magazine back in January, recycling the unworthy issues and dog-earing several pages in others.  I’ve managed to keep only two on my shelf at a time and the 2011 BH&G Cookbook Supplement is where I found then adapted this little beauty. I’m determined not to clutter my shelves with these magazines so as soon as I’m done going through and testing the choicest recipes, I’ll be doing my earthly duty and recycling.  Unless I decide to start gift-wrapping in magazine pages.  Which isn’t entirely out of the realm of my reality.

I served this with baby red potatoes, and after the five of us had had our fill, there was still enough left over for two day’s of lunch for myself.


  • 5 oz. Spring Mix salad
  • 3 spinach
  • 10 oz. grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 15 oz. can white kidney beans (cannellini), rinsed and drained
  • handful of pepperoni slices (about 24-ish pieces)
  • 5 oz. crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 recipe herb dressing, below


  • 1/2 cup EVOO
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

For dressing:  In a screw-top container or salad dressing jar with tight-fitting lid, mix all ingredients and shake to combine.  Refrigerate until ready to use.


  1. In a large salad bowl pour in tomatoes, beans, onion, red pepper salad, and spinach.
  2. Toss with dressing and top with blue cheese.
Appetizers/Snacks, Italian, Pizza

Pizza Dip

Pizza Dip Five More Bites © Shanna Dee Photography

I love to find a new appetizer recipe and make it for dinner.  Not only is it usually pretty easy, but the kids love having something different and I like to try out the recipe before I’m asked to bring a little something with me anywhere.  This pizza dip, found at Closet Cooking didn’t disappoint.

Ooey gooey, cheesy goodness popping with flavor from the pepperoni, served on top of garlic-rubbed French bread.  And hey!  With the green peppers, I can say we had a vegetable with dinner, too!


  • 4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella, grated
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
  • 1 cup tomato & basil pasta sauce
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella, grated
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
  • handful pepperoni, sliced
  • 1/4 cup green pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 cup black olives, sliced
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms


Preheat oven to 350

  1. In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese, sour cream mayonnaise, 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/2 cup Parmesan then spread it across the bottom of a pie plate.
  2. Spread the tomato basil sauce on top then sprinkle on the remaining cheeses, green pepper, mushrooms, olives & pepperoni.
  3. Bake about 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden brown.
Italian, Pasta, Vegetarian

Mushroom & Spinach Stuffed Shells

DSC_8393 copyThis is one of the first pictures I’ve taken all winter that didn’t require my flash.  It’s not a favorite but when I realized at 5:00 PM, when this dish was about to be put in the oven, that it was still light outside I just had to try and get a quick one in!  Found at Elly Says Opa! , this was a filling dish without feeling too heavy.  The kids gobbled it, The Man went for seconds & I called the leftovers for my lunch the next day!

6 oz. large pasta shells (about 20-22 shells)
1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
8 oz. mushrooms, finely chopped
half a medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1-2 Tablespoon fresh basil, minced
6 oz. bag of spinach, cooked
1 egg, lightly beaten
15 oz. container ricotta cheese
2/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese, divided
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese,
2 cups pasta sauce, jarred or homemade (thank you Prego)

Preheat the oven to 350. Cook the shells according to package.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium.  Add the mushrooms and cook until they have released most of their juices. Stir in the onions, garlic, and salt and pepper.  Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the moisture from the mushrooms has been evaporated and the onions are tender. Scoop into a large bowl. After it’s cooled slightly, add the thyme, oregano, basil, spinach, egg, ricotta and 1/3 cup of the parmesan. Mix to combine all the ingredients well.

Pour about 1/2 cup of the pasta sauce into the bottom of a large baking dish.  Stuff each shell with 1-2 Tbsp. of the stuffing and place in the baking dish. Pour the remaining sauce over the shells and sprinkle the mozzarella and remaining parmesan cheese on top. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 5-10 more until the cheese starts to brown.

Italian, Vegetarian

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

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We had company coming and I wanted something really good, really homemade, really simple and something I hadn’t made before.  I saw this recipe weeks ago but hadn’t dared my first attempt at lasagna.  You read right, until now, I’d never made lasagna before!  I figured our friends could be my guinea pigs.  I was so impressed with the way it turned out!  The colors of all the veggies were amazing and the smells coming from the oven were heavenly!
Now that my garden is shriveled up for winter, all our herbs have stopped producing.  I’ve become such an herb snob I felt I was “settling” for dried oregano in this recipe, but felt lucky that I could still find fresh basil in the store.
Don’t let the lengthy directions scare you away – it’s really all very simple, I promise!
I know I use For the Love of Cooking as a huge source of the recipes on my blog but she is such a great inspiration and the stuff I’ve tried and used here is always such a hit with my family!

Vegetable Ingredients (more below)

  • 8 oz. mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 orange, red or yellow baby bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 head broccoli florets, chopped (smallish)
  • 1 small handful of shredded carrots
  • 6 cloves of garlic, leave the skins on for roasting
  • 1 green zucchini, chopped
  • 1 yellow squash, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Fresh basil – I used a lot, probably about 12 leaves worth
  • Dried oregano – I couldn’t find fresh so I settled for dried, it was fine

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

  1. Line a baking sheet with tin foil.
  2. Layer all but the zucchini and yellow squash on the sheet. Drizzle a bit of olive oil, season with sea salt, black pepper, basil and oregano to taste and toss to coat.
  3. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, add the zucchini and yellow squash to the pan, toss and return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. Once the garlic cloves cool down, carefully peel the skin off and slice. Add sliced garlic back in with the rest of the veggies.

Ricotta mixture:

  • 1 16 oz. container of fat free ricotta cheese
  • 3-4 tablespoon mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 3-4 tablespoon parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Oregano, to taste
  • Basil, to taste
  • Dash of nutmeg

Other ingredients:

  • Lasagna noodles (cooked according to directions – I’ve never had any luck with the no cook variety!)
  • Your favorite jar of marinara sauce
  • Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Basil


Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees

  1. Combine the ricotta mixture ingredients and mix thoroughly. Taste and re-season if needed.
  2. Coat a large glass baking dish with olive oil cooking spray. Pour a bit of marinara sauce on the bottom of the dish.
  3. Place a few lasagna noodles down to completely cover the bottom of pan. Add half of the ricotta mixture and spread evenly over the noodles. Next add half of the roasted veggie mixture. Cover the veggies with lasagna noodles then sauce. Repeat.
  4. Sprinkle the top with mozzarella, parmesan and dried basil. Bake covered for 30 minutes; remove the cover and bake for an additional 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden brown. Cool for at least 5 minutes before slicing.

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Freezer Meal, Italian, Sausage

Sausage Calzones

Sausage Calzones

I’m not sure where I found this recipe originally, but we sure enjoy it!

Recipe yields 4 calzones. The hubby and I usually split one and then freeze the rest to reheat later.

1 1/3 lb. italian sausage
2 cups ricotta cheese
handful parsley
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
handful parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. chopped pimento
2 tubes of prepared refrigerated pizza dough (I usually use two bags of Trader Joes whole wheat dough…you could also make your own)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
tomato, marinara or pizza sauce for dipping

Preheat oven to 425.

Brown sausage. Combine sausage with ricotta, parsley, garlic, parmesan cheese, pepper, nutmeg, and pimento. Roll pizza dough out on nonstick cookie sheets in 4 equal pieces. Spread 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and 1/4 of the sausage mixture on each rectangle. (Work only on one half of rectangle of dough!). Fold other half of dough over filling, pink edges firmly to seal. If your dough tears, remove a bit of filling and repair.

Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. (My hint: spread foil on your cookie sheet before baking…makes for easy clean-up for the cheesy mess that oozes out during baking!) Serve with tomato sauce for dipping. YUM!

To freeze: Wrap calzones in foil before baking. Thaw completely and follow baking instructions above. OR Freeze completely bake…warm in the oven until warm through.

Beef, Italian, Sausage

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce

This recipe is courtesy of

2 pounds bulk Italian sausage or ground beef (I’ve only used ground beef)
3 medium onions, chopped (2 1/4 cups)
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms (6 ounces)
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (29 ounces) tomato sauce
1 can (12 ounces) tomato paste
2 tablespoons dried basil leaves
1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1. Cook sausage, onions, mushrooms and garlic in 12-inch skillet over medium heat
about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sausage is no longer pink; drain.
2. Spoon sausage mixture into 5-quart slow cooker. Stir in remaining ingredients.
3. Cover and cook on low heat setting 8 to 9 hours or until vegetables are tender.

This makes 24 1/2 cup servings. I usually freeze most of it in freezer/quart bags. I will never eat store bought sauce again. I love this stuff!

Italian, Pasta

Baked Spaghetti

This is a yummy dish. It is easy to make and not very expensive. You can easily adapt this to your own tastes

½ cup chopped onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 (28 oz.) can diced, peeled tomato with Italian spices
1 (4 oz.) can mushrooms, drained
1 can sliced olives, drained
12 oz. spaghetti, cooked
2 cups shredded cheddar
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
¼ cup milk

In large skillet, sauté onion and garlic in a small amount of butter until tender. Add tomatoes (with juice), mushrooms and olives. Simmer uncovered for a couple of minutes. Place ½ of cooked spaghetti into a greased 9×13-in. baking pan. Top with ½ sauce, then ½ cheese. Repeat layers 1 more time. Combine soup with milk and pour over top; sprinkle with parmesan cheese if desired. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Crockpot, Italian

Crock Pot Pizza

Crock Pot Pizza

One bag of wide egg noodles
1 lb hamburger
2 cans pizza sauce
16 oz mozzarella cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup
Pizza ingredients (olives, Mushrooms, pepperoni whatever you like)

Cook the egg noodles according to the package. Brown the hamburger. Then you layer the all then ingredients in the crock pot and top with a little cheese. Cook on low for 3 to 4 hours or until heated through.

To make clean up a little easier I also lightly coat my crock pot with oil.

Chicken, Crockpot, Italian

Chicken Cacciatore

This recipe comes from John Deere Mom – I changed a couple things to suit my tastes and it was instantly a favorite!

Chicken Cacciatore © 2008

This was my first encounter in cooking with chicken thighs.  I was apprehensive because I’m a sucker for tenderloins.  Also, the recipe calls for boneless, skinless and I didn’t see that until after I’d bought the thighs bone in, skin on.  BUT, I threw them in the crock pot whole.  When the dish was done, I pulled each thigh out of the crock pot & the meat literally fell off the bone – allowing me to dump just the meat back in to mix.  You won’t be disappointed with the thighs! 

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (if they’re boneless and you feel the urge, cut them up before putting in the crockpot)

1 green pepper, chopped

1 yellow pepper, chopped

1  Italian dressing packet

1/4 c red wine

1/4 c chicken broth (use water if you don’t have the broth.  But do yourself a favor and go buy a can!)

1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce

1 can (15 oz) Italian style diced tomatoes un-drained

1 yellow onion finely diced (or chunky, however you prefer)

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 package fresh mushrooms

Toss chicken, onion, peppers, mushrooms & garlic into the crockpot. Mix the cans of diced tomatoes and tomato sauce with the Italian dressing mix.  Pour over chicken and veggies.  Add red wine & chicken broth.  Cook on low 7-9 hours.  Your house will smell DIVINE!  As suggested, I served mine with thin spaghetti and Garlic Toast.