crystal farms

Meat Lovers Pasta Bake

Do you like meat? And easy recipes? And recipes that can be made with leftovers and ingredients you have on hand?

If you answered yes, then you’re going to absolutely love this meat lovers pasta bake. If you answered no to the meat question, stick around… you can make this dish with veggies instead. But the meat part? Oh-so-good.

If you have pasta, cheese, diced tomatoes, and some leftover meat (pretty much any kind will work), then you’ve got dinner. Bonus points if you have pasta-friendly veggies like mushrooms and onions.

Start with a can of diced tomatoes. You earn some bonus credit if they’re Italian seasoned, but just use what’s in your pantry, or dice up some garden tomatoes. If they’re canned, don’t drain them. Just pour 1/3 of the can in the bottom of your casserole dish.

Now, make a pot of pasta. I use an entire box of Barilla Rotini, but you use whatever pasta you have. I like the rotini for this dish because it holds up nicely, but so does literally any other pasta you have. Drain it, and put half of it on top of your tomatoes.

Now it’s time to get creative. Throw some meat on there. We like to make this dish a couple of days after pizza or calzone night because there’s always leftover meats. For this time around, we used sausage, hamburger, pepperoni, and prosciutto, but you can use anything you have in your fridge. Chicken? Yes. Ham? Totally. Sausage? Do it. We only had a little bit of each meat, but you can pile it as high as you’d like or add as little as you want. Make sure your meat is already cooked or that you cook it beforehand. If you’re using leftover pizza toppings, it should all be cooked, but if you’re pulling it out of your freezer, you’ll want to cook it yourself. Once you’ve layered on your meats, add any veggies you’d like. We had leftover mushrooms and onions from pizza night, but put whatever you like on a pizza in this dish. If you like eggplant and pineapple, go for it. If you prefer onions and bell pepper, try that. Want to go veg-free like my dad? Sure. That works, too. This is the most customize-able pasta dish ever.

Top that with a layer of cheese, then a layer of tomatoes, then pasta, meat, and veggies. Finish with one more layer of tomatoes and another layer of cheese.

Cooking for one? Make a little bit in a small baking dish. Cooking for 50? Make multiple pans. This recipe stretches or downsizes. I use a 3 quart baking dish for my family of 5, but seriously, this meal is so flexible. Bake it at 350 for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese is nice and melty. I used mozzarella and parmesan from Crystal Farms on mine, but use whatever Italian style cheeses you have (or try cheddar, or whatever you want). I’m telling you, this is a ridiculously easy to customize meal. It’s perfect for any family.

Once it’s all melty, dig in and serve. Because of the layers, almost any scoop you take will have a little bit of everything! Yum.

I highly recommend serving this pasta with the Garlic Knots that I shared recently on my Facebook page. You can find them by going to “albums” and you’ll see the recipe!

Do you love easy meals? Try my chicken bacon ranch pasta bake, southwest chicken and rice, or crockpot cashew chicken!

What’s your go-to meal to use up leftovers?

 

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Enchilada-Style Ham and Cheese

Everyone loves comfort food, right? From dumplings to chicken and noodle soup, comfort foods keep us happy and make us feel… well, comforted. One of my favorite comfort foods growing up was grilled cheese with tomato soup for dipping. Who doesn’t love rich, hearty tomato soup with a hot, gooey, melty grilled cheese sandwich?

I remember the first time that it occurred to me in my first apartment that, while making a grilled cheese on my George Foreman, I could add ham to make it better. Obviously, that’s nothing new. Hot ham and cheese sandwiches are pretty standard, but it blew my mind at the time.

The other day, I picked up a can of tomato soup at the store and realized I could combine a few of my favorite things for something unique, and that’s how this recipe sort of came about… it’s the best of comfort foods with a special twist.

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9 CopyCat Lunchable Recipes to Help You Save, Plus the Good, Better, and Best of Convenient Kid’s Lunch Ideas!

Growing up, Lunchables meant one thing: Field Trips. All of the cool kids got Lunchables, myself included– I had a cool mom. Being a stay at home mom with a stay at home kid now, I have a LOT of lunches to plan, and between blogging full time, spending time playing with the kiddo, and trying to keep it all organized, of course I turned to Lunchables to try to save a few minutes of time. After all, they’re convenient and they come in these handy little packages with little clean-up and are quick to grab from the fridge.

But then I started realizing how much I was spending buying Lunchables, and further, I started realizing that they weren’t that great and balanced, either. So, I started deciding to set aside a little extra time each week to pre-plan my son and I’s meals and snacks, Lunchables style, with all of the convenience and fun, but less of the price tag. And the best part? I could work hard to make them a little more balanced, too.

Today, I’m sharing 9 great Lunchables swaps that will save money, as well as some ideas on how to improve your Lunchable swaps to make them a healthier, more balanced choice for your kiddos! For the original swap, I kept it as close to the original Lunchable as possible and listed the brand I used so you can see how those savings add up!

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