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?



Hearty Cheeseburger Soup

It’s cold outside. Like, frigid. I should be used to Midwest Januaries by now. After all, every January of my life has been spent here. That doesn’t make the 5 degree temperatures any less surprising. It seems like a lot of places are even colder. I mean, Canada was colder than Mars just recently, and a major winter storm has been dumping snow everywhere.

That’s why it’s perfect to have a really hearty cold-weather recipe in your stash. This cheeseburger soup fits the bill.

You’ll want to start by browning about a pound of hamburger, then draining it and setting it aside. With soups, I’ve found that they’re great for eyeballing ingredients– if you have approximately what you’re looking for, then you’re able to produce a delicious soup without as much effort. Soups are just so forgiving. It’s also nice when you want to add or subtract ingredients, just in case you’re snowed in.

While cooking your ground beef, start dicing an onion. You’ll want it in small dices, nice and fine.

In a nice soup pot, you’ll want to melt 2 tablespoons or so of butter. Add in your diced onions and about 1 1/2 cups of shredded carrots. Cook, stirring every once in awhile, for 10 minutes, or until the carrots and onions are tender.

While you cook the carrots and onions, peel and chop up 8 cups of potatoes into bite-size pieces. That’s about 6 medium potatoes, if you’re counting.

Add a carton of chicken broth to the onion/carrot mixture, then fill the carton halfway with water, and add that, as well. Toss in your potatoes and your ground beef. Bring this to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover.

Melt the rest of your stick of butter (6 tablespoons, if you’re not using a stick or using margarine instead) in your now-empty ground beef skillet, keeping the heat medium. Add in 1/2 cup flour slowly, whisking the entire time, for 3-5 minutes. Stir this into the soup, bringing it back to a simmer.

Reduce the heat to low, and add in some salt and pepper, 2 cans of evaporated milk, and 16 ounces (half of the large block) of Velveeta (dicing it first helps it melt faster!)

Stir while cooking until the Velveeta is melted, then serve. Rolls are a great addition to this, as well as toasted bread rounds, as pictured. The toasted bread rounds add a nice crunch to the soup.

This soup is a total crowd-pleaser, and it really is not hard to make. It is a perfect soup for staying in with the family before curling up cozy under blankets.

Want to keep this recipe on hand? Be sure to pin it or share it on your Facebook!

Top 5 Ways To Eat Rev Wraps

Ever since Rev Wraps from Hormel started appearing in stores in July, I’ve been addicted. It didn’t take long to get my son and brother hooked on them, too, and with so many varieties, you didn’t eat the same variety twice very often. It was perfect for on-the-go. But since trying our first Rev Wrap in July, we’ve been finding out that they’re really convenient to munch on in a lot of different settings and situations. I’m going to share with you my top five ways to eat a Rev Wrap, starting with….

5. As a Carry-On Snack

I have been traveling NON-STOP this summer. First, to Alabama for my annual beach vacation, then to Chicago for BlogHer, and finally, to New Jersey over the weekend for Duncan Hines. It has been go-go-go, and I seem to always be skipping meals when I fly. Since planes have slowly stopped offering on-board snacks, and I just never seem to have any that have enough protein to keep my headaches at bay, I usually just feel blah by the time I land. However, lately, I’ve been packing a Rev wrap. It takes up like, no space, in my carry-on, nesting next to my books, notebook, and hand sanitizer as a super convenient plane snack. It also works great for a long drive.

4. On the Way To Practice

I had to stop Jeffrey on the way to practice the other day and snap this photo… Rev Wraps are a staple for him when it comes to practice. With at least 15 grams of protein in each wrap, they’re definitely providing real energy for a long soccer practice, and it really helps him stay right on top of his game on the field when it comes down to crunch time. He feels satisfied and refueled, and it’s so portable that he can just toss it in his bag as he goes. I’ve even caught him with a Rev wrap while on his longboard, while practicing headers in the backyard, and while darting off to a friend’s house.

3. In our Picnic Basket

An occasional picnic, whether it’s at the park or on the floor of the living room, is always so much fun with Zach! It always ends in a fit of giggles. Rev Wraps are an easy thing to pack alongside our fruit, veggies, and hummus dip, and I know that they’re only around 300 calories per wrap, so I can feel okay with eating one as part of a balanced lunch, especially considering the amount of protein I’m scoring to keep up with a busy little guy on the playground!

2. A Sleepover or Afternoon Snack Tray

A lot of times, our house is packed with teens who are just hanging out. Whether it’s a group of exchange students stopping by to say “hey” or all of Jeffrey’s friends coming over for video games or jumping on the trampoline in the back, Rev wraps are an easy afternoon snack or movie night snack to keep on hand. For afternoons, it’s perfect for everyone to just grab their favorite, and for sleepovers and movie nights, they’re perfect for pairing with fruits, veggies, and a favorite sweet snack mix for everyone to share!

1. As a one-handed snack when you’re busy working

Whether Jeffrey is working on the car, or I’m typing a blog post or balancing a camera, Rev Wraps are a perfect one-handed snack to enjoy when you just don’t have two hands. They’re convenient and simple, and I’m not kidding when we all seem to grab one when we need something we can eat while we’re getting some hardcore work done. I love that you only really need one hand to eat them once they’re open, because I don’t always have two hands available. Sure, it’d be nice if God gave me one more hand, but he didn’t. So, I need something that is pretty hands-free.

If you really think about it, as a whole, we really need more snacks that are packed with protein and will help kids get through a day. 83% of teens are now a part of at least 1 extra curricular activity. Jeffrey is in Improv classes AND competitive soccer. 90% of those teens participate in their extracurricular activity on a weekly basis, but many, like Jeffrey, participate in their extracurriculars more than once per week.

More and more teens and adults are looking for a snack that will provide them with energy that lasts, rather than just a “quick fix” for their snack. The protein that this snack provides is a huge benefit in creating that sustainable energy that will last through an entire practice or act as part of a balanced lunch or breakfast.

Plus, I’m not even kidding, they’re really, really, good. I personally love the Pepperoni Pizza and Meat Lovers Pizza varieties. Jeffrey also loves the Meat Loves Pizza and the Ham and Cheese. Zach thinks that Ham and Cheese rocks his socks, too. There is something for everyone, though, including turkey, ham, and pizza-inspired varieties. And, at $1.99-$2.39, they’re really a reasonably priced option for snacking.

I also love to add a little bit to them by unwrapping them and pairing them with lettuce, diced tomato, and a little bit of ranch or mayo for a more filling wrap. They’re perfect after a few seconds in the microwave to melt the cheese, or straight out of the fridge.

I really do believe in Rev Wraps as a wholesome, well rounded, protein-rich snack that I can trust for my son and my brother. And I also love to grab one for myself on occasion. You can find them in stores in the lunchmeat section, near other ready-made lunch options.



Disclosure: I have received compensation in the form of free product from Hormel for this post; however, all opinions above are my own.