Deconstructed Lasagna

lasagnaWhat is it? It’s all the ingredients you use in lasagna without taking the time to layer and bake. Why do this? It’s easy – period. I think I like it better, too. Not as dry – and oh, so much better the next day.


The Sauce

1 lb. Johnsonville Hot Italian sausage – I love this sausage – it’s got kick w/o extreme heat

1-2 tbs. olive oil

1 medium onion diced

3-4 cloves of garlic chopped

1 6 oz can of tomato paste

2 28 oz cans of Dei Fratelli Italian Sauce

Dry Oregano

Dry basil

Salt & Pepper to taste



Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add Italian sausage and crumble w/ potato masher (I find this works the best to crumble ground meat while browning it). Brown sausage and then add in onion and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes while stirring, crumble in dry seasonings (just eyeball 1-2 tsp. of the oregano and basil) mix and then clear an area in the middle of the pan pushing meat to the sides. Add tomato paste and cook for 1-2 minutes – this sweetens it. Then mix in with meat. Deglaze pan w/ vodka (I usually go around the pot 2x), let that cook off and then add the Italian sauce.


Put in crockpot and cook on low for 3-4 hours, mixing once in awhile.


Putting it all together…

1 lb. box of malfalda pasta (they look like mini lasagna noodles broken up). Creamette makes them.

1 16 oz container ricotta cheese

8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese

4 oz of fresh grated parmesan cheese



Boil enough salted water to cook 1 lb. box of malfalda pasta

While pasta is cooking, add 2 -2 ½ cups of sauce to large sauté pan and heat thru.

Drain pasta, add to pan and toss with the sauce. Then dot with ricotta cheese (soup spoonfuls), sprinkle with mozzarella and parmesan. Cover and let cheeses melt. Dish it up and enjoy.


Yummy Alfredo Chicken Bake

AlfredoThis recipe, hands down, has become my daughter’s favorite to eat and to cook.  We discovered it when we had to go out of town and she was left with friends for the weekend. That was last weekend and she has had it twice since.  Originally posted on, here is the recipe – what I like is you can be creative with it…add peas (her favorite), carrots, broccoli or asparagus.   We also topped with mozzarella/provolone cheese and decrease the amount of milk – ½ cup made it too soupy for us. Enjoy!

Chicken Alfredo Casserole

By Linda Larsen

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: Serves 4-6



  • 1 (16-ounce) package rigatoni pasta
  • 3 cups cooked diced chicken breast
  • 1 (16-ounce) jar Alfredo sauce
  • 1 (10-ounce) container refrigerated Alfredo sauce
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta 2 minutes less than cooking time on package (the pasta will finish cooking in the casserole).

Meanwhile, in large saucepan, combine both containers of Alfredo sauce with the milk; heat until mixture begins to bubble. When pasta is almost cooked, add to sauce along with chicken and half of the Parmesan cheese.

Spray a 9″ x 13″ baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Pour food into the dish and top with remaining Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover casserole and bake for 15-20 minutes longer or until casserole is bubbly and cheese melts and begins to brown.

You can vary this dish in many ways: add 1 cup sliced frozen carrots, thawed, 2 cups frozen baby peas, thawed, 1 (10-ounce) package frozen asparagus, thawed, 2 cups frozen green beans, thawed. Top the casserole with 1/3 cup bread crumbs mixed with 3 tablespoons melted butter; add that after the casserole is uncovered.

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Who’s Got Leftover Ham from Easter???

I do!  I do!   So I went thru the traditional motions of making it into sammiches and a scalloped potato casserole.  I had just about two cups of diced ham left and I got to thinking what I could do with it.  Tired of heavy meals, I decided to use up all the veggies leftover from Easter too and make a pasta primavera dish.  It went something like this…

In a large sauté pan, add olive oil – two trips or so around the pan and heat on medium/high.  Add one diced Vidalia onion and caramelize.  Toss in three diced carrots and cook until it just starts to soften.  Add sliced red (any color will do) bell pepper and cook until it just starts to get tender, add sliced mushrooms and diced ham, followed by some sugar snap peas and one clove of garlic finely sliced.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook some penne pasta.  I like the Ronzoni Smart Taste brand.  It has fiber, calcium and vitamin D in it.  It also cooks perfectly – better than plain ol’ pasta.  Once cooked, drain and add the penne to the cooked veggies in the sauté pan.  Return to heat and for the sauce I added about three tablespoons of a fabulous sun dried tomato pesto I found.  Once heated through, I tossed in an assorted shaved Italian cheese blend I had and topped  with fresh sliced green onion.  That’s all she wrote – dinner is served!  Enjoy!

Everybody Likes a Lil’ Sausage!

Sometimes you just don’t have enough minutes in the day to work, take care of kids and put a decent meal on the table.  But lucky for you I created this quick and tasty meal that only took a short amount of time to prepare and satisfied all who ate it.  I’m usually a “from-scratch” type a person, but when you don’t have the time, you have to use what’s available to you.  And I’m learning that there are a lot of quality products I don’t mind using when it can’t be homemade.  Two of the products I used in this dish were Archer Farms Italian Chicken Sausage and Dei Fratelli’s new Tomato & Basil sauce.  Both products were labeled “all natural”…another plus.  I have to admit – I think I liked the chicken Italian sausage more than traditional pork Italian sausage.  I hope you find this as easy as I did – Enjoy!


Pasta with Sausage, Peppers & Onions

1 12 oz. pkg. of Archer Farms Chicken Italian Sausage sliced in 1 inch rounds

1 large sweet onion sliced

1 sweet red bell pepper sliced

Olive oil

Splash of red wine

½ jar of Dei Fratelli’s Tomato & Basil sauce

Cooked pasta

Grated fresh parmesan cheese

Heat a large skillet on medium high heat.  Take two trips around the pan with the olive oil. Once the oil is heated add the sausage, onions and peppers and cook until caramelized.  Deglaze pan w/ a splash, or so, of red wine.  Add the sauce and let simmer on low for about 15-20 minutes or while pasta is cooking.

When pasta is cooked, drain and add to sauce.  Toss together and top w/ grated parmesan. 

Serve with a green salad and crusty bread – and of course – a good glass of red wine.


And the Cupboards Were Bare…

I just recently returned from a 14 day road trip to the East Coast.  And what’s the one thing we always find when we return from an extended trip…bare cupboards.  The last thing I want to do is run right out grocery shopping.  It’s a lot easier being creative with what’s left over in the pantry and freezer.  With the pickens slim, I rounded up a box of orzo, frozen chicken breasts, frozen broccoli and an abundance of tomatoes and basil from the garden.  I was able to come up with two dishes with all of this.

Bruschetta Salad

½ box of cooked, cooled orzo

6 – 8 roma tomatoes seeded and diced

6 leaves of fresh basil chiffonade

2 cloves of garlic made into a paste (chop fine and then smash w/ kosher salt to make a paste)

Balsamic Vinegar

Olive Oil

Salt & pepper to taste

1 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese

Mix tomatoes, basil, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper together.  Let it sit for about 30 minutes.  Mix in orzo and parmesan cheese.  Chill until ready to serve.


With the other half of the cooked orzo, I came up with a one-dish meal,

Grilled Chicken and Parmesan Orzo

½ box of cooked orzo

3 boneless-skinless chicken breasts pounded to ¼ inch thickness and marinated in Italian salad dressing for about 1 hour or longer.

2 cloves finely chopped garlic

1 – 2 tbsp. Butter

1 16 oz. of broccoli florets – steamed just until they are defrosted

1 cup of parmesan cheese

Salt & pepper to taste

Grill chicken until done.  Let rest and slice thinly on a diagonal bias.  Melt butter in large sauté pan – do not let it brown.  Add garlic and stir until it infuses the butter.  Mix in orzo and turn heat up a little.  Add chicken, broccoli, salt and pepper to taste – heat thoroughly.  Right before serving, mix in parmesan cheese and have more cheese available to addon top.


Booze Makes Everything Better…

…especially when you use it in cooking.  What’s that saying?  “I cook with wine – sometimes I even put it in the food.”  HEY!!!  I resemble that remark!

Today, I am offering up my Penne with Spicy Vodka Tomato Cream Sauce recipe.  It’s not too spicy – a small amount of red pepper flakes give it a kick.  But if you like spicy, feel free to add more.

I stumbled across this dish in several restaurants – each one had their own unique take on the dish.  However, I like the most simplest of them all.  This can be whipped up for a cozy supper or a meal to entertain with.  So, toss a salad, toast some bread and pour a glass of wine!  Sit back and enjoy this meal.  I’m sure you will make it again and again.

Penne with Spicy Vodka Tomato Cream Sauce

1 lb. uncooked penne pasta

3 links sweet Italian sausage

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

4 cloves of garlic minced

½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1 (28 oz.) can of crushed tomatoes

¾ tsp salt

¼ cup vodka

½ cup heavy whipping cream

chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook 8-10 minutes until al dente; drain.

In a large skillet, heat oil over moderate heat.  Remove casing from sausage and add to skillet. Break apart sausage and cook until brown.  Add garlic, red pepper and stir.  Be careful and add the vodka. Pour in crushed tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes.  Add the heavy whipping cream, bring to a boil again then reduce heat to low for about 5 minutes.  Add sauce and parsley to pasta and mix together.  Top with parmesan cheese and serve.