Okay, so one of my (cough *many* cough) flaws as a mom is that I struggle getting enough veggies into my family’s diet. Fruits….well, my kids would live on fruits if I let them! But veggies are just hit and miss. I know some people frown upon ‘sneaking’ things into meals, but I’m one of those ‘hey, if it works, great’ type moms with this. One of the ways I get some veggies into their favorite meals is mashing steamed cauliflower into their mashed potatoes. Another one is adding it into some sauces, including this delicious Creamy Cauliflower Pasta. It’s seriously a winner with my family!
Creamy Cauliflower Pasta
1 tsp. Olive Oil
3 cups Cauliflower, chopped
3 medium Shallots, chopped
Salt and Pepper, to taste
4 tsp. Flour
4 cups Milk
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg, ground
2 cups Parmesan cheese, shredded
1/2 lb. Pasta Shells
1 cup Ham, sliced, smoked, chopped
4 cups Broccoli, cut
1/2 cup Bread crumbs
In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the cauliflower, garlic, shallots, and a bit of salt. Cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently so garlic doesn’t overcook.
Add flour to the saucepan and toss to coat well. Stir in the milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until cauliflower is very soft, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes, then pour into a blender, adding the nutmeg and half the Parmesan cheese. Blend until smooth.
Preheat oven to 400 Degrees.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add the pasta and broccoli. Cook until just slightly tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, then return pasta and broccoli to the pot. Add the ham and cauliflower sauce, tossing to combine.
Put into a 3 1/2 quart sprayed baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese and bake until center is bubbly, about 30 minutes.
Top with breadcrumbs and serve. Enjoy!!!
Do you like boxed mac & cheese? I really don’t, not even growing up. I mean, I ate it, but it was one of those ‘dang it, I’d really rather not eat this’ things. Am I alone here? Hope not! Anywho, mac & cheese is still one of those that kids absolutely love, but I hate doing the boxed version, even if my kids are fans of it. So this version is just delicious, using real cheese, plus the spinach and garlic adds a nice little flavoring without being overpowering.
Spinach Mac and Cheese
9 oz. Macaroni noodles
1/4 cup Butter
1/4 cup Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 cups Milk
8 oz. Cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cloves Garlic
4 cups Spinach
1/2 cup Breadcrumbs, plain or Italian
Pepper, to taste
Olive oil, for cooking
Cook macaroni according to package directions. When macaroni is done, drain and pour into a large bowl.
Meanwhile, chop the spinach and garlic. It seems like a lot of spinach, but don’t worry, it shrinks when cooked.
Using the same pot you boiled the macaroni in, heat a bit of olive oil and saute the garlic until starting to brown. Add the spinach and continue cooking until it begins to turn dark (looks wet). Add to the bowl with the macaroni and mix together.
In the same pot, melt the butter. Mix in the flour, salt, pepper (to taste), and milk until smooth. Continue cooking over low heat, stirring often, until it begins to bubble. Add cheese and mix until fully melted.
Add the macaroni and spinach mix to the pot and mix all together until well combined.
Toast the bread crumbs with a bit of olive oil until slightly browned. Use to top the macaroni.
My in-laws live in southern Utah, and often when we visit them we go to a darling little restaurant called Garden House. My absolute favorite thing that I order every time is their Caprese appetizer. It’s just so delicious! I’ve tried many different variations of the flavoring, the basic concept of tomato, mozzarella and basil, and it just tickles my taste buds happy!
This week, I found some packages of lasagna noodles in the pantry, and instantly had a craving for some lasagna. It’d been ages! Ground beef wasn’t on sale this week, though, and I’m trying super hard to stay within my budget as we’re working hard to pay off debt right now. So an idea hit me: Caprese Lasagna! I was so excited to try it, and it didn’t disappoint! Well, the picture did….that’s going to need to be replaced really soon. Guess I’ll have to make this again…oh, darn 🙂
1 package Lasagna noodles
16 oz. Mozzarella cheese, low-moisture, shredded
1 cup Ricotta cheese
1 large Egg, white only
1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
Black pepper, to taste
6 medium Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/3 cup Basil, chopped (fresh is best), plus some for garnish, if desired
1 cup Marinara sauce
Cook pasta according to package until done al dente. Drain pasta and line them in a single layer on parchment or wax paper.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix the ricotta cheese and egg white. Add the Parmesan, 12 oz. of the Mozzarella, and some black pepper, to taste.
Divide the cheese mixture over each noodle and spread evenly end to end. Align tomato slices over the cheese layer, then sprinkle the basil over the tomatoes. Roll the lasagna noodles one end to the other.
Spread 1/3 cup marinara sauce on the bottom of sprayed (or foil lined) 11×7 baking pan. Place the rolled lasagna, with the seam side down, in the pan and top with remaining marinara sauce. Be sure to cover the edges of the pasta to avoid burning or drying out.
Top with the remaining Mozzarella cheese. Bake for 30 minutes. If desired, garnish with more fresh basil.
2 Zucchini, cut into fourths lengthwise
1 Red bell pepper, cut into fourths
1 Green bell pepper, cut into fourths
1 Yellow bell pepper, cut into fourths
Olive oil for brushing
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ lb. Penne pasta
4 tbsp. Extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. Mixed herbs: basil, oregano, marjoram
½ cup Olives, chopped
¼ cup Walnut, chopped
½ cup Feta Cheese, chopped
Brush vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange on charcoal or gas grill on high heat, cover and cook until tender and slightly brown. While vegetables are cooking, bring a large pot ¾ way full of salted water to a boil. Add a tiny bit of oil, to keep pasta from sticking together. Add the pasta and cook until preferred tenderness.
When vegetables are done, remove from the grill and cut into bite-sized pieces.
Drain pasta and put in mixing bowl. Add the vegetables, olive oil, herbs, olives and walnuts. Mix until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle feta cheese and toss lightly to combine.
Notes: Some people prefer more seasonings, some less, so pour the herbs in slowly to get what meets your family’s preferences. We added a Roasted Garlic Balsamic Dipping Oil over our dish, and it was absolutely wonderful, if you like balsamic.
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- 1 bag Penne pasta
- 1 jar Rague of choice (we use veggie)
- 2 cups Cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1-2 bags Veggies of choice, frozen
- Poppy seeds (as desired; we use about 3 tbsp because we love them)
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Cook the pasta until almost soft.
- Pour into sprayed 13×9 baking dish.
- Pour in veggies, cheese and sauce. Mix well.
- Cook, covered with aluminum foil, about 30 minutes. Remove foil and cook for another 15 minutes.
Notes: You don’t HAVE to use that much cheese, but oh it’s so good! Also, you really can use any type of pasta, I’m sure; we just use penne so the sauce gets inside and makes it even tastier! I like to use Normandy blend veggies, plus green beans or corn.
Other Easy Dinner Recipes…
My family loves, loves, LOVES pasta. Really, no exaggeration whatsoever! My kids loved pasta before we could get them to eat much else. My hubby and I almost always order pasta dishes when eating out, just to compare differences, get ideas, and to enjoy every bite. So when I come across a pasta dish that’s both quick, cost-effective, AND absolutely yummy, it’s filed in with our favorites!
Creamy Pasta Bake
1 box Penne pasta (about 2 cups)
1 pkg. Spinach leaves (about 9 oz.)
1 lb. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and diced
1 tsp. Basil
1 jar Spaghetti sauce
1 can Diced tomatoes, drained
4 oz. Cream cheese, cubed
2 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded
4 tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Cook pasta as directed. Add spinach to boiling water for last minute.
Combine all ingredients, except ½ cup Mozzarella and all Parmesan, in sprayed baking dish.
Bake 20 minutes. Top with remaining cheeses. Bake another 3-5 minutes, until cheese is melted.
More Easy Pasta Recipes…
Flash and I have a couple that we’re very good friends with. Her and I are so similar, and our hubbies are also like twins. It’s hilarious when we all get together, since it’s like hanging out with a better version of yourself, who gets your humor, interests, everything. Well, she got accepted into medical school, so they had to move away this summer. As happy as I am for her (and a tad jealous), we miss hanging out with them.
Before they left we had one last double date to a local Italian restaurant. Flash ordered a Gorgonzola Pear pasta dish and absolutely fell in love with it. Since we just invested in a HUGE case of pears, I decided to give one a try. I was amazed at how easy it was!
18 oz. Pasta (we used penne, but I’m sure you could use any)
4 tbsp. Butter, cut up
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
3 oz. Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1 cup Heavy whipping cream
2 large Pears, peeled and cubed
1 cup Walnuts, chopped
Cook the pasta according to the directions. Drain.
In a separate saucepan, heat the butter, parmesan and gorgonzola until completely melted.
Add the cream and stir.
Mix the pear pieces into the pasta; stir in sauce.
Top with walnuts to serve.
Notes: We added cubed chicken, and it made it even more satisfying.