Tag Archives: Recipe

Favorite Recipes: Baked Pasta

010This is really a baked ziti recipe, but since I often don’t use ziti pasta, I’m naming the recipe generically. This dish was a big hit at the campground potluck!

Baked Pasta


1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 16-ounce box penne pasta
1 pound mozzarella cheese, grated
1 15-ounce container ricotta cheese
1 45-ounce (large) jar pasta sauce
4 ounces parmesan cheese, grated


Prepare penne pasta according to package directions. Drain. Add a little 
pasta sauce to the pasta so it won't stick together. Set aside.
Brown ground beef, drain and set aside. Sauté green pepper and onion until
just tender. Add to ground beef.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In greased lasagna pan, layer pasta, meat
mixture, pasta sauce and cheeses (2 to 3 layers each). 
Top with remaining pasta sauce, mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese.
Bake about 1 hour, until top is browned and cheese is melted throughout.
Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Top with additional parmesan cheese,
if desired.

This makes a large pan, enough for a crowd! It also freezes well, I just typically add a bit more pasta sauce when re-heating to add moisture.


Favorite Recipes: MB’s Award Winning Chili

0211.jpgThis recipe is award-winning. Seriously. It won the Faith Presbyterian Church Chili Cook-Off some years ago, which granted me eternal bragging rights (as far as I’m concerned). I always cook up as large a batch as I can manage, and freeze most of it in meal-size portions for later. It’s been a family favorite for years, so here it is – documented for posterity!

MB’s Award-Winning Chili



2 pounds ground beef
1 large mild onion, diced
2 large green bell peppers, diced
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 12-ounce can tomato paste
2 cups water
1 15.5-ounce can beans (any type)
3 Tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chili pepper
grated cheddar cheese (for topping)


Brown ground beef, drain and add to large soup pot. Sauté onion and green
pepper until just tender, add to pot. Add crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes,
tomato paste, beans, and water. Stir to mix thoroughly. Add seasonings and
stir. Add water, if needed to desired consistency. Bring to boil, then 
reduce to a simmer. Simmer for at least one hour, longer if possible. 
Stir frequently to avoid scorching the bottom (Chili will thin a bit 
during cooking, as the tomatoes cook down.) Taste and add additional 
chili seasoning if desired. 
Serve topped with grated cheddar cheese.

You can vary this recipe by adding additional or fewer cans of diced tomatoes. You can use “chili ready” tomatoes, fire-roasted tomatoes and/or tomatoes seasoned with peppers. You can use any style beans; chili-style, navy, white, black or kidney. You can add another can of beans to stretch the recipe. You can add more or less seasoning, or add hot sauce for extra heat. You don’t have to use the chipotle pepper seasoning, but I think it adds a nice hint of smokiness. To stretch the meal, serve over cooked pasta.

This recipe also works great in a crock pot. Make sure you brown and drain the meat, but you can add the peppers/onions raw. Cook 4 hours on high or 6-7 hours on low. You can’t really over-simmer this recipe.

Bon appetit!


Favorite Recipes: Coconut Red Curry

007I’m a big fan of freezer cooking; that is, cooking large quantities of a dish, enjoying some now and freezing the rest for later easy meals.  I was introduced to this concept years ago when my sister gifted me with the cookbook “30 Day Gourmet“. As a busy working mom, this efficient cooking approach appealed greatly. The cookbook provided recipes and strategies for buying in bulk, and investing in one mass preparation day that would yield dozens of prepared freezer meals for later. I employed this strategy for years and when I downsized to the bus, this was one of the few books that I have actually kept in hard copy.

Although I don’t go full-on freezer cooking any more, I still embrace the philosophy. In our busy travel lifestyle, it’s fantastic to be able to pull a delicious, home-made meal out of the freezer at the end of an adventurous day. Just heat and eat! So, when I have a little time, I will intentionally make a large batch of a recipe that freezes well and stock up.

Here’s one of my faves – Coconut Red Curry. It does require a bit of preparation, but it tastes fantastic and freezes quite well. I’ve adapted this recipe from one that I got from taking a Publix Aprons cooking class series. This makes a double-batch – enough for dinner and a freezer meal.


1 medium onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
1 can bamboo shoots
6 green onions, sliced on a bias
3 Tablespoons grated fresh (peeled) ginger
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 Tablespoons red curry paste
2 (15 ounce) cans unsweetened coconut milk
2 Tablespoons honey
2 limes, juiced
1 cup cilantro, chopped
salt / pepper (to taste)


Sauté onion, bell peppers and white portion of green onions in a little
olive oil until just softened. Add bamboo shoots, grated ginger and 
red pepper flakes. Cook for another minute or two. Stir in red curry paste
and cook one minute. Whisk in coconut milk, honey, green onions (green 
part), lime juice and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
Heat through.

Serve with rice.

One of the things I like about this recipe is its versatility. If you don’t like it spicy, leave out the red pepper, or add more if you want to turn up the heat. You can add any vegetables you like –  baby corn, bean sprouts, mushrooms, water chestnuts, stir-fry vegetables, pea pods, bok choy – whatever you’ve got. You can add more or less red curry to taste. If you don’t like cilantro,  just leave it out. I suppose could substitute bottled lime juice and ginger seasoning, but fresh tastes so much better, it’s worth the effort.

This makes a nice vegetarian meal, but you can also serve with any protein. You can sauté shrimp along with the veggies or add cooked diced chicken at the end. Or just serve with a nice grilled pork chop or salmon filet on the side – it’s up to you!

I cook up a huge Instant Pot of brown rice to go with this. Freeze the leftovers (package rice separately) and you have an easy, delicious meal anytime!

If you try it – let me know how it turns out!