Mom’s Company Casserole

This is something my mom made occasionally. The name is a misnomer as it is very casual and certainly nothing fancy that I would reserve for company. I think of it as more of an easy and tasty casserole that everyone in your family can enjoy. I can’t think when I last made it; perhaps 4-7 years ago? Anyway, I had all the ingredients and had just come across the recipe and so I thought, “Why not?” So, I did and it was very tasty indeed. My mom put some melted butter on before the tomato and meat sauce; I forgot it and honestly don’t think it needs it but add 2 tbsp melted butter at that point if you wish.

I left out the green pepper; didn’t have it and didn’t even remember it in the flavor profile of the casserole. I used spiral pasta as wide gf noodles are impossible to easily find and I didn’t have time to make them. I am sure you could make this with some other ground meat; it would taste different but probably be yummy.

As I show below, I adjusted the amounts of the cheeses and sour cream due to what I had on hand and it was delicious. this flexibility is handy and you can play with the amounts as you need to. I feel that without the scallions it will be rather dull tasting but you could sub in some lightly sautéed chopped onions or scallions. Even sliced and cooked leek would work.

It should feed six hungry folks. I served mine with a green salad on the side. It was a filling meal for sure!.

Apologies for the mediocre pictures; I was in a hurry and didn’t much think about the blog so I barely took any.


½ lb uncooked wide noodles or spiral shaped pasta

1 Tbsp. olive oil or butter

1 lb of ground beef

16 ounces of tomato sauce

1 beef or veggie bouillon cube

1 cup cottage cheese (I used more – 1 ¼ cup as I had less cream cheese)

4-8 oz cream cheese at room temp (I used 3 oz)

1/4-1/3 cup sour cream (I used heaping 1/3 cup)

1/3-2/3 cup sliced scallions; white and green

1-2 Tbsp. chopped green pepper (optional)

2 Tbsp. melted butter (optional)

Directions: Cook the noodles or pasta according to the directions; I did 2 minutes less that package as I was going to bake this for 45 min. Drain. While it cooks; heat the oil or butter in a large frying pan and brown the meat. Be sure to break up any clumps so it is evenly sized. If there is a lot of fat when you are done; drain most of it off. Then add the tomato sauce and the broken-up bouillon cube; stir to mix.

In a medium bowl blend the two cheeses and the sour cream. Then add the scallions and green pepper.

Heat oven to 375 degrees, middle shelf.  Spray a 2 qt casserole with cooking spray.  Pour in half the noodles. Top with the creamy cheese mixture. Then top with the rest of the cooked noodles.  If you want the butter sprinkle it on now. Top with the tomato meat sauce. You can refrigerate this for up to 48 hours at this point. Bake for 45-50 minutes.  Enjoy!

Lemony Chicken Pasta and Creamy Leek Sauce

I am not the biggest fan of Gordon Ramsey; he is a bit too boisterous, and his food is kinda old school rich with butter and cream and expensive ingredient rich. But I recently saw this article which said he makes this 10 minute recipe every week for his family and decided to give it a try. It was more than 10 minutes for me; more like 20-25 minutes. Still, I loved the crispy sagey breadcrumbs on top and the hint of lemon in the cream sauce. The leeks add an undertone of onionish-ness. A bit rich with cream; I suppose you could try light cream or half and half. I changed the proportions of ingredients just a touch and I used ground chicken as it was on sale this week at Aldi’s. Winner winner chicken dinner; definitely making this again!

So, you can sub in any ground meat; I sure plan to try it with ground turkey as he usually does. The leeks and shallots add a delicate presence that plays so well with the rest of the ingredients. I wouldn’t mess too much with the ingredients if I were you, not the first time anyway.

Creamy Lemon Chicken and Leek Pasta


12 -14 ounces dried penne; I did 12 ounces

14-16 ounces ground chicken or turkey (16 oz for me)

4 Tbsp. mild olive oil, divided

2 banana shaped shallots; minced finely

2-3 leeks; I had one gigantic one; about 2 cups of sliced white parts; I put mine in water to soak for 5 min to get out any grit

3 garlic cloves, minced

6 sage leaves, divided

zest of one lemon

3-4 tbsp. minced parsley

3/4 cup heavy cream

Breadcrumbs: 3 of the above listed sage leaves minced, 6-7 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs; I tore up 2 small slices of gf sourdough bread

2 of the tbsp of olive oil from above

Freshly grated parmesan cheese to serve on top of each plate.


First: heat a large pot of salted water for pasta

Do some prep work. Slice up the leeks into 1/3-1/2-inch-wide sections and soak briefly in filtered water to get any grit out. Mince the peeled shallots. I put the peeled garlic through a garlic press.

Heat half the olive oil in a Dutch oven. When close to hot add the shallots and garlic. Cook 2 minutes medium heat. Add the ground turkey or chicken and 3 minced sage leaves. As that cooks add the leeks (drained first!) to boiling water. Cook a minute. Add the pasta to the leeks. Cook as long as package says. I dipped out 3-4 cups of water to decrease the volume, so it returned to a boil super fast (A little trick you might try.)

When the chicken looks done add in the cream and cook on low for a few minutes. Do not boil! While it cooks make the breadcrumbs; put 2 tbsp. oil in a smallish frying pan and when hot add the breadcrumbs and the rest of the minced sage leaves. Stir for a couple of minutes; it will clump up and brown; watch it closely: DO NOT LET BURN! Add the drained cooked pasta and leeks when the pasta is al dente. And the lemon zest. Stir. Sprinkle with finely chopped parsley. To plate, put some on your plate/dish, top with freshly grated parmesan cheese and some of the breadcrumbs. Enjoy!!

Seafood Alfredo 2.0

Long ago, I loved this seafood alfredo pasta dish: it was my favorite entrée at this French-Thai restaurant on Linden Street in Allentown. I have replicated it once or twice but, sadly my paper version disappeared. So, I reviewed many recipes and used parts of several to come up with this version.  It is a budget and somewhat healthyish version (no heavy cream and minimal butter) and made quicker, no homemade pasta or crab meat. But I think it does my memory justice and I suggest it would make a very special Valentine’s Day supper for two.

You could change up the seafood if you like. I sautéed my shrimp unpeeled and peeled them before putting them back in the sauce; more flavor that way. I cut the cooked big scallops in half to be the right size. I used gf pasta which doesn’t really have a true fettucine; it is about the width of linguini. Use whatever pasta you like. Use regular all purpose flour for creating the sauce if you aren’t gluten free. The secret to thickening this sauce is cream cheese. It melts into the cream sauce and vola! Thickened lush sauce but no heavy cream. My Italian friend Dan is probably shuddering at the seafood added and the lack of cream but I believe he would totally enjoy the flavors and textures of this seafood treat.

This fast snapshot does not do justice to this creamy delightful sauce and all the seafood in it.

Angie’s Seafood Alfredo for two


4 large sea scallops

8 large shrimps

1 Tbsp. mild olive oil

1 Tbsp butter

1 large shallot, diced fine

1 large garlic clove minced

1 small bay leaf

1 Tbsp rice flour

¾ cup whole milk or mixture of ½ cup whole milk and ¼ cup half and half [I did that]

2 ounces cream cheese cut into 4 cubes, room temp

1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes

¼ tsp. sea salt

1 small can minced clams, drained, save juice in case your sauce is too thick

½ of a 4 ounce can mushroom stems/pieces (drained)

3 Tbsp fresh shredded parmesan cheese


Heat a pot of water for pasta, salt it well. Make the pasta (for two people) so it is timed to be ready say 12 minutes later. Melt 1 tsp of the butter with the Tbsp. of olive oil in medium sauté pan, let it get hot but not smoking. Add scallops that you carefully dried with a paper towel, add shrimps spaced out evenly so they each have room. After a minute flip the shrimp, 1- 2 minutes later carefully flip the scallops and cook them 1-3 minutes until just done. You should have taken out the shrimps as soon as their tails curl up after their flip. Put them all in a bowl. If your scallops are large cut them in half; I did. They matched the size of the shrimp better once I did that. Add rest of butter to pan and as it melts add the shallots and after a minute the garlic and bay leaf. Heat the milk in the microwave until hot but not boiling. Cook the shallots and garlic on medium heat while stirring; for a couple minutes, then add the flour; stir to incorporate it with the butter. Slowly add the hot milk to sauté pan stirring constantly. Next add the cream cheese cubes, hot pepper flakes, salt. Cook 2 minutes, add the mushrooms, clams and any clam juice you feel is needed to maintain the creamy texture. I used a tablespoon or so of it. Stir; add back seafood and then sprinkle with the parmesan cheese and let it melt in as you stir it over low heat. When cheese is melted; serve over al dente pasta. I like it with steamed asparagus spears or skinny green beans steamed until just done to your liking. Delish! Enjoy!

Revised in text only from original post several years ago, recipe unchanged.

Zucchini Corn Pasta

Summer is high and the produce is plentiful. Folks who are tired of the same old stuff made out of y our cherry tomatoes and squash should consider this dish. And it is an excellent use of corn on the cob; cooked and cut off. A certain famous lady chef whose name is Padma is credited with this recipe. I saw it on fb but they added corn and cherry tomatoes. I actually couldn’t find the recipe; link broken so I recreated it for myself. You can modify it as you like; my goddaughter tried it with roasted poblano peppers in it! Nice idea. Mine was lushly buttery and the corn was perfect. Every time I bit into a tomato it burst in my mouth into a delightful tomato treat.

Don’t skip the squash; it isn’t that squashy tasting; the other flavors are there and it is a symphony of summer produce. Good quality fresh sweet corn is critical. Use more cheese, or less, use vegan cheese! Fake butter if you must. Or Swap butter for olive oil if you want but I believe the butter to be a critical flavor ingredient.  Let me know what variations you try!

I served it with oven baked chicken thighs cooked in paprika, lemon, onion and garlic. And some great homemade focaccia and my garden steamed beans. Any summer protein will be awesome with this.

I just added the corn.
Tomatoes on board!
Fresh pasta added, I know it looks blah but trust me it was delish!

Zucchini Corn Pasta


4 cups shredded summer squash; I used a mixture of 50/50 zucchini and trombocini Italian long squash

2 ears of fresh corn

2 or 3 shallots; about 1/3 cup = chopped

4-6 tbsp butter

1 tbsp. EVOL

2 garlic cloves

1 1/3 cup cherry tomatoes

½ -2/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

½ lb fettucine (gf for me!)


Shred squash on large hole of grater; put in a strainer and let drain for 15-45 minutes.

Heat a big pot of water for the pasta. Steam corn in ¼ cup water in covered large frying pan for 6-7 min. Let cool; you are going to slice off the corn with a large sharp knife.

Cook your pasta one minute less than the directions on the packaging. I used some fresh pasta from Aldi’s so I only cooked it 4-5 minutes. Time it to be done about when you add the cherry tomatoes to the sauce.  Save ½ cup of the pasta water to thin the sauce.

Chop shallots, add to the big frying pan from the corn which you dumped out the water and heated with the olive oil and 2 tbsp of the butter. Cook the shallots 3-4 minutes.  Add the summer squash; I added the trombocini first as it cooks a tad longer than zucchini. Add 2 tbsp butter and 2 good sized garlic cloves. Cook 4 or 5 minutes, stirring to make sure nothing burns. While it cooks cut the corn off the cob. Add the corn, stir well, add the cherry tomatoes. Cook 2-3 minutes until they are warmed. Add the parmesan cheese. Stir well, add some hot pasta water and two more tbsp of butter (if desired) to thin it to your taste. Add salt and pepper as you wish. Eat immediately. Enjoy!

Note: I whipped this up on the fly so my cooking times are rough estimates. Next time I make it I will watch the time and update this recipe as necessary.

With oven baked chicken thighs, fresh focaccia and my garden beans.

Sausage Pasta Cheese Bake

It is summer and hot as heck (at times)  but you still gotta eat supper every day. Tonight I threw together a modified pasta bake that was quick to make, and, although it wasn’t too pretty to look at, the flavor was delicious and I know I want to make it again. This entrée used Italian sausage liberated from its casing.  It is a rustic Italian delight and all you need is a green salad and you have a satisfying meal to enjoy. My oven is well insulated so it really didn’t make my house feel that hot. The stove top portion is about 15 minutes worth of cooking, again, not too excessive in my book.

You could make this with spicy Italian sausage if that is more your style. Mushrooms are optional but I love the flavor they add. You could use spiral pasta. I, of course, used gf pasta; this time it was Aldi’s store brand which is inexpensive and has a great flavor. This bake seems slightly dry but the cheese makes a delightful bit of sauce with the tomatoes and veggies.  You don’t need to have a lot of tomato sauce to taste that Italian pasta bake flavor. Summer pasta on a plate! Leftovers are highly anticipated by me… I won’t have to cook much this week. Win win! If you have a big family this might be a go to recipe to quickly toss together and please the kiddos and the dad!

I know; not impressive but trust me; the flavor is building!
Another less than inspiring picture; just imagine it all melty and gooy with that yummy sausage sauce mixed in.

Angie’s Penne, Sausage and Cheese Bake


5 Italian sausage links, uncased (1 pound)

Cooking spray

1 large red or yellow onion, diced

1 large carrot diced

3 large cloves of garlic; put through the garlic press

1 14oz can diced tomatoes and juice

Rounded half tsp of sea salt, dried basil and dried oregano

A few grinds of black pepper

3 cups uncooked penne

1 small can sliced mushrooms (optional but I love them in this dish)

1 8 oz block of mozzarella cheese, grated on large hole side of your grater

Directions: Heat a large frying pan that you sprayed with cooking spray. I like olive oil spray. Add the sausage that you uncased, press it a bit to spread it out and turn in 2-3 minutes. I used a Teflon pan turner to chop up the links into small bits. Cook about 5 minutes until it doesn’t look pink. Carefully remove the sausage and let it rest in a bowl. Leave about a tablespoon of sausage oil in the pan.

Start a large sauce pan to cook the pasta; fill with salted water and get it heating.

Add the carrot to the frying pan and cook a minute, add the red onion; cook 2-3 minutes, add the garlic, cook one minute, stir well. Add The tomatoes and then return the sausage to the pan. Add the basil, oregano, salt and black pepper and stir well, lower heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. While that simmers, cook the pasta. I cooked mine 3-4 minutes less than the package said since we will bake this in the oven. Drain it. I also grated the mott cheese during these 10 minutes and heated the oven to 375 degrees. Add the drained mushroom to the frying pan for the last minute of cooking. Stir the pan well before ladling it into the casserole.

Get out a 2 quart casserole, I used a tall sided glass one. Put a ladle of the sausage sauce in the bottom, add 1/3 of the hot pasta and 1/3 of the cheese, layer it up two more times with the last bit of cheese on top. Put a piece of aluminum foil over the top to keep in the moisture and bake it for 30 minutes. Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.  You might want to stir it up before ladling out servings to ensure it is well mixed. It looks like a bit of a mess but I promise you will really enjoy this easy sausage and pasta bake. It makes about 6-8 servings, 4 if folks are starving! Enjoy.

There it is; a hodgepodge looking dish but you are gonna love it! And yes; do make that salad to accompany it; mine has some homemade green goddess dressing. Mmmm.