Easy Pasta Sauce

We just threw this sauce together tonight for a pasta dinner. My boys loved it. Normally I’m pretty good with measuring quantities of spices, but this time we did just add a little of this and a little of that. So add your spices to taste and enjoy!


  • 5 – 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 15-oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup red wine (Whatever is on hand, I used a red blend)
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • ½ to 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • black olives, chopped – to taste (I used about ½ of a can)


Heat large (deep) skillet over medium-high heat. Add EVOO, garlic, and onion, cook until onion is soft – about five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally. Serve over your favorite pasta.


Enlightened Pasta Salad

Magazine purge #8! This is a healthier version of a mayo-based summer pasta salad. It had me at green olives. Rachael Ray, July/August 2013


  • salt & pepper
  • 10 oz short multigrain pasta, such as rigatoni or penne
  • ½ cup lightly packed whole fresh basil leaves, plus ¼ cup torn basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 orange bell pepper, cut into ¼-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup halved pimiento-stuffed green olives


  1. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain, then rinse under cold water. Transfer pasta to a serving bowl.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, in a food processor, puree the whole basil leaves, yogurt, mayonnaise, cheese, EVOO, lemon juice, and garlic, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Pour the mixture over the pasta and toss well to coat. Stir in the tomatoes, bell pepper, olives, and torn basil. Season with pepper and toss gently.

Bolognese Sauce

Recipe Purge, #3! This one is from an ad I received trying to lure me into another magazine subscription. Ha! If they only knew my magazine pile and my husband’s frustration of said magazine pile, they would know I’m not about to commit to another magazine. I don’t think.

*Edit: I am making this tonight and it smells so good! I have modified a bit by adding red wine and reducing the water. Also some modifications at the end. I would say adding the parm cheese and butter to the sauce is optional. I liked it better before this addition. Next time we will skip this step. We made a pound of pasta with 4 cups of sauce (and froze 5 cups of sauce). I think it could use a little more sauce; next time I’ll freeze less. Otherwise delicious!


  • 1 pound ground beef (85% lean)
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt & ground black pepper to taste
  • 42 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 1¾ cups water
  • 8 to 10 ounces dried or fresh pasta
  • 1 tablespoon butter (optional)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional), plus extra for serving.

Heat a large skillet (or large covered pot) over high heat. Stir in the beef, onion, garlic, and carrot. (If not using nonstick cookware, add 2 tablespoons EVOO when browning meat.) Cook and stir until beef is crumbly, evenly browned, and no longer pink. Drain and discard any excess grease. Stir in the spices. Add the tomatoes, wine,  and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and continue to simmer for 1 to 1½ hours. Discard bay leaf. Pour all but 2 cups of the sauce in an airtight container and freeze for future use. (total yield will be about 8 – 9 cups)

Cook pasta according to package directions and drain.

If desired, stir butter and Parmesan cheese into reserved 2 cups of sauce over medium heat.

Stir noodles into sauce, and toss until pasta is well coated. Serve in large bowls with more Parmesan cheese.

Greek Pasta Salad

I ran across this recipe by accident last week (courtesy of the family kitchen blog) , just in time for a gathering with friends last weekend. This was delicious! No cooking required, except the pasta.

We made a big batch, it was delicious! The olive oil, lemon juice, and oregano dressing was perfect.

Now, this recipe says it serves 6 – 10 people, with only one cup of uncooked pasta. That must mean as a side. This dish has so much going it could serve as a main course.

I upped the quantity quite a bit, we had a gathering of 6 families, and of course made a minor change or two. I will put in quantities where I know them, I eyeballed a few things (which if you know me, this is a miracle of sorts).


  • red onion, sliced thin (you decide how much you want)
  • 1/2 English cucumber, cut into chunks [I used 1½ cucumbers]
  • 3-4 Roma tomatoes, cut into chunks [I used grape tomatoes cut in half; almost a whole pack.]
  • 1 red, orange or yellow pepper, cored and cut into chunks [1 red, 1 yellow]
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives [eyeball, I used ½ Kalamata olives and ½ California black olives for this crowd]
  • 1/2 cup cubed or crumbled feta [eyeball this one]
  • 1 cup dry rotini or other chunky pasta shape [I cooked about 4 cups dry, almost a pound]
  • 1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped (optional) [eyeball]
  • juice of 1-2 lemons [3 lemons]
  • extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), to taste
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano, crumbled or 1/2 tsp fresh oregano, minced [eyeball]
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to package directions; drain well and rinse under cool water to stop it from cooking. [I tossed with some EVOO at this point, and then started cutting my vegetables and adding to the pasta, as I wasn’t sure exactly how much of each I needed.]

Combine the vegetables, olives, feta and pasta and toss well. Start dressing it with the juice of 1 fresh lemon, add a glug of olive oil, oregano and salt and pepper. Toss again, and taste to see if you need more lemon, oil or seasoning. Keep chilled until ready to serve, and toss again just before serving.

The Everyday Macaroni and Cheese

It took me a while, but I found it. A GREAT and fairly easy mac & cheese recipe. This one comes from Tillamook (I didn’t see it on their website); I clipped it out of a newspaper a while back. Of course they encourage you to use their brand of butter and cheese, I have used other brands and it still comes out great.

I follow this recipe to the T. Except the cheese – I add more cheese. You can never have too much cheese.


  • 8 oz. dry elbow macaroni
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk [We usually use 2% or skim]
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 2½ cups (10 oz) medium shredded cheddar cheese, divided


Preheat oven to 350, grease baking dish.

In a large pot, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil. Add 2½ teaspoons salt and macaroni. Cook according to package directions, stirring occasionally. Pasta is done when it is slightly chewy to the bite or al dente. Drain pasta in a colander and set aside.

Prepare sauce while pasta is cooking. In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour and cook 3 minutes, whisking constantly. Gradually add milk and bring just to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking often, until sauce slightly thickens, 4 to 5 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and 2 cups of cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. Remove pan from heat and fold in pasta. Pour into prepared baking dish, then sprinkle top with remaining cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and top begins to brown. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

Mama Calcagni’s Lasagna!

Now, I will start this post by saying – I have no idea who Mama Calcagni is. About ten years ago, I was searching the internet for a good lasagna recipe and I ran across this one. Thank goodness I printed it, because sadly, the angelfire.com link is no longer valid to share with you. Apparently this was passed down from this fellow’s grandmother. It is wonderful. I follow the end note to assemble the night before and cook the following day.

I am tagging this one as meatless. Quite often when I make it I skip the sirloin and pepperoni, it is a fabulous cheese lasagna. The following recipe and all notes throughout are from the original author, except a few noted by me in [].

Ingredients for Tomato Sauce

  • 1 large can (28 oz) of Tomato Puree (or whole peeled tomatoes and then puree yourself in a blender)
  • 2 six-oz cans Tomato Paste
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • 2 cloves chopped Garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon EACH of Basil, Oregano, and Parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Sugar
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

To Make the Sauce

In a large saucepan, place tomato puree and 1/4 cup of EVOO. Add basil, oregano, parsley, and garlic. Heat on medium-low until it starts to simmer, and then reduce heat to low and simmer 15 minutes. Add the two cans of tomato paste along with two cans of water and the teaspoon of sugar. Mix until the tomato paste is smooth and cook on low for approximately 90 minutes, stirring occasionally. [Kristi Note: I add salt & pepper to taste once heat is reduced to low.]

Ingredients for Lasagna

Important! Make sure your lasagna pan is at least 2.5 inches deep! A rectangular foil roaster/baker pan will do, approximately 11.5 – 12 inches long and 9 inches wide.

  • 1 pound cooked ground sirloin
  • 1 stick (or pre-sliced package) pepperoni
  • 1 pound ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz container mozzarella cheese [Kristi Note: Shredded]
  • Parmesan cheese to sprinkle
  • Box of wide lasagna noodles, cooked about 8 minutes (will be a little hard)

To Assemble Lasagna

Place pan on a sturdy cookie sheet or baking sheet [Kristi Note: I think this is just if using the foil pan]. Layer bottom of the pan with the tomato sauce – just enough to cover the bottom. [Kristi Note: He means a little! There are a lot of sauce layers so don’t go crazy here, you could run out near the top.] Cover with 1 layer of lasagna noodles. Add another thin layer of sauce, then cooked sirloin, pepperoni, mozzarella, and ricotta. Add more sauce, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and cover with another layer of noodles, and then more sauce. Repeat the above to form a second layer of ingredients, then finally add last layer of noodles, more sauce, and Parmesan. This should bring the layers right to the top of the roaster pan. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 300 degrees for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.

As an engineer, I needed a visual for the lasagna layers so I didn’t get lost in the recipe. I have it scrawled out (and barely legible) on my paper version.

*Note, after you build the lasagna, you may put it in the refrigerator overnight and bake the next day. Doing this will let the juices soak in and make it taste even better. If you do this, you should take it out of the refrigerator about two hours before you bake and increase the baking time to 90 minutes.

NOTE: The sauce recipe is suitable for any red sauce used on pasta dishes.

Orzo Pasta, Caprese Style

OK, here’s an easy one that I love to make. I don’t have quantities on here, make as little or as much as you like. This can serve as a meatless main course, or as a side.

Great as a main dish or a side.


  • Orzo Pasta
  • Fresh Mozzarella, cubed
  • Grape Tomatoes, halved
  • Fresh Basil, chopped
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • Balsamic Vinegar


Cook orzo pasta per package directions. After pasta is drained, add a little EVOO to prevent sticking. Toss in the mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil. Finish with balsamic vinegar to taste. Delicious!