Dump and Bake Meatball Casserole

With a package of frozen meatballs in the freezer, a jar of marinara sauce, shredded mozzarella and rotini pasta in the pantry, this recipe was so easy to throw together. Best part You dont need to precook the pasta!!!

Just make sure those meatballs are thawed before you start the recipe…

Hidden meatballs…

Dump and Bake Meatball Casserole

Total Time 55 minutes         Servings 6 – 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 (16 ounce) package uncooked rotini pasta
  • 1 (24 or 25 ounce) jar marinara sauce
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 (14 ounce) package fully-cooked miniature (cocktail-size) meatballs (if using frozen meatballs, make sure that they are completely thawed before using)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • Optional: Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped herbs (such as basil, oregano, and parsley for garnish)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. In a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, stir together uncooked pasta, marinara sauce, water, and meatballs. Season with salt to taste; stir. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes.

3. Uncover; stir. At this point you should check the pasta to make sure that it is al dente (firm but just about finished cooking). If it’s still too hard, cover the dish and return to the oven until pasta is al dente. Then move on to the next step.

4. Sprinkle mozzarella over the top and bake uncovered for 5-10 more minutes (or until cheese is melted and pasta is tender).

Smorgasbord of Leftovers

Fast approaching the new year...FINALLY! With two holidays in such a short period of time there are bound to be leftovers. Am I right? Indeed we had leftovers from both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at this point. No turkey in this house this year, but we did have hamand roasted duck. I raced to Pinterest as usual and the results were both quick and easy – Classic Split Pea Soup and Duck, Duck Soup. Both were great for the cooler days this holiday season.

  1. Classic Split Pea Soup

Ingredients

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 ribs of celery, diced

3 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

1 to 1-1/2 cups diced ham

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 to 3 cups water

1 lb (about 2-1/4 cups) dried split peas (I used a jar of cooked white beans)

1 bay leaf

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and sauté until soft, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the carrots, ham bone, diced ham, split peas, chicken broth, 2 cups of water and bay leaf to the pot.

Bring the soup mixture to a slow simmer and cover, leaving the lid slightly askew.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until the peas have broken down completely and the soup has thickened, 50 to 60 minutes.

Remove and discard the ham bone and bay leaf.

Stir the soup to blend thoroughly and if necessary, add more water until the thickness of the soup is to your liking.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and ladle into bowls for serving.

2. Rachel Ray’s Duck Duck SouP

Ingredients

Bones from cooked duck

1-quart chicken broth

2 cloves garlic, crushed

4 slices ginger

3/4-pound bok choy, sliced OR spinach

1 1/4 cups shredded duck meat

1 1/2 cups cooked rice

1 scallion, sliced

Preparation

In medium pot, simmer bones, broth, 1 cup water; garlic and ginger for 25 minutes; strain. Remove any residual meat from the bones. Return to pot with remaining ingredients; simmer 5 minutes.

Creamy Kielbasa Pasta

Tis the season to be jolly and entertain! NOT! Normally at this time of year we host a “charcuterie” for our snowbird friends. Alas, in these times of COVID, many were not returning to Yucatan. Secondly, we are limited to 4 “guests”in our home at one time. The answer – Host 4 mini charcuteries with our close friends over each weekend with two other couples.

The unfortunate/fortunate part was that with the variety of cold meats and cheeses, etc. I had leftover sliced kielbasa! Pinterest (much better than that Amazon person) – What do I do with the leftover kielbasa which could not be refrozen? The prompt answer – Creamy Kielbasa Pasta IN ONE PAN!

Creamy Kielbasa Pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon Oil, (canola, olive, vegetable, etc.)
  • 13 Ounces Kielbasa Sausage, (one large link, sliced into bite-sized pieces)
  • 1/2 Cup White Onion, (about 1 medium sized, thinly sliced)
  • ½ red pepper, diced
  • 8 Ounces Penne Pasta, (or any short pasta, dry)
  • 1 1/2 Cups Chicken Broth, (low-sodium)
  • 1 1/2 Cups Water
  • 8 Ounces Cream Cheese, (cut into cubes)
  • Shredded Asiago cheese

Instructions

Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the oil, sausage, red pepper and onion. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes until the sausage begins to brown and the onions soften.

Add the noodles, broth, and water. Stir to combine.

Bring the ingredients to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and continue to cook for 12 to 14 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure the noodles don’t stick together. Don’t let all the liquid cook away. There needs to be a little residual liquid in the bottom of the pan to mix with the cream cheese. After the noodles are cooked to al dente or to your liking, add the cream cheese. Stir until the cream cheese is melted and thoroughly combined. Sprinkle on some of the Asiago cheese.

Serve hot. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.