ITALIAN WEDDING CASSEROLE adapted from Ree Drummond

2 cups (dry) bowtie pasta
2 tablespoons butter 
2 tablespoons avocado oil 
1 cup diced celery 
2 tablespoons chopped FRESH oregano 
1 tablespoon FRESH chopped thyme
1 tablespoon FRESH chopped Italian Parsley
1 teaspoon FRESH chopped rosemary
3 cloves garlic, minced 
2 carrots, diced 
1 onion, diced 
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
4 cups chicken broth
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
1 1/2 pounds of homemade meatballs OR a 26-ounce bag frozen Italian meatballs 
2-3 cups chopped baby spinach *SEE NOTES
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese

  • Preheat the oven to 375°.
  • Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water until less than al dente; set aside.
  • Melt butter and avocado oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add celery, carrots and onion, cooking until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add oregano and garlic, sautéing until fragrant.
  • Sprinkle with the flour, stirring and cooking for an additional minute.
  • While whisking constantly, slowly add chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and allow the sauce to thicken, about 2 minutes.
  • Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
  • Add the meatballs, spinach, Parmesan, stirring to combine.
  • Fold in pasta.
  • Transfer to 9×13-inch baking dish.

1  cup PANKO breadcrumbs
1/4 cup FRESH grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons salted butter, melted
2 tablespoons chopped FRESH parsley 
2 tablespoons chopped FRESH oregano 

  • Mix together the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, butter, parsley and oregano in a bowl until well combined.
  • Sprinkle the breadcrumb topping over the casserole.
  • Bake until golden and bubbly, about 20 minutes.
  • Allow the casserole to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

NOTES:  Baby spinach can be easily replaced with broccoli or green beans, but both of those need to be added during the saute’ process.


Not the prettiest looking casserole, but after you dig into it, the flavor makes you forget how it looks!
4 servings spaghetti or fettuccine
2 sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
1 LARGE shallot halved and sliced thin
1/2 of a LARGE red pepper, diced
2 cups spaghetti sauce
1 cup chopped pepperoni pieces*
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons FRESH chopped herbs (Italian Parsley, Rosemary and Thyme), divided

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spray 2 quart baking dish with non-stick spray.
  • Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  • In a small skillet heat avocado oil.
  • Add Italian sausage, cooking until crumbly and shallots are caramelized.
  • Add red peppers, cooking a few minutes more peppers are tender and juicy. Drain sausage mixture of excess grease.
  • In a mixing bowl combine sauce, two-thirds of the chopped herbs, pepperoni pieces and sausage mixture until well blended.
  • Add half of each cheese, blending well.
  • Fold in pasta.
  • Arrange mixture into baking dish.
  • Sprinkle remaining cheese evenly on top.
  • Sprinkle remaining herbs over cheese.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes until heated through.

NOTE: I buy the mini pepperoni bites so there is no chopping involved.


1 stick butter, divided 2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons + 4 tablespoons
1 tablespoon avocado oil
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
3 cups DRY wide egg noodles
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch green onions, whites only sliced thin
4 cups SMALL broccoli florets (about 3 crowns, stalks discarded or used elsewhere)
14 ounces marinated artichokes, drained WELL
1/4 cup WONDRA flour
4 cups WHOLE milk
1/4 cup cream sherry
4 ounces cream cheese, sliced into 8-10 pieces
2 LARGE cans white albacore tuna in water, drained WELL
1 cup shredded Gruyere
1/4 cup FRESH chopped Parsley
Several sprigs FRESH thyme
1/2 cup PANKO crumbs

  • Prepare noodles al dente per package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  • Melt avocado oil and 2 tablespoons butter in large saute pan.
  • Add green onions and garlic, sauteing 2 minutes until garlic is golden and fragrant.
  • Increase heat to medium-high and add broccoli florets, sauteing 7-8 minutes until broccoli is tender and vibrant green.
  • GENEROUSLY season with FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper.
  • Add artichokes and Parsley, cooking several minutes more until all liquid is absorbed.
  • Pour broccoli and artichokes into colander and drain off any remaining oil.
  • Return pan to stove and melt 4 tablespoons butter.
  • Whisk in WONDRA flour until smooth and golden.
  • Gradually add milk and cream sherry stirring well after each addition. Cook until slightly thickened.
  • Add cream cheese pieces, whisking until smooth.
  • Add Gruyere, whisking until smooth.
  • Adjust seasoning.
  • Fold in tuna until well blended.
  • Fold in broccoli and artichokes until well blended.
  • Fold in noodles.
  • GENEROUSLY season with FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper.
  • Transfer to 3 quart 9×13 baking dish.
  • Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.
  • With a fork blend melted butter and Panko crumbs.
  • Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over casserole.
  • Bake 30-45 minutes until crumbs are golden and casserole is bubbly.
  • Garnish with green onion tops if desired.


12 ounces fettuccine
FRESH ground sea salt and tri-color peppercorns, to taste
1 pound sirloin steak
2 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons Wondra flour
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes (optional)
1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
1 small can baby peas (Le Seur)
Balsamic glaze, for drizzling

  • In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside. OR roast or pan fry potatoes in a separate pan.
  • Generously season steak with FRESH ground sea salt and tri-colored peppercorns.
  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook steak 3 minutes per side for medium rare.
  • Transfer to a plate to let rest, 10 minutes, then thinly slice.
  • Meanwhile, make Alfredo sauce.
  • Add butter to skillet and let melt.
  • Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.
  • Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute more, then add milk and simmer until thickened, 5 minutes.
  • Add parsley and Parmesan, stirring to combine.
  • Fold in peas.
  • Add tomatoes (if desired) and cook down 2 minutes.
  • Add cooked pasta or roasted potatoes to sauce and toss until coated.
  • Top with sliced steak, drizzle with balsamic glaze and sprinkle with minced Parsley.


1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 cups FRESH broccoli florets, cut small*
1/2 Vidalia onion, finely chopped
1 + 1/2-3/4 cup SHARP cheddar cheese, divided
1 ham steak (2 cups diced)
1 1/2 cups macaroni noodles, cooked and drained well
1 jar pimientos, drained WELL
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Mix together the mayonnaise, 1 cup of cheese and milk.
  • Fold in the broccoli, onions, pimientos and ham pieces.
  • Spoon into a 9×13 baking dish.
  • Melt butter and add bread crumbs until well blended.
  • Sprinkle with 1/2-3/4 cup of cheese and bread crumbs.
  • Bake for 45 minutes until bubbly and golden on top.

NOTE: *FROZEN broccoli will work, but FRESH is so much more tastier! 😀


5 slices bacon, cooked crisp and FINELY crumbled
1 1/2 + 2 tablespoons butter
1/8 cup WONDRA flour
5 ounce can evaporated milk
3/4 cup 2% milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
3/4 cup grated Vampire Slayer (Garlic) cheese**
3/4 cup grated Horseradish cheese**
1/2 pound elbow macaroni, prepared per package instructions
2 teaspoons FRESH ground thyme
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spray 8×8 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Add 1 1/2 tablespoons butter to dutch oven and melt.
  • Whisk in flour until golden.
  • Season with FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper.
  • Add evaporated milk, 2% milk and heavy cream, whisking 5 minutes until slightly thickened.
  • Add cheeses, stirring until smooth.
  • Add macaroni and thyme, blending well.
  • Spread into baking dish.
  • Bake 20 minutes.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons butter in skillet over medium heat.
  • Add Panko crumbs and stir 5 minutes until crisp and butter is well absorbed.
  • Stir in bacon pieces.
  • Sprinkle bread crumb bacon mixture over macaroni and cheese.
  • Return to oven 5-10 minutes baking until golden and bubbly.

**NOTE: I’m sure many creameries make similar flavors, but these specifically come from FACE ROCK Creamery along the Oregon coast and have a tremendous flavor! My theory is that the cool ocean breezes make happier cows that produce better milk for tastier cheese 😀 The bacon never hurts either. 😀


1/2 pound large shells pasta
1 pound ground beef
1 package Taco Bell ORIGINAL seasoning packet
3/4 cup water
1 cup jarred salsa
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

  • Cook the shelled pasta according to the directions on the box and drain WELL.
  • Add the ground beef to the pan and brown well.
  • Drain the fat.
  • Add the taco seasoning and water, stirring and cooking until water is evaporated.
  • Add the pasta, salsa and cheese.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Garnish with chopped green onions, chopped olives and/or peppers.
  • Serve immediately, with crunchy tortilla chips or Fritos.   I also like to use taco shell bowls.


24 JUMBO pasta shells
2 CUPS shredded Mozzarella cheese

BALSMELLA (Italian Bechamel)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup WONDRA flour
2 1/4 cups WHOLE milk
1/2-1 teaspoon FRESH grated nutmeg
FRESH ground sea salt and tri-color pepper, to taste

  • Melt butter in sauce pan over medium heat.
  • Whisk in flour cooking 2 minutes until golden.
  • Whisk in milk and nutmeg, bringing to a simmer.
  • Reduce heat and cook, whisking periodically for 10 minutes until thick.
  • Season to taste with FRESH ground sea salt and tri-color pepper.

1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1 SMALL onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons avocado oil
FRESH ground sea salt and tri-color pepper
1/2-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup QUALITY DRY sherry

  • Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add onions, cooking 3-4 minutes until softened.
  • Add garlic, cooking until fragrant.
  • Add ground beef and pork, cooking until browned, breaking up meat pieces into fine.
  • Drain off excess grease.
  • Stir in sherry and cook 5-6 minutes until nearly evaporated.
  • Season to taste with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.
  • Let cool completely.
  • Stir in Balsamella sauce.

3 tablespoons avocado oil
1 small red onion, chopped
24 ounce can whole tomatoes
1 KNORR beef gel packet
3/4 cup moscato white wine
Juice from 1 lemon
5-6 cloves garlic, finely minced into a paste
3 tablespoons Classico sundried tomato pesto
1 teaspoon fresh ground Himalayan pink salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground red pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons fresh chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil

  • Heat avocado oil in a large saute’ pan over medium high heat.
  • Add onions and garlic sauteeing until tender.
  • Whisk together the beef gel, wine, pesto and juice from the tomatoes.
  • Add seasonings, blending well.
  • Add tomatoes and gently crush.
  • Bring to a SLOW boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer 2 hours.


  • Spread 3 cups of tomato sauce in the bottom of a 3 quart baking dish.
  • Spoon meat mixture evenly into shells, arranging shells on top of red sauce in baking dish.
  • Cover with foil and bake 15-20 minutes.
  • Remove foil and sprinkle with Mozzarella cheese.
  • Bake another 15-20 minutes until cheese is bubbling and golden.
  • Let rest 5 minutes.
  • Garnish and serve with remaining tomato sauce.


  • I like to cook the shells the day before, chilling in the refrigerator over night so they are pliable and easy to work with the next day.
  • A potato masher helps to make a finely minced meat.
  • If you have any extra meat mixture I either sprinkle it over the shells or freeze to use later in a lasagna.


2 LARGE jars marinated artichoke hearts
2 slices sourdough bread
1 tablespoon butter
6 LARGE white mushrooms, sliced thin
1 small shallot, sliced thin or small diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons heavy cream
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
12 ounces campagnelle pasta, prepared per package directions and reserving cooking water
1/4 cup FRESH minced parsley
FRESH grated Parmesan cheese
avocado oil

  • Cut leaves from artichoke hearts. Trim and discard any leaves that are stiff or dried out. Cut hearts into quarters. Drain on paper toweling.
  • Pulse bread in food processor until finely ground.
  • Heat butter in skillet until melted.
  • Add bread crumbs and cook, stirring constantly until crumbs begin to color.
  • Add 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese and cook another couple minutes until golden and toasted. Remove from heat. Pour bread crumbs into a small bowl and set aside.
  • Add oil to skillet over medium high heat until shimmering.
  • Add shallots, garlic, artichoke hearts, mushrooms and leaves, cooking 5-7 minutes.
  • Add wine to de-glaze pan.
  • Lower heat to medium and add cream, stirring to blend and coat well, cooking 2-3 minutes.
  • Add drained pasta and Parmesan cheese, blending well.
  • Add pasta water as necessary to desired sauce consistency.
  • Season to taste.
  • Top with bread crumb mixture and parsley.

NOTE: Hubby hates mushrooms so I actually make 2 separate pans for this recipe.  I also often add pieces of shredded roasted chicken as a protein, but it’s just as easy to sear up a couple boneless, skinless chicken thighs to shred into it.


When I was a kid, tetrazinni was a dish made from leftovers. In our house it could be from left over roast chicken, turkey or ham.  The cheese back then was not of my liking either, usually Velveeta or American singles – YUCK!!  Personally I only like it made with chicken and I prefer it with fresh seared chicken not the traditional boiled or stewed. 😀  One of the recipes I found was a much newer version that used “canned” products that I discarded immediately to lean towards the old fashioned version of scratch.

I have seen a bunch of recipes in old recipe files and brand name pamphlets for canned chicken.  I even found one that must have come from a lunch lady’s files as it called for 20 cups of cooked chicken, 24 ounces of spaghetti noodles…  honestly I quit reading at that point since I knew it would never for for the 2 of us and was giving me a headache to try and convert it to serve 2!  I ended up taking the parts I liked from each recipe AND my memories to make my new one!

8 ounces uncooked spaghetti, broken in half
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 tablespoons butter
1 LARGE stalk celery, sliced thin
1 shallot, diced
1 small (mini) red pepper, chopped
3 tablespoons Wondra flour
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Cream Sherry
2-3 sprigs thyme, leaves only
3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Mozzarella
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper

  • In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.
  • Generously season chicken pieces and sear 3-4 minutes per side in hot oil until cooked through and golden brown.
  • Remove chicken and small dice OR shred. Set Aside.
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spray baking dish with non-stick baking spray.
  • Prepare noodles per package directions.
  • Add butter to skillet.
  • When butter is sizzling add celery, shallots and peppers to skillet and saute 2-3 minutes.
  • Add flour to skillet, stirring to coat until golden.
  • Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce to a simmer and stir in the heavy cream, apple cider vinegar, cream sherry and thyme leaves.   Simmer until starting to thicken and slightly reduced.
  • Stir in cheeses, reserving a small amount for garnishing.
  • Fold in spaghetti noodles and chicken pieces.
  • Season to taste.
  • Transfer to baking dish.
  • Top with remaining cheese.
  • Bake 20 minutes until heated through and all cheese is melted.

NOTE:  I have been known to throw in a can of drained petite peas 😀 to make it an all in one dish.



8 ounces uncooked pasta (see note), prepared per package directions
1 1/2 cups WHOLE milk
1/4 cup WONDRA flour
4 tablespoons white miso
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
FRESH ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1 pound Italian sausage, cooked and crumbled small
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups heirloom grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 cup marinated artichokes, drained and chopped
2 teaspoon chopped thyme
4 cloves garlic minced
1 1/2 cups baby spinach leaves, optional
18-20 mini mozzarella balls, halved or quartered
Torn basil leaves for garnish

  • Place 1/2 cup of milk in deep bowl.
  • Whisk in flour and miso until smooth.


  • Add remaining milk and stock to saucepan. Bring to a SLOW boil over medium-high heat.
  • Whisk in flour mixture and reduce heat. Simmer 4-5 minutes until slightly thick.
  • Add pepper.


  • Heat oil and butter in skillet over high heat.
  • Add tomatoes, stirring and cooking 2 minutes until beginning to char and pop.
  • Add thyme and garlic, cooking 1 minute more.
  • Add spinach, cooking 2 minutes more until wilted.
  • Remove from heat.


  • Add pasta sauce and half the cheese to the skillet, tossing to combine.
  • Serve in pasta bowls.
  • Top with remaining cheese pieces and torn basil.

NOTE: Any pasta works with this recipe!


This is a luscious Chicken Alfredo with plenty of OOMPH from the wilted spinach and sun dried tomatoes. The bacon adds yet another layer of flavor making it similar to a Carbonara. Shredding the chickens adds plenty of nooks and crannies for the sauce to adhere and provide lots and lots of flavors, though I tend to use tenders and serve them whole.  I adapted from RECIPE TIN EATS


10 ounces fettuccine (see notes)

  • Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water for package directions minus 2 minutes.  The pasta will finish cooking in the sauce.  Just before draining, scoop out a cup of cooking water. Then drain pasta as directed.

1 tablespoons avocado oil
1 1/2 pounds of chicken breasts, cut in half horizontally or chicken tenders
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper

  • Sprinkle both sides of chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Melt half the butter in a large skillet over high heat.
  • Add chicken and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until deep golden.
  • Remove chicken onto plate, rest for a few minutes then shred with 2 forks.

2 tablespoons butter
3 garlic cloves , minced
1 small red pepper sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 1/4 cups heavy cream – DO NOT USE LIGHT
3/4 cup FINELY shredded Parmesan cheese + more for garnish
1-2  cups torn baby spinach
3 ounces sun dried tomato strips, DRAINED (see notes)
4 slices bacon, diced and browned
FRESH chopped Parsley, for garnish

  • Reduce the heat of your skillet to medium high.
  • Add remaining butter, sun-dried tomato oil and garlic.
  • Cook garlic for 30 seconds until golden.
  • Add red pepper slices and cook another minute.
  • Add wine, simmering quickly and stirring to scrape up any brown bits off the bottom of the pan.
  • Once mostly evaporated, add chicken broth, cream, Parmesan and sun dried tomato pieces.
    Simmer on medium for 3 – 5 minutes, stirring often, until it reduces and thickens.


  • Add spinach, chicken, bacon pieces and cooked pasta.
  • TOSS – this is a MUST if you are shredding the chicken!
  • Cook sauce for 2 minutes, until sauce thickens and coats the pasta. (see notes)
  • Serve immediately with Parmesan and parsley if desired.


  • Flat wide pastas are best for creamy sauces, but any pasta will work in reality. DO NOT use fresh pastas.
  • When I drain the sun-dried tomatoes, I drain them into my skillet as part of my cooking oil for the sauce.
  • Use the reserved pasta cooking water as needed if the sauce gets too thick.