Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage

baked ziti
Who doesn’t love baked ziti? Pasta, fresh tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese bubbling on top…yum! I found this amazing recipe on the Food Network and made a few tweaks of my own. What I love about this dish is that it’s perfect for a large group because everything is baked in one dish AND you can prepare it ahead of time. I recently made this for a dinner party and the ability to prepare ahead of time was a definite plus. I made the sauce the day beforehand and stored in the refrigerator. I boiled the pasta and mixed with the sauce and cheese a few hours before serving.  Then transferred everything to a baking dish and covered with foil. All I had to do was pop the dish into the oven 30 minutes before serving. I ended up having more time to mingle with my guests and have a few cocktails myself. 😉 Continue reading

Burrata and Tomato Salad

burrata tomato
Ladies and Gents, this is NOT your typical Caprese salad. Sure, who doesn’t love fresh mozzarella cheese sandwiched between sweet tomatoes and basil? But once you replace the mozzarella with fresh burrata cheese, you will never want to have Caprese salad any other way! Trust me.

Burrata is cheese made from mozzarella and cream. As you bite into burrata cheese, your initial reaction will be “oh, mozzarella.” But as you continue eating, your taste buds will get an unexpected burst of creamy goodness oozing out! This creamy goodness takes the Caprese salad to a whole new level.

Flavoring each layer of the salad is also very important, so that you get intense flavors with every bite. I like to sprinkle sea salt on the tomatoes because it’s not as salty as regular table salt, and it adds a nice crunchy texture to the dish. Freshly ground black pepper and good extra virgin olive oil are also a must.

My Burrata and Tomato Salad is the perfect dish to serve on a hot summer day. It takes no time to prepare and you and your guests will LOVE it!   Continue reading

Easy Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

An oldie but a goodie! Perfect for dinner this fall.

Who doesn’t love macaroni and cheese, especially when it’s home-made? I’ve tried many mac and cheese recipes in the past and have found a few that are amazing; however, they do take some time to prepare and bake. That’s why this easy pumpkin mac and cheese is my new favorite recipe! Not only does it have healthy nutrients from the pumpkin, but it’s so quick and easy to make. Plus, the pumpkin puree adds a rich creaminess to the dish so you don’t have to use that much cheese, which means less calories!

I was inspired to make this dish one night while watching Rachael Ray make a mac and cheese using butternut squash. My mouth was literally watering while watching the show. Needless to say, I wanted to make mac and cheese for dinner, but I didn’t have any butternut squash. The only thing I did have was canned pumpkin puree. So, I decided to wing it and make the dish using pumpkin puree and a few other substitute ingredients. I also kicked up the spiciness of the dish by adding red pepper flakes. The result? An awesome pumpkin mac and cheese!  Continue reading