Spaghetti Sauce

I love this sauce, and it has a special place in my heart. I feel that this sauce was a springboard to my love of cooking and learning how to taste and adjust flavors while cooking. When I was 14 and Mom would let me try to make the sauce on my own, I felt so grown up. My mom was patient and helped me learn how to taste and adjust, adding more sugar if the sauce was acidic or more basil if it needed more seasoning. She perfected this spaghetti sauce. It’s a little sweet, and it’s got so much more flavor than most pasta sauces. Even Olive Garden is disappointing after we’ve had such a nice sauce. Of course like most recipes that use dried spices, the flavor gets stronger as it sits.

We use this spaghetti sauce for so many Italian dishes, like your standard spaghetti, lasagna, and manicotti. We just leave out the Italian sausage pieces for the lasagna and manicotti. Growing up, Mom would always use a jar of homemade, home-jarred pureed tomatoes and add some tomato paste to thicken it. But nowadays we usually make it with a jar of commercial pasta sauce and add extra stuff, but you can make it using a jar of unflavored tomato sauce also. So you might as well get the cheap sauce if you’re going to be doctoring it up anyway.

And luckily this one is naturally gluten free, as long as you choose a gluten free sauce (which  most are).

Spaghetti Sauce

  • Servings: 6?
  • Difficulty: medium
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Flavorful and great to use in several Italian dishes.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. extra lean Hamburger
  • 1 Onion, minced
  • 1 heaping tsp. Minced Garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. Italian Seasoning
  • 1 tsp. Sweet Basil Leaf
  • 1 qt. homemade Tomato Sauce, 32 oz. can crushed tomatoes, or jar of pasta sauce
  • 1 (6 oz.) can Tomato Paste (optional, to make thicker)
  • 2-2 ½ tsp. Salt (to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp. Sugar
  • 1-2 pkg. Mild Italian Sausage (optional), sliced

Directions

Brown hamburger and add onion and garlic to cook. Add a little salt and pepper, then mix in Italian seasoning and basil. Add sauce, tomato paste, salt, and sugar. Check for flavor and adjust seasonings as needed.

For Italian sausage, slice each sausage in about 5 pieces and boil in a separate pot for 5 minutes. Drain and add to sauce.


Shrimp or Chicken Alfredo

I originally found this listed as a Red Lobster copycat recipe. I’m not sure it’s a copycat, but it’s very delicious. I did double it from the original recipe because it originally called for 8 oz. of pasta, and generally linguine or alfredo noodles come in 16 oz. packages. The leftovers don’t reheat the best, though–(it gets really oily when you microwave it)–so you might just want this as a one-time meal without leftovers, or add less oil at the beginning to help.

Here’s a picture of the shrimp version using linguine:

Now we mostly make this as chicken alfredo because chicken is cheaper and more popular with several family members. And of course I just use chicken broth instead of clam juice.

If you’re making this gluten free, I’ve made it with gluten free rotini and once I actually used zoodles, and it has turned out well. Of course with the zoodles, the sauce doesn’t cling as well to the noodles so it’s soupier, but it still tastes nice and is a low carb option.

Shrimp or Chicken Alfredo

  • Servings: 6-8?
  • Difficulty: medium
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Flavors of Red Lobster–just try to eat it all in one sitting instead of having leftovers (it doesn’t reheat amazingly).

Ingredients

  • 1/3 c. Olive Oil
  • 6 cloves Garlic, minced (2 tsp. minced)
  • 2 lb. raw Shrimp (peeled, deveined, no tails) or chicken, cubed
  • 1 1/3 c. Clam Juice or chicken broth
  • 2 c. Heavy Cream
  • 1 c. Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. dried Basil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried Oregano
  • 1 package Linguine or Fettucine (16 oz.) cooked and drained (or gluten free pasta or zoodles, lightly sauteed so they keep some crunch)

Directions

(If making chicken version, cook chicken first, then place in a separate bowl.) Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; reduce heat to low. Simmer until garlic is tender. Add shrimp and cook until opaque. Remove; reserve liquid in pan. Add clam juice or chicken broth, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; add cream, then cheese. Cook until thickened. Add shrimp or chicken to sauce and remaining except pasta. Pour over pasta in large bowl; toss gently to coat.


Macaroni & Cheese

This came from a Better Homes & Gardens cookbook, and Mom often made this when we were growing up. I basically never put in onions. You can even add chopped up hot dogs or ham, which is delicious but also a bit greasy. You don’t necessarily have to bake it. It comes out great just made on the stovetop. I even once made a cheddar fondue with this sauce recipe, but added a lot more cheese. It was delicious.

If you’re making it gluten free, I’ve made it doubled on the stove (unbaked) a few times, and it’s amazing. I love the buttery sauce. I use a whole 12 oz. box of gluten free rotini. And you can either use gluten free flour or replace with half the cornstarch.

Below is a picture of the baked version (it absorbs a lot of the sauce). The recipe card picture is made with gluten free rotini and hot dogs, which has much more sauce–usually I add more pasta when I make the stovetop version because it’s very saucy.

Macaroni & Cheese

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: medium
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Baked or unbaked, tastes great. You can even add sliced hot dogs.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ c. Elbow Macaroni or Rotini (or gluten free rotini–if doubling and making on stove, use 12 oz. box)
  • 3 Tbsp. Butter
  • 2 Tbsp. Flour (or 1 Tbsp. cornstarch)
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • Dash of Pepper
  • 2 c. Milk
  • ¼ c. Onion, finely chopped (optional)
  • 8 oz. Cheddar Cheese (2 c. if cubed) (sharp is best, but mild is still delicious)
  • (optional) Hot dogs cut into rounds (1 pack of 8 hot dogs is good for a double batch)

Directions

(Double recipe for large family, to fill 9×13 pan.) Cook and drain macaroni. In saucepan, melt butter and blend in flour, salt, and pepper. Add milk, then cook and stir till thick and bubbly. Add onion and cheese, stirring till cheese is melted. Mix cheese sauce with macaroni (and add hot dogs if using). You can serve as is or pour into 1 ½ qt. casserole or sprayed 9×13 pan and bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or till heated through.


Manicotti

The filling is good for manicotti shells or jumbo shells. And it makes great leftovers.

If you’re making it gluten free, good luck finding gluten free manicotti shells. I’m pretty sure those unicorns do exist, though, haha. I usually end up making gluten free rotini or penne, and layering it like I’d layer lasagna. It bakes nicely and is delicious.

Manicotti

  • Servings: 5
  • Difficulty: medium
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Delicious, great leftovers, and freezes well.

Ingredients

  • 10 Manicotti Shells, cooked in salt water
  • 1 pt. Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • ¼ c. Parmesan Cheese
  • ½ c. Shredded Mozzarella
  • 1 Tbsp. Parsley Flakes
  • Spaghetti Sauce
  • Mozzarella Cheese for topping

Directions

Combine ricotta, eggs, parmesan, and parsley. Stuff into shells either with a spoon or by putting the filling in a quart bag, cutting off the tip, and piping into the shells. Place some spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Place stuffed shells on top of sauce. Pour remaining sauce over top of shells. Sprinkle with mozzarella. Cook at 350° for 30 minutes.


Lasagna

So delicious! Wonderful flavors, makes great leftovers, and freezes well. Great for special occasions or Sunday, but it does take a fair amount of time.

If you’re making it gluten free, you can certainly try gluten free lasagna noodles. I’ve never found them in the store, though, but I haven’t looked very hard. I usually end up making gluten free rotini or penne, and layering it like I’d layer regular lasagna. It bakes nicely and is delicious.

Lasagna

  • Servings: 9
  • Difficulty: medium
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Delicious, great leftovers, and freezes well.

Ingredients

  • 9-10 cooked, drained Lasagna Noodles
  • ½ lb-1 lb Cottage Cheese
  • 3 c. Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • Spaghetti Sauce (homemade)
  • Parmesan Cheese

Directions

In a greased 9×13 pan, place a thin layer of sauce. Layer 3 noodles, sauce, 1/2 the cottage cheese–not too thick–use a spoon to shake on over the top, then a light layer of mozzarella cheese. Repeat previous layer. Last layer: put on 3 noodles and remaining sauce. Put heavy layer of Mozzarella cheese and sprinkle with parmesan cheese to finish. Bake covered at 375° for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 more minutes until cheese is lightly browned. Do not over brown. Let sit 10 minutes before cutting and serving.


Pesto Chicken

Man, I love pesto chicken SO much. It’s one of my very favorite meals. Garlic, basil, cheese, and tomato combine so well. You can make this as separate chicken breasts in a pan, or you can mix cubed chicken and cut up tomato with sauce in the pasta. Either way is delicious, but the separate chicken breasts in the pan seems a little more special for special occasions.

And good news, this one is naturally gluten free–just serve it with gluten free noodles.

Pesto Chicken

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Absolutely delicious, great for special occasions or weeknight dinners.

Ingredients

  • 3 large Chicken Breasts, fileted in half so they’re half the thickness (6 total pieces)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 10 oz. jar Basil Pesto
  • 2 large Tomatoes, sliced
  • Sliced or shredded Mozzarella
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions

Place the fileted chicken breasts in a greased 9×13 pan and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the pesto over the chicken. Then cover each chicken with 1-2 tomato slices (salted and peppered), and top with cheese. (Optional: Sprinkle parmesan over all.) Cook at 375° for about 30-45 minutes or until the temperature reaches 165°. Also broil to melt the cheese until slightly golden brown at the end. Serve with pasta, and make sure to spoon the delicious liquid from the pan over the pasta.


Chicken Linguine

Once again, this recipe comes from the time when I lived with Grandpa and he was trying to eat lower-sodium meals. It was originally a side dish on Mrs. Dash’s website, but I updated it with chicken and a few other ingredients, and eventually added more salt after the low-sodium diet was over.

The house smells so amazing and full of spices when this meal is cooking, and it makes nice leftovers. I generally serve it using tongs because the noodles are long and the chicken is hard to grab with a pasta server. But you can use any pasta with this recipe, really. And you might need to add a lot of extra Mrs. Dash, just according to your taste preference.

If you’re making this gluten free, just make sure to use gluten free pasta. Everything else is gluten free naturally–just make sure your cheese hasn’t been contaminated.

Chicken Linguine

  • Servings: 6?
  • Difficulty: medium
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Healthier, but very aromatic and delicious.

Ingredients

  • 1 box uncooked Fettuccine or Linguine (or gluten free pasta)
  • 2-4 Chicken Breasts, cubed
  • 2 ½ Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp.+ Mrs. Dash Garlic & Herb Seasoning, to taste
  • 1 Red Pepper, sliced
  • 1 Yellow pepper, sliced
  • 2 c. chopped Broccoli or Asparagus
  • ¼ c. Lemon Juice
  • ¾ c. Shredded Provolone/Mozzarella Blend
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

Prepare pasta according to package directions, and cook chicken. Place chicken in bowl, then heat olive oil in pan. Add vegetables and Mrs. Dash Seasoning. Cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Toss together with pasta, chicken, vegetables, and lemon juice. Mix in cheese and stir until melted, then add salt and pepper to taste.


Garlic Spaghetti

We often had garlic spaghetti served with chicken parmesan, and I almost enjoyed the side dish spaghetti more than the main dish, haha.

If you’re making it gluten free, of course make sure to use gluten free spaghetti.

Garlic Spaghetti

  • Servings: 6?
  • Difficulty: easy
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A wonderful accompaniment to Italian main courses.

Ingredients

  • ½ c. Butter
  • 2 tsp. Garlic, minced (or ½ tsp. Garlic Powder)
  • 1 lb. Cooked Spaghetti (or gluten free spaghetti)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

While the spaghetti is draining in the colander, melt butter in spaghetti pot and let garlic cook with it. Add rest of ingredients and mix well.