Baked Penne Pasta with Summer Vegetables

This baked pasta is a nice change from the usual pasta and red sauce. It’s loaded with colorful veggies and gooey mozzarella cheese. Serve with a green salad and you could have dinner for 4-6 people for around $12.

This recipe comes from eMeals Simple Gourmet eating plan. I’ll do a full review of eMeals explaining exactly how it works and how it saves me money very soon. For now, all you need to know is that eMeals provides a weekly meal plan (7 dinners) that includes recipes for a main dish and sides and a convenient shopping list for all meals. I’ve been using the service for a few weeks and I’m really happy with it!

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Anyway, on to the recipe!

Baked Penne Pasta with Summer Vegetables


1 box (16 oz.) penne pasta

1 TBSP olive oil

2 cups chopped yellow onion

1 medium zucchini, chopped

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

1 yellow bell pepper, chopped

2 TBSP chopped fresh thyme

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

8 oz package shredded mozzarella cheese

vegetarian cheesy baked penne pasta


  1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan; cook 3 minutes.
  3. Add bell pepper to pan; cook 3 minutes.
  4. Add zucchini to pan; cook 2 minutes or until beginning to soften.
  5. Add garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Sauté 1 minute.
  6. Combine pasta, onion mixture, tomatoes and 1/2 the cheese in a medium bowl. Add pasta mixture to 7” x 11” baking dish.
  7. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 15 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is browned.

Spicy Quinoa Salad with Garbanzos, Bell Peppers and Parsley

spicy quinoa salad from

This is the third quinoa recipe I’ve made. I like quinoa for it’s high protein and quick cooking. I’ve found that the taste is much improved if I thoroughly rinse it prior to cooking. My husband, however, has not been impressed. In an effort to find a quinoa recipe that would tickle his taste buds I tried this spicy version.

This is by far the best quinoa recipe I’ve tried so far. I served it warm the evening I cooked it, but ate it cold as leftovers the next day. I think it’s actually better chilled!


2 cups quinoa, thoroghly rinsed

3 TBSP lemon juice

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp cayenne

1 can garbanzo beans (chick peas), drained and rinsed

1 jar fire roasted red bell pepper, chopped

1 bunch fresh parsley (about 3/4 cup chopped leaves)

Salt to taste (approx 1/2 tsp)


  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions.
  2. Add all other ingredients and mix well.

Tips and Tricks

  • This dish is high in protein and is great as a vegetarian meal.
  • This makes a large batch, enough for 3-4 people as a main dish or 6 as a side dish.
  • The cayenne pepper gives this quinoa a nice kick of heat, but is not overpowering for the volume here. For a milder dish, reduce to 1/4 tsp.


Broiled Tomatoes With Basil & Mozzarella (No-Bread Bruschetta)

broiled tomatoes with basil & mozzarella

I love the flavor combination of tomato, basil and mozzarella. It’s a classic for a reason! When I needed a quick no-carb lunch last week I turned this classic combo into a five-minute treat. It really satisfied that craving for bruschetta without any bread!


1 large ripe tomato, stem and core removed, sliced  1/4 ” thick

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1-2 TBSP fresh basil herb paste (found in the produce section of the market)


  1. Wash, stem, core and slice tomato. Place on non-reactive cookie sheet
    or dish.
  2. In a small bowl combine cheese with basil paste.
  3. Spread evenly over tomatoes.
  4. Place under broiler for 2-3 minutes, until cheese is lightly browned.
  5. Serve immediately.

This makes a great quick lunch or a nice side dish on a hot summer night since the broiler won’t heat up the house. For extra pizzaz try adding a little salt and pepper to the tomatoes or drizzle with olive oil before broiling.

Hearty Vegetarian Chili

Vegetarian Chili

Vegetarian Chili with Cheese & Sour Cream

Tonight I discovered I was missing an ingredient for the dish I intended to make.  So in a pinch I had to make something from what I had on hand.  It was cold tonight and I had plenty of canned items in my pantry so I made chili. 

It turned out very tasty!  Even my picky little kids ate some of it.  Of course, they mostly ate the cheese and sour cream off the top.  This is South Beach friendly as well!  Here is the recipe I used:

2 TBSP olive oil

1  small onion, chopped

1 cup chopped bell pepper (I used some red, yellow and green since that’s what I had)

1 TBSP minced garlic – I like to use the paste, so much easier

Salt & Pepper

2 cans Caribbean style black beans (black beans with chili, bell pepper and lime)

1 can cannellini (while kidney beans)

1 can diced tomatoes – do not drain

1 can vegetable broth

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp oregano

Heat the olive oil on med-high and add onions and bell pepper.  Stir and watch until they begin to soften.  Add the garlic and some salt and pepper.  When the peppers are tender, add the rest of the ingredients.  Simmer on med-low for about 15 minutes.  Serve with shredded cheese and sour cream, if you like.  If you are not doing South Beach,  some cornbread or tortilla chips would go great on the side!