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Short on Time, Money? Pasta Saves the Day!

Rebecca Hammond's Chicken w/ Pesto Pasta

Through my years of cooking for hungry family and friends, there has been one dish that has never failed me. It’s quick and inexpensive to prepare, and doesn’t require a whole lot of brain power (a good thing, when your attention is split between kids, grandkids, laundry and the like!) What’s this magical discovery, you ask? Pasta! Now, I know it would be much more impressive for me to say that I whip up a quick filet mignon anytime I’m in a pinch for time, but my Wonder Woman cape is at the cleaners. Instead, I stick to my tried-and-true noodles for a satisfying meal that can be dolled-up any which way, depending on what I have on hand.

College student Rebecca Hammond recently shared with us her Fresh Rosemary Chicken with Pesto Pasta – proof that these days college cuisine can mean a whole lot more than a box of mac & cheese!

“I took a number of different recipes and experimented by combining them,” explains Rebecca. “This is so easy and all fresh ingredients! I fed all my college friends and they were loving it!”

And I can see why! This recipe is as much a delight for the eyes as it is for the tastebuds. By experimenting with different inspirations, Rebecca has created a delicious signature dish that can easily be prepared on a dorm-room budget. The simple ingredients – linguine, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto – can be swapped out to match what you already have on hand. Mushrooms? Olives? You bet! Toss ’em in and wow your family with how good a few extra veggies can taste.

Now the only thing I like better than coming across an easy recipe is finding a SUPER easy one! Michelle Waco’s Super Easy Working Mom’s Manicotti takes simple to a whole new level. Like Rebecca, Michelle found inspiration in another recipe, tweaked it and made it perfectly fit her family’s needs.

“Sometimes I make it with sausage and mushrooms, sometimes veggie style,” says Michelle. “Either way is great!”

No-boil noodles make Michelle’s manicotti recipe even more delicious to the busy mom or grandma on the go. Planning ahead for the week? Whip-up some of these stuffed shells then pop ’em in the freezer! When you’re ready to serve, thaw the manicotti in the fridge and then bake as usual.

Finally, I have to give a big round of applause to Oklahoman Kat Dotson. Her Linguine with Clam Sauce masquerades as a fancy-shmancy special occasion dinner, but in reality is a stress-free snap to prepare! Use canned clams, garlic and onion to create a delicious sauce, top with herbs, toss with linguine and prepare to be impressed. Super easy, super yummy… Super woman!

Whatever you do, don’t forget that pasta doesn’t have to be boring! Try a new shape to get the kids interested (bow-ties are always fun) or amp up store-bought jarred sauce by adding fresh tomatoes or other veggies from the garden. The beautiful thing about pasta – the reason it’s my go-to dish – is its sheer versatility. Boldly experiment… You may just end up with a signature dish of your own.