Janet's Notebook
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.

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Eve Peterson (AKA-POETGRL) - Mar 14, 2011
Carol Errington - Mar 12, 2011
I am looking for a recipe for a lime jello salad using mayo or salad dressing & I think it had pineapple & evaporated milk. My mother used to make it when I was a child, I remember it as being very smooth & refreshing...never found her recipe but did find one in a church cookbook of favorite recipes, now through all my moves I have lost the cookbook or loaned it to someone.....does anyone have that recipe or a similar one? Thanks for your help !
Sue Smith - Mar 11, 2011
What to do with BASIL, Sundried Tomatoes and Italian parsely????????????? Try this...

2 cups basil leaves
lots of garlic
S & P
Olive oil (enough to make paste like, It's Pesto WITHOUT cheese and pignoli nuts.
Put basil, garlic, S & P and olive oil into food processer and chop until very fine. Spoon into ice cube tray and freeze. Makes about 12. When frozen remove and put into a zip lock bag. I used my last cube from July and it was just aa green as when I put it in. I also did the same with jared Sundried tomatoes, garlic and olive oil....Same with parsely...Fresh herbs all year around.
dottie weber - Mar 10, 2011
These comments are making me hungrier than I already was!
Mulch.etsy.com Coupon Organizer - Mar 10, 2011
You are so right with this one. Pasta does save the day. Whenever I am short on time..and Money.. I always go to pasta. For about $5.00 or less depending on the sale. I can feed my family of six really good.
Cheryl Morgan - Mar 10, 2011
Sometimes the difference in a pasta dish is the quality of the cheese you use also! I love the bulk cheeses at Sam's Club or Costco, either Parmesan or the Reggiano-Parmesan...Yum.. Also, I like to experiment w/gorgonzola sauces..a mix of my alfredo and marina seems to be a hit also, when you can't decide whether creamy or tomatoey! (my own word)....Pasta is definately my "go to" meal also, especially when friends drop by unexpectedly...quick, easy, plus there's always something to make a sauce out of...!
Bonnie Adams Barton - Mar 9, 2011
I love pasta! I will be trying the sun-dried tomatoes with some mushrooms added for extra flavor.