Easy Baked Pasta

Caprese Baked Pasta

Living in Brooklyn, there is no shortage of Italian restaurants. In fact, in our neighborhood, there are five Italian restaurants within a few blocks of our apartment. While most of them are wonderful, each serving a different rendition of their famous sauce and pages of pasta, these days it is easier to dine at home than try to go out to dinner with a four-month-old. While most of these restaurants offer delivery, I firmly believe that there are few cuisines that lend themselves to delivery. Delicious Italian food is not one of them. The pasta gets mushy and soft from all the liquid and moisture and the garlic toast is no longer warm and crunchy. Luckily, for every Italian restaurant we have in the neighborhood, we also have Italian markets. These small, independently owned markets are packed with fresh cheeses, sauces, pasta and meats. When we are craving Italian, we will make a quick stop to pick up ingredients and whip something up at home instead of going out or ordering.

This recipe is fore those evenings where you’re craving a homemade dinner but you just don’t have the time or energy. Whether it is that the day’s demands have left you less than energized to step foot in the kitchen or that your evening routine of bathtime and bottle service for your little one allows you no time to actually prepare dinner, today’s recipe is one that even you can make and enjoy. You will see that I recommend fresh ingredients if you live somewhere that allows you to buy fresh versus packaged. But, regardless whether your ingredients are bought in a large supermarket, Amazon Fresh or in a local Italian market, your dish will be delicious.

This dish comes together in no time due in part that you don’t have to brown meat or dice vegetables. In fact, you could make the dish ahead of time if that works best for your schedule then just put it in the oven or broiler to reheat it for dinner.  The gooey bites of cheese and fresh flavors make it a crowd pleaser even though it is so simple.  In fact, I think this dish is such a winner due in part to its simplicity. It pairs perfectly with a salad and a large glass of red wine because by Thursday, isn’t that what we all want?

Easy Baked Pasta

Easy Baked Pasta

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces pasta (fresh if possible)
  • 1 1/2 cup diced, fresh mozzarella or 1 cup shredded
  • 1 cup Marinara sauce, fresh if possible
  • 1/4 cup shredded, packed basil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat.
  3. Cook pasta until al dente.
  4. While pasta is cooking, shred basil into thin ribbons and set aside.
  5. Bring marinara sauce to simmer over low heat.
  6. When pasta reaches al dente, drain pasta and transfer to cast iron pan or oven-proof casserole dish.
  7. Combine sauce, mozzarella, salt, and pepper with pasta in the pan and toss gently.
  8. Place pan in oven and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until mozzarella begins to bubble.
  9. Remove pan from oven, lightly toss in shredded basil, top with grated parmesan and let cool for a few minutes before serving.
  10. Serve warm and enjoy. 
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Our Favorite Item for Newborn Babies

katie thriving

There is no doubt in my mind that Katie is thriving. She’ll be four months old on Friday and is growing like a weed. While we owe her happiness in great part to the support system we’ve had, we also attribute it to the fact that thankfully, our baby is a strong sleeper. But, she wouldn’t have slept nearly as soundly those first few months without one of our nursery essentials – a swaddle. In fact, we are so in love with swaddling that we are giving swaddle giftsets to all of our friends who are expecting babies!nursery

During the first three months of a babies life, they are actually in their fourth trimester of life. In fact, according to Harvey Karp, the author behind the book The Happiest Baby on The Block, all babies are born three months early. Swaddling, or tightly wrapping the baby in a muslin or cloth blanket, makes the baby feel secure and snug like they did in the womb. It decreases their startle reflex since their arms can’t wriggle around. In addition, it has been found that babies who are swaddled during sleep and fussy periods experience less anxiety and colic symptoms.

Until a few weeks ago, when Katie started rolling, we swaddled her for her naps and nightime sleep. In the beginning, we used the large, muslin square cloths but as she grew older, swaddles that provided assistance through zippers and velcro helped us keep her strong limbs swaddled.

That’s why SwaddleMe products are perfect for infants as depending on the style, they feature zippers or velcro to ensure the baby feels secure. They just introduced five new additions to their SwaddleMe line of safe sleep products for infants and man do I wish we’d had these a few months ago.

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While we used their SwaddleMe Original, their new innovative swaddles would have been so helpful especially as Katie entered month two and three, when she was starting to grow more mobile and we were trying to have her sleep in places other than her bassinet, such as the swing or car seat.

swaddle me kicksie and footsie

Their new SwaddleMe Kicksie is a legs-free swaddle which is perfect for warmer weather, such as the summer months and allows the baby to feel cozy in a 3-point harness such a swing. The snap bottom also makes diaper changing quick and hassle free, which is greatly appreciated during those middle of the night diaper sessions.   They also just launched the SwaddleMe Footsiea legs-free swaddle that features pajama-like footies which make it great for cooler weather or even homes with strong air conditioner.

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Like the Kicksie, the Footsie can also be used in a 3 point harness. This would have been SO helpful last month when when we flew down to Savannah, keeping her warm on the plane, or once she started discovering her feet and kicking them during her naps.

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In addition to these new swaddles, SwaddleMe has launched three new gift sets, which are perfect for every mom-to-be. In fact, I’ve already ordered a few of these since I have FIVE friends who are expecting babies this Spring. The Essentials Gift Set includes muslin blankets, bandana bibs, burp cloths and a SwaddleMe® Original Swaddle. The adorable Baby Bath Gift Set includes muslin and terry bath towels, washcloths and a cute hooded wrap. My favorite set, The Little Lovey Gift Set, includes not only the Original Swaddle and muslin blankets but also an adorable natural shape pacifier with a lovey attached!

This post is sponsored by Mom Trends, Meredith Corporation and Swaddle Me but as always, all opinions are my own. Thank you to MomTrends for the professional photographs.

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A Night in Italy with Bertolli

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bertolli® Rustic Cut™ Pasta Sauces.

 

Last week the team at Bertolli® invited a number of bloggers and influencers to join them at the swanky Gramercy Park Hotel rooftop to celebrate the launch of their new Bertolli® Rustic Cut™ Pasta Sauces. Thanks to the delicious drinks, food, and details – I felt like I was transported back to Italy for the evening.

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The evening began with mingling over cocktails and passed hors d’oeurves before the sun set and we transitioned to a delicious seated dinner.

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While we mingled, I was able to learn more about the star of the evening, the Bertolli® Rustic Cut™ Pasta Sauces.

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After living in Europe and tasting authentic, homemade sauce when visiting Italy I appreciate that these sauces are filled with hearty, thick-cut vegetables that you can see. Inspired by Tuscan cooking, the abundance of vegetables in the sauce means that you don’t have to worry about adding your own or “doctoring the sauce.” In addition, Bertolli Rustic Cut Pasta Sauces do not contain artificial flavors, artificial colors, added sugar, or high-fructose corn syrup.

Once we sat down for dinner, we were able to enjoy the sauces as they were highlighted in each of the family style entrees including branzino, chicken cacciatore and cavatelli.

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While Katie’s four-month sleep regression and teething means I haven’t had time to create a recipe with these new sauces yet, I’m so looking forward to using Bertolli® Rustic Cut™ Pasta Sauces in many ways beyond pasta. In fact, Bo and I both agree that the hearty sauce would be the perfect ingredient in bruschetta, braise, ratatouille, lasagna or casserole. The team at Bertolli shared a few recipes with us during the event to get our creative juices going and this one caught my eye.

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Grilled Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers

Makes: 6

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

· 2 Tbs olive oil

· 1 1/2 cups (10 oz) uncooked orzo pasta

· 1 can (14.5 oz) vegetable broth

· 1 jar (23 oz) BERTOLLI Rustic Cut Spicy Marinara with Traditional Vegetables Sauce, divided

· 6 oz crumbled Feta cheese

· 1/2 cup (2 oz) coarsely chopped smoked almonds

· 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

· 6 large red, yellow or orange bell peppers, top 1/2 inch removed, seeded

Directions

1. Preheat grill to high heat

2. Heat 1 Tbs oil in medium skillet over medium high heat

3. Add pasta; cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes or until light golden brown

4. Stir in broth and 1 cup sauce; bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover. Cook 4 minutes or until pasta is very al dente, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Stir in cheese, almonds and half the mint.

6. Brush outsides of peppers with remaining oil. Grill 4 to 6 minutes or until crisp-tender and lightly marked on all sides, turning frequently; cool slightly.

7. Place each pepper in center of 12×12 inch square of heavy-duty foil.

8. Bring sides of foil up and shape foil around each pepper, leaving the top open. Shape foil into a stable base to secure peppers firmly and keep them upright while grilling. Fill each pepper with 1 Tbs sauce and about 3.4 cup orzo mixture.

9. Grill peppers 8 to 10 minutes or until filling is heated through. Carefully remove from foil. Sprinkle with reserved mint and serve with warmed remaining sauce.

In addition, this month, Bertolli is also launching the Bravo Rewards program. This incentive program will reward shoppers who buy two or more jars of any Bertolli Pasta Sauce by sending them a ceramic spoon rest. All you have to do is post a photo of your receipt on bertolli.com/bravo!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bertolli® Rustic Cut™ Pasta Sauces however, as always, all opinions are my own.

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