There are so many reasons to love pasta: It's inexpensive, it's quick to cook and even the pickiest of eaters will typically be satisfied with a bowl of noodles. A simple pasta supper is a good way to feed your family without dirtying every pan in the kitchen or breaking the bank.

There are so many reasons to love pasta: It’s inexpensive, it’s quick to cook and even the pickiest of eaters will typically be satisfied with a bowl of noodles. A simple pasta supper is a good way to feed your family without dirtying every pan in the kitchen or breaking the bank.

The pasta I’m sharing with you today is a cross between baked ziti and spaghetti and meatballs. It’s a hearty pasta, coated in red sauce, studded with mini meatballs and topped with a layer of cheese. It’s a perfect dish for a chilly winter evening. Making your own tomato sauce for this dish may seem complicated, but really it’s all about putting all the ingredients in a pot and letting them simmer into a rich sauce.

Any good pasta needs a good salad to go with it. I learned this salad from my mom, who makes it frequently. Cheese, salad greens and fruit may not seem like the most natural culinary playmates but they really pair quite nicely. The dried cranberries lend some sweetness to the sharp gorgonzola cheese and the fruity balsamic vinegar ties it all together quite nicely. And the almonds add a nice crunch. If you like you can top this salad with raspberry vinaigrette, but I really like just plain balsamic vinegar. This is a salad you can really feel good about eating, because it tastes good without being topped with crumbled bacon and ranch dressing.

We are currently in the midst of a very popular time of year − Girl Scout cookie season. It’s hard to resist Thin Mints, especially when they’re being hocked by adorable children. I had the chance to pick up a box while I was out the other day and decided to test out a recipe. The idea of a cookie truffle is not something that I invented, but I decided to put my own spin on the dessert. The filling has a nice soft texture without being mushy and is coated in a chocolate shell that is chocolaty and packs a good mint flavor without being too sweet, just like a Thin Mint. A light dessert like this is just the ticket after a hearty meal.


To contact Sarah, email



1 pound ground beef

1/4 cup bread crumbs

1 egg

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Pinch of salt


1/2 an onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon basil

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

6 oz. can tomato paste

Pinch of sugar


16 ounces ziti

2 cups of mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all of the ingredients for the meatballs in a small bowl and mix them together; don’t overwork the mixture or the meatballs will be tough. Once the mixture is combined, scoop out teaspoon-sized portions and roll them into balls. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat and place half the meatballs in the pot. Brown the meatballs on all sides. If they don’t stay perfectly round and get broken, that’s OK. Remove the meatballs to a plate lined with a paper towel. Repeat the process with the second batch of meatballs. Once the meatballs are cooked and removed from the pan, place the onion and garlic in the pan and sauté until onions are tender. Add the meatballs back into the pan and pour in the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, parmesan and spices. Fill the tomato paste can with water and pour the water in with the sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer and leave it uncovered for 25 minutes. Meanwhile cook the ziti. Once the sauce is finished simmering, combine it with the pasta and pour the mixture into a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish. Top with the cheese and bake for 30 minutes. Serves six.


4 oz. spinach

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/8 cup almonds

14 cup gorgonzola

A drizzle of balsamic vinegar

Combine the spinach, cranberries, cheese and almonds in a bowl. Drizzle on the balsamic vinegar and toss. Serves four.


1 box Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies

1/4 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons melted butter

28 Andes Mints

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped

Using a food processor, pulse the Thin Mint cookies until they are fine crumbs. Combine the crumbs with the sour cream and butter. Refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a small sauce pan with about an inch of water. Bring to pot of water to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer. Combine the different chocolates in a small bowl and place it over the simmering water, ensuring that the bowl is big enough that it doesn’t touch the surface of the water. Stir the chocolate until it is melted. Roll the chilled dough in balls and dip them into the chocolate. Place the chocolate-covered truffles on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper or tin foil. Allow them to chill until the chocolate is set. Serves 20.