The Weekend Gourmet: Mom 100 Easy Back to School #SundaySupper...Featuring Fresh Mozzarella Pasta Bake F

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Mom 100 Easy Back to School #SundaySupper...Featuring Fresh Mozzarella Pasta Bake

For many of my readers, August means Back to School time for the kiddos...so the #SundaySupper theme for our final installment from Katie Workman's The Mom 100 Cookbook is Easy Back to School Dishes. Since there are no non-feline kids in residence at Casa Garcia, back-to-school isn't something normally on our radar. However, fall is the busiest time of year for me at work...which means that it's a good time for me to have some quick and tasty weeknight dinner recipes in my hip pocket. The last thing I want to do after a long day in the office is come home and cook a complicated dinner! Quick and tasty are my main goals during the workweek. The recipe I'm sharing today certainly qualifies: Fresh Mozzarella Pasta Bake is ready for the oven in about 20 minutes, then it does the rest of the work while you toss together a salad and set the table!

Katie provides a recipe for a simple homemade tomato sauce in her book. However, to save time, I opted to use my go-to jarred sauce: Rao's vodka sauce. It has a touch of cream that added a subtle richness to this dish. This recipe is perfect for busy weeknights: simply add cooked pasta of your choice to the sauce -- I used penne, then add some diced fresh mozzarella and fresh basil before popping into the oven. Since Michael likes extra protein, I added some diced cooked chicken breast before the pasta went into the oven. After 20 minutes, you've got an ooey-gooey pasta dinner that will satisfy everyone at your dinner table. I've yet to meet a person who doesn't LOVE cheesy pasta! Add a simple salad and some crusty bread, and you've got a complete meal in less than an hour!

Fresh Mozzarella Pasta Bake
gently adapted from The Mom 100 Cookbook

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350. Cook a 16-ounce package of pasta in well-salted water until it's just shy of al dente -- about 2 minutes less than the package directions. Drain the pasta and combine with a 24-ounce jar of pasta sauce. Add 1 cup fresh mozzarella that's been cut into cubes.


Step 2: Add 3/4 lb. cubed cooked chicken breast and stir until all ingredients are evenly combined. Pour the mixture into a casserole dish or 13x9 pan. Chop 4-5 basil leaves and sprinkle on top of casserole.


Step 3: Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and the top of the casserole is golden-brown. Let sit for five minutes before serving. Dish into serving bowls and top with more fresh basil and/or grated parmesan. 


This simple dish was SO tasty...zesty sauce, gooey melted mozzarella, and a touch of basil in the background! I would've been fine eating this dish without the chicken, but Michael was happy to have the extra bit of protein. This recipe is very versatile too: add in some sauteed mushrooms to keep it veg-friendly, or maybe add some sliced Italian sausages to make it more hearty. The basic framework is the perfect blueprint for improvisation, depending on what's in your kitchen on a given night!

For more advice and tips on Back to School dinner planning, I hope you'll take a moment to visit Katie's fabulous Mom 100 website and blog. You'll find tons of ideas for saving time in the kitchen...as well as tons of great family-friendly recipes. If you would like to add The Mom 100 Cookbook to your cookbook collection, you can purchase it via Amazon. It's a great cookbook, full of wonderful easy-to-make recipes that don't sacrifice flavor in the process. 

Be sure to join the #SundaySupper brunch for a live Twitter chat with author Katie Workman this evening at 700EST. She'll be sharing Back to School recipes during our chat. In the meantime, take a peek at the recipes my fellow #SundaySupper members are sharing this week:

Easy Breakfast ideas:

Lunchbox Wraps:
Easy Weekday Suppers:
After School Snacks:


23 comments:

  1. I love mozzarella anything and you made this recipe look so good! This is now on my must try list for easy weeknight meals.

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    1. It's SO GOOD...lots of melty cheese! I will be making this a LOT this fall!!

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  2. I have been wanting to make this recipe for a while. You have made it look so good I really must make it soon. Melty cheesy goodness for sure.

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    1. Have fun with it...and feel free to make your own sauce if you have a bit more time! I think it would be great with sliced Italian sausage and sauteed onions/peppers!

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  3. This is right up my alley! Love all of the fresh mozzarella!

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    1. I only had 1 cup on hand, but the recipe actually calls for a bit more. As it, it was mega-cheesy...and I really prefer fresh mozzarella. Have fun with this on, Jen!

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  4. Ohh I have some leftover chicken sausage. I think I will make this this coming week. Looks delicious!

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    1. I think this one's going to be a regular in my fall dinner rotation too...so versatile and SO yummy!!

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  5. Look at all of that glorious cheese in that dish. I'm beginning to hyperventilate a bit. This dish looks so good. I'm totally putting this on my menu. Happy #SundaySupper!

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    1. The more cheese, the better...I had half a container of bocconcini in the fridge, so I used that. I normally would've used more, but didn't since I had chicken in the dish as well!

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  6. Oh my! Does this ever look good! I can't live without pasta! Amazing photos! Happy #SundaySupper!

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    1. I ALWAYS have at least two boxes of pasta in my pantry...I can make a quick dinner with whatever else I can find in the fridge/cupboard/freezer. It's such an adaptable food!!

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  7. I've made this dish, too...and YES, the whole family loved it. And I loved that it was just so simple! Yours looks amazing and makes me want it all over again. :)

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    1. Simple + tasty = a winner in my book! Some nights, I want something fast...but don't want to order pizza. This is the perfect solution!!

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  8. Looks fabulous! Something I would cook if I had company coming over.

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    1. Hey, doll! This is simple goodness...and you can use homemade sauce if you have a go-to one. Now that my life is finally settling down a bit after next weekend in NOLA, let's tag up for lunch before the end of the month!!

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  9. I eat pasta all the time. I love the idea of finishing it up in the oven. Wonderful!

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    1. That lets the cheese get melty and sort of deepens the tomato flavors...I don't always finish pasta in the oven, but it works well with this recipe!

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  10. Love the idea of adding the mozzarella! Another must try! Thanks for sharing #SS!!

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    1. Yeah...that gooey mozzarella is swoon-worthy for sure! This is such a great dish...

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  11. This looks outstanding, Wendy! And my picky daughter would even eat it! I'm so glad you're celebrating #SundaySupper :)

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  12. Wendy...I am on such an Italian pasta kick lately. But I especially love this pasta bake and how those fresh balls of mozarella are just nestled into the casserole! I am most definitely putting this one on my list! Scrumptious! : )

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