Main Dishes, Pasta, Recipes

Baked Pizza Pasta

So, when I made this awesome Baked Pizza Pasta on Sunday, this was my view outside:

Snowy Day | The Pajama Chef

Snowy Day | The Pajama Chef

So, so gross. I don’t like this second winter thing. But it certainly was a great backdrop for this comfy, cozy baked pasta dish, don’t ya think? And even now, when the forecast for today is in the 50s, I’d still eat this. It just might even be my lunch!

Baked Pizza Pasta | The Pajama Chef

I know there are a million recipes out there for pizza pastas, but since I really think it’s the sauce that makes a pizza, I decided to concentrate on the sauce and let the rest come to me. Instead of using a bottled spaghetti sauce, I whipped up a quick and easy pantry pasta sauce out of canned crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and load of herbs and seasonings. Feel free to add and subtract from my choices as you see fit–this is very adaptable. I’ve made many homemade pasta and pizza sauces, and find that we like using dried herbs instead of fresh here, but again, do what suits you. Then, I tossed in some hot Italian sausage, salty pepperoni [Ben’s fav!], some bell peppers [that I LOVE!], and a little onion. Add in curly rotini pasta and lots of mozzarella cheese, and you have yourself one heck of a pasta dinner! Very adaptable, very forgiving, very delicious.

Baked Pizza Pasta | The Pajama Chef

We’ve been eating this all week long, so I can testify to the fact that it heats up beautifully and even tastes better the next [and the next next next next] day. Yum-o! Next time I make this, I might increase the amount of sauce [or use a little less pasta], so keep that in mind if you wanna make this saucier, but really, we thought this was perfect as is. Fresh and flavorful like pizza, just in a more comfort food friendly form. Enjoy!

P.S. You have my permission to serve this at Easter dinner. I totally think that would be great. 🙂

Baked Pizza Pasta [TPC original]
click to print


  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried onion
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 pound rotini
  • 8 ounces hot Italian sausage
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 ounces pepperoni [reserve 5-10 slices for topping]
  • 1 cup diced bell peppers [I used red, yellow, and orange]
  • 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded [reserve about 2 ounces for topping]


Preheat oven to 350 degrees, then begin by bringing a large pot of water to boil to cook the pasta.

In a saucepan set over medium heat, combine crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, vinegar, and oil with all dried herbs and seasonings. Stir sauce occasionally and heat thoroughly.

Meanwhile, begin browning the sausage in a small skillet, breaking up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. When sausage is fully cooked, remove to a plate and use a paper towel to blot up some of the grease from the pan. Add onions to the hot skillet and cook over medium-low heat about 7 minutes or until soft.

When pasta water is boiling, add rotini and cook to al dente. Drain and return to pan, then add sauce, sausage, onion, pepperoni [minus reserved pepperoni], peppers, and about 6 ounces shredded cheese. Stir together then transfer to a 9×13 baking dish. Top with reserved cheese and pepperoni.

Bake for 20 minutes or until hot.

Time: 50 minutes.

Yield: 10-12 servings.

Linked up with: Weekend Potluck.

Main Dishes, Pork, Recipes

Italian Sausage and Red Rice

I love one dish meals. They are just so delicious, comforting, and, well, easy. Yes, that’s the main reason I love ’em. Casseroles, pasta, skillet meals… all of the above are great because then I don’t have to think about sides–I just whip up a quick side salad and am good to go. But the problem with many one dish meals is that they are all kinda the same. Taste the same, look the same, are virtually the same. I for one know that I’ve made about a zillion variations of Mexican chicken, beans, corn, cheese, and pasta/rice/quinoa. [But yet I still make them. It’s probably the cheese. I LOVE cheese!] Those dishes are all good but can certainly become a bit of a bore after awhile, so I’m always on the lookout for new recipe ideas that satisfy my easy one dish requirement. When I recently scored some Italian sausage on sale, I immediately started looking for some interesting recipes and landed on this Skillet Italian Sausage and Red Rice.

Skillet Italian Sausage and Red Rice | The Pajama Chef

It may not look like much, but it is SO amazing. It’s made with only seven ingredients and is ready in less than 30 minutes, making this an excellent choice for a weeknight dinner. I don’t know what red rice usually is, but in this case it is a flavorful combination of tomato soup, Tabasco sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. I’m pretty picky about using convenience-type foods in recipes [and in general], but I won’t hesitate to admit that every once in awhile I like to indulge in a Kraft singles grilled cheese dipped in Campbell’s Tomato Soup. There’s nothing like it… gourmet, homemade versions are good but just don’t compare. 🙂 So, for that reason and that reason alone I was okay with using readymade soup to flavor up this rice and make it uber rich and creamy. It has just a bit of heat too, and is the perfect base for slices of hearty Italian sausage.

Skillet Italian Sausage and Red Rice | The Pajama Chef

If you need an easy dinner soon, I highly suggest you whip up this dish. There are tons of ways to fancify it if that’s your thing–adding extra veggies or some beans, making the tomato soup base from scratch, even experimenting with different types of sausage. I was frankly quite surprised with how much I enjoyed this dinner [especially since it was cheeseless. Oh my!]. I thought I’d be ruthlessly plotting to have Ben take all the leftovers in his work lunches, but instead I was sneaking them away for me. Cray cray, I know, but this is just… so… good! Enjoy!

Skillet Italian Sausage and Red Rice [method adapted from Premio Foods]
click to print


  • 1 pound Italian sausage [links]
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 can condensed tomato soup [10.75 ounces]
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce [or to taste]
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups cooked rice


In a large skillet set over medium head, add sausage and cook until browned on all sides [and cooked through if not precooked]. Remove sausage from pan and set on place to rest. Meanwhile, add onion and cook until golden.

Next, slice sausage into bite size pieces and return to pan. Pour in hot water to deglaze pan. Add soup, Tabasco sauce, and Worcestershire sauce and stir to combine. Add rice, cover, and cook for 15 minutes, or until hot. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.

Time: 25 minutes.

Yield: 6 servings.

Linked with: Weekend Potluck.