Category Archives: Homemade

One-Skillet Mama Mia Pasta with Veggie Noodles (from Tastefully Simple)

This is a recipe that I’ve adapted from Tastefully Simple. I substituted spiralized zucchini/yellow squash in for the pasta — I promise, you won’t even miss it!

Okay, take a survey. What is the worst part about cooking your own meals?

Yeah, that’s what I was thinking, too. Dishes.

I am a person who feels energized in the kitchen; I love shuffling around the counter, chopping, stirring, and tasting. I love getting to see people’s reactions when they taste what I’ve made. But boy, do I hate cleaning every single knife, pot, pan, lid, measuring cup, and bowl.

Tastefully Simple, a company that I sell products for, has this baller stockpile of recipes where you only have to use just one pan! This recipe, the One-Skillet Mama Mia Lasagna, was included in the Family Faves collection in June, which me and some other ladies turned into freezer meals! I am not sure why they call it lasagna… there aren’t any lasagna noodles, and there isn’t any ricotta cheese. So, I am calling it “Mama Mia Pasta” so that it suits its sheer versatility.

One-Skillet Mama Mia Pasta with Veggie Noodles (from Tastefully Simple)

At noon, I pulled the freezer meal bag out and put it in my sink to thaw. You could safely thaw your freezer meals by taking them out before you go to work in the morning; or, if you’re in a crunch, you can submerge your freezer meal in lukewarm water until it is no longer frozen through.

One-Skillet Mama Mia Pasta with Veggie Noodles (from Tastefully Simple)

At about 5pm, I wanted to start preparing dinner, so I got out a large skillet and primed it with a little bit of my favorite oil from Tastefully Simple. It adds so much flavor to your dish without adding any artificial ingredients. Short of making your own infused oil, this product is unmatched. I added two cap-fulls of oil for this dish.

One-Skillet Mama Mia Pasta with Veggie Noodles (from Tastefully Simple)

Then, I wanted to get the ground meat cooking. The meat was already seasoned with Garlic Garlic seasoning when we made the freezer meal, so I didn’t add anything else to it. The spatula I am using here is the best invention ever, besides the internet, I believe. It is the Mix n Chop from Pampered Chef. I LOVE IT SO MUCH.

One-Skillet Mama Mia Pasta with Veggie Noodles (from Tastefully Simple)

I let the meat simmer while I got to work on making zucchini noodles. This vegetable spiralizer is one that I found on Amazon and used for the very first time on this recipe! I am wanting to eat a little bit smarter, and part of that means I want to cut my processed carbohydrate intake when it gets to be later in the day. The biggest dieting challenge for me is evening/late night cravings: crackers, chips, pizza, beer, ice cream, chocolate, etc. I do pretty well eating throughout the day, but the evening can spiral (pun very-much intended) out of control quickly, especially if my dinner was a wreck. If I eat a bad dinner, then I usually tell myself “well, I guess I might as well just keep going since I already ruined my diet with dinner.” And, I’m sure you’ve heard all the research about late-night snacking and the dangerous domino effect, especially if you’re drinking alcohol.

I bought two packages of zucchini/yellow squash at Aldi instead of a box of pasta for this dish. I felt really good about that decision, and after having eaten this meal, I feel even better about skipping the pasta!

If you are still iffy about substituting your favorite Italian noodles with zucchini, listen to this: 1 cup of cooked zucchini = 17 calories. 1 cup of cooked penne pasta = 200 calories. I promise you, it is worth it.

One-Skillet Mama Mia Pasta with Veggie Noodles (from Tastefully Simple)

I spiralized one zucchini and two yellow squashes, which made about four servings of “noodles” to add to our meat and sauce! (I chopped up the rest of the squash and froze it to use at a later date.) As your noodles come out of the spiralizer, remember to pat them dry because these two squashes have a lot of natural moisture that will thin out your sauce.

One-Skillet Mama Mia Pasta with Veggie Noodles (from Tastefully Simple)

When the meat is fully cooked, you’ll want to drain the grease and add the Mama Mia marinara sauce to it! This was also already prepared in my freezer meal bag, but I can tell you that all it is, is canned tomato sauce and our fabulous Mama Mia Marinara Sauce Mix.

Have you ever looked at the label for your favorite store-bought jar of pasta sauce? Sugar: yikes. Sodium: yikes. Preservatives: yikes. Start making your own!

One-Skillet Mama Mia Pasta with Veggie Noodles (from Tastefully Simple)

Then, once the sauce was bubbling a little bit, I plopped that huge pile of “noodles” into the skillet. That’s right! No need to cook them in a different pot and then add them … you can cook them right in with the sauce! The same goes for pasta — just remember to add a cup or two of water if you’re using pasta. Since zucchini has a lot of water naturally, I didn’t add any to this dish!

The sheer amount here might look ridiculous, but I promise, it reduces very quickly.

One-Skillet Mama Mia Pasta with Veggie Noodles (from Tastefully Simple)

This is basically what it will look like when it is done! We didn’t want our “noodles” to be completely mushy, so we cooked them until they were done with a liiiiittle bit of crunch left to them. And look… even all my efforts of keeping water a minimum still didn’t work completely!

With this, we enjoyed a garden salad with fresh, local romaine, cucumbers, and carrots! (Note: we buy most of our produce from these local, seasonal, farmer’s market co-op boxes. If you are from the St. Louis area, I highly recommend finding a drop-off near you!)

Thanks for reading — I hope you enjoy this recipe!

One-Skillet Mama Mia Pasta with Veggie Noodles (from Tastefully Simple)


1½ lbs. lean ground beef
1½ tsp. Garlic Garlic™ Seasoning
3 (8 oz.) cans tomato sauce
3 large zucchini or yellow squash
1½-2 Tbsp. Mama Mia™ Marinara Sauce Mix
Shredded mozzarella cheese


In large skillet over medium-high heat, cook and crumble ground beef and Garlic Garlic Seasoning until no longer pink; drain. Return to skillet.

Add next 3 ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 15-20 minutes, or until zucchini noodles reach desired tenderness and sauce is thickened, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat, and serve. Sprinkle with cheese and serve alongside a garden salad and/or garlic bread. Makes 6 servings.

 Let me know what you think! What are ways that you try to substitute bad foods for good ones?

Peanut Butter & Banana Pupcakes (Rain’s 1st Birthday!)


Woohoo! Our little Rainy-pup is a whole year old! Yes, we celebrated our dog’s birthday; if you aren’t a dog person or you haven’t personally raised your own dog, then this might seem a bit odd or obnoxious. However, Alex and I raised this dog since we got her at 3 months old. She was little, high maintenance, and not house- or crate-trained. Within months, she was sleeping all night and only going potty outside. She follows me around everywhere, and is always so excited to see us. I truly think she has given each of us so much patience and life, and I love her like a child, because she’s the closest thing I have to a child right now. I know the responsibility and impact hardly compares, but for now, I love to celebrate her little life.


So, on a daily basis, Rain is pretty spoiled. We special-order her dental-health treats online and she gets a good dose of peanut butter in the crate every night. For her birthday, I decided to keep it as simple yet celebratory as possible. I bought her a couple toys, some candles, and ingredients to make dog-friendly cupcakes.


Another little tidbit about our pup: she will destroy every dog toy in her possession as soon as possible. Two of the best brands for her strong chewing habits are Kong and Nylabone, which I purchase on the regular. However, she loves loves loves ropes, and they are a good way for us to play with her as well. I bought a ginormous rope for extra-large dogs, and she is already obsessed with it. Plus, she is having a much more difficult time destroying this one. It gets a two-thumbs-up from the Hoopers.


To top off our celebration, I whipped up some peanut butter and banana pupcakes (with ingredients that won’t hurt your dog’s belly) and she absolutely loved it.


Peanut Butter & Banana Pupcakes
Yeild: 3 pupcakes (jumbo muffin tin)
Prep/Cook Time: 20 minutes

1 cup instant oats
1 large banana, sliced
2 tbsp regular creamy peanut butter*

* Do not feed your dog natural peanut butter; it has an added ingredient that is dangerous for them.

– Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
– In a bowl, start by blending the banana and oats with a hand mixer.
– Slowly add in the peanut butter.
– Continue blending until peanut butter is evenly incorporated and mixture is batter-like.
– Line a jumbo muffin tin with cupcake papers; you should only need 3.
– Fill cupcake papers evenly with mixture, and place into oven.
– Bake pupcakes for 8 minutes, or until tops firm up a little bit.
– Remove from oven and let cool. Pupcakes will still be gooey, but that makes it easier for your dog to eat.
– Remove pupcake from paper and watch your doggy enjoy!

Note: Rain actually ate the cupcake paper, which freaked me out a little at first, until I found out that almost every dog on the planet does this at some point in their lives. It passed right through. But, that is why I recommend removing it from the paper before you give it to your furry-friend.


If you want to see more recipes (for dogs and humans), stay tuned! Remember to subscribe to my blog to receive updates as soon as possible, and leave me a comment, letting me know how you celebrate your dog’s birthday!

With love and joy,