Category Archives: Meal Plan

Bacon-Cheeseburger Mini Stuffed-Meatball Pizza with Garlic-Parmesan Sausage-Stuffed Crust

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Growing up, I don’t recall having meatballs much. We had meatloaf and plenty of other ground beef entrees, but the closest we came to meatballs was the rare occasion my dad made “stuffing balls”–ground beef wrapped around prepared Stovetop stuffing. (It’s actually one of those meals I think back on fondly, mouth watering. That, and rouladen, which we had exactly once, but there was something about that pickle wrapped in beef that was so memorable, I can’t help it. This may explain my fascination with inside-out burgers…)

So back to the present… It’s no secret: I love to cook. I love to bake. I love to share my cooking and baking. (I also really love bacon–more on that in a minute.) Last fall, with the help of my husband, I discovered Johnsonville Sausage‘s Italian Sausage Pizza Possibilities contest, and since I also love pizza, I decided to enter. I ended up winning with my Mini-Stuffed Meatball Pizza with Garlic-Parmesan Sausage-Stuffed Crust. Why, yes, it’s a bit of a mouthful, but so delicious! 

But never one to settle and declare a dish done and always searching for ways to incorporate more bacon into my cooking, I’d been dreaming of a bacon cheeseburger version about 5 minutes after the first Mini-stuffed Meatb… came out of the oven.

And so, here it is, in all its bacon-y, cheesy, sausage-y, hyphenated (and mushroomy, because mushrooms are good, too) goodness. It may look like a lot of work, but I guarantee the efforts are worth the end product. After all, love comes with a price, and dreams don’t come true sitting still. If you’re going to dream, you might as well go big. With mini meatballs. 🙂 

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Bacon-Cheeseburger Mini Stuffed-Meatball Pizza with Garlic-Parmesan Sausage-Stuffed Crust

Dough  (you may also substitute your favorite premade pizza dough)

  • 1 cup very warm water
  • 1 packet active dry yeast (2-1/4 tsp.)
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 Johnsonville Mild Italian Sausage links
  • 2 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 36 pieces (should measure about one-quarter inch by one-quarter by one-half inch blocks)
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 4 slices bacon, cut into ½” pieces
  • 1 medium onion, cut in half and sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup sliced mushrooms
  • 2/3 cup pizza sauce
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. cold butter
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Stir yeast into water in large bowl.  Add sugar, 2 Tbsp. oil, salt, and flour and stir until dough forms.  Turn dough onto lightly-floured surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes (add flour as necessary to keep from sticking).  Place in large bowl brushed with olive oil, turning to cover all sides of dough.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap.  Let rise in warm place until double, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Remove sausages from casings; set one link aside.  Divide remaining three links into 10-12 pieces each.  Wrap a chunk of cheddar with one piece of sausage and roll in hand to form small meatball. Repeat with remaining cheese and sausage.

Heat remaining Tbsp. of oil in 10-inch skillet over medium-high. Cook remaining sausage link until browned, breaking apart into small pieces, about 5 minutes.  Remove sausage to bowl; set aside.

Reduce heat to medium, and add bacon to skillet.  Cook until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add onions and mushrooms; cook until browned and tender, about 5 more minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about one minute. Remove from heat.

Shape pizza dough into large circle about 1 inch wider than large pizza pan or pizza stone.  Sprinkle cooked sausage and ½ cup shredded mozzarella about 1 inch from edge of dough; fold dough over cheese and sausage and press to seal.  Bake in oven for 5 minutes.

Spread pizza sauce over crust.  Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese.  Top with bacon and onion mixture.  Evenly distribute meatballs on pizza.  Bake for 17-20 minutes or until crust is golden brown and meatballs are cooked through.  Remove from oven; immediately rub butter over crust and sprinkle crust with garlic powder and Parmesan cheese, sprinkling any extra Parmesan cheese over pizza.  Let sit for 5 minutes, slice, and serve.

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The Secret’s Out

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And here it is: the list of recipes.  Not every one from the meal plan is given in detail below, but most of them are.  For convenience, I’ve organized them in the order of the meal plan list from the previous post, not including the first two, since I’ve already posted those.  The formatting, again, may not always be consistent, but I beg your forgiveness and ask you to overlook that to see into the goodness inside each recipe. 

A couple of weeks ago Micaiah asked if I was going to make a cookbook.  Tim said I could if I weren’t always giving away my recipes for free.  Hey, I can’t keep secrets very well, so if I can share what I know and help others with their cooking creativity, I’m going to.  I hope that at least a few of the recipes here will find a few new homes.  Take what you want, adapt where you will–that’s how we make our cooking our own.  You have to try something new to find something you like–I’ll let you know how the homemade ravioli turns out.  That’s my experiment for the month!

We had the bacon-wrapped chicken yesterday.  I love it!  Anything wrapped in bacon is great in my book.  Now, the cheese filling doesn’t always stay put inside the chicken, but it bubbles out into a sauce in the bottom.  They say that refrigerating the prepared chicken rolls for at least an hour will help to prevent this–I’m not convinced yet.  But it’s all good.  Just spoon that cheese sauce over the chicken as you desire when serving.  It’s also really good if you serve mashed potatoes–spoon it over those, and you’re in for a treat.  🙂

So, there you have it.  It’s yours.  Happy cooking!

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Bacon-Wrapped Chicken

  • 8 bacon strips
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each)
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ tsp dill
  • ½ tsp lemon pepper
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp dried oregano

 In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until partially cooked but not crisp; drain on paper towels. Flatten chicken to 1/4-in. thickness.
    In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, mozzarella, cheddar, and garlic. Spread over one side of each chicken breast. Roll up and tuck ends in. Wrap each with two bacon strips; secure with toothpicks.
    Place in an 8-in. square baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Bake, uncovered, at 375° for 30-35 minutes or until chicken juices run clear. Discard toothpicks. Yield: 2 servings. 

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Broccoli Rice Bake

  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp butter or margarine
  • 4 cups cooked rice
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups frozen broccoli

 Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix bread crumbs and melted butter in small dish; set aside.  Melt butter in 12 inch skillet; cook onion until soft.  Add soup, cheese, sour cream, milk garlic powder, salt, and pepper and stir until cheese is melted.  Add rice and broccoli.  Stir to combine and spoon into greased 9×13” baking dish.  Sprinkle bread crumb mixture.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden and bubbling around edges.

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 Slow Cooker Beef Roast

  • 1 beef roast, 2 lbs or larger (whatever will fit in your slow cooker and feed your family)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

 Place roast in slow cooker insert (roast can be frozen).  Pour water into insert.  Add bouillon cubes.  Sprinkle roast with remaining ingredients.  Cook on high for 1-2 hours; turn to low and cook additional 6-8 hours (depends if roast was frozen) or until meat is tender.  Reserve liquid; freeze for use in soup.

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Vegetable Soup

  • Leftover beef broth from beef roast + enough water to make 6 cups
  • 3 beef bouillon cubes
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 cup macaroni, uncooked
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • ½ tsp. onion powder

 Heat broth, water, and bouillon cubes to boiling in large pot.  Add remaining ingredients.  Heat to boiling.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer until macaroni is cooked.  If you’d like to thicken it a bit, mix 2 Tbsp cornstarch with ¼ cup water; add to mixture and boil for 1 minute or until thickened slightly.  Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.

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Pork Chops with Apples and Stuffing

  • 6 boneless pork loin chops (1-inch thick and 4 ounces each)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable canola oil to grease dish
  • 1 package (6 ounces) crushed stuffing mix
  • 1 can (21 ounces) apple pie filling with cinnamon

 Prepare stuffing according to package directions. Spread pie filling into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Place the pork chops on top; spoon stuffing over chops.

Cover and bake at 350° for 35 minutes. Uncover; bake 10 minutes longer or until a meat thermometer reads 160°. Yield: 6 servings.

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Homemade Pizza

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 package or 2-1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 cups flour

 Dissolve yeast in water in large bowl.  Add rest of ingredients; stir until dough forms and all ingredients are combined.  Turn onto lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes or until dough is smooth.  Place in greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for 20 minutes or until doubled (set oven to 200 degrees, turn off, and place bowl in oven; or if you’re making it earlier, place the bowl in the fridge for a few hours to slow the rising—it’ll be ready by dinner).  (You can skip the resting part, but the dough won’t be as workable for shaping.) Roll or shape into circle or rectangle (whatever shape pizza you want) on lightly floured surface or surface spread with cornmeal.  Place on baking sheet or preheated pizza stone and bake at 425 degrees for 4-5 minutes.  Top with sauce and desired toppings.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is browned.  Let sit for a few minutes and then cut.

 You can also double the recipe and freeze half of the dough for the future.  After letting it rise, divide in half and either place the dough ball in a plastic bag or plastic wrap or shape into a pizza crust and wrap in foil.  Place on baking sheet and freeze till stiff.  Wrap the foil-wrapped crust in plastic wrap and freeze till later.  Remove crust from freezer and let it sit till room temperature (allow for a couple hours).

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Family-friendly Buffalo Chicken (Chicken Nuggets)

  • 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 cup bread crumbs (seasoned or plain)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 – 2/3 cup cayenne pepper (hot) sauce
  • 1/4 cup melted butter or margarine
  • 1-1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (use more or less as desired)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • Blue Cheese or ranch dressing

Preheat oven to 425˚.  Cut chicken into smaller pieces.  Slightly beat eggs in medium bowl and place chicken pieces in egg.  Stir to coat; let sit for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, mix salt, pepper, garlic, and bread crumbs in bowl or pie plate.  Dip chicken pieces in bread crumbs to coat.  Place on foil-lined jelly roll pan or cookie sheet.  Bake for 20-30 minutes or until chicken is golden brown and juices run clear, turning once during baking time. 

Mix butter, hot pepper sauce, cayenne pepper (if using), and ½ tsp garlic powder in large bowl or glass measuring cup.  Add chicken to coat or pour sauce over chicken when serving on plate.  (This is great for families—leave chicken sauceless for kids and parents can satisfy their buffalo wing craving!)  Serve with dressing for dipping.

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Tuna Casserole

  • 2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 can tuna
  • 1 can cream of chicken or mushroom soup
  • 1 soup can milk
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups uncooked macaroni
  • 1 cup crushed potato chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Melt butter in 10-inch skillet over medium heat.  Cook celery and onion until tender.  Stir in tuna, soup, milk, cheese, and cooked macaroni.  Spoon into two-quart casserole dish.  Sprinkle with potato chips.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.

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 Cream of Broccoli Soup

  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ¼ cup margarine or butter
  • 5 cups water
  • 4 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1 16-oz. package frozen broccoli
  • 8 Tbsp. cornstarch dissolved in ¼ cup cold water
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • ½ tsp. dill
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

 Cook onion and margarine over medium-high heat until onion is tender.  Add water and bouillon cubes; heat to boiling over high heat.

Add broccoli.  Bring back to boiling. 

Place mixture in blender (as much as will safely fit).  Blend.  Return to pot.

Bring mixture back to boiling; add cornstarch mixture.  Boil for two minutes.  Reduce heat to medium.

Add evaporated milk, garlic, salt, pepper, dill, and cheese.  Heat through.  Serve.

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Skillet Chicken Parmesan

See recipe from Cook’s Country:  http://www.cookscountrytv.com/recipes/detail.asp?docid=7401

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 Homemade Ravioli  

(adapted from recipe in Chicago Tribune from DeMarco-Kreusch-Reiss family)

  • ½ lb. Italian sausage, bulk
  • 1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • ½ lb. low-fat cottage cheese or ricotta
  • ½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • ¼ cup fine cracker crumbs or fresh bread crumbs
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 6 cups flour
  • 2 cups water
  • Pasta sauce
  • Meatballs (optional)

 For filling, cook sausage in a skillet, breaking up into small pieces, until cooked through; pour off grease.  Drain spinach, squeezing out as much liquid as possible; add to skillet.  Mix eggs, garlic, celery, cottage cheese, Romano cheese, cracker crumbs, nutmeg, and pepper together in a bowl; stir in the sausage and spinach.  Cover; refrigerate until ready to use or up to 4 days.

 For ravioli dough, place two cups of the flour and 2/3 cup water in a bowl.  Beat with a mixer with a dough hook until dough is a smooth ball (or knead by hand until blended into a smooth ball).  Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thick rectangle, about 16-by-6 inches, flipping dough often and adding more flour if needed.

 Place heaping teaspoonfuls of filling on the dough in a straight line ½ inch from one edge of the dough, leaving about ¾-inch space between each mound.  Gently lift the far edge of the dough over, like you’re folding a blanket, to cover the mounds of filling.  Press down around each mound to meld the two layers of dough together.  Place a ravioli cutter or juice glass over each mound.  Gently twist and press to cut the dough.  Pinch the edges of the ravioli together with your thumb and index finger to seal.  Repeat making batches of dough and filling the ravioli until you have enough to fill a 9×13” pan (about 3 or 4 batches of dough).  Place ravioli on a lightly floured cookie sheet.  (To freeze, place the sheet in the freezer until hard, about 2 hours.  Place in freezer bags; freeze until ready to cook.)

 Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread some pasta sauce on the bottom of a baking pan.  Add the ravioli in batches to the boiling water; heat the water back to a boil.  Immediately remove the ravioli with a slotted spoon from the water; place one layer in the baking pan.  Top with some sauce to cover.  Make two more layers of ravioli and sauce, ending with sauce.  Sprinkle the top with additional Romano cheese.  Cover with foil; bake 1 hour.  Serve with meatballs, if desired.

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 Hearty Pepperoni and Cheese Bake

  • 3 cups (8 oz.) mostaccioli, uncooked
  • 3 cups (about 26 oz.) spaghetti sauce
  • 1 pkg. (about 3 oz.) sliced pepperoni, cut into quarters
  • 1 cup (about 4 oz.) cubed mozzarella or provolone cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.  In large bowl, toss pasta, spaghetti sauce, pepperoni, and mozzarella cheese; spoon into 11×7-inch baking dish or 2-quart casserole.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.  4 to 6 servings.

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 Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 can (10-¾ oz.) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
  • 1 can (10 oz.) diced tomatoes and green chilies, undrained
  • 1 cup (8 oz.) sour cream
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 6 tortillas (8 ½ inches)
  • 2 cups cubed cooked chicken breast

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a skillet or saucepan coated with nonstick cooking spray, sauté onion until tender.  Remove from heat.  Add soup, tomatoes, sour cream, ¾ cup cheddar cheese and ¾ cup mozzarella cheese; mix well.  Place 3 tablespoons on each tortilla; top with 1/3 cup chicken.  Roll up tightly.

 Place seam down in a 13-in. x 9 in. x 2 in. baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray.  Top with remaining soup mixture; sprinkle with remaining cheeses.  Bake, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes or until heated through.  Six servings.

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Mashed Potato Soup

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 (32 oz) bag southern-style hash browns or 4 potatoes, peeled and cut into ½” pieces
  • 3 cups chicken broth or 3 cups water & 3 chicken bouillon cubes
  • ¼ cup butter or margarine
  • ½ lb. bacon, chopped into 1” pieces and cooked till brown
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • ½ tsp. dill
  • ½ tsp. chives
  • ½ – 1 cup instant mashed potatoes
  • 2 (12 oz.) cans evaporated milk or 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, cubed (optional)

 Melt butter in large pot (whatever you use to make soup).  Cook onion & carrot 2-3 minutes.  Add potatoes and chicken broth.  Bring to boiling and cook till potatoes are tender.

 Add bacon, garlic powder, salt, pepper, dill, and chives to mixture.  Add milk.  Stir in mashed potatoes about ¼ cup at a time, stirring until desired thickness.  Add cheese; stir until blended and warmed through.  Serve.

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Speedy Chicken Stir-fry

  • 8 oz. angel hair pasta, uncooked
  • 2 cups broccoli florets (or substitute whatever veggies you have on hand—peppers, sliced carrots, etc.)
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
  • ½ cup Kraft Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing (or look up oriental dressing recipe in cookbook like Betty Crocker)
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp. each ground ginger, garlic powder, crushed red pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped dry roasted peanuts (optional)

 Cook pasta as directed, adding broccoli to the boiling water for the last 3 min. of the pasta cooking time.

Meanwhile, spray large nonstick skillet with cooking spray, heat on medium-high heat.  Add chicken; cook 6-8 min., or until cooked through, stirring occasionally.  Stir in dressing, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and crushed red pepper; cook 1 min., stirring occasionally.

Drain pasta mixture; place in large bowl.  Add chicken mixture; mix lightly.  Spoon evenly into 4 serving bowls; sprinkle with the peanuts.

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Easy Lasagna for Four

  • 15 oz. container ricotta or small curd cottage cheese (buy a 24 oz. container and guesstimate J)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 jar or can (26 oz.) spaghetti sauce, any flavor
  • 6-9 uncooked lasagna noodles

 Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In bowl, combine ricotta, ½ cup mozzarella, 1/8 cup Parmesan (a few good shakes from the container), and the egg.

In small baking dish (8 inch square pan or 11×7), spread ½ cup sauce.  Layer with noodles to fit (break as necessary), then ½ cup sauce, and half of the cheese mixture; repeat.  Top with noodles and rest of sauce.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake 1 hour.

Remove foil and sprinkle with remaining cheeses.  Bake uncovered an additional 10 minutes.  Let stand 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

 *Can easily be doubled for more people—use a 9×13 dish & 12 noodles.

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Italian Casserole

  • 2 cups (8 oz.) uncooked short cut pasta
  • ½ lb. bulk Italian sausage
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • 1 jar or can (26 oz.) pasta sauce, any flavor
  • ½ cup ripe olives, sliced
  • 2-4 oz. sliced, canned mushrooms
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 6 oz. sour cream
  • 1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter or margarine
  • ½ cup seasoned bread crumbs

 Heat oven to 400˚.
Cook Italian sausage and onion until brown.
Cook pasta as directed, drain. Return to pot.
Add Italian sausage mixture, pasta sauce, olives, mushrooms, and garlic to pasta. Stir.
Spread in 11×7” or 13×9” ungreased baking dish.
Mix sour cream, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, and egg until well blended. Spread evenly over pasta mixture.
Mix butter and bread crumbs; sprinkle over top of cheese mixture.
Bake 35-45 minutes or until hot and bubbly and crumbs are golden brown.

Feel free to add or delete whatever “topping” ingredients you want (mushrooms, olives, etc.)