Italian Sausage & Pepper Pasta

I’ve been making this for years…since before we had kids. In fact, when we were first married, we lived near a Johnny Carino’s Italian restaurant and went there often. My husband always ordered a “Skilletini” which is a tomato based pasta dish served with peppers, onions, & sausage, much like this one. Maybe that’s why we love this so much. It reminds us of our newly-wed date nights. It was a favorite then and it’s a favorite now in our own home. ~Erin



8 oz. uncooked whole wheat penne pasta

1 ¼ lb. turkey Italian sausage (5 links)

1 bell pepper of each color: green, red, yellow, and orange; sliced into strips

1 lg. onion, sliced

2-4 cloves garlic, minced (I used 1 T. squeeze garlic)

1 (14.5 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained

1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce

1 T. Italian seasoning

1 tsp. salt

3 T. of pasta water (reserved before draining cooked pasta)

1 T. olive oil

Parmesan cheese for serving, optional (not included in WW points calculations)

Crushed red pepper flakes for serving, optional


Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions; reserve 3 T. of pasta water, drain, & set aside.

Brown sausages in a large skillet over medium-high heat; remove from pan & set aside. You can either leave them whole to cook them, then slice each into four pieces; or you can slice and then cook them. I prefer to slice first and then cook the pieces because they cook faster. Remove from the skillet and set aside.

Cook peppers and onions in olive oil over medium-high heat until they are crisp-tender (about 8 minutes), stirring occasionally.

Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (about a minute).

Add the Italian seasoning, salt, tomatoes, tomato sauce, pasta water, and sliced sausage pieces. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Add penne pasta and stir to heat through.

Serve with parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper flakes, if desired.

Weight Watchers Info.: This recipe makes 10 servings. Each 8 oz. serving (about 1 ½ c.) is 5 SmartPoints.

Tuna Noodle Casserole

We were raised Catholic, so growing up in our house meant fish on Fridays during Lent. I can still hear young Tracy groaning, even in my memories. Ha!! She hates all things seafood related. Luckily, I like it. One of my favorite dishes to make on Lenten Fridays is this Tuna Noodle Casserole. It reminds me of a something my mom made when we were kids so, for me, it’s comfort food…creamy and cheesy with a crunchy breadcrumb topping. Yum! And honestly, the albacore tuna in this is so mild, I’m confident that even fish-hating folks like Tracy will like it! I’ll serve it to her next time she visits and report back. 😉  ~Erin



12 oz. uncooked egg noodles (I use No Yolks brand.)

3 pouches (2.6 oz. each) low sodium, white albacore tuna (I use Starkist brand.)*

2 cans (10 ½ oz. each) condensed 98% fat free cream of mushroom soup

1 can (10 ½ oz.) condensed cream of celery soup

1 c. fat free shredded cheddar cheese

½ cup chopped green onion (OR desired amount of frozen green peas, thawed)

1 c. panko breadcrumbs

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp. salt

Nonstick cooking spray


Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Cook the egg noodles according to package directions, drain & set aside.

Spray a 9”x13” casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine tuna, soups, cheese, noodles, salt, and green onions; spread mixture evenly in prepared casserole dish.

In a small bowl, mix breadcrumbs together with olive oil; sprinkle evenly over tuna/noodle mixture.

I like to lightly spray the top with a bit more cooking spray, just to make sure it browns well, but that step is optional.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until brown and bubbly.

Weight Watchers info:  This makes 8 servings at 8 SmartPoints each on Freestyle.


Italian Stuffed Shells

This recipe is a hit at our house.  My husband says it’s better than lasagna (one of our favorites)! These are great for dinner at home or would be a crowd pleaser at a pot luck.  Truly, Italian comfort food.  With simple ingredients, you can crank out an impressive dinner for your family. Serve alongside a green salad, and ta-da, dinner is complete!  The mix of cheese….  Come to Mama!   ~Kathy



12 oz. Jumbo pasta shells (make plenty – some will break; you need about 34 for this recipe)

½ lb. 96% lean ground beef

1/3 c. chopped onion

1 c. shredded parmesan cheese (not the powdered type)

1 c. (1% fat) cottage cheese

1 (7.5 oz.) package cream cheese with chive and onion

2 c. low moisture part-skim mozzarella, shredded (reserve ¾ c.)

3 eggs, lightly beaten

2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 tsp. garlic powder)

¼ tsp Italian seasoning

1 tsp pepper

2 tsp dried parsley

1 (24 oz.) jar reduced fat spaghetti sauce

3 T. water

Optional garnishes:  fresh chopped basil or parsley


In large pot, bring salted water to a boil.   Cook pasta just until al dente (about 10 minutes).  Drain, rinse in cold water and turn open side down on paper towels to dry.

While the noodles are cooking, cook ground beef with onion.  Season with salt and pepper.   Drain grease and set aside.

Combine parmesan cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese and 1¼ c. mozzarella.   Stir in eggs, garlic, Italian seasoning, pepper and parsley.  Stir in ground beef mixture.  Combine well.

In a small bowl, mix together water and ¼ c. spaghetti sauce.   Spread into the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan.

Fill each shell with a heaping tablespoon of cheese mixture.  Set into pan open side up.  Continue filling shells until cheese mixture is gone.   Top with remaining sauce.

Cover loosely with foil and bake in a preheated 375˚ oven for 40 minutes.   Turn oven off, remove foil.  Top with remaining mozzarella cheese.  Leave in oven for an additional 5 minutes.   Remove from oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Top with fresh chopped parsley or basil if desired.


Weight Watchers Info.:  This makes approximately 34 stuffed shells.  A serving of 2 shells is 7 Freestyle points.  A serving of 3 shells is 11 Freestyle points.

Creamy Garlic Pasta

Do you like those pasta dishes that come in a box?   This is quick-to-make and sooooo much better!    You will crave this.   You will love this.  You will want to add it to your regular dinner rotation!   It’s a winner in our house.  ~Kathy



2 tsp. olive oil

4 garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced

2 T. butter

¼ tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

¼ tsp. onion powder

3 ½ c. chicken stock

½ lb. linguini noodles

1 cup shredded parmesan cheese (not the powdered stuff)

¾ c. heavy cream

1 T. dried parsley



In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat.   Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.  Add butter and allow to melt.   Add salt, pepper, onion powder and chicken stock.   Increase heat and bring to a boil.  Add pasta and cook until tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally.   Reduce the heat to medium low, stir in the parmesan, heavy cream and parsley.  Stir until cheese is melted.  Remove from heat and serve immediately.


Pizza Pasta


When my husband I first met, we spent every Tuesday night at the local pizza place with a group of friends.  I got to know him over slices of pizza and pints of beer.  I realized he’s funny, sweet, and maybe worth seeing as more than just a friend.  Pizza is good for getting to know people.

I love pizza in all forms.  This one-skillet Pizza Pasta is all the flavors of pizza in a scoopable form.  What’s not to love?  ͂ Erin


½ a large red onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

2 c. jarred pizza sauce

8 oz. dry whole wheat rotini pasta

4 oz. mild turkey breakfast sausage

2 oz. pepperoni*, chopped in small pieces

1 tsp. garlic salt

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

2 c. water

Shredded parmesan cheese & crushed red pepper flakes, for serving


Cook and stir breakfast sausage, onion, and bell pepper in a large skillet until sausage is browned.  Drain sausage mixture on a paper towel-lined plate. Carefully wipe out any excess grease from the skillet. Add pizza sauce, water, rotini pasta, pepperoni, sausage mixture, garlic salt, and Italian seasoning to the skillet. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and boil until pasta is tender and sauce is reduced (about 12 minutes). Serve sprinkled with parmesan and red pepper flakes.

Weight Watchers info.:  This makes 6 servings.  A serving is 1 cup (about 7 ounces by weight).  *If you use regular pepperoni, each serving is 9 SmartPoints. If you use turkey pepperoni, each serving is 7 SmartPoints. (If serving with parmesan cheese, be sure to add those points.)

Summer Veggie Pasta

As summer vegetables come into season, this is a wonderful way to appreciate some of those fresh flavors.  Our family has been enjoying this recipe for many years.  Even the kids love it!  It makes a great side compliment to your favorite grilled chicken or fish, but we recommend it as a tasty main dish all on its own! ~ Tracy

1 medium zucchini, sliced into thin, bite sized pieces

4 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped

10 oz. grape tomatoes, halved or quartered to your liking

½ c. chopped onion

1 ½ T. extra virgin olive oil

1 t. dried basil*

½ t. dried oregano

salt / cracked pepper to taste

½ c. shredded Parmesan cheese

8 oz. uncooked spaghetti noodles

Cook spaghetti according to package instructions (remember to liberally salt the water).

While spaghetti is cooking, add olive oil to large sauté pan.  When oil is hot, sauté zucchini, garlic, and onion.   Continue to stir-fry the zucchini, garlic, and onions for three to four minutes – until onion begins to become translucent and zucchini softens.  Toss in tomatoes and seasonings.  Heat through.

Add cooked pasta and stir thoroughly into vegetable mixture.   Toss in shredded Parmesan.

*If using fresh basil you may want to reduce amount, since fresh basil is much stronger in flavor.

**Weight Watchers friends, this recipe is 7 SmartPoints for 1 ½ cups!  (Makes 5 servings)



Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta


Erin’s husband loves shrimp and brings a bunch home every year on his annual fishing trip to Louisiana.   Erin rarely cooks it, however, because of the work to peel and devein it.  On his most recent trip, he got wise and bought shrimp that’s already been peeled, deveined, de-tailed, and individually frozen.  At last, all are happy… the cook & and shrimp-lovers alike.

This recipe was born on a Friday during Lent.  It’s funny how sometimes your Lenten fasting meals can end up more decadent than your normal, weekly suppers, simply because you have to get creative.  This is one of those meals.  While being actually pretty low fat, you’re still able to treat yourself to a rich bowl of creamy, spicy pasta.


8 ounces whole wheat rotini pasta

1 orange and 1 red bell pepper sliced

1 red onion, sliced

24 ounces raw, peeled & deveined shrimp, tails removed

Cooking spray

1 T. olive oil

2 – 4 cloves garlic, minced

1 can petite diced tomatoes, undrained

1 can mild Ro-Tel (tomatoes with green chilies), drained

16 ounces fat free chicken broth

4 ounces reduced fat cream cheese

4 T. fat free half & half

Salt & pepper

1 T. Cajun seasoning (such as Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning)

Shredded parmesan cheese, optional (not included in Weight Watchers calculations)

Chopped green onions, optional


Sprinkle shrimp lightly with salt & pepper.

In a large, nonstick skillet, sauté shrimp in cooking spray for about 5 minutes, flipping halfway through, or until shrimp are pink and opaque; set aside.

Clean the skillet with a damp paper towel (careful!).

Heat olive oil over medium heat and add bell peppers and onions; cook until onions are translucent and peppers are tender, stirring often.

Add garlic and continue to cook until fragrant (just 30 seconds or so).

Add tomatoes, Ro-Tel, chicken broth, Cajun seasoning, and uncooked pasta to the skillet; bring to a boil and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring often, until pasta is al dente and most of the liquid is evaporated.

Stir in cream cheese until melted.

Add fat free half & half and stir to combine.

Stir in shrimp and heat through.

Top with shredded parmesan and green onions, if desired.

Serve hot.


Weight Watchers info.:  each serving is 8 ounces, by weight (about 1 heaping cup)

Old SmartPoints:  6 SmartPoints

Freestyle SmartPoints:  5 SmartPoints