I'm Cooking Again

Actually, I am always cooking, or at least I am always feeding people.  With six people in the house, all on different schedules, someone is always hungry, and sometimes I feel like a short order cook.
And we run out of groceries around here so quick that you probably wouldn’t believe it.  I used to have a great routine for couponing and shopping and had lots of food on hand for at least a week before the cupboards were empty again, but I just haven’t found my groove since our last move.  I always seem to be too busy, and find myself running to the store for short trips and ordering pizza way too often.
Every week I get an online coupon for Earthfare, and every week I ignore it, because I don’t really shop there.  As much as I would like to feed my family healthy organic food, it’s expensive, and quantity trumps quality with all these hungry kids to feed.  But twice now Earthfare’s coupon has been enticing enough to draw me to their store–both times with a “five foods for five dollars” deal, which really does net around $15 worth of food for $5!  The idea, of course, is that I’ll go there and spend way more than the $5 but I am fully capable of waling in and getting just the coupon items and walking right back out!
Last week’s offering was for an Italian meal.  I ended up with a pound of Italian sausage, a pound of organic pasta, a bottle of organic salad dressing, a container of organic grape tomatoes, and a box of organic spring mix.  Yes, for FIVE DOLLARS.  Pretty sweet, huh?
How to use this bounty?  I remember a blog post I had recently read on Jen Gronick’s Experience the Wonderful.  Jen frequently does cooking posts.  I love her style which is conversational and fun, and I have pinned lots of her recipes.  The one I was thinking of was for pasta bake.
Click over to Jen’s site for the original recipe; I’ll share my variation here.
For the hamburger, I substituted my Italian sausage and I used three 15-oz. cans of diced tomatoes in place of the crushed and whole tomatoes her recipe calls for–I was more or less guessing because I don’t get those Canadian measurements! 😉  I didn’t have any veggies other than my onion so I skipped that part (she does say that’s optional).  I used oregano and basil in lieu of Italian spice.  I normally use pre-shredded cheese but since Jen was so adamantly opposed to that I grated some of the Colby-Jack block I keep in the fridge to go on crackers.  And then I followed her recipe for how to prepare it all.
Here’s what we ended up with:

 
Cheap, easy, delicious, and they were nibbling on it for days!

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