Take-out Tuesday, Two Easy Favorites

These are not new recipes, and you probably have your very own version… I decided to mention these anyway just in case you have forgotten about these old favorites, and I have a trick or two to make them extra easy and delicious...


Easy Italian Sausage Ziti Bake gets a flavor boost from Italian sausage, and extra creaminess from 1/2 n 1/2 cream drizzled over the layers, and cheese melted into the pasta.


The easy Creamy Chicken, Ham, and Mushroom Casserole gets a boost of flavor from deli ham, sauteed mushrooms and sherry.  Both of these Take-out Tuesday casseroles can be put together in minutes and are always appreciated.

Baby C arrived last week {can you see me jumping for joy?} and I wanted to stock her parents fridge with lots of yummy food for the sleepless days ahead.  Besides the staples they requested I made these 2 quick casseroles  and labeled them with baking instructions so even Baby C’s daddy would know exactly what to do come dinner time.


For the ziti, I used a prepared marinara sauce in a jar, my favorite brands are priced in the mid range, such as Classico and Bertolli.  I prefer to use just regular Marinara or Tomato & Basil and add some of my own seasonings and fresh vegetables.


For this casserole I simply browned the sausage and drained it, then sauteed some onion and peppers in the same skillet, added the sausage back to the skillet and then poured in the sauce.  Season with S & P, Italian seasoning and a little garlic powder.  Stir a minute to combine.


While sausage and veggies are sauteing, cook the pasta, drain and top with 1/4 of the mozzarella cheese.  Let it sit for a minute to start melting and stir gently. Put 1/2 of cooked ziti into a baking dish {sprayed with cooking oil spray} and top with some more mozzarella and some Parmesan.  Drizzle cream over pasta layer,  2-4T.  Top with 1/2 of marinara sauce and repeat layers, including a drizzle of cream over the next pasta layer.  The cream is what keeps the casserole moist and creamy.  Top the final marinara layer with more cheese.  Spray a piece of foil with cooking oil spray and cover the casserole tightly.  The casserole will keep for 2-3 days in refrigerator before baking or freezing.


For the Creamy Chicken, Ham & Mushrrom Casserole, start with chopped cooked chicken.  I keep the pieces fairly large so people know what they’re eating.  You can use rotisserie chicken or saute some boneless breasts or tenders, it only takes a few minutes.


Top the chicken with some chopped ham and sauteed mushrooms.


Smother it with a sour cream, sherry, and Cream of Chicken soup sauce.  Add pepper if you like, but the sauce has plenty of salt from the canned soup. I happen to love the flavor of cooking sherry, but substitute white wine or apple juice if you prefer.  I made a side dish of rice, but you can simply put the rice in the baking dish first, then add the chicken, ham and mushrooms and top with sauce to have a complete one dish meal.  Either way is fine.

casseroles thepaintedapron.com

I made a quick salad with crisp romaine, baby spinach and sliced strawberries and used a container I saved from a previous produce purchase for packaging. Some of these containers are great to keep and reuse.  I also made some of my FAVORITE  M & M salad dressing to tag along, it takes about 30 seconds to make and it is divine on anything!

DD & NG were so appreciative, and loved having some good homemade food in their fridge.  Needless to say these casseroles had to taste good, they were pretty much oozing with love!

Here are the recipes:

ITALIAN SAUSAGE ZITI BAKE                   for printable version   click here

8 ounces ziti, penne, or rotini pasta

1 jar, 24 oz Marinara Sauce, or 3 cups

12-16 oz Italian sausage

8 oz shredded Mozzarella cheese

4 oz shaved fresh Parmesan cheese

1/2 onion, chopped

1/2 red pepper chopped

1/2 yellow pepper chopped

1/4 cup 1/2 n 1/2 or cream

Italian seasoning

garlic powder

fresh basil

Cook sausage and drain.  Saute vegetables in same skillet until onion is transparent about 5 minutes.  Return sausage to skillet and pour Marinara sauce over all.  Season to taste.  Set aside.  While sausage is cooking cook the pasta and drain.  Immediately return pasta to pot and toss with 1/4 of the mozzarella cheese.

Spray baking dish with cooking oil spray and put 1/2 of cheesy pasta in a layer in the bottom of pan.  Top with 1/4 of the mozzerella cheese and 1/3 of the Parmesan.  Drizzle with half of the cream.  Top with Marinara sausage mixture. Repeat layers.  Top final Marinara layer with remaining cheeses.  Cover with a piece of foil that has been sprayed with cooking oil spray so the cheese won’t stick.  Refrigerate for up to 2 days.  Bake at 325, uncovered, 30-45 minutes.

Serves 4

CREAMY CHICKEN, HAM & MUSHROOM CASSEROLE       for a printable version click here

2 boneless chicken breasts cut into 6-7 tenders, about 4 cups of chopped chicken

1/4 lb. deli ham slices, chopped into large pieces

4 oz sliced mushrooms

1 can Cream of Chicken Soup {I use Campbell’s Healthy Request}

8 oz. light sour cream

1/4 cup cooking sherry, sherry, white wine or apple juice

panko bread crumbs for topping {optional}

2 1/2 cups prepared rice, either as a side dish or as base of casserole

Saute chicken in skillet over medium high heat for 3-4 minutes a side until it starts to turn golden.  If it’s not cooked quite totally through it will finish cooking when baked.  Chop it into large bite sized pieces and place in a pan or dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Put rice in the dish first if preferred.  Top chicken with ham.  Saute mushrooms over medium high until golden and juices have released. Put mushrooms on top of ham.  Mix soup, sour cream and sherry and pour over all.  Top with panko bread crumbs. Cover dish with foil and refrigerate up to 2 days.  Bake at 325 30-45 minutes until hot and bubbly.  Serves 4.

Thanks so much for your visit today, I hope I’ve reminded you or some of your tried & true favorites or given you some new quick and easy ideas!


I’m joining some of these great parties this week:

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4 Responses to “Take-out Tuesday, Two Easy Favorites”
  1. This is right up our families alley…and even better you can use white wine♥

  2. OK…have a ziti recipe that’s super close to yours, but don’t have anything like the ham/chicken casserole. I’ll give it a whirl. Not sure it’ll turn out as good as yours, though…you had a very special purpose in mind while making yours, so that extra love ingredient probably makes all the difference! 🙂 Congratulations once again, and I hope everyone gets some much needed rest soon!

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