Stuffed shells are one of my favorite comfort meals. Pasta encasing a bunch of fluffy ricotta and gooey, cheesy goodness? You just can’t go wrong. Not to mention the variations and combinations that you can use to “mix up” your filling is endless.

So, when Sugardale Foods reached out to me about creating a recipe using their delicious pepperoni – my mind immediately began brainstorming. And, led me right to the thought of  a pepperoni-studded stuffed shell (say that 3x fast!). All of your favorite flavors in a pizza, but in pasta form. Genius!

Pepperoni is something that I always have on hand in the fridge, it’s a great way to add a little bit of meaty flavor to recipes. I’ll often add it to skillet pastas, or baked pasta dishes…as well as just for snacking purposes. Love having it around for a quick anti-pasta platter when unexpected guests drop in. A few slices of cheese, some pepperoni, maybe a few olives? Bam! Awesome easy appetizer.

But, finding a good-quality pepperoni can be a little bit daunting – to say the least. So many are full of so much fat, by the time you cook it…there’s nothing left. Not the case with Sugardale’s pepperoni.

Sugardale Foods is a family-owned company that’s been in business since 1920. Right here in the good, old US of A too! That’s a feat that seems to be harder and harder to come by these days. You can find their products  (ham, pepperoni, bacon) at many retailers nationwide, in various size packaging. With 3 little boys, I can blow through one of their 1-lb bags in no time. It’s a brand I know I can always turn to for quality! Make sure you stop by their recipe page for a bunch of great recipe ideas.

I kept the filling simple: Ricotta, chunks of mozzarella, a little oregano. Placed the whole pepperoni slices into the shells, then stuffed with the ricotta mixture. Baked with my favorite quick marinara sauce and a little extra mozzarella on top. Perfection, I tell ya!

It’s the time of year where we find ourselves turning to comfort foods, and this one is definitely a new favorite in our home. Add it to your menu soon, you won’t regret it!

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What is your favorite comfort meal? Tell me about it in the comments and you will be entered to win a $100 Visa gift card!

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mediterranean tortilla pizzasHave you guys had tortilla pizzas? I’d heard about them, but hadn’t tried it until last week. A flour tortilla acts as the crust (a particularly sturdy one, mind you!), topped and cooked in a cast-iron skillet for just a few minutes. A complete no-brainer, with ingredients that you probably already have hanging out in the pantry already!

Which, I so need meals like this in my life right now. Boy scouts, soccer practices and games, homework… and, now the Holidays right around the corner?  Sheer craziness. The best part is, it can be switched up so easily! Whether it’s a trip to the Mediterranean coast with salty olives and feta cheese like this example,  or barbecue sauce and chicken, or topped with a ton of veggies, or the more traditional route with just cheese and pepperoni – the possibilities are endless.

Bertolli recently reached out to me about participating in their My Tuscan Table campaign to celebrate their 150th anniversary. I wanted to do something very traditional and Italian…but the truth of the matter is, a quick dinner consisting of something super easy like tortilla pizzas and a simple green salad are the norm for our family’s table these days. Everyone gathers around to make their own, which is really important on those busy nights. Cooking and enjoying a meal together is pretty much the cornerstone of Tuscan culture, in fact, I’m pretty sure it transcends all cultures!

Bertolli’s new Riserva line of sauces make it super easy – and with fresh ingredients and no additional sugars, it they bring new hope to the jarred pasta sauce aisle. I’m usually a homemade girl, but sometimes you just need a good store-bought sauce! Bertolli is asking everyone to share their Tuscan tables. For every hashtag “#MyTuscanTable” used during the month of October, they’ll be donating $1 to Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign.  So get to hashtagging, folks!

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by the good folks at Bertolli. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Crab AlfredoThings have been crazy around here. Pony Penning took place last week here on Chincoteague, second only to Christmas around these parts. Friends and family are in town, we were busy running around to one event or another, and good home-cooked meals (and blogging) kind of fell by the wayside.

Crab season is also in full swing here on the Eastern Shore. They’re cheap, plentiful, and heavy. I paid $50 for a bushel of #1’s the other day – that’s insanity! I’m very fortunate to be able to cut out the middle men, and go directly to the source.

On those nights when things are crazy, and you want something easy and delicious that doesn’t take forever – this crab alfredo always answers the call. Five minutes to make the creamy sauce while the pasta is cooking, a quick warm-up in the pan for some fresh crab meat… and you have an ahhhmazing pasta dish that took no time to prepare, but is impressive as all get out!

A side of steamed broccoli or a green salad, and a glass of white wine paired alongside makes for a perfect light summer meal.

Classic Pasta Salad

This one has been a long time coming, guys. Whenever I go to a cookout or gathering, this is my most requested dish to bring. And I can’t believe that I don’t have it here on the site yet. Friends are always asking for the recipe, and it will be great to have the link handy from now on!

At any rate, it’s the classic version. Tri-colored rotini, tomatoes, onions, cukes, black olives, cheese, and Italian dressing. But, there area few things that I’ve added it to it to the years that make it special…

First off, fresh herbs – chopped basil, parsley, and oregano bring a ton of freshness to the dish. I usually have an abundance of all of them in the summer, and it’s a great way to use them. Also, celery seed – the brightness and crunch it adds to the dish is on point.

I take a shortcut and use the powdered Italian dressing. I’ve made my own, and used bottled – but nothing compares to the Good Seasons Italian in this application. For someone who makes most of her dressings at home – I love the stuff. I’ve always got a packet in the pantry.

Sometimes I’ll add chopped up pepperoni or salami, or pepperocinis, or chopped bell peppers…but this is my standard. I could live off this stuff in the summertime, and many weeks – I do. It’s my favorite, and I know it will be one of yours too!

Classic Pasta Salad

1 lb tri-color rotini pasta
5 roma tomatoes, diced
2 cucumbers – peeled, seeded and diced
1 red onion, small diced
1 can black olives, drained and olives halved
1 tsp celery seed
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh oregano, chopped (or 2 tsp dried)
16 oz shredded cheese (I like a blend of cheddar and mozzarella)
1 packet Good Seasons Italian Dressing (I like the Zesty kind!)
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper

Prepare salad dressing according to directions on packet.

Cook the pasta in salted water for 7-8 minutes until al dente, and drain.

Combine the veggies, olives and pasta in a large bowl. Add the salad dressing, and toss to coat everything.

Add in the celery seed, fresh herbs, the cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.

Fridge it for an hour or so to let the flavors blend.

Source: adapted from my good friend Crystal’s mom, Ms. Ginny. We miss you, but rest assured your pasta salad lives on!