Clean The Cupboards Out Pizza Pasta Bake

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Like I’ve shared with you all this month, we’ve been working on  a once a month grocery shopping experiment, and this week it was time to really dig deep and see what I could use in from our kitchen! I had several items in my fridge that I needed to use up, so I quickly came up with this Clean-the-Cupboards-Out-Pizza-Pasta-Bake.


It was delicious.


My whole family devoured it, my youngest even commented (after sticking her nose up before the very first bite), that “this is actually pretty good mama.” And it even made enough for leftovers later in the week.


So, if you need some dinnertime inspiration, this might just be for you! Here’s what you’ll need . . . 


Clean The Cupboards Out Pizza Pasta Bake


  • 16 oz pasta (we used rotelle)
  • 24 oz cottage cheese or ricotta (I like ricotta better but needed to use up the cottage cheese that was in the fridge)
  • 16 oz mozzarella, divided
  • 24 oz spaghetti sauce
  • pepperoni (optional)
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • parmesan cheese




  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Cook pasta according to package directions.
  • While pasta is cooking, brown ground beef. After ground beef is browned, add spaghetti sauce and pepperoni and heat through.
  • Mix together cottage or ricotta cheese and mozzarella in bowl, then add in ground beef mixture.
    Add cooked pasta into spaghetti mixture.
  • Spoon ingredients into greased casserole dish.
  • Top with additional mozzarella and and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  • Remove foil and bake an additional 5 minutes.
  • Enjoy!

If you need a little more menu inspiration, go HERE



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Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings

Slow Cooker Chicken & Dumplings
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Of all the recipes I’ve posted here on Passionate Penny Pincher, these Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings (and of course everyone’s favorite Italian Beef) are consistently the ones people mention to me, and I notice folks searching for them almost daily on PPP. My kids love them and would happily eat them once a week if I’d make them that often!


These are just so easy, and while I love to make these homemade Chicken and Dumplings (so good too!), you can’t beat these for a busy weeknight. (You can also try out this Chicken & Dumpling Casserole  . . . can you tell we like some Chicken & Dumplings around here?) 😉


If you have extra time you could make your own cream of chicken soup, and even use homemade biscuit doughThis recipe is super adaptable, and some yummy comfort food if your family loves chicken and dumplings like my bunch does. Here’s the recipe so you can get started . . .


Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings


  • 1-2 pounds chicken breast
  • 2 10 oz cans cream of chicken soup (can substitute with homemade cream of chicken soup)
  • 1 10 oz. can chicken broth (I use bouillon cubes)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 2 10 0z cans inexpensive biscuits cut in quarters


  1. Place chicken breast, soup, broth, water, salt, garlic powder, pepper & onion in crockpot.
  2. Cook on low six to seven hours.
  3. 1 hours before dinner time, add quartered biscuits to crockpot. (I use kitchen scissors to cut the biscuits.)
  4. Gently stir in biscuits so that they’re covered.
  5. Cook one more hours on low. Enjoy!

If you need a little more menu inspiration, go HERE

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How to Flash Freeze Cookie Dough

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How to Flash Freeze Cookie Dough

Love warm homemade cookies but hate making a mess in your kitchen? Here’s how to make the dough ahead of time so you can whip up a batch whenever you’d like!


1. Mix your favorite cookie dough (I use this one.)

2. Drop in spoonfuls onto baking sheet (I place them close together since they won’t bake together on a sheet, you’re just using the sheets to freeze them.)

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3. Place cookie dough in freezer while on baking sheets.

4. Freeze dough until completely frozen.

5. Remove dough from freezer and place cookie dough into large plastic bags or plastic storage container. (I’ve read that you should wrap them with in plastic or wax paper first, but have never done that and the dough has been just fine.)


6. Store frozen for up to 3 months.

7. To bake, place on parchment paper and bake according to original cookie dough recipe. Enjoy!

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(See how I recently whipped up a triple batch before flash freezing over HERE. Yikes!)

Chocolate Chip Cookies


And try out my all time favorite cookie dough recipe if you’re looking for the best chocolate chip cookies!


If you need a little more menu inspiration, go HERE


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Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

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We made this recipe from Eat at Home Cooks two weeks ago and I loved it, so much so that while visiting my in-laws I made it for them again last night! It’s such an easy way to cook up a bunch of veggies, and since the sauce is gluten free (my mother-in-law eats a gluten free diet), we easily cooked up gluten free pasta to make a simple gluten free meal for her too.



I’ve just about decided it’s my new go-to simple crockpot meal because it tastes great, and there’s just nothing like coming home to a home smelling like a yummy Italian meal. It’s an easy way to change out every day spaghetti, and we’ll definitely add it to our menu plan at least once a month!


Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore (adapted from Eat at Home Cooks)


  • 2 pounds frozen chicken tenders
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 1 sliced green pepper
  • 1 sliced red pepper
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb cooked pasta


  1. Place frozen chicken in the bottom of slow cooker.
  2. Add sliced onion and green peppers on top of the chicken.
  3. Mixed together crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper, then pour sauce over chicken and veggies.
  4. Cook on low 7 hours or high 4-5 hours.
  5. Serve over pasta with fresh parmesan cheese and enjoy!


If you need a little more menu inspiration, go HERE

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Summer Weekly Menu Plan Ideas

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Since it’s almost June and I haven’t made a single menu plan since the first of May, I decided to take a break for the summer from sharing menu plans here (although I’ll be making some very simplified menu plans at our house!) While my kids are home for the summer I’d rather be hanging out with them then getting these gathered up, and hope you understand. 😉

I’ve had menu plans out since last August though, there are plenty you can still choose from. Here are the links to keep you full of menu ideas all summer long . . .


Most of these include free printable lists as well, so you should be all set for summer!



Do you have anything yummy on your menu plan this week?  I’d love to hear what you’re having, and if you have any great recipe ideas please leave a comment to share!  



Check out my recipes to try board on Pinterest, and see more penny-pinched recipe ideas.  


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Beef Stir Fry {In Less Than 30 Minutes}

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With fresh produce in season, there’s no better time to use tons of fresh veggies as you cook! We had this (super) simple beef stir fry last night and I loved that it was loaded with vegetables and protein, and cooked up in under 30 minutes.


I noticed this recipe also at All Recipes (it looked so good!), but since the marinade needed to mix for several hours I opted for this simple recipe. The flavors are all so good on their own that you don’t need to add too much, and you can have dinner done in less than 30 minutes. Love that!


Beef Stir Fry (in Less Than 30 Minutes)

  • Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound beef sirloin, cut in 2″ strips
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 green pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • broccoli florets or carrots (I didn’t have those but they would have been great to add in!)
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (optional – we were out but I wish we’d had them!)





  1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.


  1. Cook beef until browned, 3 – 4 minutes.
  2. Put beef on one side of the skillet, then add in veggies and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes.


  1. Mix in beef and add in soy sauce and sesame seeds.
  2. Continue to cook until vegetables are tender, for another 3-4 minutes.
  3. Enjoy!

Adapted from All Recipes. If you need a little more menu inspiration, go HERE


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4 Ingredient Bisquick Mix Recipe

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4 Ingredient Bisquick Mix Recipe

I don’t know about your kids, but mine love morning waffles in the summertime. And, since these days with my kiddos feel like they’re fleeting way too fast, I try to indulge them as often as I can. (Thankfully they’re all pretty busy kids, so whatever they eat for breakfast they wear off throughout the day!)

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Our favorite waffle recipe is this one, but I’ve been looking for a way to simplify things in the mornings and finally decided to try out a Homemade Bisquick recipe. Since all that’s really in it is flour and a few other ingredients, I knew I could make it for next to nothing, and I love knowing exactly what’s going into it! Here’s what you’ll need:

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Homemade Bisquick Mix


  • 6 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 cup cold butter

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  1. Mix together flour, salt and baking powder in large bowl.
  2. Using a pastry cutter, mix in butter until the mixture is crumbly (I use this pastry cutter and love it, but you could also use a food processor to mix it all in!)
  3. Store covered in refrigerator until ready to use, for up to 4 months (makes enough for 3 to 4 days of pancakes and waffles at our house – so double the recipe if you need more!)


To make life easier in the mornings, I leave the pancake and waffle recipes right on the container so my kids can whip up a batch themselves if I’m working in the morning (my Caroline is an expert already!) Here are the recipes we use . . .


  • 2 cups mix
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups mix
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs


You can also use them to make these Red Lobster Cheddar Biscuits. Yum!

4 Ingredient Bisquick Mix Recipe

If you need a little more menu inspiration, go HERE




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Red Robin Whiskey River Barbecue Chicken Wrap

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Not sure this qualifies as real cooking, but if you’re in a hurry and need a quick meal this week, this recipe is perfect. My friend Shannon keeps reminding me about it, so I figured it was time to update the recipe and picture from when I originally posted it way back in 2012. 😉



Grill the chicken yourself of make life easy on a busy night like I did and take advantage of pre-cooked chicken. Either way dinner will be done fast, and your family will love it! Here you go . . .


Mix together equal parts barbecue sauce and ranch dressing and warm chicken up in microwave.


Add chicken to wrap.


Then add lettuce,


and onions (red onions are my favorite.)


Sprinkle with cheese . . . img_2070

Top with tortilla chips or French’s onions.

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Drizzle with ranch dressing and barbecue sauce mixture,


Wrap it all up . . .

And enjoy!

Red Robin Whiskey River Barbecue Chicken Wrap


  • 1 package flour tortillas (we use the Mission Spinach variety)
  • 1 cup cooked and sliced chicken breast (to make life easy I used pre-cooked Tyson Grilled & Ready Strips, but you could easily make them yourself – try out this chicken marinade!)
  • 1/2 cup light ranch dressing
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • lettuce
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 red onion
  • tortilla strips or French’s onions we used stockpiled French’s onions
  • bacon (optional)


  1. Mix together barbecue sauce and ranch dressing, set aside.
  2. Chop onion.
  3. Warm chicken according to package directions and cook bacon.
  4. Add lettuce, chicken, bacon, cheese, onion, and tortilla strips to wrap.
  5. Drizzle with barbecue sauce dressing mixture, and enjoy!

If you need a little more menu inspiration, go HERE

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The Best Spinach and Artichoke Dip

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Folks, this is the best spinach and artichoke dip you will ever eat.




So, if you’re planning a summer get together and need an appetizer to share, here’s the one for you. Enjoy!

Hot Spinach, Artichoke & Chile Dip


  1. 2 8 oz packages cream cheese
  2. 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  3. 4.5 oz can chopped green chiles, drained
  4. 1 cup fresh grated Parmesan
  5. 12 oz jar artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  6. 10 oz box frozen spinach chopped, thawed and drained



  1. Mix together softened cream cheese and mayonnaise in a bowl and stir until mixed together.
  2. Add in Parmesan cheese, drained artichokes, spinach, and chiles.
  3. Pour mixture into baking dish
  4. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
  5. Serve with tortilla chips – enjoy!

Note – I doubled the recipe and it made a TON – I used an 8×11 Pyrex dish and there was plenty to serve 25 people. 

Need a little more menu inspiration? Go HERE

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Cake Mix Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cake

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My neighbor Sarah shared this recipe with me years ago for Cake Mix Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cake, and I’d forgotten just how yummy it was until I made it again over the weekend!


My girls helped me mix up two of the cakes for the baby shower we hosted, and it was just perfect. One of the guys couldn’t believe I actually made it myself, and my kids have been fighting over every last  morsel.


Sweet success :)


I’m telling you what, I know you should be out making all kind of Memorial Day recipes this weekend, but this is a no-brainer-gonna-be-perfect-I-promise-your-family-will-love-it cake to make too. Here you go . . .


Sarah’s Cake Mix Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cake


  • 18.25 oz package devil’s food cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
  • 5.9 oz package instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (plus 1/4 cup extra to sprinkle on top at the end)

Ingredients for the glaze

  1. 2 Tbsp. butter
  2. 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  3. 2 c. powdered sugar
  4. 3-4 Tbsp. water
  5. 1 Tsp. vanilla extract


  • Mix together first 6 ingredients.
  • Stir in chocolate chips.
  • Bake at 350 for 50-55 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean (cake will be moist though.)
  • Let cool in pan for at least one hour before turning out on plate.
  • Once completely cooled, drizzle with glaze, and sprinkle with additional chocolate chips.

Directions for the glaze

  1. Melt butter & chocolate.
  2. Add sugar, vanilla and water.
  3. If needed add more water to thin frosting. (Whisk the frosting if there are any lumps).
  4. Drizzle over cake and sprinkle on extra chocolate chips if you’d like. Enjoy!



If you need a little more menu inspiration, go HERE



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