Hunk of Meat Monday: Party Pasta (On The Fly)

When I discovered last week from a text message from my husband as I boarded flight that it was my mother-in-law’s birthday, I had to think fast. I knew her birthday and already had purchased gifts. I just hadn’t looked at the calendar during my business travel to see the date. I texted my husband back saying we were having a party. 
I picked up the girls and was home by 5:20PM. The party started at 6PM. 
What was for dinner?

I turned to Pioneer Woman. She is my tried and true and I have made many of her recipes. 
Only I often modify on the fly. I made Shrimp Pasta in a Foil Package. I have also made this before with chicken. 
I use a box of whole wheat linguine. 
Pre-cooked shrimp, tail off or tail on…but I take the tails off. To me the more shrimp or chicken the better. I would use at least 2 cups measured. I probably double that.
1/4 cup of olive oil…although PW calls for more
3 cans of 14 oz. diced tomatoes, drained
Lots of chopped fresh garlic…and I have used garlic powder in a pinch
Last week I didn’t have fresh basil. I recommend it for this recipe but I instead used 2 TBSP of Penzey’s Pasta Sprinkle.
2 cups of shredded fresh Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350F.
 This is a kid friendly and time saving recipe.
You can have all ingredients on hand in your pantry and freezer…and pull it together on the fly.
Saute the chopped garlic in the olive oil. Add the 3 cans of drained diced tomatoes. Not draining the tomatoes gets too runny for me.
 Simmer the tomatoes and garlic for about 5 minutes and then add your shrimp or chicken, simmer another 5-7 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. I recommend less salt and more fresh ground pepper.

Boil up your noodles at the same time according to the box directions but under cook your noodles by a few minutes. You are going to bake the noodles and sauce together. Drain the noodles.
 On a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan spread two large pieces of aluminum foil, one vertical and one horizontal. Toss the drained noodles with the tomato sauce into the foil. Add the basil and cheese, saving a bit of cheese to top portions when serving. Wrap up in the foil on the pan and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes. This melds and melts all the flavors together. It’s fantastic.

 When my in-laws walked in the door, we were just 10 minutes from eating. My mother-in-law, commonly known as Nana by our kids, keeps me sane every week. She is the “force” behind feeding my family when I travel on business…and many times when I am home. She’s an amazing cook. She also is a huge help with the kids. The least I could do was have a meal for her on her birthday and a cake.
 I can take zero credit for this cake, other than I paid for it. My mom told me the bakery to call in Fargo and thankfully even though Fargo is 180 miles from our home, I flew into Fargo last week. I picked up this perfect birthday cake.
 My mother-in-law’s favorite color? Red. I did manage to set the table with red glasses. They served as our birthday decor. And the cake flavor coordinated with them.

Once the pasta was ready, I served it in these pasta bowls that I registered for our wedding from Williams-Sonoma. So happy I have them and I only wish I had more of them. I’d love a wedding registry every 5 years. I digress.
Sprinkle the pasta with Parmesan or mozzarella cheese before serving. 

 The pasta was a huge hit. Nana is a foodie and she had only compliments. The best part for me? From start of walking in the door to sitting down to eat was 50 minutes. I served it with a side of broccoli and cauliflower. 
 We celebrated Nana with our beautiful bakery cake.
Red velvet cake for our special red-loving Nana. 
(And yes that is legit SNOW you see which was on our deck and across our yard just last Thursday evening.)
 Thankfully the snow has melted. A few piles in trees remain. It’s a gorgeous day and we are just in the door from our son’s first track meet.
We’re grilling up hamburgers in a hurry tonight.
What’s cooking at your house?

Hunk of Meat Mondays

Check out Beyer Beware for more tasty recipes.


  1. She sounds like a true angel to you and your family. And she deserves a wonderful meal and a beautiful cake. Glad you were able to give it to her – like the superwoman you are!

  2. Oh My Gosh! This looks soooo good! I am going to have to give this one a try. I think I have all the ingredients! That makes me even happier! Thanks for the idea!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Katie–You are an awesome daughter-in-law!! Great celebration…thanks for sharing!

  4. You are ‘da man…I mean woman! How wonderful that you managed to whip this up for your mom-in-law. She looks like she really appreciated the attention and effort.

  5. My mother in law is a Carol too.

    That recipe sounds very good and easy. I have all those ingredients around too.

    Next time you get some fresh basil, freeze a few leaves and then you’ll have it on hand. We froze several batches at the end of last summer, and it has survived quite well in the freezer!

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