Beef/ Italian/ Pasta/Noodles/ Vegetables

Skillet Cheesy Penne

School is in session! For most anyway.  My daughter heads back on the 3rd of September.  One more week to go!

School is synonymous with fall in my mind.  Growing up, I didn’t go back to school until after Labor Day, but now it seems most go back in late August.  My daughter is only in preschool, so I suppose they run a different schedule altogether.
I know my schedule gets crazy once school is back in session. And while grabbing take out or opening a can of Chef O’s is easy, it’s not the healthiest.  I tend to use my slow cooker more or make one-pot dishes.

As fall comes and progresses into winter, I do find myself making more pasta with everything in them.  I know in traditional Italian fare you don’t mix meat and veggies in the same pasta sauce for a singular dish, but when you’re a busy mom and want all the tastes of Italy but all the ease of a complete meal with protein, whole grains, and vegetables, well, they get thrown in one big pot.

This dish was a HUGE hit.  I made it for a crowd and the crowd was silent while dinner was served.  Even I was quiet, which is unique too!  Hope you enjoy this as much as we did.

Note: I cooked the pasta right in the sauce.  It takes a bit longer than just boiling the noodles (not by much), but I did not want to deal with a second pan, and I had the time to let all cook together.  The flavor of the rich tomatoes penetrates the pasta and really adds to the overall taste of the dish.  For the seasonings, if you do not have the fresh or want to deal with them, you can substitute about a teaspoon and a half of dried Italian seasonings or about ½ tsp. of each of dried herbs.



Skillet Cheesy Penne

Author: Michelle De La Cerda


  • 1 lb . ground beef (up to two pounds is acceptable)
  • 1 cup onion; diced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup diced zucchini
  • 1 cup diced mushrooms
  • 3 cloves garlic; minced/grated
  • 10 oz . uncooked penne or sturdy pasta
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • cups water
  • 1 tbsp . fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp . fresh oregano
  • 1 tbsp . fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper; to taste
  • 1 ½ cup mozzarella; divided (1 cup and ½ cup) and grated
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese; finely grated
  • ¼ tsp . black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil


  1. In a small bowl, mix the ricotta, Parmesan, black pepper, and ½ cup of mozzarella cheese together and set aside.
  2. In a large pot or casserole brown the ground beef on medium high.
  3. Once the beef has been seared/browned, remove any rendered fat and add about a tablespoon of olive oil.
  4. Add the onions and garlic, and continue cooking the meat for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the mushrooms and the zucchini and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  6. Add the canned tomatoes, herbs, salt/pepper, tomato sauce, and water and mix it well.
  7. Reduce heat to medium, and once the sauce begins to simmer, add the penne (or pasta).
  8. Cover and stir occasionally for 8 minutes.
  9. Remove lid and for the last 6-8 minutes, stir the pasta frequently.
  10. As the pasta cooks and absorbs the liquid, it could begin to stick to the bottom of the pan and it will burn.
  11. Once the pasta is cooked, reduce the heat to low.
  12. Stir in one cup of mozzarella cheese.
  13. Then using a kitchen tablespoon, spoon the ricotta mixture over the top.
  14. Replace the lid and cook on low for about 5 minutes or until the ricotta is “cooked” through and melty. Serve and enjoy.



Meat and Veggies

Sauce and penne

Mozzarella added

Ricotta spooned in
This recipe kicked off a One Pot, Pound of Ground week over at Spoonful of Foodies.  I asked for group members to share their one pot, pound of ground recipes with me.  With school back in session, dinners sometime (or usually) need to be quick and we all love ground meats.  One pot or skillet meals are a favorite in my house on these busy nights. Here are their utterly delicious recipes to share with you.
Whole Spice Chili by Jo Blogs Jo Bakes
Taco Soup by O Taste and See
Skillet Macaroni & Cheese by Whole and Heavenly Oven
Slow Cooker White Bean Chili by Moore or Less Cooking
Busy Day Meatball Soup by What’s Cooking America
Meatball Subs by Bakesinslippers
Ground Beef and Brown Rice Skillet by Hot Eats and Cool Reads
Barbecue Beef, Bean, and Bacon Bake by Milk and Honey
Four Layer Dinner by Kitchen Getaway
Guinness Beef Skillet by Pearls + Girls
One Pan Easy Beef Stroganoff by The Chef Next Door

Thank you for sharing!

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  • Reply
    The Food Hunter
    August 25, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    my kind of dish

    • Reply
      August 25, 2014 at 1:44 pm

      Thank you FH. Mine too. Enjoy.

  • Reply
    Kelly @ TastingPage
    August 25, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    There’s nothing like the hush that falls over the crowd after you’ve served a good meal. A great compliment!

    • Reply
      August 25, 2014 at 1:45 pm

      I couldn’t agree more Kelly!

  • Reply
    August 25, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    i can’t get enough of pasta, and this looks so easy to make!

    • Reply
      August 26, 2014 at 12:17 am

      Super easy and too delicious.

  • Reply
    Healing Tomato
    August 25, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    Pasta is my go to food for comfort food. Pasta and Cheese is even more comforting. Thank you.

    • Reply
      August 26, 2014 at 12:24 am

      I’m right there with you. Thick tomato sauce and cheesy pasta…heaven on earth.

  • Reply
    Kim - Liv Life
    August 25, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    I used to make something like this for my son when he was little… and it was his favorite meal!! He can’t have dairy of any sort any more, and he says this is the one thing he misses. But I could have it!! Total comfort!!

    • Reply
      August 26, 2014 at 12:27 am

      Oh, I’m so sorry he can’t have dairy to enjoy one of his favorite meals. But hope you enjoy it.

  • Reply
    susan @ the wimpy vegetarian
    August 27, 2014 at 11:08 pm

    This is my favorite kind of dinner at the end of a long day. Total comfort food!!

    • Reply
      September 3, 2014 at 1:20 am

      Thank you Susan. Omit the ground beef and it will work for you dietary needs.

  • Reply
    Prairie Gal Cookin'
    August 28, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    This looks amazing!! Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      September 3, 2014 at 1:21 am

      Thank you PG. It really was tasty.

  • Reply
    Danita @ OTasteAndSee
    September 5, 2014 at 6:17 am

    Thanks so much for including my Taco Soup! Have a blessed weekend.

    • Reply
      September 5, 2014 at 11:50 am

      Thank you for participating. Have a fantastically delicious weekend, which is blessed in my opinion. 🙂

  • Reply
    September 5, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    Thank you for including my chili, everything looks amazing! Nettie

    • Reply
      September 7, 2014 at 11:13 pm

      Thank you for participating. It was fun to do this round up.

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