Celebrating Mother's Day with My People

I love nothing more than gathering around a laden table full of delicious food and my favorite people. As a matter of fact, my favorite people happen to be my kids. 

Mother's Day weekend felt like it should have a lot of those moments. But of course, I wanted to spend as much time as possible just visiting with Amy and Adam. And enjoying my delightful grandson. So I opted for a super simple (but delicious!) menu. You know my motto: "Food Should Taste Delicious."

In this case I have a favorite go-to Chicken and Pasta Bake. It takes almost no time to put together (and I cheat a little by getting a pre-cooked chicken to save time) but it has a super wow factor when it hits the table. 

I was truly craving more time to connect with everyone, including my own mom, Luza. She's 101, as you know, and I felt like time together was much more important than creating an elaborate meal.


Also, my kids were all here for the weekend and because I don't get to see the two older ones as much since they've moved, I felt like incredibly blessed and  I was, of course, crazy-happy. My whole everyone-around-the-table-fantasy actually came true. 


Celebrating our family being together was paramount. And feeding them mass quantities, I feel, is part of my job description. Keeping it super simple was Eric's only stipulation. (I tend to make myself a little crazy working super hard in the kitchen  but that's not important right now.)

Fine. I can do simple with the best of them. This weekend was a total win. I didn't cook Cuban, although I suppose I could have. But I did go Italian. Read here about my mom and the Random Italian Thing.

I ran over to Walmart and picked up some Barilla® Penne Pasta. I planned on making a simple chicken and pasta bake that's always a favorite around here.

Once it's in the oven, I have much more time to visit and hold the baby. Win.

Chicken and Pasta Bake Recipe




  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 6 cloves of garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano
  • 1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
  • 3 cups cooked chicken (I get one of the roasted chickens from the store to save time)
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (divided into 3 cups and 1 cup)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 (16 0z) pkg. Barilla® Penne Pasta, cooked according to package directions

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2) Spray a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

3) In a very large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat.


4) Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until onion is slightly translucent.

5) Add flour, and cook, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes.

6) Stir in milk, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and cook for about 5 minutes or until slightly thickened.


7) Stir in chicken, 3 cups cheese, salt, pepper, and sugar.

8) Stir in cooked pasta.


9) Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese.


10) Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes until hot and bubbly and the cheese is slightly toasted on top.


Serve with warm bread and a nice green salad. 


I'm kind of feeling like this may be a new Mother's Day Tradition. The next time you have all your people with you around the table, don't forget to go simple, but delicious. 

And by all means, be kind to your mother. She lives for this kind of stuff.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Barilla. The opinions and text are all mine.