Eat, Drink & Be Happy

A Romantic Dinner

With the hectic holiday season upon us, we sometimes forget about the special people in our lives. This quick and tasty dinner takes only 30 minutes to make and costs less than $10! This year, instead of exchanging gifts, invite your special someone over for a romantic, homemade dinner and a holiday movie. Most likely, they’ll appreciate the time and effort you spent on creating the meal more than a gift!

On the menu: Vegetarian Pasta, Toasted Garlic Bread and Classic Fudge

A slide show of the meal preparation:  A Romantic Vegetarian Dinner

Vegetarian Pasta

Using a boxed dinner as a base for this recipe cuts the expense and time of purchasing and preparing pasta and sauce separately. 

A hearty pasta ready in less than 30 minutes. Photo: Emily Thomsen

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 – 20 minutes

Serves 4


1 box lasagna hamburger skillet dinner

1 medium zucchini, chopped in half and sliced

1 14.5 oz can Italian style diced tomatoes, drained

1 6.5 oz can pieces and stems mushrooms, drained

2 ¾ cups water

½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)


  1. Coat a large skillet with cooking spray. Sauté zucchini pieces over medium-high heat until slightly browned. Add drained cans of diced tomatoes and mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes.
  2. Stir in 2 ¾ cups water and pasta and pasta sauce from lasagna hamburger skillet dinner box. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. After boiling for approximately one minute, reduce heat to simmer and cover skillet.  
  3. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until the lasagna noodles are tender. [Optional: When there are a few minutes of simmering time remaining, stir in ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes.]
  4. Turn off heat and let the covered skillet stand for about 5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened to desired consistency.

Serve topped with grated parmesan cheese if desired.

Toasted Garlic Bread

Toasted Garlic Bread is a good accompaniment to any pasta dish. If you don’t want to deal with an oven, put a couple of slices of regular sliced bread into the toaster, spread with butter and sprinkle with garlic powder for the same effect with minimal effort.

This bread tastes like you spent all day making it, but it's ready in 10 minutes. Photo: Emily Thomsen

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes 


1 loaf French bread

Garlic power

Butter or vegetarian butter spread

Grated parmesan cheese (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 300°.
  2. Slice the desired number of servings from the loaf of French bread. If slices remain, store in pantry or freezer for later use.
  3. Coat both sides of each slice of bread with butter or vegetarian butter spread and dust lightly with garlic powder.
  4. Bake for 5 minutes. Flip slices. [Optional: Sprinkle tops with grated parmesan cheese.] Bake for an additional 5 minutes or until desired texture is achieved.
  5. Cool slightly and serve.  

Begin preparing the bread after the Vegetarian Pasta has started its 15 minutes of simmering. That way, both the Toasted Garlic Bread and Vegetarian Pasta will be ready to serve at the same time.

Classic Fudge

(Recipe from Kraft Foods)

A holiday dinner calls for a traditional holiday treat: fudge. This quick and easy recipe can be made one to two days before the dinner. As an additional bonus, leftovers can be gifted to friends and coworkers or shared at a holiday party!

A holiday favorite, this recipe is created with the help of the microwave. Photo: Emily Thomsen

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Refrigeration: at least 2 hours

Serves 24


2 packages (8 squares each) semi-sweet chocolate (a common brand is Baker’s)

1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

2 tsp. vanilla

1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)


  1. Line an 8-inch or similar sized pan with tinfoil. Let ends hang over the sides of the pan.
  2. Microwave chocolate and milk in a microwaveable bowl on high for 2 minutes.
  3. Stir the mixture and break up any remaining chunks of chocolate. Microwave for 10 second intervals, stirring after each interval, until all of the chunks have melted and mixture is smooth. Do not over cook – chocolate burns easily!
  4. Stir in 2 tsp vanilla. [Optional: stir in walnuts.]
  5. Spread into the tinfoil lined pan.
  6. Refrigerate for 2 hour hours until firm. Use the tinfoil to remove the fudge from the pan before cutting into pieces.

For a vegan fudge recipe, visit this site.


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