Baked Pasta with Cheese and Smoked Salmon

“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”
― Joseph Campbell

It nearly slipped over my radar. However, on the 2nd of January, I realized that the new year marked “Produce with Amy’s”10 YEAR BLOGAVERSARY!

While I may not have found fame and fortune in 10 years like some bloggers do, I feel rather accomplished. I set a goal to share my love of cooking, nutrition, growing flowers and vegetables, writing, photography – and the hopes that it would encourage myself, and others, to be more productive and healthy. I can proudly say that I have stuck with this goal!

I have been through a lot of changes over these years. I went from eating 100% plant based meals, to eating vegetarian, to adding meat back into my diet.

In the past 10 years I have gone through other major life changes. I felt the anguish of divorce, remarried and became a police wife, became a step-mom, found my place on a farm, quickly transitioned to a Crazy-Chicken-Lady and Queen of a large pack of dogs, and bought a piece of retirement property in Alaska.

As a writing teacher, I tell my students that our writing is a time capsule. It documents our personal and professional growth. It helps us understand where we have been, where we are, and where we are going. It teaches us to value and tell our stories.

My little blog may not have generated my own cooking show or my own line of dishes or merchandise. However, it has opened up some opportunities. I have forged supportive long-distance friendships, authored several pieces of writing for Weight Watchers, gave me the courage to become a vendor at the Skandia Farmers Market, and I found my own little nook of a column to share with others in the publication “Marquette Neighbors”. At times being a blogger makes my family shake their heads when we go somewhere and someone recognizes me and says, “Hey, aren’t you Produce with Amy”? That always makes me smile. 

As a blogger, I do spend a great deal of time on social media. The recipe that I am going to share with you was a viral recipe from Tik Tok. I have seen it referred to as “Tik Tok Pasta” – though, like all my recipes, I gave it my own touch.

In our house I consider cooking as my #1 love language. It is how I nurture and take care of my family. Therefore, I consider this a perfect dish for Valentine’s Day.

I wanted to create a special dish for my husband because he does so much for me and our family. One of his favorite places in the world is Alaska, specifically the Chena Hot Springs. Whenever we go there he makes sure to have their Smoked Salmon Pasta. While I will never be able to completely recreate that meal – as beautiful and sacred as Skandia is to us – it is not Alaska. However, my husband gave this recipe a 100% approval rating. 

Some versions of this pasta use a block of feta cheese or a log of goat cheese. However, I made it with Boursin brand cheese (Garlic and Fine Herbs). It can be found in the deli section of most grocery stores.

Baked Pasta with Cheese and Smoked Salmon

*1 package of Boursin cheese
*1 package of penne pasta (cooked)
*1/2 pint of cherry tomatoes (cut in ½)
*½ container of sliced mushrooms
*¼ cup of chopped onion
*Tablespoon of minced garlic
*2 Tablespoons of olive oil
*¼ cup of chopped bell pepper (I used orange)
*Tablespoon Italian seasoning
*¼ cup of heavy cream
*¼ cup of pasta water (reserved from the pasta)
*½ cup of mozzarella cheese
*2 4 ounce packages of Smoked salmon (I used cajun flavored. I find at Meijers by the fish counter)
*Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 425. In a baking dish add the tomatoes, mushrooms, onion, garlic, bell pepper, Italian seasoning, olive oil, and a dash of salt and pepper. In the middle add your Boursin Cheese (or the feta or goat cheese). Bake for 25 minutes.

Add the cooked pasta, heavy cream, pasta water, mozzarella cheese, and smoked salmon to the baking dish. Mix well and cook for another 15 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

This summer I made different varieties of this pasta based on what we had in our garden: tomatoes, green beans, zucchini, broccoli, and fresh basil was an instant hit.

You could also leave this dish meatless or add chicken, shrimp, or steak. I think it would be a wonderful time saving meal with leftover vegetables and meat from grilled kabobs.

I hope you like this recipe and I am thankful for your support over the years. It is my ultimate goal to encourage others to be adventurous with food and to eat more vegetables. I hope my words and photos urge others to appreciate the beauty in the simple things of life. To set a pretty table and to take the time to make something homemade. To stop and breathe, to give oneself space and grace, and to step out of stuffy comfort zones. In the past 10 years I have learned that if you feel uncomfortably hemmed in – it’s paramount that you change your stars and your trajectory.

Do not be afraid to take risks. You never know, you may find yourself buying a piece of property in Alaska and realizing a dream that you never even knew existed. 

Chena Hot Springs in the summer time.
Mama moose and her babies at Chena Hotsprings in July of 2020 when we were there.

In February of 2021, John and I went on early “spring break” vacation to Alaska. The hot springs is incredible in the winter and the steam instantly freezes your hair.
The entry way to the hot springs is coated in frost. It is absolutely magical!
My husband took me to the hot springs for our 1st anniversary/honeymoon. We waited a year to go on our honeymoon. I fell deeper in love with John and also in love with Alaska.
One of the reasons we went to Alaska in February was so I could see the northern lights. The aurora did not disappoint. It was -40 degrees when I captured these photos.

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