Monday, March 14, 2011

Sunday Dinner- Baked Ziti

My grandparents are Italian. When I was a kid I remember them making homemade spaghetti noodles for Sunday dinner. They are in their 80s now, and still make homemade sauce. And boy is it good!!!

It takes the two of them many hours to create their homemade sauce. (And, honestly who has hours to make sauce when you can get carry out or buy it in a jar) They each have their own jobs when it comes to the creation, and they make a huge batch, portion it, and freeze it. I have never tasted sauce as amazing as theirs. (And I have been handed down the recipe- and have actually made it once, but it was time consuming!)

But, this recipe is a Cheaters Italian dinner. Nothing about it was difficult, except going to the grocery store on a Sunday to purchase all of the ingredients!

The recipe that I used/altered is from Joy's Hope blog. And, it is referred to as "Cheater Cheater Baked Ziti"
Sounds like something I can do!!


1 lb of tube pasta
1 lb of lean ground beef
 (I prefer ground turkey, but unfortunately it was not on sale this week, so beef it was)
2 jars of red sauce (I used Hunt's Four Cheese)
1/2 cup Half & Half
Shredded Mozzarella
Parmesan Cheese (I used 3 Cheese Italina Mix, Romano, Par., & Asiago)
Fresh Garlic
Fresh Parsley
Onions (Or Onion Salt)
1/2 tsp. Italian Seasoning

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Brown & drain Ground Beef. (I use 97% lean ground beef)

Prepare Pasta according to package.(Tip- add a little salt and olive oil into the water)
While beef is browning, and pasta is cooking, put 3/4 of your red sauce in a pot. Add half & half, italian seasoning, Fresh chopped garlic, fresh chopped parsley, Onion or Onion Salt, and a handful of the Parm mixture. Simmer on low heat until your pasta is cooked.

Add drained  ground beef to the sauce mixture, and stir until evenly coated.

Put drained Pasta into a 9X13 baking dish.

Pour sauce/meat mixture onto the pasta,

then sprinkle parm cheese on top. Cover with Mozarella Cheese.
We love Mozarella, so I use a lot!! (But the receipe calls for 2 cups)

Cover with aluminum foil, and cook for 35 minutes.
After 35 minutes, remove foil, and cook for an additional 10 minutes uncovered.

Mozarella should be slightly brown/golden, and sauce should be bubbling when ready!

Let this cool for about 10 minutes prior to serving.

I always make extra sauce to pour on top of the portions when served. . (I use the remaining 1/4 of the red sauce, add parm cheese mixture and some half and half)

I made homemade Brazilian Cheese Bread with the Ziti. It was just ok, and I am not going to share that recipe, as it cost too much money to make, and didn't turn out as good as expected.

I would serve this with frozen Texas Toast Garlic Bread in the future!


Me- Pros:EASY PEASY recipe, great taste, lots of leftovers
        Cons: Way too much food for 3 of us, I need to adjust portions or have people over for dinner
Scott- Very good taste, "I'm getting used to you cooking on the weekends"
E- "Mommy, can I have more, this is really good!"
J- E's friend was over for dinner..I really like it, I think my mom has made something like this before!

This is a keeper recipe that will be used again!         

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