Sandy’s Baked Macaroni

Ah, such a nostalgic 70’s dish. Use a large spoon to scoop up a serving and eat alongside garlic bread and a green, crunchy salad.

1 box ziti pasta
1-1/2 lb. ground beef
2 jars marinara sauce (I use Paul Newmann’s)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 medium-sized bag shredded mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and take out a large baking pan, set aside.

Meanwhile, cook pasta as package directs and in a separate skillet, brown the ground beef, drain.  Into a large bowl, combine all the ingredients up to the grated cheese and mix well. Spread into large baking dish, sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top. Cover with foil and bake about 30 minutes, until bubbly. Remove foil and bake 5 minutes longer. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.

Minestrone

This cooks in about 45 minutes. A tasty weeknight meal you can serve with sandwiches – perhaps grilled cheese with bacon or tomato.

3/4 cup+ 4 cups water
1 small, diced onion
2 carrots, peeled & diced
2 large potatoes, peeled & diced
1 med green pepper, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
3 minced garlic cloves or more to taste
8 oz. can tomato sauce
14 oz. can white beans – drained & rinsed
2 – 14 oz. cans chicken broth
1 small stick pepperoni or beef or chorizo, peeled & diced
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
Salt & pepper to taste
1/4 – 1/2 cup uncooked ditalini

Get all the ingredients ready and onto the counter. Into the pot you’ll be making this soup, place the 3/4 cup water, bring to a boil then add the onion. Boil steadily for 3 minutes, then add all the rest of the ingredients up to the ditalini (you’ll add that later). Bring to a boil again, then simmer on med-low for 30 minutes. Add the ditalini, bring to a boil, simmer for 15 more minutes.

Sunday Sauce

I grew up around a lot of Italians where the families always made a Sunday Sauce or gravy. They’d even bring “baked macaroni” along on all the park picnic outings. While the sauce simmered on the stove it drove us all crazy with it’s aroma! Here is my rendition.

1 lb. piece of steak, cut into small chunks
1 lb. piece of pork loin, (2 boneless pork chops) cut into chunks
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, cut into chunks
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
3 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
1 recipe of meatballs – (see Beef category for my recipe)

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic. A few pieces at a time, add the meats and cook for about 5 minutes turning them around frequently until they are nicely browned on all sides. As the meats brown, with a slotted spoon, remove them from the pan and set aside. When the garlic begins to brown, remove that and toss out.

In a small bowl, whisk together the tomato paste with 1/4 cup cold water and stir this into the oil. Cook this while stirring for 3 minutes. Pour in the crushed tomatoes, then fill one of the cans with cold water and add that to the pot, then raise the heat to a low boil. Return all the meat to the pot, scraping all the juices in. Let this boil for 5 full minutes. Lower the heat and cover the pan partially. Simmer for 2-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. After 2 hours, add the meatballs, if using, and let them simmer for the last 30 minutes. Remove from heat and serve over pasta. Pass the grated cheese and dig in!