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.

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!

Slow Cooker Tomato Meat Sauce

Serve over your favorite pasta now, freeze some for later. This makes a big batch so you’ll need a big crockpot. Sprinkle some grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano over top.

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 yellow onions, diced
4 minced garlic cloves
2 pounds ground beef
Five of the 29 oz. cans of tomato sauce
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. dried basil

Warm the olive oil in a large skillet then add onons and cook about 5 minutes – until softened, add garlic and cook another minute. Add the ground beef and cook until browned, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, lightly grease the crockpot. When beef is browned, scrape into crockpot, add the tomato sauce, cover, set on low and cook for 8 hours – At the four hour mark, add the spices then cook 4 more hours.


Macaroni Salad

This is straightforward and very adaptable to any other veggies you may wish to add. Reminder: tomatoes & cucumbers don’t adapt well in a salad that is kept stored – they get mushy. Serve them on the side or add them at the last minute before serving.

1 lb. box of elbow or small shell macaroni
1 cup mayonnaise (I only use Hellmann’s)
1/4 cup spicy brown mustard – (don’t use plain mustard)
1 tsp. brown sugar
4 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrots

Cook the macaroni according to package directions. Drain & cool it under cold running water. Drain well. Place in a large bowl.

In separate small bowl, whisk the mayo, mustard, sugar, garlic, salt & pepper. Mix well into pasta; taste and adjust, if needed. Add the celery, carrots and/or any other veggies you want. Refrigerate it now or you can serve it now.

See my “A Few Tid Bits” Category for trying it with wheat pasta.

Rigatoni & Sausage

You’ll get so many requests to make this that you won’t need a written recipe. Delicious with a crispy green salad or broccoli and some garlic bread. I doubt you’ll have any leftovers – we never do.

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1-1/2 lbs. (about 6 links) good quality sweet Italian Sausages
1 onion chopped
4 garlic cloves
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 – 1 Cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
1 lb. box Rigatoni

In a deep, large-sized skillet, heat the oil on medium heat. Add the garlic and cook it till it’s golden – this takes about a minute. Add the onion and sausages and cook, breaking up the sausages with a wooden spoon – this takes about 10 minutes. Turn the heat to high, and brown the sausage mixture for about 10 minutes. If the heat seems too high, lower it a bit, but don’t turn it too low, you want it to crisp the sausages. Stir and scrape the browned bits from the bottom, then add the can of sauce, salt & pepper to taste – stirring. Reduce the heat to medium and cook/simmer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the rigatoni. Before you drain it, reserve 1 cup of the hot cooking water; drain and return it to the pot. Add the sauce mixture to the pot of rigatoni, stir, add the reserved cooking water and the grated cheese stirring for about 1 minute. Serve.

Spinach Pesto with Penne

I try to come up ways to use those baby spinach bags I buy from the produce section, and this worked out quite well. It’s a great way to get your spinach. You do need a food processor or blender for this.

3 cups fresh baby spinach, stems removed
2 cups fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 stick melted butter
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, crushed or 1 heaping tsp. minced
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 lb. penne pasta

In a food processor, combine the first 8 ingredients and process until smooth. Leave in processor and set aside.

Cook the pasta until desired taste. Drain, but reserve 1/3 cup of hot cooking water. Place pasta back into pot. Carefully blend the hot liquid into puree and then scrape out onto pasta. Mix & toss. Serve immediately.