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.

Baked Ziti – II (Another Version)

Gooey, and so delicious.

1 lb. box ziti or penne pasta
1 lb. bulk sweet Italian sausage
1 lb. ground beef
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 minced garlic cloves
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
32 oz. of marina sauce – I used Barilla – or your own homemade
1/2 lb. grated mozzarella cheese
1 full cup of ricotta cheese
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 pan, set aside. Cook the pasta, drain & set aside. Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil then add the meats until almost fully browned over med-high heat. Add the onion and spices, stir, add the sauce and keep warm until pasta is drained.

Place about 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of your pan and spread out. Plop some ricotta cheese in dollops on top of the sauce – use half of the ricotta. Mix pasta and suce together then spread into the pan. Plop the rest of the ricotta on top then sprinkle the mozzarella on top of that. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until bubbly and top is browned.


Pasta & Sausage Bake

img_0146.jpgI never cooked with chicken sausages until I tweaked a recipe I found, and came up with this marvelous creation. Although you will need to spread out and use several pots and pans, it’s well worth it.

1 lb. of rigatoni (I use Barilla)
1 lb. chicken sausage in links (or pork sausage, whatever works for you)
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 red pepper, sliced
1 yellow onion, diced
4 minced garlic cloves (or more, to taste)
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 28-oz. can of crushed tomatoes
Sprinklings of parsley – or fresh if you have it
About 6 fresh, torn basil leaves
1 cup of ricotta cheese
1+ cup Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese

Get our your large pot and begin cooking the pasta. As that is getting ready, pierce each of the sausages a couple of times with a fork then place in a large skillet pan. Add about 1-1/2 inches of water and pour in about 1 Tbsp. of oil. Bring this pan to a boil, then reduce it to a slight boil/simmer. Let the sausages cook until and the water boils away- this takes about 10+ minutes. Take the sausages out of pan and set aside to cool a bit; slice into coins – set aside.

Then get out another skillet – a deep one – (I know there’s a lot of pans and a colander involved, but it’s worth the extra dishes) and add 2 Tbsp. oil. When that gets hot, add the peppers, onions, garlic and salt & pepper. Add your sliced sausages and cook this for about 10 minutes. Add the stock and stir in the can of tomatoes, bring to a low boil, then reduce to low heat. Keep simmering for another 10 minutes to meld the flavors.

Now, preheat your broiler

Back to the pasta – drain it and place back into the warm pot you cooked it in. Add the ricotta cheese and salt & pepper to your taste. Then add the parsley, basil and the 1 cup of grated cheese.

Last but not least, get out a large baking dish. Put half of the sausage & sauce mix on the bottom, top with all of the pasta and as gently as you can spread it around, then add the remaining sauce mixture. Sprinkle grated cheese on top, then place, uncovered, under the broiler for about 2-5 minutes. The cheese slightly browns and it sets the dish.

Dig in!

Greek Style Spaghetti

This goes together quickly and easily so it works well for me on full work days. Pair it with almost any grilled or roasted meat.

1 pound cooked and drained linguine or fettuccine
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Medium red or yellow onion, peeled & diced
3 Tbsp. minced garlic, or 3 minced garlic cloves
6 oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts
1 small can sliced black olives or 12 Greek-style pitted olives
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
4 oz. crumbed feta cheese

Cook the pasta according to package directions and set aside in a large bowl. Heat the oil in a large skillet then add onion and garlic to saute for 2 minutes. Drain artichokes reserving juice, cut them in half and set aside. Add reserved juice, olives, Italian seasoning and lemon juice to the pan, mix well and heat for 3 minutes. Add the artichokes and heat through. Combine this with the cooked pasta, add the cheeses, mix well and serve warm or cold.

Baked Ziti – I

img_0235.jpgThis is a family favorite, and it’s easy on the cook. It makes a nice, big pan-full so you may have leftovers. A large, green salad alongside makes for a perfect meal and it won’t make you nuts with a ton of pots and pans.

16 oz. box uncooked ziti (I use Barilla)
2) 24 oz. jars spaghetti sauce (I use Newman’s Own Marinara)
16 oz. ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 beaten egg
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Get out a large baking dish. Cook the pasta for 10 minutes, drain, then place into a large bowl.

In a medium bowl, empty the ricotta and add the Parmesan beaten egg, and the spices; mix well with a wooden spoon, then mix this into the large bowl with the pasta. Mix in 2 cups spaghetti sauce – set aside.

Spread 1/2 cup sauce on the bottom of the baking dish, spread the pasta mixture evenly in the pan; top this off with 1-1/2 cups spaghetti sauce then sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over.

Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes – it will be bubbly and hot. Remove from oven and let set for 10 minutes.

Lazy Day Lasagna

This is from the back of the box of Barilla No-Boil Lasagna Noodles. We just love it!

1 box Barilla no boil lasagna noodles
2 eggs
15 oz. container Ricotta cheese
16 oz. shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 lb. ground beef or Italian sausages -cooked, crumbled, drained
2-26oz. jars Barilla Marinara Sauce (I prefer Paul Newman’s Marinara)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray baking pan (13 x 9 x 2) with non-stick cooking spray. Remove 16 noodle sheets from box. In medium bowl, beat eggs. Stir in ricotta, 2 cups of mozzarella and the Parmesan.

When layering lasagna, slightly overlap sheets. Lasagna will expand to the edges during cooking. Spread fillings to edges to seal in and cook the lasagna during baking. Layer in the following order:
1. Spread 1 cup of sauce on bottom of baking pan.
2. Layer 4 sheets, 1/3 of ricotta mixture, 1/2 of meat, 1 cup of mozzarella, 1 cup sauce.
3. Layer 4 sheets, 1/3 of ricotta mixture, and 1-1/2 cups sauce.
4. Layer 4 sheets, the remaining ricotta mixture and meat, and 1 cup sauce.
5. Layer 4 sheets, the remaining sauce, and remaining 1 cup of mozzarella.
Bake, covered, with foil and placed on a large rimmed sheet (it may spill over) about 50-60 minutes. Uncover and bake 5 more minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting.

Spray the aluminum foil prior to placing it over the lasagne before going into the oven. It really helps it to not stick.

Amanda’s Macaroni Salad

Another great macaroni salad whereas the flavor improves if you make it at least four hours ahead of time.  A minimalists macaroni salad.

1 lb. elbow macaroni
1 Tbs. vegetable (canola oil)
1/2 a green pepper, seeded & diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/4 a red onion, peeled & diced
1 tsp. celery salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. chopped, fresh parsley
1/4 cup mayo
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. fresh, ground, black pepper OR 1 tsp. ground

Cook, drain, rinse pasta with cold water until it has cooled off; drain again and place into bowl.  Add the oil, peppers, celery, onion and mix well.  Add the celery salt, garlic powder and chopped parsley and mix well again. Add the mayo, salt & pepper, and mix very, very well to combine.  Cover with plastic wrap, place in the fridge until serving.  Mix well again before serving.

Sweet Kugel

Sweet noodle Kugel is such a versatile dish – you can eat it with a meal or afterward with coffee or tea. The bonus is it’s good warm or cold.

1/2 pound (half a bag) broad egg noodles
4 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup butter
1/2 pound cottage cheese
8 ounces sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 and take out a 1-quart, lightly greased casserole dish.

Cook the noodles according to the package.  Meanwhile, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Drain, but don’t rinse the noodles and place back into the pot. Combine the rest of the ingredients up to the graham cracker crumbs, then fold in the egg whites. Sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs on top. Place in oven for about 40 minutes, or until golden brown.

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.


Spice Rub Pasta Salad

img_0116.jpgWhat a delicious idea! Put together a spice rub, mix it into rinsed, cold pasta, then add whatever else you want such as green and/or black olives, diced ham or salami, drained artichoke hearts – you have endless possibilities here. Oh, then you add your choice of Italian dressing. You’re gonna love it.

Spice Rub Mix:

2 Tbsp. grated cheese
2 tsp. sesame seeds OR see below
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. poppy seeds
1/2 tsp. celery seed
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

1 box pasta of your choice (I used Barilla penne)

8 oz. Italian dressing – your pick, whisked with 2 tsp. sesame oil if not using seeds

Prepare the pasta; drain well then rinse with cold water and drain again. Place in a serving bowl and sprinkle, mix, sprinkle, mix the spice rub mix in. Then add your Italian dressing and anything else you wanna put in there. Mix very well and either refrigerate till serving or serve now. The taste improves over longer refrigeration time.