Posts Tagged ‘pasta night’

Baked Ziti

I love making recipes that I can split in half and freeze the other half ūüėÄ ¬†My family is not a big casserole type family, but they’ll usually go for this Baked Ziti. ¬†It’s hard to resist pasta and “red-sauce” (as my kiddo’s call it) and lots of gooey cheese! ¬†This would be great with French Bread, but I wasn’t on the ball enough to make it today. ¬†I’ve been babying two sick boys (the whole congestion crud with temps and sore throats).

Baked Ziti

  • 1 lb dry ziti pasta
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground sausage
  • 2 Tbsp pizza seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp italian seasoning
  • 2 26oz cans of spaghetti sauce
  • 10 slices of provolone
  • 2 c sour cream
  • 4 c mozzarella, shredded
  • 4 Tbsp parmesan or romano cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. ¬†Heavily grease two 8×8 pans or one 10×15 or one 9×13 (but you’ll want to scale back a little on the cheeses if you go with the 9×13 – mostly because it won’t all fit!). ¬†Boil and prepare pasta according to package directions. ¬†Brown beef and sausage with seasonings; drain off grease. ¬†Add spaghetti sauce. ¬†Simmer for 10-15 minutes. ¬†Layer ingredients as follows and bake for 30-40 minutes.

For two smaller pans:

  1. 2 c ziti
  2. 2 c meat sauce
  3. 5 slices provolone
  4. 1 c sour cream
  5. 2 c ziti
  6. 2 c meat sauce
  7. 2 c mozzarella
  8. 2 Tbsp parmesan/romano

For one pan:

  1. 1/2 of ziti
  2. 1/2 of meat sauce
  3. all of provolone
  4. all of sour cream
  5. rest of ziti
  6. rest of meat sauce
  7. all of mozzarella
  8. all of parmesan

If you’re wondering about the pizza seasoning and the italian seasoning, I got them at Glenn’s Bulk foods that I mentioned about¬†here and here and here. ¬†If you’ve never been there, and you’d like me to pick something up for you (or you have been there and you’d like me pick something up for you :D), let me know. ¬†I’ll probably be making a trip there next week. ¬†Or maybe you’d like to go with me? ¬†Let me know and we can set something up!

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Ciabatta Change

Change – is a difficult thing for me, most of the time. ¬†I like changing stuff around on my computer, aka blog (as you’ve probably noticed…I’m just trying to get it to look just right – my perfectionism at it’s best); I like changing the furniture around in our house; I like changing up recipes. ¬†But when it comes to big life stuff, I don’t handle it so well (friends changing or moving, changes at church, someone else changing my stuff impulsively). However, I’m not one of those kinds that fights it kicking and screaming…just more like sulking and crying ūüėÄ ¬†I also know from experience that it is a necessary process, for growing, for becoming more mature, for gaining wisdom, for becoming the woman God that wants me to be.

Last summer, we noticed a cocoon on the outside of our garage. ¬†It was super cool. ¬†Everyday we’d check on it. ¬†It went from a vibrant green color to black. ¬†At one point, I wasn’t even for sure that it was a cocoon. ¬†But then one day it looked like this:

I could actually see the print of the butterfly.  And by the end of the day it looked like this:

Leave it to God to teach us about patience, change, endurance, beauty through a tiny little butterfly.

So what does this have to do with food?! ¬†Tonight is pasta night and I wanted to make Ciabatta bread to go with it. ¬†I’ve never made this bread b/c of the length of time it takes. ¬†It begins with a starter that has to proof for at least 8 hours, then mixes with some more ingredients and it changes. ¬†Then proofs again for another 2 hours, and it changes again. ¬†Then you shape it and it proofs one more time – for another hour. ¬†However, the outcome from the patience and changing process is beauty:

The length of time is what gives the bread such a deep flavor and the awesome airy pockets in the texture.

God knew what He was doing with nature, with the science of this delicious Ciabatta bread, and He knows what He’s doing with me.

Just for my benefit, I’m gonna repeat that last part…He knows what He’s doing with me.

Ciabatta Bread
1 1/2 c flour
1 c cool water
1/16 tsp instant yeast
all of the starter
1 tsp instant yeast
1 1/2 c flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp dry milk
1/4 c lukewarm water
2 Tbsp olive oil

For Starter: Mix the starter ingredients in a small bowl until well combined. Cover the starter and let it rest at room temperature at least 8 hours, overnight, or for up to 15 hours. It will become bubbly.

Place all of the dough ingredients, including the starter, into the bowl of your mixer, and beat at medium speed, using the flat beater, for 7 minutes. The dough will be very smooth, soft, shiny, and elastic. (it will even look a little runny – if it doesn’t, add 1-2 Tbsp water). ¬†¬†Transfer¬†dough to a greased bowl or other rising container, cover it, and let it rise for 1 hour, deflate it and rise another hour. ¬†Grease your large baking sheet and grease your hands. Transfer dough onto pan and split in two parts, using your hands or a tool of your choice. ¬†Do this very gently as you don’t want to deflate it. It’ll lose a bit of volume, but don’t actively punch it down. Shape into 2 logs. ¬†Let rise for another 45 minutes – 1 hour. ¬†Halfway through, dimple the top with your fingers (this means, just poke it a few times – lol) ¬†Towards the end of this rising, preheat oven to 425 degrees. ¬†Spritz the loaves with water. ¬†Some of the dimples should have disappeared by this time. ¬†Bake 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. ¬†This bread is perfect with pasta, made into garlic toast, used for making sub sandwiches.

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Mexican Beef Soup

Brrrrr – it’s cold outside, guys!! It’s way colder than I thought it was going to be (I thought it was going to be in the 50’s, but I know it didn’t reached that!) I even saw it snowing a little this morning! On days like this, I just want to grab a cup of hot tea, a blanket, and a book or my computer and hibernate. I didn’t have this luxury today seeing as how the dishes were piled up and I hadn’t done laundry since….ummm…..last Thursday and I still needed to get my thank you’s done from Christmas and well, you know how it goes.

I know that tonight is pasta night, and I did make homemade Mac-n-Cheese for the kiddos, but I wanted something a little lower in fat but filling for me & Mike. Here’s what I fixed:
Mexican Beef Soup
1 26oz jar of salsa (I used Great Value Corn & Black Bean from Walmart b/c that’s my favorite and it has the extra veggies & beans; if you like stuff spicy, use hot salsa!)
3 c beef broth (chicken or veggie broth would be fine, too, though)
2 c cooked hamburger (I used our leftovers from last night’s tacos!) (you could even use up leftover roast..yum!)
1 can of corn, undrained

Dump everything in your pot and simmer on the stove until hot or better yet, dump it in your crockpot in the morning, set it on low, and you’ll be good to go for dinner!

I actually fixed this at lunch and it literally took me,

at the max, 20 minutes to throw together and heat up. I topped it with some crushed tortilla chips. YUMMO! Even though I made this at lunch, we’ll be having it again for supper.

Baked Cheesy Macaroni
2 c uncooked pasta
1/4 c flour
2 3/4 c milk
1/2 c cheese powder
3 c shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt (or to taste)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to package. Grease a 2 quart dish. Over medium heat, whisk together flour, cheese powder, and milk. (cheese powder may not want to dissolve – this is okay). Bring to a boil. Remove this from heat and add 2 cups of cheddar, salt, and pepper. Stir until cheddar melts. Add this to cooked pasta and pour all into your greased pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Take out and add remaining 1 cup of cheese. Bake another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

You’ll notice the Diet Coke in the background…you’ll probably see this a lot…. ūüėÄ

I told you yesterday about my visit to Glenn’s Bulk Foods. I also mentioned how much I love this store. I used to buy my specialty baking items online, never knowing this little gem of a store was only a short drive out of Hutchinson. Once I finally went there, I’ve never looked back. I no longer have to pay shipping for all my baking needs (and wants)!!!! When I went there yesterday, I decided to finally try their cheese powder, perfect for making homemade mac-n-cheese. One of the Mennonite ladies working there was willing to share a simple recipe for how to use this powder (and I will try this recipe another time), but I decided to try my own version of a baked mac-n-cheese.

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Last fall I became very frustrated with trying to come up with a variety of meals for my very plane-jane family. I wanted to be creative with my cooking – but they weren’t too interested. So, I came with this idea:

Sunday Lunch – Eat Out
Sunday Dinner – leftovers, popcorn, nachos or cereal
Monday – Mexican
Tuesday – Italian
Wednesday – Parent’s Choice or we eat at church during our Wed’s @ CCC
Thursday – Pizza
Friday – Hamburgers
Saturday – Brunch and/or Brinner (breakfast/dinner)

This has made my life sooooo much more simple. I have the freedom to make my variations with knowing that my family will eat it!!!

Anyhoooo….I’ll be giving you an example of this concept this week. To catch us up, this week’s Mexican Night was Chicken Enchiladas and Italian Night was Bacon Spaghetti.

Chicken Enchiladas
1/2 c bell peppers, chopped
1 c onions, chopped
2 Tbsp butter
1 4oz can chopped green chilies
2 c cooked chicken, shredded
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Flour tortillas

3 Tbsp butter
1/4 c flour
1 tsp coriander
3/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 c chicken broth
8oz sour cream
1/2 c Monterey Jack cheese
Cook bell peppers, onions, and butter until tender. Then add green chilies and chicken. Add 1/2 c of the following sauce.

Sauce: Melt butter in pan. Add flour, coriander and salt. Stir well for about 2 minutes. Add chicken broth, sour cream, and 1/2 c monterey jack cheese.

Add some chicken mixture and some extra monterey jack cheese to each flour tortilla. Roll up and place in greased 9×13 pan. Pour remaining sauce over tortillas. Bake in 350 degree oven till heated through and cheese is melted (about 30 minutes).

Bacon Spaghetti
1 lb bacon, fried & crumbled
1 lb cooked spaghetti
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 Tbsp olive oil
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

Combine garlic and Parmesan cheese with olive oil. Toss cooked spaghetti with bacon and garlic/cheese/olive oil mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

I made the French Bread recipe to go with this….MMM! I dressed up my French Bread by adding oregano to the dough and topped the rustic loaves with butter, sea salt, and more oregano.

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