Blog This Blog That...A Short Introduction

A Little Hello
Time to get started, I suppose. First off, this probably won't be a daily blog style, more of a post as I can due to my schedule, but hopefully it'll give you a nice taste of the meals and desserts I've happily grown up with. As well as learning the ropes of how to work the blog...Be on the lookout as I'm sure formatting will continue to change.I hope to use this as a place to share some good recipes with others and learn to improve upon my own cooking skills! After all, the best way to learn is by doing, correct? As an Occupational Therapist I will say, it is important to engage in occupations that we find interesting and meaningful to help improve our everyday quality of life! It just so happens, for me, I am interested in cooking/baking, and writing (So kill two birds with one stone here!). With that all said, I welcome you here, and hope you can find a recipe or two that you throughly enjoy (and can put your own spin on). Happy food hunting :)

May 19, 2011

Baked Ziti

My dad may not like moving away from his staple foods of hearty meat and potatoes, but if you can create a hearty italian dish he will usually enjoy it. I've given you the recipe for spaghetti and meatballs, one that my parents even like, but what other dishes could there be? Well, there is always twice baked spaghetti, but that can get boring. So, what about another pasta dish? My mom has always said go ahead and create! Another favorite dish of ours was my mom's lasagna! So delicious and ooey googey cheese, but I was never one to like cooking with the lasagna noodles. So, one day I decided to make a sort of ziti goolash. if I don't want to use lasagna noodles, why not some other noodles we happened to have on hand. Really I should probably call this Baked Penne, as I usually use penne noodles, but you can substitute the noodles for whatever kind you enjoy! It's a relatively simple meal and packed with cheese! which I quite enjoy =D

1/2 onion
1/2 bell pepper (can use green, red, or mixed)
1 can diced tomatoes (or you can cut up fresh tomatoes)
1 small can tomato paste
1 jar your choice spaghetti sauce
1 package ground turkey (you can use ground beef if you prefer)

Pre-Heat oven to about 325 degrees. Brown the ground turkey in a large deep frying pan on medium/high. While the turkey is browning (stirring occasionally) start your water boiling for the pasta (add a little salt to the water). Check your meat giving it a little stir if needed then go to the cutting board and dice up 1/2 a fresh green or red bell pepper and about 1/2 a fresh onion (I've used vadalia onions or sweet onions). Set those aside and finish browning your meat. Drain the grease and turn down the heat to about medium. By this time usually the water is boiling so turn down the heat to about medium and put the pasta in cooking it for about 7 minutes (stir occasionally). Add your onions/peppers to the meat and simmer until onions are caramelized (stirring occasionally). Keep simmering while you finish the pasta up, drain the pasta (do not rinse).    
Once onions are caramelized, lower heat a little again and add spaghetti sauce to the meat/veggie mixture. I generally eyeball it adding about 1/4 of the jar. Next open the diced tomatoes and pour the entire can in. Next add the small can of tomato paste to give it a little volume. Mix together carefully until well blended. You can add a little fresh basil or extra spices as well depending on how you like your sauce. When it is well blended turn off the burner and then slowly mix in the drained pasta so you have a spaghetti-like mixture. Leave a little pasta to line the bottom of the pan.

Using a 12" baking pan spray the bottom with some cooking spray and put  the unmixed pasta in the bottom as a base. Next put a layer of the pasta/sauce mixture over the plain pasta spreading evenly. Add a nice layer of cheese to top it. Add another layer of the pasta and then top it with more cheese. Continue the layering process until you have none left. I generally add a final layer of cheese to the top and if you have any fresh mozzarella cut up some thin slices and lay it over the very top for the finishing touch! 

Cover the pan with tin foil and put in the oven at 325 for about 20 minutes to bake. Then carefully take out the pan, uncover it, serve, and enjoy! 

Final Thoughts
It may seem like a lot, but really it's a simple recipe, and I've made it with friends and family many a time! Left overs taste quite delicious too! Add a side of garlic bread with it to finish it off. It's a rather adaptable recipe and you can change it as you wish! Hope you enjoy! Happy eats! =D 

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