Friday, May 20, 2011

Mother's Day Baked Ziti

The blog layout finally changed! It's got 99% less birds, 100% less stripes, and 100% more food. Looking at that picture does make me wish I had more of those tacos, though... I'll add them back onto the list of recipes I need to make. First on the list is everything I ate in England. I swear I'll get to that before it's been a full year.

I wasn't sure what I should have shared today. As the first day of my meatless month thought it'd be fitting to share something vegetarian, but I don't have anything vegetarian I've been waiting to share. I was tempted to post the last muffin recipe I have stored just to make it three muffins in a row, but I decided a real meal every now and then is a good idea too.

Not that I couldn't live off muffins. You can put fruits and veggies in those, so don't let anyone tell you a muffin isn't a complete meal.

Mother's day was almost two weeks ago, which is years in blog time. But I never shared when we cooked up for Mama Bird, and that's really a shame, because it was a very filling meal that lasted us for quite a few days.

Yes, I said what 'we' cooked up. Sister Bird and I told Mama Bird that we would take care of dinner for her on Mother's day. I originally was hoping to make her stuffed zucchini, but Sister Bird isn't quite on-board with my desire to be trying new food, so she vetoed it as soon as it was suggested. But since Mama Bird been's bragging to her about what a good cook I am now, she still wanted me to come up with something for us to make.

One thing I've learned about my sister over the years is that she loves meaty, cheesey pasta dishes. So I told her we should make ziti. She vetoed the meatless version, too. It was not a terribly healthy dinner, but you can't win them all.

We also decided to make garlic bread. If I had thought about it more, I would have prepared it differently, but I am rarely known for thinking ahead.

So I just melted some butter, minced some garlic, and stirred them together for a little, then put them on the bread. It was super garlic-y.

Luckily everyone in my life loves garlic. A lot.

So, if I had thought ahead for the garlic bread, I would not have melted the butter, but just left it soften. Then I could have stirred the minced garlic into it, spread it on the bread, and then broiled it. That would have made sense, instead of spooning melted butter and slightly cooked garlic onto pieces of bread.

The baked ziti was HUGE. I don't mean 'oh, it fed our family and we had leftovers the next day' huge. I mean it fed all four of us, Sister Bird took another fourth of it to school with her, and Mama Bird and I ate it for lunch for another four days. It was so bulky that when I put it in the oven it scraped up against the top. There's still melted cheese in the oven now, and you smell it whenever you use the oven.

It's been annoying Mama Bird quite a bit. Happy Mother's Day?

These pictures were extremely rushed, because we were all quite hungry by the time it came out of the oven. Well, I saw all of us, but maybe it was just me. It's so hard to tell sometimes.

Overall, it was a little sweet for me. I don't care for sweetness in most main dishes, and although I think my family agreed it was slightly sweet, no one else had that problem. Don't get me wrong: this was still a meaty, cheesy, pile of delicious pasta. I would have just upped the red pepper flakes and most likely included Sriracha if I had been making it for myself and friends instead of Mama Bird. I also think this was really closer to 16 servings than 12, but we had eaten signifcant salads and a fair bit of super garlic-y bread before we really got into it.

Recipe from Simply Recipes.
(Makes 12 6 ounce servings, with 441 calories and $2.37 per serving)

  • 1 pound ziti pasta
  • 1 pound ground beef, pork, sausage, or a mix
  • 1 onion
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 3/4 tablespoon basil
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary
  • 1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 32 ounces marinara sauce
  • 1/2 pound mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1 cup parmesan
    1. Preheat oven to 350.
    2. Bring a pot of water to boil, and cook pasta.
    3. Brown the meat, adding onion and garlic whenever desired.
    4. Add herbs once meat has been browned, and stir well.
    5. Cook about a minute, then add tomato sauce and bring to a simmer.
    6. Spread a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of casserole pan.
    7. Spread half of the ricotta over the sauce.
    8. Mix some of the sauce with the pasta, and then add to pan.
    9. Spoon the remaining sauce over the pasta, and layer with cheese.
    10. Bake in the oven until top is browned, about 20 minutes.

    Today's lessons learned:
    • When putting stuff in the oven, make sure there's enough room for it. If not, move the racks down.
    • Don't get cheese inside the oven, it will smell like burning for weeks.
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