This recipe was not a hit with the family. D doesn’t like meat. Berto doesn’t like cheese. The Hubs doesn’t like ground meat or cheddar cheese. Sigh. This meal, to me, was wonderful! I do believe, though, it had less to do with the actual meal than with the fact this dish is true comfort food and it’s been over 100 degrees here in Cali. Maybe dinner would have been more successful had I just served ice cream. Hmmm, things to ponder . . .
1 Lb ground beef (I Texas Longhorn beef from the farmer’s market and it cooked up similar to ground turkey, but still had a wonderful beef flavor)
1 1/2 cups hot water
2 cups milk
2 cups whole grain elbow macaroni (or whatever you have on hand, I used penne)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (I can see any number of types of cheese being used and it being wonderful)
1 1/2 Tbs cornstarch
3 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
Heat a large skillet to meidum high and brown meat. Once cooked, drain any fat that remains.
While meat browns, mix together seasonings in a small bowl. When drained, return meat to skillet and add seasonings, stirring to combine. Pour in hot water, milk, and pasta. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes, or until pasta is cooked.
Stir in cheddar cheese until melted. Remove from heat and let stand for a few minutes until sauce thickens.
Serve immediately with melty garlic bread and a crisp salad.
Wine Pairing Suggestions (because no matter the dish, we always need wine)
Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio
Total time: 25 minutes
I have an almost irrational obsession with baked ziti. And I can pinpoint exactly where it comes from. It was, I’d say, wow, about 10 years ago. My wonderful Hubs (who was not my Hubs yet) invited a coworker to go to dinner with us. We went to Pasta Pomodoro in Rockridge (amazing outside seating with equally amazing heaters). I very clearly remember ordering the very rich and creamy baked ziti. When the waiter brought our food and said, “baked ziti?” I watched in dumb-founded amazement as Hector said, “Yes, right here.” Right here?!?? “No, RIGHT HERE!!!” I silently screamed. I don’t even remember the non-baked ziti dish I ended up with that night. How could I? It wasn’t baked ziti. Ever since that fateful evening I have been on a baked ziti quest. Each variation of a recipe that I try gets put in the “never again” pile, the “hmm, give it one more try” pile, or THIS could be the ONE” pile. I made this ahead for our Tahoe trip. My dad loved it, which is a whole other story, but got it added to the THIS could be the ONE pile. 🙂
16 oz dry ziti pasta
1 small / medium onion chopped (depends on preference)
1 lb extra lean ground beef (can sub turkey or chicken)
2 (26 oz) jars pasta sauce (such as Classico Tomato & Basil)
6 oz sliced provolone cheese
1 1/2 cups sour cream
6 oz mozzarella, shredded
2 Tbs grated Parmesan
Add ziti to slightly salted boiling water. You want to cook to al dente because this dish will go in the oven.
Over medium – high heat, in a large skillet, sweat onions until soft, add ground beef. Once browned, add pasta sauce and simmer 15 minutes.
While simmering sauce, preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9×13″ baking pan with nonstick spray. Layer 1/2 of the ziti, provolone cheese, sour cream, 1/2 sauce mixture, remaining ziti, mozzarella cheese and remaining sauce mixture. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
Bake 30 minutes, or until cheeses are melted
Wine Pairing Suggestions:
Total time: 1 hour
*Derived from AllRecipes.com
Have you ever seen a 5 and 6-year-old attempt to eat spaghetti? Let me tell you, it isn’t pretty. And neither is the table, chairs, the floor, and their clothes when they are done. Especially my son, who is 6. He LOVES to hold that long dangly noodle as far aways from his mouth as he can and try to suck it in. I know, I know, we’ve all done that, but not when I was the one doing the laundry! And then there is sauce all over the place, including his face. His little sister thinks it’s awesome to copy her brother. You can see where I’m going with this and what my dining room looks like when dinner is over. I thought my problem was solved when Barilla started selling their cut pasta. How smart was that?? Already cut pasta! But then I discovered that was almost harder for them to eat because the cut pieces would slip and slide off their fork. So we tried spoons. Same thing. So, I went back to using elbow macaroni, penne, rotini, rigatoni, etc. And that usually results in wrinkled noses and requests to make “pascetti”. Not this time, though! They were perfectly happy with the elbows and my son even had 2 helpings! PS – You can easily make this vegetarian by subbing the meat with mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant whatever you have.
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbs olive oil
1 lb lean ground beef
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz) can water
1/2 can tomato paste
8 oz elbow macaroni
1 Tbs Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cook pasta according to package directions.
Add olive oil to a large nonstick skillet. Sauté onions and garlic over medium high heat until translucent, 2 – 3 minutes. Add ground beef and cook until browned, then spoon off any grease. Add tomatoes, water, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper to skillet with beef and onion mixture. Turn heat down to low and allow to cook 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While sauce bubbles away, drain pasta. When sauce is done, slowly add pasta to sauce and mix to combine. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese.
Wine Pairing Suggestions:
Prep time: 10 minutes; Total time: 35 minutes
*Original Serves 4 recipe
- Spaghetti carbonara: Italy’s comfort food (inmamastephskitchen.com)
- Classic spaghetti and meatballs (kindaorganic.wordpress.com)
- Pasta e patate (monfoodblog.com)
Sometimes it can really be tough to cook food for someone from their native country. The flavors and texture have to be what they are used to, what they grew up with. For a lot of people, food has so much meaning and can transport them back to their childhood, which for me personally, is my goal. And I want to create those memories for my kids. It does not, however, always work. I thought this dish was good, maybe not the absolute best I’ve ever done (after all, it’s not salmon) but certainly good. My littlest foodies thought it was too spicy. The Hubs didn’t like it at all. Wouldn’t even eat it. He and the kids had quesadillas. And I get it, he’s from Mexico and this was enchilada sauce from a can. I’m sure, compared to home cooking, well, I’m sure there IS no comparison. Suffice it to say, no memories were created and no one was transported back to their childhood. And me? I’m now on the hunt for a quick, yet simple, enchilada sauce I can make and use during the week that will hold up to the memory. Or will make some new ones.
1 lb lean ground beef
3/4 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs Morton & Bassett Mexican Blend seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 (10 oz) cans preferred enchilada sauce
10 (6 inch) corn tortillas
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
Sour cream (optional)
Preheat oven to 375. In large nonstick skillet, brown ground beef, onions, and garlic until beef is thoroughly cooked, stirring frequently. Drain. Add Mexican blend seasoning, salt, and pepper, mix well. Remove from heat.
Pour 1 can enchilada sauce in bottom of ungreased 13×9 glass baking dish. Arrange 5 tortillas in dish, overlapping slightly. Spoon beef mixture evenly over tortillas, sprinkle with half of the cheese; top with remaining 5 tortillas. Pour remaining can of enchilada sauce over top. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Bake at 375 for 20 to 25 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve with sour cream.
Wine Pairing Suggestions:
Prep time: 20 minutes; Total time: 45 minutes
- Easy Beef Enchiladas (formulamom.com)
- The Whole Enchilada (johnsha42.wordpress.com)
- And All You Ask Is Why I’m Certain You’re Holding On (cantbelievehowstrangeitis.wordpress.com)
Tonight was the first night, as my family snuffled quietly in their beds and I retreated downstairs to make sure all of the windows were closed (or to pour another glass of wine, maybe?) that I smelled fall. I leaned over the kids’ tub to close the window and stopped short. That unmistakable smell, even here in Cali, was fall. How can that be? It seems like just yesterday I was filled with the excitement of all summer had to offer. Finally one drop off as Berto heads into the first grade and D into kindergarten. A summer filled with swimming; catching our first lizard; saying goodbye to my sweet, sweet German shepherd Lobo; growing tomatoes and basil in our first attempts at a garden; surfing for the first time; losing 2 bottom teeth (resulting in feeling oh so big now); day trips; a vacation; and, the return of summer hours at my office. But all of that is coming to a close, with a shiver in the early evening air. Makes me glad there is always comfort food. And, what is better comfort food than pasta?
The wonderful thing about this dish is all of the possible meat options. Feeling healthier than extra lean ground beef? Sub ground turkey or chicken. For something different try pork or sausage (be sure to removed the casings first!). How about going even meatier? Use ground sirloin. Or, you can make it vegetarian like I did tonight by subbing the meat with mushrooms.
1 (9 oz) pkg fresh linguine
1/2 lb extra lean ground beef / or the item you are subbing
1/2 cup pre chopped onion (I use prepared veggies as often as possible, such a time saver)
1 Tbs minced garlic
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbs tomato paste
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano (whatever you have on hand; shaved, grated, shredded)
Handful of basil leaves, sliced thinly (nothing like walking into the backyard and picking your own basil!)
Cook pasta according to package directions. Omit oil and salt. Drain and return pasta to pot.
While pasta cooks, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef, onion, garlic, oregano, and salt; cook 5 minutes, or until beef is browned, stirring to crumble. Stir in tomato paste; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add tomatoes. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 3 minutes or until thickened. Serve over pasta and top with cheese and basil.
Total time: 30 minutes
*Derived from Cooking Light
- Linguine Amatriciana (Pasta with Bacon and Tomato Sauce) (fatsandbird.com)
- Linguine with Asparagus and Tomato (skinnychefdecuisine.wordpress.com)
- Shrimp Linguine (spoonful.com)