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Posts tagged as “baked pasta”

Pantry Raid: Baked Penne with Vodka Sauce

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Fact: Anything homemade is always better. Sauces, especially. "Alternative" (ha, ha...) Fact: There are days when ain't nobody got time for that. As far as I'm concerned, there's no shame in opening up a good boxed, canned jarred, or otherwise pre-made sauce from time to time. I've used many -- Italian marinaras and vodka sauces, Indian and Thai simmer sauces... -- for the makings of a quick, easy, and tasty meal on nights when the last thing that I want to do is stand by the stove and cook dinner and take-out isn't the greatest option either. It's true that many pre-made sauces have extra preservatives and salt added to them, which are usually essential in the commercial canning process to ensure taste is consistent over time or from batch to batch. I often check the labels and find the ones with the fewest ingredients (where possible). 9 out of 10 times, these ingredients are also things that I can also easily pronounce. ;) This baked pasta dish is an alternative to a traditional baked ziti with marinara sauce. It starts off very similar to another baked pasta dish that I posted about in the past and recently tweaked to include an easy Alfredo sauce in place of the jarred sauce (although it's perfectly fine to still use jarred in the recipe.) Onions and garlic, an essential foundation of anything that's bound to taste great IMHO, are cooked along with frozen spinach and sun dried tomatoes. A quality vodka sauce (I used Victoria) and cheese are added to cooked pasta in a large skillet, then the whole thing is topped with more cheese and baked. So, clearly the message here is this: baked pasta is extremely versatile and can never be bad. ;) Easy to make ahead and freeze or make the same day, a delicious meal is on the table in just an under an hour.

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

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Crisp fall nights call for baking. Lots of baking. Cookies and cakes are obvious go-tos anytime I choose to bake something sweet. When it comes to savory dishes, though, the first thing that always comes to mind is pasta. There's just something so nice and comforting about taking a big tray of baked, bubbling, cheesy pasta out of the oven. It's instant happiness and a whole meal without putting in a lot of effort. Sometimes, if I'm in the mood, I'll serve a big tray of pasta with a side dish, like a green vegetable or a salad. It can help to feel a little bit better about eating all of that cheesy goodness, even if I know, deep down, that it doesn't make a damn difference. When it comes to naming a so-called king of baked pastas, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone in my house who disagrees with the fact that it's macaroni and cheese (baked ziti, a distant second place.) It's one of the most versatile baked pasta dishes that I can make and everyone loves it. I'm always trying new recipes, too -- adding spinach or other vegetables, bacon, or simply just loading up on different kinds of cheese because more cheese, more better. The best part is that even when a recipe doesn't come out quite as I planned, even bad mac and cheese is good. This is how, on a whim a few years ago, I ended up with this memorable, very orange -- and, dare I say, sort-of healthy -- mac.