Baked Penne/Ziti with Mini Meatballs

It’s Sunday night and I seriously have no idea what to write today. I seem to be completely out of words! So, I’m just going to stick to the recipe!! ūüôā

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This is baked “Penne” – Ziti … with Mini meatballs …

Inspired by Giada’s recipe:¬†http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/baked-ziti-with-meatballs-recipe.html

First, I used my own recipe for the meatballs, because I don’t put dairy or eggs in them. If you’d like to refer to it, the link is here:¬†https://dancinandcookininthekitchen.com/2014/08/22/italian-orecchiette-pasta-bowl-with-homemade-meatballs-and-tomato-sauce/

Make the meat balls as listed above, and then set them aside.

Ingredients

Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ziti or penne
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 jars pasta sauce of your choice
1 cup whole milk ricotta
1 tsp dried oregano
2 Tb fresh basil
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 TB butter

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Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large pot, bring 4-5¬†quarts of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain pasta in a colander and set aside. If not using immediately, cover top with plastic wrap so that pasta does not dry out. Do not rinse pasta with water since you want to retain the pasta’s natural starches so that the sauce will cling to the ziti or penne.

In a large skillet heat the oil over medium-high heat. When almost smoking, add meatballs in batches and without moving or turning the meat, allow it to brown for about 3 minutes. Turn meatballs and brown other side. Continue to cook until all sides are golden brown. Remove meatballs to a plate.

In a large bowl, combine the spaghetti sauce and ricotta and mix well. Add the cooked penne and meatballs and toss gently.

In a large greased baking dish, pour in pasta mixture. Sprinkle the mozzarella, Parmesan, and remaining Romano all over the top. Dot with the butter. Place baking dish on top of baking sheet covered with aluminum foil to collect any drippings from the dish. Bake until top is golden brown and bubbly, about 30 to 40 minutes.

And… ENJOY!!!!

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Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/baked-ziti-with-meatballs-recipe.html?oc=linkback

And now, for the quote of the day:

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Italian Orecchiette Pasta Bowl with Homemade Meatballs and tomato sauce

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So after John’s recent cravings (not unusual) for spicy and Mexican food… I’ve been craving pasta!!!! And lots of it! I have had low to no carb recipes here lately too, so had to get my craving satisfied for some Italian food! So, I went to Giada on FoodNetwork.com. Where else would you go for a good Italian meal?! I mean, seriously!! Here is her original recipe that I changed up a bit:¬†http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/orecchiette-with-mini-chicken-meatballs-recipe.html

So, I liked her recipe, but I am not a ground chicken or turkey kind of person. I just cannot do it. So, I made my own usual meatballs that I usually make for Levi. They are dairy and egg free, and one of his absolute FAVORITE meals!! Then, I slightly adapted the rest of her recipe to make it my own, and it was absolutely delicious! This one will go in my book as a “We will make this again!”. I just have to figure out how to boil orecchiette pasta better, because if you’re not careful (like I wasn’t) it all sticks together! UGH! I’ve gotta figure out a trick for it! If anyone has suggestions, please let me know!

So, homemade meatballs first:

Ingredients:

1 lb. 85/15 grass fed organic ground beef (my preference)
3/4 cup plain panko bread crumbs
3/4 tsp. minced garlic
2 TB rice milk (or similar… this is just what I use)
1 TB worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper
1/4 tsp. onion powder

Mix all together in a large mixing bowl until well integrated. In the mean time heat 1 TB olive oil (or use cooking spray to coat the pan) in a large skillet. Once all of the meatball ingredients are well mixed and there are no dry breadcrumbs hanging out in the bottom of the bowl, you will start to shape the meatballs. Take a melon baller, or a chefmate cookie scoop and scoop out the meat mixture. Then, roll into 1-2″ balls. Then, place into skillet and start to cook. All of mine fit in to the skillet at once. I cook the top, then the bottom, for about 2-3 min each, and then sear all of the sides to “seal” in the juice. Once this is done to all of the meatballs, you will be adding the chicken broth and the can of diced tomatoes listed below:

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Orecchiette Pasta Bowl

Ingredients:

1 lb. orecchiette pasta
1 1/2 cup low sodium organic chicken broth
1 can (14.5 oz.) fire roasted diced organic tomatoes (no salt added)
1 clove garlic minced (I put it into the garlic press)
1/2 tsp. fresh chopped rosemary
6-8 basil leaves chopped
1 zucchini sliced and cut into bite size pieces
1/2 small ball of fresh mozzarella
2 TB shaved parmesan cheese

Directions:

Now, add the chicken stock and tomatoes to the skillet with the meatballs from above. Bring to a boil. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to low and simmer until tomatoes are soft and meatballs are cooked through, about 5 minutes. During this time add the minced garlic, basil, rosemary, onion powder and salt and pepper to taste. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water. Transfer pasta to a large serving bowl and add the Parmesan. Toss to lightly coat orecchiette, adding reserved pasta water, if needed, to loosen the pasta. Add the zucchini to the meatball mixture in the skillet and toss until slightly softened and coated with the tomato sauce. Add the meatball mixture, mozzarella cheese, and 1/2 cup of the basil into the bowl of the pasta. Gently toss to combine. Garnish with the chopped basil and a drizzle of pesto.

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This one was GOOD!! Craving Italian food and don’t want to spend the $$ to go out?? Make this one! I have a feeling this one will be crave-able!

Enjoy!

And now, for the quote of the day:

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