Baked Ziti & Meatballs. Classic Italian meal that anyone can make. Perfect to gather the family around the dinner table and enjoy each other.
We all know I LOVE cooking, right? Well cooking with the help of a 3 year old is sometimes a bit hectic and not always as enjoyable! My 3 year old, Jack is very much interested in helping out in the kitchen and I love the idea of passing my love of food on to him, because thats how it all started for me. If you have kids then you know doing anything with a 3 year old can get stressful, they are not very patient! Well today I decided to make a very Italian Sunday dinner on a Tuesday and that I was going to let Jack help!
When the little guy went down for his nap me and Jack got to it… on the menu: Baked Ziti, Meatballs, Broccoli Rabe and Garlic Bread! Jack helped add garlic to the sauce and to the broccoli rabe, he added the bread crumbs, cheese and water to the meatballs and yes, I even let him help form the meatballs. Lets just say the meatballs varied quite a bit in size and shape but the compulsiveness in me had to reshape them before baking them off. Have to say I was very impressed in how he was listening and following steps, this is rare and was certainly refreshing! This is what the family kitchen is all about, getting together as a family creating yummy food and more importantly the memories you make while doing it!
Now my recipes…
Basic Tomato Sauce
2 cans crushed tomatoes
4 large cloves of garlic, smashed
handful of fresh basil leaves, torn (we keep it rustic)
1 T of dried oregano
In a large pot, over medium low heat, drizzle in enough olive oil to completely cover the base. Add in the garlic cloves and oregano. Once the garlic becomes fragrant and very slightly browned, add in the tomatoes, basil and salt and pepper to taste. Let it simmer away for 1.5 hours. Be sure to taste for seasoning.
Note: this is a pretty large batch but I freeze half of them for a day that I don’t have time to make them.
3 lbs of ground beef
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups italian seasoned breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp garlic powder
hand full of loose leaf parsley, chopped
In a large bowl add all of the ingredients and using those God given tools, your hands, get in there and mix! You don’t want to over mix so mix just enough until everything is well incorporated. Form into the size of your preference and put on a baking sheet. With the oven at 350 degree bake for 10 minutes then switch meatballs on lower rack to upper rack and vice versa. Bake another 10 minutes or until golden brown… Please keep in mind the cooking time will vary depending on the size of your meatballs… mini are relatively little for my little guys!
2 lbs penne cooked very al dente
24 oz ricotta
1 lb shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup grated pecorino cheese
5 cups tomato sauce
Get out a giant bowl and toss everything together (leave some of the mozzarella on the side to sprinkle on top). Mix it until well incorporated and then put into a large baking dish. Top with a little extra sauce and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella. Bake at 375 degrees until bubbly and golden brown.
*these are my original recipes*
Jack is so cute! What time is dinner? You should start to expect me on a regular basis. ;0)