Saturday, December 22, 2012

Recipe - Baked Ziti

After much pestering by me, one of my very best friends re-instituted her annual Christmas potluck.  I've been exited for this since she agreed to have the party.  However, I've also been nervous.  As a self proclaimed "Foodie" (aka, arrogant food jerk) I thought that I need to impress the hell out of everyone by cooking something that no one else would have even thought of.  Of course, it would have to be overly complicated and take me all day to make.  Using high end ingredients would be a plus.

Then I saw how many people RSVP'd.

Complicated?  Screw that!  I decided to tap my Italian roots and pull out the cheesy gooey goodness.  I hope my baked ziti pleases.  And if not, it is an family recipe, so I will use my super Italian guilt power to make them love it.

Baked Ziti  serves 20, or 4 if you are my mom cooking for Christmas
  • 4 boxes of ziti pasta 
  • 3 jars of vodka pasta sauce (must be vodka sauce)
  • 6 cups of mozzarella cheese
  • 2 pint containers of ricotta cheese 
  • 3 pounds ground beef
  • spices:  pepper, garlic, red pepper flakes
  1. Fill a large stock pot (6 qts) with water and set to boil
  2. Put half the beef in a pan, season with the spices, and cook on low.  (I used a non-stick pan).
  3. Once the water is boiling, put in two boxes of the pasta and cook according to the instructions.
  4. Once the pasta and beef are cooked, it is time to assemble.
  5. Drain pasta and transfer to a large baking dish.
  6. Transfer the cooked beef into the large baking dish.
  7. Empty one jar of pasta sauce into the baking dish.
  8. Add in 2.5 cups of cheese and one of the ricotta pints.
  9. Mix (I had to use my hands to really mix in the ricotta.  If you are someone who is eating this cheesy goodness, I did wash my hands first.)
  10. Top with 1/2 of another jar of sauce and 1/2 cup of cheese.
  11. Place in over and cook for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.
  12. Repeat with the other half the the ingredients.
  13. To reheat, place in over at 400 for 15 minutes.

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