January 2, 2007

Happy New Year!

Well, where to begin? It’s been a long month since I’ve posted on this blog! I’ve moved to a new city, traveled back and forth between Virginia and Iowa three times this month, was out with the flu for a week and spent my first Christmas at home in 3 years. There were many ups and downs this month, but mostly it was a much needed break and a happy holiday season full of family and good times. I hope it was for you and yours!

Another occasion was marked when my blog turned 1 year old in early December! I’ve had such fun corresponding with so many readers, and, of course, cooking so many new things this past year! Thank you to everyone who reads, and all the food bloggers out there for all the inspiration!

So, I’m not the best at coming back with a bang…Usually when I take long breaks from cooking I have to ease back into it. There are times when I crave being back in the kitchen, but I most often have to start with what I know. I make easy meals that have become part of our regular rotation: meatloaf, steaks, pizza, pasta, quesadillas, etc. So, I offer you this simple baked penne. Not exactly helpful if your New Year’s resolution is to eat healthier foods, but for a housewarming gift, this really hit the spot.

Baked Penne with Sausage and Ricotta

¾ lb penne, ziti or other pasta
1 jar tomato & basil pasta sauce, or homemade sauce
8 oz ricotta cheese
¼ tsp hot pepper flakes
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4-5 large button mushrooms, sliced
3 hot Italian pork (or turkey) sausages, casings removed
1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella
½ cup grated parmesan

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt the water and cook the pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the jarred sauce, ricotta cheese, hot pepper flakes and ½ the parmesan cheese.

In a large skillet, sauté the onions and green peppers in the olive oil until softened. Remove to a plate. Add a touch more olive oil, if desired and sauté the mushrooms until done to your liking. Remove these from the skillet. Add the sausage and break apart with a spatula. Sauté about 7-8 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to absorb the grease.

Add the onions, bell pepper, mushrooms and sausage to the bowl with the tomato sauce and ricotta cheese. Combine well. Toss the pasta into this mixture and spread half of it in a 2 quart baking dish. Top with half the mozzarella. Spread the remaining pasta in the dish and top with the remaining mozzarella and parmesan. Bake for 25 minutes until bubbly and browned on top!


Ivonne said...


I'm so happy to see you post! I was thinking about you the other day and I'm glad to read that you've been well.

All the best in 2007!

Anonymous said...

it looks yummy!

Tanna said...

Oh, yummy, you're back with us.
I just told Sara I was trying for lighter and healthier...ummm...well we'll see.
Glad your move is "complete" (does that happen before 6 months pass).
Happy New Year

s'kat said...

Happy new year! I think that is a fine, fine way to ease back in!

Oob said...

Welcome back! Glad to hear all is well with you and the hubby. :) This penne looks heavenly and I can't wait to try it.

Last night I made your healthy chicken salad and chicken quesadillas! Yummy, and wow were you right about the chicken portions in the U.S. One package of boneless/skinless was plenty for both, and I have to bring in the tub o' chicken salad to work... can't possibly eat it all!

Anonymous said...

Glad you're back! I love baked pasta dishes - this is one of mine.

I know, it sounds weird, but it is quite delicious!

Nicole said...

Looks absolutely delicious Megan!!

Megan said...

Thanks for the warm welcome back, everyone! I've missed my blog and hearing from all of you so I'm glad to get back to it!

Oob- I'm so glad you've enjoyed the recipes! I love hearing how they work out for you.

Midwestern Progressive - Sounds great! I'll have to give it a try when I'm feeling adventurous!

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Arden said...

Hi Megan, I made the penne today, it is delicious! I made a posting on my own weblog about it (with a link to your weblog). I translated it in Dutch and made a few changes.
Like your weblog! Thanks for sharing the recipe.