A Familiar Recipe
Recently, I became a little embarrassed when a meal sign up sheet came around for a friend through MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) who was welcoming a new baby into the world. As I signed up to bring a Baked Ziti, yet again, I grew somewhat self-conscious thinking about the twenty plus Ziti’s I have prepared this year for new babies, sicknesses, celebrations and friends in need. For practicality purposes it makes sense to use a tested recipe, especially when feeding people who don’t live under my roof! Because, under my roof, I can always judge my cooking by how much hot sauce my husband puts on it. Frankly, even opening the refrigerator door begins to raise my concerns (and blood pressure) about what I’ve prepared. Let’s just say in the six years we have been married the trips to find the hot sauce have slowly decreased, which is why I now feel secure enough in my culinary skills to bring meals to others. There are other reasons to use a recipe that has some mileage in your kitchen. I always pick up ingredients to make a Baked Ziti when I go to the grocery store even though they are not on my list! I also already know the cook times, short cuts and possible things that could go wrong by heart now. Conveniences aside, the real reason I love bringing a Baked Ziti is because at some point it will remind someone of a time in his or her life when they were shown kindness. The reason I started making this recipe is because a co-worker made it for me after I had my first son. She paid careful attention to the way she packaged the meal, side dishes and treats. Then, taped the recipe to it. Donna, thank you for inspiring me to love others through pasta! Your recipe has feed a whole lot of people!
As I’ve said, using a familiar recipe makes for a great choice when cooking for others. In addition to the practical reasons, there are also matters of the heart to consider. For example, I hope that Baked Ziti means more to my family than a favorite meal. For my sons, I hope Baked Ziti is the reminder of lessons learned in the kitchen. Not only do I want my boys to remember the patience it took to wait for the noodles to be done cooking and the anticipation of being the one to stir in the spices, I want them to remember what it felt like to show kindness to others. Just as so many people have showered my own family with love and acts of kindness during our times of need.
When my boys are grown and out of the house, I want them to miss my Baked Ziti not for how it tasted but for who it fed. I want it to be a small reminder to them that there are always people in need and they will know the recipe for a small way they can help. Next time the sign up sheet comes around to take someone a meal I am not going to be embarrassed to sign up for the meal I’ve become so familiar with making.
Prep: 30 minutes
Bake: 30 minutes at 350
1 TBSP Olive Oil
½ lb ground beef (or turkey)
½ large onion
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 Jar (26-30oz) of Pasta Sauce (I use 2 jars)
1 can (8oz) Tomato Sauce
1 Tsp dried oregano
16 oz Ziti pasta (Cooked and drained according to instructions on package)
2 cups (8oz) Mozzarella Cheese
½ cup grated parmesean cheese
In skillet, heat oil over medium. Add beef or turkey, onion and garlic, stir. Cook until meat is cooked. Stir in pasta sauce, tomato sauce, oregano and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Combine 1 cup sauce to cooked ziti in a 9x13 pan. Top with ricotta cheese, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, and 1 cup of sauce. Then add remaining Ziti mixture and sauce. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup of mozzarella and parmesan. Bake uncovered for 10 minutes.
Check out www.takethemameal.com for a great way to organize meals for someone in need. It is free.