Cheesy Baked Pasta with Semi-homemade Sauce

Hey guys! Hope everyone is having a great start to the week. Not a lot of stuff going on here. The girls are going to art camp this week and having a blast! Yesterday I picked them up and we hung out at the pool for a while, not a surprise 😉 The next few days we will be doing pretty much the same thing with maybe a little fun outings mixed in depending on the weather.

I went to the store to pick up some things for dinner. I decided to make a baked pasta of some sort and garlic bread. On the blog I have made so many different baked pastas- some the easy way (jarred sauce) and some the from scratch way. This time I did a mix of both.

Cheesy Baked Pasta with Semi-homemade Sauce

Ingredients
1 pound ground beef
1 box tube shaped pasta; I used Rigatoni, but Ziti or Penne would be fine.
1 jars of your favorite pasta sauce- I used Bertoli- Tomato Basil
1 large can of crushed tomatoes
2 med. bags or 1 large bag of mozzarella or Italian Cheese Blend
1 handful of fresh herbs (oregano, marjarum, thyme, rosmary and sage, finely chopped)- You can also use 1 tablespoon of Italian Seasoning if you don’t have fresh herbs.
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 container of mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Preheat oven to 350.
In a large dutch oven or pan, brown your meat with your onions in a tablespoon of olive oil on high heat, about 5 minutes.
Add in your mushrooms and garlic. Cook down together, about 5 minutes.
Add in the tomato paste. Cook down for 3-4 minutes. It will turn a rust color and when you smell it it will have an intense tomato aroma. Add in your Worcestershire Sauce, can of tomato puree, and container of marinara. Stir well and add in your fresh herbs. Let it simmer together while you cook your pasta
Assemble in a large casserole pan layering sauce, pasta, meat, and cheese.
Cook for about 30-45 minutes or until cheese is melting and turning that yummy brown color.

Serve with some garlic bread and a side salad! 002

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Homemade Marinara 10/12/13

Hey ya’ll! I know you want a quick dinner. I know you reach for the prepared mixes and sauces. There are some great ones out there, but they cost you money. I know we are always trying to save some money, right? Here is a way. Make your own sauce. This is a marinara sauce. I have made my home made sauce tons of times, and they are always kinda different depending with what is in my fridge. This is tonight’s homemade marinara sauce…

1 onion chopped
1/2 garlic head; peeled, crushed, and chopped
1 whole stalk of celery roughly chopped
The rest of my trifecta of peppers chopped; red, yellow, and orange
Cook all these for 20 minutes
Add at least 3/4 of a bottle of red wine and a few tablespoons of tomato paste
Add 2 28 oz. can of San Marzano tomatoes; 1 peeled, 1 crushed
1 can of tomato sauce
add oregano, basil, 2 tablespoons of sugar and Worcestershire sauce

Cook for at least 2 hours. The longer the better.

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Pasta Perfection

I asked R and K what they wanted for dinner. R said spaghetti, then K said meatballs. Ok, then! I took out some beef and scoured the cabinet for some pasta and something to make the sauce. I found 1/2 a container of linguine, 1 large can of tomato sauce, and 2 cans of diced tomatoes. Perfect.

First, I started the sauce. Easy marinara sauce that does not require a glass jar of sugar sauce, if you know what I am referring to. I used 1 28 oz. can of tomato sauce, 2 cans diced tomatoes, and 2 squirts of tomato paste (or 3 tablespoons if you have a can). I added a couple sprinkles of Italian seasoning, chopped oregano, basil, and parsley, and 1/2 chopped onion, 1 container of mushrooms, 2 garlic cloves crushed and diced, salt, pepper, 2 tablespoons or so of Worcestershire, 2 tablespoons butter, and 2 tablespoons sugar. Sometimes I even add red wine, if I have it, but this time I was all out. The wine and Worcestershire just give it an extra layer of flavor, especially since I am making the meatballs with beef. The butter and the sugar help to add a bit of sweetness to the sauce and mellow the acidity of the tomato a bit.

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I even had leftover sauce to add to my freezer collection. I just mashed the meatballs up in the sauce to make meat sauce.
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Next, I had to figure out what ingredients I had to make meatballs. I used 1 pound of grass-fed beef, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, 1 cup breadcrumbs, about 1/4 cup of milk, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire, 1 teaspoon of onion and garlic powder, chopped parsley, oregano, and basil. Mix it all up and make some meatballs.

Add them to your sauce. You could brown them or fry them first, but these are fine this way. I cooked the sauce first for about 45 minutes, then added the meatballs on low for another 45 minutes or so. 013

Cook your pasta and add your sauce…
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