Sunday, January 1, 2012

baked pasta with cheese and tomatoes

Happy New Year! When I was younger, I had difficulty making resolutions, but now it seems I am full of them: decorate my apartment, keep my room in order, read more books, be less angry and stop flipping out over the little things, volunteer, make art, eat better, get some exercise, get a job with health insurance... Gah. So much room for self-improvement. Daunting, isn't it?

So I'm starting with something easy: a blog entry. Have you missed me? (No, you haven't, non-existent reader, but that's okay.) I would really like to catch up and write about all the things I cook in a more timely manner, and even though it's a daunting task, I'm feeling up to it.

Obviously the place to start is with these delicious baked pasta dishes. The first one is penne in a light bechamel sauce with chopped tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms and garlic, topped with fresh mozzarella and popped under the broiler. Then I sprinkled it with shredded basil and some romano cheese. It was a little rich, but quick and easy, and made for great leftovers. Kind of a spin on baked ziti, but with less tomatoes.

This second dish was something that Nathan and I made with his mom, Tenli, when she and Marie were visiting the city.

It's also vaguely baked ziti-esque, with cheese and sauce and pasta, not to mention plenty of crumbled sausage. We cut it out of the casing and cooked it loose, almost as though it was ground beef. I think there was some chopped garlic and/or onion in there, and then, to make it easy, a jar of tomato sauce. Tenli often makes a dish of this sort, so she definitely was the head chef for this tasty dinner.

We tossed the sausage and sauce with the pasta, and then baked it all with plenty of ricotta and parmesan. It was pretty much what you would expect: a meaty, cheesy, saucy pasta feast.

So there you have it. I'm sure it's no surprise that I'm kicking off a new year with a couple of cheesy pasta dishes, but I promise that I'll do my best to cook a variety of different foods for you this year!

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