Sausage and Pepper Baked Ziti

My family loves baked ziti and I was craving comfort casserole. This recipe feeds many so cut in half or make 2 portions and freeze one. Make it meatless and leave the sausage out.

Ingredients:

2 pounds of ground italian sausage, I used sweet

1 package of chopped peppers, I purchased these in the produce department

1 cup onion, chopped

1 16 ounce box of ziti

2 jars of your favorite marinara (spaghetti) sauce, use what you need. I had about a half a jar leftover

1 32 ounce container of ricotta cheese

3/4 cup Parmesan cheese (the dry kind that you shake out)

3 Tablespoons chopped parsley

3 eggs

1 package/container Parmesan shreds (grated)

2 pounds grated mozzarella cheese

In a skillet, brown sausage with peppers and onions. While your sausage is cooking, you can boil the ziti noodles. Cook according to package directions. Drain grease from sausage and drain pasta. Put pasta in a bowl and toss with a small amount of marinara sauce. Set both aside.

In a medium size bowl, add ricotta, eggs, dry Parmesan and parsley and mix thoroughly.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

I used a large 9 x 15 casserole dish, prepare with nonstick cooking spray. Spread some marinara sauce on the bottom of casserole dish.

Layer half of your ziti in the bottom of your pan. Add a layer of the ricotta mixture and top ricotta with the sausage and peppers.

Top sausage and peppers with marinara sauce and grated Parmesan.

Add half of your mozzarella cheese on top of the Parmesan cheese.

Repeat layers. Bake 30-40 minutes until hot and bubbly.

Serve with a salad, garlic bread and glass of vino. Manga! Enjoy!

Low Carb Italian Bowl of Love

Ingredients:

2  Sausages (I used Al Fresco)

1/2  cup roasted vegetables (I used Trader Joe’s Fire Roasted Peppers and Onions, you can make your own roasted vegetables by grilling or broiling)

3 Tablespoons or more to taste marinara sauce

Parmesan cheese, optional


Cook sausages, I grilled mine. Slice into bite size pieces. Warm up vegetables and marinara sauce. Combine ingredients and garnish with Parmesan cheese if desired. You can serve this over low carb pasta if you wish but it will change the carb count from low carb to medium high carb.


***As far as the carb count goes, the sausages I used were 1 carb each. The toasted vegetables were about 4 carbs. My marinara was on the high side, I didn’t notice it until I read the label. I used tomato basil flavor and used about 3 tablespoons which was approximately 4 carbs. My goal carb count 9 carbs. Not bad. I didn’t count the cheese because I used so little. You will need to read your labels to see what your total carb count is. I currently have 2 boxes of low carb pasta in my pantry but I find the carb count on the high side. I can’t imagine what regular pasta is.

Peppadew Pepper Poppers

I first enjoyed this appetizer several years ago at Macaroni Grill. It’s very easy and simple to make and so yummy.  

  
Ingredients:

I jar of peppadew peppers, drained (I purchased mine at an Italian supermarket but if you can’t find them, sweet cherry peppers can be substituted)

4 ounces garlic herb goat cheese, purchased in the gourmet cheese section of the grocery store

1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs

Balsamic glaze (can be found in the vinegar section of the grocery store)

  
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain peppers on paper towels until dry. Stuff open cavity with the goat cheese.  Dip the top of the pepper coating the cheese with the bread crumbs. Place on baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is warn warm.   Drizzle with balsamic glaze and enjoy. 

   

 
This recipe was inspired by an appetizer I enjoyed several years ago at Macaroni Grill.