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!

Sweet Potato Soufflé

If you love sweet potatoes, you will love my recipe for Sweet Potato Soufflé. This can be made 2 days before you cook it. If you make it ahead, leave on countertop for 20 minutes before baking.

3 cups of mashed (drained if using can) sweet potatoes. (Bruce’s Cut Sweet Potatoes, one 40 once can, is recommended if using canned)
1 cup sugar (if canned sweet potatoes are used, reduce sugar by 1/2)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together and pour into an 8 x 8 *baking dish that you have sprayed with Pam.

Topping:
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup melted butter

Mix and crumble on top of potatoes. Bake for 35 minutes.

*Double this recipe to make 9 x 13, triple will make 9 x 15.

This dish is fabulous leftover. I have made it both ways with canned and baked sweet potatoes. You CANNOT tell the difference. I have made this recipe for decades for my family. One of their favorites at Thanksgiving.

***Tip: This dish can be made a day or two ahead and refrigerated. Take it out of the refrigerator 20 minutes before you need to bake it. This can be a big time saver when trying to prepare a holiday meal.

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Country Store Hash Browns

Recently I was asked if I had a recipe for hash browns like that good old country restaurant where you like to rock on the front porch, eat and shop after. This recipe is as close as I can get. Crunchy brown bottom, creamy inside and lightly browned on top. The flavor is almost identical. Great with breakfast or a meal. Please enjoy!


Ingredients:
30 ounces of frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (use package kind*)
1/2 cup beef stock, not broth
1 small about 1/4 cup Vidalia or sweet onion grated
1 cup milk
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9 pan with Pam. In a large skillet, add oil and combine hash browns and cheese. Stir over medium high heat until cheese has melted and hash browns are no longer frozen. The potatoes will still be white at this point.

While potatoes are cooking, in a microwave safe measuring cup, add butter, milk, stock and onion. Microwave about a minute or so until butter has melted. Remove from microwave and stir in salt and pepper.

Once hash browns are no longer frozen and cheese has melted, transfer hash browns in prepared 13 x 9 pan. Pour milk mixture over hash browns and stir to combine. Press with spatula to flatten out the hash browns. Don’t be concerned if this seems like it’s too much liquid. It will be absorbed by the potatoes.

Bake for 45 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting and serving. *I used package grated cheese because if I had grated it off the block, it would have been very greasy. I even blotted a little excess grease from the top of this casserole. Let me know what you think!

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