Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Cheesy Pasta Bake

My friends Carole and Jason who live in our same building and attend our ward just had a new baby girl. I made the crochet edge baby blanket for their baby Tori Jane and on a whim decided to also make them dinner.

Since I hadn't planned to make them dinner, I ended up making one of my quick go-to dinners which is actually super yummy and super easy.


1 lb Pasta
1 Can or Jar Spaghetti Sauce
1 small can Tomato Paste
1 Med Onion
1 lb Hamburger or shredded Chicken
2 cups Shredded Cheese

Seasonings (to taste):
Olive Oil
Garlic Powder
Italian Seasoning
Red Chili Pepper or Taco Seasoning

Yield: 12 servings

Sommer's Secret: This recipe makes about 2  standard cake pan (9 1/2 X 11 X 2") casseroles. I usually make a full recipe and freeze one for another day or put it all in my big lasagna pan if I'm having company over. It's a big hit every time I make it.


1. Set water to boil to cook pasta.
2. Brown Ground Beef and chopped onion in a skillet. (Salt and Pepper to taste).
3. Drain the oil from the meat.
4. Add Spaghetti Sauce and Tomato Paste.(one day I'll learn to make a good sauce from scratch!)
5. Stir in seasonings.

Sommer's Secret: I always jazz up cheap ready made spaghetti sauce with herbs and spices.It might be the Southwest in me, but  like my sauce to have just a tiny kick by adding a little cayenne pepper or in this case Taco Seasoning mix. My favorite to use is the Chipotle seasoning mix.  I also add about a teaspoon of sugar as it seems to really tone down the acid of the tomatoes and "marries" the seasonings.


6. Boil pasta until "al dente" - where the pasta is soft but firm. Drain.


7.  Pour sauce mixture over pasta and fold to combine.
8. Pour mixture into baking dish(es).
9. Sprinkle cheese on top.
11. Bake 15- 20 minutes until bubbly.

Sommer's Secret: Drizzle the top with olive oil and Broil 3-5 minutes until top is brown and crispy.


Sommer's Suggestions: Add veggies! Since I was using what we had at home, I didn't have any extras to add in...Bell peppers, black olives, mushrooms would  make this even more amazing. Add or substitute  Pepperoni or Italian sausage instead of beef or chicken....yum!

I served my pasta bake with a garden salad and homemade bread sticks.

1. Make 1 batch Pizza Dough Recipe.
2. Pat out onto a pizza dough pan.
3. Brush with butter and garlic mixture. (2 TBSbutter to 1 TBS garlic powder 1 tsp Parsley)
4. Sprinkle with with cheese (I used the Mozzarella, Provolone, Cheddar blend and Parmesan)
5. Bake 8-12 minutes until brown and bubbly.
6. Cut into strips with pizza cutter.

(As you can see my oven doesn't bake evenly and I ended up with one dark and one light cheesy bread sticks...but they were both just as delicious.)