My friend and I convinced our boyfriends that we should have a Fondue Party. She recently got a fondue pot for Christmas, so we decided to make use of it and have a little shindig. How we enticed our men to come along with us was that there would be food number one, and also they could relax and watch the football game. What persuaded us was the idea that we could make Margaritas while the boys watched the game. I was assigned to bring the baked ziti and cookie-stuffed-cupcakes (like how I did for Halloween). I woke up early this morning to prepare the baked ziti and the baked goods.
First up was onion and garlic. I hate to admit that I took a play from Rachel Ray, but the way she uses a cheese grater to add garlic in dishes is ingenious.
Raw sausage is disgusting... Actually all raw meat is disgusting, which is probably why I avoid cooking meat unless I have to.
Making marinara sauce is hard- I mean, there's so many recipes out there and each one tells you to use a different type of tomato (whole, crushed, puree, blah). So I just got 2 random types of tomatoes and decided to blend them in a blender. (I love how the tequila is just chillin' in the background.)
Then everything gets added to the pot and left to simmer for a while.
Meanwhile I boiled the ziti and prepared the cheese filling. I've made this baked ziti before, and everyone seemed to have liked it . I used the same amount of cheeses as last time- a ton of ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan (and by a ton, I literally mean a ton).
I generally make a three layer baked ziti, with the cheesy goodness in the middle layer. So first I layered the ziti and pasta sauce on the bottom of the baking dish.
Then the cheese (yumm) goes on top of that. I kept staring at it, because it did look like a lot of cheese. I was almost positive this was the same amount of cheese I used last time, so I just piled it all on top. I mean, personally, I have never been in a situation where I was like "damn, this is just too much cheese".
A final layer of pasta and sauce gets put on the cheese and then I sprinkled it with bread crumbs and (of course) more cheese. I brought it to my friend's place to bake, where we ate a ton of it after our fondue and nacho appetizers. This was the portion that was left over.
So although my baked ziti tasted good, I know that it could have been better.
My boyfriend said it was a little too cheesy... What! Food can never be too cheesy (and honestly, I am just appalled that he of all people would say that). I think he just has a thing against ricotta cheese (perhaps it was because of my ricotta muffins, lol). I agree with him though, I should have cut back on the ricotta and probably used more mozzarella cheese instead.
Another thing I need to do next time is make a better sauce. It wasn't saucy and creamy enough, which would have made it taste more like a real baked ziti.
While we were at my friend's place, I could barely even finish an entire plate because that point I was stuffed to the brim with fondue and margaritas.
Memo for next time: Less ricotta and more sauce.
I read a few recipes from the internet and made my own.
ingredients for pasta sauce:
1 pound ziti
1 pound Italian sausage out of casings
A few cloves of garlic
2 big cans of tomatoes
directions for pasta:
1. Cook crumbled sausage in large pot with oil. Add onions then add garlic.
2. Add tomatoes (blended or not). Add seasonings like salt, pepper, Italian seasoning. Let simmer for like a half an hour.
3. Boil and drain ziti.
4. Take like a cup of sauce and put it to the side.
5. Add pasta to sauce.
ingredients for cheese layer:
15 oz ricotta cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
8 oz mozzarella cheese
directions for assembling:
1. Put a layer of pasta and sauce in a large baking dish.
2. Layer all the cheese filling on top.
3. Put the remaining pasta and sauce on the top.
4. Get the reserved sauce and spread it all over.
5. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese.
6. Bake for like 15 minutes at 400 degrees F.