Monday, May 18, 2009


When my children were little, I tried to “invent” recipes but I was not very good at it. One recipe that is embarrassing to admit was a combination of plain tomato sauce, ground beef and Italian seasonings (cooked for about 20 minutes) and then mixed into elbow macaroni; that was it…not even any cheese! It was horrid by today’s standards, but the kids always ate a lot of it and I did not know any better. Hey…that was 30+ years ago! I have learned a few cooking tricks since then.

Today’s family style penne bake is one of our favorites these days. It is rich, filling, very satisfying and leftovers reheat extremely well on day two. Served with a veggie, salad and dinner rolls, it is good enough for company. 1 pound extra lean ground beef
1 cup onion chopped
1 cup celery chopped
1 cup chopped carrot
1 to 2 cloves garlic minced
1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
1 12 ounce can tomato paste
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dry oregano
2 teaspoons dry sweet basil
½ teaspoon fennel seed
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 pound Barilla mini-penne pasta
1 pound Monterey Jack cheese (grated)
1 tablespoon butter

In large pan, sauté ground beef until no longer pink (drain well). Return meat to pan and add onion, celery, carrot and garlic; sauté until veggies start to wilt. Add tomato sauce and tomato paste, 4 cups of water, salt and pepper, oregano, basil, fennel seed and sugar. Mix well and SIMMER two hours (stirring occasionally). What you want is for the sauce to reduce to a nice thick consistency (do not add any extra water).

After sauce has cooked down, boil the mini-penne (using directions on penne box) and drain. Stir in a tablespoon of butter to coat pasta, then stir in sauce and half of the (grated) cheese into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Top with other half of cheese and bake at 350° for about 30 minutes or until bubbly and cheese has browned a little, like this:NOTE: Once you get this sauce to the simmering stage, you can put it in the crock pot and let it cook in there all day. If you do that…just prop the lid open just a little, so the sauce can reduce and thicken.


Cindy said...

Coleen ...This penne look's so yummy!!! I love pasta ...thank's for the recipe!

Wandering Coyote said...

That looks totally awesome! So do the green beans in the picture - do I detect bacon on them? Yum!

Debbie said...

Looks delicious Coleen...think we are on the same wavelength here. I just posted a beef macaroni and cheese...somewhat similar!!!!

Romney Family said...

That looks so great!! It is great that the more we cook the better we get at it!! Jessie From food brings families together

Heidi said...

This looks great! I make a dish very very similar to this one and it's great. I will have to try this recipe next time. I think your old invention of a recipe sounds pretty good. Simple and easy and could be pepped up by adding some cheese.

Bunny said...

THIS is how I love pasta!!!! YES!!! You nailed this Coleen it's terrific!!!

girlichef said...

That is one tasty plate! I would devour it. Well, I wouldn't devour the plate, but definitely everything on it!

teresa said...

Yummy, these looks so warm and cheesy, a perfect pasta dish!

Cristine said...

Looks so yummy!

Lara said...

Yum yum! My kids love anything with noodles and cheese in it.

Kerstin said...

What a great comfort food dish, and perfect for a potluck! I've come a long way with my cooking too.

Denise said...

Wow, this looks amazing. My family loves pasta will have to try

Kristen said...

That looks so delicious Coleen!

Cheryl said...

That looks soo good, cheesy and yummy!

Elyse said...

Oh Coleen, this bake looks delicious!! I am so impressed. The picture of the bake still in the pan is INCREDIBLE. All of that cheesy goodness hiding such wonderful pasta and sauce. Sounds like a great dinner to me!

The Cooking Photographer said...

I see cheeessssssse! I am badly craving cheese tonight. I should stay away from this tasty post of yours.

Katy ~ said...

Pasta, perfect!