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Easy Peasy Meatball Ziti and My Blog Intervention

Posted By Susan On February 18, 2008 @ 3:03 am In Cooking,Ethnic,Italian,Meat,Pasta,Recipes | 31 Comments

Something interesting happened to me after I joined this wonderful world of food blogging. Something I’m not particularly proud of. Something that I didn’t even notice until it was pointed out to me by the people I’m supposed to be cooking for – my family. It appears that in my quest to create jaw-dropping content and eye-popping photos in my posts, I stopped cooking regular, well-rounded meals for them. No more grilled steaks and baked potatoes. No more simple roasted chickens. Not even a lousy bowl of spaghetti and meatballs [1]. Nope. Uh uh! I stopped making the basic, comfortable foods that they had grown to love, because I thought they were too boring; not exciting enough to elicit the awestruck reactions that I was dreaming of. And not only that. I barely let them touch the things that I did make – at least not until after I had plated, propped and staged each dish for its photo shoot to glory.
As I looked deeply into their sad and hungry eyes, I felt like dirt! I vowed to them that I would put my thirst for fame and adulation aside, at least a little bit, and FEED THEM SOME REAL FOOD! I mean, here I was making pies and cookies and doughnuts for a guy that doesn’t even eat sweets! And my poor, sweet, calorie-conscious teenager was walking around in a butter-induced stupor terrified that she was gaining weight by osmosis!
The first order of business was to decide what to make for dinner the next night. I put it to a vote and everyone agreed on a pasta dish. They were even kind enough to let me decide which one. I chose my baked ziti because it has a little of each of their favorite foods in it. Pasta, tomato sauce, three different kinds of cheese and my famous (at least around here) meatballs make up this dish. It is a hearty, homey and delicious Italian comfort food, and it’s not difficult to make.


The first thing you need to do to make this dish is prepare and bake a batch of meatballs. I’ve also included my meatball recipe below. You can do this ahead of time and keep them in the refrigerator or freezer until you need them. You will also need some marinara sauce, either homemade or a good quality one from a jar. The sauce is not the star of this dish, so you can get away with a good jar sauce. This will save you a significant amount of time.


It warmed my heart to see how much my family enjoyed this meal. I didn’t even make them wait to eat it. I baked a separate batch of it for pictures, which then went straight into the freezer for another day.
Now, I want to ask you this: Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever fallen into this trap of cooking for the blog instead of your nearest and dearest? Were you ever the subject of a “blog intervention”? Are you a “blogoholic”? I’d love to hear from you!
Easy Peasy Meatball Ziti
(Printable Recipe) [2]
1 batch meatballs (recipe below)
1 pound ziti
6 cups fresh marinara sauce or 2 jars good quality tomato sauce
1 2 lb tub whole milk ricotta
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup grated Romano cheese
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, sliced into thin pieces
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Bring a large pot, filled with water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. You want the pasta to be a little firm because you will be baking it later. Drain pasta and set aside.
Break up the meatballs into bite sized pieces and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the tomato sauce, ricotta and 1/2 of each of the cheeses and mix well. Add the cooked ziti and meatballs and toss it all together.
In a large greased baking dish, pour in pasta mixture. Sprinkle the rest of the mozzarella, Parmesan, and Romano cheeses all over the top. Dot with the butter. Place baking dish on top of baking sheet to catch any drips. Bake until top is golden brown and bubbly, about 30 to 40 minutes.
My Almost-Famous Meatballs
Makes about 15 meatballs
1 lb. ground chuck
1 lb. ground veal
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium sweet onion, coarsely grated
1/2 c. flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 c. bread crumbs
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix all of the meatball ingredients in a large bowl until combined. Do not overhandle or the meatballs will be tough. The mixture should be moist, but hold together. If the mixture appears too wet, add more bread crumbs, a little at a time. If it is too dry, add a little more milk.
Form into balls, about 2 inches in diameter. You should get about 15 meatballs out of this recipe.
Place meatballs in a shallow baking sheet, lined with foil, and bake until they start to get browned, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside until ready to add to the ziti.

Here’s what some other bloggers are doing with baked pasta:

Baked Pasta with Tons of Vegetables [3]from The Foodie Fashionista [4]

Fontina and Mascarpone Baked Pasta [5]from Tales from a Veggie Kitchen [6]

Jamie Oliver’s Baked Pasta with Tomatoes and Mozzarella [7]from More Than Burnt Toast [8]

Pastitsio, Deconstructed [9]from Kalofagas [10]

Talerine Beef Casserole [11]from Simply Recipes [12]

Article printed from Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy: http://stickygooeycreamychewy.com

URL to article: http://stickygooeycreamychewy.com/2008/02/18/easy-peasy-meatball-ziti-and-my-blog-intervention/

URLs in this post:

[1] spaghetti and meatballs: http://stickygooeycreamychewy.blogspot.com/2007/09/mamma-miathats-spicy-meatball.html

[2] (Printable Recipe): http://stickygooeycreamychewy.googlepages.com/easypeasymeatballziti

[3] Baked Pasta with Tons of Vegetables : http://foodiefashionista.blogspot.com/2007/12/baked-pasta-with-tons-of-vegetables.html

[4] The Foodie Fashionista: http://foodiefashionista.blogspot.com/

[5] Fontina and Mascarpone Baked Pasta : http://talesfromaveggiekitchen.blogspot.com/2007/03/fontina-and-mascarpone-baked-pasta.html

[6] Tales from a Veggie Kitchen: http://talesfromaveggiekitchen.blogspot.com/

[7] Jamie Oliver’s Baked Pasta with Tomatoes and Mozzarella : http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com/2007/09/jamie-olivers-baked-pasta-with-tomatoes.html

[8] More Than Burnt Toast: http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com/

[9] Pastitsio, Deconstructed : http://kalofagas.blogspot.com/2008/02/pastitsio-deconstructed.html

[10] Kalofagas: http://kalofagas.blogspot.com/

[11] Talerine Beef Casserole : http://www.elise.com/recipes/archives/002005talerine_beef_casserole.php

[12] Simply Recipes: http://www.elise.com/recipes/

[13] [Translate]: http://stickygooeycreamychewy.comjavascript:show_translate_popup(

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