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Friday, August 1, 2008

?M: In Which She Shares the Kochs' Favorite Meal, Which Also Happens to be Real Cheap

Annie and Sarah both asked about my favorite meal to cook...

Look, I'm not going to print out the recipe, I know it by heart. We eat this every week. And every week I place this meal down in front of salivating Kochs, because it is absolutely delicious and everyone in our family loves and devours it. Like every episode of The Office, it never grows old.

It's from one of the best cookbooks ever made, The Best 30-Minute Recipe from Cooks Illustrated and you need a copy (it's even on sale!). You'll never need one again for weeknight meals. And everything by Cooks Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen is da bomb. You need no one else. Sweet CI/ATK, I love you, I marry you as my one and only cooking-loves for the rest of my cooking-life.


Skillet Baked Ziti. You'll find that on pg. 140, peeps. Nope, still don't have the book here. I just know. Go get the book. I'll share some highlights here.

Preheat the oven to 450. In a cold, oven-safe skillet, add olive oil, 6 cloves of garlic minced, 1/2 t salt and 1/4 t red pepper flakes and heat together over medium high heat. Heat and stir until fragrant, about one minute.
Add 3 C water, 28 oz crushed tomatoes, 1/2 t salt, 3 3/4 C ziti (or penne) and if you have fresh basil you can chop it and put it in in the end, but I always use dried, so I add it here- about 1/2 t or so. I just dump.

You can get enough crushed tomatoes at Sams for 4 meals in a big can for $2.50. Then divide it up into freezer bags. (Let's see, you need 28 oz and there are 8 oz in a cup, so.... you can figure it out. I forget.)

Also, we always used 100% whole grain pasta, but when things got really tight with Jim's commute (over twice as much on gas now since we moved) I had to let some things go. That was something I could let go for this meal. I got a humongous bag of penne at Sams- was it about $5? There's enough for like, ten meals or so in it. I can't remember, but, it's cheap. Everything else we eat is still all whole grain. This won't kill us.

Stir it up. Bring to a simmer, cover it and stir it often for 15-18 minutes- lower the heat but maintain a vigorous simmer.

That's right folks, it's just that simple. The pasta cooks right in the good stuff. And so it is with the Best 30 Minute Recipes- that ain't no lie. They mean 30 minutes, and they really are super easy. And all home made, with just a few purchased pre-mades as you need them, like tortillas etc. But they do tell you how to make your own...if you want... You can do it. It's simple and you'll get the hang of it fast. You will never go back. Your food will be way better, your family much healthier.

That, my friends, was a tangent.

So, we wait...
Quite possibly the weirdest picture of me ever...
And after the stirring and waiting... and by the way, in those 15-18 minutes you have time to get the whole kitchen straightened up again while you're waiting... Here it is- beautiful and ready for the next step.
Add 1/2 C parmesan cheese and 1/2 C Heavy Cream, and salt and pepper to taste.
Cover it with 1 C of shredded Mozzarella.

Bake it in the oven for 10 minutes, until the cheese is all melted and slightly browned in spots.
Agh! This stuff is the best!
This is what dinner-stuff laid out for six people looks like... And we get our parmesan at Sams too, can you tell? Oh, and our Italian dressing, and our spinach/greens...
While I cooked, Jim had the kids outside and Grace and Pate brought me some flowers. I just say NO to rotating this week, apparently.

26 comments:

Sgt and Mrs Hub said...

Wow! What a great recipe! I adore, love, find GREAT happiness in one pot meals. The less dishes I have to wash the better!!

I love Cooks Illustrated also with the exception of their marketing department. They were SO aggressive!
They would send 10,000 pieces of mail and cookbooks that I never asked for. If I didn't send it back then I had to pay for it. Which I think is crappy. And I told them so. Their customer service is very nice - even with grouchy women. Not that I would know about the grouchy women part....

-Andrea

Lisa said...

That does look delish. We are trying to save on groceries here lately. I've even tried the famous Megan plan of planning two weeks out. Some times I do better than others.....
BUT I love yummy meals that everyone will eat that are not too pricey. I have to say, I'm loving these question answering posts! So fun!!!

Kim said...

Ziti is one of our all time favs! Justin LOVES it. But my recipe is different than yours, I am so trying this one! One pot is awesome!!

Lauren W said...

Mmmm... that looks really good!
I'm going to need to try it :)

anne said...

Who doesn't love a one pot meal...well I guess if it taste lke garbage but I cannot wait to try this one.
:) Thanks for sharing.

anne said...

Who doesn't love a one pot meal...well I guess if it taste lke garbage but I cannot wait to try this one.
:) Thanks for sharing.

d.a.r. said...

That looks amazing. Looks like something I will have to try. Our similar rotation is baked spaghetti, haha! What can I say, pasta is cheap :)

Thanks for sharing!

Anne Elizabeth said...

That looks SOOOOOOOOOOOOO good! I am definitely going to try it:) I love Sam's. I go there every week. I just started going there since moving. Oh and I found whole wheat pasta for $5.00 last week! I was thrilled:)

Lisa said...

Here's a question for you - are crushed tomatoes the same as diced tomatoes?

New Girl on Post said...

What a delicious recipe! I'm going to have to try this one soon.

Kiki@Seagulls in the Parking Lot said...

Sounds yummy!

Um, how do you mince garlic? Do you use the already minced version or mince it yourself?

And, asking my husband about buying this cookbook, it might save our marriage or my sanity!

Jenn Boerger said...

Can't wait to try this recipe! Love it! I just love how generous you are in sharing your ideas with us. Fabulous!

sarah said...

Megan!

Thanks for the great recipe to add to my collection. I love the photos you add to your posts...makes it so real.
I LOVE the ?M segment...keep'em comin'!

Oh, where did you find the cookbook on sale?
~Sarah

amanda said...

yummo friend.

what would my belly do without you??

Katie said...

I will be cooking this one, you can bet on it! Looks YUM!

Amy said...

okay, so what is Sams? lol

Lisa said...

Found the crushed tomatoes at Hy-Vee. Baked Ziti Megan style is on our menu for Wednesday night - hooray!

Deb said...

Oohhh...that sounds yummy, and I am putting that cookbook on my request list from the library RIGHT NOW!

Farm Fresh Jessica said...

Ok, I am finally caught up with your blog. I have so much to comment on, but I forgot it all already. You have a great take on life, my friend.

I hope you got rid of the ants! ick!

Kristen said...

Alright Megan I am going to give it a try. We don't normally like red sauce on pasta, but this looks yummy enough to try.

Thanks for sharing! :)

Morning By Morning said...

YUM!!! that looks so good~ I am going to have to try it! I
LOVE LOVE LOVE the picture of you in the pan~ you are so funny!

Morning By Morning said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anne said...

I'm SO pumped to make this tonight! Thanks for running to your phone to give me what I needed! :)

KJ said...

Hey, I made this tonight. It was *awesome*!

Sarah in the Middle said...

"Ah, delightful Baked Ziti. You had me at '6 cloves of garlic', but when I got to the dumping in of parmesan and heavy cream, I knew our was a love that would last 'til the stars grew cold".
If you couldn't tell, I made this for dinner tonight. yum, yum, yum. Welcome to our rotation!

Eva said...

We just had this for dinner tonight - my parents were even here. We loved the recipe. I've asked for the recipe book for my birthday. I think Shari is getting it for me. Yum yum!