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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

An Easter Egg Tree

Not all crafts have to be easy and quick, but it sure is nice to have one every once in awhile.  Last year, I started taking branches and decorating them for every season.  Here's my Easter branch:


I use this vase holiday after holiday.  I grab a new branch, when needed, and I throw the craft together.  I bought these adorable, foam eggs, from JoAnn fabrics.  They were $7.99 but they were on sale for 40%.  I added a little Easter grass and a bow and I had a quick, adorable decoration!

All done!
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Baked Ziti Recipe

Ready to be devoured!

Fresh from the oven.

I want to share with a recipe and also two great cooking shows you might not be aware of.  Two of my favorite cooking shows were introduced to me by my husband's Aunt.  They aren't on the Food Network or the Cooking Channel.  Both these fabulous shows are on PBS!  You can find more than just great kid shows on PBS and when my kids and husband let me watch my shows, this is where I head. 

You will want to set your DVR to start recording America's Test Kitchen and Cook Country's TV.  Both of these shows feature recipes that are favorites of cooks everywhere, but they are improved.  They test each recipe hundreds (if not more) times to get the best quality product possible.  They test gadgets and products as well.  I always want to know what performs the best and what is the best option for my grocery needs.  I get all that while learning a few new recipes.  I'm not a chef, but I sure feel closer to being one after watching how the professionals cook.  Enough of my love affair with these two shows.  Check them out and let me know what you think!  (Oh, and head over to their websites for tons of free recipes).

Baked Ziti is the recipe that I recently tried.  Now, I know that you can make Baked Ziti fairly quick and easy, this recipe is a bit more complicated, but the end result is fantastic.  It mixes the traditional Marinara sauce with Alfredo sauce.  Yum Yum is all I can say!


Baked Ziti
American Test Kitchen TV
from the Episode: Who Wants Pasta?

Serves 8 to 10
1            pound whole milk cottage cheese  or 1 percent cottage cheese (see note)
2            large eggs , lightly beaten
3            ounces grated Parmesan cheese  (about 1 1/2 cups)
            Table salt 
1            pound ziti  or other short, tubular pasta
2            tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
5            medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 5 teaspoons)
1            (28-ounce) can tomato sauce 
1            (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes 
1            teaspoon dried oregano 
1/2        cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves 
1            teaspoon sugar 
             Ground black pepper 
3/4        teaspoon cornstarch 
1            cup heavy cream  (see note)
8            ounces low-moisture whole-milk mozzarella cheese , cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups) 


1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk cottage cheese, eggs, and 1 cup Parmesan together in medium bowl; set aside. Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in large Dutch oven over high heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and pasta; cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta begins to soften but is not yet cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain pasta and leave in colander (do not wash Dutch oven).

2. Meanwhile, heat oil and garlic in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until garlic is fragrant but not brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and oregano; simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Off heat, stir in ½ cup basil and sugar, then season with salt and pepper.

3. Stir cornstarch into heavy cream in small bowl; transfer mixture to now-empty Dutch oven set over medium heat. Bring to simmer and cook until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove pot from heat and add cottage cheese mixture, 1 cup tomato sauce, and ¾ cup mozzarella, then stir to combine. Add pasta and stir to coat thoroughly with sauce.

4. Transfer pasta mixture to 13- by 9-inch baking dish and spread remaining tomato sauce evenly over pasta. Sprinkle remaining ¾ cup mozzarella and remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan over top. Cover baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

5. Remove foil and continue to cook until cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes longer. Cool for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons basil and serve.

Go shopping for the ingredients and get cooking!   You won't be disappointed.



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