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Ovation: Easy Pasta Bake Dinner Party.

07/06/2013

PastaBakeSometimes I like to cook.  I really enjoy preparing a nice meal, setting a nice table, using my nice serving things and enjoying a nice conversation with friends while we eat.  When we have company, I like to open a nice bottle of wine, use cloth napkins and light a candle or place fresh-cut flowers as a centerpiece.  For me, the experience of a dinner party is much more important than the food that I serve.

The table in our dining room isn’t particularly large so I avoid “family style” meals.  I like to plate the portions in the kitchen so the table doesn’t get overcrowded.  I think the food’s presentation is more important than its preparation.  Yet, certainly, I want to serve a good meal but I want to do it with as little effort as possible … and a minimum amount of clean-up required.  With that I mind, one of my favorite easy-to-prepare dishes is what I call “Easy Pasta Bake”.

Easy Pasta Bake

1 pound ground beef – browned and drained
1 pound pasta (ziti, penne, etc.)
1 jar spaghetti sauce (any tomato-based flavor)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9”x13” pan with cooking spray.  Pour spaghetti sauce into pan.  Add one jar of water and stir.  Add pasta, ground beef, 1 cup of cheese and stir.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes.  Remove foil, stir, top with remaining cheese and bake an additional 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

My Easy Pasta Bake recipe is consistently delicious and requires the clean-up of only one dish.  I serve it after a fresh Caesar Salad and with a thinly sliced crunchy baguette or bread sticks.  Because the recipe makes a lot of food, I serve large portions topped with grated parmesan cheese.

A store-bought dessert, like a pretty cannoli or slices of simple cheesecake, served on a chilled dish (maybe with a nice cup of coffee) brings the meal to a perfect and simple conclusion.

When it comes to dinner parties, I enjoy the party portion just as much as the dinner and I never want to miss any of the fun.  For me, the trick to making a dinner party look easy is preparing a meal that is easy to prepare … like Easy Pasta Bake.

What’s your favorite, easy, meal to prepare that always gets rave reviews?

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4 Comments
  1. I’m hungry. It looks great (and Rachel Ray would be proud).

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  2. Yes, sometimes baking these kinds of dishes gives them a special flavor. Here from BPOTW.

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  3. My favorite would have to be “Sam’s Hamburger Dinner Thingy” named after my daughter who made up the dish one day & hubby & I just love it. One cooking dish too, except for rice (which is originally cooked separately, then added to mix)! Brown a pound of hamburger & move to one side of the pan, add 2 beaten eggs & scramble in pan, mix with ground beef, add canned mushrooms & canned niblet style corn. Add cooked rice, pepper & soy sauce to taste. Mmmmmm, mmmmmmm!

    Like

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