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Daily Archives: December 22, 2010

Baked Penne

This is a very simple meal to throw together quickly!  And more than likely, it’s stuff you will normally have on hand!  You will just need to vary the ingredients for how many you are serving.  Add a salad and some garlic bread and you’re all set 🙂

Pasta (I used penne, but lots of shapes will work just as well)

Tomato Sauce (I used Market District’s Tomato Basil)

Fresh Basil (if you have it, if not you can substitute dried)

Ricotta Cheese (Spend the time making it home made, you will notice a huge difference!)

Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Cook the pasta according to the package directions in salted water.  While the pasta is draining, I heated up the sauce just a little bit with a handful of basil to give it great fresh flavor.  Layer the pasta into a large pan or individual dishes and add dollops of the ricotta cheese.  Layer that to the top of your cheese.  Sprinkle the top with shredded or grated mozzarella cheese and bake at 350 until the cheese is nice and bubbly.  The length of time will vary on how big your dish is.

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

When my mum first told me that she had made homemade ricotta cheese, I thought she was a bit nuts.  She kept going on about how delicious and easy it was.  So, I decided to listen to the old adage about “mother knowing best” and gave it a try myself.  I can’t believe I had ever doubted her.  It is 3 simple ingredients and took about 10 or 15 minutes.  I like the taste of ricotta cheese in things like lasagna and what not, but would never consider sitting down with a store bought container and a spoon.  But, with my fresh curds, I had to stop myself from indulging in little finger fulls.  Believe me, it is WELL WORTH the minimal effort!!

So, here it is friends.  I did a double batch, so if you want a single “serving” just cut the amounts in half!

*1/2 gallon 2% milk

1/2 gallon whole milk

2 teaspoon salt

6 Tablespoons lemon juice

All you do is combine the milk with the salt and get very hot.  Bring it to a light boil, but be very careful not to scald it!  Remove the hot milk from the heat and add the lemon juice and just let it sit and watch the magic happen!  The curds will start to form from the acid and will separate from the whey.  It will be about 3/4 liquid whey still and the top 1/4 of the pan will be the ricotta cheese!  Scoop the cheese from the pot with a slotted spoon and put into a cheese cloth lined colander.

* You can use all whole milk if you would like, but doing half with 2% saves on the calories and you don’t miss one bit of flavor!