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Another Perfect Winter Meal

January 22, 2012

We had more snow on Friday.  I’m not sure how much.  Maybe six or eight inches.  I honestly don’t keep track.  To me snow is more of an inconvenience than anything.  I lost that gleeful feeling toward snow a long time ago.  I think it may have coincided with getting my driver’s license.

I don’t hate driving in snow, but I don’t like it.  Friday’s snow added 30 minutes on to my commute home.  That’s not too bad.  I’ve been stuck in snow longer.  The problem with the snow by me is the drifts.  The snow drifts a lot.  So even if the roads have just been plowed, you can’t tell.  I actually got stuck going up my driveway.  It took four attempts before I could park in the garage.  The ironic thing was that the snow wasn’t wet.  Do you know what I mean?  It wasn’t good packing snow, which usually causes me more trouble in the car.  Or truck.  I don’t have four-wheel drive on the mammoth vehicle I drive, so stopping and starting are always an adventure in the snow.

The upside of the snow was that Meeshie went sledding with a few of her friends yesterday.  It was her first time.  I know.  I’m a bad mom, but I wasn’t aware of any great snow hills near me.  Until yesterday, that is.  I was invited too, but I needed to stay home and make dinner.  I’m hoping to join in next time.  I made them some cinnamon cider to keep them warm.  Meeshie had a great time, thanks Maribeth and Carol for taking her.  Is it still considered sledding if you sit in the warm car with a hot spiked beverage?  Because I can do that.

I stayed home and made this pasta dish.  I love baked ziti and yesterday was a perfect day for it.  This dish feeds a large crowd.  I’ve made it for past Superbowl parties.  I love that you can make the cream sauce a couple of days ahead.

Baked Ziti with Mushrooms

  • 3 Yellow Bell Peppers
  • 1 Onion
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 3 T Olive Oil
  • 2 C Half and Half
  • 1 1/2 lbs Mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 Red Bell Peppers, chopped
  • 2 Orange Bell Peppers, chopped
  • 1 lb Ziti ( I actually used Mezzi Rigatoni)
  • 8 Scallions (green part only)
  • 2 C Parmesan, freshly grated
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1/4 t Nutmeg

Chop the yellow peppers, onion, and mince the garlic.  Add all three to a heavy saucepan lined with a tablespoon of olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cover and stir occasionally, until the peppers are soft; about 15 minutes.  Stir in the half and half and nutmeg.  Allow to cool and add to a blender and puree in batches.  If you don’t allow the mixture to cool be aware that blending hot liquids:  use small batches and vent the blender.  Use a towel over the blender, this will help prevent any heat explosions.   Set this mixture aside.

In a large skillet, add the remaining olive oil, mushrooms and red and orange peppers.  Season with pepper.  Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes.  Set aside.

Cooke the pasta according to package directions.  Reserve 1 C of pasta water.  Drain the pasta.  Combine the pasta, half and half mixture, mushrooms and peppers, pasta water and 1 1/2 C of parmesan.  Place in a 3 or 4 quart baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan cheese.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, or until hot and begins to brown.

If making ahead, combine the sauce and prepare the mushroom mixture.  Set in the fridge for up to two days ahead.  Make sure the sauce and mushrooms are at room temperature before proceeding.  Adjust your cooking time in the oven accordingly.

Makes 8 to 10 servings!

Serve with your favorite bread and salad.

Ekat’s Kitchen.

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2 comments

  1. Karen, this is my kind of pasta dish. Is that snow in the background of your pic? How fun that your daughter got to go sledding yesterday. Sounds like a great weekend.
    Allison


    • Allison-
      Yep, that’s snow all right. And last night we were treated to a thunderstorm!
      Karen



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