Tuesday, March 1, 2016


So our daughter will be 18 years old in six days.  SIX DAYS! I had the revelation the other day that we successfully raised a child from birth to adulthood with only a few hiccups.  I feel like we've made such an accomplishment!  And she's about to be an adult, so that means she'll move out soon, right? One person off the payroll!  Woo-hoo!  Seriously, though, she'll probably be here a few more years, and that's okay.

So I've made a lot of baked zitis in my life, and I usually don't stray from the traditional recipe.  But I came across a recipe that used breakfast sausage instead of Italian sausage.  I thought it sounded interesting, so we gave it a try.  And we thought it was fantastic!  I'm calling it Sausage Pasta Bake.  It was really pretty easy to put together, even with me making my own sauce.  You can use the shortcut of jarred marinara sauce, or you can use my sauce recipe below.  It's something that I'm sure we will have a lot.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

1 lb breakfast sausage (like Jimmy Dean)
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil
4 C marinara sauce (my recipe is below)
One 15-ounce container Ricotta cheese
1/4 C shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 lb pasta, any shape (I used penne)
2 C shredded Mozzarella cheese

2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
Drizzle olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Red chili flakes, to taste
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
Salt & pepper, to taste

If you are making your own marinara sauce, put all of the sauce ingredients into a pot and whisk.  Bring it to a boil. Cover it and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Cook for about 20 minutes or until it's thick.

Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Stir together the Ricotta, Mozarella, Parmesan, garlic powder and the parsley.  Set it aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Drizzle some olive oil into a skillet and cook the onion until it's tender.  Add in the sausage and the minced garlic.  Cook the sausage, breaking it up as you go, until it's cooked all the way through.  Stir the marinara sauce into the sausage mixture.  Stir the pasta into the sausage mixture.  

Pour half of the pasta into a 9 x 13 pan.  Using a spoon, put dollops of the Ricotta mixture all over the pasta.  Spread the remaining pasta over the Ricotta.  Top with the remaining Mozarella cheese.  Bake the casserole for about 20-25 minutes or until the pasta is hot and the cheese on top is melted and slightly browned.

Adapted from Picky Palate


  1. woo Hoo, March 6 is my birthday too! My daughter turns 21 in 3 days (and she's NOWHERE NEAR off the payroll... wish!!!!) I've also been thinking about the journey of motherhood and how our relationship will evolve and what I plan to do now. I only have one and so much attention has been on her... even after 18. ESPECIALLY after 18. Different kinds of attention. Balancing responsibility and freedom. Life at College away from home. Life back at home. It's been a ride. The best thing is that during her teen years she was BEASTLY and I can say that she has returned 100% to the loving, delightful daughter I had. The transformation from teacher to guide to consultant is a beautiful journey and we're still in the thick of it.... Enjoy :-) Happy birthday to your girl! This recipe sounds good and gooey and yummy. Will have to try it!

    1. It certainly is a journey, Tee. Happy birthday to you and your daughter! And thank you for the well wishes for mine. I hope you enjoy the recipe!