Thursday, July 23, 2009

...because we all need a little comfort... Baked Not Ziti

"We never understand how little we need in this world until we know the loss of it"- James M.

I'm feeling sad today. It's the anniversary of Quincy's younger brother's death. I didn't know Gavin, but still, I feel an overwhelming sense of loss. His family loves him. I can see it in the tears that well up in KB's eyes at the mere mention of his name, or the way there is always a laugh at something funny he did or said. I wish I knew what to say to his family today. But, I don't. How do you comfort someone when you have no idea what they are feeling? Is it fair to say 'I understand", when you really don't? No. Its not. So, I am sitting here hoping that in looking at his pictures, or re-telling those funny stories, they will get some kind of comfort. When I think of comfort, I imagine feeling warm and safe. Like home. Or loving arms.....or like "Not Ziti"..... "Not Ziti" isn't a Monday recipe. Or a Wednesday recipe. Its a recipe for when your heart hurts so much you think it will explode. Its a recipe for when you can no longer find the tears you so desperately need to cry. Its a recipe for when you don't want to let go, let up, or let in; but have to. Its a recipe for when you are broken into a million little pieces. Its a recipe for when you have all the right questions, but don't know the right answers.....yes...its for THAT kind of pain.... So, I hope you try this recipe when you are hurting. I hope that it brings you that warm, safe feeling of home that says its ok to hurt, and cry, and be angry, and sorry. Its ok to remember, and its ok to forget. Its ok. ITS OK. ITS OKAY......
I love you,
This blog is dedicated to Gavin, and the people that love him.
Gavin France R.I.P.

P.S.- I'm sure you are wondering why this recipe is called NOT ZITI.....well, a certain someone told me that he did not like baked ziti, so I knew that I had to come up with a re-invented version with a kick! I also used penne so he couldn't argue with me!

Not Ziti Recipe (Exclude sausage for vegetarian)
This is a spicy recipe, but you can use as little or as much spice as you can handle

2 boxes of Rozoni penne (or any brand of your choice)
1-2 lbs of spicy turkey sausage
1 whole green bell pepper
1 whole red bell pepper
1 whole yellow bell pepper
Roasted red pepper flakes
Adobo seasoning
Cayenne pepper
Onion powder
Lawry's seasoned salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Salt (to taste)
1 clove of garlic
1/2 an onion chopped
2-3 cups of ricotta cheese
1 large jar of Prego Mushroom pasta sauce (or plain)
4 packages of shredded mozzarella cheese (the cheesier, the better!)
1 large package of fresh baby spinach
3 tablespoons of olive oil enough to coat pan)
PAM cooking spray (my best friend)

Remove casing from sausage and season with salt, black pepper, Adobo, Lawry's and cayenne. Mix with your hands. Place in the fridge.
Spray pan with PAM to avoid burning peppers
Add olive oil to pan on a medium to high stovetop
Add garlic, onions, and red pepper flakes and sautee until fragrant
Add peppers and sautee until they are soft.
Add WASHED spinach, and sautee.
Turn stove off and set pan aside
In a large pot, add salt to water and boil penne
In a frying pan, add a teaspoon of olive oil. When pan is hot, add sausage and cook. I use a wooded spoon to chop the sausage up like you would ground beef for spaghetti.
When sausage is fully cooked, turn stove off and set aside.
Once penne is cooked (I like it to be al dente), strain out water.
Pour penne into a large pot and mix in ricotta cheese, pasta sauce, and two packages of mozzarella cheese. Mix well.
Add in peppers, spinach, and sausage. Use those muscles! Make sure you mix this all in well! 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Coat a pyrex baking pan with butter ( I LOVE doing this....there's nothing like warm butter in your fingers)
Have a trusty sidekick (mine is Lea. Thanks boo) hold the pot while you scoop some of the penne into the baking dish. Spread it around and add shredded mozzarella over the top.
Add the rest of the penne and add mozarella to the top of that
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes.
Remove cover and add more cheese. Bake uncovered for another 15-2o minutes.
Cheese should be gooey and bubbly
Take out of oven. Let it rest, and enjoy!
This recipe tastes even better a few days later!
Share this with someone who needs comforting....even if its just you.....

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