Spicy Baked Penne Casserole

Spicy Baked Penne Casserole

Simple enough to prepare in advance, our Spicy Baked Penne Casserole is a crowd-pleasing favorite. Packed with spicy goodness and a four-cheese blend, it will satisfy the pickiest appetites.

If you’re looking for a delicious pasta dish to satisfy picky eaters, our Spicy Baked Penne Casserole is big on flavor and cheesy enough to keep the kiddos happy. It is great for family meals, pot luck dinners or for a luncheon with friends. Simply prepare the sauce and assemble a day ahead, then bake the following day. Serve with a loaf of Bread with Herb Butter and a rustic tossed salad to complete the meal.

PREP: 10 minutes
COOK: 1 hour

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups penne pasta, uncooked
  • 2 strips thick cut bacon or 3 ounces pancetta, chopped
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 3 1/2 cups spaghetti pomodoro sauce or 1 28-ounce jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 spring fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup provolone cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup Romano cheese, grated
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Bring 12 cups water to a boil in a large pot, add pinch of salt to water. Cook pasta according to package directions, minus 2 minutes. Drain.
  2. In a large skillet, cook bacon or pancetta over medium-high heat until it begins to brown. Add onion, garlic and red pepper flakes, sauté until onion is translucent. Add ground beef, cook until brown. Add mushrooms, cook until reduced. Add sauce, seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, stir. Once mixture begins to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Add basil during last five minutes of cooking, stir. Remove pan from heat and discard basil.
  3. Pour sauce into pot with pasta and mix well. Pour into 13- x 9-inch dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Mix cheeses in a medium bowl, then cheese mixture over top of baking dish.
  4. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until heated through.

TIP: Casserole can be assembled ahead of time. Refrigerate up to 24 hours. When ready to serve, bake uncovered as directed.

YIELDS: 6 – 8 servings

© 2011 Jadeworks Entertainment. All rights reserved.

Pasta Rouge

Pasta Rouge

Stretch nearly any meal with our quick Pasta Rouge, a simple dish made with pantry-ready ingredients.

Want a quick and easy way to stretch a meal with pantry-ready items? Look no further than our Pasta Rouge! Using elbow macaroni, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, garlic and cream, this dish is tasty and ready in minutes. It is light enough to serve alongside poultry or fish and perfectly complements nearly any meal because its subtle flavors are satisfying without being overpowering.

PREP: 5 minutes
COOK: 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ pound elbow macaroni (or other short pasta)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ¾ cup whole milk or half-and-half
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Pinch kosher salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil; add a pinch of kosher salt. Boil the pasta according to package instructions and drain.
  2. In a small, deep skillet, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir for 30 seconds and add the tomato paste. Continue to stir for 2 minutes and stir in the milk. Simmer until slightly thickened, about 3—5 minutes.
  3. Toss the pasta in the sauce to coat. Serve warm.

YIELDS: 4 – 6 servings as a meal or 6 – 8 servings as a side

© 2011 Jadeworks Entertainment. All rights reserved.

Rotini with Sugo Fresco Giardino

Rotini with Sugo Fresco Giardino

This no-cook pasta sauce is prepared with fresh ingredients straight from the farmer's market.

Summer always seems rather magical, whether we’re strolling through the park at dusk, watching fireflies illuminate the night or walking along the cliffs of Big Sur as the Pacific crashes against the coast, filling the air with the mingling scents of salty sea water and crisp pines. One of our favorite places to visit on warm afternoons waits among the arid, rolling hills of California’s beautiful central coast. Introduced to us by my great aunt and uncle during a visit to Paso Robles several years ago, Wild Horse Winery and Vineyards is one of those picturesque places where time stands still, laughter lingers like the roses that perfume the air, and each moment becomes a memory to be savored like the flinty chardonnay served in the garden there beneath long vine-covered arbors, big white umbrellas and the shimmering sun. Much like those languid days, our Rotini with Sugo Fresco Giardino is simple and elegant, infused with rich aromas and delightful flavors, and best of all, it can be savored with your favorite wine and enhanced with the company and laughter of dear friends.

This recipe is in memory of Editha Hayes Spencer, who taught us to relish simple moments, find beauty in unexpected places, and to live life with an open heart. We know she would have loved this one.

PREP: 10 minutes + 2 to 8 hours sitting time
COOK: 8 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 ½ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 6 medium tomatoes
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound rotini pasta
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. Make chili oil: Stir together ½ cup oil and 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes. Let stand at room temperature at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
  2. Make sauce: Core tomatoes and tear into bite-size pieces directly into a serving bowl. Add garlic, remaining ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, oregano, basil, 1 ½ teaspoons salt, and remaining ½ cup oil. Lightly crush together using a wooden spoon. Let stand at room temperature 1 to 8 hours.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add salt to taste. Add pasta; cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain. Add hot pasta to tomato mixture. Discard garlic cloves. Serve with Parmesan cheese and chili oil for drizzling.

YIELDS: 6 servings

© 2011 Jadeworks Entertainment. All rights reserved.

Cannellini Bean Soup

Cannellini Bean Soup served with Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil

Prepare a big pot of Cannellini Bean Soup in advance for great lunches or to feed a hungry crowd.

Ever have one of those days when everything seems to fall into place? Yesterday, following our religious services, we discovered that we needed to feed seven unexpected guests and only had thirty minutes to put everything together. We rushed home, took out some of our Bread with Herb Butter that we’d stored in the freezer, boiled some pasta, whipped up our Spaghetti Pomodoro, made a tossed salad and served it up with this phenomenal soup that we happened to make the day before. And guess what? Dinner was on the table in 25 minutes! Afterward, we served up our Fudgy Brownies with ice cream and an assortment of toppings for dessert and everyone went home full and happy. When we were alone and had a moment to catch our breath, we looked at one another and were amazed how far everything stretched, and couldn’t help but think that this must have been how Jesus and his apostles felt after they fed everyone with the loaves and the fishes. Tired but relaxed after a fun afternoon, we knew we needed to share this menu with you. Because with a little forethought, and a bit of serendipity, you too can make last-minute “miracles” like this possible.

PREP: 15 minutes + 1 hour soaking time
COOK: approximately 3 hours

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 3/4 cups dry cannellini beans
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 1/2 onions, chopped (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 small (6-inch-long) carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 4 celery stalks, peeled and chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped (or 1 tablespoon dry basil)
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper
DIRECTIONS
  1. Rinse the beans well and place in a large pot. Cover the beans with 4 quarts of water. Bring to a boil, cover and turn off the heat. Allow to soak for 1 hour.
  2. Place the olive oil, onions and garlic in large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. When the garlic begins to sizzle, after about 30 seconds, add the carrots and celery and continue to cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, basil and parsley and cook, stirring occasionally, for an additional 3 minutes.
  3. Drain beans, add to pot of vegetables, cover with 10 cups of cold water and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the beans are tender and creamy, at least 1 1/2 but up to 2 1/2 hours. Add water if necessary to achieve desired consistency; the soup should be thick. Add the salt halfway through the cooking. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

YIELDS: 8 servings

© 2011 Jadeworks Entertainment.

Celebrate our planet this April

April 2011

Earth Day is in our hands 2011

Earth Day is celebrated worldwide on April 22, although it may be commemorated on other dates in your community.

Dear friends,

Despite tax season, April is a fun month. The weather is generally a little warmer, spring is officially in full swing, and people’s spirits are generally much better than they were during the chilly winter months. Plus there are several great events to look forward to!

As we’ve told you before, one of our favorite charities is the Nature Conservancy, whose motto is “Protecting nature. Preserving life.” This year in celebration of Earth Day (on April 22nd), they are encouraging all of us to get outside, have fun and explore nature as a family. They’re also urging people to “picnic for the planet,” by hosting picnic meetups in 199 cities around the globe.

The Earth Day Network is also urging people to pledge to live and act sustainably. You can find great resources about how to reduce your carbon footprint on their Website, find ways to get involved and can even make donations to the cause.

But Earth Day also means the release of a brand new film from Disneynature, African Cats! The film follows two feline families striving to make a home in the wildest place on earth. See African Cats during opening week, and Disneynature will make a donation in your honor to protect the savanna these cats call home. And before you watch the movie, be sure to visit the African Cats Website for educational information and downloads that can help you teach your children about the science and geography themes in the film.

And if you’re in Cincinnati, you can join us down at Sawyer Point at noon on Saturday, April 16th for the 41st Anniversary Celebration of Earth Day! There will be tons of stuff to see and do for the entire family, including animal presentations featuring an aquarium and petting zoo, a rock-climbing wall, great food and live music.

Then, on Friday, April 29th, head on down to Great American Ball Park for UC Night at the Reds! The Reds will take on the Florida Marlins and the park will be packed with UC alumni. Buy reduced rate tickets, then be sure to show up early for the pre-game activities and FREE giveaways in the Reds fan zone!

The reptile house at the Cincinnati Zoo during Zoo Blooms

Color explodes at the Cincinnati Zoo during Zoo Blooms throughout the April 2011.

Get out your garden gear and prepare to plant a tree, because the 29th is also Arbor Day. For those of you who aren’t sure what the Arbor Day Foundation is or how the day gained popularity across America, you can check out two articles Jathan wrote last year about the trees in our lives and the origins of Arbor Day on his philanthropy blog, Some People’s Lives.

April is also a great time to start planning your summer garden. You can visit the Cincinnati Zoo for ideas during the entire month of April as the park explodes with color during Zoo Blooms. This event always fuels our imaginations, particularly since spring makes us anxious to plant tons of herbs, veggies and flowers of our own. Because we plant the majority of these plants in containers, be sure to watch for a future blog post about that. We’ll give you some great tips on gardening, including inexpensive ways to make your yard look phenomenal!

And in case you missed them, be sure to explore our site for great food ideas, including everything from kitchen basics like heart-healthy Chicken Broth to our favorite Southern Fried and Southern Barbecued Chicken recipes. Then check out family favorites like Tomato Soup with Mozzarella Croutons, Classic Cinnamon Buns and No-Bake Peanut Butter Rice Krispies Cookies. If you love Italian cuisine, try our authentic Italian Minestrone and Rigatoni with Rapid Ragu. For something spicy, kick up the heat with Hoppin’ John, a traditional Southern dish with just the right amount of heat. There’s something for everyone on Jathan & Heather!

So what are you waiting for? Get outside, commune with nature, plant a tree, take a picnic, watch a game, or plan your garden. It’s spring, and there is no better time to enjoy the great outdoors!

Love,
Jathan & Heather

p.s. Watch the preview to African Cats below!