day fifteen: this one is actually about chuck's love.

Tonight's post is actually about something that Chuck loves.

Wow. Good intro, Suz. I just rephrased the title. Oh yeah. You probably feel really great about reading this post. I've just hooked you from the get go (so much sarcasm). My literary abilities this night are stunning. I wish myself and you the reader good luck getting through this post if the first line is any indication of writing to come.

Ok. Here goes. Best wishes. I have high hopes and by high, I mean low.

I'm making Chuck's favorite dinner right now. Really, makING. It is currently baking in the oven and Chuck has only gone to check on it twice in the 10 minutes he's been home. The pacing will begin shortly.

What I am making is super simple, which maybe counts for my LOVE post for the day. I LOVE that Chuck's favorite dinner is so easy to make (Match Game PM: HOW EASY IS IT?!) that I read two chapters of my latest young adult book whilst cooking it.

It's Baked Ziti.
I need to use the term Baked Ziti as loosely as possible. I can't in anyway believe that this is even close to what actually baked ziti is like. I think it's about as similar as Taco Bell is to authentic Mexican. I feel like that is a reasonably good analogy.

I say this having never actually had real bakd ziti. I know. Italian food is my favorite, it's already tough enough for me to chose a pasta dish when we go out, I can't add more options. Thus, this will serve as my only knowledge of baked ziti and I am fine just eating it at home. Having said that, I know this isn't close to authentic because I highly doubt authentic involves the use Mexican blend bagged cheese or Italian bread crumbs. These are just guesses.

I really don't care. It's an easy meal. It makes a ton. It's good left overs. It's a crowd pleaser. It fits into every category I look for with a recipe including I got it from My Mom. Win.

Chuck can't handle his love for this meal.
Neither can my sister for that matter but she isn't the subject here.
BUT, I have seen them combine forces like Captain Planet and decimate the entire 9X13 alone. It was impressive and terrifying all at the same time.

The Recipe:

Here's who needs to come to the party:
1 box of Rigatoni
1 can diced tomatoes (don't drain!)
2 peppers - you pick the colors you like best together.
8 ox blend of Mexican cheese
1/2 cup half and half
Italian bread crumbs

Chop the peppers so they are about the same size as the rigatoni. I do this mostly because then it is easy to pick them out when I'm eating because they are vegetables and my natural enemy. I believe more in Santa than I do in vegetables. I'm probably going to die of self imposed malnutrition.

In a big ol' bowl, mix the tomatoes and their juices, cheese and peppers. Sometimes I throw in a handful of Parmesan cheese if I'm feeling saucy. Apparently I wasn't tonight.

Once the noodles are done, mix it with the other stuff and pour into a greased 9X13 pan. Pour the 1/2 cup of half and half over the top. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350. It's not over. Pull it out, top with the bread crumbs and bake for another 20 - 30 minutes without the foil. I say 20 - 30 because it all depends on how long Chuck can wait for this to finish baking.

And that is Baked Ziti, the completely non-Italian way.
Trust me, it's a hit. When have I ever lied to you? (don't answer that.)

Day Fifteen: Chuck LOVES this baked ziti.

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