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Pat’s Pantry: It’s Italian tonight

By Pat Mills

I’m a pasta fan, any way you fix it. So here are some simple easy-to-prepare pasta dishes. The pepperoni pizza bake can be changed to add sausage, peppers, herbs or whatever your family likes.. – Pat

Baked ziti

12 ounces uncooked ziti or small tube pasta
2 pounds ground beef
1 jar (28 oz) spaghetti sauce
1 (4 oz) can sliced mushrooms
2 eggs
1 carton (15 oz) ricotta cheese
2-½ cups (10 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in spaghetti sauce and mushrooms. in a bowl, combine the  eggs, ricotta cheese, 1-½ cups mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. Drain pasta; add to cheese mixture and toss to coat. Spoon a third of the meat sauce into a greased 13 x 9 x 2-in baking dish; top with half of the pasta mixture. Repeat layers. Top with remaining meat sauce. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 5-10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving. Yield: 6-8 servings.

Italian tossed salad

1 package (12-oz) ready-to-serve salad greens
1 cup (4-oz) shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup canned kidney beans, drained
1 cup diced pepperoni
¼ cup chopped onion
2 medium tomatoes, diced
¼ to ½ cup Italian salad dressing

In a salad bowl, combine the salad greens, cheese, beans, pepperoni, onion and diced tomatoes. Drizzle with dressing; toss to coat. Yield: 8 servings

Italian garlic breadsticks

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
¼ cup butter, melted
1 tube (11 oz) refrigerated breadsticks

In a shallow bowl, combine the cheese, Italian seasoning and garlic powder. Place butter in another shallow bowl. Separate dough into individual breadsticks. Dip in butter, then in cheese mixture. Twist 2-3 times and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately. Yield: 1 dozen.

Pepperoni pizza bake

1 package (16 oz) wide egg noodles
2¼ cups pizza sauce, divided
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 can  (2½ oz) sliced ripe olives, drained
1 package (3½ oz) sliced pepperoni
2 cups (8 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook the noodles according to package directions; drain. In a bowl, combine the noodles and ¾ cup pizza sauce. Transfer to a greased 13 x 9 x 2-in baking dish. Top with the remaining pizza sauce. Layer with the mushrooms, olives and pepperoni. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted. Yield: 8 servings.

FOOD FACTS

• Eat breakfast. People who eat breakfast are generally more successful at losing weight.
• Cut back on sodium slowly to give the body time to adjust to less salty flavors. Salt-craving taste buds will eventually be replaced by new ones that do not have an affinity for salt.

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