Baked Ziti Melina

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Try the Italian version of Macaroni and Cheese–Italian comfort food never disappoints! You can even prepare this the day before. Simply cover (uncooked), refrigerate, and bake the next day. Let us know what you think!

Ingredients:

Note: for good flavor, it is required to use whole milk cheeses.
1 box (16 oz) Ziti, uncooked
3 cups (24 oz) whole milk ricotta cheese
One 16 oz chunk of whole milk mozzarella cheese, shredded—yields 4 cups shredded. You want 4 cups shredded if you purchase it already shredded.
3/4 cup fine-grated Romano cheese
6 cups (48 oz) tomato sauce

Instructions:

·         Heat oven to 375°F
·         Cook pasta per box directions. Drain. Set aside.
·         Set aside 2 cups of the tomato sauce.
·         In a mixing bowl, hand-mix the ricotta, shredded mozzarella, and grated romano. (I mush it all together with one hand to feel the best mix.) Set aside.
·         Put about half of the cooked pasta back into the pot you boiled it in.
·         Add a few ladles of sauce, some of the ricotta-mozzarella-romano mix. Fold all together, careful not to break the pasta. (Again, I use my hand to fold.)
·         Repeat until all the cheese-mix and sauce are combined and folded. You want it moist, not soupy with sauce.
·         In a 9×13 baking pan, add some of the sauce you set aside–just enough to thinly cover the bottom of the pan.
·         Add the pasta mixture to the pan.
·         Top with a thin spread of the sauce you set aside. You may have some sauce left over. Save it for if you would like to add a little sauce on top of a served portion.
·         Bake about 40 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
·         Remove from oven and let stand 20 minutes.
·         Serve and enjoy!

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Grace currently hails from the shores of North Carolina, a trial retirement location, where she programs and broadcasts a weekly local news show on (all-volunteer) Radio Hatteras. Homesickness overwhelms her many days. A 50-year resident with a heart for Frederick, Grace attended West Frederick Junior and Frederick High Schools. A de facto paralegal from the days when legal secretaries did much research and writing, Grace worked in private law firms. Other employment included IBM, radio, band music, Montgomery County Attorney’s Office, and a long term position with the Montgomery County Council where she retired as a facilities manager. Grace was a minority practical conservative in a liberal charter government. Notwithstanding that environment, Grace is a resourceful, logical, thrifty, innovative, and independent thinking woman--and a great cook! She has been described as “thorough and meticulous.” Having cut her teeth in local government for 28 years, she is well acquainted with the workings of charter government. Grace will share writings of her amusements and observations...and, yes, recipes!