Thursday, February 3, 2011

Four Cheese Baked Penne

Welcome to this week's Craving Ellie In My Belly Recipe!  I'm excited to host for the first time.  As a people-pleaser/new host, I tried to play it safe with the recipe choice--of course I wanted to do something exciting or dessert-like (mmm, cake) but since we're still pretty early into the New Year, I wanted to respect those of you who may be trying to stay away from sweet treats.  I admire your willpower.

When we plan meals in our house, it looks something like this: I pick out a variety of recipes that sound good, and my husband picks his top 3 for the week.  I don't know why I even try this anymore--without a doubt, my husband will choose anything that resembles a burger or pizza.  I spent an embarrassing amount of time going through the CEIMB archives, trying to find something that hadn't already been done...and at the end of my search, had 4 choices I was fairly confident in.  I was slightly disappointed when the husband picked this one--seriously, why was I surprised--but oh well, here we go!

As I've previously mentioned before on this blog, I'm not a huge fan of pasta.  I like noodles and everything, but I just worry too much about calories, portions, etc.  This is largely due to the fact that I do not love marinara sauce.  Sigh.  I know, it's the low calorie/good for you option...but I just can't make my taste buds like it.  Having "four cheese" in the title definitely made me a little more optimistic about this recipe. :)

Cheesy goodness

So here's the rundown on the recipe.  Ellie says it takes an hour to prepare from start to finish (it took me about 10 minutes longer. I'm apparently slower in the kitchen than a professional chef. I suppose this shouldn't be surprising).  This is a little longer than I was hoping, since a lot of us don't have an hour between when we get home from work and when we want to sit down to eat...but the good news is, I think you could prepare the dish the night before, and just pop it in the oven for 30 minutes.

Ready to go in the oven!

The verdict: the husband loved it, and I really liked it, too.  I think this is as excited as I will get about a basic baked pasta recipe--so for those of you who are skeptical, go ahead and give it a shot.  I think it would be really easy to tweak--you could certainly add meat or veggies (we talked about adding spinach next time) to increase the protein/nutritional profile.

How much my husband ate. I think he liked it.

*Pros: Easy to find ingredients, relatively inexpensive, minimal mess, reheats well, could be prepared ahead, kid friendly (I think--what kid doesn't like noodles, sauce, and cheese?)

*Cons: Not a quick meal for weeknights, not exciting/company worthy

Will I make it again? Definitely.  We have several pregnant friends, and I think this would be a perfect "welcome baby!" meal to take.

Thanks for joining me this week--here's the recipe!