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!


  1. It was a SUPER pick. I'm not sure how anyone could not like it. But I agree, the addition of veggies would make it 100% delish. As for meateaters, I'm sure a few meatballs on the side would satisfy.
    Good job!

  2. Thanks for a great pick...I have an 18 year old nationally ranked swimmer who swims five hours a day six days a week and pasta is one of his main food preferences!! This was a big hit and believe me, Ellie's portions were very huge, I made a half and we didn't finish it between 2 guys and me (okay, I had just a little, but still...this was huge!). Yours looks great, and obviously he liked it!!

  3. I agree....a tweak with spinach or meat would be great. We liked it over here too. Thanks for a great pick.

  4. The ingredients for this one are on my shopping list so I hope to make it this weekend. Seeing how great yours looks is very inspiring! Thanks for hosting this week!

  5. Yum! This pasta bake look sooo good :) And I'm rarely disappointed in one of Ellie's recipes. Happy Sunday to you!

  6. We loved this pasta dish! I'm so glad you picked it because I totally forgot it was in the cookbook.

  7. I made this for our Valentine's Day dinner, and it was a big hit! Sorry I didn't get a chance to post along with you, but I'm so glad you picked this. I used brown rice pasta which was a bit of a mistake, but I will definitely make it again with some tweaks :)

  8. Hi,

    I have a quick question about your blog, do you think you could email me?