Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mother's Day Wrap-Up: Baked Penne with Sausage and Creamy Ricotta

Let's get into the meat of it, Mother's Day itself.  The piece de resistance of the week.

I started it out with my now regular Sunday morning run with Jurisslave.  My runs are already my "me time" so it made sense to incorporate it into Mother's Day.

Thatboy really wanted to make me breakfast in bed, but settled for having breakfast ready when I got home.  He had me text him when I was done with the run.  I found out he had ulterior motives for that.  He had to get my gift from Thatbaby all set up.  I returned home to find this:

He turned some of our cabinets into a corkboard station - giving me places to hang our important notes that always fall off the fridge, decorated by my favorite young and upcoming artist.  They had spent all weekend putting these together - taking advantage of every moment I wasn't in the house to cut, glue, and paint.

Of course,  he took care of the breakfast part too.

After breakfast with my boys, I took a shower and headed out to the spa, where I was meeting Thatmom and UDubb.  Last year, Thatmom and I met for a day at the spa, complete with manicure and pedicure.  And that was the last time I had a manicure and pedicure.  I was long overdue.  UDubb and I traded stories about work, friends, and running while lounging by the pool.  I got much less sleeping and reading done than I had planned, but I have beautiful hands, feet, and a sunburn to show for it!

After we were done spa-ing, we headed over to meet the boys for dinner.  Thatbaby brought his gift for Thatmom.  He was very busy this month with art projects for the women he love.

After dinner, we came home, and I got a present from Thatboy - a bath set - candles, wine, and a journal.

We ate out for Mother's Day, and we all had burgers.  But rather than feature a burger, I'm sharing a different favorite - a baked pasta dish.  These never get old.  Inspired by Thatmom who was raving about baked ziti,  like she used to get in the old neighborhood.  I'm more partial to penne than ziti, so Joelen's recipe was especially appealing.  And like always, fresh ricotta and mozzarella is a must for this. 

Baked Penne with Sausage and Creamy Ricotta (From What's Cooking Chicago)

3 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound chicken sausage, diced
1 (28-ounce) can tomato puree
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon ground fennel
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound penne
3 cups ricotta 
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 400.  Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large sauce pan.  Add the minced garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until fragrant , about 15-30 seconds. 
  2. Add the sausage and cook until browned, about 8 minutes.
  3. Add the tomato puree, water, sugar, bay leaf and fennel. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat until thickened, about 30 minutes. Discard the bay leaf.
  4. While the sauce is simmering, cook the penne according to package directions.  Drain.
  5. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce.  Combine the remaining sauce with the pasta and spoon into a baking dish.
  6. Pour the reserved meat sauce over the pasta and dollop large spoonfuls of the ricotta on top, folding it into the pasta.
  7. Scatter the mozzarella on top and sprinkle with the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake for 45 minutes, or until bubbly and golden. Let rest for 20 minutes before serving.


  1. Aww your mother's day sounds so sweet!!

  2. What a great way to celebrate mother's day! And I'm glad you enjoyed this recipe :)