Teaching myself to cook, one recipe at a time.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Baked Rotini with Sweet Italian Sausage

I think there are two types of cooks: one who is capable of creativity and inventiveness in the kitchen, and one who sticks to recipes to make things that actually taste good. I’m the latter, but really really really want to become the former. I’m learning, and trying out new recipes a lot has shifted me closer to being the natural sort of cook, but I still have a long way to go. Normally my inventive efforts result in an “Eh, that was okay,” so I stick to recipes for the most part.

But this recipe is my own invention!

*pauses for effect*

Okay, maybe I cheated and reviewed a lot of similar recipes online before I actually created this one based on what I had in the kitchen. But I have tweaked it and added things, and I know that it is successful because hubby eats the leftovers. I know this is partially because it has some of his favorite ingredients (namely sweet Italian sausage and cream cheese), but hey. I’ll take what I can get.

Start off with a pound of sweet Italian sausage. I have tried preparing it a few different ways, such as leaving the casings on and slicing the links and taking the casings off and crumbling the meat. I don’t like the texture of the casing so I like taking them off, but crumbling the sausage meat is hard because it’s gooey and sticky, so just slicing and rolling it into little balls works well for me.



Put the sausage balls in a large skillet.


And saute them until they’re browned.


Drain the fat out, then add in a can of Italian-style diced tomatoes and a few cloves of minced garlic.


Cook it up until some of the water from the tomatoes has evaporated.


Add basil…


Italian seasoning…


And onion powder.


(But don’t pay attention to the pictured amounts, it’s not quite accurate). Also add a can of tomato sauce. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and let it simmer for a while.


In the meantime, feel free to experiment with a roll of Pillsbury dinner rolls. I’d never bought these before so it was going to be a new experience.


I also cooked up 2 cups of multi-grain rotini. Normally I use penne but I happen to have a lifetime supply of multi-grain rotini from that time I went to Costco last summer. As it turns out, I think I like the rotini better because it’s softer and more gooey (aka not as firm as penne).


Stir the pasta into the sauce and get it all coated.


Then put it in a greased Pyrex dish and top with shredded mozzarella cheese.


Cover in aluminum foil and bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and delicious-looking.


If you’ve timed it right, the dinner rolls should be about done, too.


Serve and enjoy!


And lick your plate clean.


Then, remember with a guilty start that YOU FORGOT TO ADD THE CREAM CHEESE! Oh crap. I usually add a glop (yes, a “glop,” that is the measurement) while the sauce is simmering. I forgot completely, and I’m pretty sure that I promised hubby that I’d make him “that cream cheese sausage dish” tonight. It was after I added cream cheese to the ingredients list that hubby really started enjoying this dish. Oops. I won’t tell him if you don’t!

It was still pretty damn good, though.

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