Thursday, November 15, 2007

Something for the gift wishlist...

A couple of years ago, someone handed down to me a 5 in 1 mixing system. It was a sort of stand mixer, but not really. I guess it was more like a nicer hand mixer that you didn't have to hold in your hand. I created a dish for a special friends' night I was hosting that I really needed a good mixer for. Cold ground meats are not necessarily easily mixed by hand, after all!

I named the recipe "BeccA's Baked Ziti with Mini-Meatballs." The largest attachments my 5 in 1 set had were like normal hand mixer beaters. Now, if I would have had a Hamilton Beach Mixer, it would have made the recipe just right! Actually, if I would have had the Hamilton Beach Stand Mixer, to be exact, it would have been better blended! The recipe I created goes as follows:

Becca’s Baked Ziti w/ Mini Meatballs

Preparation time about 45 min.

Combined cook time about 1 hour

Mini Meatballs

¾ lb. ground round or chuck

¾ lb. ground Italian sausage

2 tblsp ground garlic

1 tblsp Italian seasonings

Salt & Pepper

2 tblsp Olive oil, in pan

Gravy & Pasta

3 jars of preferred sauce* (I use Sautéed Mushroom & Onion Ragu)

*Or equivalent amount of home made sauce if you like

2-3 jars of Giorgio sliced mushrooms, drained

2 tblsp ground garlic

¼ cup of dried minced onion

1 lg box of ziti style pasta noodles


1 tub of Ricotta cheese

4 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese

Begin by making the mini meatballs. Combine the 2 meats and spices (preferably with a stand mixer on low/medium with a large hook such as the dough hook attachment). Do not over mix the meat, just enough to incorporate the two meats together with the spices. Into a large skillet with olive oil in bottom, use a melon baller to scoop the spiced meat mixture into mini meatballs until all is used. You might have to thump it to release the meatballs from the scoop. Roll them around in the skillet to cook evenly. While the meatballs are cooking, heat the gravy in an oversized pot, adding the garlic, mushrooms and onion. Once the meatballs have slightly browned, drain well, and then add to the gravy. Simmer together for 10-15 minutes at a med-low heat. While the gravy and meatballs are simmering, boil water and cook the ziti. Important: Do Not Overcook The Pasta!!! Drain the pasta well. Next, add the pasta to the gravy. Carefully stir together just enough to distribute and coat the pasta. In a large baking dish (maybe a 9 x 13) spread a layer of the gravy and ziti. Sprinkle small spoons of Ricotta and shredded mozzarella cheeses. Next, another layer of gravy and ziti. Continue layering until the pan is full; the top layer should be a cheese layer.

Place the pan into the oven at 375 for 30-40 min. Enjoy!

Using my glorified hand mixer to combine the meat didn't go as well as it could have. The Eclectrics® Mixer has 400 watts of meat mixing power.

If I could have combined the dough hook attachment and the convenient pour shield, I could have incorporated the spices into the meat while gently mixing the sausage and burger together. You definitely don't want to over mix or over work the meat. It makes it too mushy and your mini meatballs will be weird. Try this recipe soon and let me know how you like it!

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