Thursday, 24 June 2010

What's for dinner tonight?

That's what my elder child would usually ask me over lunch. He will ask about lunch when he's having breakfast and about dinner during lunch. How I wish he shows the same amount of enthusiasm when it comes to his studies (^^')

I had planned to cook some angel hair with meat sauce, but only realised that there was less than 1 serving of noodles left. Luckily, there was still half a pack of elbow macaroni. I told him dinner would just be macaroni with bolognese sauce.

"Oh, ok, that will be great! But can you bake it with cheese please?"

"Hmmm...yes, I do have a pack of cheese, but I have not done it before. Let me google and see whether I can get some idea, but I can't promise it will turn out well."

So, that was how our pasta with tomato sauce got evolved into a baked version.

I was surprised at how easy to transform the dish...and was even more delighted when the baked version turned out to be so delicious!

I cooked the macaroni and the bolognese sauce as usual, and as usual, I rely on ready-made pasta sauce. I guess it will be several years before I would venture into making homemade pasta sauce, to me, store-bought sauces are really time savers.

Instead of serving the macaroni right away, to make the baked version, I had to layer the macaroni and bolognese sauce in a baking, one layer of cooked macaroni followed by half of the bolognese sauce, then the remaining macaroni,  and top it off with the remaining sauce...

followed by a layer of shredded cheese...

before baking it at 190 degC for 15~20 minutes, or until the top turns brown and bubbly.

I wish you were in my kitchen when this pipping hot dish was taken out of the oven. The fantastic aroma from the mozzrella cheese and the bolognese was unbelievable. My oven has got hot spots, this photo happens to show the 'fairer' side of the dish (^_^''')

That was our dinner last night. Both my kids love this tasty, simple and quick to prepare everyday meal. If one dish meals are a mother's best friends, I am glad I have stumbled upon this new found friend. I am sure it will become a regular family friend very soon :)

Baked Macaroni with Bolognese Sauce

(serves 3)

2 tablespoons oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon mixed dried herbs (optional)
200g minced beef
1 tomato, chopped into small chunks
1 1/2 cups ready-made pasta sauce (I used Leggo's)
1/2 teaspoon salt (adjust according to taste)
1 teaspoon freshly grounded black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried parsley (optional)
150g macaroni
100g shredded mozzarella cheese

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Lightly grease (I used olive oil) an ovenproof dish. Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the garlic. Let it cook on low heat for 1 minute. Add the dried mixed herbs (if using). Cook for another 1 minute.
  2. Add the minced beef and cook for 5 minutes, breaking up lumps as it cooks, until well browned. Add in the tomatoes, stir and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add the pasta sauce. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat slightly and simmer for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper, sugar and dried parsley (if using).
  4. In the meantime, cook the macaroni in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain well.
  5. Spread half of the cooked macaroni evenly into the prepared dish. Top with half of the bolognese sauce, then the remaining macaroni, followed by the remaining sauce. Sprinkle the top with some extra dried parsley, if desired. Top with shredded cheese and bake for 15~20 minutes, until the top turns brown and bubbly. Serve warm.
(Note: this recipe serves as a rough guide only. Adjust the ingredient amounts according to individual preference.)


Paula said...

this looks so delicious!

martina said...

this is really an italian dish!! Did you know it? My mum used to prepared it with besciamella sauce or cream and add a parmesan layer to make a crispy topping. But you can find it with mozzarella too, depending of what you have in hand. I think italian dishes reveals sometimes how italians love to eat deliciuos dishes even in a time saver recipes (you can do other stuff while the pasta is cooking! without any mess!)
Happy to know you like it, it's a family recipe for us too
cheers Martina

azalia hjsalleh said...

i really love this & i would like to try it someday

busygran said...

It certainly looks great and mouth-watering. My grandsons would certainly love it.

Angie's Recipes said...

This looks heavenly! You are a super mama!

Unknown said...

This looiks yummy, we always maked baked pasta! Love it

A. said...

Ohhh Mannn ! That looks delicious ! You have home service ? :D. Love your blog and meals. Lots of greetings from

sherlyn said...

Simple and I like. Never tried baking pasta thou eat them before outside. I am so lazy that I even save the baking part, so it is just sauce over pasta!
Do you know if there will be a difference if we do not layer the pasta and sauce, like just mix and bake with cheese.
Can I also check what kind of mozz cheese did u use? Blocked then shred by yrself when needed or comes shredded?

Happy Homebaker said...

Dear Martina, thanks for telling me :) I do not know that this is a common dish in Italian families! I came to know about besciamella sauce only when I was searching for a baked macaroni recipe, it is amazing that I get to learn something new everyday!

Hi Sherlyn, I'm sorry, this is the first time I tried making this dish, so I am not able to answer your query. I have used both, those that comes in a block and those that are already shredded for making baked rice and pizza. For this dish, I used ready-grated ones.

Bakericious said...

this dish looks delicious, I love anything that cheesy :p.

Elin said... always cook wonderful healthy food for your kids...what a wonderful and super mom you are ! Thanks for sharing Piggies love baked macaroni too :)

Henna said...

i think its a perfect recipe, both for adults and kids, its nutritious and easy to make and kids love eating this kind of stuff, i am going to make it this weekend for sure

ali said...

the recipe sounds great, but i really really love your photography - the photos of the food are amazing!

Reira said...

I love baked pasta! Planned to baked macaroni today but ended up baking lagsana instead (for the 1st time).

May I know what herbs did you put in the baked pasta? I only know mixed herbs from Master foods but I dont like the smell of the mixed herbs. So looking for alternatives.

Angel @ Cook.Bake.Love said...

I am drooling now, it's mouth watering. Too bad my family prefers Chinese cooking I can't make this them.

sherlyn said...

Its ok HHB. If I try I tell u lah ;-p

Anonymous said...

It's so adorable, HHB, how much your son loves food- it's a great testimony to how well you've been feeding them!

Anyway I cook pasta way too much but baked pasta is one thing I just cannot resist! :)

Quinn said...


Sounds like a macaroni lasagne! Just wondering why do you need to layer them? If you didn't say you layer them, I would have thought you mix everything together and pop them in the baking tray and top it with more cheese!

Sorry bout the effort! I might just have to make bolognese pasta this weekend. They freeze so well!

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Reira, I used masterfoods dried mixed herbs too.

Hi Quinn, don't ask me why ;) I searched the internet and most recipes I came across called for layering the macaroni, and it does taste a little like lasagna :)

Blessed Homemaker said...

Our kids have the same taste buds! Since my failed pizza, my kids fell in love with bolognese sauce with cheese and had been requesting for it. I just mix the sauce with marcaroni and sprinkle cheddar, mozzie and parmesan cheese on top to bake. They love it!

Jun said...

hi HHB..thanx a lot for this recipe...i like eating it hot...n again, hope u dont mind i put it in my blog...hehhe

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Jun, glad to hear that you like this recipe :)

Karishma said...

I feel like having this right now...your photographs are just too yummy!!

azalia hjsalleh said...

luckily last nite i have tried this recipe
it's really awesome larhhhhhh