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Homemade Baked Ziti

1 lb ground beef
1 3 inch length Portuguese Sausage (Linguica) sliced thin
1 large onion sliced and diced
1 green pepper diced
4 large cloves garlic peeled and pressed
1 pint mushrooms sliced
2 6 oz cans (or 1 12 oz) tomato paste
2 12 oz cans tomato sauce
Italian Seasoning
2 bay leaves
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese
ground black pepper
soy Sauce
chili flakes

1 box ziti noodles
1 block mozzarella, sliced
water for boiling
Canola oil

Preheat oven to 350 F

First, brown the ground beef and Port. Sausage in separate frying
pans over medium heat. Make sure the beef is in a large frying
pan, and drain the fat. When the sausage is done, pat it dry with
paper towels to remove the grease. When the beef is just about
done, grind the pepper over the beef, probably about 1 Tbsp worth.
Add about 1/2 to 1 Tbsp soy sauce and mix it in to the beef. You
can replace the soy sauce with salt, but it adds a nice zing to
the flavor. At this point, I usually cut the onion into chunks
and throw it into my Cuisinart with the garlic, and shred them to
bits, and toss them in. But sliced into small bits works well
also. Add the onion and garlic, and let cook down (covered) until
the onion gets a little clear. I add a little oil here sometimes,
depending on how much fat was in the meat.

Add the tomato paste, and mix it in. I do the paste first because
it makes it faster and easier to get the consistency right when
the sauce comes in. Add the sauce and mix it well. Add generous
amounts of the oregano and Italian Seasoning. Don't go overboard
on the basil though. Add the bay leaves. Let it simmer. Mix it,
and let it simmer longer. Start the water boiling for the ziti.
Add some salt and oil to the water to make it boil quicker, and to
help keep the zitis from sticking. Throw the green pepper, sausage,
and mushrooms into the sauce. Next stir about 4 or 5 Tbsp Parmesan
cheese in to the sauce.

When the ziti is done, drain them and dump into a large rectangular
Pyrex. I don't remember the exact size, but I think its around
9x18. You may have a touch too many zitis, but they are delicious
plain, so eat any extras. Once the Parmesan has melted into the
sauce and made it stringy, and the sauce has thickened, stir the
sauce into the zitis. Mix it all well. Now, lay the sliced
mozzarella over the ziti like shingles on a roof. Sprinkle over
some more Parmesan, maybe a Tbsp.

Bake at 350F for 45 min - 1 hour.


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