For this post, we have partnered with ALDI to share one of our most favorite family favorite recipes for warming up on those chilly autumn evenings.
November is such a happy time of year for me, I immediately think warm comfort food, cozy bozy sweaters, rain boots, fall foliage and a license to listen to all the holiday music I want until my heart is content. The first crisp cool breeze and Harvest Moon is always a sentimental time for me because it immediately brings back memories of big fluffy Irish knit sweaters, duck books, fall foliage and The Hunt back in New Jersey.
But they can be a wee bit somber since family is 3,400 miles away. So I do the next best thing, and embrace creating our own traditions so Kiddo can define, yet customize a similar sense of what autumn will mean to her when she grows up. Sure there are a few things that can’t be substituted, but we can switch around some cookies, debate whether turkey stuffing should have raisins, and still throw in a day of apple picking and hay rides. But there is a fall favorite dish that is not up for negotiations: Baked Ziti for “Sunday Dinner.”
And the best part? You can make a few trays, toss them in the freezer, and have them as a back-up dinner plan whenever you need. It’s the ultimate dinner!
Have you been to ALDI? It’s an impressive neighborhood grocery store that offers incredibly high-quality exclusive brands at impressively low prices. But it also prides itself in providing “delicious satisfaction”. It’s backed by a Double Guarantee and saves you up to 50%* over other national brands. For this family-tradition, I’m not only able to serve up a family favorite, but use delicious ingredients at a fraction of the cost. The Double Guarantee makes me feel much better knowing I can trust ALDI and the brand’s quality of products. If for any reasons customers aren’t pleased with an ALDI exclusive brand item, they will refund the cost and replace the product. Now, that’s a great option to have.
For starters, I am a big fan of ALDI Stonemill Essentials. I always have my pantry stocked with different dry herbs, spices and flavorings because they not only come in so handy, but I use them for almost every meal. My husband in particular is a HUGE fan of the different flavor mixed salt grinders. Whether we’re making baked ziti, another pasta dish or a different protein for dinner, we have a salt grinder on hand. His favorite being the lemon pepper and mine being the garlic. At ALDI we are able to get it for $1.89, while the cost at our local grocery store is $5.79 for McCormick Garlic Sea Salt Grinder.
But I think my favorite Try & Tell item at ALDI is the Priano Rigatoni. If you are a pasta lover, I dare you to “try & tell” the difference between Priano and Barilla. It’s impossible. The taste, quality and texture is identical.
You say sauce, I say gravy.
First you must make Grandma’s Sunday Gravy. Feel free to use a jar, but I can’t bring myself yet to do so. Either way, it needs to be made and can be done ahead of time.
- 1 lb. Priano Penne Pasta (our family prefers the Priano Rigatoni Pasta)
- 2 15oz. cans of SimplyNature Organic Tomato Sauce
- 1 6oz. can of SimplyNature Organic Tomato Paste
- 8 oz. Priano Fresh Mozzarella
- 16 oz. Happy Farms Preferred Mozzarella
- Carlini Olive Oil
- Monterey Sliced Mushrooms
- Earth's Harvest Merlot
- Happy Farms Grana Padano Shaved Cheese
- Stonemill Minced Garlic
- Stonemill Essentials Italian Seasoning
- Stonemill Essentials Onion Minced
- Stonemill Essentials Crushed Red Pepper
- Stonemill Essentials Garlic Salt
- On low-flame, heat olive oil and add garlic, Italian Season, Minced Onion and a pinch of Red Pepper.
- Add sliced mushrooms and mix until covered.
- Add can of tomato paste and a pour of red wine to make a thick coating over mushrooms. Do not let them burn but soak up the flavor.
- Add two (2) cans of tomato sauce and 1/2 can of water stir and cook on low-heat for at least a half hour (the longer the better. Even hours!)
- While waiting for the sauce to cook, boil 1 pound of penne or in our family, we love the rigatoni! Once the noodles are al dente, drain, mix with sauce, shredded cheese, cubes of mozzarella and layer across a glass Pyrex rectangle dish.
- Slice some of the soft Mozzarella that we were able to buy at ALDI for $3.29 and keep to the size to layer on top. That same Bel Gioioso Fresh All-Natural Mozzarella Cheese was $6.73 at our local grocery store!
- Cover with tin foil and bake at 450 for 45 minutes. Then an additional 15 minutes uncovered.
- Tip: You don't have to, but if you can freeze the dish overnight or at least for 45 minutes before baking, the flavors will be even more out of this world!
And don’t forget the garlic bread!
Everything we bought for this dinner cost us $43.11 at ALDI. The same ingredients at our local grocery cost us almost $75. The savings are incredible and it is all delicious! Have a local neighborhood ALDI grocer nearby? Make a point to visit and I encourage you to take the Taste & Tell challenge yourself when purchasing ingredients for your next meal. You will be pleasantly surprised and make sure to share your results on social media. Your friends will love the tip!
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