Eat Well Bake Often

New Year’s Feast.

I spent New Year’s at my boyfriend’s house with his sister and other relatives.

I just want to share some of the food I cooked for them. It was tiring, but definitely worth it after all the wonderful feedback I got!

FYI. Both of these were Don’s requests.


When I tasted TGIFriday’s version, all I wanted to do was recreate that. I’ve never cooked baby back ribs before and I didn’t have a grill. So it was a challenge! I searched online and got a copycat recipe via Spicy Southern Kitchen. I doubled the recipe, ommitted the celery salt because I couldn’t find one loocally, and oven baked it all the way through instead.  And we were satisfied with the results. That was the main reason why Don requested for the same dish for New Year’s.
This time around, I adjusted the ratio of the spices on the dry rub and made it a little bit more spicy. And… Added more JD to the sauce. Perfect outcome!

Everybody was saying it was delicious! Don’s nephew ate 1/4 of the rack!

Jack Daniels Baby Back Ribs


Our dog, Chelsea had a feast, too!


This next one was supposed to be a copycat of Sbarro’a Baked Ziti. However, we couldn’t get a hold of Ricotta and Romano cheese so I just improvised.

This tasted real good! Tasted even better the day after! We had so much leftovers!

Baked Ziti with Meat Sauce & Three Bell Pepper, Two Cheese White Sauce

Ingredients & Directions:

500 g      Ziti, cook as instructed; toss in Olive Oil; set aside
*Save some pasta water to add onto the sauces, about 2.5 cups.

Meat Sauce:
2 Tbsp      Vegetable Oil, for sautéing
3 cloves    Garlic, minced
Half of      White Onion, finely chopped
1/4 kg       Ground Lean Beef
200  ml     Italian Spaghetti Sauce or Tomato Sauce
Salt and Pepper
3-4 pcs    Tomatoes, deseeded, chopped into small cubes

1. Heat the vegetable oil and sauté the onion and garlic.
2. Add in the ground beef and continue to heat until the beef is thoroughly cooked
3. Add in the spaghetti sauce.  Add some pasta water to get the consistency  you want.  In my case, about 1/2 cup.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cook just until the sauce is warm.  Set aside.
5. Sprinkle the cubed tomatoes onto the pasta and mix.  This is to add texture and real tomatoes into the sauce.
6. Use just enough meat sauce to coat the pasta.  There will be extra meat sauce 😉  Set aside this layer.

Three Bell Pepper & Two Cheese Sauce:
1-2 pcs each     Red, Green, Yellow Bell Pepper or Capsicum (depending on size)
100 g                  Fresh Parmesan Cheese, grated
100 g                  Mozzarella Cheese, grated
60 g                    Unsalted Butter
60 g                    All Purpose Flour
1.5 – 2 cups        Pasta Water
3/4 cup               Milk
Salt and Pepper

1. Roast the bell peppers on your stovetop until the skin is charred.  Turn the bell peppers so that all sides are evenly cooked.  Put the cooked bell pepper in a bowl and seal with plastic wrap.  This way, it’ll be easier to remove the charred skin. Leave for a few minutes or until the peppers have cooled.
2. When they are cooled, using the non-sharp side of a pairing knife and remove the charred skin.  If charred properly, sometimes you can peel off the skin by hands.
3. Slice in the middle and remove the seeds and chop the peppers into half-inch cubes.  Set side.
4. Using low heat, melt butter in a saucepan.  Add flour to form roux.  Use a wire whisk to combine the butter and flour.  Cook for a few seconds, whisking constantly.
5. Add the pasta water while whisking to form a veloute.  In doing this, the milk/cream won’t burn and evaporate when added.  This will look like a translucent thick paste.
6. Add the milk and/or cream to the mixture, again while continuously whisking.  Make sure to get all the veloute under the pan otherwise this will eventually burn or your sauce will become lumpy. You can add salt and pepper at this time or like me, I wait until the sauce has thickened.   Let the sauce simmer until it thickens. Season to taste.
7. Add the two cheeses while whisking continuously.  Then add in the roasted peppers.  Turn off heat.

150 g      Parmesan Cheese, grated – more if preferred
150 g      Mozzarella Cheese, grated
5 g          Fresh Parsley, finely chopped
Cayenne Pepper
Parsley, chopped, for garnish

1. Using a deep dish, in my case a 9 x 11 nonstick pan, pour half of the pasta that was tossed in the tomato sauce.  Flatten to level.
2. Pour some cream to cover the pasta.
3. Sprinkle half of the grated parmesan and mozzarella.
4. You can dash in some cayenne too if you want.  I prefer to put it on top.
5. Put the second layer of pasta and do the same.  I like to put more a lot of mozzarella on top.  Sprinkle cayenne on top, depending on how spicy you want this to be.
6. Bake this at 350F until the cheese melts and/or the top is gratinated a little. Remove from oven.
7. Sprinkle parsley on top and serve!


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