Penne with Sausage: Cooking with Mom

What Going on Today: My Mom is visiting us in CT to help take care of her granddaughter while I finish unpacking and do errands!
Naptime Goals: Organize paperwork for household bills, assemble meat sauce for dinner. Set Green Beans to marinate.
Tonight's Menu: Ziti, Marinated Green Beans. Wine.
Parenting Lesson of the Day: Grandparents. A necessary part of parenting.

Though I've been doing a pretty great job at unpacking - if I do say so myself - my Mom came down this week to help take care of my daughter. She distracts the kiddo with trips to the new playground and library, while I unpack boxes and spend ungodly amounts of time at the DMV. Normally in these situations I would hire one of my awesome babysitters to come over, but I don't know any sitters in the area yet! Finding a babysitting service is on my list of things to do.

One of the many nice things about having Mom here is not only does she help me with the little one, she also helps me in the kitchen. Technically my Mom is the original Naptime Chef. She was always preparing our meals while we were asleep, or in class, or at soccer practice. She even used to ice our birthday cupcakes for school in her pj's before we woke up! Although my brother and I flew the coop long ago she hasn't forgotten any of her old tricks and is always game for giving me a hand.

Yesterday, while my daughter was asleep, we put together a yummy meat sauce for dinner. The assembly was relatively easy and was made especially simple by the fact that there were two of us working at once. She handled the sausage and vegetables while I took care of making the green bean marinade.  Once the sauce was complete we kept it in the fridge until it was ready to be reheated for dinner later that evening. We also set some green beans in the fridge to marinate. More on those next week.

That evening, when I returned from yet another ridiculously long afternoon of errands, we reheated the sauce, made the pasta and assembled the dinner within minutes. It was Mom's comfort food at it's finest. The pasta was coated with a delicious red sauce made sweet by the italian sausage with a nice topping of tangy parmesan cheese.  The green beans on the side added the perfect amount of crunch and greenery to compliment the red pasta meal. One of my favorite parts is that we were able to enjoy the sauce again the next day for lunch and even freeze a small portion for a night later this summer when I need a meal in a jiffy. Making this together was a great way celebrate a fun visit, the perfect early Mother's Day celebration.

Penne with Sausage
5 8oz. Sweet Italian Sausages, casings removed
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 T. olive oil
1 16oz. jar of good quality marinara sauce (we use Trader Joe's)
2 pinches Kosher salt
1 1lb. Penne
1/2 c. freshly grated parmesan cheese

1. In a large saute pan heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook for one additional minute. Add the sausage and cook until the meat is browned and fully cooked through.
2. Next, add the marinara sauce and salt, lower the heat to the lowest setting. Cover with a lid and stir ocassionally, until sauce has thickened. Turn off heat. Place the sauce in the fridge until you are ready to heat in eat it if making this ahead of time.
3. Prepare penne according to package directions. Drain it and reserve 1 c. of pasta water. Add the penne to the sauce in the pan and swirl to incorporate. If sauce seems too thick thin it out with a few splashes of pasta water. Scoop into a pasta bowl, top with grated cheese and serve.

Naptime Notes:
Naptime Recipe Ideas and Variations: We used Marinara sauce for this but you could use any flavored sauce you like. I really like Newman's Own Cabernet Marinara and bet that would be fantastic. If you have more vegetables on hand then we did chop them up, saute them with the onions until soft. We like to eat this with a green salad and garlic bread.
Naptime Stopwatch: Preparing the sauce takes about 20 minutes, the swirl it with the fresh pasta and serve.
Naptime Reviews: This deconstructed pas dish is wonderful for both adults and children. Especially children who are still on soft food diets because of mouth injuries!


  1. This sounds simple enough yet satisfying in a big way! Have you tried Mexican chorizo in place of the Italian sausage? So good! Spicy!

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. This is seriously great, good to know that I can make the sauce in advance.