The key to a Super Bowl party is to make foods that are easy to make, easy to eat, and easy to clean up. These baked ziti “cupcakes” are small enough to fit on a plate with other appetizers and snacks, yet hardy enough to be the “main dish”.
Baked Ziti Cupcakes
These “cupcakes” keep their cupcake shape after baking with the help of an egg in the ricotta mixture, and a healthy sprinkle of mozzarella cheese melted at the end makes a nice “frosting” for the cupcakes.
- 1 Box Mostaccioli Noodles (A smaller ziti noodle)
- 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- 1/2 c. Onion, Chopped
- 2 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
- 1 1lb. Lean Ground Beef (88% or higher)
- 1 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
- 4-6 Leaves Fresh Basil, Finely Chopped (I use herb shears)
- 2 tsp. Salt
- 1 tsp. Pepper
- 1 (15 oz) Container Part Skim Ricotta Cheese
- 1 Egg
- 1 c. Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
- 1 c. Parmesan Cheese, Finely Grated
- 2 c. Marinara Sauce
- 1 – 1 /2 c. Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the box of mostaccioli noodles according to package instructions. In large stock pot, add the olive oil, onion, and garlic, and saute on medium low for about 3-4 minutes, until the onion is opaque.
Add the ground beef and turn the stove to medium high. Break apart the beef with a wooden spoon and stir frequently so it does not burn. When the beef is brown, remove from the stove. Add the basil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper and stir to blend. In a separate bowl blend the ricotta cheese and egg; mix into the ground beef mixture. Add the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and blend well. Stir in the marinara sauce. Grease a large muffin pan with olive oil, and spoon in the Ziti mixture until full.
You can also use large muffin wrappers, but make sure you grease the wrappers with olive oil. Place the muffin pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle mozzarella cheese on the top of each “cupcake”. Place back in the heated oven for about 12-15 minutes, until the mozzarella is melted and golden brown.
Let the pan sit for about five minutes then scoop the “cupcakes” out of the pan. Serve with extra marinara sauce. Note: You can prepare the “cupcakes” ahead of time and place in the oven for the 30 minute baking period, then add the mozzarella, or you can bake the “cupcakes” ahead of time, then reheat when you add the mozzarella for the “frosting”.