One of the first meals I remember cooking was spaghetti. I was about ten years old and working on a Girl Scout cooking badge. The badge required that you plan, cook, and serve a meal. My Mother very wisely suggested spaghetti. She knew it was one of my favorites and it was easy to follow the steps. She watched and made suggestions, but I cooked it myself. I was so proud and couldn’t wait for my family to try it.

This week’s recipe is a pasta recipe. Instead of traditional spaghetti I have developed an oven-baked pasta version. Oven-baked pasta has a history that dates back to the late Middle Ages and Renaissance where these dishes were served at banquets at the palaces of the nobles, kings, and queens. Eventually this caught on in Italy and was later brought to America. Today, baked pasta is usually made on Sundays, holidays, and special occasions. Italians like to call it piatto unico –which means one serving is a complete meal with protein, veggies, and dairy.

So make this week a special occasion for your family and treat them like royalty. Try the Easy Baked Penne. It’s sure to become one of your favorites! Remember if you try the recipe, send a picture, I would love to see your cooking success! I hope we can meet and cook together soon! If you have questions about any of the videos for these recipes that are being posted on the Pontotoc County 4H Facebook page or about 4-H and would like to be added to the upcoming ZOOM meetings, just call Jane Chamblee your 4-H Agent at 662-489-3910.

Keep cooking and trying new foods!

EASY Baked Penne


1-16 oz. box penne pasta or 

     (any similar pasta)

1 lb. ground beef

1 can tomato soup (10 oz.)

1 can small diced tomatoes 

     (I like to use rotel tomatoes)

¼ cup diced onion

¼ cup chopped green pepper

1 clove garlic or 

     (1 tsp. garlic powder or minced garlic)

½ cup water

Salt & pepper to taste


  1. Cook and drain the pasta according to the package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375 degrees and grease a 9 x 13 baking dish.
  3. In a large skillet, brown, and chop the ground beef with onion, green pepper, garlic, salt and pepper (or any seasoning of your choice).
  4. Add the cooked pasta, tomato soup, diced tomatoes, a half cup of water and HALF of the cheese to your skillet with the browned beef, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes over medium heat.
  5. Pour the mixture into your greased dish and top with the remaining cheese.
  6. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and continue baking for an additional 10 minutes. 
  7. Serve immediately and store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days.


  • Serve with a garden salad and garlic bread for a full Italian meal.
  • You don’t have to use mozzarella for this dish if you’d rather use 100% cheddar instead. Your preference! You could even use some fresh parmesan. 

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