Creamy, cheesy and spicy baked penne pasta is baked into mini muffin cups for the tastiest appetizer around! They’re the perfect one-bite snack!
All the flavors of a delicious baked penne pasta dish, in a convenient one bite cup! They’re super easy to make, and you can even use leftover pasta! Easily customizable and sure to be a hit with both kids and adults. These baked penne cups take less than 30 minutes to make!
I seriously looooove pasta… probably way too much lol. My kiddos love it too, so I’m always coming up with different ways to make pasta. Baked penne, or baked ziti as you may know it, is definitely one of our favorites! Over the next month or so I should be posting my family favorite, feed an army, baked penne dish 😉
This post today though… is SO cool. It’s baked penne, but in a portable, one bite appetizer! It’s a way for you to bring a traditional pasta dish to your party, and everyone can enjoy it without having to even pick up a fork.
My apologies for the semi-blurry step by step photos… my 2 year old son was “helping me”, which basically means hanging on to my leg asking for a bite every minute lol.
As a kid, growing up, my Mom served a baked penne dish that she always called “campers’ stew”. No idea why it was called that, but it was always one of my favorite meals. We had a meal rotation where for one week, each family member got to pick the meals. Mine always included the baked pasta!
This is my twist on an old family favorite, made into appetizer form, or even just a cute presentation to get the kids to eat their dinner!
We love this recipe just as it’s written, but feel free to switch things up a bit to better meet your tastes. It’s a great opportunity to add some veggies (with kids, you have to sneak them in!), change up the meat, or you can use a different flavor of sauce. You could even leave the meat out entirely and make it a vegetarian dish!
I love to use Ragu’s Spicy Italian Style pasta sauce, as it has a robust savory flavor, with just enough spice to taste good but not attack your mouth. If you’d prefer a non spicy version, check out all of Ragu’s sauces… I guarantee you that they have a sauce you’ll love!
Speaking of Ragu… have you ever heard the story of the woman behind the great sauce recipe? It’s an amazing story, full of tradition, perseverance and family heritage! Her recipes have been passed down from generation to generation and today, Ragu sauces have NO artificial flavors and ingredients, and NO high fructose corn syrup. Now that’s a jarred sauce you can be proud to serve to your family. Just farm-grown ingredients slowly simmered to add great layers of flavor!
Do me a favor… visit Ragu’s page, click on “Meet our Founders” section, then feel free to connect with Ragu and share your family traditions!
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- 1/2 lb mini penne pasta
- 1/2 jar Ragu Spicy Italian pasta sauce
- 1/3 lb ground beef one third
- 2-3 Tbsp cream cheese
- 1/4 - 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1/3 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese plus some for sprinkling, one third
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg beaten
- Fresh basil or parsley to garnish
- Bring large pot of water to a boil.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 mini muffin pans with cooking spray and set aside.
- Salt the boiling water, add pasta and boil for 2 minutes less than what the box says for "al dente".
- Drain pasta and toss with some olive oil to keep it from sticking.
- In a skillet over MED-HIGH heat brown and crumble the ground beef. Use a potato masher to get it into fine crumbles. Stir in garlic powder and Italian seasoning, along with a pinch of salt (not too much).
- Drain beef and return to skillet.
- Add pasta sauce and cream cheese. Stir until cream cheese is melted into the sauce.
- Beat egg in a small bowl and set aside.
- To a large mixing bowl, add pasta, meat sauce, Parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Stir to combine everything. Mix in egg until well combined.
- Spoon pasta into muffin tins, pressing the pasta into the cups to really pack it in.
- Bake for 6-8 minutes.
- Sprinkle remaining mozzarella cheese over the tops, return to oven and bake until cheese is bubbly and turning lightly golden brown.
- Let stand for several minutes before removing from the muffin tins. Remove gently with a spoon.
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