Friday, April 23, 2010

Baked Ziti

This is an easy recipe, transports easily, fills you up, kids seem to enjoy it and so far between company, bringing it to people’s homes and our own dinner table it is warmly received and seconds are a given. Okay that might have been a run-on sentence but you get the idea. It is also super easy to freeze and then bake later since everything is pretty much cooked before you put it in the oven. Add bread, a veggie, and a salad and you are good to go.


Lasagna-Style Baked Ziti from Real Simple serves 6-8

Hands on time: 20 minutes Total time: 45 minutes

  • 1 pound ziti (looks like skinny tubes)
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • ¾ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ c chopped fresh oregano (optional or just use less dried)
  • 1 26 oz jar pasta sauce
  • ½ cup (2 oz) grated Parmesan
  • 1- 15oz container ricotta
  • 1- 10oz box frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove liquid
  • 1 c grated mozzarella


  1. Cook ziti according to the directions on package

  2. Heat the oven to 400 degrees

  3. In a large pot ( or I have a large wok that works too), over med-low heat, heat the oil.

  4. Add the onions, salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the onions are softened 5-7 min

  5. Add the beef, increase heat to med-hi and cook until no trace of pink remains (5-8m)

  6. Add the garlic and oregano and cook for 2 minutes

  7. Add the pasta sauce and heat for 3 minutes

  8. Remove from heat, add cooked pasta and toss to coat

  9. Add parmesan, ricotta, and spinach. Toss again.

  10. Spread the mixture into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish (I usually can get a 8 x 8 out of it too and I freeze one for another meal).

  11. Sprinkle with mozzarella and bake until it melts---about 15 minutes.

This is what I mean when I say I get an 8 x8 out of it too. Granted, I could really fill up the 9 x13 until it is overflowing, but I tend to think this is a better option and then I get another meal out of it too. Always a good option!

As a side I will often slice up zucchini and steam it for about 5 minutes in a covered dish with about 2 TB of water. Then season with S/P and you can add a little butter if desired.

- Heather

Monday, April 12, 2010

Quick and Easy Chicken Pasta Toss

Serves 6-8
Prep Time: 20 minutes

This is a recipe that came on the lid of the sundried tomatoes years ago and I tweaked it a little and use it often…especially if I am low on time and low on imagination and energy. Plus it is a healthy, easy to make, and yummola pasta toss. This makes a great dinner to bring to anyone as it is healthy, tasty, and combines a lot of food groups into one meal. And as you will see from the last picture, rarely are their leftovers. But by chance you might have some leftovers, it makes for great lunch or dinner the next day or two.

As you can see from the picture….I forgot to take a picture of the ingredients until after I started cooking so the chicken, and Parmesan cheese is missing....oops! One thing to know is that this recipe is flexible and you can use what you have on hand (almost).


  • 1 lb Farfalle (bowtie) pasta (but I have been known to use whatever is on hand including cheese tortellini)
  • 2 chicken breasts- cooked and cut into strips or chunks
  • 2TB olive oil (preferably from the sundried tomato jar)
  • Sundried tomato (Costco sells a big jar that is perfect to have on hand)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Broccoli – cut into bite sized florets (or whatever green veggie you have….I have used asparagus, sugar snap peas or a combo)
  • Pesto sauce (once again Costco sells a great one that I just keep in the freezer and then use what I need)

Okay, are you ready….are you sure….here we go:

  1. Boil the water and start cooking the pasta al dente.
  2. Cook the chicken either (1) whole and cut later or (2) cut first for quicker cooking. (I have been known to do both of these methods depending on the time I have - cutting it up ahead of time cuts down on time - just make sure not to overcook and dry the pieces out. Heat up a skillet, dribble a little olive oil and throw your pieces in until the pink is all gone and the chicken is cooked through)
  3. About 3 minutes BEFORE the pasta is done throw in your veggies. Yes, put your veggies into the boiling pasta and let them all cook together until the veggie is tender al dente.
  4. Cut up chicken into bite size strips or chunks (if not done previously)
  5. Strain pasta and veggies and put into bowl with olive oil, pesto sauce, sundried tomatoes, chicken, and Parmesan cheese.
  6. Toss and enjoy!

Serve with a side salad, and bread if you want….


- Heather Miller