Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Easy Baked Ziti

My favorite part is the first word in the title: Easy. Sometimes it's necessary to tweak my cooking philosophy, especially when I have little energy or am sick for much of the day. I think, simple, unpretentious, great tasting food is best though, yes? Every week I try to make at least one OAMC {Once A Month Cooking a.k.a destined for the freezer} recipe so that we can still have homemade meals without me actually cooking & prepping them in the evenings. Last week, I had a taste for baked ziti so I consulted a bunch of allrecipes recipes and came up with this.

Easy Baked Ziti
makes 2 8x8" dishes or one 9x13" dish
{I used 2 disposable 8x8" pans, as it makes for easier clean-up. The 8x8" dish was enough for my family of 2 adults and 2 children. When adding a light salad for the adults, there was still a bit of leftovers.}
1 16 oz. box mostaccioli or penne noodles

1 jar spaghetti sauce

1 pound italian sausage

1 16 oz. container ricotta cheese

1/2 c. sour cream

2 c. shredded mozzarella

Boil noodles in salted water until barely al dente. You want them still a bit firm since they'll continue to cook in the oven. While noodles are boiling, brown up the italian sausage until no longer pink. Add the spaghetti sauce to the pan and scrape up all the brown bits. {There's flavor in those bits!} Let cool a bit. In a big bowl, mix together the spaghetti sauce mixture, the ricotta, and the sour cream. Dump in the noodles & toss thoroughly to coat. Lightly spray your desired pan(s) and add the noodles, dividing equally if using two pans. Top with shredded cheese. If you're baking it now, pop it in at 350° F for about 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and edges are bubbly. Otherwise, cover with plastic wrap, then aluminum foil and put it in the freezer til needed. Enjoy with some crusty bread & a light salad!

:: waiting for the cheese ::

**This is just one of those "base" recipes that invites you to add the things you love. Don't like sausage? Add lots of veggies instead, like peppers, onions and mushrooms. Or chicken sausage plus all of the above veg! If you like it spicy, add a bit of crushed red pepper. I used part-skim ricotta and light sour cream, but you can make it with regular versions if that's your thing. Go ahead and top it with a shredded pizza cheese blend, if that's what you have on hand. So many ways to make it your own. **


Stephanie said...

Simple is my kind of cooking! :-) Thanks for the recipe! I have a box of macaroni noodles that I could use in place of the ziti, right?

And we would still love to host you guys for dinner/lunch and let you have a meal off. Let me know when you're available!

Peaceful Chaoz said...

I'm so glad that I didn't check any blogs yesturday I don't think I could have handled it ;0)

I thought of you the other day when at a friends house she made the simplest beef (venison) stroganoff. I was standing there thinking as she made it that this looked so easy and would be WAY better than hamburger helper, lol! :0) Let me know if you want to get the recipe or maybe you already have one!