Recipe: Baked Ziti

So this week I work Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday nights. I also have a bake sale to prepare for on Friday and I’m still fighting an annoying cold.. so I needed some simple meals to make that would give my beloved hubby lots of leftovers for work for the week (and to eat Thursday night while I bake my cookies). I’ll try to eventually post all the recipes – because seriously, I picked some winners – but I’ll start with Tuesday.

Tuesday night was Baked Ziti. It’s the second ziti recipe I’ve tried and it’s definitely the winner. Soo yummy! I can’t say it was the quickest meal because of browning the meat, making the sauce, making the pasta, and then baking the whole thing in the oven – but it was definitely easy and I was able to get some other stuff done while it was cooking in the oven.

I made the following variations and/or additions:

  • I used ground turkey instead of ground beef or sausage because it’s healthier for you and once you add the seasonings and the sauce, you seriously can’t tell the difference. I promise! It might even be a little cheaper to use.
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Add your herbs and garlic before you add the sauce.

  • I made my own sauce – I used a 32oz can of tomato sauce and a 12oz can of tomato sauce with Italian seasonings already added, fresh basil and fresh oregano, salt and pepper, and garlic powder. It’s super easy and super yummy! It tastes even better the more you can let it simmer.
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Simmering sauce.

  • I like adding fresh herbs to the ricotta cheese to give it more flavor. I also added about half a cup of mozzarella cheese to the ricotta to make it extra cheesy and gooey. And I used the whole 16oz container of ricotta instead of only 1 cup.
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Ricotta with basil and oregano.

  • I also used extra mozzarella cheese (more cheesy and more gooey!). I added it on top of the first layer of pasta and then I added it at the end like the recipe states. I sprinkled a little fresh Parmesan on the top, but that’s pretty much it.
  • Lastly – I let it bake for like 30-40 minutes instead of 20 minutes. I wanted the cheese to be more melted because I added so much extra.
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Never thought to do this – Add sauce to the pasta before layering. Adds more flavor!

I didn’t make any drastic changes and I think the recipe would probably be equally delicious without them, but I just went with what I felt sounded yummy. I think it’s okay to play around with layered dishes like this because you can alter the order of the ingredients or you could add extra ingredients in between some of the layers. Next time maybe I’ll add mushrooms for my husband (they’re his favorite!).

Anyway I posted the link above and seriously, give it a try! It was delicious! What other variations could be done?

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All ready to go in the oven.

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Finished product – NOMS!

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Pickle Dip.. Seriously!

Yes, I’m a Pinterest addict. The other day I pinned this recipe for something called Pickle Dip. Now I love pickles and at first I thought this recipe sounded a little iffy – and maybe a little gross – but I made it and I loved it! I added at least double the amount of minced pickles, but like I said, I LOVE pickles. So here’s the recipe for you. Take a risk and try it! 🙂

Ingredients

  • 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 to 1 cup dill pickles (I did about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Pickle juice (I used about 1 tablespoon, maybe 2)
  • Dill, for garnish (I didn’t use any because I didn’t have any)

Instructions

  1. Chop the pickles into very small pieces.
  2. Combine the cream cheese and Worcestershire sauce until well mixed.
  3. Splash in a bit of pickle juice to thin it out.
  4. Serve cold with chips.

Not my picture