Monday, October 28, 2013

Creamy Baked Ziti

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Happy Monday! We made it to another week... and for me, it's my second week of intense training at my new job. It's exciting and stressful at the same time because I'm learning so much and adjusting to a new office culture. Thankfully there are still 4 more weeks of training left, which is great so that I'm being set up for success. With such full work days ahead of me, I'm balancing things out a bit by sharing new recipes and posts every other day, as opposed to daily - something I've done for years. I've also adjusted my teaching schedule on the weekends to give myself some more down time... which I need, especially as we get into the new year. Being in any type of healthcare administration role at the beginning of the calendar year is always going to be insanely busy, even more so with the upcoming healthcare changes taking place in 2014. Just the thought of healthcare issues makes me want to just hide in the kitchen and cook up something to get my mind off of it lol. That said, a recent weeknight meal I made on the fly is this Creamy Baked Ziti. Browned Italian sausage and a blend of cheeses elevates your everyday pasta to something hearty...


If anything is comforting, it's a bowl of {GF} pasta drowned in sauce. Even better is incorporating cheese... and this recipe has plenty. Ricotta cheese and mozzarella cheese really get mixed in the dish and if that wasn't enough, it's topped with more cheese - in this case, colby jack. It's what I had but you can certainly substitute it with more mozzarella cheese if you wanted. This dish makes for a great freezer meal too so if that interests you, prepare it as directed in a freezer safe baking dish but rather than baking it, cover/wrap in plastic wrap, then in foil before freezing. When you're ready to prepare it, thaw it slightly and continue baking as directed. You may have to bake it longer - closer to an hour - if it's been frozen. This is to ensure the middle is cooked through. With the busy work days ahead of me, I'm definitely making more of this to stock my freezer!

Creamy Baked Ziti
recipe slightly adapted from AllRecipes

1 (16oz) package{GF} ziti pasta
1 pound bulk Italian sausage
24 oz ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded colby jack cheese
1 egg, beaten
2 cups homemade or store bought pasta sauce
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus more for serving
Fresh Italian parsley, chopped for garnish


Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease baking dish.

In a large skillet set over high heat, crumble the bulk Italian sausage and brown. Transfer the browned sausage to a large bowl.

In a large bowl with the sausage, add the cooked pasta, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, egg and 11/2 cups pasta sauce. Transfer mixture to the prepared baking dish.

Cover the top of the pasta with the remaining pasta sauce and sprinkle the 1 cup of colby jack cheese and Parmesan cheese over the top.

Bake uncovered in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let it rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Serve with additional Parmesan cheese if desired and garnish with fresh parsley.

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