Yesterday my morning started out kinda rough, and I was in a blah mood all day long. Later in the afternoon, I was checking my email and I saw where I won an Ergo baby carrier from a blog giveaway! I never win anything, EVER, and was beyond excited because I had just registered for one and they run about 170.00. It was just the pick me up I needed to change my mood for the afternoon. Do you ever have days like that where you just have a hard time getting out of your funk? If you are human, I am sure you do and there is nothing better at the end of one of those days than a big bowl of comfort food. My easy baked ziti is just the sort of meal that will make you feel better in one bite.
It's funny how food can do that, transform your mood after a long day. It's one of the reasons I love to cook. For me, it's healing and to be able to serve others a meal that makes them feel better too is such a rewarding experience.
Life is busy, you are even busier, and chances are you need a couple of meals in your back pocket that you can whip up in a snap and will have leftovers for the rest of the week. Baked ziti is the perfect meal to serve up your whole family.
I think if I lived in Italy I would rarely have a bad day with all the pasta, pizza, and gelato that is around. How could I ever be upset if I have carbs and ice cream to eat whenever I want?
The moral of this story is, when having a bad day...cook pasta. It is almost always the answer.
- 1 Lb Rigatoni, Ziti, or Penne
- 2 Lbs. of Hot or Mild Italian Sausage (you can also do 1 lb sausage, 1 lb ground beef)
- 1 Onion, diced
- 4 Cloves of Garlic, minced
- 1 Tsp. Red Chili Flake (can omit if you don't like spicy)
- 1 28 Oz. Can of Crushed Tomatoes
- 1 Cup Ricotta Cheese
- 1 1/2 Cups of Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
- Salt and Pepper
- 1/4 Cup Fresh Basil and Parsley for Topping
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Saute sausage until browned. Drain onto a paper towel line plate and get rid of extra grease in pan.
- Add onions, garlic, and red chili flakes to the same pan with the remainder sausage drippings. Saute for 2-3 minutes until onions start to get tender.
- Add tomatoes to the pan and cook for about ten minutes. Add sausage back in. and stir to combine.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and heavily salt your water. Add pasta and cook until right before pasta is tender. You want to leave it a little uncooked because it will continue to cook in the oven.
- Drain pasta, and mix 3/4 of tomato and meat sauce with pasta, ricotta cheese, and 1 cup of the shredded mozzarella and pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish.
- Top with remaining sauce and mozzarella cheese and bake for about thirty minutes until cheese is melty and golden.
- Top with fresh basil and parsley and serve immediately.
I could seriously eat this every week and not get tired of it. It's everything there is to love about comfort food and I know you are going to love it!