Baked Ziti

I LOVE Christmas!  I do!  I really do!  But I’m SOOOOOOOOOO tired of eating “Christmas food!”  It’s wonderful when it’s Christmas.  It’s even wonderful the day or two afterwards.  But I’m ready for some everyday food!

While fiddling around on Facebook a day or so after Christmas, someone mentioned spaghetti.  And I LOVE me some spaghetti.  But it hadn’t been that long since we’d had it.  So I wasn’t in the mood to fix that.  So I started thinking along those lines.  Spaghetti, Baked Spaghetti, Lasagna, Baked Ziti……… AHA!  That’s it!  Baked Ziti!  I hadn’t made it in ages!  So I decided that’s what we needed to have!

If you enjoy spaghetti and lasagna and such, you’ll love Baked Ziti!  It’s kind of a mix between the two really.  Very similar to both!  And a dish full of ooey, gooey goodness!!!!!!!

Let’s start out with what you’ll need:

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Ground chuck, fresh flat-leaf parsley, cottage cheese (I used fat-free), shredded mozzarella and fresh parmesan cheeses, a bag of seasoning blend (or chop your own if you’re not lazy like me!), ziti pasta, and canned tomatoes, both diced and crushed.

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You’ll also need minced garlic, some Spicy Spaghetti Seasoning from Sam’s and some fresh-cracked pepper.

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Start out by putting your ground chuck into a pan with the seasoning blend and browning it up.  When you start this, also put a large pot of water on to boil for your pasta.  Make sure to add some salt and a little oil to the water to keep your pasta from sticking together.

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Once the water begins to boil, add the ziti to the water.  Boil the pasta about 7-8 minutes.  You don’t want to overcook the pasta because this is going into the oven to bake once it’s finished on the stove.  And overcooked pasta is mushy and gross!

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While the meat is browning and the pasta is boiling, start mixing up the cottage cheese mixture.  Pour the cottage cheese into a mixing bowl.  Add the garlic, fresh-cracked pepper and chopped parsley to the cottage cheese.

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Next add the freshly grated parmesan cheese to the cottage cheese.

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Mix it all up and set it aside until you’re ready to start assembling the casserole.

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By now, your pasta should be ready.  Drain it and put it back into the pot you used to cook it……unless you REALLY love to wash dishes and want to dirty up another bowl to mix the pasta and cottage cheese together.  And if you DO happen to LOVE to wash dishes, would you please come live at my house?  I’ll feed you REALLY well!

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Mix the cottage cheese into the pasta.

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YUM!  It would be good just like this!  But wait!  We’re going to make it better!  WAY mo’ better!

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Now that you’ve got the pasta and cottage cheese mixed up, drain the cooked beef and rinse it before returning it to the pan you used to cook it in.

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Add the garlic and spicy spaghetti seasoning to the meat.

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Now add the tomatoes and stir it all up.

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Oh my gravy!  Would you look at that!?!??!?!  Just let the meat simmer a few minutes and it will make your house smell something akin to Heaven!

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While the meat sauce is simmering, pour the pasta into a baking dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

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Now top the pasta with the meat sauce.

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Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese on top before baking.

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And when the oven finishes with your glorious little dish, this is what you get!

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So let’s eat!  YUMMMMMMMMMM! 

This is just good, honest food!  Nothing fancy.  Nothing pretentious!  Just good.  It feeds the tummy and it feeds the heart and soul! 

Baked Ziti

*  1 1/2 -2 pounds ground chuck

*  1 bag seasoning blend

*  1-28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

*  1-15 0z. can petite diced tomatoes

*  1 lg. tub cottage cheese

*  1-8 oz. bag shredded mozzarella cheese

*  1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

*  1 handful fresh parsley, chopped

*  2 Tbsp. garlic, minced (divided)

* 3 Tbsp. Spicy Spaghetti Seasoning

*  1 Tbsp. pepper, fresh-cracked

Brown ground chuck with seasoning blend.  Drain and rinse meat once it is browned.  Once the meat is drained, add it back to the pan you cooked it in.  Add 1 Tbsp. garlic and spicy spaghetti seasoning to it.  Now add the tomatoes and stir.  Simmer the meat sauce 20 minutes.

Boil pasta and drain.  Mix cottage cheese with remaining garlic, parsley and black pepper to taste.  If you like more parsley, use more.  If you like just a little, by all means, use some dried instead of buying a whole big bunch of fresh.  Once you have all the spices mixed into the cottage cheese, mix it with the drained pasta.

Before you start assembling the casserole, make sure to spray your baking dish with non-stick spray.  Start by adding the pasta to the bottom of the dish.  Top with the meat sauce and finish by sprinkling with mozzarella cheese.

Bake in a pre-heated 350° oven approximately 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the casserole is bubbly.  Serve hot.

I kept it very simple with this meal.  We’ve eaten so many huge meals over the last few days due to the holidays that I served it with just garlic bread.  But you could certainly add a salad and have a very nice “company” meal. 

However you dish it up, serve it with love!  Enjoy!

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One Response

  1. How did I miss this recipe? yumm-o

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