Monday, August 30, 2010

she lives! + Italian comfort cravings

Its certainly been a while, hasn't it? 3 months since my last post?!? Yeeesh.

The truth is, from the end of May to early August I'd been battling some pretty debilitating morning sickness. Happy and exciting news, yes, but not so much for my foodie appetite. I subsisted on crackers, popsicles and flat soda for weeks on end, and spent many many hours kneeling in front of my toilet in gory reunions with the aforementioned foods. I could NOT bare to eat, cook, smell, touch, shop for, look at, write about or even think about food. Needless to say, this did not make for interesting blog material.

The great news is that I'm finally into my second trimester, and food is my friend again! I can watch the Phantom Gourmet and flip through Everyday Food without running to the bathroom! I can eat and drink things besides ginger ale! Hallelujah! I've spent the past few weeks catching up on all my fave foodie blogs, maggies and shows, and it has been so nice. I've missed you guys! 

 I've been craving Italian food like its nobody's business and so, I thought I'd come back from the dead and share this fave recipe with ya'll. Baked ziti isn't a dish that would normally come to mind as a typical end-of-summer meal but, its definitely something to keep in mind for the cooler nights that are becoming more common as we ease into fall.

Baked Ziti

{Recipe adapted from Food Network Kitchens}

Serves: 6 - 8

  • 1 pound dried tubular pasta (ziti, penne, rigatoni, etc.)
  • 3 1/2 cups quick tomato sauce* (recipe follows)
  • 1 pound fresh or shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Cook pasta as directed until al dente, drain.

3. Toss the cooked pasta with the tomato sauce, a handful of shredded or cubed mozzarella, half the Parmesan and pepper to taste. Transfer mixture to an oiled 9 x 13 inch baking dish, and cover with the remaining mozzarella (thinly sliced if fresh) and Parmesan cheeses. Bake until lightly browned and hot, about 20 - 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

*Quick Tomato Sauce

Yields: about 5 cups


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 pound sweet or spicy Italian sausages, casings removed and crumbled

  • 1/4 of a medium onion, diced

  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped

  • 3 1/2 cups (one 28 oz. can) whole, peeled canned tomatoes in puree, roughly chopped

  • sprig of fresh thyme

  • sprig of fresh basil

  • salt & pepper
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook the sausage until just beginning to brown, then add the onion and garlic, and continue to cook until sausage is browned and onions are soft. Add the tomatoes and herbs, and bring mixture to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Discard the herb sprigs, season with salt and pepper to taste. If not using immediately, sauce keeps covered for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or 2 months in the freezer.

Feel free to customize this recipe to your liking. I've used chicken sausages, ground meat (beef, chicken, turkey), dried herbs, and homemade marinara sauce in different variations and they're all great. You could also add sauteed veggies, sliced meatball, or even some red pepper flakes for a bit of a kick-- the possibilities are endless. The sauce is probably the best quick recipe I've come across in all my recipe searches, and its delicious over freshly cooked pasta if you just can't wait (oh, do I know that feeling!). This is an easy-peasy recipe and impossible to screw up, my friends.

Ah, it feels good to be back in Blogland :o)


  1. Blluaaarrhhgarglemmmmm This is so simple but SO delicious. Guess what I'm making for dinner tonight!

  2. i love baked ziti!!! we have it every few weeks b/c it so easy. I like to put a pot of ricotta in it and then use parmesan to sprinkle on top.

    I'm glad you are feeling better and finally enjoying food again! :o) x

  3. Homemade tomato sauce makes all the difference. I love to use yellow tomatoes when I make it. Glad to hear your feeling better, dear! xo

  4. thank you ladies! it is so nice to be able to enjoy food again :)

  5. I laughed when I read that you've been craving Italian - when I was pregnant with O, I swear to Maude, we had Italian at least once a week. I think I ate my weight in mozzarella.

  6. Congratulations! Baked ziti any time of year :) Looks delicious, seriously.

  7. @ TMae: I'd have Italian every night if I could, much to my husband's dismay. he's sick to death of marinara at this point so, I've had to change up my sauce repetoire. and mmmm mozzarella...

    and thank you Tracy!