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Baked Ziti with Meat Sauce

I’m starting to get back on my feet after the flu last week. The rest of my crew have remained flu-free – phew! I played hockey last night and after my first few shifts, I had to focus on getting air into my lungs and breathing through the shortness of breath. I might have resumed exercise a bit soon – it was not my best game and was a struggle to get through physically.

So, of course, I was sure to get in a cycle workout tonight (oh, Nicole) and my quads are burning even a few hours after the fact. It’s amazing just how quickly you can lose your fitness. Just over a week ago, I was hitting PRs and had rode 5 days in a row!

When Mark got back from his work trip, he was sure to ask how I’m feeling. Shortly after, he was sure to remark that “now I know when he feels when I say he has a man cold.”

You guys, my husband is trying to tell me that when he has a head cold, he actually has the flu and THAT’S why he’s so tired and run down. There’s no rationalizing with this! When I tried to rebuttal with flu facts, he was insistent that what he suffers from is flu and not a “(man) cold”. Hopefully you’re laughing alongside me! Men…

We’re in full-out freezer clear-out mode because all of our winter comfort food that has been stockpiled away is on its way out so that we can embrace spring and soon, summer! Lighter fare, come my way!

One of the comfort foods coming out of the freezer was from this meal we made back in February. Our nanny raved about this meal and still talks about it…probably because I took the original recipe and added more cheese…fresh mozzarella that got all ooey and gooey. This kid-friendly, make-ahead meal is a crowd-pleaser and packed with protein – you’ll love it!

Baked Ziti with Meat Sauce
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 servings (about 1½ cups each)
Meat Sauce:
  • 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb 93% lean ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 lb dry ziti pasta
  • 1 cup low-fat ricotta, divided
  • 1½ cups part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella, chopped or torn into ½-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. To make the meat sauce, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add beef and cook 8-10 minutes, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until cooked through. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until they are translucent, 4-5 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper; stir. Bring it to a simmer and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until it thickens, 10-12 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the fresh basil.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook ziti until al dente, 8-9 minutes. Drain the pasta and return to pot. Top with meat sauce and mix well.
  4. To assemble, place half of the ziti onto the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Place ½ cup of the ricotta cheese in dollops evenly on the meat sauce, along with ½ cup of the shredded mozzarella, and all of the fresh mozzarella, covering the surface evenly. Spread the rest of the ziti evenly as a second layer. Top the ziti with small dollops of the ricotta cheese followed by the rest of the shredded mozzarella.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese on top turns golden brown. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve.
Recipe from Foolproof Living
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1½ cups Calories: 475 Fat: 14.8 Carbohydrates: 54.3 Sugar: 10.0 Sodium: 509 Fiber: 4.8 Protein: 35.3 Cholesterol: 72
Be well,

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