Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Baked ziti

This was a recipe I got from a friend who got it from a friend of hers (thanks again, Amanda).  If you like pasta and are sick of making the same old lasagna or spagetti routine, this creamy baked ziti recipe is for you!  I substituted a few things to make it healthier, but it still seems very heavy and not diet-y if you have a dude or some kids that don't like lighter meals.  Here is the original recipe with my changes in parentheses:

4 cups - Ziti pasta, uncooked
1 jar (26 oz.) marinara sauce
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
6 oz. - Cream Cheese (I used fat free)
3/4 cup - Sour Cream (I used fat free)
8 oz - Shredded Mozzarella Cheese (I used 2% because fat free melts funny since its made of plastic.  I also didnt use this much cheese, only about half this amount)
1/3 cup - Parmesan Cheese (I used reduced fat)
2 Cloves - Garlic (minced)
1 Tb - Basil
1 Tsp - Oregano
1 Tsp - Salt/Pepper
1 lb - Italian Sausage (I used ground turkey italian sausage)
Cook pasta in large saucepan as directed on package. Remove from pan; drain and spray cold water on noodles to stop cooking. Meanwhile, brown sausage on stovetop.

Add marinara sauce, tomatoes, garlic, spices, cream cheese, and sour cream to noodle pan; cook on medium heat 10 min. or until cream cheese is melted and mixture is well blended, stirring frequently. Return pasta to pan, add sausage and mix all ingredients.

Pour 1/2 of pasta mixture on the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. Next, add 1/2 of the mozzerella cheese and then the remaining pasta mixture. Top with remaining mozzerella cheese and parmesan cheese. I also threw some Italian seasoning and crushed red pepper on each layer, you know how we like it hot in the Stensland household. Cover and Bake at 375 for 20 min. or until heated through. By the way, this was a make ahead on Sunday and keep in the fridge until Monday night for dinner recipe....in case you want to give the pre-made cooking a try, this was perfect for it.  I absolutely love having dinners ready to throw in when I get home! And yes, I realize that makes me sound like I'm 80 years old....

I like to make my own garlic bread as I get the guilty feeling after eating the pre-made stuff.  You know the feeling.  The "wow, that was freaking good, I'm gonna have one more piece" feeling you get with good bread, quickly followed by the "Oh my god, I'm so full I want to unbutton my pants" feeling.  The spread they use on the premade stuff has 100 calories per Tablespoon as well as 13 grams of fat...yikes! Plus, this is cheaper even though it does take more effort than buying one and throwing it in the oven, but I think it even tastes better this way.  I just buy an Italian loaf at the store for $1.50 and cut it into slices, spraying each side with fat free/cal free spray butter, as well as sprinkling each side with garlic powder and stuffing some cheese in the middle of each when I put it back together.  Wrap that up in tin foil and bake for 15 minutes to get the crunchy outside, soft inside (which is the way I like it but do what please). 

Finished product pictured below.  This isn't one of my better food pictures, I should probably start using a camera instead of my phone for this but I will tell you this tasted way better than it looks here.  And holy crap are there leftovers! Im sure this could feed 6 adults pretty easily.  Enjoy :)

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