Baked Ziti

Tomorrow night we are heading up to Virginia to meet my family for a mini pre-Easter vaca. We are going into DC on Friday and then the American Girl Store in Tyson’s Corner on Saturday…along with a trip to LaMadeline for lunch. I used to work in McLean, Virginia and I always loved to go to La Madeleine for lunch so I can’t wait! They have the best tomato basil soup I have ever had.

Then on Saturday we are driving up to Maryland to see Jim’s family for Easter. I am sure there will be an Easter Egg hunt and a trip to Annapolis somewhere in there. Hopefully we will make a trip to Carlsons again!

So this will probably be my last post until Monday. Have a wonderful holiday and I wish everyone a Happy Easter!

This is a great recipe to serve if you are feeding a crowd – especially if there are kids involved. It’s also easy to split into two pans and freeze one for a busy night!

This is a great twist on baked ziti and what makes this a bit different is the sour cream. It gives the dish a little tang and adds some creaminess that you will love.



Baked Ziti
  • 1 pound ziti pasta
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (I sometimes use half Italian sausage)
  • 2 (26 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce
  • 6 ounces provolone cheese, sliced
  • 1½ cups sour cream
  • 6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9X13 pan with cooking spray.
  2. Cook ziti in boiling water until al dente. Drain
  3. In a large skillet cook ground beef and onion. Add the tomato sauce and simmer about 15 minutes.
  4. In the bottom of the baking dish add half the ziti. Cover with the provolone, sour cream and then ½ of the sauce mixture. Add the remaining ziti, mozzarella, sauce mixture and then sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
  6. Enjoy!

Chicken Cacciatore

This morning I got the girls dressed and out the door by 7:30 to head to the dentist for their checkups.  As anyone with little girls knows, getting them dressed, fed and packed for school is an event.  Doing it by 7:30 when they are used to being out the door at 8:30 is a slight miracle.  If you have girls you can probably relate to the dramatics of getting dressed in the morning.  I could write a whole other post just on that subject.

We made it out the door, coffee mug and backpacks in hand and jumped in the van.  We drove through town, passing by the big kids waiting at their bus stops and runners getting their morning jogs in.  When we got to the dentist at about 7:41 we gave the receptionist our name and she paused.  Usually, this receptionist knows who you are you as are walking in the door, so this wasn’t good.  She asked for our names again and when I told her she looked worried.  “I don’t see them in here for today” she said.  Oh no……

So tomorrow morning we will be performing another slight miracle and we will get back to that dentist office by 7:40 just in time for our appointment…..that was always on Tuesday.  Sigh.

This cacciatore is really delicious and I like to make this in my dutch oven.  I cook it down and let it simmer for a while because the flavor really develops and it starts to taste like something you would get at a good Italian restaurant. However, if you would like to make this on a weeknight, the crockpot would work well for this as well.

In the picture I served this over papardelle pasta which is basically a wide fettuccine noodle.  The second night I served it over some Barilla Plus farfalle and liked it better that way.  When I plate my pasta I like to drizzle a little bit of EVOO and toss.  If I want some spice (which I usually do) I will throw some crushed red pepper flakes in with it too.  Adding this directly to the noodles adds more flavor because every noodle gets coated in the oil.  You can also serve this over white or brown rice for a different twist.

It’s quite healthy, too.  This recipe uses boneless skinless chicken and the rest of the recipe is pretty much tomatoes, peppers and onions.  Throw some red wine, basil, garlic and olive oil in and you have yourself a great, healthy meal! One suggestion for keeping Italian meals light is to skip the bread if you are serving this over pasta or rice. I love bread, too, but seriously people, that is two portions of carbs in one meal. Plus, we all know you won’t just have one piece of bread.  Instead, have a nice salad.  Don’t be afraid to use some of the EVOO even if you you are trying to keep this healthy.  If you totally avoid the oil in this dish, the flavor won’t completely come together and your body does need some fat to help digest all of this healthy food.  So don’t go without, but just watch your portions.

Cacciatore recipes that I have seen typically call for white wine.  I happened to only have a bottle of red so that is what I used.  You can really use either and the taste will be fantastic.


Chicken Cacciatore
Recipe type: Main
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 28 oz can plum tomatoes (get the best quality you can)
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 2-3 red, yellow or orange peppers, sliced into strips
  • 1 sweet onion sliced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 large handful of fresh basil - cut in a chiffonade
  • 1 tsp italian seasoning
  • olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Heat dutch oven over medium heat with a little olive oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper and brown in the frying pan on both sides. Remove from pan.
  2. Add onions and peppers to the dutch oven and cook until the onions start to turn translucent. Scrape up bits of the browned chicken as the onions and peppers cook. Add garlic and wine. Cook for about 3-4 minutes until the wine is reduced by about half.
  3. Add the chicken broth, tomatoes and italian seasoning along with two tablespoons of additional olive oil and a few dashes of salt and pepper.
  4. Simmer the chicken on the stovetop for about and hour and a half stirring every 20 minutes scraping down the sides of the pot. Crush the tomatoes as you are cooking so you are left with smaller chunks.
  5. During the last half hour add the basil and stir to combine.
  6. When the chicken is done cooking shred with two forks until you get lots of big chunks of chicken. Add a little more salt and pepper to taste. If you want to make this sauce a little bit velvety you could add in 2-3 tablespoons of butter at this point.
  7. Serve over pasta that has been tossed with EVOO and crushed red pepper flakes (if desired.) Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.