easy baked ziti

Easy Baked Ziti | anutritionisteats.com

Who is ready for a non-Thanksgiving recipe? It was a wonderful evening, but I’m ready to get into the Christmas spirit! This doesn’t mean that I’ve got the decorations up, or even plan on getting a tree but I love giving gifts, lighting candles every night, and of course, the comfort food that cooler weather brings.

And baked ziti is the perfect comfort food.

Easy Baked Ziti | anutritionisteats.com

It’s comforting, it’s satisfying and it’s easy to make. Isn’t that what every dinner should be?

Bonus: it’s five ingredients and takes only 10 minutes of active prep time. It will be on the table in 35 minutes and everyone will be happy.

Easy Baked Ziti | anutritionisteats.com

Baked Ziti isn’t necessarily the prettiest food around, but it is tasty. No matter if your taste buds lean gourmet or picky – it’s a meal that the whole family will love. I used a spicy red pepper marinara (jarred) sauce but use your favorite jarred or homemade sauce.

Serve with a green salad – it’s all this dinner needs!

Easy Baked Ziti | anutritionisteats.com

Easy Baked Ziti
 
Author:
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 8 oz penne pasta
  • 1½ cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 25-oz jar of marinara sauce
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cook pasta as directed until al dente, drain and set aside.
  3. Mix together ricotta cheese, eggs, parmesan cheese and salt and pepper.
  4. Cover the bottom of an 8x8 inch pan with half of the marinara sauce.
  5. Top with pasta, ricotta mixture and remaining sauce.
  6. (Sprinkle with extra parmesan cheese if desired.)
  7. Bake for about 25 minutes, until bubbly.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 538 Fat: 19 grams Carbohydrates: 62 grams Sugar: 13 grams Fiber: 7 grams Protein: 28 grams Cholesterol: 145 miligrams

 

gorgonzola + honey crostini

I’m currently in the sky, headed back to the West Coast! I’ll call it the “best” coast if it feels more like the fall weather I enjoyed in New York, and less like the summer weather I didn’t enjoy in LA this past weekend. (I loved being in NYC, the energy feels so different than in LA – I only wish I could have extended my trip so that I could have stayed longer than 36 hours!)

But back to the weather (I am from the midwest after all, and we do like to talk about it), I’m ready for squash and soup and chili and hot tea ALL the time! Temps in the 80’s make that complicated.

Gorgonzola + Honey Crostini |anutritionisteats.com

But I’ll try not to complain about the weather and continue to drown my weather woes with good appetizers. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Appetizers are the way to my heart. They are my heart.

Gorgonzola + Honey Crostini |anutritionisteats.com

And easy appetizers are best. Because when you’re hungry, you’re HUNGRY!

Here, crunchy crostini is topped with creamy and slightly pungent gorgonzola cheese (I used a triple cream!) and a drizzle of sweet honey. You can’t go wrong with this combination. Crunchy, creamy, sweet and salty.

Gorgonzola + Honey Crostini |anutritionisteats.com

Three minutes until crostini is in your belly.

  1. Lightly toast bread
  2. Spread cheese
  3. Drizzle honey
  4. Lightly toast again

Gorgonzola + Honey Crostini |anutritionisteats.com

Perfection in a bite.

Gorgonzola + Honey Crostini
 
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Ingredients
  • french baguette
  • 4 oz gorgonzola (or blue) cheese
  • honey
Instructions
  1. Lightly broil bread for about 2-3 minutes, until golden brown.
  2. Spread blue cheese and drizzle with honey.
  3. Broil crostini for another 2 minutes, or until cheese has melted.

cottage cheese + hard-boiled egg toast

Cottage Cheese Sandwich | anutritionisteats.com

Any other cottage cheese fans out there?

I have to admit that I typically keep my cottage cheese-consumption pretty typical. You know, plain. Or with chunks of cantaloupe. Or applesauce. (Which was probably one of my first foods, I ate that combo as a baby!)

Cottage Cheese Sandwich | anutritionisteats.com

But today, in light of a cottage cheese conversation, I decided to step out and try something a little different. So I gave toast a protein boost with a scoop of cottage cheese and a hard-boiled egg. It sounds a little weird, right? But it makes sense.

Cottage Cheese Sandwich | anutritionisteats.com

And it works. It turns out that you can’t really go wrong with a hearty slice of bread topped with creamy cottage cheese, hard-boiled egg and sliced tomato. (Don’t forget a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper to finish things off!) I had my whole family try it out and though everyone was skeptical at first, we all loved it. Or, try swapping out the egg slices for avocado for a protein-boosted twist on avocado toast!

Cottage Cheese Sandwich | anutritionisteats.com

Why do I like cottage cheese?

  • It’s high in protein (fun fact: a 1/2 cup of cottage cheese has more than double the protein of an egg!)
  • It’s low in sugar
  • It tastes good AND it’s satisfying

A serving of cottage cheese is a great addition to any meal, or perfect for a snack. Try it topped with fresh fruit or go the savory route with cucumber, chopped tomatoes, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt & pepper. Find recipe ideas and ways to incorporate cottage cheese here.

And please, give this toast a chance!

This post is sponsored by Daisy Brand

honey-thyme marinated sharp cheddar

Honey-Thyme Marinated Sharp Cheddar | anutritionisteats.com

On our early-morning flight home from DC last week, I was far too exhausted to read the book I planned on reading (I’m currently reading Steve Jobs), so I picked up the November issue of the Food Network Magazine. (Buying magazines at the airport is definitely a guilty pleasure of mine!)

Honey-Thyme Marinated Sharp Cheddar | anutritionisteats.com

And in between short sleeps on that cross-country flight, I paged through the magazine, ripping out the recipes I want to try. I love the variety that comes in a magazine like Food Network. I currently only subscribe to two food magazines: Bon Appétit, which is great for more modern, upscale recipes and I just re-subscribed to Rachael Ray Magazine, which is great for simpler, family-friendly meals. Often times, I like to merge the two styles into my own cooking style.

Honey-Thyme Marinated Sharp Cheddar | anutritionisteats.com

Given that the Food Network is my favorite tv channel, I always enjoy the magazine from time to time. (Food Network side note: I really miss Rachael Ray’s cooking shows.)

But the cheese! This marinated cheese recipe in the magazine caught my eye, right away! I used to buy marinated feta ALL the time (it’s amazing on salads) and any recipe with cheese as the star…well, it’s bound to catch my eye.

In this recipe, sharp cheddar cheese is marinated with olive oil, honey, thyme, smashed garlic clove and red pepper flakes. It’s a bit sweet and a bit hot with a hint of garlic and so much better than sharp cheddar on it’s own. It’s perfect for snacking straight out of the bowl, or as an accompaniment to crackers, of course!

Honey-Thyme Marinated Sharp Cheddar | anutritionisteats.com

Traditionally, cheese plates include a sweet and spicy component – here, it’s all combined! I have a feeling it will become your new favorite appetizer. Bring it to every party, serve it at every party. You can’t go wrong with this easy crowd-pleaser!

Serving suggestion: remove the garlic before serving so no one accidentally thinks its cheese…it happened.

Honey-Thyme Marinated Sharp Cheddar | anutritionisteats.com

Honey-Thyme Marinated Sharp Cheddar
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 8 oz block of sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 4-6 sprigs of thyme
  • red pepper flakes
  • salt
Instructions
  1. Cut up cheddar into little squares. (Small enough to eat in one bite!)
  2. Combine remaining ingredients in small bowl (red pepper flakes amount depends on how much heat you want!) and toss with cheese.
  3. Marinate at room temperature for at least a half hour, or make ahead and marinate overnight in the refrigerator if possible.
Notes
The flavors get more intense over time, so if it's best to make a day or two in advance!