I always start the new year with the best intentions. I'll be super neat (and sweep the bathroom floor before the hair balls start looking like tumbleweeds)! I'll go the gym (instead of giving it the side eye as I quickly run in to Starbucks). And most importantly, I'll cut out fast food (including my beloved Taco Bell)!
One by one the resolutions fall to the wayside. I mean, Let's be honest, the gym resolution didn't ever stand a chance in the first place. But the "less fast food, more real meals" resolution? That one is always the most important one and tends to stick around throughout the year. So when I was paired with Lea Ann for this month's Blogger CLUE challenge, I was super excited to find more real food inspiration. Lea Ann is the dynamic powerhouse behind the blog, Cooking on the Ranch, and her recipes are the perfect blend of healthy and hearty.
January's Blogger CLUE theme was something sparkly. Think champagne, sprinkles, edible gold leaf. Sadly, our entire family spent the first few weeks of the year being super sick and not feeling very sparkly at all. We were, however, definitely feeling ready for a warm and comforting meal. So I scoured Lea Ann's blog and came across her delicious looking Baked Ziti. Lea Ann used fire roasted tomatoes for that little something extra along with a zucchini for a bit of extra heft. We didn't have any zucchini and I figured the kind folks at my grocery store didn't really want to see sniffly me in my pajamas, wandering in a flu medicine haze through the produce section. But in keeping with the theme, I did sprinkle some sea salt crystal on the dish for the sparkly quotient!
My family does not have any Italian genes but this is definitely a meal to bring out the Italian in you! A giant one dish meal, heaping with hot pasta, meat, sauce, the all important cheese, it's basically comfort in a bowl. Oh, and it makes enough to last for a few meals (well, unless your family is like ours and they came back for seconds and thirds). Then, it's only enough for one meal and a few cold leftover spoonfuls at midnight. Happy new year y'all! Here's to more good eats in 2015. And heck, maybe I'll even go the gym this year. On second thought, why mess with a good thing.
16 oz. uncooked ziti pasta
1 lb. extra-lean ground beef
1 large sweet onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large can (28 oz.) tomato sauce
1 small can (6 oz.) tomato paste
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup parmesan
salt and pepper
Heat oven to 375°F. Cook and drain pasta as directed on box.
Meanwhile, grease one large baking dish with oil. In a large nonstick skillet, brown onion and garlic. Add ground beef and cook completely. Stir in tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, and oregano. Heat beef and sauce mixture to boiling. Add cooked pasta and toss to coat. Spread in prepared baking dish.
Cover dish tightly with foil; bake 20 minutes. Remove foil; sprinkle with mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered about 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Broil for 4-5 minutes until cheese is browned.
Can't get enough CLUE? Follow along with other CLUE bloggers below:
- Sparkly Shortbread Cookies from Lisa of Authentic Suburban Gourmet
- Cherry and Cream Pavlova from Ramona of Curry and Comfort
- Pomegranate Champagne from Christy of Confessions of a Culinary Diva
- Rosemary Peach Sparkling Cocktail from Alice of A Mama, Baby and Shar-pei in the Kitchen
- Baked Ziti from Azmina of Lawyer Loves Lunch
- Maple, Caramel, Golden Sugar Blondies from Kelli of Kelli's Kitchen
- Strawberry Champagne Cocktail from Stacy of Food Lust People Love
- Milky Way Martini from Aly of Cooking in Stilettos
- Cornish Game Hens with Whisky Herb Citrus Glaze Lea Ann of Cooking on the Ranch
- Peach Buckle from Anna of Anna Dishes
- Potato Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette from Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Lemon-Ginger Crinkle Cookies from Jean of Lemons and Anchovies
- Soft Pretzel Sticks with Spicy Mustard Sauce from Heather of girlichef
- Sparkling Mojitos from Heather of girlichef
- Salted Toffee Chocolate Chunk Cookies from Liz of That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Blood Orange Margaritas from Liz of That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Mini Cinnamon Rolls from Kate of Kate's Kitchen
- Brown Butter, Brown Sugar Banana Bread from Christiane of Taking on Magazines
- Savory Clafoutis from Christiane of Taking on Magazines
- Cardamom White Chocolate Panna Cotta from Debra of Eliot's Eats