Monday, November 30, 2015


 Baked Ziti

Thanksgiving has come and gone. We are still enjoying some of the leftovers—ziti, tacos, cranberry apple crunch, salad and banana pudding. Plus, we are feasting on the memories. It's like having "seconds" as we talk about all that happened here last week.

Baby Girl has become a comedian, telling "knock knock" jokes as only a 19-month-old can. She can plainly say, "Knock, knock" and wait for someone to ask "Who's there?" And she responds with some word that only she knows and then throws her head back and laughs hard. That's how she sees her sister telling knock-knock jokes. I'm not sure whose jokes are funnier.

Big Sister has a science project due this week. Part of it involved making a leaf press. While she was here, Daddy-O taught her how to use a radial arm saw to cut the boards and then she drilled holes for the screws. And she finished it (she wanted it to be beautiful) by using a wood burner to make a design on the top. She had never heard of a wood burner. Lucky for her, that was a popular craft when I was growing up. She declared wood burning, "Cool!" Her leaf press is a work of art.

This is what happened when Little Sister "occupied" herself.

Little Sister was her usual happy self, as she sang and danced her way through the week. She was my constant helper. On the last day I still had to hem a chorus dress for Big Sister. Black dress. Black thread. Hard to see. And my helper was right at my side. I called for her mommy to come to the sewing room. Little Sister asked why I was calling Mommy. I told her that I wanted Mommy to come occupy her so I could work. She protested immediately and loudly. "Don't occupy me! Don't occupy me! I don't want to be occupied!" I don't think she really knew what "occupy" meant. But she knew that she wanted no part of it.

Personally, I am still giving thanks. Thanks for family being here together for an entire week. Thanks that they made it safely back home. And thanks for good memories and good food. The actual turkey dinner was not held at my house, so I didn't have to cook the turkey and make dressing and gravy. But my kitchen stayed very busy anyway. One day I ran the dishwasher three times. Yes, three times in one day. And it was full every time.

My overflowing dish, ready for the oven.

Because this visit was for six nights, I had to cook things besides the Thanksgiving side dishes. The night before Thanksgiving, I made this baked ziti. The recipe has been here on the blog before as "Rotini Noodles with Beef." This time I rewrote the recipe according to how I did it last week. You might find yourself making your own changes!

 My supper of leftover baked ziti & cranberry apple crunch.
Don't judge my combination. I was proud there was a little salad left.

This time I used ground turkey (regular kind, not the extra lean white pack.) This recipe is truly good with either beef or turkey. I have found that where I shop, ground turkey comes in 1-pound packages. And a package of ground beef usually is more like 1.3 lbs. I just use whatever is in the package. Make this when you need to feed a crowd. This gets a two-thumbs-up rating from Big Sister, Little Sister and Baby Girl.


1 (16-oz) box ziti, cooked as directed on box
1 (24-oz) jar spaghetti sauce
1 (14-oz) can seasoned diced tomatoes (I used tomatoes w/green pepper-onion-celery)
1 (8-oz) container sour cream
1 (15-oz) container cottage cheese
1 lb. ground beef or ground turkey (a little more is okay)
lots of shredded Mozzarella cheese
salt & pepper to taste

Brown ground beef or turkey, season with salt and pepper, and drain. Stir in spaghetti sauce and tomatoes and let simmer while you do the other prep.
Mix together sour cream and cottage cheese.
Cook ziti until al dente.  (Basically, put this together the way you would do lasagna.)

Put a small amount of meat sauce in a 9x13-inch dish, then a layer of ziti, half the cottage cheese mixture, a handful of Mozzarella, and half of the remaining meat sauce. Repeat steps above, adding lots of mozzarella on top.

Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. (Spray your foil with PAM so the cheese doesn't stick.) Take out of oven, remove cover and bake for 15 minutes more.

If you have a lasagna pan (which is slightly deeper than a standard 9x13 pan) you could use it here. Every time I've made this, it is full TO THE TOP!

After this was baked, I realized there was no way we would eat all of it. We still had the big turkey dinner the next day. So I cut a large portion of ziti and put it into a 1-quart Pyrex dish and popped it into the freezer. Daddy-O will be glad I did when I'm away for a couple of nights during the coming weeks. He can have an easy hot meal. I'm thinking he will thaw it in the refrigerator, then heat it in the microwave.


  1. I love how little kids tell jokes! Sounds like your holiday was wonderful. Your cranberry apple crunch looks delicious and I would have to agree with you about it being good for breakfast.

    1. She is still telling knock-knock jokes. Hope someone makes a video before she changes how she's doing it now.

  2. One of my husband's favorite dinners is leftover baked ziti - I might send him to your house. I think Little Sister was taking the Pilgrims hostage! (Or perhaps they were being occupied?)

    1. We always think the ziti is better the second (and even third) time, too. All the pilgrims were released unharmed.

  3. Your stories are always funny! Love your blog!

    1. Hi, Janie! Thanks. I love writing down some of the things they do--because in about two days, we can't remember any of it!


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