EAT | Baked Ziti

Sooo I hate to toot my own horn, but tonight’s baked ziti may be one of the scrummiest things I’ve ever made. Beep beep, y’all.

It’s rare for me to make a baked pasta, we generally eat a little lighter fare. But every now and then we’re in the mood for something savory. Usually I would follow the Pioneer Woman’s recipe for this Italian indulgence , but I knew I could make a version of my own and I’m so tickled I gave it a whirl.

I wanted to kick the cheese up a notch (or ten) and omg it paid off. Three cheeses and heavy cream blended together in ooey gooey perfection is just what a weekend needs. Plus I had a little extra time on my hands today so I decided to make a more proper sauce as the base rather than using a jarred sauce. Disclaimer: I am NOT Italian. My ‘proper’ might not be sanctioned as Italian-proper. I was not taught the art of sauces by generations of Italiano cooks. I know there’s probably some cute little nonna rolling her eyes at me somewhere over my sauce prep. But let me tell you nonna, it came out delish.

Further disclaimer; I guess I basically made lasagna but with ziti. #sorrynotsorry Layering with noodles, sauce, cheese, noodles, sauce, cheese. It works. Oh yum does it work. Grab a glass of vino, let’s get cozy in the kitchen.

Alteration Option: I added a pound of meat to my sauce which was moderately meaty to me. You could go a little heavier or lighter on the meat depending on your preferences. I also did half and half ground pork and half ground beef, but of course you could use whatever mix you want.


  • ¼ cup good olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • Salt and ground pepper to taste
  • 1 lb ground meat, beef and pork
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes in juice (you’re going to crush them with the flat of your knife & add tomatoes and juice to your sauce)
  • 2-3 dashes of red pepper flakes
  • 15oz tub of good ricotta
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 pound bag of dry ziti pasta
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into pieces
  • Parsley and grated Parmesan to garnish if chosen
It’s Italian night!
Notes: I thought I was going to add the purée to my sauce but ended up not feeling like it needed it. The jar sauces are for the meatballs.


Base Sauce:

  1. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Good olive oil really makes a difference. Yum.
  2. Add the finely chopped yellow onion and pressed/minced garlic. Top with a couple cranks of freshly cracked salt and pepper.
  3. Add the meat (or don’t, it’s yummy with or without)
  4. Cook until the onion is completely translucent and the meat is cooked through, about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Add the tomato paste and mix completely. Cook another two minutes.
  6. Hopefully you’ve already crushed your tomatoes with the flat of your knife. Add your crushed tomatoes and all of their sauce/juice and stir completely, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of your pot.
  7. Season again with salt and pepper and add the red pepper flakes.
  8. Bring to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.
  9. Heat the oven to 400 degrees as the sauce cooks.


  1. In a medium bowl, combine the 15oz ricotta, 1/2 cup heavy cream and 1/2 cup Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Bring it All Together:

  1. It’s perfection if you cook the pasta just south of al dente. We want it undercooked slightly since it’s going to bake in the oven more.
  2. Ladle out 1 cup of the pasta water into a measuring cup, then strain the ziti and rinse with cool water. Set aside until the sauce is ready.
  3. Once your base sauce is done, stir in the 1 cup of pasta water you just reserved.
  4. Place those yummy noodles in a large bowl and add two cups of the sauce. Stir it up to coat the pasta evenly.
  5. Now let’s prep the baking dish! I really need cuter bakeware. Using a glass brownie dish over here. But boring dish aside, spoon a lil sauce on the bottom of a 3 quart baking dish. The you will layer ziti, sauce and mozzarella in thirds. With two layers of ricotta magic. Like so:
  6. Layer in 1/3 of the pasta.
  7. Spread 1/2 of the ricotta/cream/parm mixture on top of the noodles.
  8. Scatter 1/3 of the mozarella pieces. Eat one or two.
  9. Layer 1/3 of the pasta.
  10. Dollop the other half of the ricotta mixture.
  11. Scatter 1/3 of the mozzarella
  12. Add the remaining 1/3 of noodles.
  13. Spread the last third of the sauce.
  14. Artfully scatter the remaining 1/3 of mozzarella. Sprinkle on some parm, why not. This is going to be good.
  15. I placed my dish on top of a sheet pan in case it dripped. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes-ish until the edges are golden and bubbling.

PS: I have a perfect bubbling mozzarella temp that is my golden standard for all things pasta and pizza. I missed my window while I prepped meatballs, but the good news is that it’s yummy even if it’s slightly less bubbled and obviously it was delish as a slightly crispier than ideal mozz too. I also cooked today’s dinner at 425 resulting in my crispy cheese, but have altered the recipe to 400. You got this.

Oops – I blame the fast cooking oven!

EAT | Massaman Curry

Every now and then, I actually do something non-horse (or work) related. Shocking, I know. Occasionally, that something is an adventure in the kitchen! We love cooking at home for one big reason; you know exactly what’s going into your food. We can choose hormone-free meats, local veggies and make sure our recipes don’t include a pound of salt.

Some weeks are busier than others and it’s take-out all day erryday. But when we’re consistent and take the time to plan meals, we both feel so much better. Higher energy levels, more stamina during training and sounder sleep are just some of the perks.

I’ve found so many delish recipes from the great wonderful interwebs so I wanted to share some of my favorite recipes with you this year and maybe pay back the favor to a friend or two. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

My first featured recipe, Massaman Curry, is not – I repeat NOT – one to take on in a hurry. Non-cooks, don’t write it off, it’s not difficult at all. Swearsies. It just has a bit going on and you need to prep more than you might think. But guys, anything that can cook in one pot is a keeper in my book.

Our favorite local Thai restaurant makes a much creamier, brothier version of Massaman which is delicious and made me want to make our own. Buuuut, we love how every single scoop from our version is good enough to be a last bite.

Side Note: I’m not the only one who saves a perfect last bite, am I?

I happened to head home early today and realized I had everything for this dish. It’s usually one of my ‘Sunday sauce’ features but it was fun to squeeze it in on a workday! How do you balance your time to include homemade meals?


  • 1 can Masaman curry paste (get this at an Asian or specialty market. You can use red curry paste but it’s not quite as perfect)
  • 2-3 Tbs. Peanut oil
  • 3 cans coconut milk
  • 1 tsp. fresh ginger
  • 3-4 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice / 1 fresh squeezed lime
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 onion sliced thin
  • 2 lb. chicken sliced as paper thin as you can get it.
  • 3 medium potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 1 c. crinkle carrot chips
  • 3 Tbsp peanut butter, heaping scoops
  • 1/2 c. peanuts
  • Sriracha sauce to taste.
  • Thai or Red pepper flakes to taste
  • Cooked Jasmine rice


  1. Ok I have to preface, this batch size is meant for my 6’6” athlete man. It’s going to make 5-8 servings for normal folks. We eat it for leftovers for a few days and it reheats beautifully in the microwave or on the stove. Cut the recipe to 1lb chicken, 2 cans coconut milk and 1-2tbs peanut butter for normal people portions. Leave all other ingredients the same. Yours will be s little brothier which is equally scrummy.
  2. PREP PREP PREP. Slice your chicken into super thin pieces, slice your onion, and chop your cilantro before starting. I promise you’ll thank me. The chicken takes a minute to slice if you’re doing 2lbs. So many chickens.
  3. Heat the peanut oil in the largest saucepan you have over medium heat.
  4. Stir in the curry paste and cook for about 2 minutes. Let it sizzle. Yum.
  5. Add 1 can of the coconut milk and stir together with the curry paste until blended.
  6. Add the ginger, cilantro, brown sugar, lime juice and Worcestershire sauce and bring to a boil.
  7. Once boiling, add the chicken and onion then reduce heat to simmer.Cook for about 6 minutes until the chicken pieces are cooked through.
  8. Add the other 2 cans of coconut milk and stir together thoroughly then bring back to boil. (If you’re making the smaller batch with 1lb of chicken instead of 2lb, only use one can of coconut milk here – OR if you’re making 2lbs of chicken but want a less creamy end product)
  9. Add the carrots, potatoes, peanuts, peanut butter, siracha and red pepper flakes and stir until mixed.
  10. Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes.
  11. Serve over rice in a shallow bowl and garnish with cilantro.
  12. NOTE: My fella adds more Thai pepper flakes to his bowl when serving to make his dish a 5* spicy so I don’t have to over-spice the enter batch. I happened to have added too many during step number nine today and it didn’t melt my face off so I think that means I’m becoming one with the spices, right?