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Well hello again! Life has been quite busy the past few weeks so blogging about my recent escapades in the kitchen took a back seat to everything else. Oh pictures were still taken and new recipes were still tackled but a daily recap of it all was just not happening. I’ve tried out some new slow cooker meals the past few weeks because working late + physical therapy = not much time to make dinner. Whoever invented the amazing Crock Pot is probably the smartest chef out there, why do I have a feeling it was probably one of the wives of these corporate big wigs. Either way, the crock pot is my best friend after a long day at work!

One night this week, after another crazy day at work, I was texting my Mom about how I had not even planned a dinner for tonight. I thought it was the end of the world, but my Mom wisely suggested I make some pasta. I remembered seeing a recipe for a pasta bake in Cooking Light this month, so I decided to throw it together with what I had on hand (no meat, frozen veggies). It was quick and easy and warmed us up on a chilly night!

Vegetable Baked Ziti

  • ½ box uncooked ziti or mostaccioli
  • 1 bag frozen veggies (I used broccoli, pepper, and corn mix)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium fat free chicken broth
  • 2.5 cups marinara sauce
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 6 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 2 ounces grated Provolone cheese (about  1/2  cup)
  • Parmesan to sprinkle on top

Preparation

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. 2. Cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt; drain and set aside.
  3. Coat skillet with cooking spray, add garlic; sauté 4 minutes. Add vegetables; sauté for 5 minutes or until veggies are tender. Add chicken broth, cook for 4 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Stir in pasta, vegetable mixture, marinara sauce, and basil. Spoon mixture into a 13 x 9–inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with Mozzarella and Provolone. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until bubbly and cheese melts and begins to brown. Remove from oven; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

The whole meal probably took 10 minutes to prep and another 20 minutes to bake. If you’re used to eating late like us then this really isn’t a big deal and you can prep lunch while it’s baking away:

The strawberries were on steroids this week! I think it’s probably the warm weather, but these berries were at least three times the normal size. So I chopped them up and added them a lunch salad with turkey, sunflower seeds, croutons and provolone cheese. A little of summer at the end of a not-so cold winter!