One-Pot Baked Ziti

Pasta is such a comfort food for me. My favorite pasta is pretty simple: meat, cheese and a red sauce. I love making pasta for my family because it is always a big hit, and makes great leftovers for lunches the following day at work. 

One-pot meals are a favorite of mine because there is minimal mess and less clean up time means more time to hang with my family after work. I also like the lower dish load (especially on my nights to do dishes!). Baked ziti is a favorite of mine, and I have seen many different recipes for it so I opted to make my own one-pot variation on this weeknight favorite.  In my recipe, I use a blend of ground beef and sausage, but you could easily use turkey or not blend your meats (you could certainly make is vegetarian as well). When I made this I used a marinara sauce from Trader Joe's, but you could use a homemade or your favorite store brand. I loved how easy this meal was but, what I loved even more, was how much Kellen dug the pasta. He dug into his plate and even asked for a second helping of the noodles. Ron and I also loved this pasta and, as predicted, it made great leftovers the following day! 

Tonight, I am stopping at the park with my friend Kayla and I am headed to dinner with a few of my girlfriends. I mentioned my friend Tracy's move to L.A. in my meal plan post, and tonight we are grabbing a pizza and cocktails at Rustique to send her off in style. I am going to miss her so much, and am so proud of her for pursuing her dreams! I also can't wait to visit! After dinner, I think we are going to grab a few cocktails at the Bottle Room (they have great wine flights). I am sure there are going to be lots of laughs tonight and a few shed tears. It is amazing to have wonderful friends in your life. 


1/2 Tbl olive oil
1/2 lb ground beef 
1/2 lb Italian sausage (mild or hot will work)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb uncooked ziti pasta
24 oz marinara sauce (jarred or homemade will work)
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 Tbl grated Parmesan
3 Tbl grated Roman
1 1/2  cup grated mozzarella 


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees .

In a dutch oven or other heavy bottom pot, add the olive oil and cook the beef and sauce till no longer pink. If there is a heavy amount of grease, drain a bit from the pot. Add the garlic and gently stir in the uncooked pasta and marinara sauce. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper if desired. 

Add the water and the cream. Stir well. Bring to a slow simmer and cook for 6-7 minutes or until pasta begins to soften. Top with cheeses and cover. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and serve with a crisp green salad and crusty bread. 

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