Simple & Somewhat Healthy – Baked Ziti

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With a new work schedule in play (more on that later!) I am so thankful to have a few hours back in my day and I have been able to better manage my meal planning – and guess what? It’s been a success! With work, two kiddos, the hubs and a household to care for, it never feels like there are quite enough hours in the day – or I seem to run out of energy too soon.

So with this new little change in lifestyle, I derived a weekday meal schedule and so far we’ve been sticking to it; but it’s also flexible enough if one our weeknights happens to change. Ready to hear it? I cook three meals a week – one on Monday and one on Tuesday, then Wednesday is a leftover night. I cook on Thursdays and then Friday is open to pizza night in, family night out, or even a date night. This weekday schedule has helped to keep our grocery bill down and has simplified the meal planning process.

It’s also been on my mind to begin a new series of recipes known as “Simple & Somewhat Healthy” so I guess this is my first of many to come! I’ve used this phrase in past recipes before here and here because as a mom I want good home cooked meals for my family, but also as a working mom, my hours are limited and I need to be able to put something feasible on the table.

Without further ado – here is my Simple & Somewhat Healthy Baked Ziti I made just the other night – so easy and the whole family gobbled it up!

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Ingredients

– 1 box of penne pasta (cooked to al dente) I used whole wheat pasta for a healthier alternative
– 1 lb. of ground turkey
– 1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce
– 3 – 4 Tbs. cream cheese (you can buy the low or non-fat kind if you wish)
– 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
– Handful of chopped fresh basil

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a dutch oven or cast iron skillet, saute the ground turkey until browned. Add the jar of tomato sauce and bring to a low simmer.

2. Melt the cream cheese into the sauce mixture until fully melty and gooey. Add the cooked pasta and toss together gently with a large spoon to get the noodles coated.

3. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese over the top and pop in the oven for about 15 minutes. You’re looking for the cheese to be nice and melted and a little bit bubbly.

4. Top with some chopped fresh basil. Serve with a salad or some quick sauteed veggies and you’ve got simple and somewhat healthy baked ziti!