A couple of weekends ago I went to see my mom for a quick one night trip. While I was there I gave my brother’s girlfriend, Alesha, her belated birthday present. I had gotten her a cookbook from one of my favorite Food Network stars, Ree Drummond (also known as The Pioneer Woman), called The Pioneer Woman Cooks. I was excited because her recipes are relatively simple, she uses easy to find ingredients, and I thought my brother would appreciate her heartier meals too! Alesha said she had heard of her, but she had never watched her show. Luckily my mom had 2 of The Pioneer Woman episodes from The Food Network saved on her DVR so we all decided to watch one. We chose the episode where Ree makes Baked Ziti for her kids and their cousins to enjoy while the adults eat steak and baked potatoes.
Since my brother was still working, and would be for awhile, we decided it would be best to cook at home that evening and since we were in the mood for new things we decided that Alesha and I would cook the baked Ziti. I would like to point out that David, my brother, is not a big italian fan (neither am I), but I think it is more due to not being a huge lover of tomato sauce. This meal was pleasing for everyone because it was not super saucy–it had just the right amount of balance between all the ingredients. We found the recipe online (Baked Ziti by The Pioneer Woman) and followed it pretty much exactly except we used only ground beef.
It wasn’t hard to make and was actually my first time making a pasta sauce from scratch. Now that I had done it once I can definitely say it is way better than the jarred kind! We served the baked ziit with iceberg wedge salads and brownies for dessert. The recipe makes a large panful, but the good news is that the leftovers are just as delicious!