Baked Ziti with Meat Sauce

Cheesy Baked Ziti with a nice hearty meat sauce. Perfect for an day of the week!

When I was growing up, I think we had spaghetti at least once a week. I don’t know why, but I never got tired of it. Still until this day, I LOVE spaghetti. I’m huge on pasta dishes. I make pasta dishes a few times week, and my family never complains. Why? Because I always change it up! Once day we might have spaghetti, the next make be vegetable lasagna. Whatever the dish maybe, my guys love it.

In this post, I’m sharing a dish that no one can resist. I’m making Baked Ziti with a Meat Sauce!


This baked ziti dish nothing short of amazing ( and I’m not just saying that because I made it!). It’s packed with flavor, but does not require a lot of ingredients.

I make my own meat sauce for this ziti, but if you want to use a store bought sauce, I won’t hold it against you! :-D

The recipe is quite simple, and very easy to follow. Be sure to watch the video tutorial for visual instructions. Enjoy! XOXO

Baked Ziti with Meat Sauce


1 lb ground beef

2 tsp Italian seasoning

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp minced garlic

1/2 cup diced tomatoes

6 oz can tomato paste

1 cup water

2 tsp sugar

3 cups cooked penne pasta

2 1/2 cups shredded whole milk mozzarella cheese

1 tsp parsley flakes ( optional)


  1. Cook the pasta until it is al dente', then drain the pasta under cool water.
  2. Place the ground beef into a pan, and place the pan over medium heat.
  3. Season the ground beef with the Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder, then cook the meat until it browns.
  4. Once the meat browns, drain the fat, add in 1 tsp of minced garlic, then add in the tomatoes.
  5. Next, add in the tomato paste, then the water, and stir the ingredients.
  6. Sprinkle in the sugar, stir, then let the meat sauce cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
  7. Place the meat sauce in your bake dish, then and in the pasta.
  8. Fold the ingredients, then add in the 1 cup cheese. Fold the cheese in with the other ingredients.
  9. Top the ziti off with the remaining cheese, then sprinkle the parsley flakes on top.
  10. Bake the ziti uncovered on 350 F, for 40 to 45 minutes.
  11. Let the ziti sit for 5 to 10 minutes before digging in.
  12. Enjoy!

sweet and sour pork


Tender Sweet and Sour Pork and flavorful veggies made in the Crock Pot

It’s that time of the year again! Our babies are going back to school, which means our schedules are even more busy and our time is limited! Over the next couple of months I will be sharing plenty of Crock Pot , and quick and easy dinner recipes. I hope to give you all plenty of dinner ideas, that will help you spend less time in the kitchen during the busy school week.

When my son first started school it was pure torture on me, and my family. We were so unorganized , and dinner was usually fast food and takeout for my husband and son. Why? Because at the time I had been working 12 hour shifts, and since my dear hubby can’t cook a lick, that’s was the best option for them. I know, I know- Shame on me, but I didn’t know what to do, I had a lot of things going on. About 1 month into the school year, I realized just how much money was being spent on eating out. I knew there had to be solid way to feed my family, and save money on my work days.

I decided to go to my garage, and dust of my Crock Pot ( which I should have done prior to my baby starting school). I remember hearing about “freezer meals”, and decided to look into it. I wasn’t pleasantly surprised on what I found, and I couldn’t how easy and affordable these meals were! I decided to start making my very own freezer meals. Once I made my freezer meals, I labeled them, and included simple instructions for my husband to follow ( usually ” just put this in the Crock Pot for 6 hours”..LOL)… Making these meals have saved us a lot of money, and time.


Sweet and Sour Pork, is one of my favorite Crock Pot and Freezer Meals. It’s super cheap to make, and the prep time is under 10 minutes. My family enjoys this meals over a bed of rice. I never have to worry about any additions to this meal because it has carbs, vegetables, and protein!

For the Pork You can use
Pork Chops
Pork Roast
Pork Pork

If you don’t eat pork you can use
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
Boneless Skinless Chicken Thigh

This meal can be made right after preparation or frozen for a week or two before placing it into the Crock Pot. Give this meal a try and tell me what you think. Be sure to watch my video for visual directions!

Sweet and Sour Pork in the Crock Pot


1 lb pork, cut into cubes

1/2 cup ketchup

2/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 medium onion chopped

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped carrots

1 cup cup chopped pineapple

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tbsp corn starch


  1. Pour the ketchup into a large mixing bowl, then add the brown sugar, and mix the ingredients.
  2. Now add in the Garlic, onions, carrots, celery, and pineapple. fold the ingredients.
  3. Last but not least, add in the pork, and fold in with the other ingredients.
  4. Place in a freezer, and save it for another day or go to the next step
  5. Place the contents into a slow cooker, and set the slow cooker for 6 hours.
  6. After the sweet and sour pork has been cooking for 4 hours, add in one tbsp of cornstarch, and stir.
  7. After the 6 hours is up, serve the Sweet and Sour Pork over a bed of rice, and enjoy!




Chicken Fried Rice


As a frugal wife and mother, I’m always trying to make meals stretch, and get the most out of my money. With that being said, I always try to make meals with any leftovers that I may have instead of letting them just spoil in the refrigerator. They way I look at it is, any time I’m throwing something good away, I’m throwing away money.

A few days ago, I grilled some chicken for a last family get together. So many people go caught up at work, while others had sick kids. I didn’t get the memo on time, so I had made far too much chicken. For the next few days, I made chicken and ramen for lunch, chicken salads for dinner, and I was just getting chickened out of ideas. My husband suggested that we all just go out for Chinese food, but my cheap self, could only think of how much it would be ( whenever I go to a Chinese restaurant  I over do it… I need wonton soup, dim sum.. So we’re talking about at least $50). I talked my husband into letting me make a Asian inspired meal instead of going out, and of course he was game for it.

I remember that I had made rice the previous day, and of course I still had leftover chicken. I searched my freezer for more ideas, and came across frozen peas and carrots, and thats when it ht me…. ” I’m going to make some bomb Chicken Fried Rice!”( Yes, I still use the term ” the bomb”..)

The rice I made was off the chain. Like seriously, my family though it was just as good, if not better than our favorite Chinese restaurant’s chicken fried rice. I served the rice with some homemade lumpia, and stir fried vegetables, and I think this meal was under $10, which beats the pricey takeout we almost bought.

Anyways, give this recipe a try… and keep in mind that you can use any leftover chicken, just make sure that you get rid of the skin, and bones. ENJOY!!





Here’s the Recipe

  • 3 cups of leftover rice, refrigerated
  • 2 cups of diced leftover chicken
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 diced celery
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame seed oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup of chopped green onions.
  1. Place 2 tbsp of vegetable oil into a pan, and place it over medium high heat.
  2. Once the oil is hot, place the yellow onions and celery into the pan, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add in the chicken, then sprinkle in the garlic powder, ground ginger, and black pepper.
  4. Next, add in the oyster sauce, and sesame seed oil, and stir.
  5. Add the peas and carrots then stir the ingredients until they are well incorporated.
  6. Add the rice into the pan, and mix the ingredients.
  7. Last but not least, sprinkle in the green onions.
  8. Serve!

Chicken and Dumplings

Delicious homemade chicken and dumplings, the ultimate comfort food!

Chicken and dumplings, who doesn’t love them? I actually didn’t care more for this dish until I had gotten older. Why? Because it wasn’t until then, that I got to experience the real thing. Sadly, I had only tried the canned and microwaveable versions of this dish, until I moved out on my own. I remember being at work, in the break room, and  hearing one of my coworkers saying how much they were craving chicken and dumplings. Instantly I turned my nose up because I couldn’t figure out why anyone would crave such a horrific dish. Again, at this time I had never experienced true chicken and dumplings. After  long 8 hour shift, I decided to go home and search for chicken and dumpling recipes. I had to be missing something, because it appeared that I was the only person that didn’t like it. I found hundreds of recipes for the dish, but only printed out a few. Over the next couple weeks, I tried the recipes, and I actually liked some of them. I knew that in order to be a true chicken and dumplings fan, I would have to add my own tweaks to the recipe, so eventually that’s what I did. After  playing around with this dish for many years, here is my favorite recipe. It’s easy, full of flavor, and quite comforting. This is definitely one of those meals that you just want to snuggle on the couch, and watch tv while you eat. Give it a try, and tell me what you think.



Whole Chicken-  If you don’t want cook a whole chicken, use whatever pieces of chicken that you prefer. If you decide on cooking just chicken breast, cook for only 15-20 minutes.

Cream of chicken- Replace with cream of celery, or cream of mushroom.

Seasoning salt/salt – Watching your sodium? Use Mrs. Dash or another salt free seasoning

Buttermilk- 1 cup regular milk +1 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice.

Chicken and Dumplings


Whole chicken about 5 to 6 pounds, giblets and liver removed

2 cups frozen peas and carrots

1 large onion, chopped

2 tbsp garlic powder

2 tsp seasoning salt

1 tsp poultry seasoning

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

10.5 oz can of cream of chicken

2 cups heavy cream

dumpling mixture

1 1/2 cup self rising flour

1/2 tsp poultry seasoning

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 tbsp butter, at room temperature


  1. Rinse the chicken under cool water, and remove everything from the cavity.
  2. Season the chicken with 1 tsp of seasoning salt, 1 tsp poultry seasoning, 1 tbsp garlic powder, and 1/2 tsp ground black pepper.
  3. Place the seasoned chicken in a large pot, and pour in enough water to cover the chicken.
  4. Bring the water to a boil, then turn the heat to medium high, and boil the chicken for about 45 minutes. Be sure to check the chicken periodically so that it doesn't burn on the bottom!
  5. Remove the pot from the burner, then carefully remove the chicken from the pot.
  6. Reserve 8 cups of the water from the pot.
  7. Remove all of bones, and skin from the chicken.
  8. Shred or chop the meat.
  9. Add the 8 cups of water ( from the pot) to another pot, and skim off any fat or oil that maybe floating on top.
  10. Sprinkle in 1 tsp of seasoning salt, and 1 tbsp of garlic powder, and stir.
  11. Add in the cream of chicken soup, and heavy cream. Stir the ingredients.
  12. Add in the mix peas and carrots, onions, and chicken. Turn the heat to medium.
  13. In a large mixing bowl add in 1 1/2 cup of sifted self rising flour, and 1/2 tsp of poultry seasoning.
  14. Add 2 tbsp of softened butter, and 1/2 cup of buttermilk into the mixing bowl, and mix the ingredients until it forms into a sticky dough.
  15. Use a small ice cream scoop or spoon, and start adding the dumpling mixture into the pot.
  16. Once all of the dumpling are in the pot, stir, and let cook for an additional 15 minutes.
  17. Serve.