A Cluster

I’m husband-less this weekend, Gabe is away visiting some college buddies. Yesterday I met a co-worker (was supposed to be two, but someone flaked out..) for a late lunch and some beers. Today I don’t have much planned; I already did yoga (walked yesterday) and some strength training. The first of the year is prime time to buy anything fitness related because its on sale. I bought 2 5-lb. weights at Target this week and have been doing some arm moves with them. And then I ate a cupcake.. I’m taking a more relaxed approach to the whole “diet” thing, mostly because as soon as I say I can’t eat something, its the only thing I WANT to eat.

Speaking of food, I made a ond dish- stovetop baked ziti (except I used penne) for dinner the other night that was great. Honestly, I’m a huge fan of the slightly burned, chewy top layer of traditional baked zit, but this was really good! Its super easy- another winning recipe from America’s Test Kitchen.

INGREDIENTS
  • 1tablespoon olive oil
  • 6garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1(28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 3cups water
  • 12ounces ziti (3 3/4 cups)
  • 1/2cup heavy cream
  • 1/2cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4cup minced fresh basil leaves
  • 1cup shredded mozzarella cheese
INSTRUCTIONS
  • Making the Minutes Count: Measure the water and the pasta before you begin cooking. Prep the Parmesan and basil while the pasta cooks.
  • 1. Heat Oven: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees.
  • 2. Simmer Ziti: Combine oil, garlic, pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in 12-inch, ovensafe nonstick skillet and sauté over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add crushed tomatoes, water, ziti, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring often and adjusting heat as needed to maintain vigorous simmer, until ziti is almost tender, 15 to 18 minutes.
  • 3. Add Cheese and Bake: Stir in cream, Parmesan, and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle mozzarella evenly over ziti. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until cheese has melted and browned, about 10 minutes. Serve.

– source America’s Test Kitchen

My only advice is the following: never substitute half & half for heavy cream. I did this once, and I only made that mistake once. Not only does it not give the dish the same smooth texture, it often curdles. That being said, a little cream won’t kill you. Also, wash the dishes right away, nothing is more annoying than spending 10 minutes trying to scrub off baked tomato and cheese.

Speaking of scrubbing! I did my nails on Thursday and two showers and dish washing later, no chips. I finally invested in a top/base coat- why did I not do this sooner!?

Adieu for now, the rest of my day includes Law & Order SVU and snacking!

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