Spring always seems to be busy for me and my family. While it’s not quite spring yet, the busy season is definitely upon us. With cheer tryouts, music concerts, projects needing finished at school this week I’d say that is busy. Work is also at a busy time for both me and The Hubs. Did I mention a niece just had her first baby and my oldest nephew is getting married in April? The busyness of life, as I call it, is why I love using my slow cooker and electric pressure cooker. Meals can be made easily with either set it and forget or under pressure. Last night was an under pressure kind of night, so I made Pressure Cooker Baked Ziti with meatballs.
Baked Ziti was one of the first things I made with my pressure cooker when I got it a couple of years ago. It is so easy and delicious that anyone can make it. The original recipe calls for using canned and pre-made foods, which is what I will share with you. You can make it healthier by making your own meatballs to freeze and by using homemade marinara.
This is a snippet of our afternoon / evening. I got home and knew that Daughter Number Four was at cheer tryout practice. The Hubs informed me that D3 had stayed after school to work on something for her anatomy class. D4 would be done with practice by 5:30, but had to be back at the school dressed for a music concert. I asked The Hubs if he would prefer meatballs with the Baked Ziti tonight or not. As an observant wife I noticed he had grilled himself something for lunch. That’s one of the perks for working for himself from home.
Of course he said meatballs. That is not a problem; it just adds time to the cooking. One of the most time consuming pieces of using a pressure cooker is the building of the pressure. That’s how a pressure cooker can cook more quickly and infuses the flavors into what is being cooked; pressure. Frozen meatballs (or anything) take longer to build pressure because it pressurizes when it reaches boiling. I find it takes about 20 minutes for frozen foods to reach pressure.
So, I threw everything in the pressure cooker set the cook time and the cook setting. By the time Daughter Number Four was home, dinner was ready. With the baked ziti I usually just serve a green salad and maybe some Italian bread. Last night, the girls were in such a hurry they didn’t even eat salad. They each took a helping of the hot ziti and gave it a minute to cool before digging in. Time was of the essence.
The baked ziti was delicious as always. In fact, as soon as the girls got home from the concert they asked if they could have some more. It was later than I usually allow them to eat, but knew that they hadn’t eaten much due to the time constraint. They also both had some homework to finish up so they would be up for a little while. Absolutely they could have some more.
The music concert was excellent, too. Our little town has seen quite a few music teachers come and go. This year is the 2nd year with this teacher and he is really bringing the program along nicely. I’m delighted that my youngest gets to be a part of a growing music program.
Tell me, do you have a go-to meal you fix when life is hectic and time is short? I know that grabbing some fast food seems like a good choice, but sometimes making your own meal can be tastier, healthier, and more cost-effective! Try it yourself and tell me what you think.
Baked Ziti (Pressure Cooker Version)
- 1 24- ounce package frozen meatballs
- 16 ounces uncooked ziti
- 4 ounces cream cheese softened
- 1 cup cottage cheese
- 1 24- ounce jar pasta sauce
Spray the insert of the electric pressure cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Pour frozen meatballs in the bottom of the pot. Add uncooked ziti. Top with cream cheese and cottage cheese. Pour sauce over the top of the noodles and cheese. Fill the sauce jar with water and pour water over noodles and sauce to cover. If noodles are still visible above water, add more water until noodles are covered.
Place the lid on the pressure cooker and shut pressure valve. Set pressure cooker for 18 minutes on rice setting (this may vary with your model).
When timer sounds, turn pressure cooker off and carefully open pressure valve to release pressure. Allow pressure to release fully before attempting to open.
Remove lid carefully and stir gently to combine all ingredients. Noodles should be tender and fully cooked. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
Note: any flavor of meatballs can be used, beef, turkey, chicken, or vegetarian, store bought or homemade. They should be pre-cooked so no cook time adjustment need be made. Pressure cooker tip: Rinse pressure cooker insert as soon as possible to make washing easier.