lifestyle


Homemade Baked Ziti recipe

If you have been reading here for awhile, you know I have three kids, and a very busy schedule. Types of casseroles are an important dinner option for me since they can be made ahead. Casseroles only need to bake in the oven when it’s time to cook dinner, so they are super convenient. This makes prep convenient with my schedule, and it makes feeding my family a home-cooked meal even easier.

My kids love pasta; don’t most kids? Since pasta is a huge hit at my house, and quite possibly yours, a casserole version is key on busy days. My homemade baked ziti recipe is both easy to make, and well loved by pasta-loving children. That’s win-win!

Homemade baked ziti is an easy and delicious casserole you can make on the spot, or ahead of time when your schedule gets the best of you. So without further ado, here is my homemade baked ziti recipe with instructions. I hope you love it as much as my kids do!

Homemade baked ziti ingredients:

  • 1 lb. Ziti pasta (you can substitute penne if your market doesn’t carry ziti)
  • 1 jar Rao’s Marinara (you can make your own, or use another brand, but this is the most authentic on the market, in my opinion-my ancestors are from Italy, so my family is used to authentic Italian food)
  • ½ cup chopped green onions
  • Sliced provolone cheese
  • ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • ¾ cup mozzarella
  • 2 pounds bulk Italian sausage, cook before mixing into casserole. (can substitute 1 pound ground beef and 1 pound ground pork if you don’t like sausage)

Homemade baked ziti cooking instructions:

Step 1: Cook pasta

Step 2: Mix pasta together with sauce and meat in a mixing bowl.

Step 3: Pour half of the mozzarella into the bowl and mix together.

Step 4: Pour half of the pasta mixture into the casserole dish.

Step 5: Cover the pasta mixture with the remainder of mozzarella cheese.

Step 6: Pour the last half of the pasta mixture on top.

Step 7: Smooth out the top of the casserole with a wooden spoon.

Step 8: Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top of the casserole.

Step 9: Layer provolone cheese slices on top of Parmesan cheese.

Step 10: Top the casserole with green onions.

Bake 35 minutes at 350. Remove from the oven, serve, and enjoy!

There you have it! A really easy casserole the whole family can enjoy. It makes about twelve servings, so there is a good chance you will have plenty of leftovers to eat on another busy day, or bring to work for lunch. I hope you and your family, friends, etc love this homemade baked ziti recipe too!

Thanks for stopping by, and manjia tutti!

XOXO
Cathy


Canon G7X Mark II review

best travel camera replace dlsr canon g7x mark 11 review lightweight lightweight camera manual mode professional replace dslr

You might be looking at this post and wondering why I am writing about the Powershot Canon G7X Mark II on a fashion, style, and beauty blog. Well, it does tie into fashion-I swear! Just keep reading. . .

One of the big things that hurts my back when I attend New York Fashion Week, or when I am traveling, is carrying around my heavy DSLR. Fashion week and travel in general, require a lot of standing and walking. To alleviate the back pain and shoulder pain I experience when traveling, or attending fashion week, I needed to lighten my load. That load being my very heavy Nikon DSLR.

Last January I did some research. I found out about this amazing camera which could replace your DSLR. The Canon G7X Mark II is this tiny little point-and-shoot camera which packs a ton of power. It has all the settings a basic DSLR offers. You can go from auto mode to manual mode. You can adjust the ISO, the f-stop, and more! While you can’t switch out the lens, the built-in zoom lens has enough “zoom” to get clear and crisp close-ups of the runway, outfits (pose at that painted wall!), and travel sites.

canon g7X mark ii review

On my Nikon DSLR, I have to go into the menu and scroll through it in order to adjust my ISO etc. It is time consuming, and sometimes I can miss the shot because I am fiddling with my camera settings. When it comes to travel and fashion week, speed is of the essence. The Powershot Canon G7X Mark II has this fabulous dial underneath the dial which lets you switch modes. This dial lets you quickly adjust the camera according to the light-without going into a menu to adjust your settings. This is a huge game changer in situations where the light keeps changing and you need to be speedy to get the right shot.

Here is an example of a photo I took of a model walking the runway at the Son Jung Wan show last February during fashion week. My Canon G7X Mark II did a great job of capturing a moving model. I was also able to adjust the settings quickly for the tricky lighting. Another thing that was tricky about this shot was her jacket. It has sequins, which are difficult to photograph; especially on a moving object. I thought the camera did a good job considering I was shooting from my seat and not the photographer’s pit.

son jung wan fall 2019 nyfw

The Canon G7X Mark II is also great at capturing depth and color. Here is a photo I took in Hawaii. One of the breathtaking things about Hawaii is the shades of blue in the Pacific. The ombre waters are stunning, and I feel like the camera did a great job capturing them. I purposely focused on the water and blurred the lava rocks. I like how it turned out. Who knew a point-and-shoot could do this?

travel tips hawaii big island kona

In addition to being able to adjust the Canon G7X Mark II like a DSLR, it has a flip up screen which allows you to shoot in selfie mode. Sometimes you want a higher resolution selfie; or maybe you just want to have some fun. Either way, the flip up screen is a lot of fun. You can see a selfie taken with my Canon G7X Mark II below. I took this selfie with my daughters on a recent hike. We had fun flipping the screen and turning it in order to get the view in the background. My DSLR definitely does not do that!

dslr alternative canon g7X mark ii review

DSLR Alternative

All in all, the Powershot Canon G7X Mark II is an amazing alternative to a DSLR. It can switch from auto to manual mode. The camera comes with easy to follow directions, and there are plenty of YouTube videos out there to help with specific settings that might not sound logical in the manual. I found it easier to learn than my DSLR. Despite not being able to change lenses, the built-in zoom lens is adequate for travel, blogging, and taking runway photos from your seat.

You don’t have to be a blogger to use this camera! So many people bring their DSLR to their children’s sporting events, talent shows, plays, music performances etc., the Canon G7X Mark II is a great alternative which can take beautiful videos and photos. The resolution and quality rivals a low to medium level DSLR. It also offer wi-fi capability which is great for uploading photos to a laptop or iPhone while on the go.

Lighten your load! The Canon G7X Mark II is compact and lightweight. I can carry a smaller handbag at fashion week, and when I travel, than I did back when I carried around my DSLR. The small size is great for travel, and it won’t break your back. Love that!

When I purchased my Powershot Canon G7X Mark II, I also bought a large memory card and a second battery. It’s always nice to have a back-up battery when traveling in case you take a ton of photos all day and need to swap the battery. For a memory card, I recommend Lexar. They make great cards. Always get a big one to store videos and keep yourself from running out of room while traveling.

Shop the Powershot Canon G7X Mark II camera and accessories online:

I am in love with this camera, and I take it everywhere I go so I can snap photos of my kids, and to blog! If you have any questions about it, please feel free to ask in the comments below, or shoot me an email.

Thank you so much for your support!

XOXO

Cathy

powershot canon g7X mark ii reviewcanon g7X review


Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk tips during summer vacation

santa cruz beach boardwalk tips santa cruz boardwalk tips what to wear santa cruz street style

wearing: squared hoop earrings / sunglasses / summer lipstick / olive green henley tee / summer nail polish / handbag / snake buckle belt / jeans / black mule espadrilles /

One of my kids favorite summer activities is heading over to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. While we enjoy going during the off-season in order to avoid the crowds, there is something nostalgic and fun about going in the thick of summer vacation. Of course, when we go to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk during the summer months, we still know how to avoid the crowds. So if you are planning a trip to the Boardwalk, here a few tips so you can visit and enjoy the area like a local.

How to visit the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk like a local

  1. Go early: Never ever ever go to the boardwalk after lunch. The whole world shows up between 1pm and 4pm. Always go when they open at 11am so you can hit all the fun rides before the lines get long.
  2. Get a wristband: Don’t bother counting points, get the all day wristband so you can freely enjoy going on all the rides, and going on your favorite rides multiple times in a row. If you are local and plan to visit multiple times during the year, consider getting the season pass.
  3. Go on a weekday: If you can avoid heading to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk on a weekend or national holiday-do it! The best time to go is on a weekday, more specifically, on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Those are the slowest days, with the shortest lines. If you must go on a weekend, go early at 9am and enjoy brunch at a local spot such as The Picnic Basket or the Beach Street Cafe.
  4. Take the train: If you can’t go first thing in the morning, or you want to have some fun, take the Roaring Camp Railroad train to the boardwalk from Felton. It’s a fun way to get there, plus you don’t have to navigate traffic during peak hours.
  5. Rides first, arcade later: The lines for the rides are usually longer than the ones for the arcade or mini-golf. Hit all the rides first, before the crowds arrive, then go inside for the arcade after lunch. You can go inside when the temperatures start to soar, plus avoid all the long lines at the rides. Mini-gold indoors is also quite fun!
  6. Stay for the show: The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk also has amazing concerts. Enjoy the boardwalk and the games first, then relax on the beach near the stage so you can enjoy the concert at night. You can make a day of it!
  7. Leave before everyone: If you are not staying for the concert, go back over the hill around 2pm-3pm. Once 4pm hits the traffic builds up and it’s beach traffic galore. Go early, leave early, and you will have an enjoyable ride.

santa cruz historic merry go roundhistoric carosel santa cruz beach boardwalk

One of the rides you can’t skip when visiting the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is the historic carousel. It’s a beautiful and fun carousel installed in Santa Cruz in 1911. It’s a National Historic Landmark, and it has it’s own Wikipedia page! It’s one of the oldest surviving rides on the west coast, and it’s a must-do! Don’t miss the roller coaster either, it too is historic, and from 1924.

Shop my Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk look:

Enjoy your trip to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk! If you have been before, what is your favorite ride? Feel free to share your tips in the comments below!

Thanks for stopping by!

XOXO
Cathy

santa cruz beach