Rigatoni Lasagna Pie


Rigatoni Lasagna PIe

One of the things I truly love about Facebook, aside from being able to stay connected to family & friends both near and far, is the food pictures and/or recipes which inspire me to get into the kitchen and try them out. Most recently, a childhood friend posted a photo of her rigatoni pie, and it was seriously so pretty, I had to try to make it for that reason alone (well, it also looked delicious). I searched online and found quite a few recipes, and went with two I wanted to modify. Since I knew this pie was going to be a bit labor-intensive, and in the interest of time, I decided to use store-bought pasta sauce instead of making my own, but by all means, if you make a mean sauce, go ahead and use that. I am thrilled to report that this pie turned out amazing and absolutely scrumptious!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. rigatoni pasta
  • 1 jar (24 oz.) pasta sauce (I used Bertoli Italian Sausage Garlic & Romano)
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 15 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
Fill up the springform pan with all of your cooked rigatoni
Fill up the springform pan with all of your cooked rigatoni
Ricotta cheese mixture ready to pipe into rigatoni
Ricotta cheese mixture ready to pipe into rigatoni

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the rigatoni and cook until al dente (12 minutes for my pasta). Drain the pasta, rinse in cold water and drain again. Stir in 1 tbsp of the olive oil and set aside. (This keeps the pasta from sticking.)
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. Gently stir 1 cup of the grated Parmesan cheese into the cooked rigatoni.
  4. Stand the rigatoni up vertically in a greased 9″ springform pan, using the entire pound of cooked pasta.
  5. In a small mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, egg, remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan, basil, and oregano until smooth. Set aside.
  6. Use a pastry bag, or put a zip lock bag inside a tall glass, and fill the bag with the cheese mixture. Close the bag and snip the corner of the bag and pipe a decent amount into each noodle (don’t fill all the way).
  7. After piping the noodles with the cheese mixture, carefully pour about 3/4 of the jar of sauce over the whole top and push down as much as possible. (I wanted to save some sauce to heat up and use later for leftovers.)
  8. Top with the mozzarella and cheddar cheese.
  9. Put the springform pan on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Cook for 20 minutes, or until the cheese has fully melted.
  10. Remove from the oven and allow it to stand in the springform pan for about 15 minutes. Carefully run a knife along the edge of the pan to loosen the pie from the pan, then remove the sides.
  11. Slice the pie and garnish with parsley, if desired.

A piece of the "pie"

Rigatoni Pie

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Homemade Version of Outback’s Alice Springs Chicken


While I was searching for honey mustard dressing recipes a couple of weeks ago, I kept seeing Alice Springs chicken in the results, and had no idea what that was all about. Obviously, I had to check it out, and discovered it’s a “famous” dish served at Outback Steakhouse. I mean, I know all about the Bloomin’ Onion, but hadn’t heard of this before, but am SOOO glad that I stumbled upon it! It definitely packs a bunch with amazing flavor!!

Homemade Alice Springs Chicken

Ingredients

Honey Mustard Marinade

  • 1/2 cup Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tsp. Canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 tbsp. Canola oil
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Paprika
  • 8 slices of bacon, cooked
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. Combine mustard, honey, 1 tsp. oil and lemon juice in a bowl using an electric mixer. Mix for about 30 seconds.
  2. Place chicken in a large ziploc bag and pour about 2/3 of marinade over chicken. Marinate in fridge for about 2 hours (or longer, if desired). Chill remaining marinade for later use.
  3. After chicken has marinated, preheat over to 375° F.
  4. Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium heat, remove chicken from bag and sear on each side for 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Throw away bag with marinade in it. Remove from heat, and place chicken into a baking dish.
  5. In a small frying pan, sauté the mushrooms in a little butter.
  6. Brush each of the chicken breasts with the reserved honey mustard marinade, saving a little to serve on the side when the dish is finished.
  7. Season chicken with some salt, pepper and a dash of paprika.
  8. Place two pieces of cooked bacon crosswise on top of each chicken breast.
  9. Spoon 1/4 of the mushrooms on top of the bacon.
  10. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the Monterey Jack cheese, then 1/4 cup of Mozzarella on top of each piece of chicken.
  11. Bake for 7-10 minutes, or until cheese is thoroughly melted and bubbly.

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Artichoke, Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna


I woke up yesterday, yearning to make a meatless/veggie lasagna. I have no idea why this particular dish was pinpointed as the object of my affection, but knew I HAD to make it. I perused some of my saved recipes, and came across a few that looked delicious. So, I took one, altered it quite a bit and came up with this one, which I thought was amazingly scrumptious. I tried to be conscientious of the exact measurements I used… hopefully, that’s the case 😉

Artichoke, Mushroom & Spinach Lasagna

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. butter or olive oil
  • 9 no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 (14 oz.) can marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 (10 oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
  • 1 (28 oz.) jar tomato pasta sauce
  • 1 (15 oz.) container Ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 (4 oz.) package herb and garlic feta, crumbled

Veggie Lasagna

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Put butter or olive oil in a large skillet and heat on medium-high.
  3. Sauté onion, garlic and mushrooms for 5 minutes, or until onion is tender-crisp.
  4. Stir in broth, rosemary and basil, and bring to a boil.
  5. Stir in artichoke hearts and spinach; reduce heat, cover and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in pasta sauce.
  6. Mix together, ricotta, egg, 2 cups of mozzarella cheese, salt and pepper in a bowl.
  7. Spread 1/4 of the sauce mixture in the bottom of the prepared baking dish; top with 3 cooked noodles.
  8. Add some big dollops of the ricotta/mozzarella mixture (using half) on top of the noodles, then more of the sauce.
  9. Repeat layers 2 more times, ending with sauce mixture and remaining mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle crumbled feta on top.
  10. Bake, covered, for 40 minutes. Uncover, and bake 10 minutes more, or until hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

Cut Lasagna

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Braided Spaghetti Bread


I loooooove bread and pasta, however, I try to keep my carb intake to a reasonable level. But, when I saw a picture of this recipe on Pinterest, I knew I had to try it. The original recipe calls for using frozen bread loaf dough, which I found to be a little difficult (aka sticky) to work with, so alternatively, you could use Pillsbury Crescent Dough Sheets to make it easier and much quicker (and cut down on the carbs a bit). With that being said, after I got the dough loaf thawed (which takes about 2 hours) and rolled out, everything else was a breeze. The end result was a delicious garlic bread filled with spaghetti and mozzarella cheese! So if you’re a carb-lover, you will truly enjoy this recipe.

There are a ton of other things you could do with this if you want to skip the spaghetti… pizza, reuben sandwiches, chili-cheese bread, etc.

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf bread dough, thawed to room temperature, about 2 hours (I used Bridgford, but the original recipe calls for Rhodes)
  • 6 oz spaghetti, cooked (I used thin spaghetti)
  • 1 1/2 cups thick spaghetti sauce, like Trader Giotto’s (Joe’s) Tomato Basil Marinara
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 egg white
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Garlic powder
  • Parsley flakes for garnish

Directions

1.  Thaw bread loaf to room temperature.
2.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
3.  Place loaf on parchment paper (not wax), and spray rolling-pin with cooking spray.
4.  Roll  into an approximate 12×16-inch rectangle.

5.  Cover with plastic wrap, let sit 10-15 minutes, then roll again.
6.  Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain, cool slightly and mix with marina sauce.
7.  Place spaghetti lengthwise in a 4″ strip down the center of the dough and add the cheese cubes.

I added sweet Italian turkey sausage and sautéed onions to the sauce.

8.  Make cuts 1 1/2-inches apart on long sides of dough to within 1/2-inch of filling (as seen in picture above).
9.  Begin braid by folding top and bottom strips toward filling. Then braid strips left over right, right over left. Finish by pulling last strip over and tucking under braid.

10.  Brush with egg white, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, garlic powder and parsley, as liberally as you like.

11.  Transfer parchment paper to baking sheet and cook for 30-35 minutes.

12.  Cool slightly and slice to serve.

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Stuffed Shells


I was very fortunate to grow up having a Mom who was (is) an excellent cook. And I know my passion for cooking and baking resulted from her amazing meals and desserts. Thanks Mom! One of my (many) favorites was her amazing stuffed shells. I think this recipe is pretty close to the one she used to make 🙂

Ingredients

  • 1 12 oz. package jumbo pasta shells
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 32 oz. container ricotta cheese (I use light)
  • 8 oz. finely shredded mozzarella cheese, low moisture, part skim (plus extra for sprinkling on top)
  • 4 oz. grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder (optional)
  • Pasta sauce or my turkey sausage bolognese

Directions

    1. Preheat over to 350 degrees.
    2. Bring a large pot of slightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta shells and cook for 8-10 minutes, drain.
    3. In a large bowl, mix eggs, ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, parsley, salt, pepper and garlic until well combined.
    4. Put mixture in fridge for 30-45 minutes (which will make stuffing the shells much easier. You can skip this step if you choose).
    5. Stuff the shells with the ricotta mixture and place in a 9×13 baking dish (you’ll probably need 2 baking dishes).
    6. Pour desired sauce over shells and sprinkle with some mozzarella cheese.
    7. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 45-60 minutes or until edges are bubbly.
    8. Remove from oven and sprinkle with parmesan.

Enjoy!

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Skewered – A New Take on The Caprese Salad


Here’s an easy, colorful, delicious appetizer that’s perfect for summer gatherings and sure to please.

Ingredients

  • Small skewers or long tooth picks
  • Bocconcino (aka mozzarella balls, can be purchased either plain or in herb-flavored oil)
  • Cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Fresh basil
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt & pepper
  • Kalamata olives (optional)

Directions

  1. If using skewers, soak them in water for approximately 1 hour.
  2. Simply place one tomato, a folded piece of basil, one bocconcino, another piece of basil and a kalamata olive on a skewer or toothpick. Repeat.
  3. Drizzle with a little olive and balsamic and a dash of salt & pepper.

Voila… a portable caprese salad!