Spiced Caramel Apple Cider

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I.  Love.  Caramel.  Hard, soft, melted, drizzled.  Any way I can get my hands on it.   I just love it.  During the holiday season, a popular coffee shop chain offers a delicious Spiced Caramel Apple drink (I’m sure you know which one I’m talking about!).  It quickly got added to my list of favorites! I had to recreate it at home!

I love the flavors of Fall.  Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves – the Fall Flavor Quartet!  It seems no matter what you make this time of year those spices seem to find their way into the recipe and makes you just think of Fall. Each has its own distinct flavor profile and each in their own individual way greatly enhances just about almost any Fall/Winter dish.   I love their earthiness, their depth of flavor, the way each of them contributes a unique flavor profile to the dish.  You can make apple pie without the nutmeg, but it doesn’t taste the same.  You can skip the cinnamon and it’s just missing that something special.  These flavors combined really play a role in making a dish truly memorable!

While I am not a huge fan of clove or allspice (I like them – I just find their flavors extremely strong and overpowering), I do love cinnamon and nutmeg.  When I decided I was going to try to recreate this drink at home, I decided to add a bit of kick to it.  I love spice and a hint of cayenne really does the trick in giving this delicious drink a little punch.  Not too much though because it will destroy the flavor and will make the drink unpleasant.

I decided to stick with the flavors I like best and since it was Apple Cider – I was trying to basically create a caramel apple pie in a drink.  I think I succeeded!  I have a Keurig (I LOVE that thing!) and I used the pre-packaged drink packets to make hot apple cider.  With the addition of cinnamon and nutmeg and a bit of caramel syrup, this was a delicious warm hug on a cold day!

Enjoy!

Spiced Caramel Apple Cider

1 packet Spiced Apple Cider mix
2 Tbsp. caramel syrup
Couple of pinches of cinnamon and nutmeg
Cayenne Pepper
Whipped Cream

  1. In the bottom of a large mug, put the caramel syrup, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  2. Add apple cider packet to the mug.
  3. Add hot water and mix well.
  4. Top off with whipped cream and a very light sprinkle of cayenne pepper.
  5. Sprinkle with more cinnamon if desired.

*For an extra treat, add a little dark rum or bourbon!

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

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I.  Love.  Pizza.  I could eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and everything and anything in between.  Unfortunately, it’s not a healthy option for me right now.  I haven’t had pizza in over 5 months!  Wowsers.  And I’m still alive to tell about it!  LOL!

A while back I had made a cauliflower pizza crust recipe that was a big hit and I had just forgotten about it.  I was re-introduced to the idea of the cauliflower pizza crust through a friend of mine who has been helping me on my health journey.  It takes a little time, but it is well worth it and the result is just as satisfying as a slice of pizza – without all the guilt (and carbs!) that go with it!!  You’re probably wondering why I’m sharing ANOTHER cauliflower pizza crust recipe since I’ve already done one.  Well, this recipe is a very healthy, low-carb option if you’re craving pizza, but want to stay on track.  It uses reduced fat cheese (and only one – not two types of cheese) and egg whites vs. whole eggs.  Little changes like these make a big difference when you’re eating healthy.

Rob LOVES mushrooms.  So when I first made the crust, we did it in a traditional pizza style with mushrooms as one of our toppings.  I used my own homemade tomato sauce and some reduced fat shredded mozzarella cheese.  They really turned out great.  By cooking the crust in advance and cooking it thoroughly to get the moisture out, the result is a nice, crispy crust that holds up well to a coating of tomato sauce and the addition of other toppings.  It gave the pizza a nice combinations of textures.  The crispness of the crust, the creaminess of the cheese, and the flavor of the tomato sauce with lots of Italian herbs was pure pizza perfection!  It’s definitely a keeper in our house and my kids even like them too!!  Well, minus the mushrooms!

But wait….. there’s more!!!

One of the things I really love about this is its versatility.  You don’t have to be limited to just using it for a traditional pizza crust.  You could make it in place of a tortilla for chicken fajitas.  You can make it and use it in the mornings for a healthy egg white wrap.  Make smaller versions and use them as taco shells!  And of course, there is no limit to the types of toppings you could use on it as a pizza crust.  The possibilities are endless!!

Hope you enjoy this healthy spin on traditional pizza crust!

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

For the crust

1 cup grated raw cauliflower (or you can use frozen riced cauliflower, just be sure you remove as much water as possible)
1/4 cup egg whites
1/2 cup reduced fat three cheese Mexican blend or reduced fat Mozzarella
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. dried basil

Optional Pizza Toppings

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. shredded reduced fat Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup tomato sauce or canned diced tomatoes (I just use my own homemade sauce)
Mushrooms, peppers, shredded chicken, etc.

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet and spray lightly with cooking spray.
  2. Combine grated cauliflower, egg whites, cheese, garlic powder, and basil until mixed completely.
  3. Spoon mixture onto prepared pan.  Gently thin out the mixture forming a circle about the size of a dinner plate.  The thinner the crust, the less soggy it will be.  Bake for 25 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven.  Carefully flip the crust over using a spatula to life all the edges off the parchment first.  Bake an additional 10-15 minutes until brown and crisp.  (Edges may even slightly burn – but that’s ok.)
  5. Add desired toppings and return to oven one last time about 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Enjoy!

(I’d give credit for this recipe where it is due, but I have no idea where it originated as it was shared by a friend.)  

Spaghetti Squash Chicken Enchiladas

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As you can see from my previous blog post, I’ve been on a health journey the last several months.  As a result, I’ve been researching and discovering (and of course trying) new healthy recipes.  With Rob being such a huge fan of Mexican food, I am always looking for ways to make it healthier.  When I saw this recipe I was very reluctant because my family are very “meat and potatoes” people.  And putting any vegetable in front of my kids is like triggering the start of World War III.  But, sticking with my healthy options I went for it and gave it a try.  And boy am I glad I did!

The recipe calls for diced tomatoes and plenty of spices.  It is an incredible combination of flavors and textures that even the finickiest of eaters will enjoy.  Believe me, I know.  My son gave it a try and actually asked for more and then asked me to make it for dinner again the next day!  WINNER!!  The sweetness of the tomatoes paired with the earthiness of the cumin and the spiciness of the chili powder is perfection and it’s not overly spicy as the creaminess from the cheese helps resolve that.  The meatiness of the chicken and the light, tender strands of the spaghetti squash is a great texture combination as well.

This turned out to be a really incredible dish that was enjoyed by everyone in the family.  I have never really cooked much with spaghetti squash and I’m glad this first recipe turned out to be so great. It’s definitely a keeper!  For those of you interested in a healthy, low-carb meal – this is a great option.  And if you’re a meat and potatoes kinda person – give this a try.  Believe me, you won’t be disappointed!

The only negative I can share (and you can see from the pictures!), I left the squash in the oven a few minutes too long and the cheese got a little more toasted than bubbly.  But that aside – everything else turned out great!  Enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash Chicken Enchiladas

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 4 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, divided
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 jalapeno, stem & seeds removed
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 lb. chicken breast (cooked and shredded or ground chicken cooked)
  • 1 cup shredded reduced fat cheese
  • Chopped cilantro as desired.
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Prepare the spaghetti squash:  Cut in half, remove seeds and pulp strands.  Rub 2 tsp. olive oil into each squash half and season each with 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper.  Place each face down on a foil or parchment lined baking sheet and bake 40-60 minutes or until middle is tender and pulls apart easily.
  3. In a blender or food processor, combine tomatoes, chicken broth, chili powder, cumin, oregano, onion powder, salt, jalapeno, garlic, and remaining 2 tsp. olive oil.  Blend until smooth.
  4. If using ground chicken, cook the ground chicken with an additional teaspoon of olive oil until cooked completely.  Add the sauce mixture to the cooked chicken.  Mix until fully coated.  Remove from heat.
  5. If using shredded chicken, heat the chicken and add the sauce mixture to the shredded chicken.  Mix until fully coated.
  6. When spaghetti squash is fully cooked, remove from oven, and flip it on the baking sheet so it is skin side down.  Lightly scrape the inside with a fork to create spaghetti like strands.
  7. Evenly divide the chicken and sauce mixture between each squash half.  Top each half with one half cup of shredded cheese.  Sprinkle with cilantro if desired.
  8. Put squash back in oven and cook another 6-8 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.  Serve immediately.

Recipe from Pinterest.

My Health Journey

Some of you who follow my blog know I’ve been on a health journey these last several months.  Being really overweight was definitely hindering my life, taking a toll on my health, and limiting my ability to truly enjoy being a mom.  A couple of years ago I tore my meniscus and ended up with the start of degenerative osteoarthritis and advanced stage chondromalacia (deteriorating cartilage) in my right knee.  It became debilitating.  The excess weight was creating an extremely painful life in so many ways.  I decided to make a change and I was introduced to an incredible health and wellness program that has afforded me the opportunity to lose an incredible amount of weight and has also created a path for me toward optimal health.  It has been life-changing and as of today I’ve lost 87 lbs.  My knee has never felt better, I’m in much less discomfort and pain, I have more energy, and I feel wonderful.  Here’s a before/after picture as of a couple of weeks ago.  I’ll continue posting my progress as I continue my journey.  I still have a long way to go, but I am finally well on my way and I’m feeling fantastic!  Along the way I’ll also be posting some healthy recipes that I have found.

Thanks for coming along for the ride!

 

Cappuccino Cupcakes

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About 10 years ago I was enrolled in Culinary School studying baking and pastry.  While I love a good recipe, I’m always trying to come up with my own ideas.  I’m always amazed when people manage to create something incredible from scratch!

Fast forward a few years, my husband and I got married and I started cooking and baking more for family.  Rob’s sister, nephew, and nieces especially enjoyed my baking experiments – successes and failures! LOL!

I was interested in creating something new and decided I was going to enter the Pillsbury Bake-Off!  I spent some time thinking about the kind of dessert I wanted to create and decided on a cupcake – but what flavor????  I love cappuccinos – so I decided to create a cappuccino in a cupcake!  After some trial and error, the final result turned out to be an incredibly moist, flavorful chocolate and coffee cake, with a sweet creamy, white chocolate cinnamon filling, and topped with the perfect amount of coffee flavored buttercream.  While this recipe didn’t win the Pillsbury Bake-Off, it’s still a winner in our family!  Everyone has gone crazy over it.  I made them over and over again for parties, get-togethers, and other family gatherings.  They were gone as soon as they were served!  This crazy concoction ended up being a phenomenal creation and definitely a keeper!!  It’s a bit of work, but totally worth it in the end!!

Chocolate and coffee pair incredibly well together.  There is just something about adding coffee to chocolate cake that greatly enhances the flavor and creating a richer, more decadent chocolate taste.  I use Folgers decaffeinated instant coffee.  I can make it in small batches instead of brewing a whole pot and adding more instant granules that quickly dissolve, makes it a lot easier to make a strong coffee without waste.  Plus I don’t have to worry about anyone being concerned about caffeine.

In case you haven’t read onto the ingredients, this cake is actually made with mayonnaise.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Mayonnaise is basically eggs and oil which is what is used in baking cakes as binders and to keep them moist.  I just replaced the eggs and oil with mayonnaise and the result is a deliciously soft, moist chocolate cake.  Believe me, if you don’t tell anyone there is mayonnaise in the cupcake, they’ll never know!  You don’t taste it at all!

The flavor combination is extraordinary.  I love the slight presence of coffee in the decadent, rich, and moist chocolate cake.  Paired with the creaminess of the white chocolate filling and the aromatic of cinnamon, and then topped off with a coffee buttercream that is sweet without being overly sweet adding the perfect touch of additional coffee to the cupcake.  I hope you’ll give this a try and enjoy it!

Happy Baking!

Cappuccino Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cinnamon Filling and Coffee Buttercream
Yields approx. 16 cupcakes

For the cupcakes

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup strongly brewed coffee, cooled

1.) In a small bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder.  Set aside.
2.)  In a medium bowl, combine mayonnaise, vanilla extract, and coffee.  Mix well.
3.)  Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.  Mix well using an electric mixer.
4.)  Pour batter into cupcake tins lined with cupcake liners.  Bake for 14-16 minutes.  Let cool completely.

For White Chocolate Cinnamon Filling

1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1 bag (12 oz.) white chocolate chips
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1.)  In a double boiler (bowl placed over a small pot with about 1″ of boiling water), melt the white chocolate until smooth.  (Or melt in a microwave using a microwave safe bowl and microwave in short bursts of about 10-15 seconds and stirring each time until smooth.)
2.)  Slowly add the sweetened condensed milk to the chocolate, but do not boil it.  Whisk together.
3)  Add vanilla extract and cinnamon.
4.)  Mix well.  Let cool.

For the Coffee Buttercream

1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. strongly brewed coffee

1.)  In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle (or an electric hand mixer), combine shortening and butter until creamed together.
2.)  Add vanilla extract.
3.)  Slowly add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, incorporating each time before adding the next.
4.)  Add coffee and mix well.

*If buttercream seems too thick, add more coffee, 1 Tbsp. at a time.  If it appears too thin, add small amounts (less than 1/4 cup) of powdered sugar.

Oh, and I did enter the Pillsbury Bake-Off, but didn’t win!  That’s okay – I still have a great recipe loved by family and friends and there’s always next time! 🙂

Fried Chicken

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In all my years growing up and more recently, the past several years developing my passion for cooking – I have never made fried chicken!  For some reason, I got the crazy idea of making it the other day and my family was more than happy about it!

A couple of years ago Rob bought me a cast iron skillet for Christmas.  It is a great tool to use for making fried chicken.  The cast iron distributes heat evenly and helps maintain the temperature of the oil.  This helps the chicken become more crispy and prevents the chicken from absorbing too much of the oil.  Really greasy fried chicken is usually the result of the temperature of the oil being too low and the chicken spending more time than necessary in the oil cooking.

It’s also important once the chicken is cooked to remove it from the oil and place it on a cooling rack where air can circulate around it.  Even immediately removing it from the heat, it is still slightly cooking and releasing steam.  If you place it on a paper towel or a plate, there is no place for this steam to go and it prevents that area from staying crispy.  With the cooling rack, air can circulate around the food and it doesn’t get soggy from absorbing the steam.  This is crucial in maintaining the crispyness everyone has come to love about fried chicken.

Now it was time to find a recipe.  I searched through a few and found some things I liked and disliked about them.  I knew I wanted it to be flavorful and well seasoned, but what combination of seasonings would be best.  I finally came across Alton Brown’s Fried Chicken recipe and really liked the flavor profile.  So I gave it a shot.  My family loved it.  Thank you Alton Brown for this amazing recipe!

Fried Chicken

1 broiler chicken, cut into 8 pieces (2 wings, 2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 breasts)
2 cups low fat buttermilk
2 Tbsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. Hungarian paprika (I used the more common Spanish paprika, as that’s what I had on hand)
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
Flour, for dredging (seasoned with additional salt, paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper)
Oil or vegetable shortening for frying

1).  Place chicken pieces into a plastic container and cover with buttermilk. Cover and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.
2).  Melt enough shortening (over low heat) or pour enough oil to come just 1/3-inch up the side of a 12-inch cast iron skillet or heavy fry pan. Once shortening liquefies raise heat to 325 degrees F.  Do not allow oil to go over 325 degrees F.
3). Drain chicken in a colander. Combine salt, paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Liberally season chicken with this mixture. Dredge chicken in seasoned flour and shake off excess.
4). Place chicken skin side down into the pan. Put thighs in the center, and breast and legs around the edge of the pan. The oil should come half way up the pan. Cook chicken until golden brown on each side, approximately 10 to 12 minutes per side. More importantly, the internal temperature should be right around 160 degrees. (Be careful to monitor oil/shortening temperature every few minutes.)
5).  Drain chicken on a rack over a sheet pan. Don’t drain by setting chicken directly on paper towels or brown paper bags. If you need to hold the chicken before serving, cover loosely with foil but avoid holding in a warm oven, especially if it’s a gas oven.

Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown.

Bean Salad

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When I was growing up,  my family would get together numerous times throughout the summer.  It was always a variety of foods – burgers and hot dogs, sometimes it was grilled chicken, but no matter what the occasion, my cousin Merinda always made her Three Bean Salad and I LOVED it!!!!  It was so good.  Cold, light, and refreshing – a perfect side dish for a hot summer day.

Now that I’m hosting gatherings at my home, I’ve added it to my menu listing of summer foods and I love sharing it at our summer barbecues.  My cousin always used to make hers with three beans – red kidney beans, chick peas (garbanzo beans), and white cannellini beans.  I added green beans to mine to give it a little pop of color and some more texture.  The recipe adds a little bit of sugar which gives it a mild sweetness.  Start with a little and add more as you feel you need to suit your tastes.  It’s a great protein options for vegetarians attending your gathering and a healthy alternative to those creamy salads as well.

Bean Salad

1 can chick peas/garbanzo beans, drained
1 can cannellini beans, drained
1 can red kidney beans, drained
1 can green beans, drained
3 -4 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1/3 cup Rice Vinegar
1-2 tsp. granulated sugar
1 clove garlic, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
To taste, oregano, thyme, rosemary, salt & pepper

1.)  Make a vinaigrette with olive oil, vinegar, sugar, garlic, herbs, and seasonings.
2.)  Pour over drained beans.  Gently mix well to coat beans.
3.)  Marinate at least 30 minutes to 1 hour.
4.)  Serve cold.

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Cannoli Cookies

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One of my favorite dessert treats is a cannoli.  I often make them to accompany our collection of cookies for the Christmas holidays.  (Here is my recipe for cannolis.)

Traditional cannolis are filled with a sweet, creamy filling with a ricotta cheese base.  They usually contain cinnamon, sometimes some orange zest, chocolate chips, and/or pistachios.  This cookie recipe really sticks to traditional cannoli flavors and it is amazing how much like cannolis they really taste.

I found this recipe on a complete whim while searching the internet one day for cookie recipes to make for the Christmas holidays.  Every Christmas, our family spends a day baking holiday cookies for Christmas dessert.  We make sugar cookie cutouts and chocolate chip cookies.  I was looking to do something a little bit different and was on the hunt for something new to add.  When I found this recipe I was intrigued.  How much like a cannoli can it really taste?  Well, there was only one way to find out!  Fortunately, I had all of the ingredients at home and decided to give it a try.

These came out amazing.  They are insanely addicting.  No – you can’t stop at just one.  Or two.  Or three.  Well, maybe three.  But that’s only because I’ve been working at losing weight and I really didn’t want to sabotage my efforts!  I’m sure I could have eaten more!!

These cookies are incredibly moist, light, fluffy, and slightly-cake like in texture.  It is literally like eating a cloud (with incredible flavor!).  This recipe called for chopped pistachios, but I opted not to include them (I don’t like nuts in my sweets!).  It also called for melted chocolate to be drizzled on the cookies after they have cooled.  Another step I did not do.  Truthfully, I just forgot.  I was making so many cookies and 1) I dumped in the entire bag into the dough (see you should always read the recipes through first!) and 2) I took these out to cool and just spaced it!  It didn’t seem to matter, because I think they still turned out great!  The creaminess of the ricotta, the sweetness of the chocolate chips, and the subtle hints of cinnamon and orange made this cookie an incredible bite!

So, instead of regular cannolis this year, we had cannoli cookies instead.  And nobody missed the regular cannolis!  If you like cannolis, you will love this new twist on an Italian classic!  Enjoy!

Cannoli Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. fresh orange zest
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups all purpose flour
1 10 oz. bag mini chocolate chips

  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy.  Mix in the eggs and then ricotta cheese until well combined.  Add in the vanilla extract, cinnamon, and orange zest.
  2. Add the baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well combined.  Next add in the flour.  Stir in the bag of chocolate chips.  Cover and refrigerate the dough for at least one hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly grease.
  4. Drop about 1 1/2 Tbsp. of cookie dough for each cookie spacing about 2 inches apart.
  5. Bake cookies at 375 degrees F for about 8-11 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.  Remove from oven and cool completely.
 Recipe adapated from snappygourmet.com

Find me on Facebook!

After following numerous recipe pages on Facebook, it finally dawned on me… “hey, I should do that.”  Well, I finally did it.  I now officially have a Facebook page for my blog recipes.  I’ll be posting some oldies (but goodies), and of course new recipes as I blog about them.  I hope you’ll take a moment to like my page.  You can click here to be connected to my Facebook page.

If you are unable to be connected as above, please enter the following web address to be directed to my page:

https://www.facebook.com/asymphonyinthekitchen/

Thanks for “liking” my page.

Happy Cooking!

Christine

Rigatoni Pie

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So for months I had been seeing this pasta entrée going around Facebook and frequently would just pass it by.  Meh.  I thought to myself.  But it kept showing up in my news feed – over and over and over again.  Hmmmm.  This is obviously popular.  OK I’ll bite (no pun intended).  I’m referring to the Rigatoni Pie that you may have seen going around the internet.  It is made in a springform pan and the rigatoni stands vertically in the pan and is covered with sauce and cheese.  In pictures it looks delicious and being Italian, I had to give it a try.

So, I grabbed my springform pan and boiled up some rigatoni.  I mixed in a little tomato sauce and then began assembling the pie standing the rigatoni vertically in the pan.  I found it difficult, truthfully.  The pasta just kept falling over.  Usually when I make rigatoni, I mix in a little ricotta cheese with it (and boy do my kids go crazy over it!).  So I decided that would be my “glue.”  I mixed in some ricotta cheese and it helped the pasta stick to each other and allowed me to be able to fill up the pan.  I squeezed in as much pasta as I could.  Then I covered the top with sauce and a big layer of shredded mozzarella cheese.  Then into the oven it went to bake and get nice and bubbly and brown.

A lot of people prefer meat in their pasta dishes.  My older cousin is a strict vegetarian, so growing up our Italian family always made meat dishes on the side.  Meatballs, chicken cutlet parmigiana, sausage and peppers, etc.  Everything was served separate from any pasta dish.  Our baked ziti and lasagna dishes never had meat in them and because of that I still can’t bring myself to like lasagna served at restaurants since they fill them up with meat!  It’s what you get used to.  So, I never make my pasta dishes with meat.  You can use ground beef in this recipe if you’d like, but I chose to make it without.  I also really didn’t follow a particular recipe.  I just took the main ingredients and combined them how I wanted.  It’s a flexible recipe that you can really make your own.  Don’t like tomato sauce, try pesto.  Don’t want ricotta cheese, use a meat sauce.  The possibilities are endless!

It’s a little bit of effort to assemble, but it’s worth the reactions you’ll get from your family or guests when you release that springform pan.  My kids were in awe and I should have taken an “after” picture – because there was none left!  I hope you and your family enjoy it as much as mine has!

Rigatoni Pasta Pie

1 9″ springform pan, lightly oiled
1 lb. rigatoni pasta, cooked al dente
1 8 oz. container ricotta cheese
2 Tbsp. parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
4-6 cups tomato sauce (reserve some for final plates)

  1. Combine the cooked pasta with about a 1/2 cup of tomato sauce and the ricotta cheese.  Mix well.
  2. Place a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the springform pan.  Begin tightly packing the rigatoni in the springform pan, standing the pasta on its ends (vertically) working your way from the outside towards the center.  Pack it as tight as possible, without destroying any of the pasta.  You may or may not use all of the pasta.
  3. Once the pan is filled with the pasta, pour over some tomato sauce and then sprinkle on the parmesan and mozzarella cheese. (I wrapped my springform pan in aluminum foil and placed it on a cookie sheet so any juices that dripped wouldn’t leak.  However, do not cover the top with aluminum foil.)
  4. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes until cheese is melted, brown, and bubbly.  Remove from oven and let stand about 10-15 minutes before removing springform.
Recipe courtesy of mostly myself and numerous Facebook posts!  Enjoy!