BAKED RIGATONI SAN MARZANO

Who does not love bake pasta dishes? Rigatoni, Ziti, Mostaccioli…they’re all good. This one is meatless…with a rich marinara sauce made with San Marzano tomatoes. The rigatoni is tossed with the sauce, and a ricotta/mozzarella/parmesan mix. Then topped with more mozzarella and parmesan. If you bake it right away, it only takes about 20 minutes to cook. But, you can put it together and bake it later…with a longer cook time of course.

This recipe is really cut down using a 9×9 baking dish. Still enough for 4 people.

Ingredients:

For the marinara:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, thin sliced
  • 1 (28 ounce) can of whole, peeled, San Marzano tomatoes
  • 2-3 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp sugar or to taste
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter

For the rigatoni:

  • 7 ounces of rigatoni
  • 3/4 cups whole ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme eaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped + more for garnish
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 8 ounces of fresh mozzarella, 1/2 of it diced
  • 3/4 cups grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Directions:

  • Place a medium saucepan over medium low heat and add the olive oil. Add the onions and saute about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic for 30 seconds.
  • Add the San Marzano tomatoes and crushed with you hands or mash with a potato masher. Add the fresh basil and bay leaf. Add the salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover, lower the heat and cook for 30 minutes. Taste and reseason if necessary. Stir in the sugar and the butter. Optional: using an immersion blender, blend the marinara to your desired consistency.
  • Combine the ricotta, the salt and pepper, thyme, parsley, lemon zest, half the mozzarella, half the parmesan, and the egg. Mix well in a bowl.
  • Cook the rigatoni in salted water for about 9-10 minutes. Drain and don’t rinse. Return to the pan.
  • Place the ricotta mix in the pasta and fold in completely. Add 2 cups of the marinara and reserve the rest for another recipe. Freeze it if you like.
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Stir every together until well combined then place in a oil-sprayed 9×9 baking dish. Top with the rest of the mozzarella and parmesan. Cover with foil and bake for 18 minutes. Remove the foil and turn to broil for about 2-3 minutes until the top is lightly browned. Remove from the oven. Tent lightly with the foil and let sit for 10 minutes.
  • Serve with chopped parsley and more parmesan.

4-CHEESE OVER THE TOP MAC AND CHEESE

So, I set out to come up with a new Mac and Cheese recipe. And decided to start with some of my favorite cheeses, two of which I don’t use nearly enough: Fontina and Gruyere. I paired them with White Cheddar And Parmesan and then added a garlic and shallot infused half and half to make the cheese sauce…and I was off and running!

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium shallots, peeled, sliced
  • 1 medium garlic clove, peeled, sliced
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • Kosher salt and white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere
  • 1/2 cup shredded Fontina
  • 1/2 cup shredded White Cheddar
  • 14 tsp cayenne
  • Kosher salt and white pepper
  • 2 slices of Black Forest deli ham, thin sliced (roll up and chiffonade)
  • 6 ounces of macaroni (I used cavatappi)
  • 1/2 cup panko crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • Canola oil

Directions:

  • Place 1 cup half and half, the shallots, and the garlic clove in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for 30 minutes.
  • Cook your pasta al dente according to package directions. Drain, return to the pan, and toss with a little olive oil. Cover and set aside.
  • Place 1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter in a small saucepan over medium heat then add 1 tbsp flour. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Strain the half and half into this saucepan (discard the vegetables) and bring to a simmer, whisking, until thicken slightly and smooth.
  • Add the Gruyere, Fontina, and white cheddar, lower the heat, and allow the all the cheeses to melt until smooth. Taste and season with Kosher salt and white or black pepper.
  • Pour the cheese sauce into the pasta saucepan and fold in until completely coated evenly. Add the chiffonade ham and fold in. Place the macaroni and cheese in a 9×9 buttered baking dish and smooth the top.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Place 1 1/2 tbsp of the butter in a small skillet over medium heat then add 1/2 cup panko crumbs and paprika. Cook, stirring and tossing until the panko begins to brown. Sprinkle in the parmesan then spoon evenly over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 5-10 minutes until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

TUNA AND NOODLE CASSEROLE

Despite my wife’s exclamation, “I don’t like hot tuna!” (wasn’t that a rock group in the 70’s?)…I still make Tuna and Noodle Casserole from time to time. She politely eats a little and I have a lot of leftovers.

This version is from scratch, not using my Mom’s recipe that uses cream of mushroom soup. Although my Mom’s was always good, I strived over the years to come up with a scratch recipe. This one works nicely.

I only have 1 (5 ounce) can of solid white albacore tuna in water in the recipe, but adding another can would ramp up the tuna flavor. Please only use albacore, not that oily, dark meat cat food stuff.

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces of white or cremini mushrooms, stems cut, halved, thin sliced
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup minced celery
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire
  • 1 (5 ounce) can of solid white albacore tuna in water
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 6 ounces wide egg noodles
  • 1/2 cup crush potato chips
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas (opt.)
  • 1 tbsp grated parmesan

Directions:

  • Cook the egg noodles in salted water according to package directions.
  • Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium low heat then add the celery and mushrooms. Cook, stirring, for about 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the flour and cook for another minute. Whisk in the chicken stock and bring to a simmer let it start to thicken. Add the cream, sour cream, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook on low for about 7 minutes. Add the shredded cheddar and allow to melt.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Drain the tuna well and crumble in the sauce. Place the sauce in a mixing bowl then fold in the cooked egg noodles. Place the mixture in a butter 9×9 baking dish. Sprinkle with the potato chips and grated parmesan. Bake for 35 minutes until starting to get golden brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
  • You can make it ahead of time without cooking, just cover and place in the refrigerator. Then bake for 45 minutes until the internal temperature is 155 degrees and the top is golden brown.

LOAF PAN LASAGNE

C’mon, it’s just the two of us! So, I do this little meaty creamy cheesy lasagne in a loaf pan. Is it lasagne or lasagna? Doesn’t matter.

You can use regular lasagne noodles, but I love these little oven-ready lasagne noodles from Barilla. They are thin and don’t requite pre-cooking. Just try to find a small loaf pan that fits the noodles.

This recipe has 4 layers, double noodles, meat sauce, béchamel, a ricotta parmesan layer, and lots of mozzarella. You can also make it with marinara instead of meat sauce.

Ingredients:

  • Half package of Barilla oven-ready lasagne noodles
  • 2 cups bechamel
  • 1 1/2 cups meat sauce or marinara, home made or store-bought
  • 7 ounces ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 8 ounces mozzarella, divided
  • 2 ounces of granted parmesan, divided
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, 1/8 inch chiffonade

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Make the béchamel and set aside, keep warm.
  • In a mixing bowl, add the ricotta, egg, half the parmesan, 1/8 tsp fresh ground nutmeg, a good pinch of salt and pepper. Stir well to combine.
  • Place the mozzarella ball in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Cut half into cubes and shred the other half.
  • Butter a non-stick loaf pan.
  • Place a thin layer of béchamel on the bottom. Then layer 2 sheets of lasagne noodles, then another layer of béchamel, then a layer of meat sauce, spread a layer of ricotta mix, Add 1/3 of the mozzarella cubes then some fresh basil chiffonade. Place another 2 sheets of noodles, béchamel, meat sauce, ricotta mix, mozzarella cubes, then basil. Repeat until you have used all the sheets (about half the package), ending with meat sauce. Spread the top with shredded mozzarella and the remainder of the grated Parmesan. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 50 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 5 minutes until the cheese are golden brown.
  • Let sit uncovered for about 30 minutes or longer to let it set up. Slice an serve.

HASH BROWN CASSEROLE

Otherwise Know As…Funeral Potatoes, Why are they called Funeral Potatoes? Simply explained…you guessed it…it is a dish often brought to after-funeral pot luck dinners in the Intermountain West. I’ve never had this at a funeral dinner, because…I’ve never been to a funeral-dinner. No biggee…I just love this casserole as a side dish for chicken or beef.

Ingredients:

  • About 8 ounces (1/4 bag) frozen (Ore-Ida) hash browns
  • 2-3 ounces sliced deli ham, 1/8 inch chiffonade
  • 1/4 cup onions, minced
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup grated Gruyere
  • 1/4 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup panko crumbs
  • 2 tbsp melted bitter
  • 1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • Chopped chives or green onions for garnish

Directions:

  • Heat 1 tbsp of butter in a small saucepan. Add the minced onions and cook for about 3 minutes. Add 1 tbsp flour, stir and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the stock and the milk and let it come together and thicken.
  • Stir in 1/2 cup shredded cheddar and 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere and stir it in until melted and well combined. Stir in the sour cream, granulated garlic, onion powder, and red pepper flakes. Let cook on low for 3-4 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  • Place the shredded hash browns in a large mixing bowl and pour on the cheese sauce mix. Fold together until well combined.
  • Mix together in a small bowl, the panko crumbs, melted butter, and parmesan cheese.
  • Butter a 9×9 casserole dish then place the hash brown mix in the dish. Top with the chopped bacon, then 1/4 cup of grated cheddar. Cover with foil and bake in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle with the panko mixture and bake another 10 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.

LEFTOVER TURKEY COTTAGE PIE

We love leftovers. We love casseroles. So, why not a casserole made with Thanksgiving leftovers? Cottage Pie…you know, the American version of Shepperd’s Pie using ground beef instead of ground lamb? So, why not a turkey version? And what better time to make this than the day after Thanksgiving!

Assuming you have the usual Thanksgiving leftovers, turkey, dressing, gravy, and mashed potatoes…let’s get to it! I also had some leftover corn with red bell peppers and it fit in just fine to this yummy Thanksgiving leftover casserole.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked turkey, diced
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup diced onions
  • 1/2 cup diced carrots
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup turkey gravy
  • 1 cup corn (if using)
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire
  • 2 cups dressing or stuffing
  • 2 cups mashed potatoes
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Chopped chives or green onions

Directions:

  • Spray a 9×9 baking dish with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a medium skillet over medium heat, add 1 tbsp of butter. Add the onions and cook until they are softened. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the carrots, Worcestershire, gravy, and the stock and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  • Add the dressing, corn, and chopped parsley and fold in to combine.
  • Spread the diced turkey, vegetables, and dressing mix on the bottom of the baking dish.
  • Spread the mashed potatoes evenly over the top. With a fork, make ridges over the top of the potatoes. Sprinkle on the cheddar cheese, cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes until the the internal temperature has reached 160 degrees. Remove foil, raise oven temperature to 425, and bake until the cheese is lightly browned, another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Garnish with chopped chives.

BROCCOLI CHEESE CASSEROLE

This can be a great Thanksgiving side dish as well as a main dish. In this case, I served it with my Pork Medallions with Mushrooms and Sherry (recipe follows this one on my blog)

I cut this recipe in half and used a 9×9 baking dish instead of the 9×13 the full recipe calls for. It uses arborio rice (the kind used for risotto), but any good short grain white rice will work. I put it together ahead of time the baked it later, a great convenience for Thanksgiving. You could even assemble it the night before and keep it in the refrigerator.

The rice is cooked in a saucepan about half way, if you don’t do this it may turn out too mushy after baking.

This recipe easily serves about 4 people and makes great leftovers the next day. The pork medallion recipe precedes this one on the blog.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup arborio rice (or any other short grain rice)
  • 1/2 lb broccoli florets, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, thin sliced
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/2 tsp granulated onion
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp celery salt
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/3 cup sour cream

Directions:

  • Place 1 1/2 cups of water in a large saucepan over high heat. Season the water with 1/4 tsp salt. When the water is boiling, add the rice, lower the heat, cover, and cook about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 8 minutes, add the broccoli florets and cover. Cook another 5 minutes. Drain the rice and broccoli through a fine wire sieve and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Wipe out the same sauce pan and place over medium low heat. Add the butter and the onions an saute until the onions are translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic for another minute. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the flour and stir, cooking for about 1 minute. Whisk in the stock then the milk and bring to a simmer letting it thicken slightly.
  • Add the spices and stir to combine. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring.
  • Add the 2/3 of the grated cheddar and sour cream and stir to combine.
  • Add the cooked drained rice and broccoli and fold in completely.
  • Spray a 9×9 baking dish with cooking spray then add the broccoli and cheese mixture, distributing the broccoli florets evenly. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle on the remainder of the grated cheddar and cook another 12 minutes until the cheese has melted and is beginning to brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

TACO TUESDAY CASSEROLE

Tuesday is as good a day as any for making tacos…Taco Tuesday! So, to mix it up a bit, instead of just making tacos, Loretta made her Taco Casserole. Crispy tortilla chips layered with spiced ground beef, sour cream, and Pepper Jack and Sharp Cheddar cheese. Served with more sour cream, salsa, and fresh chopped cilantro, it’s just right for a Tuesday night or any night.

Casseroles aren’t always photogenic, but they are a savory, tasty, comfort food.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 3/4 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • 1/2 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sour cream plus more for serving
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro plus more for garnish
  • 3 handfuls of crispy corn tortilla chips (we used Tostitos)
  • 1 cup shredded Pepper Jack cheese
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Directions:

  • Add olive oil to a medium saucepan over medium heat then add the onions. Saute until they are translucent. Crumble in the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Drain the grease and return to the saucepan.
  • Add the garlic, cumin, chile powder, cayenne, salsa, and water and bring to a simmer. Let it cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the sour cream and cilantro and stir in to combine. Turn off the heat.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spray a 9×9 baking dish with cooking spray. Add 1 handful of tortilla chips. Cover with 1/3 of the ground beef mixture, then 1/3 of both cheeses. Repeat 2 more times until all the ingredients are gone.
  • Bake for 20 minutes until the cheese is completely melted. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  • Serve with sour cream and chopped cilantro.

CHEDDAR GARLIC SMASHED YUKON GOLD POTATOES

This is a great little recipe for a mashed potato side dish. I use Yukon Gold Potatoes but you could just as well use small red potatoes or even Russetts. I chose to put the “smashed” potatoes in a baking dish to finish, but serving them right after cooking will work as well.

This recipe serves about 4 people.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes (about 3 medium), unpeeled, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig
  • 1/4 cup cream or half and half
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives or green onions
  • 2 thick slices bacon, cooked, diced

Directions:

  • Place the cream in a small saucepan with the smashed garlic and thyme sprig and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for 30 minutes. Strain the cream into a cup, discard the garlic and thyme, and set aside.
  • Place the cubed potatoes (unpeeled) in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover, and boil about 12 minutes, until the potatoes are tender but not mushy. Drain and place in a mixing bowl.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Add the butter, shredded cheddar, and sour cream and smash with a fork. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Spray a small baking dish with cooking spray or rub with butter. Add the potato mixture to the dish. Bake in the oven fort 15 minutes until the potatoes are golden brown. Top with diced bacon and chopped chives and serve with more butter and sour cream if desired.

SCALLOPED POTATO CASSEROLE

I settled on a favorite Scalloped Potatoes recipe a short while back (it’s in my blog history). Then, I decided to try making it a little more of a meal than just a side. So, here’s a Scalloped Potato Casserole with ground beef. I chose to make a cut down recipe for the two of us and decided to use my little 8 inch cast-iron skillet. One bit of advice, bake it on a sheet pan in case it overflows during the cooking process.

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 ounces of lean ground beef
  • Canola oil
  • 1/4 cup diced onions
  • Kosher salt and white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 1/4 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, sliced think (a little less than 1/4 inch)
  • 1/2 cup shallots, thin sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled, thin sliced
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig
  • 1 cup cream
  • 3 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 little cubes
  • Paprika

Directions:

  • Heat a small saucepan over medium heat and add the cream, shallots, garlic, and thyme sprig. Bring to a simmer, turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for 30 minutes. Strain the cream and reserve. Discard the solids.
  • Place a medium saucepan over medium heat and add 1 tsp canola oil. Add the diced onions and saute for 3 minutes, then crumble and brown the ground beef until it is no longer pink. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring. Season with salt, white pepper, and the granulated garlic. Cover and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Butter a small cast-iron skillet (8 inch) or 8×8 baking dish. Layer half of the sliced potatoes in the skillet. Season with salt and white pepper. Spoon in half of the cream. Add the cooked ground beef and spread around evenly. Layer the remainder of the potatoes then add the rest of the cream. Season with salt and pepper. Distribute the cold butter chunks evenly over the potatoes. Sprinkle with paprika. Cover tightly with foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, raise the oven temperature to 400, and bake another 10-15 minutes until the top is golden brown and the potatoes are tender.
  • Garnish with chopped chives if desired. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.