Rigatoni Pie

Don’t worry… You’re not putting pasta in a pie crust with this pie. This is a fun variation on your basic pasta, sauce and cheese dish.

You start off by boiling a pound of rigatoni pasta until it is lightly less than al dente – the minutes truly depend on the brand of pasta you buy. Once the pasta is ready, drain it and spread it on a baking sheet and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil.

Next, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a 9-inch springform pan in the center. Grease the pan with a tablespoon of olive oil and began standing the rigatoni on their ends in the pan until the entire pan is filled.

Pour your favorite pasta sauce over the noodles and then sprinkle mozzarella and parmesan cheese over the sauce.

Tent the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes in a preheated 375 F oven. Uncover the pan and bake for about another 30 minutes, until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly.

Let the pasta cool for 10 minutes and then carefully remove the ring from the pan, cut the pie and serve.


Rigatoni Pie


4 cups of marinara sauce (store bought or homemade)

1 pound rigatoni

2 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt

1 pound mozzarella cheese, grated

2/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated



Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with a tablespoon of olive oil and place on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until is slightly less than al dente. Drain the pasta, spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil.

Stand the rigatoni on their ends in the prepared springform pan. Pour the sauce over the noodles and spread with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with cheeses.

Tent the pan with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, uncover and bake until the cheese us bubbly and golden brown, about an additional 30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and then remove the ring from the pan.

Recipe from Food Network


Garlicky Baked Shrimp

This is my kind of recipe… Quick, simple and foolproof. I’ve made it 3 times and each time it was perfect. What is it… Garlicky Baked Shrimp. I usually serve it with rice, but, I think it would be perfect tossed with some pasta.

A few things to note… Don’t bake for more than 7 minutes or you will overcook the shrimp and you definitely don’t want rubbery shrimp. You can broil for an extra minute or so, but, once you see the bread crumbs are a nice toasty color you’re good to go – you don’t want garlic shrimp with a burnt topping. And finally, if you like your shrimp extra garlicky, through in an extra clove of garlic or two.

Garlicky Baked Shrimp


1 1/2 – 2 lbs. raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined*

6 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons white wine**

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons melted butter***

1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

1-2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons fresh Italian-leaf parsley, chopped

*I buy my shrimp frozen, uncooked, peeled and de-veined. I let it sit out for a few hours to defrost and then proceed with the recipe.

**I used Chardonnay

***I used unsalted. If you choose to use salted keep that in mind when seasoning the shrimp with salt


Preheat the oven to 425 F.

In a medium bowl combine the shrimp, garlic and white wine and toss to combine. Transfer the shrimp mixture to a 9 x 13 – inch baking dish and spread it out in an even layer. Season with salt and pepper.

Rinse out the bowl and then add the melted butter and bread crumbs. Use a fork to stir everything together. With your finger, sprinkle the bread crumb mixture evenly over the shrimp.

Bake for about 7 minutes, until the shrimp is just turning pink. Switch the oven to broiler setting (high if you have that option) and broil for 2-3 minutes. Until the shrimp are completely pink and cooked through and the bread crumbs are beginning to turn golden.

Remove from the oven and drizzle the lemon juice over the shrimp and then sprinkle the parsley.

Recipe from Gimme Some Oven Blog




Slow Cooker Sunday: A Cookbook Review and Marinara Sauce

So about two months ago while perusing in the cookbook section of my local Barnes & Noble I began scanning through some of their slow cooker cookbooks and settled on purchasing America’s Test Kitchen: Slow Cooker Revolution. I was excited to try out some of the recipes as they sounded really good. I started with the Loaded Baked Potato Soup and it was a disaster! It had no flavor and was more like heavy mashed potatoes instead of soup. I decided that I would try it again another day with less potatoes. But then I tried another recipe and it didn’t come out that great, okay, truthfully, it was horrible again. It was a Broccoli and Chicken sauce that was to be used for pasta. The sauce, made with chicken broth and wine as the base, was bitter and the chicken was dry. Yuck! So, instead of trying a third recipe – quite honestly at this point none of the recipes sounded all that great – I headed back to Barnes & Noble to see if I could return it. And luckily I was able to. And since I wasn’t in a rush, I headed back to the cookbook area and picked up another book to try out… Slow Cooker Family Favorites by Maggie Shi. And (oh boy, starting 3 sentences in a row with “and,” such bad grammar… LOL) the first recipe I tried was delish… a slow cooker marinara sauce.

To make the sauce I combined crushed tomatoes, olive oil, tomato paste, red wine vinegar, fresh basil, fresh garlic and salt in the bowl of my slow cooker.


And then gave everything a few good stirs and set it to cook on low for seven hours. For a little extra seasoning I added a few grinds of fresh pepper and that was it.


I ended up with about 6 cups of sauce. I decided to freeze 4 cups and used 2 cups as a dipping sauce for this Cheesy Garlic Monkey Bread that I will be posting about tomorrow!


Slow Cooker Marinara Sauce


2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 large fresh sprigs basil

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons salt, plus more if needed


Add all the ingredients to the bowl of a slow cooker and stir together.

Cover and cook on low for 7 hours. Taste for seasoning.

Serve with breadsticks, garlic bread, baguette slices, etc. for dipping. Or use for your favorite pasta. Makes about 6 cups.

Recipe from Slow Cooker Family Favorites



Slow Cooker Sunday: Kielbasa and White Bean Cassoulet

So, what exactly is a cassoulet you might be thinking? Well, it’s a slow-cooked dish from the south of France that usually contains meat, pork skin and white beans. This cassoulet has 2 out of those 3 things… Pork skin is the only thing missing.

In the bowl of my slow cooker I combined dry Northern beans, beef kielbasa that I sliced into 1-inch pieces, chicken broth, diced tomatoes, onion, garlic, thyme and salt and set it to cook on low for 8 hours…


But, after checking on it after 7 hours I decided that my cassoulet was done as I didn’t want my beans to turn into mush.


To go along with this hearty soup I toasted 8 1/2-inch buttered baguette slices that I then cubed…


And then topped my cassoulet with.


Yum… This is the perfect dish for these cold winter days.


Slow Cooker Kielbasa and White Bean Cassoulet


1 1/2 cup dried white beans, Northern or Navy Beans

1 pound kielbasa, cut into 1-inch pieces

3 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped

Kosher salt and black pepper

8 1/2-inch slices of baguette, buttered and toasted, cut into cubes


Combine the beans, kielbasa, broth, tomatoes, onion, garlic, thyme and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a 4 -to- 6 quart slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours, until the beans are tender and creamy (check the beans after 7 hours) or on high for 5 hours. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve topped with the baguette cubes.

Recipe from Real Simple Magazine

Slow Cooker Sunday: Italian Vegetable and Pasta Soup

This is probably the best soup I have ever made and maybe tasted, well, there was this French Onion Soup that I had years ago at a restaurant that I still compare all French Onion Soup’s I have to this day to. Maybe I should try making that soup one day. But anyhoo, I digress, as usual. Back to the soup at hand, an Italian Vegetable and Pasta Soup that best of all is made in a slow cooker. There’s nothing better than dumping everything into your slow cooker, coming back a few hours later and having a great meal waiting for you.

I began by adding all of my vegetables to my slow cooker: corn, chopped onion, chopped carrots, sliced zucchini and garlic. I wasn’t sure if garlic could be considered a vegetable, but, after a little research it turns out can be.


Next, I stirred broth, tomato paste, salt and basil until the tomato paste had completely blended into the broth. I used tomato paste with basil, garlic and oregano. I advise definitely using this blend of tomato paste since it adds more flavor to the soup.


I opted to cook it on the high setting – for about 3 1/2 hours – and then added in dried shell macaroni and a bag of frozen green beans and cooked it for an additional 45 minutes.


Once it was done I served myself some in a bowl and topped it with shredded parmesan. YUM!


Italian Vegetable and Pasta Soup


1 10-ounce package frozen whole kernel corn

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped carrots

1 small zucchini, halved and sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

6 cups no-salt vegetable or chicken broth

1 6-ounce can tomato paste with basil, garlic and oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1 9-ounce package frozen green beans

1 cup dried tiny shell macaroni

Shredded parmesan cheese, for topping

*I used regular (not the no-salt one) garden vegetable broth


In a 3 1/2 to 5 quart slow cooker combine the frozen corn, onion, carrots, zucchini and garlic.

Stir in the broth, salt, basil and tomato paste until the tomato paste is completed blended into the broth.

Cover and cook on high for 3 1/2 to 4 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours. If cooking on low set the heat to high and add in the macaroni and green beans and cook for an additional 45 minutes.

Sprinkle each serving with parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens



Slow Cooker Sunday: Pulled Pork

So last week I brought you shredded beef, albeit it wasn’t supposed to be shredded, and this week I am bringing you pulled pork, which is essentially shredded pork. When I usually make pork shoulder I make it in the oven seasoned with a variety of spices, this time around though I decided to try it out in my slow cooker and I think I may be sticking with this method from now on. The meat came out extremely tender and flavorful.

After rinsing the bone-in pork shoulder I placed it in the insert of my slow cooker over a yellow onion cut into wedges. In a medium bowl I made the marinade combining spices that included paprika, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder and oregano along with honey, red wine vinegar and olive oil.



I made a few punctures into the meat using a knife and then poured the marinade over it.


I cooked the meat on low for 8 hours…


And then using two forks I shredded the meat and left it in the insert of the slow cooker on the warm setting for about 15-20 minutes so the meat could absorb some of the juices that had accumulated on the bottom.


And like I said… It was delicious! You could eat it this on its own or use it for a delicious sandwich.


Slow Cooker Pulled Pork


4 pound pork-shoulder bone in*

3 tablespoons paprika

1/2 tablespoon salt

2 teaspoons black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, cut into wedges

 *you could also use a 3 to 3 1/2 pound shoulder without the bone


Place the onion in the insert of the slow cooker and place the pork on top of it. Make a few punctures in the meat.

In a medium bowl combine all of the spices and then add in the honey, vinegar and olive oil to form a marinade. Pour the marinade over the pork and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours. Until the meat is fully cooked and tender. Shred the meat with two forks and allow it to sit in the juices in the slow cooker on the low setting for 15-20 minutes.

Recipe slightly modified from 100 Days of Real Food




Tortellini with Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce

Every now and then I do make a pumpkin dish that is not a dessert. I’ve actually made this dish quite a few times (I mentioned it in a post way back in 2013, but, never actually blogged about it) but, this was the first time I followed the recipe and used tortellini as opposed to another type of pasta – usually penne – and I must say it made a huge delicious difference! Some dishes are just better with a little extra cheese in them. One thing though, the leftovers of this dish do taste good, but, it’s much better when you eat it right after you make it because the sauce is super creamy then.


Tortellini with Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce


2 9-ounce packages cheese tortellini*

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 small shallot, finely chopped

1/2 cup canned pure pumpkin

1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping

Freshly ground pepper

Kosher salt


Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the tortellini according to the package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water and then drain the pasta.

While the tortellini is cooking, melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring until slightly soft. About 2 minutes, making sure not to burn the shallots.

Add the pumpkin and the nutmeg and continue cooking for about another minutes. Stir in the cream and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and let simmer while stirring until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

Finally, add in the cheese and continue cooking until thick. Season with the salt and pepper.

Add the tortellini to the skillet with the pumpkin sauce and toss to coat, adding some of the reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce**. Serve topped with parmesan cheese.

*I used a 20oz. package of Buitoni Three-Cheese Tortellini

**I used about 1/4 cup of the reserved water

Recipe from Food Network