Rigatoni Pie

rigatoni pasta upright in pan with sauce and cheese
Rigatoni Pie is easier than it looks

1 Lb. rigatoni (preferably, the shorter, wider ones)
2 T. Olive oil, divided1 Lb. ground beef
2 large garlic cloves
½ teaspoon oregano
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper
1 c. Parmesan cheese, finely grated
8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese

Boil the rigatoni in a large pot of boiling, salted water until slightly underdone. When done, drain, rinse with cold water and toss with 1 T. olive oil. Set aside.

Heat remaining 1 T. olive oil in a skillet and cook ground beef. Add chopped garlic, salt and pepper. Be sure to break up meat into small pieces. This will be helpful later when filling the pie. Takes about 5 minutes.

Add oregano and crushed tomatoes; simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes.

Toss rigatonis with Parmesan cheese.
Grease a 9 or 10-inch spring-form pan. Begin placing rigatonis on end in the pan. You may need to tilt it slightly until the rigatonis fill the pan, all standing upright like little soldiers. Snugly put as many as you can, but stop before the start to flatten or collapse. You want them round and ready for filling.

Spread meat sauce over the pasta, letting it sink down in. If necessary, you can use a chopstick to gently tuck meat pieces down into the little tubes. Use all the meat sauce.

Place pan on a foil lined cookie sheet (because with a springform pan, there could be some leakage around the bottom) and bake in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, then top with mozzarella and finish baking another 15 minutes. At the very end, you can place the pan under the broiler for 2-3 minutes to bubble the cheese and turn it golden.

Remove from oven and let sit another 15 minutes. Loosen edges with a knife and unmold to serve.


Easy Mincemeat Pie

mincemeat pie
Easy Mincemeat Pie


1 (15 oz.) box refrigerated pie crust both crusts softened as directed

1 (29 oz.) jar Crosse & Blackwell® Rum & Brandy Mincemeat Filling

Vanilla Ice Cream

HEAT oven to 425°F. Unroll pie crusts. Line ungreased 9-inch pie plate with one crust. Fill with mincemeat. Cover with second crust and seal edges. Cut slits in top crust to vent steam. Bake 25 to 30 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream if desired. (recipe from Crosse & Blackwell).

Note: I baked the pie in the picture at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes and covered the edges with foil to prevent burning. Chuck and I make this every Christmas.

There are a few brands of mincemeat on the market, but Cross & Blackwell is one of my favorites. Also, some delis carry mincemeat in bulk behind the counter you can buy seasonally.

How to Brine a Turkey

turkey in brine
Brining will make your turkey more moist and flavorful.

1 – 13-18 LB fresh turkey
1 cup kosher salt
1 cup light brown sugar
Zest of 2 oranges
Zest of 2 lemons
Handful of fresh rosemary sprigs
2 bay leaves, crumpled
1-1/2 to 2 gallons water

roasted turkey
Roast brined turkey in your favorite manner

You will need a large non-reactive pot big enough for your turkey and the brine. Mix the water (start with 1-1/2 gallons and add the other ingredients. Stir until salt and sugar dissolves. Place cleaned and rinsed turkey into the brine, adding the rest of the water to cover. Place in a cool spot for 8-12 hours before roasting in your favorite manner. (I like to finish the turkey in my Nesco Roast-Air convection roaster oven.)

Loose Meat Sandwiches

loose-meatIf you have ever had the Iowa favorite, Maid-Rite loose meat sandwich, this is a close copycat recipe for you: LOOSE MEAT SANDWICHES

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped (better yet, use 1 teaspoon dried onion flakes)
1 lb. ground beef
1⁄3 cup tomato ketchup
1 T cider vinegar
1 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp garlic powder
1 teaspoons seasoning salt and a pinch or two of pepper

In a large skillet over medium heat, brown onion and sauté until soft, then add meat, stirring constantly with a fork to crumble.

When meat is brown, add all remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally until most of the liquid cooks out (about 15-20 minutes). Spoon onto hamburger buns.

Cranberry Orange Quick Bread

Cranberry Orange Quick Bread
Cranberry Orange Quick Bread

Healthier and low fat but you will never notice it because this is so good!

• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• Finely grated zest of 1 medium orange
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon fine salt
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from about 2 medium oranges)
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick), melted and cooled slightly, plus more for coating the pan
• 1 large egg, lightly beaten
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 1/2 cups cranberries, thawed if frozen and sliced in half
• 1/2 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional

Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with butter; set aside.

Place the flour, sugar, orange zest, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl and whisk to aerate and break up any lumps. Add the orange juice, melted butter, egg, and vanilla and stir with a spoon or rubber spatula until just combined. Stir in the cranberries and nuts, if using, until evenly distributed.

Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan, pushing it into the corners and smoothing the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 50-60 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes, then turn the bread out onto the rack and cool completely before cutting. Be patient.

Makes: 1 (9-inch) loaf

Cranberry Orange Chutney

jar of cranberry relish
Cranberry Orange Chutney

Cranberry Orange Chutney:

1 lb. fresh organic cranberries
1 organic orange
½ cup raisins (optional)
1/4 cup cane sugar or brown sugar (more if you like, depends on the cranberries)
1-3 teaspoons chopped ginger (Fresh ginger is fine, but if you have a little ginger bug on hand, use it.)

Wash and clean the berries well, being sure to discard any that are not fresh. Using a peeler or zester, remove the zest from the orange. Then peel the white pith from the orange and discard. Place the berries, roughly chopped orange, orange peel, and sugar in a food processor and chop coarsely. Add raisins at this point if using them.

Let mixture sit for 1-2 hours. It will begin to shrink a little and make juices. Pack into a wide-mouth quart jar, cover and leave out at room temperature overnight so flavors marry. Cover and store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 months.

My husband puts this on toast each morning, I sprinkle it on my salads. We’re happy to be getting plenty of antioxidants among other good things.

Also, this is fantastic as a relish alongside turkey, pork, fish and lamb. Keeps for at least a month in the refrigerator.