Shortcut Baked Rigatoni with Meatballs

There are so many end-of-the-school-year parties this time of year. A great time to share a crowd-pleasing casserole! I brought this baked pasta dish to my son’s pre-County Championship Swim Meet pasta dinner. I was thrilled when my friend’s husband asked for the recipe. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from such a fun book- Mad Genius Tips: Over 90 Expert Hacks + 100 Delicious Recipes by Justin Chapple and the Editors of Food and Wine. I love Chapple’s column in the printed magazine and knew I would enjoy this book as well. The pasta and the meatballs cook in the oven. Truly genius!

  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed basil, torn or chiffonade, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ziti, rigatoni, rotini, fusilli, shells, or campanelle pasta
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, torn into 1-inch pieces
  • 28 oz (about 3 cups) prepared marinara sauce
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the pork, beef, bread crumbs, eggs, 1/3 cup torn basil, 1/4 cup of Parmesan and 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper; mix well.
  3. Using a cookie scoop, form the meat mixture into one-inch balls.
  4. In a 9-by-13-inch ceramic baking dish, spread half of the pasta in an even layer.
  5. Arrange half of the meatballs (about 16) and mozzarella on the pasta.
  6. Spoon half of the marinara on top and season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  7. Repeat with the remaining pasta, meatballs, cheese, and marinara. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  8. Place baking dish on a rimmed cookie sheet. Add 2 1/2 cups of water to the baking dish and cover tightly with foil.
  9. Bake for about 1 hour, until the pasta is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.
  10. Uncover and bake for 5 minutes longer, until lightly browned.
  11. Let stand for 5 minutes. Garnish with basil and parmesan and serve.

Make Ahead: The baked pasta can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently.

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Green Curry Pork Tenderloin

While I’m sharing delicious green sauces, I have another one to share… Thai green curry this time. 🙂 Using prepared curry paste is a wonderful shortcut, making this dish an elegant weeknight meal.

This dish comes from my favorite column, R.S.V.P., in Bon Appetit magazine. Subscribers write in to request recipes for dishes that stayed in their minds after dining out. This recipe was adapted from Root Down in Denver, Colorado. I doubled the meat and marinade, and increased the amount of garlic and the cooking time (internal meat temperature).

We ate it with steamed spinach over brown Basmati rice. I served the tenderloin over the spinach and rice so that every component was smothered in the wonderful sauce.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

For the Tenderloin:

  •  1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup (4 T) fresh orange juice
  • 2 T pure maple syrup
  • 2 T toasted sesame oil
  • 2 pork tenderloins (about 1 to 1½ pounds each)
  • coarse salt
  • 1 T grapeseed or vegetable oil

For the Sauce & Assembly:

  • 1 T plus ½ cup grapeseed or vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 medium shallot, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ÂĽ cup prepared green curry paste
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest (from 1 lime)
  • 1 14.5-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 T agave nectar
  • 1 T fresh lime juice
  • ÂĽ cup cilantro leaves, plus more for serving
  • Unsalted, roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas; for serving)
  • 1 to 2 pounds spinach, steamed until wilted, for serving
  • brown Basmati rice, for serving
  1.  Combine soy sauce, orange juice, maple syrup, and sesame oil in a large resealable plastic bag. Add tenderloin meat; close bag, pressing out air. Chill, turning once, 4–12 hours.
  2. Remove tenderloin from marinade and pat dry; discard marinade. Season lightly with salt.
  3. Preheat oven to 250°.
  4. Heat grapeseed oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high.
  5. Cook tenderloin, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 2 minutes per side, 5 minutes total.
  6. Transfer pan to the oven and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of tenderloin registers 135°, 20–25 minutes.
  7. Transfer to a cutting board; let rest at least 10 minutes before slicing.
  8. While meat is cooking, heat 1 T oil in a large saucepan over medium.
  9. Cook shallot and garlic, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes.
  10. Add curry paste and lime zest and cook, stirring constantly, until paste is slightly darkened in color and very fragrant, about 4 minutes.
  11. Add coconut milk, bring to a simmer, and cook until reduced by half, 20–25 minutes. Let curry mixture cool.
  12. Transfer curry mixture to a blender and add agave, lime juice, ÂĽ cup cilantro, and 2 T water; blend until very smooth.
  13. With motor running, add remaining ½ cup oil in a steady stream; blend until sauce is thick and emulsified. Transfer to a small saucepan and heat over medium just until warmed through.
  14. Serve pork over prepared rice and steamed spinach, topped with sauce, cilantro, and pumpkin seeds.

Do Ahead: Sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

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Breakfast Sausage, Egg & Cheese Muffins

These moist, protein-packed, and full-flavored muffins are a wonderful savory breakfast. A full meal in a muffin! I love how they looked when they were sliced in half too. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living, inspired by the legendary Rebel Within muffin from the San Francisco bakery Craftsman and Wolves. Next time, I would slightly increase the salt in the batter (as directed below). We also sprinkled the cut side of each egg with salt prior to serving.

Yield: 9 standard muffins

  • 11 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon canola oil, divided, plus more for brushing (optional)
  • 8 ounces breakfast sausage or sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions, about 8 or 9)
  • 1 cup finely shredded Asiago cheese (4 ounces)
  1. Prepare an ice bath. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Carefully add 9 eggs; boil 6 minutes. Transfer to ice bath until cool enough to handle, then carefully peel and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.

  2. In a medium skillet, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium-high. Add sausage and cook, stirring to break up, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate; let cool slightly. Chop into pea-size pieces.

  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection. Line 9 cups of a standard 12-cup muffin tin with baking cups, or lightly brush with oil.

  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.

  5. In another bowl, whisk together remaining 1/2 cup oil, sour cream, 1/4 cup water, and remaining 2 eggs.

  6. Stir wet ingredients into dry until just combined.

  7. Fold in sausage, scallions, and 1/2 cup cheese. (Batter will be thick and dough-like.)

  8. Fill each prepared muffin cup with 2 tablespoons batter. (I used a small cookie scoop- 2 level scoops in each.) Nestle a cooked egg in each.

  9. For each cup, scoop 2 more tablespoons batter (or 2 cookie scoops) and flatten it slightly to form a disk. Cover egg with disk; gently press to seal.

  10. Sprinkle tops of each muffin with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.

  11. Bake until golden, about 22 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes in tin, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

  12. Slice each muffin in half, sprinkle exposed egg with salt, as desired, and serve.

I’m bringing my “meal in a muffin” to share at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #168 this week, co-hosted by Petra @Food Eat Love and Lina @Lin’s Recipes. Enjoy!

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Bucatini with Lemony Carbonara

My son said, “I may not be able to eat another type of pasta for the rest of my life.” If that wasn’t enough, he then added, “This is one of the best dinners I’ve ever eaten.” I’ll take that complement! 🙂

I must say that the bucatini noodles were wonderful. A perfect complement to this quick and luscious sauce. The added lemon zest and juice in this version of the classic dish balanced nicely with the richness. I also loved the hint of spice from the freshly cracked black pepper.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Chris Morocco. I served it with roasted asparagus on the side. Absolutely fabulous!

Yield: 4 Servings

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 to 8 ounces pancetta, cubed, or slab bacon, thinly sliced and cut crosswise into ½-inch pieces
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 16 ounces bucatini or other long-strand pasta
  • coarse salt
  • 2 ounces Parmesan or Grana Padano Parmesan, grated, divided, plus more for serving
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus thinly sliced zest for serving (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Cook pancetta, tossing often, until browned and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes.
  2. Add shallots and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add pepper and cook, stirring often, just until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1½ cups pasta cooking liquid.
  5. Add pasta to skillet along with ½ cup pasta cooking liquid and 1 oz. Parmesan and toss to coat.
  6. Remove skillet from heat and add egg yolks. Toss again, adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until a smooth glossy sauce coats pasta.
  7. Add grated lemon zest, lemon juice, and another 1 oz. Parmesan. Toss to coat, adding more pasta cooking liquid if needed to loosen sauce. (I added a total of 1 cup pasta water.)
  8. Divide pasta among bowls; top with sliced lemon zest and more Parmesan, as desired.

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Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya

My entire family really looks forward to our Mardi Gras dinner. In all honesty, it’s because the meal is topped off with our traditional freshly-baked King Cake. Just writing about it makes me want some. 🙂

I typically make a Cajun main dish- usually shrimp jambalaya. This chicken and sausage version was incredible. My mother-in-law had just given us tons of fabulous Polish kielbasa as well. I was happy that my husband agreed to “sacrifice” it for our special dinner as it really added to the finished dish. This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Ian Knauer.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 10 boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 2 pounds)
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 10-12 ounces Andouille sausage or kielbasa, sliced
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 6-10 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 (28 ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes in juice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup long grain white rice (I used Basmati)
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves
  1. Season the chicken with 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper.
  2. In a large heavy pot, heat the oil over medium high heat until hot. Brown the chicken, turning once, until golden, about 6 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
  3. Add the sausage to the pot and cook, turning once, until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer the sausage to the plate with the chicken.
  4. Stir the onions, belly peppers, celery, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper into the pot.
  5. Cook vegetables, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 8 minutes.
  6. Stir in the garlic, bay leaves and cayenne and continue to cook until golden, about 6 minutes.
  7. Stir in the tomatoes, rice, water reserved chicken and reserved sausage along with any accumulated juices and bring to a boil.
  8. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  9. Season the jambalaya with salt and pepper to taste, then sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

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Swedish Meatloaf with Caramelized Cabbage (Kalpudding)

I planned to make this Swedish dish after spending the afternoon at IKEA. 🙂 I knew that we could buy the lingonberry preserves for the topping during our shopping spree too.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Sam Sifton. I used a combination of ground pork and ground turkey instead of ground beef. Next time I would double the sauce- loved it. Sifton recommended serving it with boiled potatoes. We ate it with mashed new potatoes (my husband’s request) and roasted asparagus. It was such wonderful comfort food. Great.

Yield: 6 servings

For the Meatloaf:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 head green cabbage, approximately 3 pounds, cored and shredded
  • 3 tablespoons molasses or golden syrup
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • â…“ cup chicken, turkey, beef or vegetable stock, ideally homemade or low-sodium store-bought (or water)

For the Sauce:

  • â…“ cup lingonberry preserves
  • 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • dash of Worcestershire sauce, or to taste
  1. Shred the cabbage in a food processor.
  2. Heat oven to 350, preferably on convection.
  3. Put a large pan over medium-high heat, and add the butter. When it starts to foam, add the cabbage and molasses, lower the heat to medium and sprinkle with salt. Cook slowly, stirring often, until all the liquid has evaporated and the cabbage is caramelized, approximately 20-25 minutes.
  4. While the cabbage is cooking, lightly mix the meats in a large bowl, then add the onion, cream, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Mix again to combine.
  5. When the cabbage is done, add about a third of it to the meat mixture, and mix to combine.
  6. Grease an 8-inch-square or 8 x 10-inch baking pan, and transfer the meat mixture to it, spreading it out to cover the whole surface evenly.
  7. Spread remaining cabbage over the meat, pour the stock or water over the top and place in the oven, on a parchment-lined baking sheet, to cook for approximately 40 to 45 minutes, or until the cabbage is very, very caramelized, almost dry and crunchy at the edges.
  8. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes or so before serving.
  9. While the meat and cabbage cooks, make the sauce. Heat lingonberry preserves, vinegar and butter in a small pot set over medium heat, then add Worcestershire sauce to taste. Serve alongside the kalpudding.

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Pressure Cooker Pork Ragu with Pappardelle

I made this dish to celebrate Valentine’s Day with my meat-loving husband. ❤ One of his absolute favorite dishes is a pork ragu served over pappardelle; this dish is a wonderful weeknight version.

This recipe was adapted from the Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen. We ate it with roasted asparagus and cauliflower with a custardy French Apple Cake for dessert. My Valentine was pleased! 🙂

Yield: 8 servings

  • 3 links (about 8 ounces) sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 lb. boneless pork shoulder, trimmed (I used country rib meat)
  • 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, torn, plus more for garnish, if desired
  • 1 lb. pappardelle pasta
  • freshly grated Parmesan, for serving
  1. In pressure-cooker pot on medium-high, cook sausage in oil 5 minutes or until fat has rendered, breaking up meat as it cooks.
  2. With slotted spoon, transfer to large bowl.
  3. Season pork all over with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
  4. In batches, add pork to pot; cook 4 minutes or until browned on two sides, turning once halfway through. Transfer pork to bowl with sausage.
  5. To pot, add carrots, onion and garlic; cook 8 minutes, stirring often.
  6. Add wine; cook 3 minutes.
  7. Return meat to pot and add tomatoes, milk, bay leaves and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  8. Cover and bring up to pressure on high. Reduce heat to medium-low, maintaining pressure. Cook 20 minutes. Remove from heat; let pressure release naturally.
  9. Meanwhile, cook the pappardelle according to the package directions.
  10. Uncover cooker and discard bay leaves. Fork shred the pork. Stir in basil.
  11. Serve tossed with pasta, garnished with Parmesan.

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