Easy Mostaccioli

“Don’t take a picture” she said, “the cheese is stuck to the top of the foil.” My much loved friend AnnMarie knew I’ve hardly been able to walk, let alone cook for my family. She texted me a couple days ago to ask me what I’d like to eat and what night she could bring dinner over. Of course I told her I would share no such information, but thanked her for the offer. Naturally Annie, being her beautiful self, said she’d be over in 2 days. She walked through the door with enough meals for a week, plus a blueberry pie. I was ravenous that day, and cheesy pasta is like the epitome of comfort food. She loaded up the refrigerator and freezer dividing the organic meals, explaining this is the cheese for the broccoli rice casserole; these are the shells for the tacos; placing buns for hot dogs in the bread basket… The mostaccioli was warm and ready to serve, the whole house smelled amazing. I thought to myself, “Are you kidding? It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”

As organic as possible:

2 lbs ground Beef

Salt & pepper to taste

3 jars (approx 24 oz each) of your favorite store bought or homemade pasta Sauce

1 lb Mostaccioli (or penne) noodles

1 lb (16 oz) shredded Mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Brown the meat with a little salt and pepper in a large skillet. Add the pasta sauce and get it hot; let it simmer for about 20 minutes. In the mean time, cook the pasta according to package directions- less a couple minutes. (They will be a little firm, but soften in the oven while baking). When the noodles are done, mix them in with the sauce. Pour everything into a 9X13 pan and sprinkle on all of the mozzarella cheese. Bake it in the oven for about 25 minutes until bubbly and cheese is melted.

Serve with a good crusty bread immediately to your hungry family, or cover with foil and deliver to someone in need. Either way, it’s delicious and they will be forever grateful.


Quirky and Wonderful’s Broccoli Potato Casserole

For those of you who may not know, I have been challenged by a fellow blogger, Healthy in All Hues, to make recipes of seven different fellow foodie bloggers. There are so many delicious choices that I narrowly limited it to eight, and I am seriously thinking about challenging myself to make at least one fellow blogger’s dish per month. I think it’s a great way to promote other bloggers and get to try new recipes, a win/win! For the third installment of my WordPress Cooking Challenge, I selected a Broccoli Cheese Potato Casserole from Quirky and Wonderful.

I’m a practical mother with half of a dozen mouths to feed on a regular basis. Casseroles make a lot of sense to me. They are often loaded with with meat and cheese which not only makes them tasty, but filling- which is always helpful when feeding a crowd. Many times they can be prepared ahead of time, which is really convenient when meal planning. And when you come across a recipe that calls for a tater tot crust, well “hook, line and sinker!” But the best part about this dish was there were so many yummy flavors going on that I could hide the broccoli from my little ones!

The recipe wasn’t difficult, but did require a couple steps. Firstly, let me say that I have never steamed broccoli in the microwave before. What a time saver! Secondly, one of the stages specifically called for Oreida brand potato crowns, but did go on to say that if I tried another brand to let her know (which she confided in the reader, namely me, that she would not rat me out to her mother-in-law, the originator of the recipe). So I feel compelled to say I did try another brand; I used Whole Foods 365 brand of Tater Puffs. Since this was my first tasting of the dish, I cannot confirm nor deny that it was better or worse than another. But I can say that the casserole at large was very satisfying, both in flavor and in mass. Also to follow the recipe I was unable to find condensed organic soups, I could find cream of celery (but not condensed). I’m curious if one of our non GMO cheese dips would make a good replacement for the condensed cheese soup in the future? I must also admit that the recipe was written in a double portion, one for now and one to freeze for the future. And I took the liberty to cut the recipe into half to just make one dish, because we were leaving for the weekend and I did not have the space in my freezer to store another. (Note to self: clean out freezer!)

Thanks Quirky and Wonderful for taking the time to pass down a family heirloom of a recipe. I can see how it would be a comforting dish to a new mother! (I think I enjoyed the leftovers even more! The flavors had even more time to combine… and I wish I had one more in the freezer.) Because there are several stages to the process and Quirky and Wonderful has kindly taken the time to spell it our for you, click here for the original recipe and instructions.

Aunt Lynn’s Cheesy Egg & Sausage Casserole

A classic breakfast egg and cheese casserole dish has to be in every mom’s recipe box. Thankfully Aunt Lynny gave me hers! It’s morning comfort food. And it makes your kitchen smell like love. This dish is great for weekends and I have fond memories of it making an appearance on the Christmas buffet at Gram’s. It’s versatile, so you can substitute the sausage for cubed ham, change around the cheese, add green or red pepper… mix it up as you please.

As organic as possible:

10 eggs, beaten

8 oz shredded cheese

3-4 slices bread, cubed small

1 lb pork sausage, browned and drained

1 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13 X 9 baking dish and set aside. Add browned sausage to beaten eggs in a large bowl, add cheese (I used cheddar and Emmentaler), bread, and milk. Pour mixture into greased pan and bake for about 45 minutes, until center is firm.