Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Little Mustaches for Your Dining Pleasure

"Next time you make this one, you might want to make double," he said having just refereed a squabble over who was to receive the last spoonful of last night's left overs. "This is one of my favorites of the new stuff that you've been fixing. It's great on a cold day."

Well then...can anybody say DO OVER!!

Someone once said that if you can find one good recipe in a cookbook that your family enjoys time and again, then the whole cookbook was worth the price. If that is true, then this cookbook was the deal of the season.

It is particularly full of quick tasty belly-fillers that my gang loves.  The recipe for Baked Mostaccioli is perhaps our very favorite to date and it is so simple that it appears often on the busiest of days.

I thought might be a super recipe to share as all of us head knee-deep into Christmas prep!

Baked Mostaccioli
{Printable Recipe Here}

Here's what you'll need:
1 pound package mostaccioli
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 pound Italian Sausage (I usually use regularly flavored)
1 (14 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 to 2 teaspoons basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 (16 ounce) jar Alfredo sauce
2 cups mozzarella cheese

First, cook a pound of pasta. The recipe is called Baked Mostaccioli so it calls for mostaccioli noodles. However, if are like me you haven't an earthly idea what a mostaccioli noodle looks like. So I looked it up and it is simply a ziti noodle that is cut on a slant.
I also learned that mostaccioli means "little mustache" in Italian! There you have it. Wonder no longer.
If you can't find little mustache pasta at the store, any tubular thing will do, ziti, penne, even macaroni elbows if you are in a real pinch.

While you are waiting for the pasta to cook, brown the sausage breaking it into pieces with your handy dandy Pampered Chef tool or the side of a wooden spoon. When the sausage has cooked, drain it well and add the tomato sauce, the Alfredo sauce, the basil and the garlic powder. (The original recipe calls for a 2 ounce package of spaghetti sauce seasoning, which I have been unable to locate at the grocery story. I imagine that such a package would include at least basil and garlic powder so that's what I use.)

Stir to combine.

Now, let's build.

In a sprayed casserole dish, place 1/2 of the pasta, then 1/2 of the meat sauce, then 1 cup of cheese.

Repeat with the other 1/2 of the pasta, then the other 1/2 of the meat sauce, then another cup of cheese.

(See that big ole bag o'cheese back there with the blue label? It's a mix of mozzarella and a gently smoked provolone and it is super yummy. It's all the rage here at The Wright Place lately, except with that one little Wright who "isn't very into melted cheese right now." We buy it at Sam's Club...the cheese, not the picky eater.)

That's it, you're all finished. Toss that casserole into a 350˚ oven for about 30 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and irresistible looking. Take it from the oven, throw some green veggies on the plate with it, and enjoy!

Now you're all warm in the belly and ready to take on the Season!

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Our Thanksgiving was to be celebrated in a most lovely setting, a cozy lake house nestled in the hills with the very last evidences of autumn lingering in the air and on the trees and reflecting in the water.  However, it was not the scenery to which I was looking forward.

Our Thanksgiving locale was well over an hour-and-a-half's drive from our home and I was eager to enjoy the trip, counting the travel time as an opportunity to read and relax, but the journey was not the thing that made my heart beat a bit faster.

There were three pies traveling with us that I'd had a great deal of fun making and decorating, and a veritable feast that awaited us, but the thought of the taste of those goodies wasn't what drew me.

What I was eager to find, 
                       to experience, 
                                 to revel in was
                                            difficult to put into words...

What I'd been anticipating was this...

and this...

and... mmmmhhhhmmmm...

always this...

oh, and who doesn't look forward to a bit of this...

...and of course, this.

I sought time with family...

...kin some call it. 
Kin, short for kindred... a group of related persons...of the same clan or tribe...

 Kin...having similar or related origin, nature, or character...

Kindredness...that's just what I had anticipated and just what I found on Thanksgiving day.

Kindredness is something wonderful for which to be Thankful...

Kindredness and this particular bit of footage. 

Footage of my kin who were responsible for the lovely day pictured above.

Footage celebrating a job well done...

...the Thanksgiving chest bump!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pie Anyone?

For the second year in a row, I'll not be fixing any turkey or sweet potatoes for our Thanksgiving dinner. This year we'll travel a few hours to celebrate with my family and last year we celebrated with my Man's family. The year before that, we were with my family where we experienced a bit of painful drama, or rather my Uncle John did {more on that here}.

In the absence of turkey roasting, I am going to contribute a pie or two to the feast. One of our gang's favorite pies of the last year which we discovered on a visit to the Amish country is called Oatmeal Pie, it's kind of like a pecan pie except instead of pecans you add oatmeal. Since my Ant Sab has a nut allergy it (if it turns out ok) should be just the thing.

It's a very simple pie to make and often even the kids give me a hand with the filling.

Here's what you need:

Oatmeal Pie
{Printable Recipe Here}
1 pie crust (for a single layer crust)
1/4 cup melted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup oatmeal
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup water

Here's what you do:

Place the pie crust in to the pie plate. Prick it gently with a fork a few times on the bottom to prevent blisters on the bottom of the pie.

In a mixing bowl, combine all of the rest of the ingredients.

Now your ready to pour into the crust.

You could pop it into the oven at this point and bake at 350˚ for about 30 minutes...
OR you could dress it up a bit, it is Thanksgiving dinner and all.

Gather the extra pie dough and roll it together and take a cookie cutter to it just like you'd do for sugar cookies.

Then, float the pie dough cut outs on top of the pie filling...

NOW pop your pretty pie into the oven for 30 minutes at 350˚...

Serve with ice cream, or whipped topping, or real live whipped cream. 
Happy Thanksgiving!

{The other pie I'm making is an Apple Cranberry Pie found here}

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Molly on Monday

Hi everybody! It'th me, Molly Joy.
I learned a new trick that I'd like to show you. If you happened to be keeping' up with the thtuff I'm learning to do, you'll wanna know about thith one.
Mom wath usin' her phone for the pictures so, they're kinda blurry. Thorry 'bout that.
I wanted to learn how to cross my eyes, like Kate was doin' the other day, and well, I figured it out!

TA DA!!!

(OK, I know it woulda worked better if I'd opened my eyeth a little more, but really, I'm only three!)
That was fun, huh?  And now...I'd like to thing a thong for ya!
Make thure you're volume is on!

I learned that at my AWANA club!

Have a happy Monday everyone!
Molly Joy
(Entertainer Extraordinaire)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pumpkin CrAzY!

I been a smidge obsessed by pumpkins this season. I know, you're thinking, everybody goes a bit overboard in October and November with pumpkin-is-ity. I'm here to tell ya, I've not merely gone overboard, I've almost turned my entire family orange!

We've had Pumpkin Snickerdoodles (ehh not so good), Pumpkin Coffee Cake (a hit), White Chocolate Pumpkin Spice cookies (different and yummy), and Pumpkin Bread that rivaled Starbucks' best offering--and speaking of Starbucks, I've had more than my share of Pumpkin Spice Lattes!

I've got a few more pumpkiny adventures lined up for us, but tonight, I'm revisiting my favorite pumpkin discovery so far--Pumpkin Pancakes! These little wonders have the most tender texture and lightness of any pancake I've ever made.  They have one extra step that I don't usually take the time to do with regular pancakes, but it is so very worth it and really, it's not that big of a deal. More on that when we get to the eggs.

Here's what you need for a recipe that makes about 20 medium-sized pancakes (we usually have some left over for the freezer). You can easily half the recipe to make less servings!

Pumpkin Pancakes with Molasses-Cinnamon Syrup
{Printable recipe here}

Pancake Ingredients:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
4 Tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup skim milk
1 cup buttermilk (if you don't have buttermilk, just use 2 cups skim, or whatever kind of milk you have handy)
1 stick butter melted (8 TBSP)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups pumpkin puree

Here's what to do...

Begin by heating your skillet or griddle.

The first part is easy.
In the biggest bowl you own, mix the dry ingredients: all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. (If you don't have pumpkin spice on hand, you can use 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, 1/4 tsp. ground cloves, 1/2 tsp. ground ginger). Whisk ingredients together until well combined.

Next, melt butter and add it to the two cups of milk/buttermilk mixture.
This cools the butter so that it won't cook the eggs when it comes into contact with them.

Now for the fun part. It's time to separate the eggs.

Place the egg yolks in a medium sized bowl and add the milk/butter mixture. Add to that the pumpkin and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir until well combined.

Now for those egg whites...put them into the mixer bowl. If you have a whisk attachment on your mixer, load it up--if not, your beaters will work just fine. If you don't have an electric mixer, I've seen Martha Stewart whisk egg whites by hand with a lovely smile on her face...

Here's how I did it...

Finally, gently fold the egg whites into the rest of the mixture until the egg whites resemble cottage cheese in the mixture.

Now you're ready to cook! 
Place about 1/2 cup of the pancake batter onto griddle/skillet and spread around a little to flatten. 

Cook on the first side until the pancake begins to bubble slightly, then flip...

...and add butter and syrup, 
...and eat!!

We topped our pancakes with butter and Molasses Cinnamon syrup which I adapted from  Simple here

Molasses-Cinnamon Syrup 
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 Tablespoons molasses
4 Tablespoons light corn syrup 
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon butter

Combine all in a sauce pan and heat and stir until combined well. Serve warm. Store extra syrup in the fridge.

{Pancake recipe adapted from The Curvy Carrot}

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Autumn, the Year's Last, Loveliest Smile

See all the sunshine pouring down?
The leaves are gorgeous.

See the lovely...

School was out for the day and a beautiful day it was. The temperature was perfect and the great outdoors needed a visit from my children. I'd barely suggested that they should take advantage of what was surely one of the last nice days of the season, when I heard the door slam shut behind the last child. 

I set about cooking dinner, at a quiet and leisurely pace when just outside of the kitchen window, I was more than thrilled to observe the following activity...

Four sleds + two rakes + seven million leaves + four siblings + one sky full of sunshine = three hours of creative play and one very busy photographer/cook!

{Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile.}
~William Cullen Bryant

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