Thursday, June 9, 2016

Rigatoni Lasagna Casserole!

The food pics are on my phone.

(That's how this blog started today, but BETH came to the rescue and reminded me (laughing!) that she had taken pics and sent them to me... three days ago...)

This is not a senior moment. This is a Ruthy is working hard on a new series proposal for a beloved editor and I want it to shine, and I may or may not have forgotten that Beth said she'd do the pictures.


So you will see pics below that weren't there at midnight, the wonders of modern technology, a class i fail regularly!!!)

The phone is dead. It's a ridiculous instrument, and refuses to cooperate, so you have to use your imaginations, but really, you've all made pasta and mixed cheese.... but maybe I'll cheat and find some old pics that might help us out!

But first, a little spring fun on the farm, but the front of the farm known to most people as their "yard"...

I'm restoring a little pond that fell on hard times a few years ago, but it was enrobed in English ivy and thwarted my attempts to free it... but me and Round Up and Dave's big tiller have made ivy hash... and now it's time to fix the pond.... With some cute help!  Side shot of now empty old pond with waterfall slope...

From the front.... The new waterfall pump and tubing just arrived today! I'm so excited! But it was 50° and stormy today, so the pond was put on hold while I worked on a Christmas novella!!!

And my sweet helper MacKenzie... We were filling pots that are still waiting for flowers. This weekend, maybe???? I love little helping hands!

And once the new liner is installed and the rocks laid and the new pump in, I'm going to transplant some of these pretties:

I love Dutch Iris. Such a glorious flower, and weeks of blooms!!! I'm so happy to have flowers again! Happy dancing!  But I digress, we must get back to FOOD!!!!

I love Rigatoni pasta.

It's meaty.

I love the kind with the little grooves. The straight stuff just looks like ziti that needs to go on a diet. I need to go on a diet, too, but I don't want my pasta to look like that. I want it to be happy-looking! And rigatoni with grooves is just crazy happy looking!

So we had a crowd for dinner, and I had cheese and sauce and Lacey ran by Sam's Club and bought me a monster-sized package of ground beef....

(and no camera because I left it out on the outside table and two thunderstorms later.... sigh.)

But no lasagna noodles.

So I thought why not?

Now I am not a baked ziti fan. My experiences with baked ziti are as follows:

1. Dry
2. Overcooked
3. Tasteless sauce

So to do this with rigatoni was risky. What if I ruined my love for my favorite pasta??? How would I ever look a box of Barilla pasta in the eye again?

And did I dare use Mary's trick of using uncooked noodles??? I decided not to because rigatoni noodles take longer to cook... so I cooked them shy of al dente, a touch tough.

I had a monster-sized tub of ricotta... because who doesn't keep a monster-sized tub of ricotta in their fridge, right?

So I mixed the cheeses like this:

2 lb. ricotta
1 cup Parmesan
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon dry parsley
2 large eggs

Mix those together......

Brown about 2 lbs. of ground beef..... With chopped onion, garlic, salt and pepper..... When cooked, drain off fat and set aside.

Cook about 1 1/2 lb. Rigatoni just north of Al Dente.... so a little tough.

I had leftover sauce, but if you have jarred sauce, open two jars, and add a jar of water to thin sauce. It will thicken back up as the pasta absorbs the water.

Spread thin layer of sauce over bottom of 15" x 11" baking pan.

Spread half of rigatoni over sauce.

Spread all of cheese over rigatoni.

Another layer of sauce.

Spread all of meat over that sauce....


More sauce.

last layer of rigatoni goes on top, then the balance of sauce poured over it. Sprinkle heavily with Parmesan cheese.. Cover and bake about 35 minutes.

Remove foil and spread mozzarella cheese over top.

Return to oven about 10 minutes, just to melt cheesey goodness over the top.

Take out of oven, let stand about ten minutes, and serve.


They loved it with the rigatoni pasta! The kids loved it. The men ate far too much. The women loved it. And we even gave a little to Jasper the Cat because he looks like Garfield... and yes! You guessed it! He loved it!

Here is Finn's first taste:
And here we have his standing ovation!!!!

Lena has never had lasagna before, but she thought that sharing with Grammy was a great thing to do. Grammy thought so, too!

Happy Baby Alert!!!

And to finish it all, we have a precious, pale blossom....

And one last iris.... these start as a pale blue, the picture doesn't do it justice.... and then deepen to a soft purple.... and just today a deep, dark purple velvet one appeared... that I did not plant, it's a blend of these pale purples and the big gold-and-burgundy ones..... A throwback!

We're hoping for a gentler Thursday, with some time to go buy flowers.

Because when you live up here, you learn to celebrate flower season as much as you can!

Ruthy "The Yank" loves God, cooking, baking,  writing, hanging with cute kids and talking.... She's got a great family and lives on a small farm in upstate New York where she's always getting her hands dirty doing something! Visit her on facebook as Ruth Logan Herne or at her website or over at our sister blog "Seekerville"!


  1. Sounds delicious. Why is your phone dead?

    1. It dies repeatedly and I haven't had time to go out and investigate new phones... But it worked on Sunday, long enough for me to take pics! So I thought "BONUS!!!" And it hasn't let me retrieve anything since. It wouldn't even let the computer retrieve the pics. And this too shall pass, folks know that my landline is more dependable in the country so they always use that.

      But I wanted my cheesy, rigatoni pics!!!!

  2. I'm with you on the dry baked ziti, Ruthy. I don't know if what I make is a true baked ziti, but I always add extra sauce. And cheese. You can never have enough cheese.

    This rigatoni sounds yummy. And love the pond-in-progress. Cannot wait to see the "after" pictures. Assuming you get your phone fixed/replaced. Why on earth did you leave it outside? In the rain, no less. Another of your science experiments with the kids? ;)

    1. Mindy, you have to follow the crazy Ruthy line of reasoning... It's the little Sony camera I have that's so fun because it's small. But it's so small I forget where I put it. It's made to go in a pocket... OOOPS! :) The phone is just an annoyance, but it worked on Sunday, and the camera was in a bowl of rice, so I took the pics on the phone (follow along here, I'm already confusing myself!!!!)... and then the phone froze but wouldn't unfreeze.

      BUT THEN!!!! Beth called me today and said, "Do you remember that I took pics for back up because your camera got soaked?"

      Nope! Didn't remember, but now we have casserole cheesey goodness pics! YAY!!!!

  3. Well, if it has the Lena stamp of approval it must be good. :-) I'd love to have a pond but I think it's beyond my capabilities now. I'm battling weeds and laying mulch in my front garden and that's enough for me this year. It's finally starting to look tame. And then I'm going to access and plan for flowers that bloom at different times. I think an iris or two might make the list. So pretty.

    1. Kav, about 20 years ago, my son Seth wanted to put in water gardens/mini ponds. He and I dug them. We lined them. We bought the pumps for fountains, and I got stone for a sidewalk and a terrace wall.... and it took us a few years to finish it! Really a labor of love.

      But this pond liner split about five years ago and I couldn't fight the ivy to take it apart and fix it, so part of killing the ivy was to give me access to this little pond again. And it feels so good to know it's almost ready to fill with water!!!! So I hear you, and I go step by step too. Year by year. And it's all good my friend!

  4. Confession time! I love Round Up! Better to kill the weeds than have to weed eat them every week.

    And you cook in a 11"x17" pan?!! Isn't that a Thanksgiving Turkey pan?! You must have a very Happy family when you cook that much pasta!!

    And of course your grandbabies are Adorable! And the irises! I love irises, too! Just pure happiness to watch them each Spring!

    And ricotta cheese is on sale this week. I'm going to have to try this! Thanks Ruthy! You always make me smile!1!

    1. Jana, this came out so beautifully! And I love that 15 x 11 pan, it's one of my faves, LOL! Our Thanksgiving turkey is in a huge pan. I've got a couple and I usually tent them and roast.... Mmmm.... turkey!

      I'm always amazed at the hearty beauty of irises. They look so delicate and lacey, but they're so strong!!! Such a good example for us, don't you think?

  5. Wait. What do you do with the sugar? Is that for your coffee while it cooks. My grandmother would die (she's already dead) if she saw sugar in pasta sauce. OMGOSH.

    1. First, I always put sugar in pasta sauce, I like my sauce slightly on the sweet side, and less spicey. I make it the way they did at Basel's Restaurant when I worked there waitressing, and it's my favorite sauce... but the sugar is for the cheese filling. A hint of sugar makes the cheese stand out in the flavor spectrum. My Italian sister-in-law taught me that, and it's perfect with the ricotta and parmesan!!!

  6. Wait...real Italians don't put sugar in their pasta sauce?

    Maybe it's a German thing?

    Either way, this looks like a crowd pleasing dish, and that means I'm filing this recipe!

    Thanks, Ruthy, and hug those cute kids for me. :)

    1. Carrie!!!! Or Jan, whoever you are, I am so excited over this wedding! Praying for a lovely day. I already know we've got a gorgeous bride, a wonderful groom and the best mother-of-the-bride EVER!!!!!

  7. Love the photos. And the rigatoni sounds delicious. I am hungry too. sigh

    1. Sandra, I'm always hungry!!! I'm so glad you have Internet today! Waving to you!

  8. I know I will love this!! Thanks for the fun kid photos, too. :)