Archive for October 7th, 2010

Baked Rigatoni with Pumpkin and Sausage (plus cooking video)

This recipe is from people who make Libby’s canned pumpkin, and I altered it a bit.


  • Nonstick cooking spray (Mary’s note: I used butter, instead. That nonstick stuff is not good for anything.)
  • 4 cups (12 oz.) dry regular or whole-wheat ziti (I used regular because I think whole wheat ziti tastes like steamed paper bags)
  • 1 can (15 oz.) LIBBY’S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder (Mary’s note: I used a big clove of minced real garlic sauteed in a little olive oil instead)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Pinch cayenne pepper (I was out of cayenne pepper! I threw in some parika and hoped for the best. I know it is not nearly the same)
  • 1 can (12 fl. oz.) NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Evaporated Fat Free Milk (I used the store brand.  I did not use Fat Free. The whole can only has 160 calories and 2 g of fat a serving; I can live with that)
  • 4 links (12 oz.) fully-cooked Italian-seasoned chicken sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices (I substituted Hillshire Farms smoked chicken sausage instead).
  • 1 pkg. (6 oz.) or about 4 cups pre-washed baby spinach
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) shredded part-skim or 2% milk reduced-fat mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup (1.5 oz.) shredded Parmesan cheese (I used grated instead.  I think the flavor is better.)


PREHEAT oven to 425º F. Spray 4-quart baking dish (what is that? I used a 9 x 18 lasagna pan) with nonstick cooking spray. BUTTER. or olive oil.

PREPARE pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water and set aside for later use. Drain pasta; return to cooking pot.

MEANWHILE, COMBINE pumpkin, flour, garlic powder (use real garlic!), salt, nutmeg and cayenne pepper in medium skillet (I used my new Tfal caldero!) over medium heat. Slowly add evaporated milk, stirring until smooth. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken slightly. Pour over pasta in pot. Add sausage and reserved pasta cooking water; stir well.

SPREAD half of the pasta mixture into prepared baking dish. Top with spinach. Cover with remaining pasta mixture. Lightly spray piece of foil with nonstick cooking spray (I don’t use that stuff. I just peeled the pasta pieces off the foil.)  Cover ziti with foil, greased-side-down.

BAKE for 20 minutes or until heated through. Combine mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses in small bowl. Remove foil; sprinkle with cheese mixture. Bake, uncovered, for an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Makes 12 servings (200 calories a serving, 4 grams of fat, 12 grams of protein, and 100% of your vitamin A!)

Mary’s notes:

  1. This was delicious.  We paired it with Bell’s Octoberfest Beer and it was perfect.
  2. A bag of spinach usually has more than you need for this recipe, so you’ll have some left over.  Ditto for the Barilla box of rigatoni.  You’ll use like 3/4 of the pasta.
  3. If this has 200 calories a serving, I’m a monkey’s uncle!  I’m betting more like 400 calories, but that’s still pretty good.
  4. I used my new caldero which I read about in Family Circle this month.  I ordered it from Home Shopping Network for $25, and yes, I LOVE it.
  5. The pan of pasta is super hot when you take it out of the oven!! The heat went right through my potholders.  Maybe use two, or just take extra care not to burn your hands.

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Visit Graves Mountain Lodge for the Apple Harvest Festival this weekend

This is a beautiful time of year to visit Graves Mountain Lodge, a mountain resort in Syria, Virginia, and this weekend is the perfect time to go.  There is a farm to explore, bluegrass music, cloggers, and more.  Enjoy an open-air lunch of brunswick stew, cornbread, and apple cider, or select hamburgers or hotdogs.  They cook apple butter over an open fire.  A full, country lunch is also available in the Lodge (reservations recommended).  The best cooking ever!  For an additional fee, pick apples or ride horses.

Overnight accommodations may be available; call first, though.

Graves Mountain Lodge Apple Harvest Festival in Syria

Saturday, October 9 – Sunday, October 10 AND Saturday, October 16 – Sunday, October 17

10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Admission: Free, parking is also free

205 Graves’ Mountain Lane, Route 670, Syria, VA

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