Monday, May 18, 2015

Baked Rigatoni With Meatballs and Sausage

I love quick pasta meals, don't you?  Cheesy and rich is flavor even when they are thrown together at the last minute.  Pasta bakes are so easy to make and yet so elegant when served with a fresh tossed salad and some wonderful garlic bread.  I love the way the house smells when preparing any Italian meal.  I'd like to say I always make my own homemade pasta sauce, but I don't. Why bother when I can get the same delicious taste using Ragu Chunky Tomato, Onion and I can cut my cooking time in half?  I have included a quick recipe for homemade sauce but if you want to save time and get that wonderful flavor, use Ragu Chunky Sauces. And don't forget Star Fine Foods Olive Oils....I use them for all my cooking.

Baked Rigatoni With Meatballs and Sausage 

Meatballs and Sausage 
2 tablespoon Star Fine Foods Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
1 pound ground beef 
1 egg, beaten 
1/3 cup onion, finely chopped 
1/4- 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup evaporated milk 
2 garlic cloves; minced 
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese 
1 teaspoon oregano; dried 
salt and pepper to taste 
1 pound mild or hot Italian Sausage, casings removed and sliced 

In a large mixing bowl, beat egg lightly and then add in the onion, bread crumbs, evaporated milk, garlic, Parmesan, oregano, salt and pepper. Add ground beef and mix lightly. Add more bread crumbs if needed but do not pack meat down. Keep it loose and shape into small meatballs and set aside. Slice sausages to desired thickness.  Set aside.

In large heavy skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; cook meatballs in batches until brown on all sides. Then transfer back to plate on paper towels.  Next, do the same thing with the sliced sausage and brown until just caramelized.  Again, set aside on paper towel lined plate. 

Pasta Sauce  (or skip this step and use your favorite sauce in a jar)

1 small onion, chopped fine 
2 garlic cloves; minced 
1 1/2 teaspoon basil; dried 
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar 
1 teaspoon dried oregano 
1 teaspoon salt 
3/4 teaspoon pepper 
28 ounce tomatoes; chopped 
2 tablespoon tomato paste 

In same skillet, add a little more oil if needed and saute onion and garlic until just tender.  Stir in tomatoes and tomato paste and bring to light boil. Stir in basil, oregano, sugar, basil, salt and pepper.  Add in cooked meatballs and sausage slices and reduce heat to a low simmer for about 40 minutes. Sauce will thicken as it cooks. 


3 cups rigatoni 
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese 
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Boil pasta as directed on package. You want your pasta tender yet firm. Drain well and return to pot. Pour in your homemade or store bought pasta sauce with meatballs and sausage. Mix well to coat pasta. 

Transfer to 9 x 13 baking dish and sprinkle mozzarella all over the top. Then sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese evenly over top.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and casserole is heated through. 

Photography is the property of and copyrighted to ©Welcome Home.

Look for STAR Extra Virgin Olive Oil in the olive oil section of our local grocery store or online at:

Star Fine Foods now has a promo code for all Welcome Home fans that will give you a 10% discount on anything you order online. Just enter WELCOMEHOME10 at checkout! 

Disclaimer: I have an ongoing relationship with STAR Fine Foods for my recipes and photography using their wonderful products. This post is sponsored by STAR. I am compensated for my time and work and I am sent products as I request them. However, all opinions of the product stated in this post are 100% my own. I truly love their products!
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Monday, May 11, 2015

Black Bottom Cupcakes

I mean who could resist a super moist, intensely chocolate cupcake with a creamy cheesecake center and chocolate chips?   Black Bottoms are definitely one of my favorite desserts and it's hard to not visit the fridge often when I know they're in there calling my name!  It's the only cupcake I can think of that's just too good for frosting!  Star Fine Foods Butter Flavored Olive Oil is my secret to a extra moist cupcake with a few less calories! This is a keeper my friends! 

Black Bottom Cupcakes


1 (8 oz.)  package of cream cheese, softened 
1 large egg, room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips


1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar, packed1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup water
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 12 cup cupcake pan or line with paper liners. I like to use clear or white liners so the colors show through.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine room temperature cream cheese, egg, sugar, and salt and beat until smooth and creamy. With spatula, fold in the chocolate chips and set aside.

In another large mixing bowl, mix the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cocoa, and salt. Next, mix water, vanilla, butter flavored oil, and vinegar together.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ingredients just until smooth. Do not over mix your batter. 

Using a large scoop, fill each  cup with about 1/3 of the chocolate batter. Top with a small scoop of the filling in the center of each cup until they are about two thirds full.

Follow by topping each cup of chocolate batter with a dollop of the cream cheese mixture. Bake for 25 minutes until the batter is set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Photography is the property of and copyrighted to ©Welcome Home.

You can buy Star Fine Foods Butter Flavored Olive Oil at Raley’s, Walmart, Stater Bros., Food Maxx and online at:

Star Fine Foods now has a promo code for all Welcome Home fans that will give you a 10% discount on anything you order online. Just enter WELCOMEHOME10 at checkout! 

Disclaimer: I have an ongoing relationship with STAR Fine Foods for my recipes and photography using their wonderful products. This post is sponsored by STAR. I am compensated for my time and work and I am sent products as I request them. However, all opinions of the product stated in this post are 100% my own. I truly love their products!
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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Old Fashioned Banana Cream Pie

Old Fashioned Banana Cream Pie

1 (9 inch) pie crusts, baked 
1 2⁄3 cups water 
3 tablespoons cornstarch 
1 (14 ounce) can Eagle Brand Condensed Milk 
3 egg yolks, beaten 
2 tablespoons butter 
1 teaspoon vanilla 
3 medium bananas, sliced 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a saucepan, mix water and cornstarch until smooth.  Stir in sweetened Condensed Milk and egg yolks.  Cook until the custard in thick.  Add the 2 tablespoons of butter and the vanilla and stir.  Remove from heat and cool slightly, stirring occasionally.
Pour 1/2 of filling on pie crust. Place sliced bananas on top of filling. Pour remainder of filling over the sliced bananas.  Chill in refrigerator for at least an hour.

Top with piped whipped cream or Cool Whip and sprinkle with walnuts or slivered almonds.

Photography property of  Cocos Bakery at

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Saturday, May 09, 2015

Simple Bacon and Cheese Quiche

My Dad calls it breakfast pie.  And that's really what a quiche is right?  So simple and so delicious, you'll find this quiche to be one of your favorite go to recipes for any meal. The texture is light and fluffy...almost like a mousse.  And the crust is so buttery and flaky. You can use a store bought crust if you want to save time but make sure it is a deep dish pie crust.  Oh I know it has lots of cream and bacon but if you don't plan on eating the whole thing at one sitting, you should be just fine! LOL! 

Simple Bacon and Cheese Quiche 

1 deep dish pie crust (store bought or homemade, see below) 
1 tablespoon of olive oil 
1/4 cup of a yellow onion diced 
6 large eggs beaten 
1 1/2 cups of heavy cream 
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper 
1 cup crumbled cooked bacon 
1 1/2 cups Gruyere Cheese ( Swiss, Monterrey Jack, white cheddar, or your favorite) 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place pie shell on baking sheet. 

In a small skillet heat olive oil and saute onions until just tender and set aside. 

Whisk eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add the heavy cream and continue to whisk until well blended. Stir in the onions, crumbled bacon, cheese, and salt and pepper. 

Pour mixture into your prepared unbaked pie shell and bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes or when a knife is inserted it comes out clean. Allow to cool for about 5-10 minutes before serving. 

Homemade Pie Crust

1 sticks (1 cup) very cold butter, cut into small cubes 
2 ½ cups of all purpose flour 
Dash of salt 
½ cup of ice water 
1 tablespoon of vinegar 

Add vinegar to ice water and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour and salt and whisk. Then add cubes of butter and mix using your fingers to blend together to make small pebbles. Mix in a little of the water and vinegar at a time until you get a nice dough. Work fast and do not over mix or your dough will be tough. Form in a circle and refrigerate for about an hour. Then roll out dough to fit a 9 inch deep dish pie pan (about 2-3 inches deep). Set aside for quiche. Do not bake prior.

 Photography is the property of and copyrighted to ©Welcome Home.
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Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

There is nothing else that smells more like home than fresh cinnamon rolls baking in the oven. Add a little mix of chocolate and fresh brewed coffee and you have yourself the warm sweet fragrance of home! A fragrance that always brings back good memories of my childhood. I should market this stuff! My house smells wonderful this morning! 

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls 

2 packages active dry yeast (4 1/2 tsp) 
1-1/4 cups warm water (110° to 115°) 
1.5 cups warm milk (110° to 115°) 
1/4 cup butter, softened 
1 egg 
1/2 cup honey 
2 teaspoons salt 
7 cups all-purpose flour 


3 tablespoons butter, softened 
1 1/8 cups packed brown sugar 
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 


1.5 cups confectioners' sugar 
3 tablespoons butter, softened 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
3 to 4 tablespoons milk 

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water; let stand 5 minutes. Add the milk, butter, eggs, honey, salt and 1.5 cups flour; beat on low for 3 minutes. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. 

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, 6-8 minutes. Place in a large greased bowl; turning once. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. 

Punch dough down. Turn onto a floured surface; divide into two pieces. Roll each into a 14-in. x 8-in. rectangle; spread with butter. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over dough to within 1/2 in. of edges and press into dough. 

Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seam to seal. Cut each into 12 slices. Place cut side down in four greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dishes. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. 

Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. 

For glaze, in a large bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar, butter, vanilla and enough milk to achieve desired consistency; drizzle over rolls. 

 Photographs are copyrighted and the property of ©Welcome Home.

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Thursday, May 07, 2015

Blackberry Crumble Cheesecake

I started off with a basic cheesecake recipe and dressed it up with some blackberry jam and a wonderful crumb topping.  Who would have thought this would be such a winning combination.
Oh my...just heavenly!

Blackberry Crumble Cheesecake

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs...
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.. Mix all ingredients together and press evenly across bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes; cool and fill.


3 packages 8 Ounce Cream Cheese
1-1/2 cup Sugar
4 whole Eggs
1/2 cup Sour Cream
1 cup of seedless blackberry jam or jelly

Beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add sour cream and mix again. Pour half of mixture into crust and drop dollops of blackberry jelly on top. Pour remaining cheesecake mixture on top and smooth the top. Bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes. Turn oven off. Sprinkle crumb topping (recipe below) on top of cheesecake and return to the oven for another 10 minutes with oven off.


1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

In a medium bowl, stir together brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt, until combined; knead in butter using fingertips or a fork, until ingredients are well incorporated and start to clump together.

Sprinkle the crumbly mixture evenly over the cheesecake filling. Return pan to oven and for an additional 15 minutes with oven off. Cool for an hour before removing ring. Then chill for at least another hour or two before slicing.

Photograph is copyrighted and the property of ©Welcome Home.
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♥ Pineapple Cake with Cheese Cake Filling

Now this is one of my baking experiments that turned out great. I don't always create the master piece I have in my mind when I set out to make something for the first time but this one hit the mark. Last summer I wanted to make a cake for a family cookout,  but not just any cake. I wanted something creamy and rich with a tropical flare.  I made a basic yellow cake, added some pineapple juice and then filled it with cheese cake filling and topped it with a cherry! It was the perfect combination. Notice the cherry is missing on top? My Dad got to it before I took the picture! 

Pineapple Cake with Cheese Cake Filling 

1 super moist yellow cake mix 
1 tablespoon pineapple juice 
1 egg 
butter, melted 

Follow the directions on any super moist yellow cake mix you choose (I like Duncan Hines), however, replace the oil in the recipe and use melted butter instead. Replace the water in the recipe and use whole milk instead. Add one more large egg than the directions call for, and add the tablespoon of pineapple juice. Then follow the directions for baking. Pour batter into two greased 6 inch cake pans. Bake as directed on box or until cake tester comes out clean when inserted in the center of cakes.

Once the two cakes have finished baking, allow them to cool completely. 

No Bake Cheese Cake Filling 

3 (8oz each) packages cream cheese (room temperature) 
2/3 cups plus 6 tablespoons sugar 
1 1/2 cups whipping cream 
3 tablespoons pure vanilla extract 

In the electric mixer on high speed whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form and set aside. Then in another bowl, on medium speed, mix the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until light and creamy. Fold in the whipped cream. 

Cake Assembly 

Make cake as directed and cool completely. Slice the two cakes in half lengthwise through the middle, using a long serrated knife.  Set all four of the cake layers aside.

Place your  bottom layer on a plate. It should be evenly flat on top.  Pour and spread some of the cheesecake filling on bottom layer.  Top with a second cake layer that should be evenly flat as well.  Pour and spread some of the cheesecake filling on second layer. Add a third layer making sure it is also evenly flat on top. With a flat spatula spread the remaining filling on top and all around the sides cake.  

Next, place a pineapple ring on top of cake and gently press down into filling.  Make fine crumbs out of the final layer you did not use by using a food processor.  Apply cake crumbs to the sides of cake. Top with a maraschino cherry for an added garnish! 

Photography is the property of and copyrighted to ©Welcome Home.

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