Rigatoni Cheese and Tomato

There are just some dishes that are too good to want to try to lighten up. One of those dishes is my grandmothers Rigatoni Cheese and Tomato.  This is a dish my grandmother made for years. My aunt makes it occasionally and my mother tends to make it every so often. As traditions pass on, I of course picked it up, but it’s something I’ll only consider making if family are coming over that enjoy it.
This dish is very different in comparison to regular ole macaroni and cheese dishes. Instead of cheddar this is made with good ole American cheese. The cheese is melted down and incorporated with canned peeled tomatoes that are crushed as they’re being added in.  It makes this delicious cheesey, tomatoey sauce that adheres to the pasta as it begins to cool.
This is nota pasta dish you eat while it’s pipping hot. You have to let this sit for about 20-30 minutes for the cheese to cool down a bit and it sticks to the pasta. If you try to eat it hot the cheese and tomato mixture makes a bit of a “soup” and it’s too runny to enjoy the way it should be enjoyed.
Serves 10. 9 Points Plus Values. ¾ cup serving
Ingredients:
  • 1 pound Rigatoni pasta
  • 1 pound American cheese
  • 29 oz. canned Whole peeled tomatoes (do not drain)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
Bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook your pasta to your liking. I recommend a step or two beyond al dente.
In a large soup pot over medium heat, add in cheese and season with salt and pepper. Begin to add in canned tomatoes, crushing the whole tomatoes with your hands.
Keeping an eye on your cheese and tomato mixture, mix together gently to incorporate the two mixtures together and melt the cheese fully.  When the cheese mixture is fully melted and incorporated, turn off the flame.
Drain pasta and return back to the pan you cooked the pasta in.  Pour the cheese and tomato mixture over the pasta and stir to combine.
Allow the mixture to sit or 20-30 minutes before enjoying. This dish is best enjoyed warm as this way the cheese and tomatoes are able to adhere to the pasta more.

Magic Apple Pie

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This is my grandmother’s Magic Apple Pie recipe. Growing up my grandma would make this during the fall season and my mother continued on with that tradition.  A few years ago I started with the tradition of making the pies – and I have even froze a few pies in the past and defrosted and baked off for 20 or so minutes for a Christmas Eve celebration.
This truly is a delicious pie – but I will admit it’s very sweet.  I make the traditional recipe for family and friends and I have lightened up the recipe for myself so I can enjoy a classic wit a twist.  The crust is more along the lines of a pancake batter and blends with the apples and cooks up to a nice crunchy top with a nice soft cinnamon/sugar apple beneath it. It’s perfect … especially warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream alongside it.  The pie is also along the lines of an apple crumble where it doesn’t have a bottom crust.
I do want to point out crust (usually around the center) can get a little wet after a few days because it’s more of a pancake type crust. If that happens, you can always put a slice in the toaster oven, or even return the pie back to the oven in 5 minute intervals until the top crisps up again.
Keep in mind this is the original recipe so it will be higher in fat, calories and points plus values.  I have created a lighter version, which gives a similar effect but the crust is totally different. So … onto the recipe!
Serves 8. 9 Points Plus Values.
  • 1 pound peeled sliced apples (I use McIntosh or Cortland)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ sticks margarine, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Toss peeled, sliced apples with roughly ¼ cup sugar and cinnamon. Toss to coat, then pile apples into a pie or cake pan.
Add flour in with leftover sugar from tossed apples and add in remaining sugar, margarine, egg and mix until well combined and blended together. The batter will resemble a runny pancake batter.
Fold in walnuts until well combined, then pour mixture over the apples.
Bake for 1 to 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Pie is done when top is golden brown and slightly hardened.  Test the center of the pie with a fork – if the batter looks undercooked (it will be gooey), return to the oven in 5 minute intervals.