What’s Cooking Wednesday: Baked Mostaccioli



Melted cheese and a combination of Italian spices make this Baked Mostaccioli recipe a solid contender for some hearty & delicious comfort food. This is actually not a recipe I grew up with, but one I learned how to make in college and then introduced to my family. Now it’s one my mom, my siblings & I all make frequently.

I grew up in a ‘Midwest meat & potatoes’ kind of family – a reflection of my mostly German heritage, my rural/farm upbringing, a great big summer garden and my mom’s hearty homemade cooking style.

That’s not to say everything we ate fell into the ‘meat & potatoes’ mold or our food was mono-cultural. Things like spaghetti and tacos were part of the regular rotation. I didn’t think those foods were particularly unusual or exotic….so, I was surprised to find out one time that those weren’t foods my mom ate growing up (on a central Illinois farm about 3 miles from where we lived).

She remembers her introduction to spaghetti was as a new recipe someone brought to a church potluck and the first time she had tacos when a foreign exchange student brought them to her high school Spanish class. (Yes, my mom has a crazy-good memory!)

It’s interesting to think about the ways in which we get introduced to new foods. If you’ve never made baked mostaccioli, I would encourage you to try it!

This is a very simple recipe and can be easily adapted to your family’s tastes – if you like spicy foods throw in some hot pepper or substitute a spicy ground sausage for the hamburger. You can also throw mushrooms or bell peppers into the sauce. I make my own season my own sauce, but feel free to use a store bought spaghetti sauce if that’s your preference.

One recommendation – make sure to get ‘rigate’ noodles (the ones with the little ridges). They ‘hug’ the sauce and help the dish hold together. Bottom line – try it, experiment with it and let me know what you think!

Baked Mostaccioli


  • 1 lb. ground hamburger
  • 12 oz. mostaccioli or penne noodles, cooked according to package directions
  • 12 oz. tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup diced tomato
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tsp. parsley


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. In a large skillet, brown the hamburger. Add tomato sauce, tomato, garlic, oregano & basil. Cook over medium heat until sauce begins to simmer, stirring occasionally.
  3. Place cooked noodles in an 8 x 8 baking dish. Pour meat sauce over the top and stir to combine thoroughly.
  4. Add cheese over the top and sprinkle with parsley.
  5. Bake for about 10 minutes until cheese is melted and gooey.

Makes about 4 servings.

Who will you share it with?

The Friday Five: A Better Look at Beef

2013 soybeans, landscape

Did you know that yesterday (Aug. 27) was #NationalBurgerDay? Thank you, social media for the heads up.

Coincidentally, there’s also a headline grabbing story floating around this week about the safety of ground beef. Let’s take a better look:

  1. From Food Insights, here’s a few facts and myths to explore about the safety of ground beef. Bottom line: bacteria doesn’t care where your beef came from – wash your hands & cook it to the right temperature (160 degrees)!
  2. For another perspective, check out this article from High Plains Journal. The good news: almost all of the bacteria found in the “study” was not the kind that cause serious foodbourne illnesses
  3. Reading past the headlines is important, especially when it comes to blurbs about scientific studies, as pointed out in this LA Times article.
  4. And here’s an article from Business Insider that looks at some potential problems with the ground beef safety “study”.
  5. For some tips on ways to safely store, handle, thaw & cook beef check here.

What’s your favorite way to eat a hamburger?