[Editor’s Note – This column originally ran on Dec. 18, 2013.]
The best way to spread Christmas cheer is baking lots and drinking beer.
Or at least that’s how I do it, because believe-you-me, you do not want to hear me sing Christmas carols.
One of my favorite holiday movies is Elf. Instant classic. Yeah, I went there. It’s heartwarming and adorable with funny moments and a fun cast. Zooey Deschanel is adorable as a naked blonde, Ed Asner is a natural Santa Claus, I’ve always suspected Bob Newhart of being elf-sized and Will Ferrell mastered the role of Buddy. (Not to mention the brief role my boyfriend, Peter Dinklage, has in the film. “Call me elf one more time!”) Call it what it is, it’s a Christmas movie, but it’s a damn good one.
Buddy says that the four basic food groups for elves are candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup. I could get on board with that nutrition profile. I’ve improvised on the famous spaghetti and maple syrup recipe that Buddy makes for his family. Instead of JUST pasta and syrup though, I’ve added a little love to spruce it up.
A creamy maple and ricotta sauce, chicken breakfast sausage and bacon topped with a panko-and-Poptart crumb topping, this dish is sure to be a hit at your Christmas brunch. And hopefully it makes you smile … ‘cause smiling is my favorite.
Is there sugar in syrup?
Maple and Ricotta Pasta Bake
- 1 lb. spaghetti
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 2 cups sour cream
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb chicken sausage, casings removed
- 1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 4 Pop Tarts, Brown Sugar & Cinnamon
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 tbsp butter
Preheat oven to 350.
Drop your pasta into boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain and set aside.
In the meantime, drizzle olive oil into preheated skillet. Break sausage up and drop into pan. Cook over medium heat, around 10 minutes, until cooked through.
In a saucepan, whisk together maple syrup, sour cream, ricotta, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Simmer for about five minutes.
Spray a large casserole dish with cooking spray. Toss together pasta, sauce, sausage and bacon and spread into casserole dish.
Break up Pop Tarts into pieces in a food processor. Pulse until roughly chopped. Add breadcrumbs and pulse a little more to combine. Sprinkle over pasta. Drop dabs of butter on top of the Pop Tart topping.
Bake for 30 minutes, uncovered. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving.
Serve to elves and any humans with an affinity for elf culture.
Fontina Turner, a food blogger and graphic designer from Philadelphia, makes classy-as-fuck comfort food and consumes an unhealthy amount of cheeses and craft beers. She can be found in the kitchen, at the bar, on Twitter or trying to make H. Jon Benjamin love her. Contact her at email@example.com.