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US Cooking Tour Stop 9: Missouri

My husband is actually from Missouri and as it's a neighboring state to Oklahoma, I have my fair share of memories from The Show-Me State. There is one story, though, that sticks out in my mind and then the story came around again later in my life to absolutely blow my mind. Let me tell you about it. 

You know when major things in history happen and you never forget where you were and what you were doing when you learned of it? Well, my family was on a little trip to Branson, Missouri the night Princess Diana died. I remember the scene vividly in our small hotel room - my mom sat stunned on one of the the two queen sized-beds. We were glued to the tv and whatever it was we had planned to do took a backseat while we watched coverage. We were all in shock, but my mom especially since she followed everything Diana did and had an interest in the Royal Family from a young age. 

Branson is a small Ozark tourist town and at that point in time, everyone went there to hit up the outlet malls, visit Silver Dollar City, dress up for Old Time Photos, and play put-put or ride go-carts. Everything there was to do at there in 1997 was all right there together on one main road called "the strip." It's a fun little town to get away for a weekend. It was Labor Day weekend when we were there the year of Diana's accident, and as it is every holiday weekend, the town was bustling. There isn't much else I remember specifically about that weekend aside from the accident and that image of the hotel room with my mom on the end of the bed.

Fast forward several years later. My husband and I took our firstborn 8 month old baby boy to Branson one December weekend to see the Christmas lights. Not sure how much light-looking a baby under one was actually doing, but we like to think he remembers it. And we sure enjoy the memories. Anyway, we passed by that hotel and I told my husband the story of that fateful weekend. 

He sat there kind of half-smiling as he listened to my story and I was thinking, "why on earth is he smiling about this?" I wrapped up what I was saying and he said, "you have got to be kidding me. Me and my family were in Branson that same weekend Princess Diana died." 

I gasped.

What are the chances? 

I like to think our paths crossed somewhere in that little town that weekend. He was 15, I was 14 - we easily could have walked past each other at the malls, our cars could've been stopped at the same light, stayed at the same hotel, our families dining at the same restaurant... for all we know we could have looked each other dead in the eye, never knowing that one day we would one day be united forever. 

How wild is that? 

I certainly would never have remembered the random date of that weekend, and neither would he, had it not been for the historical moment that happened while we were there. So now I consider Princess Diana as the preface of our story - we just didn't know it. 


When researching which recipe Missouri is best known for, my husband told me I had to make Mostaccioli and Toasted Ravioli. Dessert was a no-brainer for him too - Gooey Butter Cake. 

I had never had or ever heard of mostaccioli before this challenge. It was delicious and was just like a baked ziti or penne. When I posted the videos of me making it, everyone told me it is a staple dish at Missouri weddings. Who knew? Toasted raviolis are a favorite of my husband and mine. We always get them when we go to St. Louis and eat at our favorite spot on The Hill. As for gooey butter cake, I thought for years that Paula Deen invented that, but apparently not.


  • 48 Oz or 2 jars of your favorite red pasta sauce
  • ½ lb Mild Italian Sausage or Ground Pork
  • ½ lb Ground Beef
  • 1 Yellow Onion Chopped
  • 2 Tsp Minced Garlic
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 Tsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1 Tsp Dried Basil
  • 1 Cup Parmesan Cheese, Grated
  • 1 Cup Asiago Cheese Shredded
  • 2 Cups Mozzarella Cheese Shredded
  • 16 Oz Dried Rigatoni or Mostaccioli Pasta


  • Combine Italian sausage, ground beef and chopped onion in a large, deep skillet and mash it into smaller pieces. Cook over medium-low heat until the meat is fully cooked through and no pink remains. About 5-7 minutes. 
  • Add marinara sauce, bay leaf, Italian seasoning, garlic, grated Parmesan cheese and basil to the same skillet along with the cooked meat. Stir to combine and cover and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for at least 15 minutes. 
  • While the sauce is simmering, cook your dried pasta according to package instructions until al dente. Be careful not to overcook the pasta.
  • Combine meat sauce, cooked pasta and half of the shredded cheese in a large bowl and stir until combined. Add to a 13x9 inch baking dish and top with the remaining shredded cheese. Cook on the middle rack until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling. 350, about 20 minutes.


This was the simplest part of the dinner but certainly the tastiest, in my opinion. The recipe is simple - get a bag of frozen ravioli & thaw (you can use fresh, too). Coat the raviolis in an egg wash and then breadcrumbs and fry until golden brown. Dip in your favorite marinara. It seriously tastes like a fancy restaurant appetizer. You will eat your weight in these: be warned.



1 package yellow cake mix 
6 Tbsp butter, melted
1 egg
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
2 eggs 
1 stick butter, melted 
4 cups confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix cake mix, melted butter or margarine, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 eggs with a spoon. 
Pat into a 9 X 13 inch pan.
Mix cream cheese, 2 eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla with an electric mixer. 
Slowly beat in confectioner's sugar. 
Pour over cake layer.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Cool.

I am a modern day homemaker with a passion for family, cooking, celebrating, decorating, travel, and memory making! The Lord has blessed me with the desires of my heart in my husband and our two sons. We recently built our dream home and cultivating a loving and happy haven for my family is where I find so much joy.