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Monday, February 22, 2016

The Beauty of a Casserole Dish

I have a confession, I love the casserole dish.  You know that 13" X 9" glass wonder that's shoved in the back of your kitchen cabinet?  The one that when you first started cooking and you were making a cake from a box and it called for a 13" X 9"  pan and you pulled it out but for the life of you you couldn't find ANYWHERE where it was actually written 13" X 9" (seriously why isn't that marked more prominently?)?



I love this dish because you can throw just about anything in it, bake it for 30 minutes and you've got a meal!  You can also, if you're so inclined and really organized, throw stuff in it, freeze it for future use, thaw it, bake it for 30 minutes and BOOYAH another meal!  Needless to say, I have a few casserole recipes up my sleeve and lucky you today I'm going to share one!

Who doesn't love pasta, tomato sauce and cheese?  Seriously, anyone?  Fun fact, my son when he was younger, actually didn't like spaghetti.  Yes, I thought it was weird but I tried to not permanently traumatize him for this and I worked around it all the while questioning whether he was swapped at birth.  Annnyway...back to the recipe and for good nature, my son is helping me with this because NOW he likes spaghetti and someone needs to make this dish while I'm shooting pictures.

To begin with, cook your noodles.


While the noodles are cooking chop up your onion and garlic---the more the better!

Add olive oil to a skillet and brown the onion and garlic.  Add ground beef (we use Quorn Foods Meat Free Beef Grounds, 12 Ounce -- 12 per case.)









Once the noodles have finished cooking, whip up one egg and 1/2 cup milk.  Drain the noodles then mix the egg mixture into the noodles.

Now the fun part!  This is where the casserole dish comes in!  Spread the noodles in the bottom of the greased casserole dish, spoon the tomato sauce on top of the noodles.
Now top with mozzarella cheese and pop in a 350 degree preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes!

There's something about baking the dish that blends all the ingredients and their flavors together.  Better than if you just ate it without baking it.  Also, another fun fact, that 20 minutes while it's baking is the perfect amount of time to drink a glass of wine!

Now, if you feel this recipe is a little low brow for you, well here's basically the same recipe with some greens and fancy cheese and baked in a spring form pan (I know! High class, huh?).

Here's the recipe in 'copy and paste' format (we didn't have the bell pepper so we made it without and we added garlic, because, well, that goes with out saying. You just add garlic.):


Baked Spaghetti

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces uncooked spaghetti, broken into thirds
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 jar (14 ounces) meatless spaghetti sauce
  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 to 2 cups (4 to 8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Nutritional Facts

1 serving (1 each) equals 286 calories, 11 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 65 mg cholesterol, 718 mg sodium, 29 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 17 g protein.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Cook spaghetti according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat egg, milk and salt. Drain spaghetti; add to egg mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to a greased 13x9-in. baking dish.
  3. In a large skillet, cook beef, sausage, onion and green pepper over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in spaghetti sauce and tomato sauce. Spoon over the spaghetti mixture.
  4. Bake, uncovered, 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the cheese. Bake 10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.
  5. Freeze option: Cool spaghetti completely before tossing with egg mixture. Transfer to baking dish; cover and refrigerate. Meanwhile, prepare meat sauce and cool completely before spooning over spaghetti mixture. Cover and freeze unbaked casserole. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake as directed, increasing time as necessary to heat through and for a thermometer inserted in center to read 165°. Yield: 6-8 servings.

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