Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tasty Tuesday--Baked Spaghetti

You ever have one of those days when you really have no idea what you will be making for dinner? Mix that with the tight economic times we are all experiencing and coming up with a tasty meal that your family will eat and that you can afford becomes highly challenging.

I asked for dinner ideas on my facebook page this morning and had a bunch of amazing ideas come in. I wish I could post them all here! I think several of them will make an appearance on another Tasty Tuesday blog post in the future. For today, I needed to find a recipe that would make the most of whatever supplies I had on hand... which were sadly limited. Some of the recipes that were sent in to me include: Chicken Tortilla Soup, Sauteed Shrimp with Lemon, Mozzarella Crusted Tilapia in Lemon Caper Sauce with Ratatouille, French Dip Sandwiches with Oven Fries and Baked Spaghetti. Hungry yet? Of all these amazing ideas, the one I had the most ingredients for is the winner for tonight: Baked Spaghetti. Well... almost... I had to take the recipe that was given to me (Thanks, Lisa!) and tweak it to match what was already in my pantry and fridge. So... here you go! Lisa's dinner tweaked to work for me!

1 (8 ounce) package whole wheat spaghetti, cooked al dente
2 tablespoons butter OR margarine
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 (24 ounce) cottage cheese
1 pound bulk Italian sausage
1 (25.75 ounce) jar prepared spaghetti sauce
4 cloves garlic
10 leaves fresh basil
1 (8 ounce) package shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Combine hot cooked spaghetti with butter; stir until butter melts and coats spaghetti. Add 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese; stir to coat. Arrange spaghetti in an even layer in foil-lined pan. Add a small amount of the pasta sauce, right from the jar. Stir gently. Spread cottage cheese over spaghetti. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Chop garlic and basil. Brown sausage, drain; add pasta sauce, garlic and half the basil, heat until bubbly. Spoon over cheeses. Top with mozzarella cheese and remaining Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Remove foil cover and continue baking 15 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle remaining basil on top. Serve with homemade garlic bread* and fresh veggies or salad.

*Not sure how to make garlic bread? Once you make it yourself, you will NEVER buy it again. I am including the recipe that I use but know this... if you are concerned about eating healthy, make a salad! Garlic bread is not really a healthy food. : ) We have tried making it on whole wheat bread but it is not nearly as good. You can try low-cal spreads...but the truth is it is best made with butter. If you eat the final bread sparingly, and are careful with the rest of your meal, it is fine to enjoy this bread. So... here is what I do.

I keep french bread or sub rolls frozen in my deep freeze. When I want good garlic bread, I take out enough frozen bread... no need to defrost. Then,in my food processor, I put:

1 stick of butter (I cut it up into squares)
3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 leaves of basil or about 1/2 t of dried basil
A sprinkle or two of powdered garlic or garlic salt

I turn my food processor on until the butter and garlic begin to combine. If you are using fresh basil, the mixture may turn a little green. When you taste it, you will not care that your garlic bread is green... I promise. As the butter softens, I add in a titch of olive oil just to be sure that the whole shebang will be spreadable.

Next, I cut the loaf of bread length-wise and lay it on a baking sheet. I slather the cut side with butter making sure to leave some for the next step. Put this, buttered side up, into a hot oven...400 degrees. The mixture will melt. Leave in about 7 minutes. Take out and flip the loaves over to the other side. Spread remaining garlic butter on the backside of the bread. Put back in the oven for about 4 minutes. Take it out and turn your oven on to broil. Flip the garlic bread back over the cut side. Slide the whole pan into your broiler. Stand there! It will take all of 2 minutes. Burning the garlic bread now would be a tragedy! Watch for any signs that it is browning slightly on top. Take it out and let it cool long enough to be handle-able. Cut into 3 inch slices and enjoy!

So...now I am off to cook. This recipe is quick and easy and my kids enjoy it. I hope you do, too! : )

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