Monday, January 11, 2010

Make Ahead Spaghetti bake

So, long story short, I made two different main dishes today.  It really was an accident.  After making the first, I didn't think it was quite good enough.  So I made a second.  Then my husband came home and, after tasting the first (which was meatless), figured out what was missing from it:  salt.  It's amazing what a little salt can do.   So, we ate the first as a side tonight, and will eat it for lunch tomorrow.  Not too shabby. 

Anyways, this make ahead spaghetti bake was the second dish I made.  It was perfect since I was already cooked-out at two in the afternoon.  By the time five rolled around, I just popped it in the oven and we had an excellent dinner without any last minute cooking. 

The Ingredients
1 lb ground beef
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
3 tsp itallian seasoning, divided
2lb 14 oz bottled spaghetti sauce (feel free to make your own) 
1 package spaghetti noodles (I used whole wheat)
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 eggs
3 cups cheddar cheese, grated and divided

At Ten O'Clock

1.  Make the ground beef mixture:  Bround meat with onion, pepper, and 1 tsp italian seasoning.  Drain.  Return to pan.

2.  Add spaghetti sauce to ground beef mixutre.

3.  Meanwhile, cook spaghetti noodles a little bit shy of al dente, or about 2 minutes less than the directions indicate. 

4.  Mix together the ricotta, eggs and 2 tsp italian seasoning. 

5.  Assemble:  Spread 1/3 of sauce in a 9x13 pan.  Put 1/2 of noodles on top.  Spread ricotta mixture on noodles.  Cover with 1 1/2 cup of cheese.  Then layer 1/3 of sauce.  Then put the rest of the noodles on top, and then cover with remaing sauce.  Set aside 11/2 cup of cheese for later use.  Cover and refridgerate.

Before Serving
1.  Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. 

2.  Cover with the reserved cheese and bake for 10 more minutes.

Family Approval
Boy, was this a hit.  My husband said it was "almost as good as lasagna," and both of the kiddos inhaled it.  My wonderful parents stopped by right as I was taking the dish right out of the oven, so I naturally sent some home with them.  My dad called me to tell me it was "fabulous" and "looked fantastic and tasted as good as it looked."  I would definately say it was a success.

Note:  I used two pie plates instead of the 9x13.

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