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Entries in spaghetti sauce (2)

11:29AM

Baked Spaghetti

Happy Thursday Morning Foodies! It’s another gloomy day here in NoVa, which is okay with me. I have really been enjoying the rainy days here. However, rainy days in other parts of the country are not as easy going as my rainy days. For instance, my lovely hometown in central Pennsylvania currently is under water. I cannot believe it. Well, I can believe it because so much of the area is a flood zone.

Let me paint a picture. Williamsport is located in a valley, between beautiful, luscious mountains. It’s such a fun experience growing up there, especially with the changing of the seasons and snowy days. Imagine being surrounded by beautiful and deep reds, oranges and yellows in the Fall and in the Spring when hints of green start to emerge around you with chirping birds and skinny squirrels. Imagine a town in a snow globe, being covered in beautiful flakes of snow each year; where all of the bare tree branches are coated in a glistening soft white powder. It’s beautiful. It’s fun to look at from the comfort of your home with a hot chocolate in your hand. It’s fun to go out and roll around in, sled ride down the dike and run through the closed streets on days off from work and school.

Dike? Oh yes. Did I forget to mention that? Our little city has a windy, rapid ‘stream’ flowing through it; the stream is otherwise known as the Susquehanna River. Normally it is impotent. In fact, during the Spring & Summer season many people are ‘river rats.’ They go down each weekend with a camper, firewood, marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate to set up shop. It’s a weekend getaway and everybody enjoys some loud music, adult beverages and a swim in the river.

That was not me. My mom did not want me to spend too much time at the river because she had this fear I was swimming in not-so-nice things and, let’s not forget, I was her only child who was allergic to everything and asthmatic; she had this reoccurring fear that something bad was going to happen to me and the adults around would not know what to do. She still has that fear. I will tell you it has not become less annoying over the years.

I mean, for instance, think about a college kid walking through airport security in CHINA and having a bunch of medication and a nebulizer - a machine to treat an asthma attack. Yep, that was me and all because my mom was too overprotective. I spoke minimal Chinese and it was a year after September 11, 2001. I’m surprised I was not detained in a Chinese prison as a suspected criminal.

Anyway, back to my hometown. That harmless river comes alive with large amounts of rain or melting snow. And I mean it COMES ALIVE. Currently, it is doing a lot of harm to my proud little baseball town. It is flooding streets and homes, businesses and parks. The monstrous Susquehanna River is wreaking havoc on Williamsport, Pennsylvania and the surrounding towns. It happens, I guess. I mean, it is a fact of life when living in low lying areas surrounded by mountains and a river. All of the rain is sweeping down the mountains into the towns below while, simultaneously, the river is rising due to large amounts of localized rain. It’s a horrible situation for everybody involved.

I am sending my thoughts and prayers to everybody being affected – my old friends, Mom & church family there. I hope you all are safe and recovery is swift. From my lips to Gods ears.

How does this have anything to do with food? It’s all pretty depressing, right? Well, I will tell you how it all relates. A lot of people are home from work and school today; effectively stuck inside. After a day of playing video games, watching movies, drinking tea and reading books, dinner is going to come knocking. And, today, I have the BEST dinner for your family. I mean it. It’s a traditional meal made a slightly different way and you can easily add food accessories to round out the meal. Are you ready for it?! Today I give you Baked Spaghetti!

I ate a lot of spaghetti growing up and now, as an adult, I am pretty sick of it. It has never been my favorite meal and I do not think it ever will be. However, I wanted to give this baked Spaghetti phenomenon a try and I am sure glad I did! This was delicious and super easy to make.

Nutritional Info:
Serving(s): 6; Serving size 1 square
Calories: 323
Fat: 21g
Carbohydrates: 33g
Fiber: 3.6g
Protein: 18g
Points+: 10 per serving

Here is what you will need:

  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 spicy sausage links, cooked & crumbled
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes with basil and garlic
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ onion, small diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • ½ tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 small bay leaves
  • ½ pasta sauce [optional]
  • 3 ounces angel hair pasta
  • 1 cup cheese, shredded
  • 2 ounces crumbled Feta cheese

Directions:

  • In a medium sauce pan combine the tomatoes, tomato sauce, and water over medium heat and allow to simmer

  • Meanwhile, in a small skillet over medium heat add the olive oil. When the oil is heated, add the diced onions and garlic to the skillet and allow to cook until translucent.

  • When the onions & garlic are cooked through, add them to the tomato sauce
  • Add the Italian seasoning, Cajun seasoning, sugar, salt, pepper, dried basil, oregano and incorporate fully. Add the bay leaves, reduce to low heat, and cover for about an hour, stirring occasionally.  
  • *If you want to use the spaghetti sauce add it now!
  • After about 30 minutes, add the crumbled sausage to the pasta sauce and stir to incorporate fully

  • After about an hour, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  • Cook the pasta according to the packaged directions
  • When the pasta is fully cooked, drain and remove to a bowl. Mix in the feta cheese.

  • Grease a baking dish and add a ladle full of sauce to the bottom of the dish
  • Add a layer of pasta and cover with some pasta sauce to cover fully; repeat the layers ending with sauce

  • Top with the cup of shredded cheese

 

  • Bake for 30 to 40 minutes and serve!

 

As much as I fight against making spaghetti, I LOVED this dish. It is packed full of flavor with a hint of spice, which is totally what Nick and I love about most dishes. One of the best parts of this meal is adding food accessories side dishes. Imagine a nice salad, a piece of garlic bread or large meatballs towering around a piece of this baked spaghetti!

I hope you all give this a try!

Until Next Time,

Happy Baking Spaghetti

11:22AM

Mini Chicken Lasagna Cups

Happy Friday Foodies! A week ago everybody on the eastern seaboard was preparing for Hurricane Irene; can I tell you that we are STILL dealing with her. No, we did not lose power, have overwhelming destruction or water damage at our home. So why am I still dealing with this storm? I will tell you. Base Quantico must have taken everything offline as a precaution and, while most sections of base had no problem going back online, Nick’s building did not have that luxury. In fact, he did not have work on Monday and went in at noon on Tuesday. I could tell you what he does. I could tell you what he did in the military. I could, but I will not. Everything he deals with is highly classified; however, I will tell you that he protects each of us EVERY SINGLE DAY. He is my super hero and I can guarantee that kids dream of doing what he does. Hell, I dream about doing what he does. Seriously.

Why am I talking about this? Well, Nick and I plan to go to Pennsylvania to visit my mom for this long weekend, but he has been working super hard, super long hours all week in order to trudge through all of the information that exists out there in the world; making sure nothing slips through the cracks. I had hoped today would be different, but I am not that lucky. It seems like he will be gone until later this evening, which means a late night on the road. And to add to all of this, Nick has been so crabby all week. He feels a lot of pressure to protect this lovely country of ours and he is swamped. SWAMPED! So he’s been so stressed all week, it has not been fun. I hate seeing him this way. Honestly, he is NEVER like this; he doesn’t allow most things to bug him…. Well, that’s not true. When things bug him, he easily compartmentalizes everything so he can function with minimum amounts of stress. [He just happens to do the exact opposite of what I do – I freak out & let stress get to me.] That is why he is perfect for me; in my craziest moments, he looks at me and it puts me at ease; with some words of encouragement, of course! Hurricane Irene, you’re still killing me!

Today is Friday, thank God for that! And you know what Friday’s bring, right?! Well, on this blog it means another Kid Friendly Friday segment! I have a great recipe for you all today! Today I give you Mini Chicken Lasagna Cups. I have been seeing these things everywhere lately, but I wanted to make them my own way. Enter: chicken. I have been meaning to use some chicken and I knew with being away this weekend I was going to have to do something with it; these were the best option! They take some time, but getting your kids involved will be so much fun.

Serving Size: 2 cups
Calories: 312
Fat: 19.6
Carbohydrates: 13
Fiber: 1.5
Protein: 22
Points+: 8

 Let’s get down to business. Here is what you will need:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large chicken breast
  • 1 cup garlic & basil spaghetti sauce
  • 1 cup park skim ricotta cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ tablespoon pepper flakes
  • 24 wonton wrappers
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheese

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • In a medium skillet, add olive oil and cook chicken over medium heat until golden brown
  • Remove the chicken and shred into small pieces

  • In a medium bowl, combine the chicken and spaghetti sauce, mix until fully incorporated

  • In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, salt and pepper, garlic & pepper flakes and stir to combine
  • Grease a 12 cup muffin tin and a wonton wrapper in each cup
  • Add a tablespoon of ricotta into each muffin tin

  • Top each ricotta filled muffin tin with a tablespoon of the chicken mixture

 

  • Sprinkle the top with cheese
  • Place another wonton wrapper over the cheese and repeat the layering process again – first, ricotta, then chicken and then sprinkle some cheese to the top

 

  • Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and the wonton wrappers have a golden brown tint to them
  • Cool for a couple of minutes and eat away!

These little cups are so delicious and filling. Believe me, when I took them out of the muffin tins they were so heavy. I was pretty surprised how full I was after eating the first couple of bites. These would be great for any weekend festivities; imagine serving these as an appetizer instead of wings or pizza bites. I think your family and friends will want to spend the weekend rummaging through your refrigerator looking for leftovers!

I hope you give these a try with your little sous chefs!

Until Next Time,

Happy Mini Lasagna Makin’!