Sinful eating, dead ahead

Every now and then, you just have to do it. You find a recipe with all those forbidden ingredients, and you just have to throw caution to the winds and make it. Then you tell yourself it was a once-in-a-lifetime fall into temptation, and that you’ll never do it again.

That’s what happened yesterday. I was leafing through a cookbook from our local Catholic school, the kind where lots of people contribute their favorite recipes. That was my first mistake. I find that those kind of cookbooks are chock full of family recipes that were invented before people ever heard of things like cholesterol and low-fat. So of course I found “dreamy spaghetti casserole” that came with the guarantee, “I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t ask for the recipe.” I should have taken the warning and run.

Instead, I made it. The entire recipe, which makes so much the two of usSpaghetti bake will be eating it for days. I do think I’ll tweak it a bit if I ever lose my head and make it again. I tweaked it right from the start with the ground chuck seasoned with garlic salt and crush red pepper flakes. Gotta have my hint of hot.

Anyway, if you’d like something decadent to celebrate, or to impress, or to just reward yourself for normally being very careful, here’s the recipe.

Dreamy Spaghetti Casserole
• 1 pound spaghetti
• 1 pound ground chuck
• Garlic salt and crushed red pepper to taste
• 8 oz. cream cheese
• 16 oz. cottage cheese
• 16 oz. French onion dip
• 1/2 C chopped green onion
• 2 T chopped green pepper
• 1 jar of spaghetti sauce, 24-32 ounces, depending on how much sauce you like. I used home-style, which gave it a nice chunk.
• Mozzarella cheese
• Parmesan cheese

1. Cook the spaghetti as directed. Brown ground chuck, seasoned with garlic salt and crushed red pepper flakes. Drain if necessary and set aside.

2. Layer half the spaghetti onto the bottom of a sprayed 9 x 13-inch pan. Mix cottage cheese, French onion dip, cream cheese, green onion and green pepper together. Spread mixture over top of noodles. Add the rest of the noodles.

3. Top with spaghetti sauce and meat. Sprinkle the top with mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese, the amount is up to you. Top with foil and bake at 350° for 45 minutes.

According to the source, this recipe works great for leftover sauce and noodles, and it freezes well.

I have to say, this is one delicious meal. However, in the interest of healthier eating, even to some degree, the next time I do it I’ll double the amount of cottage cheese, and halve the amount of the cream cheese and the French onion dip. I don’t think that will affect the flavor enough to matter.

And then of course, I plan to do a whole lot of bike riding on the days that this is served!


About Monica Sawyn

I'm a retired newspaper reporter/columnist, and although I still freelance, I miss the weekly column I used to write. I still "see columns" in everyday life and need a place to put them after they're written--thus, this blog. I'm Catholic, have been a Benedictine oblate since 1977, and live with my husband and our beagle in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. When I'm not writing, I'm probably reading, sewing, taking photos or walking the dog.
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