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Friday, March 11, 2011

Mama's Spaghetti Casserole

I have a cousin named Chazz. He is a financial analyst and lives down in Savannah, Georgia with his wife and two beautiful daughters. He actually lives in the same area as a Food Network chef that is known for using excessive amounts of butter. When we see them every year on Christmas, the conversation with my mom and Chazz is the same and goes a little something like this...
Mom: "So, you live on the same island as Paula Deen."
Chazz: "Yeah, but she is a very private person."
Mom: "I've always wanted to eat at her restaurant. Maybe I could come down and stay at your house for a few days."
Chazz: "Or not."

I have chosen today's recipe from the Deen Brothers. I decided to post this casserole recipe on a Friday on Lent as it is easily adaptable for those of us that must abstain from meat. Simply take out the ground beef and a spaghetti sauce that has no meat. Voila, a delicious meal. They also have a recipe for garlic bread to go with it, but I didn't make it. DJ opted to sleep on me for three hours that day.  Feel free to follow the link at the bottom of this post to see the full recipe, which includes the garlic bread.

On a funny side note, my husband hates mushrooms. A few shopping trips ago, I accidentally bought sauce that had mushrooms in it. Anybody who takes a two year old shopping understands the grab and run part of shopping. I kept it hidden in the pantry. I realized that this casserole may be the perfect time with all of the meat, cheese, and spaghetti. He absolutely loved it, ate two bowls full, and suggested that next time add more sauce. He ate mushrooms and liked it but shhh...don't tell.

1 pound uncooked spaghetti
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 pound ground beef
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 26-ounce jar spaghetti sauce
3 ounces Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (about 3/4 cup)
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded or thinly sliced (about 2 cups)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add the spaghetti and cook according to package directions. Drain the pasta.

In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef into the pan, break apart into smaller chunks, and cook until brown (approximately five minutes.) Add the salt, oregano, and black pepper to the pan. Stir in the spaghetti sauce, Parmesan cheese, and the cooked spaghetti. Transfer to baking dish. Top evenly with mozzarella. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbling.

Source:  Deen Brothers

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