Saturday, June 11, 2011

Delicious Spaghetti Pie

Spaghetti Pie - You might be thinking that it sounds a little strange, and that you'd never eat any kind of pie with spaghetti. Well, let me assure you, despite the odd name, this meal is tasty and is a nice spin on regular old pasta. It's a recipe that I copied off of an old index card from my mom - no idea where it originally came from, but as long as it tastes good, I don't really care!

Another note - I made a lot of stupid mistakes while making this recipe. I'll document them all so that you hopefully don't make the same.

Stuff you should obtain:
6 oz spaghetti
2 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
2 eggs - beaten
1 cup cottage cheese (8 oz)
1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup ground pepper
1 8oz can diced tomatoes
1 6oz can tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 cup mozzarella

Notes about ingredients: These are the ingredients that I copied off of the card - 1/4 cup of ground pepper seems like overkill, I just sprinkled some pepper into the meat. That amount really doesn't seem right, I don't think we've ever added that much in the history of this recipe. I'll have to see if I copied it wrong.
Also, I never measure cheese. I just pour on as much as I want to - that being said, 1/2 cup of mozzarella seems like it wouldn't really cover the entire pie. More is always better.
I also couldn't find an 8oz can of diced tomatoes - unfortunately that means I had to throw out the remainder from the larger can. So just be prepared to do so, unless you have a use for the extra 6oz of tomatoes.
There were a bazillion kinds of onion at the Martin's I shopped at. I used a yellow onion - no idea what the other kinds would taste like.

What you should do:
1) Preheat the stupid oven!
Yeah, I forgot to do this again. 350 degrees. Do it, or wait a painful 10 extra minutes for your food.

2) Cook the pasta!
My dad always told me to add a little olive oil to the boiling water so that the pasta doesn't stick together. Just don't add too much oil or you'll be waiting forever for your water to boil - I was done cooking the beef of this recipe before my water actually boiled. Multitasking fail.

3) Cook the beef!
Cook the ground beef with the chopped onion and pinch of pepper. If you're unsure how to properly chop an onion, I found this video where Gordon Ramsay tells you how to do it. Actually helped me a lot. A half cup of onion is probably about half of an onion - if you don't want to waste the rest of the onion you can chop the remainder and then put it in a freezer bag and in the freezer. That way, if you even need to cook something with chopped onion again you can just pull it out of the freezer.

Once the beef is done cooking, be sure to drain it! Luckily I didn't make that mistake again.

4) Make spaghetti "crust"!
Hopefully by now your pasta is done. Drain it and then add the butter, parmesan cheese and eggs into the hot noodles. I realize now that I forgot to add the butter in this step - if you happen to do that too, it doesn't make it taste bad, so don't worry! Once this mixture is properly stirred, line the pie plate with it. I try to make the spaghetti look like a pie crust of sorts and not just a huge lump of pasta on the bottom.

And now a general pro-tip. If you happen to spill something on a glass-top stove (like, spilling eggs while trying to mix them into the pasta... oops...), immediately douse it with water. It'll bubble and steam, and then you can hopefully wipe up whatever you spilled with a wet rag before it burns and crisps on the stovetop. I'm not sure if this is what you're "supposed" to do, but it definitely prevented me from having to explain to my roommate why there was crusty burnt egg on the burner when I was making a pasta dish.

5) Spread cottage cheese over the noodles!
Pretty self-explanatory step here.
This is the beginning of your pie!

6) Add tomato ingredients!
Add the diced tomatoes (undrained), tomato paste, sugar, oregano, and garlic salt to the beef. Stir it in the pan and make sure it's all heated. By now you should be smelling some really tasty food.

7) Add beef to pie plate!
Place the beef mixture on top of the pasta. Hopefully it's resembling a pie by now.

8) Cook the pie!
Bake the pie at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Then sprinkle (or dump, in my case) the mozzarella cheese on top and melt. I also added some parmesan cheese on top as well - just because I could.

9) Eat!
The best spaghetti pie you'll ever have!

Leftover Capability:
Yet another casserole-type recipe where I'll get another two meals out of it. Definitely nice during the work week when I don't want to cook.

But What About My Money?:
Spaghetti (1 lb)$0.80
Grated parmesan cheese$3.29
Cottage cheese$2.15
1 lb ground beef (80%)$3.59
Yellow Onion$0.76
Diced tomatoes$0.67
Tomato paste$0.58
Garlic salt$1.59
Shredded mozzarella cheese$2.69

Add in the leftovers and this comes out to about $5.37 per meal. A little more expensive than the previous recipes I've profiled on here, but still cheaper than going out to eat.

Final Grade: A
Some problems with the execution of the recipe - more issues on my end than with the actual recipe. Regardless, the pie has really good flavors with not a lot of difficult ingredients.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Awesome Mac & Cheese Casserole

This is one of my favorite recipes of all time, and that's not even hyperbole. It was one of the few I learned to make while I was still in high school - that means it's pretty easy. Its origin is from what looks to be "Cooking Light", although to me it's always been a page ripped out of some waiting room magazine. Wherever it comes from, it is some of the best cheese-laden pasta I've ever eaten.

Stuff you should obtain:

4 cups cooked macaroni (2 cups uncooked)
2 cups (8 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup cottage cheese
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons margarine, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
Cooking spray
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon margarine, melted
1/4 teaspoon paprika

Notes about ingredients:
You can use whatever pasta you have laying around (if you're a pasta whore like me, you have quite a bit). I wouldn't recommend longer noodles like spaghetti, more like rotini or penne if you want to stray from macaroni - I used rotini. I also never really measure it, and I think if you use larger size pasta you'll want to add more than two cups. I ended up using roughly half a box of a pound of rotini.
Also, I just realized as I transcribed the ingredients that I've been using too much margarine for as long as I've been making this casserole - for real, who measures margarine in teaspoons, not tablespoons? So if you happen to add 1.5 tablespoons instead, don't worry, it won't screw up the recipe. Might make the end result a little watery, but nothing too horrible

What you should do:
1) Prep work!
Yes, I'm making this a separate step because if you're anything like me, you'll forget to do at least one and maybe more of these: grease your casserole pan with cooking spray, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and start the water to boil the pasta. Today I forgot to preheat the oven and proceeded to wait an excruciatingly long 10 minutes for the oven to heat up after I had finished everything else.

2) Add delicious ingredients!
Now you pretty much add everything on the list to the bowl of your choice. If you're really lazy and don't want to clean another dish, you can add it straight to the casserole dish and mix it there. (I don't judge laziness, this is what I did.) So add the cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, milk, the 1.5 teaspoons margarine, salt, egg, and once it's done cooking, the pasta. Mix it well so that the cheese mixture coats the cooked pasta.

At this point it's probably looking a little like cheesy pasta covered slop. Don't worry, that's what it's supposed to look like.

Yes, this will cook into something delicious. Trust me.

3) Make the topping!
Now mix the 1 tablespoon of margarine, breadcrumbs and paprika and sprinkle the resulting crumbly mixture on top of the pasta.

4) Bake it!
Cover the casserole with tin foil and put in the 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

5) Take out and eat!
Dig in to the best mac and cheese casserole ever!

Yes, I did already eat a slice out of it before this picture. I couldn't help myself.

Leftover Capability:
If I manage to have decent portions, I'll probably have two more meals out of this. That being said, it will probably be like 1.5 meals because I always eat more than normal with this mac & cheese.

But What About My Money?:
Shredded Cheese (8 oz)$2.50
Cottage Cheese$2.15
Sour Cream$1.19
Milk (half-gallon)$1.07

Factoring the leftovers, this comes out to about $3.62 per meal. The best part about the money factor is that besides the shredded cheese, I didn't actually use all of anything that I had bought - so the cost to make comes out to considerably less, and I now don't have to run to the store for every small ingredient.

Final Grade: A+
I love this recipe. Period. End of story. Not only is it delicious, it's also easy to make. And it's pasta covered in lots of cheese - how can you go wrong?