Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Spaghetti

So I mentioned that my family traditionally does a big lasagna feast on Christmas Eve. I love that, but I have to admit that I find lasagna making tedious. I don't really understand why, since I enjoy many another tedious task, but I just prefer not to make lasagna. I'm strange like that, I guess.

Last year I set out in search of something fun and kid-friendly to incorporate into our immediate family tradition -- it seemed like time considering it was the first Christmas in my life not spent with my parents and brother.

When I set eyes on this recipe it was like kismet. It was meant to be, and I knew it would be amazing. We LOVE it. It's got tender spaghetti, savory beef and tomato sauce, creamy cream cheese, and crunchy fried onions. Those onions just put it over the top for me. They're my favorite part. (I always sneak extras onto my plate -- I just can't help it!) And I also love that it uses up the rest of my can lingering in the pantry from Thanksgiving.

If you want to fancy it up a bit, you can certainly replace the cream cheese with mascarpone and make your own crispy onions or shallots. And I suppose your could substitute some other variety of pasta in place of the spaghetti, maybe ziti? But I wouldn't mess with it. ;D

Christmas Spaghetti
from Salad in a Jar

8 oz. uncooked spaghetti
1 lb. ground beef
1 jar prepared spaghetti sauce
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 c. diced green peppers (small dice)
1/3 c. diced onions (small dice)
8 oz. cream cheese
2 Tbsp. milk
2 c. shredded mozzarella or cheddar jack cheese blend
Grated Parmesan cheese
French-fried onions (small can)

Cook spaghetti according to directions on the package. Cook to al dente, drain and set aside.
Brown ground beef. Drain excess grease. Add spaghetti sauce to skillet and heat.
Combine onions, peppers and butter in small glass bowl. Cover and microwave 4 minutes on HIGH until soft.
Add cream cheese and milk to vegetables and stir well. (If cream cheese is not soft, nuke it for 20-30 seconds to make it easy to spread.)
Using a 12 x 8-inch baking dish (or something close), assemble in the following order: thin layer of spaghetti sauce, cooked spaghetti, cream cheese/vegetable mixture, remaining spaghetti sauce, parmesan cheese (amount subject to your own taste)
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Top with french-fried onions and continue baking 5 more minutes. (This is the secret ingredient–don’t let them burn.)

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