Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Baked Spaghetti Throw Down {Meet the W Family}

AND...a birthday!!

When my friend Brittney was having her birthday I asked her if I could make her anything special for a birthday dinner. She requested a family favorite recipe of "baked sketti" as she called it. 

I have *never* in my life made a baked spaghetti. Baked ziti, sure...lasagna, oh yeah...stuffed shells, manicotti, all been done before.  But spaghetti?  No, hadn't experienced that one before.  So I decided to have a Baked Spaghetti Throw Down, Bobby Flay style.  She gave me the recipe for her "sketti" and I decided to make up my own version too.

There is no shortage of meat,carbs or half naked cute babies in this blog post.

*Meet the W Family*  Brittney, Daniel and sweet baby L. They are expecting "baby W" number two this Summer!  This is deployment number two for Daniel but it is Brittney's first full deployment.  Daniel has been in the Army for four years.

Brittney is sweet, and kind, she says "ya'll" and "girl" and I love it!! She was a Georgia transplant from Michigan so she doesn't mind the cold here in Alaska or collard greens and fried chicken.  We first met at the "Newcomers Brief" back in July when we first arrived to Alaska. Baby L was just a teeny tiny thing. We met again when the wives of the squadron were asked to jump out of a 40 foot tower, drive a Humvee and shoot a M16.  So, I think that made us pretty quick, and very awesome friends!  She is a bright light, a positive and trustworthy friend, someone you want beside you during a deployment and the girl likes to eat and I like to cook so we work well together!  She thinks she should just move in with me so I can feed her and the belly all the time.  I wouldn't mind that *one little bit*.  
Photograph by: Amotherseye Photography (Visit the Facebook page here)
*What are your proudest Army moments?
B:  "Knowing my husband is known as a hero." 
Brittney and Baby L. Photograph by: Lea-Ann

*Absolute favorite thing ever eaten in a restaurant:
B:  "chicken, mashed potatoes and collards"
 *What restaurant?
B:  "Sun Dial in downtown Atlanta. 
(Seriously, that restaurant looks amazing!)

*What helps you through a deployment?
B:  "Friends! And strength... faith in God..."

Brittney on her birthday. Photograph by: Lea-Ann

*If you could share a meal with anyone dead or alive who would it be and why?
B:  "Kids who are less fortunate, kids who struggle and are in a children's home. I would love to foster kids but I know that's not possible.
(Brittney, if anyone could take in foster children it would be you.  You have a huge heart and are a wonderful mother.  Maybe one day that will be in God's plans for your family.)

On to the details of the sketti versus spaghetti throw down....

Yes, you are seeing clearly, Brittney's baked sketti recipe which comes from her mother in law has bacon, chunks of cheese, ground beef and bell pepper in it.  It is one of her husband's favorites.  It was a pretty simple dish to put together, and would work nicely for a large crowd.  Certainly what her expectant belly was craving on her birthday and I was happy to oblige.  The chunks of cheese were a happy surprise in my mouth.  This comfort food made enough to feed an Army, but instead of an Army of people to devour all this pasta we had this type of Army....

A Meatball Army!!
I made these little guys to go into my baked spaghetti recipe.  So delicious, a mixture of ground turkey and Italian sausage, herbs and red chili flakes.  I made them smaller than my typical meatball because I thought they would be a nice size for the baked dish.  I used my smallest cookie dough scoop to make these in a snap, I just scoop, roll and plop on a parchment lined baking sheet.
And here is my baked spaghetti, a little bit more of a traditional take on spaghetti but the meatballs and mozzarella cheese made this dish.  

So if you like meat, meat, cheese, cheese, pasta, pasta than really any or both of these dishes would be for you.  I was partial to my meatball baked spaghetti and Brittney was partial to her baked sketti.  We should have asked for some guest judges to do an anonymous tasting for us. Darn...you can be the judges now...

Brittney's Baked "Sketti" with Bacon

1 box of spaghetti noodles
1 small can tomato paste
2 cans of diced tomatoes  (we used the ones with the Italian seasoning in them)
1 block of colby cheese cut into cubes
1 package of bacon, cut up and cooked (reserve four pieces and a small amount of the grease)
1 pound ground beef
1 bell pepper, chopped
salt and pepper

Boil the spaghetti in water with a splash of olive oil.  Cook the bacon and chop it, reserving four uncooked pieces to top the dish.  Cut up the colby cheese into cubes.  Brown the hamburger meat with the bell pepper, add salt and pepper to taste.  Drain the fat from the hamburger.  Drain your pasta and combine all ingredients, including the small amount of bacon grease into a large baking dish.  Top with the remaining four pieces of bacon and cook at 350 degrees until the bacon is cooked, about 30 minutes. 

DK365's Baked Spaghetti with Meatballs

For the Meatballs:
1 lb package of ground turkey
1 package of bulk, mild Italian sausage
1/2 Tbsp. dry Italian seasoning
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. dried red chili flakes
1 cup plain, dry bread crumbs
1 tsp. crushed garlic
1 egg
salt and pepper, about 1/2 tsp of each

Mush all ingredients together.  I use a small cookie dough scoop and scoop out small meatballs (about a tsp size) and roll them by hand and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes until cooked through. 

For the Spaghetti
1 package of spaghetti
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
1 16 oz jar of your favorite pasta sauce

Cook the onion and bell pepper until softened.  Boil your spaghetti in salted water until al dente (this will keep the noodles from getting too mushy in the oven).  Drain the pasta well.
Stir in all of your ingredients into a large baking dish, adding the meatballs last and gently fold them into the spaghetti so they don't break. 
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted. 

Mangia, Mangia!!


GiveMeCoffeeIV said...

I must say that it looks delicious. I always used to make baked spaghetti with any leftover spaghetti sauce (I usually made too much just so I could make the baked spaghetti). There was just the right amount of meat sauce and lots of cheese. My kids (now 20 and 22) used to love this and I am pretty sure they wouldn't say no to it now! Yummmmy :::going to the kitchen to make some sauce:::

Paula K from Windsor CA

Delanie said...

Oh YUMMY!!!! I am definitly trying these!!!!

Lea-Ann @ Deployment Kitchen 365 said...

Thank you Paula and Delanie!! :)

Ash Brown said...

I love that your friend is a Georgia transplant from Michigan! You have great taste in friends :) your recipe is very similar to how I make mine! I only can do spaghetti like once every two months (not a huge fan) but when I do it, its always baked! Tastes better to me that way!