Monday, April 29, 2013

Baked Spaghetti, Mid-Western Style

FINALLY!!!! We have spring in the mid-west!!!

Daffodils are blooming, along with Forsythia! The grass is greening up, and I'm ready to set up my garden bed this week (no planting until after Mother's Day, though - it isn't THAT warm yet!).

On Thursday our church hosted a meeting of area pastors and church leaders from our denomination...and since we live in the Black Hills, and most of them live in eastern South Dakota and Minnesota (think prairies), many brought their families for a mini-vacation.

After lunch, our pastor's wife and I took any non-meeting-attendees who desired up to see the boys on the Hill. 

And this guy was gracious enough to pose for a picture: 

Even with all of our fun tourist activities, we got back to the church kitchen in time to stick our pre-assembled casseroles in the oven. They were delicious, and I thought you'd love the recipe as much as I did.

Baked Spaghetti


2 - 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes
2 - 8 oz cans of tomato sauce
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced green pepper
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons Seasoning Salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 small bay leaves
1 1/2 pounds Italian sausage

8 oz uncooked angel hair spaghetti

2 cups grated cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese blend

In a stockpot, cook the Italian sausage until done. Drain the meat. Return the meat to the pot and add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, onions, peppers, garlic, parsley, seasonings, sugar, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat so the sauce simmers. Cover the pot and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the bay leaves after cooking.

Preheat your oven to 350°.

Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions.

Cover the bottom of a 9" x 13" pan with sauce. Add the spaghetti, and then cover it with about 1/2 of the cheese. Top with the remaining sauce.

(At this point you can refrigerate or freeze the casserole. Just be sure to add about 10 minutes to the cooking time if you're starting with a cold dish.)

Bake the casserole for 30 minutes, then sprinkle on the remaining cheese and return it to the oven for an additional 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

This was a great casserole for a crowd (we actually had six pans like this for all the people we fed!). It was full of flavor and had a nice spicy kick.

We needed a break after that busy, busy Thursday, so on Saturday, we went to the Badlands.

(If you click on this picture to enlarge it, you can see the ladder on the left.)

We love it there, but it really challenges your definition of beauty. Most visitors take the driving tour through the park, stopping at scenic turn offs to enjoy the view, but we like to get off the beaten path and away from the road.

This trail is labeled "strenuous."

We hiked about five miles on Saturday, using these trail markers to guide us:  (Can you see marker #2
off in the distance? You may need to click on the picture to enlarge it.)

And where else can you build a snow man in 90° weather?

It wasn't the quietest way to rest up from our Thursday activities, but oh, it was great.

Like Our GAL Julie says, I live in the coolest place on earth :)

And just for Kav, here are some four week old puppy pictures! We get second choice of one of these boys - it will be a hard decision!
Blue-collar Boy

Orange-collar Boy

Green-collar Boy


  1. looks beautiful - the spaghetti too! :-) I'd call that trail 'no way'!

    1. We almost said 'no way', too. But, heck, we were there so we tackled it.

      And rested for quite awhile at the top!

  2. Jan, I'm glad you're finally getting some spring!

    I love spaghetti casseroles! Our youth group sometimes has fundraiser dinners, and they usually make this dish (made with beef). It's so good that I keep saying I'm going to make it someday. Now that I have a recipe, I think it's time! :)

    1. You'll have to try this, Missy. I've had other spaghetti casseroles, but the flavor of this one beat all the others hands down.

      And there's so much of it you can do ahead of time - simmer the sauce in your crock pot instead of on the stove...make it ahead and freeze it...or make it ahead and stick it in the fridge until time to bake it.

      I think I need to make a double batch next time and keep one in the freezer :)

  3. Yes, you do!

    I love spagetti casseroles and italian sausage. Rice spagetti can get kind of mushy sniff. So I may have to make the sauce and put it over the noodles. But shredded carrots and zucchini work well too.

    And we are back to chilly days here so this is perfect.

    Peace, Julie

    1. Julie, when I was putting this together, I was thinking it would go great with spaghetti squash - the sauce would be just the right balance for it.

      And we're back to a spring chill, too. Beautiful and sunny today, but then cool and rainy. I'm not complaining...

  4. Ooo, a new take on spaghetti. I might have to try this.

    I loved living in Rapid City. Of course, the western third of South Dakota is the prettiest. Won't give you much for the rest of the state, at least when it comes to driving. I miss those little jaunts up to see George, Tom, Teddy, and Abe. They were like part of the family:-P

    1. I love driving people up there. First there's some general chit-chat in the car...but then we crest the hill just south of town and they all get that first great view of Harney Peak, the Needles and the back of Mt. Rushmore.


      And then variations on "oh, it's so lovely!".

      I love living here :)

  5. Wow -- just looking at those pictures makes me shiver at the depth of God's imagination. How can anyone believe this earth is just a random cosmic blip when they see that kind of grandeur? I love the starkness of it and the feeling of being able to touch the sky -- at least that's the sense I get from the pictures. Bet everyone was starving by the time they got back to the church!

    So -- two questions regarding the recipe. Do you think I could make it vegetarian just be omitting the meat and tossing in some veggies -- maybe zucchini, carrots and the like? And -- why don't the noodles go all mushy since they are cooked twice?

    How is your puppy? Does he have a name yet? Is it getting close to home time for him?

    1. Kav, as we were hiking we were talking about God's wondrous creation, and then my daughter pointed out that He made all that beauty long before any person laid eyes on it. All for His own glory! And He continues to create that beauty as the wind and water change the scenery day by day.

      I love going there....

      And the recipe: Yes! I'd add some peppers or chilies to add the heat you'll miss by omitting the sausage, but it would be great that way.

      No, the noodles didn't get mushy. The sauce isn't very liquidy, and that may be why. They turned out perfectly.

      And the puppy! Are we friends on facebook? I posted pictures there yesterday. We're not sure which of the three boys will be ours, but they're all darling.

      The current name choice is Thatcher. We'll see if he's still Thatcher once we meet him :)

    2. Another reason for me to start up on Facebook...I'm probably the last hold out! But what's a person to do when you only share puppy pictures that way? My preferred sheltie breeder has two litters available soon and she used to share all the pics on her blog but now it's Facebook for her as well. Bah, I say!

    3. Kav! Look at the post again! Through the magic of editing, I was able to add puppy pictures :)

    4. They are SOOOOOO cute! Adorable.

  6. I'm makin' fun of K-aaaa-aaaav.... !!! Come to Facebook and play with me, Kavalicious!!!! I'll be nice to you, I promise!!!! And I love the pups, Jan! Taylor says that green collar is the coolest, that you HAVE TO GET HIM!!!! She's a "tween", can you tell? Drama-is-us....:)

    I love this, and KAVVVVVVERS! I bet I'd like it better done with veggies than meat. I had a spaghetti squash casserole done once, very much like this, but spaghetti squash "strings" instead of pasta.... SO STINKIN' DELICIOUS!!!!

    Jan, I must come see this. When are you available for tours, honey???? :)

    1. I love being a tour guide, Ruthy, so come anytime!

      And my daughter said the same thing about the green collar puppy. Actually, I think her exact words were "he looked into my soul". Drama isn't confined to the tweens!

  7. Oh, WOW!! I'm getting out my map and circling JAN'S house on my list of places to visit. Holy smokes, what an awesome place!

    I've been through there, even camping for a few weeks once, but I don't remember it being so cool! Probably because I was a surly teenager and resented being told to put down my book. :P

    Love the goat. :D

    1. Surly teenagers miss out on so much, don't they? (That's personal experience speaking.)

      My oldest son's first visit here was a surly teenager type weekend (even though he was far beyond teenager, the surly part fit). Of course, he had a cold, was tired from driving half-way across the country to get here, and it rained almost the entire weekend. Oh, and his air mattress kept losing air. But he still moved up here a year later, so I guess it wasn't too bad.

      He brought his own bed though. No more air mattresses.

  8. Oh, I didn't see the puppies this morning!! So adorable!! I like blue collar. :)

  9. I like the blue collar pup too! looks like 'personality'!
    glad I'm not the only one who didn't notice the puppies this morning!

  10. Missy and Susanna, you aren't going crazy. I added the puppies around noon after Kav said she isn't on Facebook.

    I like the blue collar one, too. But more than the green and orange? It's a good thing we don't have to make a decision right away :)

  11. well guess you kinda gotta go by how the react to you - my lab was the last in the litter and luckily we bonded right away - she waddled over like she knew I was there for her (and nope didn't have food in my hand either!) but I think after having 2 girl dogs that I prefer girls - my friend has 2 males and they fight a lot partly because of their breed and the fact she never got them 'fixed'.

    thank goodness I wasn't going nutty - well I think I might be but not because I didn't see the puppies- I almost always notice cute doggies!