Monday, April 25, 2016

Spaghetti Pie Casserole

I love trying recipes from Taste of Home magazine. I recently bought one of their specialty magazine/cookbooks called "Ground Beef Cookbook," and this recipe jumped out at me.

First of all, it has cheese. We all know that ground beef and cheese go together like crazy!

Second, it's a different take on the traditional spaghetti pie.

Third, we were having a "Pasta and Music" night at church, and this casserole fit the bill.

What is a "Pasta and Music" night? At our church we have a lot of talented musicians. Everything from fiddle to banjo to drums. People with great singing voices, people who love to learn new instruments, and even a professional musician or two.

For the Pasta and Music night, we have a carry-in supper of - you guessed it - pasta dishes, salads and bread, followed by a jam session. We learn a few new songs, enjoy the talent, and get to know our fellow church-members a little bit better.

Daughter Carrie played her ukulele on some numbers, and her bass on others. Oh, what is that I see on her ring finger? Could it be an engagement ring? Less than seven weeks until the wedding!

On to the recipe -

Spaghetti Pie Casserole
(serves 8 - or you can double the recipe like I did!)


1 8-ounce package spaghetti
1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 14-ounce jar prepared spaghetti sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2  cups (6 ounces) shredded cheddar/Monterey Jack cheese

Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions, then drain.

I used a nice green onion I received in my Bountiful Baskets
delivery last week.

Meanwhile, brown the ground beef, and then drain. Return the ground beef to the pan and add the onion and garlic. Continue cooking until the onion is soft.

Stir in the spaghetti sauce, salt and pepper (I left the salt out) and heat until bubbly.

For the next step, stir the softened cream cheese and sour cream together in a bowl.

Now to put it together:

In a greased baking dish (11" x 7"), spread the spaghetti in the bottom, then spread the cream cheese mixture over the top.

Add the ground beef/tomato sauce mixture on top.

Bake, covered, at 350° for about 25 minutes. Remove the cover, sprinkle with the cheese, then back for an additional 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

I'm sorry I don't have a picture of the finished casserole. It was delicious!

While you're enjoying the casserole, I'm going to take you on a little trip.

We quite often explore the Black Hills on Mondays - and you know I love the Hills. But we also live at the edge of the prairie.

Bear Butte. I took this picture from the north, about
twenty miles from the butte.

When we left the Black Hills and headed north that day, we were looking for another butte in these northern prairies, Castle Rock Butte.

Not as tall as Bear Butte, and much rockier, but worth the drive to see. And if you need something to help with the perspective of the size of this butte, those little black things in the foreground are Angus steers.

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, like the open prairie.

This is high-plains prairie. Vast. Open.

Windy. :)

And silent. You can't imagine the silence of so much open prairie. No cars. No trucks, No airplanes.

No music. No voices. No children arguing or dogs barking.

Only the wind in the grasses and the song of the Western Meadowlark.

Follow this link, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the sound bites in the bottom right-hand corner. Western Meadowlark.

Photo credit: Nelson Draper

Do you see why people say that South Dakota is "miles and miles of miles and miles?"

The prairie makes me smile.

For our discussion today - if you had the choice, would you live on the prairies or in the mountains? Or like me, would you have a hard time choosing?

Jan Drexler loves her family, her home, cooking and just about anything made by hand. But she loves her Lord most of all.

Stop by Jan's website to learn more about her books:


  1. Seven weeks! You're into the single digits countdown!

    1. It is getting close, and my next deadline is even closer! But it is SO. MUCH. FUN. to watch the two of them head toward their Happily Ever After. :)

  2. I've never been to the prairie! But I sure do love the mountains, so would probably have to pick them. I think it's my Kentucky Appalachian blood talking. :)

    Thanks for the recipe! I planned to get this from a friend who has made it in huge batches for church events. Now I don't have to! And I don't have to scale it down now either. :)

    1. The creamy middle layer made this casserole so good. Almost like lasagna with that cheesy goodness, but milder.

      I'm going to have to make this again, and soon!

  3. Oh my stars, I love weddings!!!! And she is going to be such a beautiful bride!

    What a fun idea, pasta and music night. That's just absolutely marvelous, Jan. A fun way to build fellowship, I think I'll print this off and send it to my pastor. :)

    I'm writing prairie historicals right now, and one of the factors is the lack of trees, the vastness of the prairie, the openness of brown on brown, stretching on forever.

    I saw fencing in the picture. Were they using barbed wire for that huge field? They had to be, right? Our fields are much smaller here, because it's Eastern Woodlands, and there are trees everywhere, so going to the prairie was a very different visual and emotional for Easterners who pioneered. I wonder if that added to the loneliness/failure factor. Trying to carve life out of land with few trees and occasional water... What a challenge.

    When I was in Nebraska last year, there are trees all over now, trees that didn't use to exist in the native grassland according to resident expert Mary Connealy. They couldn't fight through the thick thatch. But now, because land has been tilled and planted and bluffs buffered to save topsoil, there are trees all over. They re-seed themselves and it's like seeing the fruition of those early settlers.

    They planted tree claims... and some survived. And now 130 years later, natural shade and boundaries have risen.

    What formed buttes? Do they know, or are they guessing? Because they're always such an interesting shape, without the nooks and crannies of crumbling mountains, the nooks and crannies that catch organic matter and eventually hold top soil and growth.

    1. Back east, where the famous MARY CONNEALY lives, the trees grew on those tree claims and thrived. The wind breaks that were planted succeeded, and the eastern parts of the plains states (think of a vertical line from North Dakota to Texas) have a lot of trees - just enough to tame the prairie, but scattered enough to keep the open feeling.

      Out in the western parts of those same states, it's a lot more arid. Trees don't do well except along the creeks and low spots. Many ranchers build dams at the end of the natural prairie dells, in an effort to catch rain water and hold it. They work pretty well, and you'll often find trees growing around those. Of course the cattle love it! Water and shade!

      The ranch land is all fenced, and they use barbed wire because of the cost. When you're installing 100 miles of fencing, it adds up. The fence in the picture is along the road. Sometimes, on the back roads, the road will go right through a ranch. Then you'll cross a cattle guard (a span of metal rails across the road - the car or truck drives right over it, but the rails are too far apart for the cattle to walk over), drive through an area where the cattle are roaming "at large," and then over another cattle guard.

      The theory of the buttes is that they're old mountains that have worn down. I tend to think that they have been there from times past - antediluvian times, if you want the official term - and stand as sentinels to remind us that what we see now isn't the way things have always been.

      "Back in the Saddle" is waiting (impatiently) on the top of my to-be-read pile, Ruthy. I'm so pumped that you're writing prairie stories!

      What I do know about the buttes, though, is that they're always intriguing and beautiful. They add spots of interest to the prairies!

    2. Somehow Blogger switched those last two paragraphs! You'll have to do your own editing. :/

  4. Love the idea of pasta and music night! That's so clever. And the eats part is so easy to do. Must remember that. In fact, I might have to hold my own pasta and music night in the fall or winter. And I can easily adapt that pie recipe to vegetarian. I've seen one version where they actually twirled the spaghetti around a pie plate so it looked like a crust.

    Prairie or mountains? Well -- never seen the prairie but I know I'd go squirrely without trees. And the wind! Didn't it drive some pioneer women mad? The sound of the howling wind 24/7. Plus no shade. But...I've never been around mountains much either. I'm more of a rolling green hills kind of gal. Me Irish roots are speaking!

    Now this eastern city girl needs to know -- is it 'but' or 'beewwwwt'?

    Happy wedding planning! And anticipating!

    1. You and Missy both! You've never seen the prairies! *shakes her head in unbelieving compassion*

      The wind comes and goes - some days it is windier than others, but the air is always moving.

      The first time we moved to Kansas (Kansas City area - not even the real prairies), I realized I could never wear a wrap-around skirt again. Remember how popular those were in the '80's? Yeah. Not good for modesty on a windy day. :)

      But I fell in love with the prairies when I was much younger. Our family took a couple camping trips to see the west - 4 weeks one year and 5 the following year. It was fabulous, and I fell head-over-heels.

      And you do get used to the openness and lack of trees. Now when we go east to Michigan and Indiana to visit relatives, I start feeling claustrophobic. The trees aren't so bad, but the traffic! The noise! The people!

      Whew! It's a good thing I live where I do! :)

      And it's "beaut." Like in beauty.

  5. I have never seen spaghetti casserole with cream cheese but I am going to try it for sure.

    I am a mountain person through and through but there is something about prairies that reminds me of the beach so I can handle that, especially if I can see mountains in the distance.

    Here I am freaking because the wedding here is 7 MONTHS away. Ack.

    1. Seven months? No problem! LOL - I don't think it matters how much time you have, you're never ready for a wedding, are you? The important thing is that you have a bride, groom, officiant, family and friends. Everything else is just extraneous. :)

      I had never thought of a combination like this casserole - that's why it was so intriguing. But it was so good!

  6. Thanks for using Nelson's photo, Jan. I've been trying to get a decent shot for years, and he took that one the day after I gave him my 2nd best camera while he was out and about.

    I was born in Northern Ontario among the rocks and trees, have lived in all 3 of Canada's prairie provinces, have driven through Alberta's Rocky Mountains, and have driven across the Rockies on both the northern and southern routes to reach the Pacific Ocean.

    But I have to admit - finally - after 20 yrs of living in Southeast Saskatchewan, that the prairies are the best. Probably because I've gotten used to seeing "for miles". Enough hills to show an inspiring vista. And no mountains to block a breathtaking sunrise or sunset.

    As for the buttes, I didn't know what they were at first while driving through Wyoming back in 2009. But they sure caught my attention. I even broke the law a few times when I stopped on the shoulder of the road to take pics.

    And speaking of writing, I must say that buttes are a predominant feature in my yet-to-be-sold Wild Wyoming series. They're like chocolate to me... once I got a taste, I wanted more. :D

    Great job on the post, Jan. I have potluck coming up so this is very timely.

    1. You don't have buttes in Saskatchewan? Do they have them in the prairies of Alberta?

      And thanks again to Nelson for the use of the picture. It's one of the best I've ever seen of the Western Meadowlark. :)

    2. Nope, no buttes in Sask or Alberta.

      Alberta has the Rockies which are topped with peaks.

      Sask has a place called Moose Mountain, but like the other higher elevation areas in this province, it's a hilly wooded area with a great view.

      On my trip down through MT, WY, and CO, I first noticed flat-topped ridges made up of colored layers in Montana. Charlie Russell's famous colors. Perhaps they were a line of buttes, but they all ran together and since I knew it was dinosaur country, it reminded me of our dinosaur areas on either side of the Sask/Alberta border.

      As I neared the MT/WY border, small individual buttes started appearing. Bigger. Stranger. On the Wyoming side, after passing through the grasslands, the buttes became single creations flat topped with sharp blocks that reminded me of castle ramparts.

      I will never forget the sight of the Pumpkin Buttes. I headed northeast from Casper and 2-3 purple plateaus lay like sheet cakes on the horizon, just waiting for birthday candles. I thought they were manmade. Several hours later I pulled over to see what they were since I had reached the closest I would drive to them. It took me awhile to realize that the purple beauties in the distance were the Pumpkin Buttes on the map. Glorious!

  7. I can't eat anything with tomatoes, but this recipe certainly sounds good. I'll pass it along to friends :-) The Pasta and Music night is such a neat idea. Lovely pix of the prairie. Thanks!
    Nancy C

    1. You're welcome, Nancy!

      The Pasta and Music night grew out of a realization that we have so much untapped talent. So we give them a mic and a sound guy, and they do the rest. It's so much fun!

  8. Pasta and music night sounds wonderful and wedding plans sound even better.

    I confess, I've never had spaghetti pie let alone made one. The things you learn at Yankee Belle.

    Thanks for sharing all the amazing photos.

    1. The wedding plans are humming along, mostly because I'm not doing very much at all. The bride and groom are taking care of the details. I do get to go to the dress fittings, though. Maybe I'll use up all my tears there so I can get through the wedding without crying.

      I wasn't able to do that at my own wedding, so I'm not sure why I'll be able to do it at this one!

  9. Mountains. Hands down. Once you see the majesty of the sun rising on the mountains you will understand. The only thing better is water. Water and mountains. Now that's a tough call.