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I have spent the last 2 hours reading your newsletter and wonderful recipes. I have already printed a whole bunch I want to try. I love them because they are using ingredients one has on hand. I love that and just wanted you to know how much we appreciate all your hard work in putting together this newsletter. Thank you very much.


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       Volume I - March 21, 2008

SMART Ideas!

Oh, That Versatile Spaghetti!

by Alice Osborne

Who would have thought spaghetti pasta had a life other than… ummm… spaghetti? Well, it does!

We’ve tried several spaghetti pie recipes before. This one is different. It reminded us of a cross between spaghetti and lasagna—with spaghetti noodles of course. It’s easier to make than one might guess and even my pickiest kid gobbled this up.

Preparation has four parts: browning the meat and vegetables, cooking the noodles, assembling the pie, and baking the pie. None are complicated and the pie goes together reasonably quickly. (And thinking of it in four parts helped keep me organized.)

Spaghetti Pie

about 3/4 pound spaghetti noodles cooked
al dente, almost tender
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 pound ground Italian sausage
2 cups, about 15 ounces, ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
1 tablespoon dry basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 jar of spaghetti sauce, 26 to 32 ounce
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Baker’s note: This is a large dish — it won’t fit in a nine-inch pie pan. A springform pan is ideal because you can cut the finished pie into attractive wedges.

Prepared a 10-inch springform pan by lightly greasing the insides.

1. Cook the spaghetti.
2. Sauté the onion, green pepper, and sausage until well-browned.
3. Mix the ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, eggs, oregano, salt, pepper, and basil together in a large bowl. Add the meat and vegetable mixture.
4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Assemble the pie by placing one half the noodles in the prepared springform pan. Pour one half of the spaghetti sauce over the noodles. Spoon one half of the cheese and meat mixture over the spaghetti sauce. Cover the mixture with the other half of the noodles, then the rest of the spaghetti sauce, and finally, the rest of the cheese and meat mixture. Top the dish with the remaining mozzarella cheese.
5. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes or until just set. Remove the foil and bake for another five minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for ten minutes. Remove the ring and serve the pie.

  Download this recipe.

Cheese Cream Sauce

Baker’s Note: Some of our testers thought this was a bit dry (Alice and Patty didn’t, though). So we’ve included a cream sauce in case you would like to serve it with your spaghetti pie.

4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups half and half or one cup milk and one cup cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pinch white pepper
1 pinch ground nutmeg
3/4 cup grated mozzarella

1. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Whisk in the flour. Add the half and half a little at a time, stirring well after each addition, until you have a smooth sauce. Add the remaining half and half.
2. Cook over medium heat, stirring nearly constantly, until the sauce starts to bubble and thickens. Cook over low heat for two more minutes.
3. Add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cheese. Stir until smooth.

  Download this recipe.

Oriental Chicken Pasta Salad

This is our favorite pasta salad. With chicken and vermicelli, it is substantial enough for a main dish and has a very nice mixture of subtle flavors with a little kick from the ginger.

8 to 10 ounces of uncooked vermicelli
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground ginger
2 chicken breasts, grilled or fried and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, cut into pieces and cooked until crisp-tender
1/2 cup slivered peanuts
1 8-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1/2 cup matchstick carrots
1/2 cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, snipped

1. Cook the vermicelli according to the instructions on the package. Drain and rinse them in cold water.
2. Make the dressing by mixing the mayonnaise, yogurt, sugar, soy sauce, and ground ginger together.
3. In a large bowl, toss the pasta, chicken pieces, red bell pepper, almonds, water chestnuts, carrots, and cucumber with the dressing. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with the cilantro.

  Download this recipe.

(If YOU have a smart idea, won't you share it? Life is so much easier and we accomplish so much more when we pool our resources. And after all, we're all in this together. So email or with YOUR Smart Ideas!)

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