Cold, Cold, Cold!

It’s been unreasonably cold here in Colorado for the past few days, so much so that most school districts were closed yesterday and a significant number were closed today. While the weather we are having is NOTHING like the weather the my friends are experiencing in Illinois I have become somewhat spoiled and am no longer used to the bitter cold temps.

I’m 3 for 3 in terms of cooking dinner this week and I have to say that it’s pretty freaking awesome. Sadly I know that this won’t continue with my crazy schedule but if I can get it together and use the crock pot a few times a week I think this pattern can continue to an extent. Last night we made baked spaghetti and it was delicious! I’d like to thank the lovely Paula Deen for the recipe, especially since it contained…no butter! We tweaked the recipe a bit and it was still awesomely delicious!

Baked Spaghetti (adapted from Paula Deen)

  • 4 cups canned diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 small diced onion
  • 1 diced green bell pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 bunch chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons seasoning salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 small bay leaves
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 box uncooked thin spaghetti
  • fresh mozzarella sliced into circles
  • 8 oz. cheddar cheese
  • 16 oz. grated parmesan

In a large pot sauté onions, peppers and seasonings until the onions are soft and translucent. Add in the tomatoes, tomato sauce and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and let simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Brown the ground beef in a large skillet. Cook until browned, with no pink color left. Drain the fat from the meat and add it to the large pot. Simmer for an additional 20 minutes. While it simmers cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. Take a 13x9x2 inch pan and cover the bottom with sauce. Add a layer of spaghetti and two handfuls of cheese. Repeat the layers ending with the sauce. Bake in oven for 15 minutes. Top with mozzarella circles, place it back in the oven and continue to let it cook for another 20 minutes.

Serve with a green salad and garlic bread!

Tortilla Soup

  • Canola oil (enough to coat the pot)
  • 2 cans rotel tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 6 C. Chicken broth
  • 4 chicken breasts, poached and shredded
  • Paprika
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Chili Powder
  • Garlic Powder

In a large pot sauté the onions, carrots, celery and bell pepper until soft. Add in the tomatoes, broth and seasonings (I don’t measure I just sprinkle!) Let simmer for 30 minutes, then add in the corn and the beans. *( you could add in the chicken now but I’ve found that since we like to eat this for leftovers for quite a few days the chicken isn’t as good. If that’s the case then keep the shredded chicken in a separate bowl and add as you eat!) Let simmer for a few more minutes then serve in big bowls.

Top with cheese, sour cream, tortilla strips or crumbled chips, green onions, fresh tomatoes, cilantro or anything else!

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