Sunday, November 27, 2011

"kids love it" casserole - spaghetti flavor casserole with spinach (and extra veggies)

I found this recipe on but it was all written out like a food storage recipe so I went to the source which was taste of home.  Then I changed it up plenty from there.  It turned out pretty well.
My changes - lots - too many to list really, sauces used, spices, extra veggies, less meat...
Verdict - older kids ate it fine, and I thought it was fine.  5 year old ate it with no complaint (he griped about orange chicken yesterday but ate it.) However, he left little piles of ground beef on the plate.  3 year old actually ate it - totally surprised me.  I thought he would gripe about the green things, but he griped about the red things.  He actually ate some bites of spinach.  He did leave the more heavily covered pieces of pasta on his plate.  I think he disliked the ground beef as much as the spinach.  Other than that, it seemed well enough liked by everyone.  Nothing spectacular, but likeable, full of veggies, and easy to prepare.  Not to bad for the crazy day I had around here.  (House alarm battery dead, no one in town has a replacement.  2 hours later I finally have one....  this after being up half the night with the thing beeping due to the dead battery -oh, and did I mention DH is out of town.  Yes, I was glad to have a simple to prepare dinner.  Probably why I streamlined the directions so much, but hey it worked, so it's all good right?)
So ideas for next time - puree the spinach, and the crushed tomato sauce to leave no trace of either, just a color to the sauce, and possibly leave out the ground beef??  Neither of the little 2 liked it.

Here's what I did today.


  • 1 pound ground beef - I used 1 contain pre-cooked with onions, salt and pepper.  
  • 1-2 Tablespoons dehydrated onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (I used jarred)
  • 2 (15 oz.) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup cauliflower puree
  • 1/4 cup sweet potato puree
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning (Not sure if I threw in 1 or 2, but it could definitely use 2
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon each thyme, oregano, and basil (added because I couldn't remember if I used 1 or 2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning and I wanted plenty of flavor.)
  • about 10 oz frozen chopped spinach
  • about 10-12 oz small pasta (I used a wagon wheel)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten (I didn't feel like worrying if these would cook when I tossed them in hot casserole so I used 3 Tablespoons powdered eggs
  • about 1 cup sharp cheddar
  • 1/4-1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, to a saute pan, add cooked beef, onions, garlic, spices, spinach, crushed tomatoes and purees, (I just tossed both purees and the spinach in frozen and let them thaw while the sauce heated up.)   Heat through.  Simmer as the pasta cooks, adding a bit of water if necessary to keep it from being too dry.  (I think I added about 1/2 cup water during the cooking process.)  
  3. When the noodles are ready, stir in the cheese and egg (or egg powder.) Add the noodles and stir to combine.  (I probably cooked closer to 12 oz past, but added closer to 10 oz.)  Pour into a greased 9 X 13 pan, top with Parmesan, and bake at 250 for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted.

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