First off, I think it’s almost impossible to get a good picture of a casserole. I don’t care how cute your dishes are or what your background is, casseroles do not lend well to photography. So you’ll just have to trust me that this is a delicious must-try spaghetti casserole! My new go-to place for recipes is Pinterest, and I found this one there recently. It is rare I follow a recipe to the tee, and this one is no exception. I made several adaptations, but I’ll post the original recipe for you, well, because it’s nice to do that for other bloggers!
We all went back for seconds on this one. The combination of the cream cheese inside and the crunchy fried onions on top with lots of melted gooey cheese underneath just screamed comfort food! The other extra element of this was my husband’s homemade spaghetti sauce with spicy cayenne sausage, burger, mushrooms, onions, and red bell pepper. I really have to capture that recipe of his one day, because he usually makes about four quarts of it at a time and it is sooo good! If you start with a good base spaghetti sauce, this recipe will not fail you. I also used a lot of different cheeses on top before the fried onions. This recipe also lends well to making ahead and refrigerating or freezing before reheating. My only regret with this recipe is not using a smaller casserole dish. The recipe called for an 8 x 12 dish, but I used my 9 x 13 lasagna pan instead. It made a pretty “thin” casserole so I just should have gone with my gut feeling to just use my standard 2-quart glass casserole dish instead of the lasagna pan. But it all came out good. Yummy, creamy, crunchy good!
Crunchy Creamy Baked Spaghetti
8 ounces uncooked spaghetti noodles
1/2 cup shredded/grated carrots
1/2 cup chopped onion (I added a couple of chopped green onions to that too)
1 tablespoon butter
1 8-ounce brick of Neufchâtel cream cheese (1/3 less calories than regular!)
4 or 5 cups of good spaghetti sauce, with meat in it (or not)
About two cups of various grated cheeses (I used Parmesan, Mozzarella, and Colby Jack)
1 small container French-fried onions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees if you are going to serve right after cooking. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, add the carrots, onion, and butter to a covered microwavable dish and cook about three minutes. Take it out (it’s hot!) and let it sit while you then add the Nefuchâtel to a small bowl and microwave for about one minute to soften. Add the veggies to the cream cheese and mix well. Once the pasta is done, drain and layer evenly in the bottom of a 2-quart spray-oiled casserole dish. (Notice I did not say lasagna pan.) Next spread the cream mixture on top of that with a spatula. That can get a bit tricky. Make sure the cream cheese mixture is nice and soft, and take big spoonfuls then blob it around on top of the spaghetti then use a spatula (and fingers) to gently spread a nice even layer. Pour the spaghetti sauce evenly over it next, and then start adding all kinds of shredded/grated cheese to the top of that. I put a bunch of different kinds on top. If I were to guess, I bet I used at least two cups. Now either refrigerate or freeze, or pop that baby into the oven and cook for about 30 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is nice and golden and melted. In the last five minutes before serving, add the French-fried onions to the top and cook five minutes more. Dinner is served.
Here is the link to the original recipe. She named it “Scooter’s Spaghetti” after her friend who gave it to her. 🙂