Celebrating the weekend with a Great Italian Feast


"I reach hearts by cooking meals, by washing sheets and fluffing pillows, by reading a favorite book one more time even though I have it memorized."

Sally Clarkson, The Lifegiving Home

Oh, no! It's dinner time again and everyone will want to eat!"

But it is the rhythms, the regular meals, the daily traditions that make memories and spell love in the hearts of my family. Meals make memories.

Do you ever feel like it's hard one more night to figure out what everyone wants to eat?

I have had a pretty overwhelmingly busy week--launch, arranging details, hotel rooms, meals, meeting with Clay, writing my talks for the Mom Heart Conference, and just living life with my present family of four. And every night this week when dinner comes around, with several of us trying to lose the Christmas weight, I wonder what to make?

However, Friday night starts our weekend and we take off on the weekends and eat our favorite meals. We are pretty healthy 5 days a week, but weekends are for celebrating. In my home, having a stash of my favorite "go to" meals, helps me not to think--but just to to recipes I know by heart. Food makes memories, food draws hearts, food soothes weary bodies.

It will smell like a fine Italian restaurant in our home tonight, and it is all due to a beautiful recipe I have made for years.- Spaghetti Pie! ( It is Nathan's favorite, so I make it every time he comes home! A definite comfort food for everyone! And it is easier than Lasagna--but just as pleasing!

Since I am writing about home a lot lately, I thought I would give you a window into one of our favorite meals that brings comfort to all because it is so familiar and tasty.

This recipe begs to be doubled or even tripled! It is a quick and easy way to make a dinner that tastes like mom’s homemade lasagna, although it only takes a fraction of the time to assemble and cook! I love to make lunch - size spaghetti pies by using a muffin tin. This gives you 12 go-to after school snacks or a great addition to your salad at lunch! Cook, cool, wrap up in plastic and place them all in a gallon size ziplock bag and place in the refrigerator.

Ingredients: 2 tsp olive oil 1/2 cup onion - diced 8 oz baby portabella mushrooms - diced 1 pound ground beef (or 1/2 pound Italian sausage 1/2 pound ground beef) 1/2 tsp garlic salt (or 1 clove fresh minced garlic) 1 tsp dried oregano (or Italian seasoning) 1 tsp dried basil Salt and pepper to taste 6 - 8 oz. spaghetti noodles (depending on your pie dish) 2 Tbsp butter (optional) 3/4 cup parmesan cheese 2 eggs - well beaten 1 cup cottage cheese - blended 1 8 oz can of diced tomatoes 1 6 oz can of tomato paste OR 1 small can of tomato sauce 1 tsp sugar 1 - 2 cups fresh mozzarella cheese - grated *Optional: pinch of Italian seasoning to finish on top of mozzarella

 Directions: In your skillet, over medium high heat, saute onions in olive oil until translucent. Add the mushrooms and saute until cooked through. If using fresh garlic, add garlic and stir into the onion and mushroom mixture for 1 minute. Add ground beef to the skillet and stir until completely cooked. Add dried herbs, salt & pepper to taste. In a colander, carefully drain off any excess oil. Return the meat mixture to the skillet and return to a medium heat. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar and garlic salt if not using fresh garlic. Turn off heat and set aside. You can also use immersion blender for sauce if your kids are not fond of a more rustic style sauce with diced tomatoes. This will make your sauce a smoother spaghetti meat sauce.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook spaghetti per instructions on package. Drain. Then stir in butter, parmesan, and eggs into the warm spaghetti. Pour spaghetti mixture into a 10 inch pie dish and press in to form a spaghetti crust. Spread the cottage cheese on top of the crust. Add meat sauce mixture. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes then remove from oven and top with shredded mozzarella cheese and return to oven to bake for 5 minutes longer to melt cheese.

Cultivating a delicious meal that "wows" your family doesn't have to be time consuming and filled with extreme difficulty. Turn your home into your favorite Italian restaurant tonight. Light candles, put down your favorite red tablecloth, and you can even grab the "Little Italy 1930 Radio" station from Pandora for free (it is so much fun and really creates the Italian ambiance)!

Enjoy Little Italy tonight!

Happy Weekend!