Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sunset on Summer - Cue the “Comfort Food” - Volume I - Mexican Spaghetti Bake

Sunset over Sand Key Beach, Clearwater, FL

Farewell, summertime.  I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA.  Being a Yankee by birth, we tend to start craving the "comfort foods" right about Labor Day.  This year is no exception. 

I spoke to a few friends, northern and southern, and they all seem to agree.  There is some kind of a "clock" that goes off inside you this time of year.

So for the next three weeks, leading into the fall, I will be presenting simple weeknight comfort foods that don't heat up the house very much -- it is still "technically" summer.   Who wants a 450 degree oven going this time of year?

Because I write my recipes from the perspective of a 50-year-old who  has to jump around her living room to exercise DVD's just because she looks at a dish of pasta, I've lightened the recipe up.  I thought you'd appreciate that, too!

I know you are going to love this series.  Enjoy!

Here we go!


1 lb. country pork ribs
10 ounces spaghetti sauce (from the jar – your favorite brand)
4 ounces mild enchilada sauce
1 tbs. ground cumin
1/8 cup chopped Poblano, seeded
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1/8 cup chopped sweet onion
1 tbs. chopped fresh cilantro, plus extra for topping casserole  
4 1/2 ounces cooked thin whole grain spaghetti
1/4 cup 1/3 less fat cream cheese with chives
1/4 reduced fat sour cream
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Other:  Cooking spray


The day before you plan to prepare the casserole, combine the ribs, spaghetti sauce, enchilada sauce, ground cumin, Poblano and Jalapeño pepper, sweet onion, and 1 tbs. of the chopped cilantro to a slow cooker.  Cook over low heat for about six hours. 

Pull pork with fork.  Let cool and refrigerate in a covered container over night.*

Preheat oven to 350º F.


Prepare pasta just short of al dente per package directions.  Drain.  Add to mixing bowl along with the cream cheese and sour cream.  Mix pasta well.


Add to small casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray.  Top with cold pork sauce and cheddar cheese.  Bake for approximately 35 minutes. 


Top with fresh cilantro.  Let rest about 10 minutes before serving.  
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