On Top of Spaghetti

When I was pregnant with my third son I craved pasta like a mad woman. I would eat spinach ravioli, cheese ravioli, tricolor noodles with butter, and oh the Kraft macaroni and cheese. I stood in front of the stove only slightly apologetic as I called my older boys for dinner, only for them to see that I’d already polished off half the pot of macaroni, eating straight off the wooden  spoon.  I’ve paid for those days, that’s for sure, but they were worth it. I got a baby out of it!

One thing pregnancy gives you is heightened senses. My cooking talents expanded in the kitchen. One evening I was craving the family style spaghetti from this local place near us called Vince’s spaghetti. (This was the first place we visited after I had my baby boy, by the way!)  The place is very unique.  The food is wheeled out by the waiters on little cafeteria carts and you get a lot.  Minestrone soup, crispy salad, baskets of buttery garlic bread and a heaping plate of spaghetti, snowed on by Italian cheese if you like. 
This is my husband’s plate at home.  See what I mean.  Now that’s a pile of pasta!
Extra Meaty Restaurant Style Spaghetti

1-1 lb package of spaghetti noodles, cooked and drained according to package directions
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1-45oz jar Traditional Ragu spaghetti sauce
1 cup water
1 large onion, chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and grated
7 cloves garlic, pressed
3 Tb dried parsley
1 Tb olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

In a Dutch oven or very large deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook about 2 minutes more. Add carrots and cook 2 minutes more.  Separate vegetables to side of pan and add the lean ground beef. Brown meat, breaking down very well, and continue cooking vegetables, stirring frequently.  When meat is browned combine together with vegetables. Add salt and pepper. 
Slowly pour jarred spaghetti sauce over meat and vegetable mixture.  Add 1 cup water to jar, replace cap and shake to get all the sauce out.  Add water to pot.  Slowly stir in parsley. 
Prepare pasta according to package directions while sauce is simmering.  Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer stirring occasionally for at least 30 minutes.  One day I’ll make this in the crock pot for a crowd. I know that will be good!
To make a quick and easy garlic bread, combine 3 1/2 Tb melted butter with 1 clove pressed garlic and brush mixture with basting brush onto 8 bias slices of french bread.  I prefer french baguettes.  Place bread on cookie sheet under broiler for 2-3 minutes per side.  
Add a crisp salad of your choice and serve with the spaghetti and garlic bread.  Top the spaghetti with plenty of mozzarella or provolone cheese if you like. 

Makes 8 servings. 10 min prep. 50 min total cook time. 

Healthier option:
For a low carb and gluten free option, try a summer spaghetti squash in place of pasta.  This was my healthier version.  Pierce squash with fork and heat in microwave for 5-6 minutes. Slice in half, remove seeds and fluff “noodles” with a fork.  Add sauce and cheese and enjoy.  Serve with gluten free bread or just the salad.  One squash serves 2. 
Finicky Shark option:
My most finicky shark ate meat sauce for the very first time today!!!   That’s Jesse and I in the picture at the bottom of the page.  I was so proud!  
This finicky version was for my 2 year old. Just noodles and plenty of mozzarella cheese!

And no spaghetti dinner is ever complete without some spaghetti kisses!
This meaty veggie filled spaghetti sauce is sure to please, and save money on any Italian restaurant visit.  Enjoy spaghetti lovers!

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