To top off our food week at, we would like to bring our love of food back home where it all began – Home Cookin’.  There is something about home cooked food, whether it is the familiarity, the love that is put into making it, or the person making it has a lot of talent.  In my family’s case all three are true; my mother is a great cook and can make any type of cuisine.  I was always amazed that after she balanced work, getting us to our after school activities and helping us with our homework, she still found the time to make us gourmet meals.  I am sure you, our readers, have similar experiences with your parents and families and the over scheduled lives of the recent generations.

While I can write an entire article bragging about how awesome my Mom’s overall cooking tastes, I would prefer to tell you about our family’s favorite dish with the hopes it sparks a memory for you and your families.

I think every family has that favorite dish that is served at holiday gatherings, birthdays, or maybe is a staple at family dinners every week.  My family isn’t any different in this love of a specific dish; we just take it to a whole new level.  Our family’s dish is baked spaghetti, and as my brother jokingly puts it, baked spaghetti is something that can be served in our family at breakfast lunch and dinner.  Because it is delicious, I am only slightly embarrassed to admit he speaks the truth.  He and I have warmed up the leftovers for breakfast many times throughout the years and it is as tasty for breakfast as it was served fresh for dinner the night before.

Home Cookin' w/ Baked Spaghetti
Not only is the baked spaghetti delectable but it has a great story of its genesis.

My maternal grandfather was a career military officer and he served for over 25 years.  In those days and I think still today, you were paid once a month in the service, so money would get tight towards the end of the month.  And as money got tight at the end of the month, my grandmother, who was the best cook in the family, had to become very inventive with the ingredients they had to feed my mother and her two sisters.

One of these “end of the months” she opened up the cupboard, refrigerator, and freezer and pulled out all the staples she had left in the house.  This included spaghetti noodles, ground beef, tomato sauce, tomato puree, tomato paste, tomato juice, garlic, Italian seasoning, cheese, and olives.  She boiled the noodles until they were al dente, browned the meat with the olives mixed in, and warmed up the tomato ingredients with the garlic and Italian seasoning in a separate pot.  After cooking all the components separately she mixed everything together in a casserole dish and added the cheese throughout and on top.  She then baked it at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes covered with tin foil, and then removed the tin foil for five minutes to brown the cheese on top to give it a crispy crust.

At that point she had no idea that she had just created something that her entire family would immediately love and request for every special occasion and for many dinners to come.  All she thought she was doing was being clever and frugal with what she had left to eat in the house.

Many of you understand the idea of visiting home because most of us in DC are transplants or ex-patriots of our home states, generally working for Members of Congress, think tanks, trade associations, law firms, the administration, interning for the summer, going to school here, etc.  So visiting home is an important part of your life for many reasons.  It keeps you grounded and shows you a different perspective in life outside the beltway.  For me it is the same, the baked spaghetti just makes the homecoming even sweeter.

Below are the ingredients needed to recreate the dish and the entry above has the simple steps to make the dish.  Please tell us about your family favorites in the comment section or you can send us an email of your favorite recipe for us to try.

Baked spaghetti Ingredients:

• 1lb ground sirloin
• Spaghetti noodles ( a box of noodles)
• I3 oz. can of tomato sauce
• 13 oz. can of tomato puree
• 13 oz. can of tomato juice
• 8oz. can of tomato paste
• Garlic (add the amount to your liking, everyone is different, we personally love garlic)
• Italian Seasoning (also add the amount to your liking)
• Salt and pepper (about a teaspoon of both, add when you mix all the ingredients or add it to the sauce)
• Butter (a table spoon added to the noodles after boiling)
• Small can of black olives chopped up (you can substitute olives with mushrooms or you can add both)
• Chili powder (we add a teaspoon to the tomato mixture to give it a little kick but not necessary if you don’t like chili powder)
• Sugar (add a teaspoon if the sauce is a little sour/acidic, also not necessary if you already like the taste of the tomato sauce)

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