More than just Spaghetti!
My favorite Food...
I have a lot of favorite foods, I admit! But having grown up with a Mom that can cook as great as she does... or my Mother in Law and her Wedding Soup and more... or so many good cooks I met in my life... I guess I developed a taste for good food; especially after living on cold and lousy to begin with cheeseburgers in Kuwait!
I've never been rich in my life; and as a animal rescuer I never will be. Food has to be simple and cheap; but good tasting! Creativity helps with that. You do what you can with what you have!
Food is not just something that fills your stomach and keeps your 'engine' going. It's something that can make your day better or boost your family life! It can give you a few minutes of comfort on a bad day! And while you are out getting it, a break from a stressful job!
If you only have pasta (any kind, your choice) and some cheap Spaghetti Sauce, don't give up on it just yet! There is a lot what you can do with it!
You can boost your plain Spagetti with all kinds of things:
- Bacon Bits
- Any kind of herbs and seasoning
- Whatever ham, lunch-meat, cheese you have in the fritch
If you have a loaf of bread or a large bun, hollow it out and use it as a bowl to eat your Spagetti.
If you have bread, butter, garlic and herbs/seasonings, you can add some home-made garlic bread or spiced bread to the meal.
Pickles, olives and other marinated foods, hard-boiled eggs, fresh parsley make a great garnish.
How to Make Spaghetti
Try out different Sauces
Any good store has a wide variety of good tasting sauces you pick from. And you don't have to just use one or another!
My children and I like to experiment. We have bought different regular (as in tomato based) spaghetti sauces and mixed them together, but we also did it with 'Alfredo'.
I am a big fan of anything but the basic tomato sauce. I guess I grew tired of it a bit. Some of my favorites that you can either buy or make yourself are the Mushroom Alfredo, Sun-dried Tomato Alfredo, Pamesano Alfredo and a Shrimp Alfredo I had in a restaurant. There are also lots of other varieties. When you make your own you are fully open for experiments or just pleasing your own taste. You can add bacon, different cheeses, sausage or ham, herbs and seasonings; whatever you personally like. The only limits are your imagination and wallet!
Another sauce I have used before that is my children's favorite: Cheese sauce. I am honestly a bit tired of mac n' cheese and this is similar... But why not try it with different cheeses? Who says it has to be the boring American Cheese sauce? There are so many cheeses out there; even if you don't have the variety available that Europeans do!
It's all about what you like! And, of course, the ingredients and the additions have to match/go together. Light sauces go great with seafood, ham, sausage or even Italian sausage. Red sauces go with almost anything. Cheese sauces almost do too.
Don't want Sauce?
Then don't use it! I rather eat Spaghetti without sauce than the constant tomato sauce. Like I said, it got a little old after a while. No matter what service in which country, the food isn't exactly gourmet! So why not make Spaghetti without sauce?
It doesn't take much. You take your meat and use the skillet you browned it in to come up with a bit of a non-regular Spaghetti sauce. Just brown your meat, add the vegetables of hour choice, add your seasonings and mix the pasta in with it.
My personal choice is one of the different Mediterranean mixes you can buy at the store. Add a little butter to it and it makes a great meal.
I don't have to have sauce or anything else with it. Sometimes when I am in a hurry or just in for something plain, I just add Maggie. It's a German seasoning and really doesn't have a name other than the one of the company who makes it. My Mother in Law thinks it tastes like Soy Sauce, but I think it is much better. Add a little Maggie, some Pamesano and maybe some bacon bits... Quick Fix!
- MAGGI® Seasonings | NESTLÉ® USA
MAGGI Liquid Seasoning To be honest, I don't need much more than Maggi, maybe some Parmesano, and maybe some bacon bits to add to some pasta. It's quick and easy: Cook the pasta, top it with cheese and bacon bits and season it with Maggi to taste.
You don't have to just boil them!
There are many ways to make Spaghetti and it doesn't have to be in the pot!
On the bottom of this article you will find a few recipes for a form of Spaghetti pizza and some similar items. I actually had mac n' cheese pizza at a pizza place not too long ago and it wasn't bad; considering I don't like mac n' cheese anymore. grin
You can make them the old fashioned way in a pot and serve them in a bowl.
Or you can just throw it all in a crockpot and let it cook itself. Be sure to use crockpot-safe pasta, since most other pastas will taste bad if you slow cook them. Or you let your crockpot run on high until the water bubbles and then add everything.
You can also pre-cook them a little and throw your entire 'mix' in a glass dish into the oven. You don't have to use eggs and make a 'Nudelauflauf' out of it. You can simply cook them in the oven, cover them with some bread crumbs (the fine ones) and cheese and bake them until the cheese is nice and brown.
You can use different baking sheets and muffin pans to create different shapes, if you want to get a little fancy about it. Or use small ceramic bowls for individual servings.
One of my favorite ones was pasta baked with a lot of cheese and a little egg to make it stick together. After baking it you flipped them over on a plate and garnished it with fresh and colorful vegetables, cheese and fresh herbs. A killer!
Meat Lover's Spaghetti
Spaghetti can be topped by any sauce and with any meat in it. You are not limited to the standard items. Or the standard way of cooking them!
I have tried several different approaches before, but my favorite is still to cook the meat in the Spaghetti pot. Add a tiny bit of oil (I hate grease on my plate!) and brown the meat and any additions such as onions, garlic or peppers that you like. Set it aside and cook your pasta. Add the meat and stir in the sauce. If you make your own sauce you can either make it before or after the meat and use the same or a different pot. Make sure you mix it well! I hate being the one that gets the last bit and all the sauce is gone.
I have tried a Mexican type Spaghetti before using ground meat (I prefer Turkey) and some Taco seasoning. I fried the meat with onions, garlic and peppers and added lots of Taco seasoning. I used a more rustic type of pasta that kind of fit with the theme. And my sauce wasn't out of the jar, but some fresh diced tomatoes and some fresh green herbs. I added some sweet corn and some jalapenos for a bit of a kick. And of course some cheese on top for garnish.
My boys love meat. So we mixed Italian sausage, bacon and Pepperoni together with some regular red sauce. Since it was more about the meat, there was more of it in it and the sauce was thicker.
A Italian themed Spaghetti dinner would probably go well with some Italian sausage, maybe some Italian bacon (Prosciutto?) and vegetables that remind you of Italy like Olives. Roma tomatoes look great and fresh herbs are always a must.
I'm Texan by choice and I love steaks. So I don't see anything wrong with slicing a well made steak and adding it in or on the sauce. While I would normally top my pasta with chili rather than red sauce, it is not a requirement. You can use any kind of vegetable that reminds you of Texas (Corn, Okra, Jalapenos) and leave the tomato sauce completely out; or just mix them under. With a Texas sauce it would have to have a kick to it. Sorry, Texans are tough and won't squirm away from a little spiciness! grin
There are many kinds of sausages out there and some of the smoked ones are almost as great as what the Turkish store in Germany sold. Slice them or dice them and add them into or on your sauce! Keep a few small pieces as garnish!
Chicken and Turkey are my favorite meats besides deer. I love the fact that I can eat relatively low-calorie and have a great tasting addition to my Spaghetti. I usually prefer both with a light sauce and a wide variety of cheeses as garnish.
Don't like meat?
I enjoy an occasional steak or some other meats, but it doesn't have to be with every meal. I rather have a fresh salad or some nice, buttery vegetables.
So if you don't like meat or want to use both, there is a wide variety of vegetables you can use to make your Spaghetti less boring. Using sauce or not, is totally up to you.
A 'sauce' my best friend Linda (http://cat-r.hubpages.com/_GermanHellCat/hub/Everlasting-Pastures) taught me has all of my favorite ingridients in it.
I cut different colored bell peppers, onions, garlic and mushrooms up and saute them with some ground turkey. The only seasoning I use is paprika and a pepper mix (I get bored with plain peppers!). You can add the mix to a sauce or let it be the sauce itself. Or you can add some tomato paste, -sauce, and diced tomatoes to it and make your own sauce. It is almost like how I make my ratatouille, only minus the squash, zucchini and egg plant.
Another option would be to cut squash, zuchini and peppers into strips and saute them with butter. It will make for a colorful addition to your pasta and their 'personal' taste will round up your pasta nicely.
How about mushroom Spaghetti? Go to your local store and buy a wide variety of mushrooms, saute them in butter and season with some pepper and some fresh herbs. You could also thicken them up a little with starch and add a little red wine. I am a mushroom fanatic and eat them in any form, shape or color (as long as they are not poisonous! lol).
A while ago I tried something a little different. I had used creme of mushroom soup and creme of chicken soup on pasta before, but it got old too. So I bought some creme of asparagus soup, sauteed some fresh asparagus (the canned one does well too and you can use the 'juice' to make your own sauce!) and arranged everything on a plate. Or, if you don't like the soup idea, just saute the asparagus in butter and arrange it on your pasta. If you use both green and white asparagus, it makes for a nice color pallet. Don't' forget to season it to taste!
I love spinach pizza. So I tried a Alfredo sauce with sauteed spinach and ricotta cheese. OH MY GOD! Add fresh and home-made garlic bread and it is a killer. And if you want some meat, add some ham!
Make it 'International'!
One of my favorite restaurants had a Spaghetti dish that included 'blackened' chicken. For the life of me I don't know what kind of sauce came with it, but it being Texas, it had to be Texanized. It came with a few different vegetables I know from Texan cooking (black beans, cherry tomatoes, corn) and I belief the sauce was cold something 'Pesto'. It had a creamy taste to it, but the seasoning was definitely Texan and had a 'kick' I liked.
I have tried different pre-made and frozen pasta varieties before and liked a lot of the ideas. There is the Schezwan sauce that goes great with pasta, but you can also use any other sauce you like. It doesn't necessarily have to be a sauce made for pasta. Sometimes you can buy different meats with a pre-mix sauce with it. Just add pasta and poof, you have a different kind of spaghetti. This works well with a lot of Asian sauces.
Gulasch is in itself a great food, but I like it with pasta rather than with potatoes. Since I don't have a good recipe anymore and no access to the international spices you can buy in any supermarket, it is hard to make. I looked up a few seasoning mixes online and it helps me come up with a half decent recipe. It will never replace the tasty 'Hungarian Gulasch' seasoning found in Germany, but it does OK.
The basic idea is simple: Diced beef fried with sweet and spicy paprika (aka chili), garlic, pepper and a lot more. If you are lucky and you can find it or the 'Gyros Gewuerz' found in German stores, you are in for a tasty treat. Otherwise, Emerile's seasoning is very good too.
Gulasch Seasoning - The Secret Ingredient to good Pasta Sauce
- Bobby\'s Goulash Recipe : Paula Deen : Food Network
Food Network invites you to try this Bobby's Goulash recipe from Paula Deen.
- Goulash seasoning - CookEatShare
- Knorr Entree Mixes-Beef Stew (Goulash) Recipe Mix, 2.4-Ounce Pouches (Pack of 12): Amazon.com: Groce
Knorr Entree Mixes-Beef Stew (Goulash) Recipe Mix, 2.4-Ounce Pouches (Pack of 12): Amazon.com: Grocery & Gourmet Food
Seafood, my favorite food Group!
I love seafood!
Take whatever seafood you like and it will make a great addition to your Spaghetti.
When you add it to a sauce, I personally prefer to use a light sauce (as in white: Alfredo or similar) that doesn't have a very intensive flavor that would overpower the flavor of the seafood. Shrimp, oysters and mussels do well with sauce. And so does crab meat.
If you don't like sauce, you can also use some smoked fish such as salmon (it is OK with sauce, but I like the straight salmon taste mixed with garlic butter and fresh herbs), mackerel, tuna (OK with sauce, but has a great taste by itself), Eal or a simple mix of seafood that includes both fish and types of crawfish and such. If it is smoked, you really don't have to do much to it. If it needs cooked, saute it with a bit of butter and fresh herbs, but don't overcook it.
The Morning After
So what to do with the leftovers?
Linked to the picture is a simple recipe for 'breakfast' Spaghetti. I just throw the leftover pasta in a skillet, add some eggs, diced tomatoes, bacon/ham/sausage/lunch-meat, cheese and whatever else sounds good... and fry them in the skillet.
Or I dump it all in a bowl, add a few eggs and cheese to let it stick together, mix it up well and bake it in the oven. If you cover the top with cheese, it will become nice and brown! Yummy!
My Ex liked Spaghetti sandwiches. Use simple French bread, cut it open, add Spaghetti and enjoy!
I made some pizza dough once and rolled it out on the counter. I added the Spaghetti and Meatballs and folded it together into a half-moon shape. I baked it in the oven until the dough was done.
Spaghetti freeze well too, if you want to keep some in the freezer for a quick meal during short lunch breaks.
Or.... I think about all the work it took to cook them, make me a bowl I heat up in the microwave ... and sit on my back porch to look at my pond!
I'm not afraid of leftovers! If something was good, I can eat it more than once! And where I come from you don't waste food!
Quick n' Easy or Gourmet Food
Spaghetti is one word with nine letters and a thousand options to enjoy it. The variety of pasta, vegetables, meats, sea-foods, seasonings, herbs, sauces and other flavors you can add gives you a thousand and one options on what to do with it!
Just using olive oil instead of vegetable oil can change your flavor!
You can make a quick meal out of it that won't take you more than 30 minutes to prepare (See my hub on 30 minute food ideas!); or you can turn it into a gourmet meal that will leave even fancy guests impressed.
Just changing the way you prepare them, or simply changing the way you serve them from a plain bowl to a bread loaf with a colorful variety of garnishes, can turn a 'boring' bowl of Spaghetti into a great meal.
More important: You don't have to prepare this meal alone!
This is a great opportunity to bring your family in the kitchen, hand out tasks and cook a meal together!
When searching for some great pictures, I found so many varieties of recipes from different countries. There are Jewish-, Chinese-, Italian-, and so many more recipes that sound amazing. I am sure that even Rednecks have their own recipe (probably using roadkill as meat, if you ask my Redneck friends! lol)!
It doesn't have to be expensive ingridients to turn 'boring' Spaghetti into something good! Who has the money to be 'fancy' in today's economy?!
The best ingredient is your imagination!