Sunday, January 22, 2023

Million Dollar Baked Spaghetti

A rich baked spaghetti that includes spaghetti noodles mixed with sour cream, cottage cheese, eggs and cheese, topped with a meat sauce and finished with a layer of Cheddar, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

Million Dollar Baked Spaghetti

Million Dollar Spaghetti is another one of those baked casseroles that has been around for a long time, although, it's gotten some recent viral attention on TikTok in the last year.

Like I said in a previous post, with social media, all things old become new again!

Although I am not a TikTok user, or even a fan, I have to admit it is kinda cool to see old recipes getting a revival with some younger folks.

This baked spaghetti earns the name of "million dollar" due to the exquisite richness it gets from the addition of the dairy - usually some combination of sour cream, cottage cheese or ricotta, sometimes cream cheese and a mixture of shredded cheeses.

Yeah. It ain't diet food y'all, but it is delicious!
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While most variations do contain the same basic ingredients, pasta, sour cream, cottage cheese, beef and tomatoes, I have seen it made in a variety of ways, with different types of pasta, and with a variety of dairy, many of which I have tried.

Somewhere along the way somebody added cream cheese, and as always, families have adapted it to their tastes by altering the amounts and ingredients and even the way it is presented in the casserole dish. 

I kept with the theme that is more like a baked spaghetti using long pasta, aka spaghetti aka spaghetti noodles, a beef-based spaghetti meat sauce, cottage cheese, or for some ricotta, sour cream and for cheeses, mozzarella, cheddar and Parmesan for my version, but some variations in this recipe that I've seen include:
  • Using half ground beef and half pork sausage of some kind - often Italian sausage.
  • Substituting 1/2 block of softened cream cheese with a smaller amount of sour cream and the full cup of cottage cheese or ricotta.
  • Using a full block of cream cheese with a cup of sour cream, but no cottage cheese or ricotta.
  • Some recipes use a heated butter and heavy cream alfredo style sauce in place of the sour cream and cottage cheese and mix that with the pasta, finally topping with the meat sauce, cream cheese and shredded cheese. 
  • Some recipes include beaten eggs, others have no egg.
  • A variety of cheeses are used to finish, though most often it's cheddar, mozzarella or a combination of the two.
  • Some folks do two layers of pasta, cream mixture and meat sauce before finishing with shredded cheese.
  • Instead of layering, some mix the spaghetti with the meat sauce and the cottage cheese, pouring it into the casserole dish and then topping with the shredded cheese.
As you can see, there have been a wide variety of ways that folks have made this casserole over the years and I'm sure there are many others I haven't seen yet!

Depending primarily on the type of pasta used - spaghetti, small cut pastas or often egg noodles - this style of casserole is known by several names other than Million Dollar Spaghetti, including Spaghetti Casserole, Divine Casserole (when made with egg noodles), Sour Cream Noodle Casserole, and yes, even A Husband's Delight!

Don't look at me like that! I didn't name it that because as far as I'm concerned, it's delightful to me, the cook aka the Wife, just sayin'...

In my older cookbooks it's often known as simply Beef Noodle Casserole or even just good ole Noodle Casserole.

Here's how to make my version of Million Dollar Baked Spaghetti.

Butter a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish; set aside. Break spaghetti into half or thirds. Unless you're Italian. I'm not. I like to break it down because I'm not superstitious and to make it easier to eat, but you do you depending on your own beliefs and superstitions. Cook pasta al dente in well salted boiling water. Drain, toss with butter and set aside to cool slightly. 

Combine the sour cream, cottage cheese, 1/2 cup of the Mozzarella, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese and beaten eggs. 

Once cooled, add the cream mixture to the pasta and toss. Transfer to the buttered casserole dish.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Meanwhile sauté the onion and bell pepper in the olive oil until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute. 

Add the ground beef, cook, stirring regularly until browned, about 5 minutes. 

Drain off any excess fat.

Stir in the diced tomatoes with green chilies.

Add the pasta sauce. Use your own homemade sauce or whatever your personal favorite grocery store sauce is! I'm using the same base sauce that I use for my semihomemade spaghetti sauce - either traditional Hunt's or Del Monte brand pasta sauce. Both are excellent, but of course there are plenty of quality pasta sauces and marinara sauces out there to choose from. A lot of folks seem to love Rao's sauces

Add the Italian seasoning and stir to combine. You can add other herbs here as well, but I like the Italian blend because it contains a nice combination of them, including marjoram, oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil, and sage. Taste, add salt and pepper, then taste again and adjust seasonings. 

Spoon meat mixture over the spaghetti noodles and spread out to the edges to cover all of the noodles. 

Combine the remaining cup of Mozzarella cheese with the Cheddar and sprinkle evenly on top. 

Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese on top. 

Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until bubbly and heated through in the center.

Let rest 15 minutes before cutting into squares.

By the way, you don't have to cut it into squares! It's just as delicious when scooped out with a pasta server.

For more of my favorite casserole dishes, check out this collection on my Pinterest page!

Unable to view the printable below on your device? Tap/click here.

Posted by on January 22, 2023
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