My recipe box is full of memories. In my mind, the recipe and the memory are synonymous. The cards don’t just say “From the Kitchen Of” they literally say “Allison’s corn casserole”, “Katie’s biscuits”, and “Tara’s pumpkin bread”. Each one represents “That time”.
……..That time I visited you in California and you made this for supper and I asked for the recipe.
………That time your family came over when we lived in Memphis and you brought those cookies and we ate them all gone and the girls begged me to get your recipe.
Many of them are marked up and bubbled with spills and wet edges- badges of honor that testify just how many times they’ve come out of the box and onto my table. The recipes written in the handwriting of the giver are the most treasured of all. When I’m searching for a particular recipe, I often identify the handwriting before the actual title on the card.
While cleaning my parents’ basement my sister recently found my grandmother’s lemon cake recipe. That recipe equals me standing beside her on a stool in the kitchen while she let me lick the extra glaze and eat as many pieces of cake as I wanted. The rejoicing that accompanied that find was greater than if we found a crisp $100 bill. It went into my recipe box as soon as possible and was made with my daughter’s help (and lots of love!) just a few days later.
Each recipe represents a legacy that I have the honor of sharing with others. Each time I move and make new friends and join new circles, I get credit for the fabulous recipe heritage I’ve brought with me. Like pieces of character shaped by my friends, my recipes add depth to what I can contribute to my neighbors, my church, or my new social circles everywhere the Lord moves us. Until Meghan challenged us to think about our recipes, I didn’t even realize what a treasure they are to me!
Before I go further in this recipe love affair, however, I need to make an important disclaimer: I’m Southern. My favorite recipes aren’t so much an exact formula as much as a rough idea. There’s not a lot of exact measuring going on. I see instructions like “add enough to make it creamy but not goopy” as completely reasonable. If you don’t share that sentiment, I’m really sorry because my recipe for this post is full of approximate measurements!
So how do I chose just one? Best tasting? Most popular? Most loved? Deepest memory? I decided on Jen’s Baked Spaghetti for a two reasons: it’s delicious with a spicy/sweet kick that most folks aren’t expecting AND it’s great for making for a large group. Even though I cook for 7 regularly, I’m still a little intimidated when we have friends over. How much should I make? Will it be enough? I don’t want leftovers for days! So, use this little dandy and you’ll be set for company with confidence! Without further ado-
Jen’s Baked Spaghetti Recipe
(aka “That time you hosted an evening baby shower for Carmen and made this so that the ladies coming from a full day of work would have something substantial to eat before the petit fours.”)
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 2 cans petite diced tomatoes
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 lb spaghetti noodles
- red pepper flakes (to taste)
- chili powder (to taste)
- onion powder (to taste)
- garlic powder (to taste)
- 1 lb grated sharp cheddar cheese
Brown ground beef and drain off fat. Add both cans diced tomatoes (don’t drain the cans first). Add spices to taste. Add brown sugar. Simmer for 30 minutes. (Do not let it get dry. If it starts to dry out, add water.) *This is also a great time to try it and see if you want to add more spices. While ground beef mixture is simmering, boil noodles until tender. Drain. Mix with hamburger mixture in 9x13 casserole dish. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. The last 5-10 minutes sprinkle with the sharp cheddar. Bake until melted but not brown.
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