Tammy's August News
August 2006... Spaghetti Casserole recipe and Message Board News
by Tammy Davis
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NOTES FROM TAMMY
MESSAGE BOARD UPDATES
Hi everybody! Hope you all are having a great summer! Mine has been busy, but good so far. Cant believe school starts this month!
I didnt plan to take a couple months off from doing my newsletters, but Ive been so busy, it just worked out that way! My husband got an unexpected bonus from work in Feb, and we decided to take the family to Disney. I was a travel agent for 10+ years, and I never spent so much time planning a trip!!!
Besides planning our air, car and hotel, I planned every day. It had been about 12 years since my last visit to Disney, and I knew there was a LOT to see! I wanted to make sure we saw everything the kids, ages 8, 11 and 13, wanted to see. But we needed to have an easy pace, because my 79 year old mother-in-law was coming along for her first trip to Disney. I found The Unofficial Guide to Disney to be an invaluable resource. I used their touring plans and cheat sheets, which were almost priceless for us!
We spent 10 days in Orlando in early June. It was HOT and Tropical Storm Alberto rained on us a day or two, but we had an awesome time! Grandma kept up with us, and didnt take any days off, coz she didnt want to miss anything. We were there for Star Wars Weekends at MGM Studios, which my kids just LOVED!! They are Star Wars fans (my daughters puppy is Ani, after Anakin) and couldnt wait to get their pictures taken with the Star Wars characters. The kids loved EPCOT most of all. Grandma is rather gullible, and the Disney characters were all very real to her. She stood in line with the kids to get their autograph and her picture taken with them. The characters treated Grandma extra-special so she enjoyed it even more. One of the kids said Boy, the characters really like our Grandma! It was so very neat to see everybody enjoy the different parts of the parks. We made lots of great memories, and I have tons of digital pictures to prove it!
Ive gotten out of the habit of cooking for a month at a time for a variety of reasons. I decided this month that they really werent very good reasons, and I missed the convenience of having lots of meals in the freezer. I've gotten in a rut serving the same meals too. So I decided on Tuesday to cook on Friday. I had to work all my planning and shopping around dentist appointments, middle school orientation and defrosting my large upright freezer. But the important thing was I was doing it! Grandma helped me put recipes together on Fri and we got most of them done. I still have some recipes to do yet this week. Got one in the slow cooker for dinner tonite, with the rest to go in the freezer. Read posts about our cooking day on the message boards.
It is such a wonderful feeling to know my meals are in the freezer for the next month, my menus are planned and I dont have to worry about it! No more last minute trips to Wal-Mart coz theres nothing for dinner. Or spending extra money eating out coz its easier. Why did I ever think my reasons for not putting a month of meals away at a time was a good idea? The calm and peace Im feeling about my meals is something Id forgotten about. Dont think Ill be forgetting that anytime in the future!
We have a new favorite recipe at our house. It's Spaghetti Casserole, and I got it from my aunt when we went to AL to visit. The sauce has some chili sauce and Worcestershire sauce in it, so it has a little zing to it that 'regular' spaghetti doesn't have.
It also has Cream of Mushroom soup in it, so I'm sure to make it when my kids aren't around. Even though they've been enjoying it, if they knew it had mushroom soup in it, they would stop eating it. Go figure! My son asked me one night as he examined a forkful, "Does this have mushrooms in it?" Everyone at the table froze, waiting for my answer. I said "No. Why?" He said "Oh, I saw something brown that looked suspiciously like a mushroom." I said "Must have been some meat or spices." Technically, it's not mushrooms, it's mushroom soup. Why make my job as chef harder than it is?
It's a versatile recipe too. You can make and freeze the sauce, using fresh pasta on serving day. You can freeze the pasta and sauce together, layering it with cheese on serving day. Or if you have room in your freezer, layer the casserole in a 9x13 pan and freeze the whole thing.
One recipe makes two 9x13 dishes. I was going to scale the recipe down so it made one, but the recipe as is uses whole cans of ingredients. Half the recipe would leave you with half cans of soup and chili sauce leftover. Not good! I hope your family enjoys this tasty recipe as much as my family does!
MESSAGE BOARD UPDATES
The message boards continue to be a great resource!
We've had a few posts from beginner freezer cooks. Ingrid has a great post about getting it done, even if it isn't perfect. Auntiann has a post about her first time blunders. And Stacy shared her first time cooking experience with us too.
Have any good recipes for fresh basil? Sweezea5's plants are out of control and she could use some ideas!
We had a good discussion about what our cooks like to add to Tara's Favorite Muffins recipe. Share your favorite with us!
Tired of feeding your toddlers PB&J or spaghetti? Check out this post about Toddler Lunch ideas.
Did you know you can cook bacon in the oven without any mess? I didn't!
Have you seen our new category, Life Outside the Kitchen? We have such a great group of cooks, we knew you probably know a lot about a lot of other topics. So we added this category as a way to get to know each other better, to ask for help or share your ideas for non-kitchen stuff. If you're planning your own Disney trip, our cooks shared their favorite tips with me. And I posted my own tips after we came back.
Check out the rest of the message boards when you get a chance they are a great source of ideas, recipes, tips, and encouragement! If you have any questions about the message boards, please email me! You can reach me at tammy@....
Well, that's it from me this month. Time to finish gearing up for school! My kids start next week. I don't know that I'm ready to get back into spelling words, homework and teacher meetings yet. But guess I don't have too much say about that! Ready or not, here it comes!
Feel free to email me at tammy@... with any questions, ideas, suggestions or problems. I enjoy hearing from you all!
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