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Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti Casserole

Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti Casserole: A Hearty Family Favorite

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Begin with a warm introduction that captures the essence of comfort food. Highlight the appeal of casseroles in family meals, their versatility for gatherings or weeknight dinners, and the allure of creamy textures combined with classic spaghetti and savory meat sauce. Mention the dish’s simplicity and its ability to please both adults and children alike.

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Ingredients: Ensure to list out all the necessary ingredients for the casserole:

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  • 12 oz spaghetti noodles
  • 1 (24 oz) jar marinara or spaghetti sauce
  • 1 lb lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened and cubed
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Step-by-Step Instructions:

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  1. Preheat Oven and Prepare Ingredients:
    • Start by preheating the oven to 350°F (175°C). Prepare a 9×13-inch baking dish by greasing lightly with cooking spray.
  2. Cook Ground Meat:
    • In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the ground beef or turkey until browned and no longer pink. Drain any excess fat. Add Italian seasoning and minced garlic, cooking for another minute until fragrant. Stir in the marinara sauce, reduce heat, and let simmer for 5-7 minutes.
  3. Prepare Cream Cheese Mixture:
    • While the meat sauce simmers, in a medium bowl, mix together the softened cream cheese and grated Parmesan cheese until smooth and well combined. This mixture will add a creamy texture to the casserole.
  4. Cook Spaghetti:
    • Cook the spaghetti noodles according to package instructions until al dente. Drain well and return to the pot.
  5. Combine Ingredients:
    • In the pot with the cooked spaghetti, add the meat sauce mixture and toss until the noodles are evenly coated.
  6. Layer Casserole:
    • Transfer half of the spaghetti mixture into the prepared baking dish, spreading it out evenly. Dollop half of the cream cheese mixture over the spaghetti. Sprinkle with 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese. Repeat with the remaining spaghetti, cream cheese mixture, and shredded mozzarella cheese.
  7. Bake Until Golden and Bubbly:
    • Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  8. Serve and Enjoy:
    • Let the casserole cool slightly before serving. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley if desired. Serve hot and enjoy the creamy, cheesy goodness!

Cooking Notes:

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  • Meat Options: Experiment with ground chicken or pork for a different flavor profile.
  • Cheese Variations: Substitute different types of cheese like provolone or cheddar for varied tastes.
  • Make-Ahead Tip: Prepare the casserole ahead of time and refrigerate until ready to bake for an easy weeknight meal.

Variations:

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  • Vegetarian Version: Omit the meat and substitute with sautéed mushrooms and spinach.
  • Spicy Twist: Add diced jalapeños or crushed red pepper flakes to the meat sauce for a kick of heat.
  • Veggie Lover’s Delight: Incorporate diced bell peppers, zucchini, or eggplant into the spaghetti mixture for added nutrients and flavor.

Keto or Low-Carb Version:

  • Ingredients Adjustments: Replace spaghetti noodles with spiralized zucchini (zoodles) or shirataki noodles.
  • Cheese Choices: Opt for full-fat cheeses like cheddar and mozzarella to maintain keto compliance.
  • Low-Carb Sauce: Use a homemade tomato sauce with no added sugar or carb-free marinara.

Conclude the blog post by summarizing the highlights of the Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti Casserole. Emphasize its ease of preparation, comforting flavors, and suitability for various dietary preferences. Encourage readers to try the recipe and share their experiences.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions):

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  • Can I freeze Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti Casserole?
    • Yes, the casserole freezes well. Allow it to cool completely, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil before freezing. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
  • What can I serve with this casserole?
    • Serve with a side salad, garlic bread, or roasted vegetables for a complete meal.
  • Can I use other types of pasta?
    • Yes, you can use any pasta shape you prefer. Adjust cooking times according to the pasta’s package instructions.