It’s summer time! Bring on the BBQs, the bikinis, and of course, the bug spray. But most of all…bring on the beach reads. One of my favorite summer beach reads was suggested to me by a gaggle of former students. They compiled a list of books I simply had to read. As promised, I’ve been making my way through their list, reading everything from Wicked, The Twilight Saga, to Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me. The later totally took me by surprise.
When I bought Bet Me two years ago I was prejudiced. The cover is baby blue and adorned with clouds, cherries, and floating high-heels. As a reader of Kafka and Gogol, I thought myself “above it.” But the protagonist, Min, immediately won me over. She isn’t perfect or stereotypically pretty. She’s smart and really funny. (Twi-hearts might believe such a combination impossible.) And while the love story is predictable enough, it made me laugh out loud, so I gave it a pass…
The courtship between Min and Cal is centered on food. I appreciated this premise. It’s relatable. When Brian and I reminisce about the early days of our relationship, there is often food involved: McMenamin’s tatter tots, The Chippery’s ketchup chips, Marzinni’s breadsticks, American Dream’s calzones. Some restaurants are so loaded with associations that their mere mention brings back a flood of memories: Tommy’s, The Beanery…El Presidente.
For Min and Cal it’s all about Emilio’s Chicken Marsala. This is their go-to meal. So much so they even cook it at home. When Brian and I started dating, I sucked at cooking. I—a vegetarian–once forced my omnivorous boyfriend (now husband) to consume soy “hotdogs” because I knew I couldn’t screw up zapping them in the microwave for 45 seconds. But my roommate and culinary guru Beth taught me a recipe that what would become our “go-to-meal.” Despite its simplicity, it always tasted gourmet. Our go-to-meal was spaghetti pie. Enjoy!
6oz Spaghetti, broken into pieces
2 Tbsp Butter
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
2/3 cup cottage cheese
¾ cup onion, chopped
½ cup green peppers, diced
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp oregano
½ tsp garlic salt
15 oz jar spaghetti sauce
6 oz grated mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Cook pasta according to package directions and drain, but do not rinse. Place back in pot.
Add butter, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and egg to pasta. Allow butter to melt.
Place mixture into a greased 9” pie pan & layer with cottage cheese
Meanwhile, brown onions and green onions in a little bit of olive oil. Add spaghetti sauce, sugar, oregano, and garlic salt. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes.
Pour sauce over cottage cheese.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until melted.
Let stand before cutting.