Since I have finished with the first part of my college education, and I like to think that I have more spare time (which I’m not sure is an actual thing that exists), I feel like I should cook more. Reality is I don’t but when I do, I like to think it was a masterpiece. (Can it be a masterpiece if it’s someone else’s recipe? Like, a plagiarized masterpiece…)

So here is my new (hopefully at least) weekly blog: What’s for dinner? Cool picture header coming soon…

This specific night was to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday. Hope you enjoy as much as we did!

Main Dish: Four-Cheese and Pesto Italian Baked Spaghetti (Paula Deen)

1 pound uncooked spaghetti

1 pound ricotta cheese

Two 6 to 7 ounce containers prepared pesto

2 1/2 cups (3/4 pound) shredded mozzarella

1 cup (1/4 pound) grated parmesan cheese

1 cup (1/4 pound) crumbled goat cheese

Serves 6

1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Grease a flameproof 13 by 9 inch baking dish. Cook the spaghetti for 2 minutes less than the package directions specify. Drain the spaghetti well and transfer it to a bowl. Stir in the ricotta, pesto, 1 cup of the mozzarella, 1/2 cup of the parmesan, and the goat cheese. Toss the mixture well and transfer it to the baking dish.

2. Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella and 1/2 cup parmesan over the pasta. Bake until the cheese is melted, about 20 minutes. Turn the oven setting to broil and broil for 1 minute or until golden. Serve hot.

*After we tried this, we think there might be too much pesto as it seemed to overpower all the different cheese flavors. Next time we will try less pesto. Also, I recommend tossing the pesto and spaghetti first as doing it with the cheese was difficult and didn’t spread as well. We also added chicken that we cooked beforehand. But following the recipe was great too!

We served this with bread and sauteed squashes. Yummy!

Drink: Minty Southern Sweet Tea (Paula Deen)

Makes about 2 quarts

7 tea bags (black leaf, such as lipton)

1 small bunch of fresh mint, plus extra leaves, for garnish

1 cup sugar

1. In a large pot, bring 4 cups water to a boil. Add the tea bags and mint; stir. Let the tea steep for 1 hour. Remove the tea bags.

2. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 cup water and the sugar to a boil; simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, then pour it into the tea. Add 4 cups cold water and stir to combine. Transfer the tea to a large pitcher. Serve the tea over ice, garnished with mint leaves.

*I do recommend straining the mint out of the tea, unless you like to eat mint while you drink tea.

Dessert: Lemon Bars with Fresh Blueberry Sauce (Barefoot Contessa)

To stray away from a traditional birthday cake, we made lemons bars (store bought) and dressed them up with this delicious sauce!

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (3 oranges)

2/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon of cornstarch

4 half-pints fresh blueberries

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Makes 2 cups

Combine the orange juice, sugar, and cornstarch in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. When the mixture is translucent and thickened, stir in the blueberries and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes, just until a few berries have burst but most are still whole. Stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice and cool.

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