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It's 6:00 on Friday evening and I am feeling that sense of contentment and satisfaction I have when my son is safely buckled in the backseat and we're making our way home after a long week of school and work. Fridays are my night to retrieve Rae, 7, from school so every week it's a mad dash from my office through rush-hour traffic to get him. Today I once again have made it to the finish line safely, and Rae wasn't even the last kid in aftercare. He is tired and dirty but he skips to the car, telling me a story about some moves he learned in basketball.
As we drive across town I start to relax, mentally eliminating the potential reasons for anxiety. Brought appropriate things home from work. Check. Picked up son on time. Check. Got son's folder and jacket into the car as well. Check. Driving reasonably and thoughtfully, not pushing into clogged intersection as light changes and getting major traffic ticket like a few weeks ago. Check. Have something tasty and appetizing waiting at home for dinner. Nope.
Realizing I don't have the slightest idea what we're having for dinner, I review my options: Frozen pizza for second time this week. Pick up chicken from takeout place. Reheat lonely-looking Tupperware container of leftover pasta from five days earlier.
None of these seems acceptable, until I remember a recipe for Spaghetti Pie I saw a while back. The pasta goes in a pie tin with some cheese and sauce and suddenly plain old tired leftover pasta becomes something entirely new.
I blurt out to Rae: "We're going to have spaghetti pie tonight and you're going to help me make it!" In the rear-view mirror, he looks mildly interested.
So at home I throw the whole thing together into the tin, dusting with cheese as called for, even studding one side with kalamata olives to make it look special, or "gross," depending on who you ask. Then we put it in the oven and wait. Several times I'm asked, "When is the pie going to be ready?"
Finally we can't wait any longer and the top looks about as crispy and cheesy and unlike leftover pasta in a pie plate as it's going to get, so we take it out and try it. "Yum!" Rae exclaims. The parmesan and the tomato sauce have combined nicely, giving it a rich comforting flavor. The original pasta dinner from five nights back does not even enter our minds.
When Tom arrives and asks what's for dinner, Rae says "pasta." I'm about to correct him — "I think you mean spaghetti pie!" — but realize there's no need. It was a hit, whatever you want to call it.