My family enjoyed this somewhat, but we all thought it was a little plain, even with a few modifications. I increased the garlic to a full teaspoon and added 1/4 teaspoon of salt and fresh cracked black pepper to the sauce. I didn't have bacon, so I substituted a can of Spam(r) with Bacon, diced and fried until it was crispy. We all agreed the Spam(r) gave the dish much more flavor than bacon would have. I've never seen American cheese in a loaf form, so I used Velveeta(r) and we really liked the creaminess that added. I had to improvise with the bread crumbs, because I couldn't find Italian style panko in any of the four stores I where I looked for that product. I combined plain panko with Italian seasoning. I also added 2 Tablespoons of melted butter to the panko and put the dish back in the oven for about 5 minutes after adding the crumbs. I left out the optional red bell pepper, because I didn't have any on hand, but I think I'll add it in next time. I'll probably sautee it with some diced onion until it's tender-crisp. I'm not sure I'd call this an easy weeknight dish and the "Ready In" time is way off. Prep time should include the amount of time it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta, which is at least 20 minutes. It took approximately an hour start-to-finish for me to prepare and serve this dish. I'll probably consider making it again, but I'll add more seasonings next time, including perhaps some red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper.
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My family enjoyed this somewhat, but we all thought it was a little plain, even with a few...