One Pot Spaghetti

This recipe appealed to me because, in my small mind, spaghetti is always best as a left over. Kind of like meatloaf. I do not like warm meatloaf on a plate (isn’t meatloaf just such a strange word?), nor do I like spaghetti with sauce the day I make it. It does not really matter if it is my pasta sauce (vegetarian) or a meat sauce – it is always way (!) better when it sits in the fridge for a day or two.

My favorite way to eat spaghetti, which was always with a meat sauce when I was growing up, was a day later, reheated in a small pot on the stove – and then at the end, my mom would stir in small chunks of cheddar (a cheese she never skimped on – ever). So melty cheddar, meat sauce, soft noodles, and lovely goodness.

This recipe gets right down to that point. Cooking the pasta in the sauce makes a big difference, but I will still argue that waiting that one more painful day will make it just perfection. Let us just say, that I am right because I did it that way and it was just about everything I remember from the left-over spaghetti-ness of my childhood.*

1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 large sweet onion (softball-sized onion)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups water
15 ozs can tomato sauce
15 ozs can diced tomatoes with juice
1 Tbs dried oregano
1 Tbs dried basil
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
12 ozs spaghetti, broken in half
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 Tbs chopped parsley

In a large potter medium high heat cook beef and onion until soft. Add garlic and stir for a minute or two. Drain fat (there was not much).

Add water, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Bring to boil. Add spaghetti and stir. Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook, stirring often, until noodles are cooked through, 15 minutes or so.

Stir in Parmesan and parsley before serving.

3 November 2017 – Tasty, but in my opinion needs more tomato flavor. Maybe use crushed tomatoes instead of diced. The Boy like the taste of it. Maybe a bit of tomato paste while adding the garlic?

Hoping the reheat on the next day will make it even better. This certainly will not be the last time I make it. And I can report now – yes – later is always better with spaghetti.

Can not wait to take it to lunch with some shredded extra sharp cheddar. That should just be the thing. This apple does not fall far from my childhood tree. D&D_2234

*Why does this come up so often? Because childhood food is really good food. That is why.

Wednesday Cooking School

Well the Boy has taking an interest in cooking and so we have started some cooking lessons, especially for the things he loves which are mostly things I don’t have recipes for. They are things that you have to make by doing.  Wish I had learned how to make cornbread dressing this way, but I did not. Sigh. D&D_0329

So we started a couple of weeks ago with his perennial favorite. Home-made sloppy joes. It may sound odd, but this is an excellent non-recipe recipe. I love this way to much to admit. And the cole slaw to go with it, which is a bit of riff on cole slaw with Eastern North Carolina pulled pork barbecue.

So I taught him how to make both because it is just a taste-as-you-go kind of thing. Which is why it really is stupidly-wonderful as long as you get the hang of it

So we’ve had another lesson which I need to make again and post here, but it is my mom’s homemade mac n cheese. The Boy has never had anything out of box, only this. Yes, he’s a bit spoiled, but then again, so was I. It is not difficult if you know what you are looking for – it is a bechamel and then you go from there. Should have taken a picture, but – damn, but that means I will have to do it again soon – such a burden. I’m sure the Boy would not mind having some more homemade mac n cheese.

I have to say, I’m having so much fun doing this. The next project is a serious baking deal, but again – one of his favorite things and it is a new version of a recipe I love from a friend – it is her grandmother’s recipe and I am really looking forward to it. Yep – I am that food nerd. Do not care – spending time with the Boy is great.

Cannot wait to see what happens next.

Searching for … My Mom’s Meatloaf

Lunch Box NFL American Conference

My 2nd grade lunchbox

One of my favorite things when I was a kid was a cold meatloaf sandwich with ketchup – in my NFL lunchbox. Yep – I was that girl – or that tomboy.  I had the best NFL lunchbox in second grade. I think the boys were really pretty envious.

Just ask me – which helmet meant which city – I could tell you and the team name. Who was the quarterback? Totally got that. And could tell you a few other fun facts. Hello boys from the 1972 Miami Dolphins. Daddy raised me right. At least for me he did – I’m pretty sure he wanted a boy – duh. The lunchbox choice was all mine though.

Back to meatloaf. I do not remember caring for it at dinner, but for a left-over sandwich, it was nothing less  than sublime. Why is it most kid memories seem that way? I guess it’s just a filter that you didn’t know you had.  Nonetheless, I’ve been searching for my mom’s meatloaf – not because I want to eat it when I make it, but I want it the next day in a sandwich with soft white bread and some form of ketchup.

This time I looked at 6 meatloaf recipes I have on file. They are All-American Meat LoafMartha Stewart’s Meatloaf.  Turkey Meatloaf from Trisha Yearwood (but honestly, I would pretty much never use turkey). Cracker Barrel MeatloafMeat Loaf by Ina Garten who I adore, by the way, and AB’s meatloaf.

I have made the All-American meatloaf before, but not by following the actual recipe – no surprise there – in January of this D&D_0862year, and again in February. The right kind of weather is necessary for meatloaf. It is not spring or summer food. October, yeah, that seems like meatloaf weather. It really was good and here is the mixture of these six recipes along with the things I know to be true.

1 medium carrot, finely grated
1 small yellow onion, grated
4 Tbs fresh parsley, rough chopped
1/4 Parmesan, finely grated
2 slices white bread, torn into pieces
1/4 cup milk
3 Tbs ketchup
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/3 pound ground chuck

3 Tbs ketchup
2 Tbs yellow mustard
1 Tbs Worcestershire
2 Tbs brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grate the carrot and onion into a large mixing bowl. Add parsley and Parmesan. In a medium bowl, place the torn bread and milk until the bread has soaked up all the milk. Add to the large mixing bowl. Add ketchup, garlic and eggs. Mix until combined. Add the ground chuck and mix with your hands until just together.

Line a baking pan with aluminum foil and mold meatloaf into shape on baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, mix together ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire and brown sugar.  After 30 minutes is up top with glaze and bake until the internal temperature is 160 degrees. Let cool

I don’t bake this in a loaf pan – that just seems yuck to me (and to Alton who I learned the trick from), especially when using ground chuck. The only problem I have with this is it does not hold together well, but I don’t want to add more eggs or binders. I had a friend tell me to use oatmeal, so I may try that – or one of the other binders, dry bread crumbs, or saltines. Worth a try. But the flavor of this, for me and the MotH, was pretty damn good. Oh, and I made a little more glaze – using the same ratios – and put it on the bread for the sandwiches – very very good. Next time though, I make simmer the glaze a bit to let it reduce and meld together a little more.

Is it my mom’s meatloaf? Not quite, but getter closer and better every time.

 

Sloppy Joes

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Sloppy Joes

I know this was originally a Rachel Ray recipe (30 minute meals, I think), from at least ten years ago, probably more, but I’ve messed with it so much that it is not recognizable as such. This is what The Boy will inevitably request when I ask what he wants for dinner and for leftovers. He makes good use of leftovers after he gets home from work or from hanging out with his friends. I honestly have to hide some if I want leftovers for lunch myself.

1 pound ground chuck (easy to scale up)
1 yellow onion, diced
4 Tbs cider vinegar
1 Tbs Macormick “Montreal” seasoning
2 Tbs brown sugar
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
14 oz can tomato sauce

In a large skillet, heat a couple Tbs olive oil, add onion and sauté until it begins to soften. Add ground chuck and break up as the meat cooks until it is no longer pink and onions are soft.
Add vinegar, seasoning, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce to beef. Season with salt to taste. Let this simmer for a few minutes and taste for balance. This is key and I still do it every time.  It’s important to do that now before adding the tomato sauce because all those flavors intensify and if you like them now, you’ll like them better later. Then just let is simmer for about an half an hour.

I tend to make this a day ahead, because like spaghetti sauce or chili, it’s so much better the next day. Some times I make cole slaw with this, sort of the BBQ/cole slaw sandwich thing going on and it really works. But I guess you have to be raised with the BBQ/cole slaw thing as part of your life to get it. I was raised on Eastern NC (vinegar-based) BBQ because both my parents are from there. And every summer when we went to NC, we would come home with a cooler of Revels BBQ. Damn – that was amazing stuff and I still think about it – probably too often.

Hamburger Steak with mushrooms and onion gravy

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Hamburger Steak with mushroom and onion gravy

My mom (here it is again) used to make hamburger steaks for us when I was young and I really enjoyed them.  She would heat a cast iron skillet to just about blazing and put salt in the bottom, then add the ground beef patty.  The layer of salt seasoned and kept it from sticking. Kind of like cornmeal on a pizza crust.  But for a blog, this is just more brown food. Thank goodness the MotH has a way with a camera and for that I am ever grateful.

I think this came to mind when one of my favorite places (Shaggy’s) had it on the special board a few weeks ago. Didn’t order it, but thought about all the things I like about this really simple meal. I mean, mushrooms and onions are involved. What’s not to love? Got me. I looked up several recipes, but decided to put together a version that would work for me. A bit of meatloaf idea, but not quite really.

1 pound ground beef
1 egg
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs (one piece sandwich bread)
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 tsp McCormick Montreal Seasoning
1/4 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbs olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
8 ozs mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbs flour
1 cup beef broth

Process bread in food processor until finely ground. Mix, by hand, ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, black pepper, Montreal seasoning, salt, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce. Form into 4 patties.
Heat olive oil in skillet in medium heat. Add patties to the pan, do not crowd. Sear on both sides 3-4 minutes each. Add sliced onions to the pan and cover pan cooking for 4 minutes more. Remove patties to plate and keep warm.
Add mushrooms and cook until the release juices and start to dry out a bit. Spread flour over pan, and cook for 3 minutes. Slowly add broth.
Once gravy thickens, return patties and turn heat down to low simmer. Cover and cook for 8 minutes. Uncover and let simmer 7 minutes more. Serve warm.