This morning as I was reading over my Facebook Newsfeed, the information generation’s version of the newspaper, I saw a heated post by the celebrity chef Michael Simon. He was saying that “it makes him bonkers when people say they don’t have time to cook…”. And I couldn’t help but raise my eyebrow and agree. I’m 22 years old and I am in a very difficult and intense psychology program at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. I’m a senior incredibly close to graduating but that makes me all the more busy and anxious. And even so I find time to make my college family a meal every night. If I’m not cooking, my sister is. We’re not your average college kids I guess you could say. But I definitely find myself agreeing with Chef Simon. If people would just realize how easy cooking a meal can be, they would have a better quality of life for their families and for themselves. But over and over again people choose to feed their families frozen, pre-made, preservative-filled meals or taking a trip through the drive-thru all because they think it’s easier. Well I am giving them just one more reason to choose home-cooked, because THIS recipe cannot be any easier.
I devised this recipe over the Christmas break while I was at my dad’s house. He lives out in the country, and besides watching television or playing on the internet, there’s not really a lot to do. I grew up there so I guess I’m over the whole “being one with nature” thing. While I was staying there, my father commissioned me to cook him a dinner using some of the frozen meat in his freezer. And when I tell you that my father has A LOT of frozen meat in his freezer, he could probably ride out the Apocalypse no problem for a least a year. In my investigation of the freezer I found a pack of ground meat, a pack of Italian sausage, and a pack of homemade venison sausage. Go figure. Venison. For all of those who are not familiar, venison is deer meat. Which is actually very pleasant. I prefer the flavor of venison sausage over a pork sausage. It’s leaner and once you get past the very mild gamey notes, it’s a very good meat. Now you don’t have to use venison. Using straight up ground meat is fine with me. The whole point of this recipe is that you can use whatever kind of ground meat you have in your freezer or whatever is cheapest and tastiest for you. It’s supposed to be easy. This is just what I had available to me. I know that if you don’t have avid hunter friends like my dad that donate their spoils to you, venison might be hard to come by.
This is how I made this meat sauce.
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 large yellow onion, chopped finely
1 large green bell pepper, chopped finely
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb Italian pork sausage (I used Hillshire Farm)
1/2 lb venison sausage
1 bottle of Bertolli red sauce (any variation of the flavor you want is fine. I used Italian Sausage flavor because that just seemed appropriate)
1 bottle of Bertolli alfredo sauce (I used the garlic variation but again, use what you want)
salt and pepper
1 box of Rotini Pasta (I use the Dreamfields brand. We’ll speak more on this later in this entry. This is important)
Parmesan cheese for garnish
1. Heat butter or margarine in the bottom of a large pot on a medium heat. When butter is hot enough, toss onions and bell pepper in the pot and cook until translucent.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine the meats you are going to use and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. If you are using more than one type of meat, make sure that the kinds are mixed well and combined.
3. Toss the meat mix into the onion and bell peppers and continuously stir breaking down the meat. Stir and break down until it is browned and has a crumbly texture. This might be a little hard because there is so much meat but it will reduce. Just keep stirring. Add in a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce for added flavor.
4. Pour in the bottle of red sauce and stir with the meat mixture to coat. Pour in the Alfredo sauce and mix well. Fill the red sauce jar up with some water and pour that in as well. That will loosen things up a bit and make it more like a sauce. Cover with a lid and let simmer for 15 minutes on low to medium heat.
5. While the sauce is simmering, bring a pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and toss in your Rotini pasta. Let the pasta boil for 15 minutes. That should leave it nice and cooked. Drain the water and let the noodles cool for serving.
5. When the sauce has simmered for 15 minutes, remove the lid, stir, and let simmer for 15 more minutes. Stir the sauce every now and then to make sure it’s not burning and sticking to the bottom of the pot.
6. Serve the sauce over the pasta and add a little Parmesan cheese for garnish if you wish. And I do wish. I love my cheese.
Now, let’s talk pasta. Pasta is often looked down upon in diets. It’s full of carbs and unless you use wheat pasta, it’s going to cost you some calories. Now, you could always use wheat pasta. I don’t really see the difference in the taste as I do in many wheat products when compared with their white counterparts. However, I have found a nice compromise. The reason white carbs are so bad for you is that they are “fast acting carbs”. This is the way my doctor described it to me. The body takes white carbs and processes them as sugars. They go through your body so fast that they immediately become sugar which most bodies use for energy. But with my insulin-resistance, my body cannot afford any sugar spikes. So carbohydrates have been sadly off limits to me. Or it’s supposed to be. I’m bad a lot of times. Dreamfields, a brand that my mother introduced me to, has created a carb-friendly pasta. They call themselves “the diabetic pasta”. Their pastas are made with durum Semolina flour. Now I’m not exactly sure what that is or how to explain how it’s better for you. All I understand is that it is made out of “slow acting carbs”. These carbs are not converted into sugar and these pastas are a lot healthier for all bodies, not just ones like mine. I highly encourage you to read about it. Dreamfields has a little blurb about it on their website. Here is the link: http://www.dreamfieldsfoods.com/diabetes-diet.html It’s not a long blurb, and if you struggle with diabetes or insulin-resistance, it really is a great and useful read. Now this is the problem. Not every store sells Dreamfields. I wouldn’t call it a “specialty item” because I’ve been able to find it at most WalMarts. But the last time I made this, the WalMart that I went to didn’t have Dreamfields. This doesn’t make sense to me. In our town we have a selection of WalMarts to go to. We’re not that big of a city but for some reason we have about 4 WalMarts. So it’s like a guessing game as to which one is going to have what you need. Why can’t they all stock the same things? Why does this have to be complicated, WalMart? You might be better off going to Albertson’s or any other bigger supermarket that isn’t WalMart. But my Aunt Lisa and I were talking and we were speculating that if the pasta is made with durum Semolina flour, it’s okay to eat for low carb diets. We don’t know for sure. This is just speculation. But I made the executive decision to grab the cheapest box of Rotini I could find, glance over the ingredients and if the first ingredient was “durum Semolina flour” I snatched it. Yeah…I would rather just go with Dreamfields if I can just to be sure.
I like to call this “Stupid Easy Meat Sauce” as a tribute to my significant other. The things that come out of his mouth are ridiculous. When something is really simple it’s “stupid”. “That was stupid easy,” or “that was stupid crazy”. I honestly don’t know who taught him to speak. Anyway, this is so stupid easy, you don’t even have to make the sauce. It comes in a bottle. No problems.
I hope everyone decides to cook themselves a meal at least once this week. That would make me extremely happy!
Eat, Pray, Love,
The Hungry Hungry Health Nut